esama has given me permission to continue this (Subject of Change). Enjoy. Auryn means Gold in Celtic, I thought it would be appropriate for both Naruto and Harry.
It was fiery. And red. And smelled like Sulphur.
He should have been more surprised.
Really, he had been hoping for something a little less of the... 'you screwed up big and now you're going to suffer for it' variety of hellfire and brimstone. He didn't know what he was expecting, had been expecting, but he had been hoping for something like... oh he didn't know, an endless field of flowers surrounded by white, his friends and family, the dearly departed hugging and greeting him, scolding him for being stupid and showing up entirely too early, his mother complaining about no grandchildren or wife and how her baby boy wasn't even a man yet, Sirius bonking him on the head, Remus asking after Teddy and his Dad quickly dragging him off to go and try to prank Snape who would've gotten over his animosity and become friends with the Marauders – yeah right, it would have to be a cold day in hell first, maybe just Lily though. But Harry could live with that. Well, maybe not live. But he could deal with it, if not that then he was quite content to pass through into an oblivion of sweet darkness, a void of all thought and emotion where nothing could touch him or affect him because he simply ceased to exist.
But no. No, he got fire and brimstone.
He probably should have given death and the afterlife a little more thought before he agreed to die at the end of Voldemort's wand. And whoever said that Avada Kedavra was painless was going to get a kick in the balls, it was fucking cold and it felt like his brain had just been yanked out of his scar with a red hot poker – dragging his spine along with it and every nerve ending in his body like a wet ,red, fishing net from the ocean. Hm, now there was a disgusting mental image.
Was this because he didn't stop Voldemort and was being punished for being an under-trained seventeen year old boy?
He sighed and shifted, thinking about that was just – hang on... was this... fur? The wizard gripped the oddly hot to the touch red and pulled, grunting a little in surprise and releasing it immediately when the ground moved and snarled unhappily. He tumbled down into what felt like water and spluttered, sodden hair and robes obscuring his face as he wrestled himself upright in the cold tepid dark water. Well that answered one question.
Yes, yes it was fur.
And yes, he swallowed nervously as he finally clawed his hair out of his eyes as a pair of monstrously huge blood red eyes swivelled down and locked onto him, the owner of said fur was not happy about him pulling it.
"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE, HUMAN?" the world around him boomed, he could feel that voice vibrating in his chest and immediately began to feel unwell as what was unmistakably a massive fox's head lowered to get a better look at him, all gleaming ivory teeth, entirely unsubtle menace and Snape-worthy sneers, kind of impressive how a canine face could convey so much contempt.
Of course there was a giant fox in his afterlife. All he needed to do now was sprout fucking rabbit ears and this fucked up metaphor would be perfect.
"ANSWER ME, MAGGOT!" the beast roared, lashing out with a set of claws the size of a landrover – each – and a paw the size of his unfortunate childhood home.
Harry squawked as he reappeared, several metres out of range and staggering in the ankle deep water, a little disorientated from the unexpectedness of his Apparation, an Apparation he had not consciously done. Those claws were moving far too fast for him to do much more than realise that he was about to die. Again. The distance did, however, give him a better look at the creature attacking him.
"A giant fox with a buttload of tails? What is this, a Sonic game?" he spluttered and jerked, Apparating out again as one of those tails shot forward like a javelin attempting to skewer him.
It seemed as though dying had uploaded some form of instinctive Apparation in the face of lethal attacks. That or his magic was just fed up of his inability to take care of himself and had decided to take over and do it itself. Useful, but he still kind of wished that it didn't feel like Apparation, he had yet to get over the nausea that repeated popping in and out caused.
"Will you knock it off and let me answer or are you going to keep swiping at me like a cat having a seizure?" the Wizard snapped as he popped out of the way of another attack, "Bloody hell, if this is what I have to deal with I can understand why Snake Face wants immortality. I almost feel sorry for what he's going to have to handle," he muttered under his breath as the Fox paused at his words, as if stunned over being compared to an involuntarily spasming feline.
Harry had, however, severely underestimated the auditory prowess of a pair of large canine ears the size of an electrical-pylon, "YOU THINK YOU'RE DEAD?" it questioned, fiery fur still crackling with agitation even as it prowled around in the water, just out of swiping reach, seeming to calm down – if one could call the caustic glare of 'I'm going to start mauling you in a minute and I don't know when I'm going to stop' anything of the sort.
"Well, I just died so that would be the most logical conclusion, soooo, yeah," he pointed out to the beast with a small frown, so this... wasn't some kind of twisted metaphorical hither to unknown level of Hell? A kind of anxiousness began to gnaw at the pit of his stomach, if this wasn't Hell... where was he and what was going to happen to him?
The fox stared at him for a moment before sitting down and snorting, an odd chuffing snarled growl coming from his throat, it took him a split second to recognise it as a more... ear-achingly loud version of when Fang laughed. He was getting laughed at by a massive ass blood-red fox because he was dead, that was just... he shook his head and brushed the matter off, if he gave it anymore thought he would probably start laughing as well or break out into hysterical sobs.
"YOU WOULD BE BETTER OFF IN HELL, WORM, THAN THIS BLIGHTED SEWER," it told him with a bare-fanged grin, tails flicking almost excitedly.
"Fan-bloody-tastic," Harry muttered under his breath, again underestimating the Fox's hearing range as it broke into those chuffing growls again, "Then where the hell are we if it isn't Hell?" he demanded, cutting the beast off.
"A PRISON," he growled, good mood evidentially soured, "AND IF YOU HAVE NOT BROKEN IN THEN IT MUST BE YOURS AS WELL." The grin was positively frightful in that split second before he lunged forward, powerful hind legs launching his now open maw towards the young Wizard who had a single breath to realise that no, the lights hadn't gone out and yes, he was about to get eaten when those teeth snapped down and he popped out, a hair's breadth from getting another scar on his forehead.
"Would you stop that! I'm trying to think and you're being really annoying!" he barked as he staggered into the water again, his vision spinning slightly as vertigo made his stomach roll. He was really going to have to get over that Apparation-Vertigo problem, it was exceptionally annoying and really upsetting, he could, after all, pull up from a 300m/h dive on a broomstick without even getting light headed. He wasn't supposed to get vertigo!
"SPEND SIXTY FIVE YEARS IN ONE OF THESE THINGS, YOU'LL LEARN TO ENJOY A LITTLE DISTRACTION. NOW HOLD STILL!" the beast barked, pouncing forward again with house sized paws ready to crush him into paste, the Fox sounded almost gleeful, if not childishly excited, that he now had a playmate. If only he could understand the words 'Time Out' and give Harry several minutes in which to throw up, take his sodden robe off and wrap his brain around the fact he was stuck in some kind of prison that Voldemort had most likely created and sealed him inside just to make sure that if he did survive the Killing Curse again, he wasn't coming back out. Bastard.
And so their demented game of Tag continued.
The Fox having an utter wail of a time as it gambolled around the so called Prison – it was quite spacious given their activities – in pursuit of the young Wizard who soldiered on through his nausea and gradually became more and more capable of regaining his bearings upon immediate popping in, enough so that he was capable of actually running one or two paces before being forced to Disapparate again. But he was slowing, apparently being dead didn't mean that you had an unlimited store of energy, you evidentially still needed to sleep, and given how little sleep Harry had gotten before his imprisonment he was pretty much running on empty.
Instead of being put out by his increasing fatigue, the Fox just got more excited, "THAT'S IT, LET ME SINK MY TEETH INTO YOU! ITS BEEN A WHILE SINCE I ENJOYED THE CRUNCH OF BONE BETWEEN MY FANGS!"
"You'll be waiting a long while more," Harry bit out, Apparating out of the Fox's jaws by a hair's breadth, again, only to throw himself to the side and Apparate several hundred feet to the side when one of those javelin tails went for him.
The world lurched and - "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING, BASTARD FOX? SOME PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO SLEEP!" a new voice resounded piercingly around them, not the Fox's rib-crackingly powerful voice but an honest to Merlin human voice that seeped out from the walls and sent ripples of light across the tepid black water still sloshing around their ankles. Well, Harry's ankles, this wasn't even really enough to wet the Fox's claws given how shallow it was in comparison.
He yelped and staggered backwards as, with a great metallic SWISH-CLANG and splash of water that sent a wave of black liquid over his head and seeping right down through his clothes (his trainers were already a lost cause), a large wall of ornate bars crashed down in front of him, nearly taking his nose off if he were completely honest. The Fox huffed unhappily, the lights suddenly going out completely before distant torches lit up revealing the inside of what was actually quite unmistakably some kind of sewer, a narrow sewer with a high ceiling and a chamber only narrow enough for the Fox's head to fit comfortably. Wow, the bastard must be quite cramped back there, what with the nine-tails.
Harry glanced over his shoulder to where he was quite certain the Fox just muttered 'Recoodough' as if it were a dirty word, "ITS OUR IDIOT OF A JAILER," he complained bitterly, taking the Wizard by surprise. He thought this was one of Voldemort's little Enchanted Prisons, the only Jailers he would allow in there were Dementors or himself, did this mean he wasn't in some kind of funky Prison/confinement thing the Snake Faced Bastard made to get him out of the way?
Levering himself up, Harry had perhaps a few seconds to realise they weren't as alone as they had been a moment ago, without sound, light or fanfare, suddenly a blond Firstie was stood in front of them with a frightful scowl wearing what was quite possibly the cutest sleeping hat the Gryffindor had ever had the misfortune of seeing. He blinked. The blond blinked right back. The Fox stared at them lazily, expectantly and suddenly the Firstie jumped back half a step pointing a finger dramatically at the fox, his face scowling so hard that his eyes were squinted shut to the point of blindness as he bellowed with a surprising lung capacity and complete lack of intimidation for the juggernaut of fiery red death.
"What the hell, Kyuubi?" the preteen screeched, making both giant fox and wizard wince painfully at the pitch, "What is that, why is it here?" he continued, practically hopping up and down with rage.
Harry frowned slightly, 'that'? 'It'? How rude. He scowled in irritation and decided that this had been one of the most aggravating days he had experienced for a bloody long time and set about wringing the excess water from his robes, ugh, he felt disgusting, and cold, and wet and all together just very miserable as he listened to the boy and the fox hash it out and come to the conclusion that neither of them were responsible for the Wizard's presence within the Prison.
"Yeah, hi, the name's Harry. Not 'that'," he stated pointedly at the blond kid who merely sneered warily at him, one would have thought preteens would have a little more respect for people clearly older than they were but considering how this midget was apparently the Jailer of Chuckles over there, he figured he was probably a lot more dangerous than he looked.
"How the hell did you get in here?" the boy snapped, glaring at him as if it were his fault the Polar Bears were dying out. Harry was beginning to dislike the kid but merely chalked that up to a waning amount of patience that the Fox had quite thoroughly burned his way through, the headache from forced Apparation over what felt like two hours time and the fact he was cold and wet and not where he expected to be. In short, Harry James Potter was getting cranky.
"I died," the Gryffindor retorted, just as irritably as the preteen. "Boom, shot to the chest, supposed to be dead, wake up in there with Chuckles," The Fox growled, completely unappreciative of his new nickname but fuck him, he was the one having such a grand fucking time chasing his bloody tail everywhere, "And then you come along after several hours of 'Harry Hunting'."
The blond mulled over this before paling, "Y-you're dead? You're a Ghost!" he squawked, hastily back-peddling as if Harry were a Dementor himself and the green eyed male found his patience coming to the end of its tether as he marched out between the bars fully intending on wringing the midget's neck when he spluttered and pointed with eyes bugging out of his skull, "You can't do that! Kyuubi!" he wailed looking at the Fox in horror, "He can't do that!"
"DON'T LOOK AT ME RUNT, NOT MY FAULT HE CAN GET OUT," the Fox told him in an envious growl, eyes fixed on the Wizard who had lost his homicidal desires in the face of annoyed exasperation.
"You could walk a Horse through the gaps in those Bars, kid," he pointed out flatly, idly wondering if the child had brain damage, then again, maybe he did, there was still the possibility that this was a Voldemort Issued Confinement Prison place. Though... "Where the hell am I?" he asked, breaking through the preteen's incoherent spluttering.
"Impenetrable!" he squawked, flailing his arms like a windmill.
"If you say so," Harry muttered disbelievingly, before folding his arms and waiting for an answer.
Eventually the blond stopped spazzing out when he realised it wasn't getting him any where, "You're in my Seal. Right here," he explained, shifting the blue dressing gown thing he was wearing to show his bellybutton and the strange swirling tattoo on it. Harry frowned, eyeing it, was it like his Horcrux? Capable of holding Souls in there? A small smile twitched on his mouth, did that make Blondie some kind of freaky Dementor Baby if he was storing Souls in his stomach?
"So what... this is the inside of your stomach? All this?" he asked, gesturing around him to the bars, the big ass Fox who was bound to give the kid indigestion if that were really the case.
The boy scratched the back of his head thoughtfully, "Well, that's where the Seal is but Ero-Sennin said that this place is more of a met-meta-mental err... its a place my mind made," he explained, deciding to settle on the simplest of explanations he could understand. Harry frowned slightly, so this place was just a mental representation of the Inside of the Seal.
"Well, if your mind made it, that means you can push me out," he explained making the blond kid blink big blue eyes up at him, wow, if the kid weren't so annoying he would be lethal with those. "I don't belong here so it should be easy. Just... push me with your mind as hard as you can."
"You're not gunna haunt me, are you?" the boy asked suspiciously, squinting at him yet again, with those whisker marks he looked remarkably cat-like, Harry glanced over his shoulder at Chuckles, or rather Fox-like on second thought.
The Gryffindor shook his head, "Nah, places to go, people to see. I have family waiting for me on the otherside," he explained with a bittersweet smile, absently hoping that this time he would be able to move on, he wanted to rest already, he was tired and his head ached and he wanted to know if his mum made better hot chocolate than Mrs Weasley.
Understanding blew the boy's face wide open and he nodded, reaching a hand out with a small smile, "Maybe I'll see you over there when I'm an old fart, I'll tell you about all my adventures and what I did when I was Hokage!" the blond exclaimed excitedly and despite his annoyance and headache and wet clothes, Harry couldn't help but snort in wry amusement.
"Sure, why not, by the time you're old and grey I'll have gotten bored listening to my Dad and Sirius play pranks long ago," he admitted, kind of half promising to wait for the kid on the otherside, what the hell, why not, he was helping him out of a rough patch so it was only polite to say hello and show him the ropes when he arrived, or at least just say hello because the kid's family and friends would probably want to do that part themselves.
"AND IT WAS JUST GETTING FUN," the Fox whined as Harry took the outstretched hand, stepping into the dim golden light the blond kid was pulling him towards.
It was like walking into a hot shower after Quidditch Practice in the middle of a rainstorm, so deliciously hot your muscles immediately relaxed as hot water burned the filth and the cold and the tiredness from your flesh and the water ceased to be so scorchingly hot and just wondrously warm and numbing. He inhaled deeply, idly wondering why he could smell noodle soup and orange scented shampoo, he was warm and he smiled as he wriggled around, languishing in the soft that rubbed deliciously against his skin, the pillow pressed into his chest.
Wait, wasn't he supposed to be dead?
Tiredly, he cracked his eyes open, it was a battle though, they didn't want to stay open and the room dipped and spun as his body rebelled against his activities. It was dark, but not that ominous, dank darkness of 'Very – Bad – Things', it was dark because it was night and the curtains were shut. The room was filled with the soft warm muzzy darkness of night-time and the soft breathing of its occupants, correction, snoring of an occupant and the soft snuffling breathing of the other. Harry knew he was fighting a losing battle and allowed his eyes to close, idly wondering why his pillow was so warm.
When next he woke, the room was still dark but he could hear a dawn chorus outside, birds were annoying like that, they sometimes liked to start a racket up several hours before the sun peaked on the horizon because they were sadists. This time, Harry was able to open his eyes, even if his vision was still a little sleep blurred as he looked around the room, it was rather run down, visible piping that looked as though it had been patched by a blind monkey using a soldering iron, the random bandage wrapped around them wasn't very comforting either, random scratch marks and places of broken, cracked or flaking paint and plaster coupled with the unvarnished floorboards and the grubby and slightly abused light-switch beside the door totalled up to one, or two, things in Harry's mind.
He was in a really cheap hotel room and he was probably in a bad part of whatever town he was in.
Snuffles made a groaning sound from somewhere on Harry's right and his pillow moved, squeezing tightly around his strangely awkward chest, what was that? He could feel something squishy yet painful getting pressed into his ribs as his pillow attempted to burrow its way into him, he wriggled unhappily and sat up, groaning as his body protested that movement – insistently.
There was a moment of silence before someone squeaked and he looked down.
It was the kid and... oh... oh god...
Harry's eyes widened even as the kid's own turned into the size of dinner plates, his face rapidly flushing scarlet as he realised precisely where and what his hands and face were doing, Harry however wasn't paying a damn bit of attention to that, he was more concerned with...
The Boy Who Lived couldn't utter anything more than a sharp whimper of protest as he stared down at the soft mounds of flesh hanging, irrefutably, as if they had some kind of divine right to be there, from his chest. The words 'Not Possible' kept running through his head again and again as the blond kid threw himself away from the... them and backpeddled across the floor on his butt as a pair of slender, tiny, bird-line little hands inched up and cupped them, testing the weight and size, trying to disprove their existence.
'Not Possible, Not Possible, Not Possible, Not Possible, Not Possible, Not Possible, Not Possible, oh fuck it, this is ME here!' he thought, giving up as those little hands felt strangely warm on them. He swallowed and removed his hands as though burned and looked at the kid who was staring at him with the same kind of frozen look of horror on his face that Harry was quite sure he was wearing as well.
The Gryffindor swallowed and pointed at his chest, "Ki-kid... what the hell happened when you dragged me out of your mind?" he asked, stumbling slightly over his own voice, high, light and girlish, the kind that put you in mind of innocence and kittens and pink and puppies and that kind of junk. "Cause, these... yeah, not here before," he managed to get out before his throat closed up tighter than Dumbledore's mouth on important information.
"I – I – y-you're the – the Ghost?" the blond kid questioned, horrified and terrified at the same time.
"The name is Harry. What the hell happened?" he demanded, voice very nearly breaking at the end of his question, the kid must have caught it though because a split second later he was yanking his shirt off and throwing it over, squeezing his eyes shut, face tomato red. Realising just what the kid was doing, Harry shrugged into the navy blue dressing gown, unable to pull it shut entirely as it was a child's size and he was... they were rather big.
"I – I don't know," the boy admitted in a frightened squeak, "It-it might be my fault, I don't know how though! C-could you Dispel maybe? Do you know any Ninjutsu?" he asked making Harry look at him sharply, Dispel? Ninjutsu? Other words for Magic? They sounded vaguely Japanese-ish. The boy was becoming more and more flustered, "Its a H-henge! I used to play pranks as her, ah-hehe, it was totally awesome but not everyone thought that way especially Closet Pervert and the other Jounin an' – an' all you have ta do is use Kai and – "
Harry glared at him, grabbing him by the shoulders and shaking him roughly, "Use words. Short Sentences. Explain. Fix. This," he hissed menacingly, not noticing or caring as the boy paled several shades.
"B-b-but – bu-but," the boy whimpered, blue eyes wide and frightened, it was like kicking a kitten but by this point Harry was both beyond caring or noticing.
It was only when the steady snoring that filled the air cut off with a grunting snort and a deep baritone groan, causing them both to look over at the source and hiss in discomfort as a lamp flicked on. There was a pause and the sound of a sniff and rustling fabrics as Harry tried to get over the sunspots and stop squinting in the face of the obnoxiously bright lamp.
"Nah-Naaahruto," the gruff baritone began, yawning half way through the word, a name? The kid's? "Thought we talk'd 'bout masturbation in shared rooms?" the voice asked, thoughtfully and slowly, heavy with sleep and Harry couldn't stop his nose from wrinkling as he caught the subtle whiff of alcohol – about as subtle as a hammer in this case, how much had this guy drunk? – and something that was similar to the smell of those strange cigarettes Dudley and his gang were known for smoking under the climbing frames on Magnolia Crescent.
"N-not what it looks like!" the boy squawked, as Harry managed to crack his eyes open some without his eyes screeching in pain from the sudden influx of light. "An' I was the one lecturin' you! Ero-sennin!" the boy accused, loudly, Harry growled warningly at him, he did not appreciate having his ears blown out along with his eyes scolded.
"S'not like usin' Clones an' Henge ain't creative but really 'Ruto, dun wanna know," the voice continued and Harry was finally able to get a look at it. He scowled at the man, snow white hair, wild and spiky and falling well down below his waist in what was, by every definition, a mane, dark eyes and a large nose, two strange scarlet streaks down each of his cheeks and a wart on the side of his nose. He was wearing the same blue dressing gown as the one the kid – Naruto? – gave him and he was built like a brick shithouse, those were some fucking abs he could see in the gap of his robes. He was quite certain you could have probably either grated cheese on those, or done your washing by hand. He then blinked slowly and smirked at the Wizard, "You could lend her to me though," he suggested rakishly.
"Shut up!" Naruto squawked, flailing and nearly hitting Harry who by this point had finished being patient, thank you very much, he dropped the boy and turned to glare at the white haired man.
"You, shut up," he growled, pointing a finger at the man who blinked a little in startlement, going cross eyed as he stared at Harry's fingertip – the Wizard really tried to ignore how nice his nails were compared to how Hermione used to have hers – before he turned to the boy and glared at him, "Explain. Now."
The boy wrung his hands, "I told you, I don't know how it happened. After I kicked you out of the Seal, everything went yellow for a minute and then I was waking up and you were..." He gestured, face bright red.
Harry growled, and the man with the white hair frowned, "Naruto, you kicked her out of the Seal?" he asked seriously, hand inching towards a black leather thing with what looked like a hoop-handled knife in there.
Naruto nodded, "Yeah, his name's Harii, he got stuck in Kyuubi's Seal when he died so I kicked him out an'..." The boy flushed again, glancing at the still unimpressed Harry from the corner of his eye, well, at least he wasn't getting referred to as 'It' or 'That' anymore.
The white haired man looked sharply at the Gryffindor who folded his arms and glared right back, colouring the moment he noticed the man's look becoming a little more glazed as his eyes slid down. He shifted his arms upwards until they were hiding them from sight, the last thing he wanted now was to get ogled by some guy who looked old enough to be his Grandfather! He didn't want to get ogled at full stop!
"Ero-Sennin!" the blond boy snarled, "Get your brain outta the gutter!" he commanded, waving a hand at Harry, "Serious stuff here! A dead guy ended up in Kyuubi's cage and now he's in my Oiroke no Jutsu!"
Sexy Technique? Oh good grief.
"A dead guy, you say?" the Sage echoed, rubbing his chin and eyeing Harry speculatively before scooting forward and holding a hand out, "May I?" he asked, arching an eyebrow. For a moment, Harry considered telling him to bugger off before remembering his situation and nodding with a rather defeated sigh, the man offered him a small reassuring smile as he reached out and touched his face. Broad calloused palms cupping his cheek, long rough fingers gently exploring his skull structure before gently pulling down one of his eyelids to check them, trailing down to check the glands on his throat, feel for a pulse, pressing firmly on his shoulders for a moment before moving down further and squeezing...
Harry bristled and a split second later Jiraiya's head was thrown to the side, a bright red hand print practically glowing on his cheek as Harry stared down at his hand in horrified fascination – and perhaps a little gratitude – as the flesh began to sting and burn with the force of the strike. Evidentially... instinctive Apparation wasn't the only thing he had gained in death, or was this a 'Female Reflex' thing? He'd seen Ginny do some down right evil things to guys who got grabby with her, it was like watching an angry snake lash out, quite often she was so quick with her retaliation her attackers never got to cop a good enough feel to brag about before they ended up in the Hospital Wing. And Pomfrey was utterly unsympathetic and more likely to contact their Head of House for Sexual Harassment than fuss over them – it may have had something to do with the fact that Harry was her favourite patient and the whole world and his wife expected him and Ginny to settle down and have a truck of ginger babies in a little cottage with a white picket fence.
The white haired man chuckled as he idly rubbed his cheek, "Guess I had that one coming," he admitted, looking surprisingly suave for someone who just got smacked (How?). "Though, I gotta ask, were you always a woman? 'Cause you've got the righteous fury of one," he teased lightly, making the Gryffindor flush unhappily.
"Quite certain," he assured the man stiffly.
"Pervert," Naruto growled unhappily, squint-glowering at the old man.
He chuckled and roughly ruffled the younger boy's hair, ignoring his squawk of protest, "Well, you're not a Clone of Naruto's and you're not some manifestation of Kyuubi, for one your Chakra is different to both of them and you have a pulse, not even Clones have that. Your Chakra circulatory system is a mirror to Naruto's as well, if you were a Clone it would be identical," the man continued on wisely, holding a finger up as he lectured them, "Your skin is warm and well, Clones don't have bones so there was no way I should have been able to feel all them delicate little constructs in those cute little ears of yours." Harry refrained from growling at him but only just and the bastard knew it judging by the way he flashed him that cheeky smirk.
"You mean, he won't Release if someone hits him with a Kunai?" Naruto asked, turning his squint onto the Gryffindor, looking for all the world like he was going to try it out.
Harry narrowed his eyes on the boy, he didn't know what a Kunai was but it sounded painful, "Try it and I'll Transfigure you into a Toad," he warned, making the boy wince and smile a little sheepishly at being caught in the act.
The man however 'hmmm'ed, perking up when Harry mentioned the word 'Transfigure' only to frown a little in thought, rubbing his chin in a parody of a 'wise man' despite having no facial hair, "Tell me, Harii-chan," he said, catching the Gryffindor's attention, "What were you?"
He frowned in confusion, "What was I? Uh, can you be a little more specific?" he asked, completely flummoxed by the question.
He waved a hand, "Y'know, what did you do for a living, any special abilities and the like, one of my teachers could Transfigure but not much else and I was just wondering how much you knew anything about it since you mentioned it earlier," he lied smoothly, the busty bombshell frowned daintily as she thought it over, it was almost physically painful to look at such a beautiful young woman and see his student, Minato, looking out from her face, it made it almost creepy to hit on her. Not that it being creepy would really stop him, she was an absolutely smoking hot! Major points to Naruto for imagination and execution when he came up with that Henge.
She shrugged, "I was a Wizard," Jack pot! "But I hadn't finished my Training in all honesty, a War broke out and the school became too dangerous for me to attend, so I started helping out with the War effort. In the end, I took a One-Hit-Kill attack to the chest and bam, there I was in a cage with Chuckles." It took a great deal of will power not to laugh at the nickname the blonde girl had bestowed upon the fearsome Kyuubi no Kitsune, Naruto called it the Bastard Fox, his mother just called it a Pain in the Ass or when she was feeling particularly vindictive 'Fuzzy'. But Chuckles was definitely his favourite.
"Have to admit, I never knew humans could cross the breach over here. The Toads at Myouboku sometimes head over to learn Magic under you guys, Cats and Owls too, but I don't think a human has ever followed through onto this side," the white haired Sage admitted as he stroked his chin, yawning until his jaw clicked and he made a sound of painful objection under his breath, rubbing his now purpling cheek, "Alright, maybe we should call this a night, well, morning. We can discuss it when we're all awake and less likely to fall asleep," he decided, scratching his head and giving a glance to where Naruto was blinking owlishly, trying to stay awake now that sheer terror in the face of Ghostly-female fury wasn't powering him, and the girl was glaring with what was most definitely sleep deprivation induced irritation. He refrained from chuckling, that expression was pure Kushina in the mornings, she hated mornings.
"My brain is soup. We'll talk about this after breakfast," he continued in a grunt, amused as the girl's expression melted into one of equal exhaustion as she looked over to where Naruto was beginning to nod off where he was sitting. Jiraiya watched with half an eye as she shook him awake and pulled the covers back so he could crawl in, that was surprisingly cute, he smirked and opened up the side of his blankets, "You can share with me," he suggested with a lecherous grin and eyebrow wiggle.
Naruto coloured immediately, latching his arms around the girl's waist and twisting her until she was on his otherside and away from Jiraiya, "No way in hell Pervert Sage!" he snarled protectively while the blonde girl merely blinked in complete bafflement before shrugging, too tired to argue as she pulled the blankets up and fell asleep before Naruto had even finished snarling at his teacher.
The Toad Sannin couldn't help but chuckle as he turned the lights off, the three of them settling down to at least get an extra few hours of sleep.
After all, the sun still had yet to rise.
First chapter, hope you guys enjoyed and yes, it was different from esama's, as per our agreement. She allowed me to take her concept as long as I didn't copy her word for word or steal her text. Some of the scenes are inspired by her so are similar but for the most part I tried to keep it as separate.
I do not own Harry Potter, nor do I own Naruto, Auryn is based on the original concept 'Subject of Change' by esama and continued with full permission, please support the original release!
Waking up was by no means a simple thing when one took into account they were naked from the waist down and currently being used as a cuddly toy by some preteen with the grumpy older brother of "Tails" languishing within his bellybutton. Oh, and not to forget that one, twenty four hours previously, was of the male gender and now rather tragically was in possession of breasts that would have had every guy he knew drooling like a simpleton.
Harry sighed and squirmed slightly in the bedding, the kid snuggled into his awkwardly swollen chest, clinging to his clothing in an iron tight grip that was making disturbingly warm and fuzzy feelings go all squidgy in his chest. He was quite certain that it was a female thing, that feeling, maybe? He hoped it was. He really didn't want to start going all... Disney or Ginny over small and cute things when he had quite firmly told the two males present that he had been one himself not too long ago. It would raise eyebrows and cast his masculinity into doubts and – he sincerely hoped this place had some kind of Sex Change procedures. Hopefully ones better than the Muggle World back home.
Movement and then a large hand smacked down lazily on top of them, the boy snuggled against him crumpling his face as he slowly came to. Harry closed his eyes, feigning sleep, as the boy suddenly went tense. A moment later, he could feel the blankets shifting as the boy sat up. Cracking an eye open, Harry could see him pouting down at his hands, how they bore signs of blisters and burns, trembling ever so slightly. They were probably numb and tingly as well. He shut his eyes quickly as the kid got up, staggering a little before using a foot to flip the edge of the blankets back over the Gryffindor before making his way out, distantly he could hear the kid asking a member of staff where the toilet was.
He sat up, giving his chest a dirty look as he did so, and glanced over at the old man. He was still sound-o, reeking of booze as he mumbled and giggled and drooled in his sleep, a goofy look on his face that reminded Harry of Ron when he was having one of those dreams. Shaking his head, Harry looked around in search of some clothes or at least a convenient bedsheet he could use as clothing to no avail. All that was available was the thick blankets of their beds.
A moment later, the door to the room slid open allowing the blond kid to come back in.
The kid flushed and quickly hurried over to one of the large scrolls leaning against the wall, "Hang on a second, Neechan," he told the Gryffindor, "Ero-sennin should have some clothes in here you can wear," he explained, unrolling it and biting down on his thumb. Harry hissed in sympathetic pain as the boy smeared a surprisingly large amount of blood onto one of the ink designs, a poof of smoke filling the air a moment before the boy was proudly holding up a grey dressing gown made out of cotton. "Here, this should fit!" he exclaimed cheerfully, ignoring the annoyed groan from the bed behind them as Harry scooched over and gathered it up.
It smelt a little of grass and pine and a touch of male body odour, but it was large, it would cover him about down to his knees, the sleeves would probably swallow his hands given how broad the shoulders were in comparison to his own but he could live with that.
"Thanks, kiddo," he told the blond before slipping it on, keeping it closed and then wriggling out of the blue top he had been given last night. Setting the blue one aside, he got to his feet, "Hey, point me towards the toilets, would you?" he asked.
It took a concentrated effort to force himself into stepping into the girl's toilets instead of heading for the mens', the inside wasn't that different, in fact it was identical, minus the urinals and the addition of the bins beside the toilets. For the first time, Harry got a look at himself in the mirror and felt distinctly uncomfortable at the pretty, very pretty, stranger that looked back at him with bright blue eyes. He could have been the Kid's elder sister with looks like this! Double checking the door was locked and he was alone, hesitantly, he let the robe he was wearing drop, studying himself in more detail, blushing furiously all the while.
There wasn't much of a difference in the height of this... girl, and his former self, they were both standing around about 5'5" in height, she was most likely an inch, maybe two, shorter but it was hard to tell in a mirror and without a point of reference. Thick, elbow length wavy gold blonde hair, almost the same shade of acid yellow that the Kid had, it was pulled back into a pair of pigtails that were now half undone after wearing them to bed. His body... Dudley's porn magazines had nothing on this. Seriously. Harry pressed a hand against his stomach and tensed, eyes widening at the muscle definition that rippled under soft skin, christ, curves in all the right places and muscles that most athletes didn't obtain, if he was supposed to look like Naruto's older sister, he was somewhat curious about what his parents looked like.
Bladder reminding him why he came in, Harry quickly grabbed the bathrobe and used the facilities, cringing a little in abject horror and embarrassment when he had to... well, clean up after himself because shaking it off was impossible when there was nothing to shake!
Washing his hands, because he didn't want to think about what he had just been touching, that way led madness, Harry made his way back to the room. The Kid greeting him at the door with a sunny smile and a length of cloth, "So you can hold your yukata shut," he explained before swiftly darting behind Harry and doing it himself. "C'mon, let's get breakfast, Neechan!" he exclaimed, grabbing his hand and pulling him off down the corridor.
"Hey, slow down, Kiddo or I'll trip!" Harry squawked as he easily kept up and maintained his balance and... no, no he wasn't going to trip. This body... it moved better than his old one.
Harry received several rather curious looks, some people stared at her as well, but the kid sneered and scowled straight back, making them look away surprisingly quickly. He was twelve, how did a twelve year old frighten off adults who looked like they had been taking care of themselves for a long time? The boy led him into a canteen cheerfully chattering away about his plans for the day, which mostly culminated in training and figuring out this 'Super awesome secret Ninjutsu' that he was going to Master because he was going to be better than the Yondaime blah, blah, blahblah, blah? Harry kind of tuned him out by the time his food reached him.
It was definitely food, but... Harry recognised very little of it.
Sticky white grain rice, two unidentified grilled fish, a bowl of cloudy brown liquid with floating chunks of white in it, a small dish with what looked like dried seaweed on it, another dish of... old baked beans? What looked like a boiled egg and another tiny dish of what he did identify as Dark Soy Sauce with some green stuff on the side in a separate dish. Deciding to play it safe, Harry made a start on the rice, awkwardly cradling the pair of chopsticks in his right hand as he contemplated how he was going to pick the rice up. He couldn't eat it a grain at a time, that would just be stupid and take forever. He turned to watch Naruto and see how he handled it.
The blond boy was glaring at his hand, chopsticks discarded on his tray as if he had dropped them.
"Are you alright?" the Gryffindor asked, frowning in concern when he saw the boy pick them up again only for his numb fingers to be unable to even grip them. The preteen seemed most upset with this development.
Blue eyes blinked over at her in complete confusion before grinning at him so broadly and happily his eyes were squinted shut, "I'm fine, Dattebayo!" he exclaimed enthusiastically, thumping his chest and grabbing the chopsticks again. Harry's nose wrinkled, the boy was nothing if not stubborn...
"Gimme your hand," he ordered, reading out and holding his own, palm up in front of him. The kid stared at him with wide eyes and Harry arched an expectant eyebrow, there was a pause before, hesitantly, Naruto placed the trembling limb into his hand. Drawing it closer, Harry examined it carefully. Spending so much time taking care of his own injuries under the Dursleys, silently managing aches and pains and strains from Quidditch Practice and listening to Madam Pomfrey detailing his own injuries to him, at length in lectured form, Harry was actually quite self sufficient when dealing with his own injuries. Hermione was better with the Charms and such, which was a given, she was a genius, but what she lacked was practical knowledge, she tried to correct that by jumping on every injury he and Ron had as if they were completely useless. He could understand that, everyone assumed that the so called 'Golden Trio' had their areas of expertise, that Harry was the powerhouse attacker, Ron was the master tactician and that Hermione was the brains and support for them both.
Even his friends had fallen into that trap, forgetting that Ron was a damn good flyer and had an uncanny ability to understand people, even if he did use that understanding to hurt them when he was pissed off. Hermione forgot that she was a combat powerhouse as well, yes she wasn't as strong as Harry but the way she used her Spells and Magic meant that she obtained the same effect for half the power, she forgot that she had her own leadership abilities and if need be could walk into a Death Eater lair and bullshit her way back out again. Just like they forgot that Harry had been taking care of himself for years, that he was far more stealthy than he was powerful, that he knew more physical and Muggle methods of getting what he wanted and needed than Magic could provide. They forgot that, unlike them, Magic was never his first option and because of that he had kept hold of something precious. Something that very few in the Magical World possessed.
Common bloody Sense.
Naruto winced as Harry began to massage his hand, "It'll hurt for a bit," the Gryffindor explained as he worked, "What I'm doing is stimulating overly tense and stressed out muscles and tendons in your hands and fingers. Getting the blood flow to work and hopefully settling your nerves. You've badly overstrained your hand. Whatever technique you've been using is putting a lot of pressure on your grip, I've seen injuries like these on our Beaters at school, it comes from having your hand wrapped tightly around something for too long," he explained as he worked each of the boy's fingers individually before going back to his hand and then working on his wrist. "The burns are another thing but not something I can deal with right now so I'll just have to tell you to make sure that if you're doing more of this kind of training to keep some cold water near-by to sooth the burns every half an hour to an hour. Keep your hand in the bucket of cold water for about ten minutes and relax your hand. There, it should be somewhat better now," he decided, releasing the Kid's wrist and watching as he drew it back, a flummoxed look on his face as he flexed his fingers and examined his hand.
"T-that's amazing, it doesn't hurt!" he exclaimed in excitement, waving his hand around gleefully, blue eyes wide and staring at the Gryffindor with such adoration that he began to feel a little uncomfortable and flustered.
He sniffed, "Eat your food. You'll need your energy for training later." If there was one thing he had learned about Naruto already it was that Training was the magic word. Almost immediately the blond was grabbing his chopsticks and digging into his food with cheerful gusto, gobbling it down with all the speed of a ravenous Ron Weasley, with even less manners. "Kid, slow down before you choke!" Harry snapped, making the boy almost do exactly that before swallowing and blushing.
"But I'm hungry..." he whined.
"Eat slower," Harry ordered, glaring at him, "You stomach stretches as you fill it with food, if you eat slower then you'll feel fuller and have less chance of a stomach ache. Plus, its not very nice for people watching if you eat too quickly." Memories of Aunt Petunia confiscating food if he couldn't eat properly like a civilised person floated to mind. "Slower, Kid, chew with your mouth closed and keep your elbows in," he continued before digging into his rice, making sure to do exactly what he told the other boy to do as an example.
A surly expression of concentration crossed the boy's face as he shifted his weight and followed the Gryffindor's actions, eating with almost exaggerated care if he weren't actually trying so hard to do as he was told. Harry smiled a little, how long ago had it been since he was that eager to please?
"Good job, Kiddo, you're doing well," he praised and couldn't help but smile in return when the boy practically beamed up at him.
The two of them continued to eat their breakfast, chatting, Naruto explaining the world they were in, Harry occasionally scolding the younger blond only to laugh a few seconds later when he argued or tried to correct himself, Naruto laughing over the faces Harry pulled when trying the new foods – the Gryffindor very nearly threw up what he had already eaten when he tried the baked beans which Naruto told him were called Nattou, fermented soybeans, really, it tasted like... it tasted foul! It was hard to describe it without the words mould, arse, rot and puke being used along with several colourful metaphors and a dog being involved. Naruto found his reaction absolutely rib-crackingly hilarious when he first tried it, Harry was less amused as he unceremoniously shoved the dish of Nattou onto the Kid's tray with an expression of deep revulsion on his face. The fish were good, they were eaten with much gusto as was the soup, Miso Soup with Tofu squares, he wasn't quite sure of the tofu but it was tasty after it had absorbed some of the Miso soup flavourings. By this point he was full so he let Naruto have the rest of his tray.
It was nice, Harry decided as he cleared away their dishes, the younger boy was a good kid. Clumsy, and awkward, but he had a heart of gold.
Telling Naruto to meet him back at the room, Harry went to see the owner of the Hotel, quite the tale forming in his mind as he did so. The old man who manned the counter spotted her and frowned, obviously not recognising her.
"Are... are you the owner?" Harry asked, putting as much hesitation into his voice as possible, almost immediately he could see the frown soften just a little.
"Yup, that would be me. What can I help you with, young miss?" he asked chewing on his pipe and eyeing her up and down. Harry purposefully shifted and tugged on his clothes self consciously.
"My younger brother and his teacher are guests here," he began, "I was supposed to be meeting them a few days ago but when I didn't show they had to take rooms and wait for me." He thought of his current circumstances and how the twins and Ron would react if they found out he had girlie parts now and felt the blush rise up, blazing red on his cheeks, adding to his story. "I- I got attacked on my way, Mist Nukenin, stupid ones but, they took everything I had, even the clothes off my back. I was wondering... if... if your wife had a spare change of clothes I could borrow, at least until my brother and I can get a second set," he explained, looking as imploringly at the old man as he could, "His teacher offered me one of his Yukata but..." he tugged at it helplessly, "Its not..."
The old man nodded in understanding, his face coloured with sympathy and admiration, "You must have had the ear of M'lady Benten-Ojosama to be stood here right now if you ran into Mist Nukenin," the old man declared puffing, almost proudly, on his pipe.
Harry flushed, and gestured down, "I got used to avoiding grabby folk as soon as I... ah, blossomed," he explained awkwardly, making the Inn-keeper snort with laughter as he heaved himself up.
"I don't doubt it. Wait here a moment while I go and have a word with the Missus, I think we still have some of our Kyoko-chan's old clothes from before her wedding. You'll have to tell me how you escaped from that sticky situation later," he told the Gryffindor who, despite internally swearing as badly as Sirius when he stubbed his toe, nodded shyly with a flustered expression of embarrassment and pride on his face.
Waiting a minute or so, an elderly woman appeared, she peered up at her and smiled, "So you would be the lucky little lady who survived the Mist Sharks. Well, well, well, I can see why they were interested in you. This way, this way, I'm fairly sure we have something you could squeeze into. Really, I've been meaning to throw most of these away so you're in good fortune, young miss! Just what ever girl loves, free clothes," the woman rambled as she led the former boy into their private rooms. Her husband rummaging through a rather cramped cupboard and surfacing with a box that had a light layer of dust on top of it.
"I remember when Kyoko-chan was wearing those, oh she was such a pretty girl, prettier than you I would say, though I'm obviously biased," the old woman continued as she shooed her husband out and began to rummage in the box. "Ah, her summer yukata, I made this for her on the ninth Konoha Kyuubi Festival, that was where she met her husband. Such a nice young man, despite his being a Ninja, I did always worry about those folk, seemed so rough and violent, not to mention mysterious. Goodness me, no, no, her Gai was such a strange one, an utter gentleman and such a strong young man, a Jounin I believe," the woman continued to chatter away as she separated the clothing into two piles. Harry could identify underwear in one and regular every day clothing in the other, thankfully it was mostly in reds, greens, dark blues, greys and blacks. He couldn't see any pink staining the collection.
He had to interrupt then, "Ma'am," he squeaked, silencing her glowing adoration of her only daughter and her strange yet wonderful husband, "I – I cannot take all of these!" he refused, blushing horribly.
The old woman laughed and slapped her leg, "Oh young miss, you can and you will. I shan't hear another word against it, now, up, up, up!" she commanded, rising to her feet with a pile of clothing in hand, suddenly appearing rather menacing despite the kindly smile never leaving her face. Harry fought the urge to swallow and break out into a cold sweat before running off screaming, not even Voldemort inspired that feeling, or Hermione during that time of the month, though Hermione came closest.
Naruto frowned as he finished binning the last of the torn rubber balloons, he could have sworn he just head a scream of terror and the sound of someone's soul breaking.His stomach gurgled happily and he just brushed it off as bowel movements, returning to bragging about his accomplishment to Ero-sennin who was still half asleep.
Blushing horribly and feeling beyond violated, Harry quickly hurried away from the elderly woman, Hinako, with a bag stuffed of clothing over one shoulder and a pair of battered old sandals in hand as she bumped into Naruto and the old man. The youngest of which seemed surprised at her change of clothing and the elder wondering just where the hell it came from – because he most certainly didn't own such a Yukata. It was warm gold with emerald green, red, brown and gold autumn leaves printed on it with a thin black obi, silver and green bamboo shoots painted across it.
"P-pretty," Naruto stuttered, staring bug eyed at the Gryffindor's clothes, "Ne, ne, where did you get 'em from, Neechan?" he asked enthusiastically.
"I asked the Inn-Keeper's wife if she had anything I could borrow, crazy old woman gave me her daughter's hand-me-downs," he explained, tugging on the fabric with an embarrassed expression on his face, "I feel weird wearing this. I want some bloody trousers," he grumbled.
Jiraiya snorted and started laughing as he got himself some breakfast, "Well, while Naruto's off training for the second half of his Jutsu, I'll take you shopping, how's that?" he suggested with what was most definitely a perverted look in his eye. Harry gave him a flat, disbelieving look, unbeknownst to him that Naruto was copying the exact same expression having seen it on his face. Jiraiya refrained from chuckling at the sight, but it was difficult.
"Try to remember that despite the boobs, I am a guy. In other words, penis, hairy arse, sweaty pits, picking my nose, farting and thinking its hilarious, belching contests, projectile vomit – " By this point Jiraiya was chalk white and waving his hands, desperately trying to get the Gryffindor to shut the hell up but Harry was ruthless, hammering each point home with a nasty little smirk on his face. Naruto watching him effectively stop his teacher's perviness with awe-filled eyes.
"Enough! I got it, I got it! Here, go shopping by yourself," the Kage-level Jounin wailed, shoving his wallet over at the now grinning blonde haired 'girl' who scooped it up, checked the insides and nodded before hesitating, a frown creasing her face. Jiraiya blinked at her, "What's wrong?" he asked.
Harry shook his head and pocketed the wallet, "Nothing, just an unwelcome thought," he assured the man, waving it off like a cloud of mosquitoes. The man shrugged and ate, practically ordering Naruto to explain where he got the idea of using two hands to work his Jutsu came from. Harry however was wondering... why wasn't he trying to find a way back home? He had been here a few hours and already it was... it felt like he was making a home for himself here, with the Kid and the Old Pervert. He had just clicked with them in a way he hadn't since... ever. He should probably try to leave before he became too attached and vice versa, it would be more painful for everyone involved if he didn't make his escape. Already he was missing Ron and Hermione and it hadn't even been a full twenty four hours, heck, probably not even twelve hours.
Harry looked up at Jiraiya while Naruto was busy cheering and gave him a very serious look, the white haired man immediately realising that they were going to be having words as soon as Naruto was out of earshot.
In reality, he could understand the girl's feelings. She had a life of her own back home and she died, she had every intention of going to the afterlife and staying there with those already departed, but she was still alive, and in her mind that meant she still had a job to do. Jiraiya could respect that, he did respect that, she wasn't about to let herself die now that she had no need to.
"The only problem is, I don't know how to get back," she admitted, wringing her hands in frustration as they sat at the Dango stall. Jiraiya sighed and pushed her plate over to her, she dubiously ate one of the sweets before allowing herself another, clearly enjoying it.
"You don't want to get attached to Naruto," he concluded.
She nodded and sipped her sweetened milk tea, "Yeah, he's a good kid, a heart of real gold. But there was a War back home, and everyone was kind of... Kind of expecting me to win it for them," she admitted, staring down at her drink morosely. "So many people have died already, if I don't go back... more are going to follow."
Jiraiya rubbed at his chin, "A real dilemma." He lifted his hands defensively when he saw the caustic glare she was shooting him, "No, really, I understand. I've fought in wars as well you know. I understand. However, I'm not quite sure about how you even got here, let alone how to send you back. There are theories but they're all about as cockamaney as those rumours of me and my ex-teammate having a secret gay relationship." He pulled a face, like hell, he was born to love the ladies, not make friends with them and regardless of how girlie Orochimaru looked there was no way he would let Jiraiya top. So no way in hell were they going to screw each other because Jiraiya the Toad Sage and Super Pervert of Legend was no one's butt-bunny!
Harry sighed and stared down at his drink, fingers gripping the ceramic tightly.
"I can contact the Toad Sages, see what they have to say on the matter. They do go to your people to study Senjutsu, I mean, Magic," Jiraiya explained with a shake of his head.
"If you could, please, that would be great," the blonde girl said with a weak smile, obviously not expecting much from the venture.
And finished with Chapter 2. Hope you guys have enjoyed it. Yes I'm taking things a little slower than when esama wrote this Chapter but its also very different as I hope you'll see. Jiraiya is treating Harry like an adult because that's the way he's acting, if you're going to act like a child then he's going to treat you like one. Often by being one himself but that's beside the point XDDD
Now, I have a question for everyone! Your answers WILL affect the future of the story because I can't choose which route to take.
When Naruto and Jiraiya leave on their three year training trip: Should Harry go with them, or stay in Konoha?
Each has its own advantages and backstory. Given how I just hinted at Senjutsu being Magic, you can imagine and then cry over what Fuuinjutsu Harry may learn under Jiraiya, not to mention all the Ninjutsu and Taijutsu. But there are more resources in Konoha, she could become a Medic Nin? ANBU? Unlimited opportunity and a chance to rise in the ranks, run missions, do all sorts of things. Whereas Jiraiya really knows his stuff, he trained the original Akatsuki.
Choices, choices. I can't choose, help me out. Give me arguments for why you chose what as well. It'll help me make my mind up.
The date is currently October Tenth, Happy Birthday Naruto!
While Jiraiya entertained himself with a few... ladies of dubious professions, Harry meandered through the village, the Jounin's wallet tucked away safely in the obi of his borrowed kimono as he searched for the cheapest durable clothing he could find. He spent a long time observing the people around him, listening in on conversations, studying the clothing, mannerisms, what books seemed to be popular along with foods. Naruto had explained a little of the world but not all that much, the Gryffindor had been concerned that he would mess up when appealing to the Inn Keeper and his wife for some hand-me downs because he quite frankly only had the vaguest understanding of what a Mist Nukenin was. A Soldier from the Land of Water who had deserted the Ninja Army.
The Pervert gave him a fair bit more information to work with during their conversation over Dango earlier – explaining more about the world setting, laughing over Harry's story and giving him some embellishments and such that he could use to make it more believable. The old man praised him for the quick thinking, requesting hand-me-downs had never even crossed his mind. Harry, who was used to them and wanted to be as little of an imposition as possible to the two Shinobi as possible, was being highly frugal with the money he had been given. Hunting for the best bargains and being absolutely ruthless with the haggling in a way that would make Petunia proud. Had he been anyone but Harry.
Clothing obtained, he stowed it away in the storage scroll Jiraiya showed him how to use, splitting the skin of his finger with one of those hoop-handled knives Naruto gave him before leaving for his training. A Kunai.
Feeling a little peckish, he bought some Dango and a portable container of Miso Ramen – he gathered that this was Naruto's favourite food from his comments at breakfast – before making his way over to where he saw the boy that morning. The now female Gryffindor blinked large blue eyes at the sight of the blond boy sprawled out across the floor, panting and trembling with exhaustion.
"Naruto!" he called, dropping the food and darting over, dropping down beside the kid who cracked open bleary blue eyes and grinned tiredly up at him. "What happened? Are you alright?" asked the Gryffindor, hands fluttering worriedly over the Shinobi's smaller frame.
"Nyehehe – heh – ha... I'm alright now, Neechan," the blond told him softly, his laughter tapering off into panting breaths as he smiled up at the blonde girl with the same whisker marks on her cheeks as his own, concern and anxiousness for him etched onto those familiar features. For a moment, just this moment, as hands the same shade as his gently lifted his trembling, exhausted self off the ground and into a lap that smelt of sweet sauce, tea and the room fragrance at the hotel, that this person really was his real sister, that he had a family who cared, who worried for him.
Harry huffed as he manoeuvred the kid onto his back, he weighed a surprising amount for being such a midget, however, the Gryffindor pegged that as muscle more than actual fat, his body felt surprisingly firm as he shifted him. "Geez, only you would work yourself to this state," muttered the seventeen year old as he got to his feet, shifting the kid on his back, wincing slightly when his long hair caught on something but ignoring it in favour of beginning the treck back to the hotel.
"But Neechan, I gotta complete my training," murmured Naruto wearily as he slowly wrapped his arching arms around the girl's neck so she could carry him better.
Harry huffed, grumbling, "S'not training if its destroying yourself," he retorted, giving the fallen back of ramen and dango a look before shifting Naruto with one arm and using his toe to scoop up the handle of the bag into his hand. "Hold this, its dinner," he told the blond as he pressed the carrier back into his hand, making sure he had hold of it before going back to supporting his weight properly and carrying on back to the Hotel.
"Ramen?" the blond asked hopefully.
"Miso, your favourite," the Gryffindor confirmed with a small smirk when he cheered as enthusiastically as he could, which was surprisingly enthusiastic, just not very energetic.
Figuring it would be a little rude to return to the Inn and eat in their room, Harry stopped at a small little play park with some benches, setting the other blond down and taking the bag, getting the ramen out for him before meandering to the small food cart a slight distance away to get some drinks. By the time he returned, half the ramen was already gone and he got the feeling the only reason there wasn't less was because Naruto was both too tired to inhale it and trying hard to mind his manners.
The two of them ate in silence on the bench, Naruto seeming to perk up with the more ramen that hit his stomach, given how hard he had obviously been training Harry reluctantly parted with two of his dango sticks to feed the bottomless pit. The smile he got in return made those annoying squishy warm feelings in his chest multiply – definitely a girl thing he decided.
"What are you trying to do anyway?" the Gryffindor asked when the smaller blond had finished eating and was now sat warming his still sore fingers on the mug of tea Harry had brought over.
Immediately Naruto launched into a very fast and enthusiastic explanation of the technique he was learning, the Rasengan.
Apparently it was using your Chakra, whatever that was, to create a sphere of condensed energy that was rapidly going in multiple directions, it was designed to blast things from what the Shinobi was gushing about. However, he was having difficulties with it, unable to build up enough power to burst the rubber ball like he had done with the water balloon he had been working on the morning of Harry's arrival.
"What's Chakra?" the seventeen year old asked thoughtfully, he wondered if it was similar to Magic in any kind of way, if it were then the chances of his returning to Hogwarts would shoot up through the roof.
"Its the energy that runs through our bodies!" the blond explained cheerfully and then he was off, explaining about hand-seals and Jutsus and other applications of Chakra, showing off a little by summoning a Shadow Clone and walking up a tree as if gravity were just a myth. "This is one of the Chakra Control techniques that Kakashi-sensei taught us, there are others, I learned how to walk on water before we left on our mission to find the next Hokage," Naruto explained as he flipped from the tree-trunk, landing and striking a pose for the seventeen year old's amusement.
"And the more you do these Control Techniques, the better you get at using... Jutsus, was it?"
"Yup!" Another squinty grin was bestowed on the teenager.
Harry hummed, leaning forward and propping his chin up on his elbow, "If you're having trouble with your technique... maybe you should do a few Chakra Control techniques before having another go at it. This Rasengan sounds really complicated with all the layers to it."
Naruto blinked at him in confusion, opening his mouth to question him before realisation practically beaned him between the eyes. Harry smiled a little when the boy began hopping in place, shouting in annoyance with himself, how he should have listened to Iruka-sensei and how he just knew Sakura-chan and Sasuke-yarou would have been able to do this Jutsu easily. A moment later and he was alone, the energetic Genin rushing off back to his Training Clearing with a loud thank you to his 'Neechan', Harry doubted if he would see the blond until the next morning.
Stretching lazily and finishing his drink, he got to his feet and stretched lazily, deciding to head back to the Hotel and steal Naruto's bed. It wasn't like the kid wouldn't crawl in with him when he came in.
The next morning it was only his new Wrath of Woman abilities and reflexes borne of spending a year on the run from Death Eaters and dodging hexes from Hermione that prevented Jiraiya from getting a good molesty grope in when he woke up. Unfortunately for the Sannin, he ended up getting punted into the ceiling when his roommate woke at the most inopportune moment and lashed out with a dainty foot and all the force of his female teammate at the same age.
A little embarrassed, Harry fled the room with a bundle of clothing underarm and got changed in the bathroom, pulling on the loose black trousers, grey sleeveless turtle neck and the long red yukata – he had every intention of becoming an Auror so he may as well get used to the uniform, not to mention after so many years with a robe swirling around his ankles, he felt strange without one. Eyeing his long blonde hair he debated on what to do. Personally, he liked girls with long hair, Cho and Ginny both had very long very pretty straight hair in their respective colours, his hair right now was... well, just as unruly as his old hair just wavy and much, much longer. Pavarti and her sister Padma had hair this length... they both tended to braid it back if his memory was correct... Luna left hers loose which baffled Harry until he recalled that she didn't wear backpacks, instead favouring a bottomless messenger bag like Hermione did. Who else had very long hair? Professor McGonagall had very long hair which she tended to keep in that very severe bun. Alicia and Angelina did different things with their hair and Bill kept his in a plain old pony-tail. Shrugging he gathered it all up and tied it into a ponytail before leaving the bathroom, just in time to walk down to breakfast with Jiraiya.
"You mentioned talking to someone about getting me home yesterday," reminded the blonde as they sat down with their food trays, the white haired male pausing just long enough to have a small tub of Nattou unceremoniously shoved onto his tray by the 'girl'.
He leaned back in his seat, setting his chopsticks down on their rest, "I did, didn't I? Well, after breathfast we'll go back to the room and I'll see what Fukasaku has to say," he decided, rubbing at his chin.
Harry nodded, "Can we check on Naruto first?" he asked, the bed had been cold and there was no sign of the boy having returned at all in the night.
Jiraiya scowled at him, that expression immediately put Harry's back up, "Naruto is a Shinobi, Harii-chan, he doesn't need to be coddled like a child," he bit out, further making the Gryffindor bristle, "If you can't rely on yourself then you aren't fit to be a Shinobi, he does not need someone holding his hand and if he does, I wouldn't want him for a student."
"He's an attention starved twelve year old kid," Harry retorted coldly, coldly enough to actually make the Jounin sit up in sudden seriousness, there was an edge of knowing in the blonde, "Is it common practice in these parts to leave kids on their own over night to work themselves to death?"
"If that happens then he wasn't worth much to begin with and the world won't miss him," the white haired Jounin informed him cruelly.
The chopsticks in Harry's hand snapped and he stood abruptly, shaking his head he left the table and the food right there, refusing to look back at the Jounin as he stalked away. Jiraiya sighed, leaning back in his chair, guilt and frustration surging through his veins, clearly Harii-chan had come from a very different culture to theirs, one where there was very little war and kids could afford to be kids. Perhaps he should look into convincing Tsunade to keep the 'girl' in the village when he took Naruto on his little Training Trip, 'she' would just end up ruining any progression that Naruto would make through coddling.
He decided to wait until later in the day before hunting 'her' down and summoning Fukusaku, right now, things were too strained between them.
Harry made his way to the training clearing where he knew Naruto would be working and couldn't help but squawk in alarm when he saw what the boy was doing. He was stood upside down on a tree branch, using his Chakra to stick, and trying to make a leaf on the palm of his hand spin.
At the sound of Harry's voice, he jolted a little, the leaf shooting off his palm and actually slicing the skin of the Gryffindor's cheek – thankfully he didn't unstick from the tree.
"Neechan!" he yelped in surprise, happy surprise but clearly he hadn't been expecting someone to check on him, bringing to mind Jiraiya's earlier heartless comments and reminding Harry of the simmering rage he felt churning in the pit of his stomach. "I did what you told me to do!" the blond boy exclaimed excitedly, "I did Chakra Control exercises all night! Tree Walking got boring after a while so I tried to stick a leaf to my forehead but that got easy so I wanted to try both of them at the same time but then I thought – hey, if I'm going to be making a Spiraling Sphere in my hand, maybe I should try making a leaf spin on my palm – so I did and it worked but its not perfect just yet, can you pass me another leaf, Neechan? I need to get it perfect before I try the Rasengan again! I think I've got it figured out!" Naruto continued to gush, waving his arms excitedly from where he was still stood upside down on the tree branch, his face glowing with delight – and sweat.
A little numbly, Harry plucked a new leaf and handed it over to the blond who laughed happily and thanked him before returning to his rather ridiculous looking training. However, watching the leaf as it wobbly rotated and then became steadier and swifter, almost seeming to pirouette across the boy's palm as though dancing, he couldn't deny it wasn't affective.
"Wohoo! It worked!" exclaimed the Genin, dropping the leaf and jumping, forgetting about gravity for a second and dropping down harshly onto his back with a grunt before laughing, "I meant to do that Neechan, believe it!"
"Alright," the other blonde agreed, sitting down and tossing the discarded rubber ball over to the younger male, completely ignorant to Jiraiya lurking in the bushes watching them, somewhat surprised that his student had thought to do Chakra Control exercises when he had difficulties with the second stage. "Let's see how well its helped you," the Gryffindor declared.
Naruto grinned, pushing up his sleeves dramatically, "Yosh!"
There was a moment of silence as the blond concentrated solely on the rubber ball, seemingly holding his breath with the effort of generating his Chakra which began to charge the air around him, making Harry's skin tingle. Sweat broke out on the boy's face and nerves began to twitch and tense in pain from Chakra burns.
He took a breath and lashed out with his free hand, pressing the ball at odd places, injecting more Chakra into the growing maelstrom in his hand – more and more – again and again –
Harry jumped and flinched as the ball exploded, a halo of visible energy flinging scraps of rubber in every direction and scathing Naruto's hand, causing burns and cuts to split his skin.
"I DID IT! NEECHAN I DID IT, DID'YA SEE? DID'YA SEE?" the Genin cheered, jumping up and down excitedly as he waved around a scrap of rubber before pouncing on the other blonde, laughing and cheering. "You're awesome Neechan! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" he shouted, laughing and hugging the rather overwhelmed Gryffindor who was now sprawled back on the grass with an arm load of excitable twelve year old.
"Thank you for what?" asked a familiar and rather unwelcome voice, Harry scowled up as Jiraiya peered over them with an arched eyebrow and amused leer on his face. It did nothing to soften the look on Harry's face as Naruto bounced up and eagerly explained that Harry had suggested he try Chakra Control if he was having difficulty with a Jutsu. He seemingly didn't notice the rather chilly countenance between the two, too caught up in his excitement over completing the second part of the Jutsu in only two days.
"Ne, ne, ne, what's stage three? C'mon Ero-sennin! I'll have it Mastered within a day, Believe it!" he continued gleefully, pumping his fists and jumping around even further.
"Settle down, Gaki. We've got something else what needs handling first – Harii-chan needs to talk to one of the Toad Sages," the white haired man pointed out, catching the blond midget by the back of his jumpsuit and lifting him up like an errant kitten before plonking him down on the grass. "Remember to show respect to Fukasaku, he's one of the Great Toad Sages and on par with a Kage amidst the Toads, not to mention he's just as powerful as one," the Pervert explained, pointing a finger directly at his young apprentice.
"I'll behave," Naruto grumbled, going cross-eyed before glaring up at Jiraiya through almost squinted shut eyes.
"See that you do. Both of you," he added, shooting a look at Harry who folded his arms and glared at him. Deciding that was as good as he was going to get, Jiraiya chomped down on his thumb and began to Summon his old friend, to Harry it looked as though the man was using his blood as a sacrifice in order to create some kind of on the fly bastardised summoning ritual. What appeared was not a lesser Demon though, but in fact a rather large toad the same size as Hedwig once was, he was however in possession of a walking stick and a pair of eyebrows that would have given Dumbledore a run for his money.
"Well, if it ain't Little Jiraiya-chan!" the old toad greeted, making Harry blink and unfold his arms in surprise, "What calls me here? I don't see anyone what needs a good spanking and you ain't summoned Ma either."
Jiraiya grinned and took a seat so the old Toad wouldn't be forced to look up so high, "Good to see you Fukasaku-jiisan, I summoned you because it seems we've got a slight issue." He gestured over at Harry who cautiously came over and took a seat, the Toad's eyes widening at the sight of him, flicking between Jiraiya and Naruto before returning to Harry with what was quite clearly confusion, anxiousness and suspicion. "This is Poteru Harii, as far as we've been able to glean, Harii was born a Senjutsu-adept, he died over on that side only to wake up in Kyuubi's cage. When Naruto kicked him out of his mind, well," Jiraiya gestured to him, "somehow he ended up in a Clone wearing a rather interesting Henge."
The old Toad rubbed his chin, "A Senjutsu-adept from the otherside, ey?" he pondered before looking at Harry, "Where abouts in the world?" he asked sceptically.
"Uh, England. I was taught at Hogwarts if it helps any?" he trailed off a little hesitantly as the frog began to make more of those hand gestures – this time without the blood sacrifice.
A burst of smoke revealed another Toad, about the same size as Fang the Boarhound, a dark green messenger bag strapped to his back, he wore an eyepatch and had a set of rather interesting scarlet and yellow markings across his body. An orange eye flicked around the room before landing on Fukasaku.
"Where to?" he asked, voice sounding like gravel scraping against a boulder. Obviously expecting a message to be delivered, and, taking a look at his powerfully muscled legs, Harry would bet his broomstick that this was the fastest messenger the Toads had.
Fukasaku shook his head, "No message. We've got a Wizard from the otherside, Hogwarts. Could you field some questions?" he asked, watching as the toad clearly gave it some thought, tilting his head slowly from side to side before looking around and his orange eye landing on Harry before squinting. He nodded and Fukasaku nodded, "Gamajusho, this is Poteru Harii, Little Harii-chan, this is my great, great grandnephew Gamajusho. He was a student at Hogwarts, if you don't mind we'd like to double check your claims."
"Ask away," the Gryffindor declared, taking note of the way Gamajusho's single orange eye narrowed at the mention of his name.
"House?" the toad demanded.
"Ronald Weasley, Neville Longbottom, Seamus Finnigan, Dean Thomas, Pavarti Patil, Lavender Brown, Hermione Granger."
Gamajusho tensed further, "Pets?"
Harry frowned at this one, "Neville had a toad called Trevor, he kept trying to escape. Ron had a rat until we found out it was a person, he got an owl after that called Pigwidgeon – Pig for short. Hermione had a cat who was half Kneazle called Crookshanks. I'm not sure about the others but I remember Lavender mentioning once that she had a rabbit back home," he listed thoughtfully.
The red and yellow patterned Toad considered him carefully for a while, "And you?" he continued, making Harry narrow his eyes on the toad for a moment.
"I had a snowy owl called Hedwig, she died at the beginning of the year. Are you Trevor?" he finally asked, voice coloured with disbelief as the Toad practically flinched in regards to the question.
"Yes. I am. Last question: Phoenix and Dragons. How many have you encountered?" he demanded, orange eye boring into Harry's currently blue ones, the two of them completely unaware of their audience. Their audience who stiffened and sucked in their breath over the last question.
"Norberta in my first year, she was a fresh hatched Norwegian Ridgeback. Fawkes the Phoenix in my second year fought with me against the Basilisk, he healed me when I was bitten. Fourth Year, there was the Hungarian Horntail in the first task, the nesting mother and all her hatchlings, she wasn't happy with me. Fawkes healed me again at the end of the year when I got back from the Graveyard. And," here he blushed in embarrassment, "I... Hermione and I... we flew on one of the Gringotts dragons last year when we broke in and stole Hufflepuff's Goblet from the Lestrange's Vault."
Gamajusho turned to Fukasaku, "This is Poteru Harii from the otherside, he's the only human to get into so much trouble."
"Thank you Gamajusho, you may go," the elderly toad told him.
"Wait!" Harry yelped, "How did you get here Trevor? Last I heard you'd been... well, killed."
The Toad blinked slowly at him before he nodded, "I was. Most Toads, Owls and Cats with the Adept ability are sent to your realm to learn along with you, your world is policed by dragons and phoenix, no one dares put a webbed toe out of line."
Something powerful and unnameable swept through Harry's whole body with a violent force, "So... so Hedwig, she's – "
Understanding relaxed the harsh lines of Gamajusho's face and what was unmistakeably a smile stretched on his amphibious face, "She is most likely with the rest of her kin in the mountains of Lightning Country. Alive and well," he promised. Harry nearly went boneless with relief, his face feeling suspiciously hot as his throat closed up and he nose felt funny. "Would you like me to pass a message on to her?" the Toad asked kindly.
Harry looked up in shock, a wobbly smile crossing over his lips, "You would?" Gamajusho nodded and Harry nodded desperately, "Please, oh thank you, thank you Tre- do you prefer Gamajusho?" he asked, correcting himself at the last second, making the toad laugh.
"You may call me Trevor, in the end, Neville was a fine teacher. I am proud to have journeyed with him on the otherside," he decided with a nod.
The Gryffindor nodded and looked over at Jiraiya who had already pulled out a sheet of paper and an ink-brush, if what he recalled being told by the Toads, the bond between a Wizard and his animal companion was sometimes as powerful as the one between an Inuzuka and their canine. Clearly this was one of those cases. Harry wrote quickly, slightly clumsy with the unfamiliar implements but his writing was understandable and most of all, he apologised to his feathered friend, apologised for being so careless and allowing her to be struck with the Killing Curse.
Gamajusho accepted the folded paper with great care, stowing it in his bag and giving Harry a small bow before looking to Fukasaku who was smiling proudly, he flushed a moment before bursting into smoke. On his way to deliver the missive that so many of them who travelled to the otherworld wished they could receive after their return, because they always missed their Wizard or their Witch. It was inescapable.
There was a moment of silence, Harry trying to get himself back under control, Jiraiya putting away his ink, paper and brush, Naruto leaning against the Gryffindor and offering silent support while Fukasaku examined the Natural Chakra around them.
"Thoughts?" Jiraiya finally asked once he had settled himself.
The toad huffed thoughtfully, "Well, you've kept the secondary Senjutsu channels in this body, you're still a Witch, well, Wizard. You have a Fate Tie into the otherworld as well, whatever unfinished destiny you have there, you'll eventually have to fulfil it. But... strange... you have a link with this world as well." The Toad grumbled, a frown on his face as he leaned in closer, rubbing his chin as he looked between Naruto and Harry, wetting his lips as he seemed to think on what to say. He glanced at Jiraiya and rubbed his eyebrows, a singal that the younger two missed completely but did not escape the Sannin. "Well, Little Harii-chan, your soul is well and truly tied into that body, if you went back to your old world, I can guarantee it would go with you. Aside from telling you that when the time comes, you'll feel the threads of Fate pull you back to your world before it actually happens, you'll have enough time to inform everyone but as near as I can tell you'll have not very long in your old world to fulfil what you have to do before the thread into this world pulls you back. It seems to be stronger so however long you spend here, it will be drastically shorter back in your home dimension. Ask a phoenix or a dragon when you return, find out why it is you've seemingly been exiled here. I'm sad to say I haven't the foggiest."
Well, that was something at least.
Harry bit his lip, so, he would go back, but not for very long because apparently whatever bond he had with this world was stronger than the one he was born into? Bullshit, what the fuck? He sighed, "Thank you Fukasaku, that... cleared up some things but raised more questions I'm afriad. I'll just have to ask Fawkes when I get back," he told the Toad with a small smile of understanding.
Fukasaku nodded and pointed to Jiraiya, "Do you mind if I have a quick word with Little Jiraiya-chan here? Usually he calls me in Combat so there isn't much time to talk but I need to have a word with him regarding some Toad matters."
Harry nodded and got to his feet, ruffling Naruto's hair as he began to make his way back to the village.
"Naruto, go with her, keep her safe. I don't think she's all together with it right now," Jiraiya muttered in an undertone to his apprentice, "I'll catch up when Fukasaku-jiisan's had his say, go on."
The elderly pair watched as the younger generation left, the smaller of the pair charging over and hesitantly reaching up and taking the taller figure's hand, the taller of the pair glancing down before shifting their grip so they were properly holding hands.
"What did you need to tell me?" Jiraiya asked, still watching the retreating backs of the pair.
"She's been rejected by death," the Elder admitted with a heavy sigh, "She missed her time to die back in her home so now its forever been barred to her. They sent her here to die. Someone decided to give her a life first, a chance to make connections. She's the closest thing to a Shinigami in her world, they sent her to the closest source of Chakra that was similar to her own, Naruto's Seal."
"It still resonates with the Shinigami's touch?" the Sannin asked in shock, looking down at his master.
Fukasaku nodded, "It is a container. The very walls and bars were created by the Shinigami. It possesses pieces of Minato and Kushina, echoes and memories, scraps of their Soul watching, observing, waiting. And of course it houses Kyuubi himself. As I understand it, Little Orochimaru was touched by the Shinigami recently?"
"Yeah. Sensei called him up to steal his arms. He can't use Jutsus anymore but its not going to stop him for very long." Jiraiya sighed, he would have thought that Harii-chan would have ended up grafted to him if she were being sent to the largest concentration of the Shinigami's energy.
"Indeed. I don't pretend to understand what has happened, or why. But my best guess is that they, who ever it was who sent him here, were intending on having his soul sleep within Kyuubi's seal until he was needed in his home, bring him back to fulfil it and then be sent on to death in our world. But Naruto's awareness of the Kyuubi, Harii-chan's own power and his knowledge of the mind arts provided a different result."
"A dangerous one?" the Jounin asked, wary.
"No. There's no damage to the Seal from what I can see, just an unusual stressing, its further along in the absorption than it should be but that I can attribute to you trying to get the boy to access the Bijuu's power and control it." This was said with a disapproving look that made the Sannin feel like a naughty child, he didn't like it. "If anything, Harii-chan is a good thing, Kyuubi's Chakra seems to calm around her and the Seal is strengthened just by her presence. She radiates Sen-Chakra without even realising. She must have been a very powerful witch, I'll question Gamajusho further, perhaps get into contact with the female owl he intends on visiting."
"That would be appreciated," Jiraiya muttered, still trying to wrap his mind around a human incarnation of the Shinigami. Harii's situation was still completely unknown but Fukasaku's theories at least provided them with a direction of exploration, Jiraiya would like to completely avoid anything to do with the Shinigami but... damnit, Shinobi paranoia was demanding that he had as much information on this situation as possible.
"Stay safe, Little Jiraiya-chan. She means no harm, in fact, her Chakras show her to be of very good intentions, but she is troubled and I feel that she may be very important in the future," the Toad Sage warned.
Jiraiya nodded and a moment later, Fukasaku burst into smoke, vanishing back home.
There we go. Sorry if the ending seemed a little rushed but I wanted to get this out today in time for Naruto's birthday (is a geek). Add to that I have homework what needs doing so this had to be come toot-sweet.
Hope you guys have enjoyed the Chapter!
Naruto was concerned.
Harii-neechan had a frown on her pretty face as she idly stirred her Ramen. She hadn't even tried any yet. She had that same look on her face as Sasuke did when he was thinking about stupid and sad things. Naruto supposed he kind of understood though. The young Jinchuuriki unenthusiastically took another mouthful of his Miso Ramen, not really tasting the substandard soggy noodles and slightly too salty broth that weren't even a patch on Ichiraku's. If he found out that he couldn't return home to Konoha forever, he would be upset as well. Not to mention having to leave in the middle of a War, especially one where he was one of the key fighters. Neechan must have been out of her mind with worry over her Precious People and until now... until now, Naruto hadn't had a clue.
She was so strong.
He shifted his stool closer and leaned against her side, wrapping his arms around her slim waist, trying as best he could to comfort her in the same way he'd seen other Family Members do. She didn't even look at him. But she did shift and wrap her arm around him, giving his shoulder a reassuring squeeze. Naruto grinned happily and buried his face into her soft side, inhaling the smells he had come to associate with her, the floral hotel air freshener, sweet sauce and milk tea.
Harry however, was lost in thought, staring down at his broth and noodles, watching them drift around his bowl in a never ending oily spiral, aided by his chopsticks.
The revelation that this place now had stronger ties to him than the one of his birth was unsettling, not to mention confusing. What on earth had happened to cause such a thing? This wasn't even his body! His body was currently lying on the cold dirt ground in Aragog's clearing back home in the Forbidden Forest. He could only go back to deal with his 'Unfinished Business' – no prizes for guessing what that was about, Voldemort and that thrice cursed Prophesy. Which meant at some point he would be able to go home and see everyone, but it wouldn't be for long. At least, it would be long enough to say goodbye once Voldemort was ash on the wind.
But he wanted answers. Which meant a fair bit of his time would be taken up by harassing Fawkes out of his Self-Transfiguration or hunting down Norberta or another dragon he could converse with. He preferred Fawkes in all honesty. The phoenix had yet to try and eat him for whatever reason.
Still. The idea that Fawkes had been some kind of... inter-dimensional police officer for the Summonings of this world was almost ludicrous. Something out of one of Pavarti's poorly written romance stories she sometimes absent mindedly left in the common room only to flush and start throwing curses at people for reading. Though, if it really were, he wouldn't be a Princess and there would be some kind of tall, dark and handsome Wizard who would come and sweep the Princess of her feet after rescuing her from some kind of crisis. No, this was real life and he would have only himself to rely on.
Regardless though, he could not bring himself to be too confused about the whole inter-dimensional Student Exchange but Not. It meant he got to see Hedwig again, he got to apologise and beg for her forgiveness. He got to at least see her that one last time and if she were anything like the Toads, she could speak, he could actually speak with her. Properly.
Now that he was actually thinking about it, perhaps this whole... Another Dimension thing wasn't as bad as he, in his immediate pessimism, was believing. Yes, he couldn't see his friends again but hadn't he already decided that was negligible in the face of the good he could do by dying to remove the Horcrux? He didn't have it anymore, he could feel the sudden freedom, like putting down an overly heavy backpack and feeling so much lighter. And... and since he had died at Voldemort's hand... that meant Neville or one of the others could quite easily curse Voldemort's head to pop like a greasy zit as the Prophesy was negligible now. It was over, Harry had died at Voldemort's hand. So... What was the reason why he was being sent back? It couldn't be to father green eyed ginger babies with Ginny, the elderly Toad had told him that when he went back, he would be going back as he was, his soul had fully integrated with his current body. Boobs and all. Was he to tell them that it was his choice, and not to be sad?
To snap the Elder Wand?
That sounded more feasible. Snap the Elder Wand, shatter the Resurrection Stone, burn the Invisibility Cloak and to divide up his money from the Potters and the Blacks to the Weasleys, Hermione, Hogwarts and Orphanages and Charities. To tell them to improve on the Magical World, not to let it fall back into old habits and cursed ideals.
To not let another Dark Lord rise in the shadow of the last.
And to let the Boy Who Lived, pass into obscurity. Like he had always wanted but now... Now, in this new place where Harry Potter and Voldemort were nobodies, no concern, far beyond the care of the Summonings who did know of them, he finally could! There was no more Boy Who Lived here, he wouldn't be forced to fight a War that wasn't his own, to see people he loved and cared for die before his eyes because some mad-man was bent on seeing his body decorate the floor.
He was free here.
He had a second chance, at everything, he realised as his grip tightened on the small, warm figure pressed into his side. He already had a beginning. A place to belong. A family, even if he had not yet acknowledged it fully. A younger brother. He had a brother...
He looked down at the twelve year old greedily nuzzling into his side. A frown abruptly crossed over his face as he buried a hand into the boy's thick mane of blond hair. One that seemed to be alone and neglected by those around him, possibly even abused by his teacher - Jiraiya. What of parents? He doubted that white haired letcher was his father, though if he were then Harry was going to definitely be having some very strong words with him, and possibly some very strong Hexes. Harry would be the first to admit he knew next to nothing of this world, how the money system worked, the laws, the slang, the basics of how things went like the whole Shinobi hierarchy. He knew nothing, but he was going to learn fast. He had to, Naruto clearly had some source of income but it seemed to be unstable or simply not enough. If the Weasleys hadn't had magic, Harry was quite certain they couldn't have afforded to keep all of their children as well as they had, Naruto seemed to be in the same situation as them but obviously with even less money as he had only himself to take care of. Or rather, his parents did? And how was Harry going to explain his sudden appearance?
It was difficult to say but, even so, he didn't think Naruto had parents. He had never mentioned them. Ever. He seemed to talk about everyone except his family. Which was a fairly good indicator of his being alone.
Not anymore. Harry would have to do something about this. But what options were open to him? This world had no Magic, no Voldemort, which also meant it had no Ministry so no Aurors and most certainly no Quidditch. The two biggest career options he had considered were barred to him over that simple truth. Leaving him with what? What skill sets could he use in order to gain employment and money in which to support both himself and Naruto?
Years of cooking and cleaning could serve him well if he got a job as a Housekeeper somewhere. He knew general first aid, he could try getting a job as a nurse or something. There was teaching too. But he was only really good at teaching Magic, perhaps he could join a Pre-school, try his hand at some more benign subjects. Like maths or something? He remembered being fairly good at maths in Junior School. He still remembered the basics, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication Tables, Division, Long Multiplication had actually been a hobby of his until Uncle Vernon found out and shredded his notebooks calling him a swotty little brain box without a single useful thought in his head. He hated Long Division, barely remembered it in honesty, but he could still do it, if given long enough to get back into the swing of things. He didn't have a problem with the strange writing here either, he just seemed to instinctively understand it. He could teach writing too.
If push came to shove... he could become a Shinobi. He still only had a vague idea of what a Shinobi did, it sounded a lot like a mix between Soldier, Hit-Wizard, Auror and Mercenary. But it would give him the added ability to keep an eye on Naruto and use his experiences from fighting Death Eaters and Voldemort for some good. Did Konoha have a Police Department? Or did the Shinobi take care of that? If not, it might be a possibility to start one, free up whomever it was doing it right now (more than likely a branch of Shinobi forces) for more Missions.
He looked down at the blond who was clinging to his side, arms tightly wrapped around his waist, just content to hug him. Harry smiled a little, he had been wondering why he felt so obligated, so attached, and so goddamn quickly but... the kid grew on you, like overly cheerful fungus. He was just someone you couldn't hate if you actually had a heart. Turning in his seat, dislodging the now somewhat bewildered preteen, Harry bent slightly and properly gave the child a hug.
"It looks like you're stuck with me," he told the younger blond softly. "Still want me?" he asked.
"Yes," the little Shinobi told him, putting more force into that word than he had ever put into anything in his whole life, tightening his grip around the slender waist in his grasp until it could tighten no further. He felt the girl's grip on him shift and a moment later, he was lifted and pulled into her lap, the two clinging tightly to one another as if lifelines in stormy seas. "Yes, don't leave me, Neechan," Naruto pleaded.
"I won't," Harry said, running his fingers through the thick spiky blond hair on top of the kid's head.
The Gryffindor took a deep breath and gently released the boy pushing him onto his feet, digging into his pocket to pay for their meal. "We need to talk properly," the now girl told him seriously, "I need to get paper and ink first. I think I'll probably have to make notes about some things," he muttered as he got to his feet and adjusted his yukata and long hair.
"What about?" Naruto asked, fighting back a yawn – he had been up all night training.
Harry shot him a look as they made their way from the Street Stand, "Family and Shinobi," he stated, "And us."
"Where we stand, what happens now, that sort of thing," he explained, smiling as he tapped the boy on top of that ridiculous metal headplate, "We need to think about these things if they're going to work. Besides, I need to know more about you if I'm going to be a good sister." At least until he got the dangly parts back. Until then, he could tolerate the squishy bits and generally unhygienic way of using the toilet.
Harry led them to a small street vendor where he got a stick of charcoal and a notebook before heading to the small park with the bench where they spoke last time, sitting down on the grass as the sounds of children running around and screaming filled the air. Naruto dropped down, almost into Harry's lap, so close that their knees were touching as he grinned up at him full of avid curiosity.
It seemed almost... inappropriate, to Harry sitting in the middle of a sunlit park with the preteen about to interrogate him on some obviously painful subjects just so he could learn more about this world and better pass off as his older sister. He felt very uncomfortable as he flashed the boy a tight, uncomfortable smile.
"First things first. I need to know your name, age, birth date, birth place and anything you know about your mum and dad," he said, charcoal poised above his notebook, ready to write so he could memorise everything later.
Naruto's grin faded. He swallowed and stared at his knees, rattling off the answers to the Gryffindor's questions. "My name is Uzumaki Naruto, I'm twelve years old, born October tenth in Konohagakure no Sato in Hi no Kuni. I don't know anything about my parents. They died the same day I was born. Old man Hokage said they were heroes though," he admitted, glancing up to watch his Neechan made notes and then scowl down at the papers before looking up at him with a strange expression. One that wasn't the pity he was so used to seeing and most certainly not scorn. He swallowed and carried on as best he could, "I was raised in the Orphanage for a few years, until I was six and got an apartment. The Matron kept forgetting about me and I couldn't work the locks on the cupboards, Jiji thought it would be easier for everyone if I just took care of myself. I got an apartment, an allowance, I even started the Academy that year so I could train to become a Shinobi," he explained with growing enthusiasm.
Harry however, was stuck on the 'matron kept forgetting about me'. That sounded too much like his Aunt Petunia ignoring him whenever it came to meal times, like Uncle Vernon pretending he didn't exist until some chore needed doing or he needed to shout at someone for some imagined problem or slight in his life. Misplaced aggression. No sane leader would give a six-year-old an apartment or monetary means to care for themselves unless something was very wrong with their current situation and they didn't trust anyone else to properly care for the blond. And couldn't do it themselves for whatever political reasons he faced. This was getting more and more complicated.
He turned away from that, "What's the deal with Chuckles, how did he end up inside of you?" It had been bugging him for a while. Chuckles claimed he had been in 'Jail' for close to three generations, was Naruto just the latest in a long line of Jailers or was there something special about his circumstances?
"I don't know the full story but... when I was born, we were attacked. Kyuubi attacked. He killed my parents. Jiji told me that the Yondaime sealed Kyuubi into me. I didn't find out until a few months ago," he explained, shifting as if expecting to be scolded or arrested. Harry however was smiling ever so slightly.
"So. Chuckles was there, huh? Well." He set aside his notebook and charcoal pencil, much to Naruto's visible confusion. "That just means we'll have to ask him about what he knows," the Gryffindor declared. Hopefully the multi-tailed Fox would be in a mood to answer their questions, if not, perhaps there would be something they could trade the beast for the information they needed.
Naruto's face scrunched up, "How am I supposed to ask him? S'not like I've ever gone there by my self!" he whined, and he wasn't one hundred percent sure he even wanted to ask the Kyuubi about this. The Bijuu would undoubtedly mock him for it and Naruto just didn't want to hear it, he'd heard enough of it in school, even from Sakura.
"There is a spell that my people use to enter the mind," Harry explained, feeling a little nervous. "Very, very few people know it. It's an old art and not a very well thought of one. I've never done it before but I was taught its opposite, the Art of Shielding the Mind. Which means that it was cast repeatedly against me to test my defences. I know I can do it, I managed it by accident once or twice when rebuffing an attack. But it may give you a nasty headache. Do you still want to try?" he asked, explaining as much as possible so the blond could make a choice. He didn't want to be Snape and just batter into a child's mind without warning them about what this so called training was going to entail.
Naruto squinted up at the blonde girl. Magic that would take her into his mind? To meet with the Kyuubi? And apparently people had used it on her a lot while she learned how to throw them off. He wasn't sure if he wanted to expose her to the Kyuubi again, it was different when she was... well... he and looked a lot like Sasuke but with green eyes. But now she looked like she really could have been his older sister, identical right down to the blue eyes and whisker marks on her cheeks. Even her unruly golden hair. He wasn't sure if it was just because she looked like him, was a girl or someone he had already begun to think of as a precious person or even if it were all of those reasons, but Naruto wanted to protect her. Not let her see that ugly part of himself. The part that made him so disliked in his own home, the one that garnered so many cold looks from so many people.
"He might know something about your parents, I need to know Naruto, especially if I'm going to suddenly be in your life. Jiraiya told me that Hidden Villages are very militaristic. They'll think I'm a spy if I show up out of nowhere and don't know a thing," Harry explained quietly, feeling very guilty for emotionally blackmailing the younger boy like this. But it had to be done, not for the greater good, god no. But he could tell that Naruto was only hesitating because he didn't want Harry to face the rather Malicious Fox Demon. He didn't need protecting, if anything, Naruto was the one who needed protection and Harry planned on delivering that protection by any means necessary.
"Alright Neechan, if you're sure. But, the Kyuubi isn't – Ero-sennin said he couldn't be trusted," the Shinobi pointed out, almost meekly when he noticed the sudden frostiness of her features. Uh oh, what had Ero-Sennin done now? If that old pervert upset his Neechan he was going to kick his ass!
"I'll be the judge of that. Everyone deserves a chance Naruto, even if they are foul tempered foxes bigger than most houses," she told him firmly, managing to crack a smile as she roughly mussed his hair. He made the usual groan of disapproval but it was fairly easy to see the pleased grin that split his face. "Now," she said, scooting a little closer and cupping his face, "Hold still and look me in the eyes. You'll probably feel a rather annoying itching since I'm not going to go rifling through your memories without your permission. I'll concentrate on pulling you inside along with me. Understood?" she asked and Naruto nodded, swallowing back his nervousness. "Alright, Legilimens," she intoned.
And the world went black.
When Naruto came too, he could hear voices.
"...chance he could return?" he heard Harii asking, sounding very concerned.
"IT IS GUARANTEED. AND JUST WHAT ARE YOU PLANNING ON DOING ABOUT IT, LITTLE SHINIGAMI?" Kyuubi boomed, sounding amused and genuinely interested.
How long had he been out? Naruto scrambled to his feet, flaring his Chakra slightly out of sheer reflex to dry himself off – a neat trick he'd picked up from Jiraiya the last time they were at a Bath House. Neechan had been alone with Kyuubi all by herself for an unknown amount of time! Naruto didn't like this, he really didn't like it as he charged like a raging bull through the ankle deep tepid sewer water of his mind. Sitting comfortably on a giant red paw, was his Neechan, blonde haired, and whiskered, but bearing those vivid green eyes Naruto didn't think he could actually forget. Kyuubi watching her with a strangely docile vivid orange eye while she clearly thought of a response. Naruto was fairly sure his jaw had dropped at the sight of the two behind the seal.
"Clearly he is after you and yours. He wore a strange black cloak with red clouds which makes me think its a uniform. So there's going to be other people after you as well." She ran a hand through her loose blonde hair as the Bijuu rumbled in agreement. "I don't see any other path than to train Naruto to the best of my ability. Having psychos trying to hunt me down for the majority of my life and still managing to escape is something of a speciality of mine," she admitted, pinching the bridge of her nose.
"AND YET HERE YOU SIT, HAVING CLAIMED PREVIOUSLY TO HAVE DIED," the Kyuubi pointed out with a snort of amusement. "NOT MUCH OF A SPECIALTY FROM WHERE I AM SITTING."
Harii rolled her eyes, "I walked willingly to him and gave my life up. It was the only way that anyone would have any chance of killing him after he shredded his soul and sealed part of it within me."
"WHAT WILL YOU TELL THE BOY?" the Bijuu asked, clearly referring to Naruto. The blond bit his bottom lip as he lurked within the shadows, they hadn't seen him yet.
"The truth," Harii declared with a sharp look to the Bijuu, "Lies are what got me here, what screwed my life over. I'll not let it happen to him. The Shinobi world may be built on lies but they have wars more often than wizards do and that is quite an achievement!" she exclaimed, incensed.
"AND WHAT OF ME?"
She looked up at him with those familiar yet unfamiliar green eyes, "You live and feel just like everyone else. You do not deserve what he has planned. I can't free you and I won't ask Naruto to do it either. Kurama, you would go on a rampage and kill everyone and everything. Especially Naruto and Konoha." She shook her head, leaning forward, cradling a huge claw in her almost comically small and dainty hands by comparison. "We will protect you."
"YOU COULD BREAK THE SEAL IF YOU WISHED, LITTLE SHINIGAMI. IF YOU DESIRED," the Kyuubi pointed out and Naruto felt his breath catch in his lungs.
"But I won't. You would simply be Sealed within another, someone more likely to be taken and a lot less interested in your well being," she pointed out sadly. "Can you say the Uzumaki Clan has ever mistreated you?" she asked, looking up and almost sourly, as if he didn't want to admit it, Kyuubi shook his head no. Naruto's mind whirled, the Uzumaki Clan was connected to the Kyuubi? Had there been other Containers for the Biju before him? Maybe his father? Or his mother?
"You... My Clan, you knew them?" Naruto blurted, coming into the dim, almost murky grey light of the Seal, causing the two of them to look over, Neechan almost jumping out of her skin. Demon and Wizard exchanged a glance before Kyuubi lowered the blonde into the sewer water.
"YOU EXPLAIN IT," he declared, retreating somewhat and hiding his face in his tails, uninterested in the exchange that would probably change his container's life – and do absolutely nothing for himself.
She shot the Demon a dirty look before kneeling down to give the smaller blond a hug, "Yes, I found out about your parents. And the Uzumaki Clan," she added, her expression definitely hard to read.
"W-well? Who are they? What happened?" Naruto demanded, his voice rising almost hysterically.
Everything went white.
And I'm a bitch XDDD Oooh, cliffhanger.
As always, share your thoughts and opinions! I do read every review. Cheers! 8DD
Warning: I'm taking a little Artistic Licence on certain points.
Harry whirled around, muscles tensing in anticipation and wariness as he stared around at the endless sea of pure black around him. Sinister enough in of itself, the fact that Naruto was no longer at his side was cause for even greater alarm to the now blonde Wiza-Witch. Anticipation welled in his gut as the stillness of this place pressed cloyingly against his senses, making his ears ring painfully with the sheer silence, his breath begin to pant in the lack of air and his nose itch at the pure lack of information.
"Well, this wasn't what I had expected when one of the Seal's fail-safes activated," a pleasant male baritone spoke from behind him, nearly making Harry launch himself out of his new skin – as it was, reflexes that weren't his own came into play and a powerful leg lashed out in a whirling kick that wouldn't have looked out of place in one of those Ballet shows Aunt Petunia always watched when Dudley was away. The man who caught it however seemed entirely unphased by the attack, in fact, he was smirking as if he had been expecting it.
Harry stared at him and gently tugged his foot back, not even bothering to apologise, the man didn't bat an eyelid. This man... Thick vivid blond hair in a rather familiar spiky mane with side-burns that looked like Jiraiya's, a headband with one of those swirling leaf engravings, pale skin and a pair of vibrant blue eyes that were currently pinning her in place without a discernible expression. If it weren't for the lack of whisker markings, Harry would have assumed this man was Naruto at some point in the distant future. There were very few differences between them. The shape of Naruto's eyes were more open, their jaw-lines, different, Naruto's was rounder and slightly shorter.
The long white coat with the writing on the back was a dead-give away as well.
"You're his father. Aren't you supposed to be dead?" Harry asked sceptically, hands fisting warily. If this man was possessing his son in some way then Harry was going to kick his nasty ass out and let whatever death gods ruled this place have him. Possession was an utterly deplorable thing and any who committed it deserved to burn.
"Aren't you?" the blond quipped, smirk softening with humour.
There was no rebuttal to that one. "Touché," he allowed. "Why are you here though? And where is Naruto?" he asked.
The Yondaime Hokage sighed, "I don't have unlimited Chakra so I'll try to keep the explanation brief. When I Sealed Kyuubi, I split him in half. Sealing his Darker half into myself and the lighter half into my son. However, Kyuubi is still a singular being despite being one of ten creatures that make-up the legendary Juubi. I have a link to Naruto through our halves of the Kyuubi. But I left some extras in his Seal. Fail-Safes to ensure the seal isn't broken either by himself or someone else. My Chakra and an Imprint of myself who would watch over him... Along with his mother, Kushina, the previous host of the Kyuubi."
"And you're burning Chakra just being here and talking to me?" Harry asked with a frown, noting how he hadn't addressed the question regarding his son. Clearly he didn't trust the Magic User.
An expression of frigid seriousness flickered across the Hokage's face, indicating how unhappy he was over this little fact, but he swiftly hid it away. "Indeed. I'm not blind to the way my son is treated, the Shinigami sent you to us for a reason. Perhaps to safe guard him for whatever reason, Fate has big plans for him."
"Oh god, not another Prophesy!" the former Boy-Who-Lived exclaimed in disgust before biting down on his tongue unhappily and gesturing at the blond to continue. If his time really as as limited as he claimed it was then it would probably be a good idea for him to shut his face and let the man get on with it.
The Yondaime chuckled in real amusement this time, "I take it you have experiences of them?"
"Whole life dictated by one, don't get me started on how shitty it was as well. I'm seeing some very disturbing parallels between myself and Naruto. Speaking of which, I need information. Your Village isn't just going to accept me popping up like some kind of Garden Gnome. I need something believable to work on if I'm going to support Naruto," the Witch explained, tone brooking no argument as he stared unwaveringly into the young Hokage's thousand mile gaze.
He sighed, and smiled apologetically, "I don't have enough Chakra for any kind of memory or Jutsu transferral, and the five minutes I have left won't be enough either."
"So you need more energy? That's an easy enough fix," the Witch declared. The principles had been pounded into her head for a long time and quite honestly she did wonder why no one else had thought of it come exam time. Ron had always complained about how he had studied just as much as Harry and yet never made the same kind of marks. The difference was that when Harry was tired and yet didn't want to sleep for fear of nightmares, a swift punt in the backside with an Enervate was usually enough to energise him for the next two to three hours which he then spent reading. The burn out afterwards wasn't great because he tended to sleep through whatever alarm he set without someone hauling him out of bed, but for this situation? It would work. It wasn't as if this man had a physical body to feel the backlash of a come-down.
Placing a hand on the rather bewildered man's shoulder, she willed her magic. This was a mind-scape, nothing was impossible in a mind-scape. You were limited only by your imagination and strength of will. And if there was one thing that Harry was, it was a stubborn little bastard who didn't know what was possible and what wasn't and didn't take no for an answer once his mind was made.
"Ennervate!" he commanded, golden light glowing between his fingers, casting red light through his flesh and turning the fabric beneath her palm white as the energy filled the blond man in front of him. "There, that should be enough."
The Hokage stared, "That... That was Sage Chakra," he stated, almost as if he was asking but couldn't quite get there.
"That's what Jiraiya called it. Do you have enough?" he asked again.
Clenching and unclenching a fist, checking his arms and then rubbing at the patch of skin where the Witch had spelled him the man eventually nodded, "More than enough. I... thank you. When Kushina and I found out about you, we grew concerned you would break the Seal. I agreed to be the one to talk to you while she handled Naruto, it meant I wouldn't have enough Chakra to see him afterwards though."
"Well now you do. So let's both go and see them." The more Harry spoke to the Hokage, the more he got the impression that he knew the man somehow, like a long forgotten but very precious friend he hadn't seen since childhood. It was putting him on edge as much as it made him trust and want to know him better. The last time he had this feeling it was regarding Voldemort's first Horcrux, the Diary that tried to kill both him and Ginny Weasley when he was twelve. The question now was, was it the body recognising its 'father', or was it him recognising something, or someone, else?
The blond looked steadily at him for a long while before a genuine slightly sad smile began to crawl across his mouth, "Alright. And... I'm sorry you got dragged into all this."
Harry waved a hand, "I was ready to go to the Afterlife, I wasn't happy about it, but if it helped my friends then I would have done it even if I was going to Hell. I get a second chance here. I get a little brother." He smiled, the blond Hokage blinking briefly at the expression, it was like he was looking into a mirror.
"I get Naruto, so in all honesty, I think I got the better end of the deal here."
"Neechan?" Naruto shrieked when he realised the blonde girl was no longer with him, that he was alone in some strange endlessly white place full of nothing but light. It was still and yet peaceful, full of warmth and light, a place that was almost beautiful despite its emptiness. But this was lost on the panicked twelve year old boy who'd just had one of the few people he could legitimately call family, the only person who wanted to be his family, vanish before his very eyes in the cage of the Kyuubi.
"Neechan! Where are you? Neechan!" he called, turning this way and that, fear and anger beginning to writhe through his veins. If that Furry bastard had laid even one claw on his Neechan he was going to beat his ass Uzumaki style!
The blond boy whipped around, sliding into a Taijutsu stance only to stutter to a complete halt at the red haired woman in front of him – a woman with green eyes just like Neechan's. She smiled warmly at him, hands clasped in front of her, she wore a long green dress under a beige high-necked top, her long crimson hair falling down to her ankles, a thin golden clip keeping it out of her face and those green-green eyes.
"Its good to finally meet you," the red haired woman admitted, her voice filled with so much emotion that Naruto felt uncomfortable and flat-footed. He really hoped she didn't start crying, he didn't really know what to do when girls cried. Neechan was different, she was strong and didn't cry but this girl looked a lot like Sakura-chan did so she would probably cry if she got upset. Quite wisely in the twelve-year-old's opinion, he stayed quiet and continued to watch the woman for any possible sign of water-works – that way he could make his escape before she made his shirt damp with pretty lady. Her smile became self conscious, "Haha, like, this must be all very confusing for you," she said scratching the back of her head and looking sheepish. Naruto tried not to notice how she said 'ttebane', much like his own 'ttebayo', it was difficult though, because the more he stared at her face, the more he realised that if someone drew whiskers on her face, it would be almost like looking in a mirror, minus the obvious colour differences.
She had his face.
Her smile turned into a mischievous grin, "Think you can guess who I am?" she asked hopefully.
His immediate answer would be the Kyuubi's human form but Neechan had been calling it Kurama earlier, and that was a boy's name. Not to mention the fact that Kurama seemed to be really crotchety and bad tempered, this lady seemed pretty nice so far, and she definitely didn't give off the angry-DOOM aura that the Fox did. So instead, he shook his head and backed up a pace when her grin fell into an expression that was torn between sad and accepting.
"Should have expected that," she mused before sighing and pushing her hair back. "I suppose first things first then. I..." she trailed off, seemingly uncertain of how to continue before visibly steeling herself. "I am your mother, Uzumaki Kushina."
Naruto's eyes widened as emotions exploded inside of him, this was his Mum? What was she doing here? Inside the Seal? Had Naruto died? What happened to Harii-neechan? Had they been attacked? This was his Mum?
His body moved by itself. He wasn't even aware of it. One moment his brain was in chaos trying to wrap itself around the fact that this woman was his mother, the mysterious woman who gave him life and abandoned him to a life of hatred and cold stares. The next, his arms were around her and squeezing her tightly, nothing else in his mind but the overwhelming knowledge that this was the woman he had always wished to meet above all others. For a moment, all he could do was hold her, she felt so warm and soft and smelt like flowers and ointment, then her arms wrapped around him and Naruto was certain that he had died and this was heaven.
He found that he didn't care in the slightest that he never made his dream of Hokage as long as he never had to leave again.
"Hey, its alright Naruto, its alright. There's no need for tears," she told him warmly, running her hands through his hair as he sobbed into her stomach. He didn't know how long he just stood there, hugging her tightly and crying as she just held him, humming quietly and stroking his hair. He greedily drank in every scrap of affection she showed him, his hands knotted into her dress and refusing to release her, even for a moment.
"I-I always, always, wanted to know you. T-to meet you," the twelve year old sobbed desperately, his grip tightening.
His mother sighed and squeezed him tightly, "I wished everyday that I could hold you like this, my Naruto. I wished I could shield you from those cold eyes, from that senseless hatred. I wished you never had to bear my burden," she told him, her voice trembling with guilt, sadness and aching pride over what her little boy had accomplished. He was so strong, just like his father, and even more selfless.
"Y-you saw?" he croaked, looking up with red rimmed blue eyes, so much like her own but the same colour as his father's, as the man she loved, now on the boy she loved. She kissed his forehead, unable to stop herself.
"Every moment. Both of us. Your father and I. We saw it all and wished we could be there for you, but these Chakra Imprints within your Seal were the best we could do in the hurried circumstances. I'm so sorry, my Naruto, this is my fault. If only I had been stronger, if I had been faster." He voice hitched in a suppressed sob as she bowed her head over him, falling to her knees and pressing him tightly to her body, as if she could absorb him into herself and protect him from the harsh world outside.
"Its not your fault, Okaachan!" the whiskered blond exclaimed, but the name he bestowed upon the woman just made her cry all the harder.
"B-but it is!" she sniffled desperately, unashamed of the tears that poured down her cheeks. "I'm so proud of you, my Naruto. So proud. You've done us all proud. Mikoto-chan, your father, Sarutobi-jiji, Jiraiya-senpai, Kakashi-chan, the whole Uzumaki Clan, all of us. Especially Mito and I," she told him as she drew back, a wide, painfully proud smile beaming from her face. "You took my burden, Mito's burden, and you held your back straight and you faced your eyes forward against the darkness. Well done, my Naruto. Well done."
Something tight and dark in the pit of his stomach dissolved, the pain, the frostbite, the fear, all those negative feelings he has suppressed during his bad treatment, all of it, faded away. Like morning mist burned away by the sun's first rays. He felt lighter, cleaner, happier. Like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He couldn't stop himself from beaming as widely as his face allowed.
They were proud of him. His family. They loved him and they were proud of him.
"We are proud of you, Naruto, don't you ever doubt that," a second voice told him, a man's voice.
Naruto turned and felt his jaw practically unhinge. The Yondaime Hokage chuckled at the look of pure disbelief that etched itself onto his son's face, it was hardly an attractive expression but it was one he had seen so many times on his beloved's face that it looked even more adorable on his young son's. But that was just his opinion. A quick glance at his companion proved her to be just as amused at the expression as he.
"Close your mouth, Naruto, or you'll end up catching flies," the witch blonde girl warned him as she stepped out from behind the Hokage, smirking slightly as his mouth snapped shut with an audible clack of teeth.
"Neechan!" he exclaimed, launching himself at the whiskered girl who caught him quite expertly. Ruffling his hair as she gave him a brief hug and set him back down on the 'ground' of the endless white place. "Where'd you go?" the blond boy demanded accusingly, a pout jutting out on his face.
She smirked and roughly mussed his hair up, "Your father had a few things to say to me," she said, nodding over to the blond Hokage who was watching them with ill concealed longing.
Naruto goggled, "T-th-the Yondaime H-hokage is my..." He couldn't say it, couldn't understand it. The man who ruined him, who Sealed the strongest of all Demons inside of him, who sentenced him to a life of hell on earth, was his own flesh and blood. His father. His father was the Yondaime Hokage, his idol, his hero. His Damner.
He wanted to shout, he wanted to scream and rage and hit him. But Neechan's hand on his shoulder kept him in place. He leaned into her touch, unable to pull his eyes from his father as he felt his mother's presence come up behind him, her hand joining him on his other shoulder.
"Yeah," Neechan told him. "He's your Dad. And he ain't going anywhere for a while. I have him some of my power so he'll still be here for a while, lurking in the Seal. Making sure Kurama doesn't get out," she explained, causing the two older Shinobi to look at her in confusion.
"Kurama?" Kushina questioned, causing the strange girl to look up at her with her own green eyes from Minato's face. She felt her breath catch in the back of her throat. She had been torn between wanting a daughter or a son, when she found out about Mikoto-chan having a baby girl she had prayed feverishly for a little boy. The two friends giggling over how their children would grow up and get married so they could really be sisters. But in the back of her mind, she had always hoped for a little girl, a princess to pamper and teach all those girlish things that she had enjoyed so much with her own mother and missed so whole-heartedly when she came to Konoha. Mito-obaasama had filled the void but... it just wasn't the same.
"You should know. Kurama is the Kyuubi's real name," the blonde girl told her flatly and under her gaze, Kushina felt a stab of guilt. Guilt she resolutely pushed away in favour of the current situation. "He told me about that night," she continued, her eyes so serious that Kushina felt like she was looking at Minato during the War, even the slant to their eyes was the same. "I'll explain that to him later if you give me the memories. I can give you a Chakra boost just like I gave him so you can spend some time with your son."
She was flummoxed as she distantly realised Naruto was shouting at his father, sobbing and weakly beating his fists on the man's chest as the older male moved to hug him, letting him work his anger and sadness out before hugging the sobbing and trembling boy to his chest tightly. "Why would you do this?" she asked the whiskered girl with her husband's face.
She shrugged a shoulder, a sad, almost wry smile crossing her lips, "Like Naruto. My parents died before I got to know them. The only memory I have of them... is their deaths. But I got to meet them briefly, later, for all of ten seconds. We couldn't even talk." A look of deep envy and longing filled her face as she watched the two blonds embrace tightly, crying. "Naruto deserves this, if I can make it happen then I will. He has an opportunity to know you. To be with you, even if it is only in his head. You're as real as it gets." She sighed and pushed her hair over her shoulder in a motion that was as familiar to Kushina as her own crimson locks, the girl smiled at her. "Besides, its not like this is the last time I'll be able to speak with either of you. Just, give me the memories of that night and anything else you think might be useful. I'm going to need to plan things through very carefully if I'm going to be able to affectively pass as Naruto's sister back in Konoha."
Kushina stared before smiling and hugging the girl who looked so much like how she imagined her own daughter, only with blonde hair instead of red. "Thank you. Thank you so much," she whispered gratefully.
The girl blushed and shook her head, "Don't thank me until I make things better for the hair-ball," she told the red head as she squirmed free, clearly not comfortable with physical affection in the same way she tolerated Naruto's flying tackles and affection starved snuggling. "Ennervate," she intoned, pressing a hand against the woman's shoulder, her hand filling with light. Kushina could feel the energy rushing through her, it was like Chakra but so much fresher and cleaner, not human that was coloured with their personalities and souls, or tainted and heavy like a Bijuu's but light and natural, like a tree or a plant or a river, something that was neither good or evil but just was.
The former Jinchuuriki inhaled deeply at the clean and refreshing feeling that the golden Chakra gave her and smiled warmly as she placed her hands over her head. Her eyes sliding shut as she concentrated and withdrew a delicate construct of light blue Chakra, "Here, my memories of that night, and anything else that might be useful. You're only five years older than our Naruto so I included a few memories so you can come up with a good cover story." The other girl nodded and bowed her head, Kushina smiling as she gently laid the Chakra construct onto the girl's forehead, watching as it was absorbed into her brain.
The girl's face screwed up with pain, "Okay, thanks. I should... probably go and sort these out. You'll have a good three hours with the Chakra boost." She stumbled backwards, "I'd suggest using only half of that, I'll come back and give you another boost the next time I talk to you so you can stick around." She groaned, rubbing at her temples, "Don't worry, I'll get him back to the hotel room as soon as I've ordered all this."
"Take care of yourself," Kushina told her, concern colouring her voice as the girl's smile strained, the lines of her face tight with pain before she faded away in the light.
For Harry, coming out of Naruto's mind was... painful. And disorientating.
He slammed his eyes shut as the light from the late-afternoon sun stabbed her in the eyes. Taking a deep breath, he gently released Naruto and manoeuvred him so he was leaning against his side, looking for all the world like a kid who'd fallen asleep playing with his sister. Thankfully no one had noticed their brief moment of complete defencelessness.
Leaning his head against the twelve-year-old's, Harry tried to drop into his own mind-scape. He needed to sort those memories he received from Kushina-san and organise his own thoughts and memories. Something he had never done before but really desperately needed to.
Now that he basically knew the path into a mind-scape, it wasn't too difficult to make his way into his own. What it formed itself into actually was rather shocking. Though, in retrospect, he probably shouldn't have been surprised about where he ended up.
Hogwarts was so much more than just a Castle to him. It was a home and a sanctuary. It was still startling and somewhat heart-rending to find himself opening his eyes to the Great Hall. Kushina's offered memories and impressions as foreign discarded scrolls strewn out across the House Tables. Some were larger, others were covered in red stains that looked like blood, there were weapons as well, a strange white glowing chain hung from the ceiling and there were bouquets of flowers that Harry knew he'd never seen before in his life. There was also a small pile of red hairs on a white plate, a yellow ribbon binding them together.
Not only that, there were other things in the Great Hall that shouldn't be there. His Nimbus 2000, shattering and reforming again and again at the Hufflepuff table. That pudding Dobby broke sat on the Slytherin table in front of familiar brass telescope that he remembered repairing time and again in his Sixth Year whenever he passed the Room of Requirement – the one that belonged to Crabbe in his Polyjuiced form. Not only that, there were also Prophesy orbs, a pair of old knobby mustard socks that smelt as if they belonged to Vernon Dursley.
The whole room was a total tip.
Despite having been brought up male, Harry was well aware of his rather ingrained O.C.D. regarding orderliness. It near enough drove Ron up the wall when they were at the Burrow and Harry would end up tidying up his bedroom just because his fingers itched and the ingrained habits from Privet Drive had taught him that if he kept it as clean and tidy as possible, there would be less for him to do when Petunia came around to force him to tidy up. Which was why as soon as he took stock of his mind-scape's lack of order, that itch returned with a vengeance and he whirled through the Great Hall like a House-Elf on a mission.
No where in the Castle was safe.
And it was the whole castle. Gryffindor Common room, Dormitories, Library, Third Floor Corridor, Slytherin Common Room, Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledore's Office, Classrooms, portraits, suits of armour, the Kitchens.
The more Harry organised things, the more he came to realise that the Portraits were actually memories that lined the walls, jumbled and without order, grouped together in rough categories and randomised associations. Harry quickly went about putting each memory where it belonged. The library became his Spell and Jutsu referencing room, inside he stored the scrolls and weapons from Kushina-san, each weapon containing knowledge of how to use them and each small coloured Scroll featuring a different Jutsu for him to attempt to Master. The larger Scrolls were memories which he hung on the walls of the Third Floor.
Finished, Harry decided that enough was enough. He would explore Kushina-san's memories tomorrow while Naruto was training and Jiraiya was womanising. But for now, he had to get the both of them home before the local night life and thugs became a bit too interested in an exhausted kid and a pretty blonde girl.
Stepping out of his mind-scape was like being plunged into ice cold water.
When he opened his eyes, the sun had long since set, leaving both him and Naruto curled up together in the abandoned park. Naruto was awake, sat in the hallow of her arms, clumsily putting little braids in her hair as he hummed a childish tune under his breath. Apparently he had finished speaking with his parents some time ago while Harry had been busy organising his memories and knowledge.
"Naruto?" he whispered, making the boy drop his hair as if burned and look around.
"Neechan!" he exclaimed, glomping the other blonde. "You wouldn't wake up, I got worried!"
He ruffled the boy's hair, "Sorry about that. I was organising the memories your – our mum gave me, I haven't looked at them yet. That's for tomorrow."
Naruto nodded and grinned up at her, "Okaachan told me that she gave you the memory of when I was born and the lullabies she used to sing when she was pregnant with me," he told the Gryffindor, who was not deaf to the hopeful tone in the boy's voice.
Almost immediately, against his will, the memory of that lullaby bubbled up from the recesses of his mind. Harry chuckled self consciously, "I know it but... don't expect me to sing. I can't carry a tune and I'm scared I'll mess it up." Naruto's face fell and guilt stabbed at his stomach. "I can hum it though," he admitted, drawing the smaller boy into a hug before getting to his feet. It was difficult. Naruto was twelve and no light weight despite his short-stature. As a boy, he never would have managed it, but with this body it was so easy.
He hummed the tune as he walked home, his brother clinging to his side like a baby chimp.
And that's chapter five finished! Harry now has some Jutsu knowledge, how to use weapons, knowledge of what happened that night and a new way of gathering information. Which you can bet your ass she is going to abuse, and horribly. I ALMOST feel sorry for Kabuto.
Wondering what I used Artistic Licence for? Kushina's eye colour. Originally it was grey, I changed it to green, also, I kind of messed with the whole way that Snape says Legilimency and Occlumency work. This is Naruto, the mind is depicted differently and visualised instead of felt. I hope I've managed to convey that accurately.
Jiraiya being Jiraiya
"Why did no one tell him?"
Jiraiya opened his eyes and turned his head, squinting at the bombshell through the gloom of their shared room. Briefly, he took a moment to both lament and appreciate the view, she was wearing a very baggy blue shirt that teased and hinted and highlighted without giving anything away and a pair of equally baggy pale grey sleeping trousers that did everything in their considerable power to hide those killer legs from view. He rubbed at an eye as he observed the girl, she was still sharing with Naruto, the blond boy curled up against her side with an unusually content smile on his face.
"What do you mean?" he finally asked. Her face was serious and a little sad, meaning that she wasn't going to just let this sit in silence. She was going to pester him until she got answers and the longer he took to respond the angrier she would get.
"Why did no one tell him who his parents were?" she asked.
"No one knew," he grunted.
A scowl crawled across her face, "Do not lie to me," she hissed actually taking Jiraiya aback with the venom in her tone. "Them I could understand not being present, any parent would protect their child with their life." Jiraiya choked, his eyes widening as he bolted upright, staring at the girl in shock. That was a SS-ranked secret! How did she – Kyuubi? Naruto did say offhandedly that the Bijuu had taken a shine to her while they were in the seal. "But what I don't understand... is where you were," she finished slowly sitting up to glare at him.
"He wasn't my responsi- "
"Bullshit. You were his godfather," she snapped in an undertone so as not to awaken Naruto who shifted unhappily against her, a frown beginning to crease his formerly content features.
Jiraiya meanwhile, was getting angry and more than a little afraid. "It is none of your business, young Miss." How was she getting this information? Kyuubi couldn't possibly know. Mito-san's Sealing Techniques were superior to Minato's in almost every way, she had been the one to write the Seals for Kushina and transfer the Kyuubi into her.
"But it is my business, Jiraiya," she told him coldly. "Minato and Kushina asked me to take care of their son."
Jiraiya's world stopped for a moment. "What...?" he breathed.
She pursed her lips for a moment, "Let's talk outside." She looked down at the still sleeping Naruto and the Sannin realised that they were talking about highly classified information in front of the last person that should know about it. He nodded and got to his feet, offering a hand to help the girl up out of reflex. She took it as well, which surprised him even more. In silence, the two of them made their way out of the room and down into the canteen where they would talk uninterrupted.
It was dark and no one was in there, the sounds of revellers outside, laughing and gossiping and drinking as they made their way to and from sake houses and food stands. Harii jumped up onto one of the tables to sit and ran a hand through her loose hair, the lights from the street illuminating her face and body.
Jiraiya blinked and then frowned at her, he stepped forward and grasped her chin.
"You... Your eyes are green now," he pointed out. He didn't mention how the shape had narrowed, becoming more almond-like, how her jawline had slimmed a little and her nose straightened. He didn't mention how she looked like Minato, but with Kushina's eyes.
Harii leaned back a little and the Toad Sage let her. "I'm not surprised," she admitted. "In my past life I had green eyes. Everyone kept telling me that I looked just like my father, but I had my mother's eyes." Jiraiya refrained from pointing out that she would most likely face that in this one as well if they didn't find a way to get rid of her. And he did want to get rid of her. She knew things she shouldn't, she interfered with Naruto's training, she questioned his methods, not to mention that just getting her into the village would be some circus.
"Now," he began, sitting down on the table opposite her. "You said Minato and Kushina told you to look after the Gaki. How?" he demanded with a threatening scowl. He may be a gentleman but that would not stop him from spanking the girl if she didn't tell him what he wanted to know.
She scowled at him, arms folding defensively and Jiraiya came to the conclusion that the two of them would probably never really get along. She was too soft. "The seal," she explained. "It has several fail-saves, just in case. But it also contains Chakra Ghosts, I guess you could call them, of Minato and Kushina themselves. They've been sat in there, watching everything from day one in Naruto's life," she explained and the Sannin was torn between horror and pride and incredible sadness. Minato was a genius to be able to do such a thing, or was it a Gift from the Shinigami? "Naruto and I went into the Seal to talk to Kyuubi about what happened the night he was sealed. I needed to know if I was going to come up with a good cover story that your Government would buy." She chuckled here and rubbed the back of her neck, making Jiraiya almost flinch with how Minato-like that gesture was when he was embarrassed, it was almost painful. "He agreed, but only if we played for a while beforehand. Cue half an hour of trying to catch and kill the Wizard. Thankfully Naruto was out-cold, it being the first time he forced himself into his mind, and brought someone else with him, it took a lot out of him. He needed to recover. By the time he came to, I'd finished getting the whole story out of Kyuubi."
Jiraiya was shaking his head, "I don't believe it. You actually got that brainless pile of rage to talk to you?" he asked in a mixture of admiration and concern. If the Kyuubi liked her then there must be something hell of a lot more sinister about her.
The monstrous scowl that suddenly crossed onto her face spoke for itself, "My god," she sneered. "No wonder he hates you people, you're all completely retarded."
"I take exception to that," Jiraiya growled unhappily.
"He is not brainless, and if he's angry then he has a damn good reason to be. You don't even know his fucking name, you gormless womaniser," she snarled before waving a hand. "He is perfectly reasonable and very intelligent if you take the time to actually find out. God, what the hell happened to manners in this place?" She trailed off into surly grumblings and curse words while Jiraiya tried to wrap his brain around this latest development.
She actually got the Kyuubi to talk, 'Kyuubi' wasn't even its-his real name, he was smart and could actually be reasoned with. But... "Why should we be reasonable? He killed Minato and Kushina."
She gave him a scathing look, "They jumped in the way. He tried to kill what he saw as a prison. You try being locked up for sixty years doing fuck all but having selfish brats stealing your Chakra for a crime you weren't even responsible for," she bit out, once again taking Jiraiya aback with her thought pattern. Her ability to step into the mindset of someone else was actually, quite surprising, being able to see a problem from all angles was quite the skill. "It's not like he destroyed your village and killed countless people. He aimed just for the one so he could escape and go and live his life. True, I get angry at the thought of Naruto being killed for simply being a threat, but it didn't happen so I have no reason to be upset or angry."
She was distracting him, however accidental it may have been.
"We'll talk about, uh," clearly she got bent out of shape about no one knowing Kyuubi's name, "What is his name?"
But she shook her head, "Knowing a Demon's name is a sign of extreme trust. Like hell I'm going to give it to you." Harry had introduced himself and asked, politely, what his was. The fact that he wasn't considered human by the Demon was probably the only reason why Kurama had seen fit to give his name out, humans couldn't be trusted in his eyes. Well, Harry wasn't about to betray that fragile trust any time soon.
Jiraiya scowled, fingers itching to get the information out of her. Anything that would give them more power over the Bijuu was worth more than her weight in pure gold and he knew that people in Konoha would deem it more important than her life. Because knowing a Demon's name would give you power over them, Kyuubi had given his real name to a girl who didn't even know how huge it was. Extreme Trust, yeah, not to turn him into a slave.
"Minato, Kushina, explain."
"They got concerned because I can remove the Seal if I want to." Every muscle in Jiraiya's body went tense, plans already formulating in his mind to snap her neck the minute Naruto was else – he could do it now. Dark eyes traced her throat, it was elegant and thin, it wouldn't take much pressure from him to snap her spine and crush her windpipe. "But breaking the Seal would mean killing Naruto and that ain't gunna happen." He stowed the plans in the back of his mind, he didn't like killing girls but she wasn't a threat right now so he would just keep them in the back of his mind, just in case. "Minato saw to me while Kushina went to Naruto who had just woken up. We spoke, I gave them both some of my Chakra so they could stick around longer. I'll head back in there at a later point, see what I can do about improving the place, making it easier to access Kushina and Minato's Chakra Ghosts. Help Naruto organise his thoughts. I don't know what happened to him, but it looks like some kind of Mind-Walker went in there and shredded half his associative memories."
Jiraiya frowned, "Associative memories?" he asked. That sounded like a Yamanaka's doing, shredding specific memories.
"Yup. You know how you associate certain smells with memories, its the same with words and pictures. I say the Shodaime and you immediately think of all the things that he's done in his life, who he is and that. Someone went in there and shredded the mental connections. It wasn't Kyuubi, he doesn't have access and the damage is old. As in... he would have been between five and ten when it happened."
Jiraiya's mind took off at light speed. He knew Naruto had, at one point, been considered good enough to Graduate early, but when it hadn't happened he assumed Hiruzen-sensei had held him back for political reasons. When he checked the boy's records and saw that he'd failed three times before passing, he just assumed he was arrogant and thought he was better than he was. But... maybe he had actually been that good. But then this happened and because his brain couldn't make the connections, everything he did came out... well messed up because it was making the wrong connections.
"What did the damage look like? Messy?" he asked warily. There was a Yamanaka in Naruto's class, perhaps jealousy prompted her to do a little creative remodelling in her fellow blond's brain. Everyone knew that the lassie had it bad for the resident Rookie of the Year, was it a case of 'No one can be better than the Uchiha'?
Harii shook her head, "No, neat. It focuses only on Academics, fighting and Chakra Control. It also seems to have tried to isolate any logic centres it could find. Someone has really tried to dumb him down. I hadn't realised it at the time but Kushina gave me a few of her memories and it just kind of clicked in my head what I had seen."
Jiraiya groaned, "We can't wait for you to sort it all out though. I got a lead on Tsunade yesterday and we need to move now or we'll miss her. Chances are we will anyway but people remember better the less time they have to forget, especially the drunkards she keeps company with."
The two sighed in tandem and sat in silence for a while, trying to figure out what to do.
Harii suddenly sat up and kicked him, gently, in the leg. "If you're willing to carry me tomorrow, I can do it tonight. I'll get Kushina to help! Minato won't be much use when it comes to the mind arts but Kushina should be used to organising her thoughts like this. We'll work on getting everything fixed up and cleaned up tonight but I will be out of it tomorrow. I'll have to feed her Chakra so she doesn't fade."
Jiraiya could have kissed her. In fact, he did.
Bounding off the table he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and planted one on those lovely lips before she could react. Oooh, soft – AND PAIN!
The Sannin squawked as his face impacted with the ceiling from the force of her kick.
Harii meanwhile shot out of the room, face on fire, to try and find some toothpaste and mouthwash, and possibly to Obliviate himself of that memory.
"Ennervate." Kushina's eyes snapped open in surprise as that clean pure Chakra flooded her system again, green eyes swivelled over to land on – oh my...
"You..." the former Jinchuuriki began, only to have her voice die on her lips as she stared at the, at what should have been the spitting image of Naruto's Oiroke no Jutsu, only to see Minato's face looking at her with her own green eyes. She brushed it away, "Is something wrong, 'ttebane?" she asked, pushing herself to her feet. When Naruto slept, usually both she and Minato did as well so they didn't waste more Chakra than needed.
"Depends on your definition of wrong. Come with me," the blonde girl told her, gesturing as she turned and led the way into Kyuubi's Seal. "I don't know any short-cuts so we're going to have to visit Chuckles first."
"Why do you call him Chuckles?" the red head asked in a mixture of hilarity and curiosity.
"Knowing a Demon's true name gives you great power over them, now that I know someone messed with Naruto's mind, I'm not taking the risk they could overhear," the Wizard told her firmly as the world around them descended into the thick muzzy underground gloom that was prevalent throughout Kyuubi's Seal. Besides, she really doubted Jiraiya knew anything about Demons if he went around thinking their were mindless piles of power and rage, and there was no way she was going to enlighten him on what power a Demon's true name actually held. She didn't trust him not to do something stupid. The Fox Demon merely cracked open an eye, glancing first at the blonde girl and then at her before snorting grumpily and closing them again, pretending they weren't even there as they moved through.
"Why... why didn't he...? Kushina trailed off uncertainly. Oddly enough, feeling a little hurt at the scornful dismissal.
"Have a go at you?"
"You're dead. What good would it do him?" the blonde girl pointed out as she moved down one of the corridors in her Son's mind.
"I-I suppose, 'ttebane," she admitted thoughtfully. "So, why are we here?" she asked, looking around at the multitude of closed doors around her. It looked a little like a prison, though why it was hidden in the sewers she didn't have the foggiest.
"This is Naruto's mind scape. I suppose the Sewers must be where he feels safest if this is how it manifested. But either way, someone's gone out of their way to shred half of his brain. We need to fix it. They've disconnected all of his associative memories from the Academy, tried to isolate his logic centres and completely shut down his self-control," the Wizard explained as he opened one of the doors to reveal the absolute bombshell of a classroom in front of them. "I'm not one-hundred percent on everything he knows, I need your help. You know more about mind-walking than Minato so..."
Kushina was however already rolling up her sleeves and shot the other girl a grin that was pure Naruto, "let's get to work, shall we?" she asked brightly.
Harry laughed, "Let's," he agreed, rubbing the itch away from his fingers.
Naruto groaned unhappily as he went about his usual morning rituals, it felt like someone had scrambled his brains around inside his skull and they were still at it. Neechan was still sleeping and nothing he did would wake her, Jiraiya eventually told him to just leave her be and if she hadn't woken up by the time they were going to leave then he would just carry her. This would have been more reassuring if he didn't possess two black eyes, a busted lip and blood crusting his nose. The source of which became apparent when Naruto went for breakfast and saw an imprint of his teacher's face in the plaster of the ceiling.
Shaking his head, Naruto finished eating and went back upstairs. Neechan was still sleeping so Naruto dug out some clothes and summoned a few Kage Bunshin to get her changed – he had seen everything but he didn't want Ero Sennin trying to get a peek. They had just finished brushing her hair and tying it up when Ero Sennin came back in and pouted like a five year old caught sneaking cookies to see her fully dressed.
And just like that, they were off. Everything packed, money paid and they left the Inn, Naruto carrying his and Neechan's packs while Jiraiya had her on his back.
"Right, let's go!" Jiraiya cheered, pointing towards their next destination with a broad grin, bouncing a little in place and grinning like the pervert he was when he felt those soft, oh so glorious, globes of beauty squish against his back.
"You're pretty energetic... yelling 'let's go' like a kid," Naruto pointed out with a squinted frown of distaste.
Jiraiya frowned and glanced over his shoulder, "Huh...? That was insulting," he grumbled.
"But, but, I'm still in the middle of training! I don't think this is the kind of stuff I can do while on the move, Ero Sennin," the blond Genin pointed out with a huff. "There are three stages in the training, right? You've only told me about the first two, so its still no where near finished and I'm going to need to do Chakra Control exercises if I'm going to get it right. I'm not good at multitasking so I won't be able to do it until we stop."
Jiraiya refrained from grinning, it looked like Harii-chan was pulling through already, that was the most well thought out argument he had ever heard of from the midget Genin yet.
"It's not so bad. You can do the third stage while we walk," he told the blond who folded his arms and scowled. Muttering under his breath about how he had just told him that he couldn't multi-task good enough to do that and why would no one listen to him when he told them these things? Jiraiya refrained from mussing his hair up, he didn't want to shake the girls up while they were doing important things, instead, he dug into his pocket and withdrew a rubber, blow up the balloon he tossed it at the blond with a mischievous grin. "Here you go."
Naruto held it thoughtfully, frowning as he squished it a little between his palms, "Normal, huh..." he muttered before looking up at the older man. "Control, right?" he asked with a squinting frown.
Jiraiya's grin widened, "Bingo! The first stage was 'spinning', the second stage was 'power', so clearly this stage is 'control'. If you've got it under control then you can direct all of its force and lose none of the power that a loose attack would. Watch," he commanded and demonstrated on a near-by tree. Using only the first two stages, he ground a spiral, an inch deep, through the wood of a near-by tree. But when he controlled it, compressed it into a spherical shape and directed all of its force outward... the affect was as obvious as the two foot wide hole in the side of the afore mentioned tree.
Naruto blinked, staring wide eyed at it for a moment before his gaze narrowed and he looked down at the balloon in his hand, uncharacteristically serious. "This is a whole different ballgame," he murmured.
"That's for sure. This is a Super A-ranked Jutsu that took me quite some time to master, the fact you've gotten this far in such a short amount of time is nothing short of incredible," the white haired Ninja pointed out, remembering how Naruto always seemed to respond better to positive encouragement. Negative encouragement at the wrong time, when he was feeling low, would be detrimental.
Unexpectedly though, the blond flushed, "That's only because Neechan helped me," he admitted. Making Jiraiya pause. The... the girl actually helped him? "I told her about it and she said that if I was finding it so difficult maybe I should look at improving my Chakra control since it helps you use Jutsus because it sounded difficult with all the layers." Jiraiya was a little stunned, layers? She had heard an explanation of the Jutsu and pieced together that it worked on a layering system just from that and that control would be the key part of it.
"Well, she's a very smart girl, your Neechan is." He had to give her that. Soft though she was, she was smart. Smart enough to tame the Kyuubi, get Naruto back on track, figure out an A-ranked Jutsu and ensure that neither Kushina nor Minato faded away completely. They were going to be having a very long chat when she woke up. But for now, "Let's go, we're burning daylight and there's no guarantee Tsunade will stick around in one place."
"Okay, but if you drop Neechan, I'll Rasengan your dirty books!" Naruto threatened.
Jiraiya scoffed, as if he would drop her when he had her breasts pressed against the back of his neck like some glorious cushion of snuggliness.
What kind of man did Naruto take him for?
"You alright back there, hime?" Jiraiya asked as he felt the girl on his back stir. She had been out for the whole journey, even for the majority of the argument in the pub between Tsunade and Naruto. Shizune looked up as she heard the large man speak and found herself, not for the first time, wondering about the blonde girl he was carrying. Green eyes squinted open before they registered what was happening in front of her.
"Naruto!" the girl exclaimed, already moving as she used Jiraiya as a step stone to get to him, or she would have had the white haired man not grabbed her arm and spun her into his chest where she bumped her nose rather hard judging by the grunt of pain. "Jiraiya, damnit, if you don't let go of me right now I'll make you the first man to reach the moon without the use of a rocket!"
Shizune's eyes widened at the threat, and the fact that Jiraiya just laughed, tightening his grip around her and shifting to hook one leg behind her knee, knocking her off balance so she would cling to him out of reflex. The girl growled and the sound of the ground being drilled away by a rather familiar Jutsu Shizune never expected to see again split the air. The Rasengan. In the hands of a twelve year old! Jiraiya grunted as the girl snarled and headbutted him, "Let me go!" she howled bare hand wriggling free and grabbing the Ninja's face, "Petrificus Totalus!" she commanded and Shizune's eyes widened as the girl's face flickered for a split second.
Jiraiya grunted as his arms snapped to his side and his whole body went rigid, falling backwards away from the girl who didn't even give him a backwards glance as she shot off to Naruto.
Tsunade's eyes widened as the blonde haired girl dropped down to her knees and hauled the smaller boy out of his own crater, "What the hell is going on here?" the girl demanded, scowling. "I leave you guys for a day to deal with your Seal and you're using an incomplete Jutsu on someone? Naruto, I know they taught you better in the Academy!" It was like looking through a window thirty years into the past. Big Sister scolding over enthusiastic Should Have Known Better Little Brother for being fool hardy and getting in over his head. Her heart seized up in her chest painfully.
"Jiraiya, was it you who's teaching him the Rasengan?" the blonde Sannin demanded, turning around. The pain in her chest bubbling up like a vicious red monster that turned her tongue to razors and tasted like ash on her lips. When she saw the old pervert paralysed on the floor, rigid and unable to move with Shizune fluttering around him in horrified concern, unable to do anything she laughed long, loud and hard. "What a loser! Not only are you teaching him a Jutsu that only you and the Yondaime are even capable of, but leading him on and thinking that you care enough to actually take him on as a student! It's better if he doesn't think that way, maybe he won't be so retarded to spout off such disgusting dreams like 'becoming Hokage'. How the mighty have fallen, you must be getting senile to take this wretched waste of space-
Tsunade's words died on her lips as the force of the open palmed slap threw her head to the side. Her cheek stinging and red.
Brown eyes lifted and stared into the icy green of the girl in front of her and Tsunade's stomach gave an uncomfortable flip when she realised she was looking into the Yondaime's face, with her Grandmother's eyes, or rather, with Kushina's eyes, glaring back at her. Then it registered.
This little scrap of nothing had slapped her.
Naruto stared at his Neechan in open mouthed shock as she squared up to the monstrously strong old lady, she even landed a hit on the sour old bitch. This just proved she was awesome!
"You have more than made your opinion clear, Madam," Harry continued as if he hadn't just smacked the drunk woman while she had been too busy gassing on about how Jiraiya and Naruto were pathetic failures who needed a wake up call. "If you have nothing helpful, nor pleasant, to share with us, then I advice you to keep your nasty little mouth shut," she requested before turning around and hauling Naruto out of the ground by the scruff of his neck. "My brother will take your challenge," she declared, looking at the blond Sannin from over her shoulder.
Naruto nodded scowling at the old woman, "Damn straight! All I need is three days and I can master that Technique! Just you watch, you sour old hag!"
"Language, Naruto," Harii reflexively admonished.
Tsunade swallowed her tongue and sneered at the pair, "Heh, some words, kiddies. But once given, a man's word should never be taken back," she taunted.
Naruto grinned, it was all teeth and not in the least bit reassuring. It was all Harry could do to smirk at the old woman's face. "I won't go back on my word, that's my Nindo," Naruto swore, blue eyes blazing with the challenge to come. He was going to let this old woman say what he could and couldn't do, he hadn't before and he wouldn't now.
"And you missy?" the Sannin prompted, looking at the mouthy spit-streak with boobs bigger than brains.
Harry's smile was knife sharp, "What about me? I support my brother come heaven or hell."
"Well, then..." Tsunade mused, her smirk widening. "I'll give you one week then. If you can master that Jutsu, I will acknowledge that you could become the Hokage... I'll give you this necklace." She pointed to a green gem that hung around her neck, drawing attention to it. Harry frowned, he could feel Magic swirling through it.
"Tsunade-sama! That's your precious -
"I don't want that kind of ugly necklace... I suppose I could give it to Neechan or Sakura-chan," Naruto admitted with a scrunched up frown.
"Don't say that, Naruto," Jiraiya scolded as he sat up, shaking his head, the red rimming on his eyes fading away as he looked up. He moved stiffly and a little uncomfortably, he would have to bare in mind that Harii knew how to use Senjutsu in ways that even the Toads couldn't manage. "That is a very unique and precious ore that belonged to the Shodaime. If you sold it you could buy three mountains, or at minimum eight life-times of Ramen."
Naruto hummed, "Well... alright then."
Tsunade chuckled, "But if you can't master the Jutsu, then you lose. And I take all your money, Gaki. And your sister will owe me a fight." Less of a fight really, more of a hospitalisation, because there was no way she was going to let that slap go unpunished.
"Ah! Gama-chan!" Naruto yelped, spotting his cute frog shaped purse in the woman's hand, stuffed full of Ryo.
Harry's eyes narrowed.
"Come on Naruto," she told him as the blonde woman began to move away, her attendant scurrying over to try and dissuade her from the bet. "We've got a lot of training to do and not a lot of time to do it in," she declared as they brushed past Jiraiya who watched them briefly. He was a little leery of allowing the girl to interfere with Naruto's training but she had already proved helpful in teaching the Rasengan before, perhaps she will this time.
"Tsunade, shall we have a drink together? It's been awhile..." he suggested, making his way over to her and taking the opportunity to get a judicious glance at her scandalously open yukata shirt. Not as perky as Harii-chan's but definitely bigger. And you know what they say...
Bigger is better.
Oh Jiraiya, you pervert! XDDD
FYI, updated Firefly as well for those of you interested!
EDIT: I went through and corrected several errors. XDD Also made the situation of Harry knowing Kyuubi's name with Jiraiya more understandable.
Unpleasant depictions of blood and suffering
"I don't understand it," the Wizard stated, scrubbing at his long hair in angry frustration. "I've never gone off on someone like that. I swore, I swore when I was younger that I would never raise my hand and physically attack someone out of anger. I didn't want to end up like my Uncle. I swore it but... but when she said those things, my body just moved." Green eyes peered up, "Kurama, what is going on?"
The Kitsune twitched an ear having patiently listened to the Little Shinigami, "EVERYTHING THAT YOU ARE, IS JUST A COLLECTION OF THOUGHTS, MEMORIES AND INSTINCTS. WHAT DO YOU THINK HAPPENS WHEN THEY ARE ALL REMOVED AND PUT SOMEWHERE ELSE?" the Bijuu rumbled.
"I would imagine nothing much. Voldemort didn't change over much when jumping from human to snake to human and then making his own body out of bone mould and blood," he explained, lifting a hand as if to weigh his argument. Currently the two of them were sat in Naruto's seal, the great fox spirit lying down with the Wizard sat cross-legged beside him. When Harry had dropped into his mind to better examine Kushina's offered memories to figure out how better to train Naruto he found a secret passage way that most certainly hadn't existed in Hogwarts for real. For one, there was no tapestry of a nine-tailed Fox outside the library, and no secret passageway behind it that led into the Seal.
Kyuubi huffed, spraying water everywhere, "FOOLISH YOUNGLING," he growled, using the very tip of one tail to smack Harry in the side of the head. It may have been light, but it was still enough to send the Wizard sprawling out and getting soaked from head to foot. "THE MIND IS COMPLEX AND INCREDIBLE. WE ARE ABLE TO SPEAK NOW BECAUSE OF THE WAY THESE MUD-MONKIES HAVE EVOLVED, ALLOWING MENTAL PLANES SUCH AS THIS FOR OUR MINDS TO BETTER ORGANISE AND RETAIN INFORMATION. SURELY YOU HAVE NOTICED?"
He had. Snape had told him quite blatantly during Occlumency practice that the mind was murky and complicated, making such mundane and incorrect statements such as 'mind reading' wholly inaccurate. The mind was hardly as simple as a bloody book. Breaking into Snape's mind, however accidental, had not involved endless corridors and dungeons that his mindscape would probably embody. No it was a jumbled heap of memories, pictures and impressions. Associative memories. A complicated web of memories and biases brought about by visual stimuli. Whenever Snape looked at Harry, he had associative memories of James and Lily Potter, background thoughts of the Dark Lord, of abysmal Potions classes, abuse from his father, his own years at Hogwarts. It all linked up but there was nothing like what he had found when he managed to Legilimence himself.
But after he'd organised everything Kushina had given him... he'd noticed a sudden increased ability to recall and understand information, past and new. His mind comprehended everything better and made connections easier. It wasn't until he was speaking with Jiraiya about Kurama's seal and Kushina that his memory of Naruto's state of mind actually clicked and made sense to him. He had seen the damage, not known what it was and merely assumed that was how it was supposed to be until he recalled the borrowed information given to him.
"Yeah," he admitted and Kurama blinked slowly in acknowledgement.
"MOVING YOUR MIND FROM BODY TO BODY FOR YOUR BREED OF MUD-MONKIES WOULD DETERIORIATE THEM RAPIDLY. DUE TO THE WAY YOUR MINDS HAVE EVOLVED INTO THOSE UNSIGHTLY TANGLES, YOUR MIND KNOTS AND DESTROYS PARTS OF ITSELF AS IT TRIES TO FORCE ITSELF INTO THE THOUGHT PATTERNS OF THE NEW HOST. EVERY MIND STORES AND ACCESSES MEMORIES IN DIFFERENT WAYS WITH VARYING DEGREES OF SUCCESS," the Kitsune explained, his tails waving idly in the gloom, his great red eyes watching in amusement as the Little Shinigami kept having to squint with every exhale he gave to prevent water from getting into her eyes.
"So when you created this body and slipped my mind into it, everything got jumbled around trying to find a place to fit?" he summed up.
"YES, AMONGST OTHER THINGS." He rumbled thoughtfully, staring down at the female in front of him. "THE MINDS OF FEMALES ARE DIFFERENT FROM MALES, IT IS MORE CONVOLUTED. HENCE WHY I ENSURED YOUR NEW FORM WAS FEMALE, THE WAY IT IS WIRED IS CLOSER TO YOUR OWN. YOUR MINDSCAPE REFLECTS THIS COMPLEXITY IN COMPARISON TO MY IDIOT JAILOR'S."
Harry hated it when the demon called Naruto an idiot, but he could see his point. Harry's mind worked exactly like Hogwarts herself once had. Trick steps, moving staircases, secret passageways and doors that were really walls and paintings you had to tickle or ask the right questions to get past. Naruto's mind was set out in straight forward grids, every grid had four doors leading into four rooms, each room was full of memories that had either been broken or put into the wrong place. He and Kushina had spent all of last night and earlier that morning just fixing every broken object and putting it back where it belonged, even sorting them into the rooms where they belonged. All the things learned in the Academy were back in Iruka's classroom for instance.
"But I was never this smart or violent before," he protested.
The demon gave him a look, "IS THAT SO?" he asked sceptically. Harry winced a little as he remembered the way he'd cast Crucio on Bellatrix Lestrange and Amycus Carrow, then there was the whole Imperius Curse and attacking Umbridge and... Kurama laughed at the sour expression that painted itself across the female's whiskered face, "I SAW ENOUGH OF YOUR MEMORIES WHEN PRESSING YOUR MIND INTO THAT BODY, AND I HAVE TO ADMIT," he said, looming in closer eye to face with the girl who flushed unhappily at his explanation, "YOU GAINED MY INTEREST, LITTLE SHINIGAMI."
Harry pulled a face, "I'm still deciding if that's a good thing," he muttered and the demon laughed in response, knocking him over with the force of his exhale.
"YOUR MIND WILL CONTINUE TO CHANGE AS IT SETTLES INTO THE INBORN REFLEXES OF YOUR BODY. I CAN TELL YOU THIS NOW, DUE TO YOUR FORMER GENDER YOU WILL BE TAKING AFTER THE YONDAIME MORE THAN MY FORMER HOST." He bared a fanged grin as he got to his feet and plucked the female out of the water by the scruff of her clothing, "WITH MY IDIOT JAILOR BEING HOW HE IS, HE NEEDS ALL THE PROTECTION HE CAN GET. I REFUSE TO BE A PAWN OF THAT SHARINGAN WIELDING WRETCH SO GET STRONG LITTLE SHINIGAMI, MY JAILOR HAS POTENTIAL, I EXPECT YOU TO MATCH IT."
Harry smirked at the demon as he was set down just in front of the narrow passage that would lead back into his own mind, "I intend to. And Kurama... thank you," he added before turning and running back to his own mind. The sound of the demon's rumbling laughter chasing him as he went.
A week to help Naruto master a Jutsu his father developed in three years, what had he been thinking when he accepted that challenge from the drunk woman? It had already been three days with next to no progress. Had it just been arrogance speaking? Naruto didn't know any better but he should have, he did but he still let her get under his skin. Hearing her insult Jiraiya who, by all rights was still Naruto's Godfather despite his absences, was like hearing her insult Sirius, and Naruto... it felt like she was calling him, Harry, all those things as well. The slap was impacting against the woman's cheek before he was even aware of having moved.
Kurama said that as his mind began to adapt to his new body that he would start to show more personality traits of his 'parents', hence his sudden rather frightening memory retention and observation abilities. That must have been Minato's influences but... that must mean that his temper was taking after his mother, after Kushina. Huh... Harry blinked as he sipped at his drink, that actually made a fair bit of sense. He had Lily's temper too.
Thinking on it, Lily and Kushina looked a lot alike. From what he remembered of Kushina's history it was a lot like Lily's as well. Brought to a far off place because she had an ability that wasn't very common, bullied for being foreign, hating the man she would eventually marry, dying for her son while protecting him from something she brought down upon him. Leaving a lingering protection in her son for when he would need it most. Heck, they even looked alike. Minato was possibly the complete opposite of James though, he had been serious and determined, a good guy from the get go who did what had to be done whether he liked it or not, even their appearances were the complete opposite. Almost Yin and Yang. Huh... same with him and Naruto really.
Harry lowered his bottle, watching the twelve year old focus on the palm of his hand. The oppositions and the similarities were... actually quite shocking now that he thought about it.
Their appearances and personalities were polar opposites, Naruto struck first and vented second, Harry vented and when pushed struck, Naruto gladly accepted help from his friends, Harry tried to push them away and take on the burden alone. Both lost their parents at a young age from a mixture of them being a target of something their parents brought down upon them, both grew up alone and hated for various reasons, Naruto because of Kurama and Harry because he had magic. Both of them entered into a new world when they reached eleven and ended up facing life or death circumstances at the command of a kindly old man who played the Grandfather card, befriending a booksmart young woman with confidence issues and a boy with jealousy issues and a tendency to take everything you said far too personally. All you needed now was an immortality seeking old-geezer with a snake fetish and obsession with dark haired pre-teen boys. Harry shuddered a little when he realised just what his brain had come up with.
Still, the similarities were quite shocking. Even their respective Godfather's had been absent for the same length of time. Twelve years, though for different reasons. He didn't know what Jiraiya's was (and he sincerely hoped it was a damn good one or he was getting kerb stomped) but Sirius ended up in prison until he broke out. From the sound of it though, both he and Naruto took the backseat in priorities when it came down to it.
He shook his head, screwing the cap back on his water bottle before getting to his feet. "Thoughts?" he asked his 'younger brother' as he approached.
Naruto huffed, "My control is crap. I have to make it a perfect sphere with what basically is a typhoon inside!" he exclaimed, clenching and unclenching his fist unhappily. Harry caught his wrist and gently massaged his fingers, patiently waiting. "Its not a Super A-ranked Jutsu for nothing. I've got the power and the rotation but... I just can't seem to focus it into a shape," he told her, grunting a little in relief as his finger joints popped and his knuckles cracked under her ministrations.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
"I'm trying to make it into a sphere," the blond pre-teen told her, sounding irritated that she hadn't been listening.
"How?" He pressed and Naruto opened his mouth to answer only... His teeth clacked shut. He wasn't even sure. Harry smiled as he released the smaller male's hand, "I think that's where you're finding it the most difficult. You don't even know where to begin with this final step, huh?"
Naruto hung his head, "No," he admitted miserably.
"We'll just have to figure it out then," Harry declared, tugging on a blond spike. "What have you been trying so far?" he asked.
"Mostly just making it smaller by making the swirling tighter," he admitted, folding his arms. "It works for all of a second but then it gets all loose and explodes on me."
Harry nodded, "Have you tried making a shell? Like a snow-globe, and forming the swirl inside?"
Naruto shook his head, "No, but I don't think that's how Ero Sennin's worked," he admitted, "It really was just very, very tight swirling."
Humming, Harry picked up a near-by stick and began to sketch in the dirt, Naruto watching with curious eyes that steadily got wider as the image unfurled in front of him in tight hypnotic swirls. Scratched out in the dirt was a large Celtic knot, the same one Seamus had on his trunk. "Something like this?" Harry asked, prodding it with his stick.
"Yeah! Yeah, 'ttebayo!" he exclaimed excitedly. "What is it?"
"A Celtic Knot, they were used a long, long time ago as Clan symbols and even had pictures in them telling the history of the clan," he explained, repeating what Hermione told them when Ron made some off handed comment about the funky doodle. "If they were tied tight enough they were even used as tools on ships and I think as a weapon at one point," he added, scratching his chin thoughtfully, uncertain.
"That's what I need to do!" the blond exclaimed already beginning to focus his Chakra into his hand, sweat beading his temples as his eyes squeezed shut in an expression of deep concentration.
Harry could see the energy concentrating in his hand but it was still too loose, "Picture it, Naruto. Don't just force it, you have to imagine it. You know what to do, you know what you want to happen, you just need to give yourself some guidance," the Wizard told him, memories of Sirius giving him Transfiguration pointers. "'You're limited only by your imagination. A man with no imagination has no wings'," he quoted, watching as Naruto's scowl deepened and the Chakra in his hand became faster and faster, compressing into the palm of his hand.
Blue eyes snapped open and he drew a fist back, turning to the near-by carved up tree.
"Not yet!" Harry barked, "Tighter!" he commanded, voice lashing out like a whip. "It is a drill! It goes in sharp and explodes out! Tighter! Use your fingers, they're there for a reason!"
Naruto grunted and strained, teeth grinding as his drawn back hand clenched down on the turbulent Chakra as if to crush it down even smaller. A high-pitched whine escaped his lips and the ball shrank, even his fingertips were glowing and...
"DATTEBAYO!" the boy roared, thrusting his hand forward, the perfect sphere holding up until his hand moved and it imploded, throwing him aside like a rag doll.
He coughed, skidding and rolling in the dirt.
"You did it!" Harry yelled, running after him, a grin splitting his face. "You did it! It was for a tiny split second, but you did it! A perfect sphere!" he told the pre-teen his smile softening as he bounced up onto his feet and began to cheer, jumping up and down and screaming about how awesome he was. "Now all you have to do is practice."
"Eeeeh?" Naruto groaned in dismay, "But why? I did it right?" he exclaimed.
"Think you can use it in a fight?" Harry asked and the smaller blond rubbed his head with a sheepish grin. "C'mon, again. You know what you're doing now, you just have to make it last longer."
"What'll you be doing, Neechan?" he asked, peering up at the girl who shrugged a shoulder.
"Well, I'm going to see if I can make any sense of the memories Kushina gave me," she said, Naruto's grin fell a little as he lowered his arms watching as she cracked her knuckles and moved away.
"You can call her Kaachan, y'know..." he muttered softly, but she didn't hear him.
Dropping into his mindscape was getting easier with every fall, he no longer felt the same disorientation upon opening his eyes to the Entrance Hall. Making his way to the Library Harry found himself staring at new moving portraits of memories, Naruto, Kushina, Kurama, the drunk woman, Jiraiya. A suit of armour Harry remembered having a peculiar quirk of heckling couples out after curfew had a different helmet, one that looked rather a lot like Jiraiya's headband, complete with Kanji for Oil engraved upon it. He touched the yellow ribbon filled with red hairs as he walked through the Third Floor and felt Kushina's memory play out in his mind like a dream.
The day she was abducted by Kumo-nin for her special Chakra and then rescued by Minato who followed the trail of red hairs she left behind. At least, that was how it was perceived, Harry couldn't help but be amused by how the red headed girl went off on the men kidnapping her the split-second Minato's kunai severed her ropes. It was actually rather frightening to see those white Chakra chains in action. All in all, she probably would have been in trouble if he hadn't come along, but all Minato had done was help her rescue herself. Until he swept her up and out of the way of a suicide Jutsu she hadn't seen coming.
Chuckling at their clumsy beginnings, Harry continued to the library, now with a viable idea of what he wanted to try first – those Chakra chains. He should probably look at the Academy scrolls on Chakra manipulation and shape manipulation first though, he told Naruto that he had to practice his Control, to walk before he could run. He'd best use his own advice.
The library had grown vastly and no longer looked dusty and dark as Madam Pince used to keep it, it was less claustrophobic and brighter with light pine coloured woods instead of dark mahoganies. Shinobi disciplines were on one side of the room and Magic was on the other side. Moving through the shelves he eventually found his way to the beginner section and the Academy Scrolls, it was just basic Jutsu scrolls and a touch of history, mostly theory based.
"Blue... it should be... here!" he exclaimed happily as he slapped a palm down on the 'Chakra Manipulation for Beginners' Scroll that was standard for all first years.
Inside it explained what Chakra was, a combination of physical energy brought about by health of the body and experience through training, and mental energy brought about by knowledge and wisdom that comes from experience of what works and what doesn't. The larger your Chakra source the more difficulty you would have training it as a child as it continues to grow at the same rate you do, as you get older, Chakra control training becomes less important because your Chakra pool doesn't change and simply by performing Jutsus you become more familiar with regulating it. Harry's body was different, this concept would probably be superfluous for him given how his mind and body were still trying to sync up.
Harry took a deep breath and lifted a hand from the scroll with a nod, alright, that's the basics. He moved further down the shelf and placed a hand over a somewhat larger red scroll with the Uzumaki swirl on it. Shape Manipulation Theory. Raw Chakra manipulated in much the same way that Naruto's Rasengan was only without the same constant maelstrom of power knotted into one chaotic orb.
Pulling a hand away, he moved to the display table where Madam Pince usually kept rare manuscripts hidden under protective glass and enchantments. He'd taken the glass off and filled it with weapons instead, the glowing white chain was flickering brightly in the middle and it made his fingernails ache a little when he put his hand near it. Like he was doing the washing up and the water was hot enough not to burn but to hurt in a way that felt good, felt clean.
Laying a hand on it flooded her mind.
Her metaphorical body tensed up as memories and impressions whirled around with a vengeance, Kushina had neglected to mention that she had included memories of endless hours training to try and not only summon up her unique Chakras but to shape them and then use when as a viable form of combat. Harry found himself back in his body and staggering backwards, hitting the ground on his ass, panting as his vision span and swum with dark spots. Oh man! Too much, way too much, he groaned and rubbed at his eyes.
"I'm okay, some of those memories were a little intense," he admitted, breath leaving in a great whoosh.
"No, Neechan, something's wrong." The whimper in the blond's voice immediately had the blonde looking over his shoulder and blanching. Naruto was sitting on the floor, ashen faced with blood dribbling down his nose, his eyes were out of focus and he was sweating and shaking. "Muh-my nose, i-it won't stop blee-eeding," he slurred, blinking disjointedly as he lifted a jerking and spasming arm, already stained red, to try and stem the flow.
"Oh my god, why didn't you shake me, Naruto? This is serious!" Harry exclaimed, rushing forward.
Naruto grinned wobbly at him, "You we-ere train'in'," he pointed out, "An' s'only a little bloo-od."
Even his pupils were different sizes. Green eyes widened as the Gryffindor brushed aside the Jinchuuriki's hair and saw blood leaking out of his ears as well. Panic turned his veins to ice. He didn't know how to heal this! What had even happened? "What happened? How, why are you bleeding?" he demanded. No-no-no-no, he couldn't lose his head, not here, Naruto needed him to keep calm and figure this out, not panic. Not overlay his face with that of Dumbledore's suffering under that horrid poison Riddle used to hide his Horcrux!
"Headache," the pre-teen explained thickly. "Muh-my brain... snapped. Tried to-to hard."
Something wrong with his brain! But if it was physical, he didn't have the slightest idea of what to do! Was this an aneurysm?
"Hold on Naruto, hold on tight and keep your eyes shut. It'll feel weird but we're going to Ero Sennin, he'll help," she told him, gathering the twelve year old up, cradling him protectively against her, completely heedless of the blood that was beginning to decorate her clothing as she climbed to her feet and cast around desperately.
And vanished with a crack.
CRACK – town centre.
"Jiraiya?" Harry called, popping into view in the middle of a crowd, Naruto whimpering against his chest making his insides tighten and turn colder as with a flex of powerful legs she jumped onto the nearest street-lamp to look around. "Jiraiya!" she called, casting around desperately for the white haired pervert.
CRACK – gone.
CRACK – a bar she passed on the way out of the village.
The bouncer looked at her in shock and then the kid against her chest, "Miss, what's -
"Is there a white haired old man in there, tall, six foot, built like a brick shit house, mole on the left side of his nose, red streaks on his face, disgusting little girl giggle?" she demanded rapidly.
The bouncer shook his head dumbly and watched with wide eyes as the pretty thing swore up a blue streak and vanished with another loud CRACK.
CRACK – the Inn.
Naruto groaned, a high pitched sound of pain.
"Hang on, hang on please!" the Gryffindor begged, eyes beginning to prickle in a mixture of terror and frustration.
CRACK - "Hime?"
"Jiraiya!" Harry called in relief, darting over. "I don't know what happened, I was meditating, I came out of it and there was blood everywhere! He's slurring his speech, can't focus his eyes, he said he felt something snap in his head! I can't heal this, I never learned how to do organs, only knit bones back together and deal with minor bruising!" he ranted as the old pervert immediately jumped off his seat and met him half way, listening as the Gryffindor's voice got higher and higher with panic and fear as she desperately hugged the tiny form of his student against her. Damn, blood was seeping out of Naruto's nose and ears!
"We need to get him to Tsunade and Shizune!" he grunted.
"Where are they?" Harry demanded sharply.
"Back at the Inn."
The Gryffindor nodded and reached out with one hand, grabbing Jiraiya's wrist and Apparating away with a CRACK!
CRACK – "Jiraiya what – " Tsunade demanded, jumping to her feet as soon as she registered the great hulking man appearing in her room before her eyes landed on the spit streak wench, her front drenched red and the blond boy in her arms, his face streaming with scarlet.
"No time, hime!" the old pervert barked, tearing her eyes away from the red nightmare before it really sank in what she was seeing. "Get Shizune if you can't help!" he snapped at her, already ransacking their backpacks for medical scrolls as the blonde girl crouched down, cradling the tiny form of her brother protectively. Tsunade found herself unable to tear her eyes away from the two as she left the room, her heart in her throat.
"Shizune!" the older woman called, her voice shaking as she ran for the bathhall, "Shizune, emergency! Don't bother with clothes, just wrap up and get your ass back to the room!" she commanded as she burst into the steam filled room. Several other patrons of the Inn gasped and squealed in alarm at the sudden appearance of the brusque woman. Her apprentice however knew better than to argue and was already up, out of the water and whipping a towel around her naked form. Most of the women weren't able to follow the Jounin level Medic Nin's movement, all they saw was the two running out of the room, the dark haired woman not even pausing to put on shoes.
"What's the problem?" Shizune asked. If Tsunade-sama had fetched her then it would probably be a bloody one.
"I don't know. Jiraiya suddenly appeared with the two brats, the boy's bleeding out of both ears and nostrils, he's gushing in there," the Sannin explained, her voice hitching as she explained the details, her hands already beginning to shake.
"You did well, Tsunade-sama," Shizune told her, gently pushing on her shoulder. "Wait out here, I'll take it now."
Tsunade nodded, still trembling, as her student pushed her way into their room as if she owned it, caring not a single whit about being only in a bath towel as she assessed the situation and took charge. Having Jiraiya fetch her supplies, the girl, Harii, cleaning up the boy and stripping him while she scanned him to find out the problem and would someone please explain to her what happened?
Harry explained, never once taking his eyes off the pale blond lying out in front of him, the rag in his hand stained crimson with all the blood he had been cleaning up. He felt sick, the smell was thick and violent in his nose. No human, no little boy, should have that much blood in them!
Shizune bit her lip and began to work, "His mind has been severely strained, its ruptured several blood-vessels. I'm healing them now, but we'll have to keep him sedated until we fix the cause of the strain, its not natural!" she explained, "Jiraiya, I'm going to need a Chakra infusion, ink the seal on my back."
"Got it," the pervert agreed, all business as he dragged a thumb over the inside of his jacket and withdrew an ink bottle and brush with a puff of smoke. Not even ten seconds later the Seal was complete and glowing on Shizune's back as the Sannin placed a palm over it and began to feed Chakra through to her.
Harry watched, biting his lips as a soft green glow engulfed Naruto's head, sinking into his skin and getting to work.
DUN DUN DUN!
It took Shizune two hours to repair the ruptured blood vessels, it was such delicate work to scan so intensely and repair damage at such a level. She couldn't miss a single capillary. This was the problem with brain-trauma and why most Ninja's minds developed to be both simpler and retain and recall information with greater success. Unfortunately the simpler mind structure also made them more of a target for Genjutsu which found it easier to dig in.
The dark haired woman sat back, releasing a deep breath as she felt Jiraiya's Chakra slowly dribble out of her system as the conversion Seal he inked on her back was wiped off. She looked at the blonde girl, she was sticky scarlet with blood and had yet to move a single muscle, watching her now with frighteningly intense green eyes, just waiting. She smiled at the younger girl, "He'll be alright for now, we just have to find out how he popped those blood-vessels. His mind is unusually adaptive for someone his age, it shouldn't have happened," the woman explained.
Harii flinched and cringed backward, making the two present in the room blink and sit up straighter, "Harii-chan, do you know something?" Jiraiya asked, a frown beginning to work its way over his face. He may act otherwise in order to try and get Naruto to toughen up, but he did genuinely care about the boy and any threat to him was going to be treated harshly.
"Remember the damage I mentioned?" she began quietly, making Jiraiya nod, his frown growing. "We must have missed some kind of booby-trap or something because we fixed and organised everything back where it should have been," she told him miserably, rubbing her bloody fingers on her trousers. "This is my fault, I should have been more careful!" she berated herself.
Jiraiya sighed and stripped out of his jacket, gently dropping it over her to hide the bloodstains all across her front, "Shizune, could you get Tsunade in here? I'll clear up the bloo- od?" he trailed off as Harii-chan reached out and made the bloodied wash-cloths and sheets puff out of existence with a simple touch of her hand. He blinked, "Useful."
She shot him a weak smile, "Not so much when the Sensei keeps vanishing your work before you can hand it in because he's a spiteful git," she admitted, choking a little on a miserable laugh.
Jiraiya hummed and looked away, ignoring the twang in his chest as he watched Shizune open the door to get his old team-mate. Now that things weren't so dire, he allowed himself a moment to really enjoy the view, she may not have been much on top but hot-damn, those were some niiiiice legs, toned and yet shapely leading up to a lovely perky rump that had juuust enough jiggle to –
"Jiraiya!" Dark eyes immediately snapped to his team-mate, yet still not quite as high as her face. "Explain, Shizune says that the Gaki's mind has been messed with," the Slug Summoner barked, grabbing her old team-mate by the jaw and hoisting his face up until his eyes had to meet her face because they couldn't actually look any lower.
Grumbling a little at her for ruining the view, for putting a crick in his neck and also reminding him of the dire situation he stepped back, rubbing at his jaw before launching into an explanation of Harii's ability to mind walk and how she found someone had been scrambling with Naruto's brain while he was in the Academy. He didn't expect the older blonde to suddenly whip around and roughly plough the other girl into the far wall when he told her she'd repaired the damage but probably missed something.
"You foolish girl!" the female Sannin roared as the younger girl bounced off the wall and hit the ground with a yelp. "There was no left over boobytrap! By rearranging his mind and not showing him how to make the new connections his brain is trying to force them back into their old semblance of order! His brain is tearing itself apart trying to break itself again!" the Medic Nin snarled at the idiot child who nearly murdered her brother. The brief stab of satisfaction she felt at seeing the other girl's eyes widen soured when the girl was immediately on her feet and grabbing her by the arm, she tensed, expecting an attack.
"How do I fix it?" Harry demanded, "Please, if you know what you're doing, tell me how to fix this."
Tsunade scowled, this was like a bad nightmare.
"Not even if you paid me," she sneered.
"T-tsunade-sama?" Shizune gasped in horror. Never did she expect her Master to turn someone away like this, Orochimaru was one thing, but Naruto-kun was just a child and it wasn't like his sister was demanding Tsunade do it herself, she just wanted to know how to correct her own mistake! She knew her Master was bitter and still heartbroken from Dan and Nawaki's deaths but... she didn't think it had been this bad, even at the lowest points when her Master turned violent in her drunken anger.
"And if I begged?" the younger girl asked quietly, taking everyone in the room by surprise.
Tsunade snorted, "Like an arrogant little brat like you even knew how!" she scoffed.
Her eyes widened when the younger girl released her and dropped down to her hands and knees, bowing her head to touch the floor. No hesitation.
"Please, Tsunade-sama, if something isn't done, Naruto will not wake up. Please, I beg you, how can I save my brother?"
The adults all exchanged looks. Jiraiya had to admit, he was a little surprised at the girl's willingness to bow her stiff neck on Naruto's behalf, on the other hand, he wasn't. She had already admitted that she was willing to do what it took to keep Naruto alive and happy, even if that meant butting heads with him, something that even Tsunade was wary of sometimes. Shizune was less surprised and more hopeful that her Master would help them, surely she could understand girl's feelings, she knew that Tsunade would have been just as quick to bow her head if it meant Nawaki could have been saved. And despite her anger, her bitterness, Tsunade wasn't without a heart. One that was currently squeezing painfully tight as her stomach flipped and guilt made her queasy.
"Get off the floor," she grunted at the younger girl. "I'll help, but you will owe me for this. Money or a favour, which ever," she growled before marching back over to the blond boy. "Use your technique, I'll meet you in his Mind-scape."
Harry nodded, scrambling to his feet, relief making his knees weak as he stumbled to Naruto's side.
Jiraiya sighed, eyeing the two curled up on the bed, Harii had refused to leave Naruto's side since Tsunade and her had dropped into his mind to fix the damage. He didn't say it out loud, but he felt partially responsible for it, he should have known better and stopped her from rearranging his mind like that. Still, he could respect her a little now. She recognised that she'd made a mistake, took responsibility and did everything within her power to correct it and sought help when it was too much for her alone. Not many Ninja could do that.
The more time went past, the more she reminded him of Minato but with Kushina's temper.
Tsunade had dragged the girl out and into the bathhall to wash off all the blood decorating her front and the two of them had nearly come to blows about it. Harii had not wanted to leave Naruto in the slightest. But Tsunade wasn't a Sannin for nothing, she was more than capable of handling the green eyed blonde. Harii was in the bathhall before she'd finished her sentence, naked and thrown in the water before she could react to the sudden change in location as well. It would have been comical to him if his team-mate hadn't then turned around and punted him out of the room before he could get a good look.
Jiraiya pouted at the unfairness of it all. Barely several hours had gone by and dawn was already peeking over the horizon as they anxiously waited for Naruto to awaken. Jiraiya didn't know what the girls had done but apparently it was enough for Tsunade to feel comfortable enough to worry about the reek of blood lingering on the other girl. If he didn't know any better, he was getting the impression that his team-mate was thinking of taking her under her wing. He wasn't so sure it was a good idea, Harii was no healer. Harii had crawled into bed with the smaller boy and coiled herself protectively around him before going to sleep, Shizune had followed suit by getting into the other bed and sleeping, leaving just the two Sannin to sit and wait.
"Why did you bring them, Jiraiya?" Tsunade asked softly.
"I'm not that cruel, Tsunade. Naruto I brought because I'm doing Kakashi a favour, and he's my Godson. Harii-chan... she actually found us back in the last village." He wondered how much he should tell his old team-mate, if there was even the slightest chance she could betray the village and go to Orochimaru's camp it would be best if he didn't give her the truth.
"Kyuubi called her 'Little Shinigami'," the Slug Nin admitted, almost sounding wary of the moniker.
Jiraiya nodded, "I'm not surprised. She's been touched pretty heavily by death. Enough that she managed to track us down using just the imprint the Shinigami left on Naruto's Seal," he explained, carefully leaving out the small fact that she could pretty much be considered a Shinigami herself. The fact that Kyuubi even recognised it was cause for alarm. "She still hasn't told me anything about what happened to her, but she is Naruto's older sister, she remembers enough from before October Ten to confirm it. She's the living spit of Minato too."
Tsunade was silent, "That can be faked."
"Whirlpool Lullabies not so much," he pointed out, "Not to mention her little teleportation trick, if that wasn't a variation of Hiraishin, I'll drink my ink bottle." And given how it was made with blood, it was a little widgy and Tsunade knew he hated the taste of blood.
The two fell quiet as the dim lighting in the room grew stronger as the sun climbed higher, until...
"Ero Sennin?" Naruto asked, peering at them with curious eyes from under the tangle of hair and limbs that was his older sister. He seemed quite content to stay there though, even shifted to hug her a little tighter. Jiraiya was starting to get a little concerned with how closely the two were gravitating to one another, "What happened? Where am I?"
"You started bleeding from both ears and nose, Gaki. Harii-chan came running for us, you gave her quite the scare," he explained, watching as the blond blinked slowly as if he didn't understand before his gaze widened in a mixture of surprise and confusion as his head twisted to look at the seventeen year old wrapped around him.
"S-she was actually scared, for me?" he asked, as if the concept was completely foreign and Jiraiya felt his stomach twist. Of course it was. Having friends and people who actually cared was still a fairly new state for Naruto, even so, none of them had shown much in the way of fear over his wellbeing, hell, Haruno was more likely to hit him than fuss over a bloody nose, the Uchiha would call him weak and leave him to his own devices and if Kakashi actually cared to notice he would just usher his student off to the hospital. A willingness to sacrifice your life was one thing, but that was just how Leaf Nin worked. When one of their own was in danger they would fight to the death to help. But giving a damn about an injury was something else entirely.
Maybe leaving him to Hiruzen-sensei's care for the last twelve years hadn't been such a bright idea.
Tsunade glanced at her team-mate, recognising the expression of guilt that twisted the edge of his face, "Yeah, Gaki," she grunted. "Even got on her knees and begged me to help you." Which was fucking stupid in her mind, had she been a hostile presence she would have rammed a Kunai through the back of her neck and left the Gaki to die – unfortunately that would then leave Jiraiya to hunt her down and tear her apart, and he would. She knew he would because Naruto was the Legacy Minato left him.
It didn't help that the kid was the son of her favourite cousin. She guessed that made the two Gakis' family.
"Don't forget, you've got until Monday to master that Jutsu. Don't think you're getting an extension because of this," she told him roughly, turning away so she wouldn't have to look at the knowing smirk on Jiraiya's face.
Shizune had tried to keep Naruto in bed for rest but with Kurama helping things along, he didn't need the extra recovery time and was already back to training before Lunchtime had even rolled around. Harry had gone with him as he was determined to make sense of those Chakra Chains. That had been on Wednesday, it was now Sunday Afternoon and neither of them were present, nor had they returned to the Inn much at all.
Shizune had been about to go and look for them when Harii appeared at the door with a completely snookered out twelve year old on her back, looking a little sheepish as she asked if they could kip in with them.
"We trained a little too hard," she explained, laying Naruto out on one of the beds, checking the bandages she'd wrapped around his hand. Shizune sniffed and blinked a little as she smelt an unusual combination of herbs coming from them. "Naruto's out clean, I doubt even the magic word could wake him up right now."
"What about you, and why here?" Shizune asked curiously as the other girl dug into her pocket and withdrew a Sealing Scroll which poufed out a sleeping bag. How nostalgic, it was just like the camping one she had as a Genin only bigger and red instead of washed out brown.
"I'm exhausted. Once I'm out, I'm out. I won't wake up until my body's recovered and as much of a gentleman I'm sure Jiraiya may be, I've already ploughed him into the ceiling for trying to sneak a grope while I was sleeping." The older women pulled identical faces, yeah, they wouldn't put it past him either. He may have been a gentleman in certain ways but he was still a Super Pervert. Harii smirked depreciatingly, "Yeah. Not too comfy with the idea of being too tired to move when I see that mug of his leering at me when I open my eyes."
Harry sighed, cracking his back as he placed a hand over his chest and Transfigured his day clothes into a set of night ones, too lazy to bother with digging out a scroll – he couldn't even remember which one it was anyway. Besides, Tsunade was being worryingly quiet as she stared down at the exhausted boy, her expression strangely morose and disappointed. Shizune kept glancing at her worriedly as the younger girl slid into her sleeping bag, zipped up, curled into a ball and quite literally passed out.
For Harry, all was silent and peaceful in sleep until the sound of a body hitting the ground jarred him awake, a door closing soon after. Opening green eyes, the Gryffindor sat up and glanced at Shizune sprawled out on the floor, clutching at her stomach. She was breathing, only unconscious then. Tsunade was no where in sight though.
Pulling himself free the blond scrambled to his feet and pulled open the window, looking out and down the street. It wasn't very crowded but he had clearly been sleeping for several hours given how dawn was already peeking over the horizon. And there! A blonde flash moving slowly through the streets wearing a familiar green coat. Hopping out of window, Harry followed. A quick disillusionment and a silencing charm and suddenly it was like he was nothing more than a shimmer of displaced hot air. All those years of sneaking around Hogwarts had paid off.
Tsunade hadn't noticed, her mind too consumed with what was to come, what she was going to do.
In the early morning hours, the town was quiet, only the occasional early bird and the workers were up and about, no one paid the blonde woman any notice as she slowly meandered her way towards the Castle that was now rubble due to a monster attack the week before. No doubt they would be getting many other tourists to see the ruins and comment on how horrible the devastation was. Maybe one or two men threw out appreciative whistles and admiring ups and downs but other than that they left her be.
Following her into the ruins, Harry watched as she came to a stop in front of a ruined section of wall and looked around briefly before leaning back against the plaster, waiting.
Nodding, the blonde stepped back and ran, heading back towards the Inn where he planned on waking Shizune and Naruto before going to find Jiraiya. If she was knocking her Attendant unconscious to go to this meeting then it was definitely something that could spell bad news.
Out of hearing range, he Apparated.
Kabuto smirked as he flickered past bedroom windows, their occupants completely clueless to his passing, men and women just beginning the day, children still sleeping in their beds, amorous couples reacquainting themselves with each other's bodies in the stolen moments before life reasserted itself. None of them had any idea the threat that had passed by so closely and so swiftly that had he wished it, they would have been dead before they realised he had even been there.
Still, he had a particular target in mind.
He shifted and crept along a near-by roof to where he knew there was a window into Tsunade-sama and her Attendant's room, he smirked as he peered out, half expecting to see the dark haired woman either unconscious or panicking over her Master's absence. However, his smirk instantly fell at the sight that greeted him. This would complicate things greatly and possibly spell disaster for their cause.
Jiraiya, for him to even be there couldn't be a coincidence. Naruto's presence was... he didn't know whether he should have been amused or just pity the poor boy, desperately hanging on the coat-tails of Ninja greater than himself, begging for table scraps like a mongrel.
He moved to withdraw before a sudden CRACK of displaced air drew his attention again.
He blinked at the slight shimmer of air that seemed to drain away and reveal a... was that one of Naruto-kun's Sexy Clones? No. No, it was built similarly but the shape of the face and eyes were different, not to mention she was clothed in rather practical clothes. He watched as Naruto greeted her with a flying tackle and a cry of 'Neechan', neither Jiraiya nor Shizune seemed surprised to see her, however, Kabuto had a problem. All of his information told him that Naruto did not possess a sister, nor any family.
"She's gone to the ruined Castle up on the hill," the unknown girl told them, pointing.
"You followed her?" the Attendant spluttered in surprise.
"Yes. She didn't notice me. But she's waiting for someone up there none-the-less." He knew he had seen that girl's face before, it was maddening, he knew he should recognise her. The fact that Naruto-kun had a sister was huge and he felt bitter at the fact this woman had managed to escape his information networks.
"Damnit, Shizune, what the hell is going on? Why is Tsunade talking to Orochimaru?" Jiraiya demanded in a sudden snarl.
Crap! Kabuto mentally swore and immediately raced off, if Jiraiya knew she was speaking with Orochimaru-sama then it was only a matter of time until he caught up to them. Hopefully Tsunade had decided to accept their offer otherwise this had the potential to get very, very nasty.
"I'll explain on the way," the dark haired woman told them.
"Hold your oxen, Harii-chan can get us there in a split second, right?" Jiraiya asked, looking at the blonde girl who nodded firmly, looking grim. For a moment, Shizune wondered if she was aware who Orochimaru was, her brother clearly did judging by the vicious scowl that was beginning to form on his face. "Explain now. The more time I have to work through this toxin, the better chances we have of beating Orochimaru."
So she explained. Her voice lowering as she spoke of the Snake Sannin's offer to revive her Master's beloved younger brother and the man she intended on marrying. In exchange for healing his arms.
"And she'll go for it?" Harii asked, sounding disgusted.
Jiraiya nodded looking grim, "She never got over their deaths. You've seen what she's like now. She used to be quite nice and she would have never turned someone away if they needed help, let alone drive them to begging for it."
He loved her at one point, Harry realised as he watched the Toad Sannin climb to his feet. But he was still going to kill her if she betrayed them for this Orochimaru guy. Just who was he and why was his name causing so much in the way of bad vibes amongst the group. It was like sitting in the middle of an Order meeting and having someone say that Professor McGonagall had gone off and joined Voldemort. It felt so goddamn surreal.
"Harii, let's go," Jiraiya commanded, holding a hand out.
Nodding, the Gryffindor got to her feet and grabbed his hand, "Naruto, hold tight to me, Shizune, grab my other hand. This will feel weird, but don't let go. And don't vomit on me either," he added with a frown, recalling how Ernie mentioned that sometimes muggles took to Apparation badly.
"Hai!" Shizune exclaimed, grasping at the hand extended toward her, watching as Naruto wrapped both arms around his sister's waist.
And Chapter 8 is done! XDD Don't expect any more Chapters day by day. At least until this weekend. I'll continue writing of course, but I've got 9-5 lessons all week aside from Friday which is the day I go off and take care of house chores.
Some people made their concerns about Power and Sue-dom known in reviews. I'd like to address this now with some stats from the Databooks. Hopefully this'll clear things up for you.
Chakra Capacity: 3
Haruno Sakura – Genin level
Chakra Capacity: 1
Haruno Sakura – current Chuunin level
Chakra Capacity: 2.5
Uzumaki Naruto – Genin level
Chakra Capacity: 4
Uzumaki Naruto – current level
Chakra Capacity: 4
Going by these numbers, I think we can agree on a pretty good strength area for a Genin. These are Harry's stats as I see them currently.
Chakra Capacity: 3
Harry knows NO Ninjutsu, NO Genjutsu, the only Taijutsu he knows is what he's seen in movies and has yet to even try. Given how his body is supposed to be Naruto's at 17, it stands to reason that he would be pretty damn physically strong since Naruto has been seen punching concrete posts into rubble. Chakra Capacity is in the mid-highs but as I'm equating Chakra to Magic, specifically Sen-Chakra, Harry would have a fair bit of it. And his knowledge of Seals extends to using them. That is all. As for intelligence, Harry was pretty damn smart in canon and we've had Kyuubi explaining how he fashioned his current body to an ideal and how it was currently adapting along to the lines of Minato's genetics. In other words, his brain is retaining and recalling information better but hasn't yet finished changing, so he will get smarter and probably a hell of a lot faster.
Apart from Magic, which he can't use without actually touching the subject and having something to actually change – in otherwords, no Conjuring, no making something out of nothing here. And he's still limited by what he knows of Magic, which isn't anywhere near the same volume of information that Hermione has, sure as time progresses he may be able to better access information on the books he has read from Hogwarts, but that's it. He won't magically know things through psychic links to Kurama who wouldn't know it anyway.
As for solving all of Naruto's problems... FFFFFHAHAHAHAH, you're kidding right? He's trying to bullshit his way into a MILITARY VILLAGE! Think you could BS your way into North Korea? No? There you go. Small spoiler alert here guys, so if you don't want to know I'd look away now and skip to the next paragraph: Harry does end up visiting Torture and Interrogation. Don't be retarded. Of course he will. Despite looking exactly like Minato there's no record of her existing, no one remembers her existing, the top dogs know that Kushina would have needed to be observed and protected and have her Seal regulated during the child birthing process. We've already had Kabuto demonstrating an ability at ON THE SPOT plastic surgery that a Jounin couldn't even see through until a split second before it was too late, and then there's the problem of the whole village being on razor edges because of the invasion, and now suddenly a mysterious girl is showing up claiming to be their Jinchuuriki's sister who no one remembers existing? Pull the other one, it has bells.
If anything, she's going to cause Naruto problems, or rather, problems for the people around him. But that doesn't mean she isn't going to help him, oh no, there's quite a few problems she'll be nipping in the bud so stick around.
WARNING: Violence, gore, mind rape, torture, BLOOD. That fun stuff.
Kabuto was sweating. Brows furrowed in a mixture of anxiousness and annoyance as building rubble flew freely through the air, "This place may be a bit too crowded for this kind of fight," he advised his Master, the two of them eyeing the brick-dust plumes for any sign of the enraged blonde woman. Kabuto was beginning to understand why Orochimaru had never actually engaged in combat against his former Teammate, he wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of that and he had Regeneration.
"Are you planning on moving this fight elsewhere?" Orochimaru asked in an undertone.
Kabuto nodded, "I think that would be wise. There were some people with Tsunade's servant who worry me. We don't know when he may come out and help her and the other is an unknown," he explained, mind flashing back to the blonde girl and just how damn familiar she looked.
"Who is it?" Orochimaru demanded.
"He's one of yours and Tsunade's kind. One of the Legendary Sannin." Kabuto watched as his Master's eyes narrowed, pupils contracting to even smaller pin-pricks of shock. "The other is a blonde girl with whisker marks, she seems to be skilled enough in stealth to follow Tsunade to our meeting point and fast enough to beat me back to the group. I don't remember her from my time in Konoha," he admitted bitterly.
The two Oto-Nin whipped around at the curious sound of the air snapping, five people appearing on the scene in a rush of displaced air. Blonde and white flew high.
Orochimaru's eyes widened as the group stepped back, white haired Jiraiya looking as though he'd been run over, clearly fighting the affects of some drug or another. Dark haired Shizune, radiating Killing Intent as keenly intelligent eyes swept the scene and landed upon them with grim determination. Diminutive Uzumaki Naruto in his vivid orange garb, making scary faces that put the Sannin twenty years in the past and looking down at Uzumaki Kushina. Behind him, green eyed, long blonde hair, whiskered – his face.
"Yondaime," the Snake Sannin spat, glaring at the girl who narrowed her eyes straight back at him.
"Voldemort," she returned without even the courtesy of hiding her contempt. Orochimaru didn't know what that word meant, but it was clearly an insult.
"Ka... Kabuto-san?" Naruto gaped, staring aghast at the grey haired teenager. Eyes flicking to his forehead protector, to the Snake Sannin and finally to Tsunade and the sheer destruction she'd caused. Whatever Kabuto had been expecting from the blond, it wasn't the sudden grim scowl that wrote itself across his face as everything clicked into place. Kakashi's wariness around the grey haired teen, why he quit the Chuunin exams seven times, the Info cards he so willingly shared with the competition, why he seemed so interested in them – in Sasuke.
"OROCHIMARU!" Tsunade roared, charging at the two Traitorous Shinobi.
It happened in a split second. Orochimaru leapt backwards and Kabuto lifted a kunai up. Tsunade slid to a shuddering stop as sticky, hot, crimson blood, metallic and so vivid splattered across her.
The Oto-Nin smirked as a hard punch sent the reeling woman flying back, her attendant flickering forward and catching her before she struck the unforgiving hard ground.
"Kage Bunshin No Jutsu!" Naruto commanded, shooting forward with his hands crossed, three clones flashing into existence at his side as they moved to flank the Traitor.
"Damnit, Naruto, no!" Jiraiya shouted, but it was too late.
Naruto was flung back, his clones exploding into Chakra Smoke. Shizune leapt and caught him mid-air, spitting needles with unerring accuracy at Kabuto's eyes. He dipped his head forward, the needles were going too fast for him to dodge so he deflected them using the metal of his headband.
Gold flashed in the corner of his eye and the grey haired Nin turned, green eyes glaring at him as a palm landed on his jaw. Alarm filled him.
"Stupefy!" the unknown girl commanded.
Kabuto jerked backward, deliberately falling backward, his eyes filling with red light as he missed... whatever the hell kind of attack that was. Judging by the barely restrained violence in the girl's eyes it would have hurt. Great, another Tsunade and this one was actually in her prime and just as fast, if not faster, than he was. Even with that rack causing a lot of wind-resistance, he noted, eyes flicking down to the impressive bust that, unlike most Kunoichi, was modestly hidden away.
His hands hit the ground and he lashed out with a foot, wincing slightly when she lifted a leg to block it with her shin, the sound echoing around their battlefield sounding a lot more painful than it actually was. And then he was forced to duck as Naruto blind-sided him with a hay maker.
This was ridiculous!
The girl was fast, but unskilled, frighteningly strong regardless as he learned the hard way when a fist got through his guard and broke his jaw. Naruto flitting in and out, a lot more skilled, but even more unpredictable and spamming those Kami-damned clones. Their Teamwork was flawless. He wouldn't be having nearly so much trouble if they weren't working together, whatever openings Naruto's tactics made, the girl took advantage of ruthlessly, while he was distracted dealing with her, Naruto slipped in and put him on the defensive.
Fighting each of them on their own would be fairly easy, simple even. He just needed to separate them.
Shadow Clones ought to do it. He would leave the clone to deal with Naruto-kun, it wasn't like the boy would have a hope in hell of dispelling it. The girl though, she was too fast, he would have to deal with her. And do it fast, he was bleeding like a stuck pig and he could already feel it affecting his reflexes. If his vision weren't blurring he doubted they would have landed even half as many hits as they had before. Thankfully the broken jaw was keeping him lucid.
He lashed out, angling his wrist, splattering blood, not into Naruto-kun's face this time – into the girl's.
She reacted as predicted, squeezing her eyes shut, but she didn't stop or jump back as expected. Naruto-kun reacted as predicted as well, lunging at him with a furious snarl. An angry Naruto-kun was an easily dealt with one as he planted a fist in the boy's gut and sent him flying backwards, allowing him to twist under the girl's swing and form the needed Handseal.
Clone!Kabuto charged for the blond boy as the original ducked under a leg that would have taken his head off and dug into his hip-bag for a Blood Pill. Even blinded the girl was fast and while her Chakra sense was good, she was inexperienced with it. A kick sent her straight back to join the Jinchuuriki as he jumped back to Orochimaru-sama's side.
Harry growled roughly rubbing his eyes clear of blood. That had been pathetic. First thing on the list of future practice was fighting, magic was out of the question as you had to be fast enough to cast it and apparently he wasn't there quite yet. Jiraiya was still labouring under the affects of the drug, Tsunade was in shock – Shizune mentioned something about a phobia of blood, for a Ninja that meant she had some pretty bad traumas associated with it. Shizune was trying to snap her master out of it but nothing seemed to be working and then Naruto had gone running in.
She had followed, almost without conscious thought of just how much of a Very. Bad. Idea. It was.
"You've lost a lot of blood," Orochimaru noted lightly, sounding almost amused as Kabuto's trembling stopped and he realigned his jaw with a sickening crack.
"Please take off the left bandage," he requested without addressing the man's observation. Of course he had lost a lot of blood, there was no need to point out the obvious, or sound so bloody amused about it either.
Harry watched as the snake-man shifted slightly, the bandages on his arm slipping free, "This is like a really bad joke," she muttered, recalling his earlier thoughts on similarities between himself and Naruto and creepy snake freaks. "Jiraiya, who is this guy and what can we expect from him and his lackey?" he asked, licking a sleeve and better cleaning up his face.
"Orochimaru, my old Teammate, he's a level and a half above most folk you'll have the misfortune to meet," the white haired pervert explained. "Knows a heck of a lot of Forbidden Jutsus, has a thing for snakes."
"I can tell that. Does he have some strange obsession with pre-teen boys?" That was an odd question and Jiraiya shot the girl a look of bewilderment.
She grumbled, looking unsurprised and very, very disgusted. "Really bad joke," he muttered, shrugging off the dark red yukata he had been wearing like an over-robe. The snake freak even had a Traitor doing the dirty work. Someone up there was having a laugh, a really nasty one at his expense.
"Why?" the pervert demanded.
She shook her head, "I'll explain when this is over. We don't have time."
"Shizune, you handle the one in the glasses, I'll take Orochimaru. Naruto, Harii, you two protect Tsunade while she patches herself up. She's their goal, we can't let her be taken. Can you do anything about my poisoning?" he ordered before turning to the only Medic present. She shook her head though, looking pained and anxious.
"It's one of Tsunade-sama's creations, it'll probably last a few hours more. I'm sorry Jiraiya-sama, its beyond my abilities," she admitted, shame faced.
"Hmph, well, I guess if that's the way it is. We'll just have to do it this way," he decided, not sounding all together disappointed or even annoyed with the situation. Harry guessed this was part of being a Ninja, rolling with the punches and making the best of a bad situation, Naruto certainly seemed to excel at it.
Almost by unspoken signal, the Ninja jumped into action, Jiraiya biting his thumb hard enough to draw blood while Kabuto jabbed his own slit wrist, both of them smearing their blood over Seals inscribed on their flesh and calling out, "KUCHIYOSE NO JUTSU!"
The giant two headed snake made a chill of fear shoot down Harry's spine, that thing was way bigger than a Basilisk. Fuck, it looked as though he had managed to stumble his way into a Ninja Battle with some fucker who was even more dangerous than Voldemort, just without the magic. This was probably going to go horribly horribly wrong. Their only saving grace right now was that the man's arms seemed to be debilitated. And Jiraiya was completely useless with that drug running through his system he realised as all that puffed into existence with his own Summoning was a Toad the size of his clenched fist. The amount of Magic he could sense in the tiny creature was... not impressive.
"Naruto," she murmured, "You know this technique, think you can scrape enough Chakra to do what he can't?" she asked the blond in an undertone.
Naruto looked grim and shook his head, "No. I'm no good at Chakra control, I gotta ask the Fox before I can do what Ero-Sennin wanted to do cause I burn off too much," he admitted with a pained look on his face. And given how Kurama had charged him with protecting Naruto, chances were he wouldn't be willing to help out.
"I'll take Jiraiya, the rest are yours!" the Snake Sannin roared as the twin headed serpent shot forward, mouths open.
Harry squawked, green eyes widening at the sight of the massive snake maw about to engulf him before his vision washed white and he felt his feet leave the ground, like a noose had been thrown around his stomach and suddenly wrenched him upwards and around. It was very uncomfortable! But, he stared down, eyes widening as he saw the clouds of brick dust get kicked up from the impact of a scaly snout hitting the ground. Flashes of orange, red and black signifying where everyone was before she realised he was above them, far above them and the sound of wings filled his ears.
"You haven't changed at all," a female voice scolded. "Not even a month passes since your arrival and you've already managed to find some manner of mischief to get tangled up in!"
Harry looked up, eyes widening.
"Naruto-san and Jiraiya-dono are much the same," a familiar male voice pointed out in amusement. "For once, I believe this is not of Harry-dono's doing."
Huge, pure white and patterned with sooty black flecks, gleaming silver armour and bright, vivid, warm amber eyes, so familiar it hurt and so missed that he could actually feel the hot prickling in the corner of his eyes as he stared up at the owl. Perched on her back, webbed fingers hooked into her armour as huge wings beat the air heedless to the battle below as all the world went silent.
"Hed... wig?" he breathed and she smiled. How an owl did he didn't know, he didn't think they even had the facial muscles to do it, but she did. She smiled and he felt himself being shifted, carefully, oh so very carefully as he realised that he was held in her talons – talons that were armoured and clawed with vicious looking metal swords – onto her back.
"Yes. Its good to see you Harry," she said softly. Her voice was deeper, huskier than Harry had imagined but... he didn't even try to stop the tears that spilled down his now whiskered cheeks as he clung to her back and buried her face in the owl's armoured back, sobbing.
"I-I'm so sorry, Hedwig," he hiccuped. "I got you killed and, I'm sorry for everything, the Dursleys, f-for all those long distance flights, for not being able to-
She hooted softly as Gamajusho gently patted the boy-turned-girl's back. "There's nothing to forgive, Harry. We will talk more later, I believe your friends are in trouble!" she pointed out.
Harry tensed and immediately craned his head down to the seen below. Shizune unconscious, Tsunade unprotected, Jiraiya and Orochimaru squaring off atop a giant serpent and Naruto... Naruto lying on the floor while Kabuto kicked him in the stomach. "Let's go, Hedwig, Trevor," the Boy-Who-Lived growled.
"Understood!" the owl barked before armoured wings folded and the world descended into a blur as they shot straight for the grey haired man kicking her little brother.
The fight became a whole different ball game the second Kabuto looked up and blanched at the sight of a Kaminari no Kuni Battle Owl in full armour bearing down on him with a very pissed off looking blonde girl perched on its back. The Oto-Nin dove aside as powerful claws tore easily through the hard ground like a hot knife through butter, leaving deep gouges even as great wings swept around and blades affixed to wing-joints narrowly missed where his head had been a split second earlier.
Harry launched himself from Hedwig's back, fist thrusting down where Kabuto's face had been a split second earlier, shattering the ground beneath her knuckles. The Oto-Nin began to sweat. The force wasn't on part with Tsunade but fuck if it weren't stronger than what he was capable of and she wasn't even enhancing herself with Chakra!
He rolled to his feet, Chakra Scalpels flaring to life around his hands as he knife-trusted them out at the girl who had yet to give him any fucking breathing room since she joined this fight! She ducked, crouching down and landed on her back, pushing both feet into his stomach. Growling he slapped both Chakra Scalpels down over her shins making her scream as her shin bones were cracked and her calf-muscles shredded under his Chakra.
Kabuto cursed and ducked, rolling and hopping backwards as fast as he physically could as the Battle Owl shrieked, raking both claws down at him, only to miss.
He coughed, panting as he wiped his chin of free-flowing sweat, glasses slipping down the bridge of his nose as he watched the truly huge Battle Owl crouch over the fallen blonde girl as she hissed and clutched at her legs in pain, unable to get to her feet. He hadn't expected the great white creature to appear on the scene, just what relationship did the girl have with the Summon creatures? They were considered one of the Noble Summons, those who could use Ninjutsu and jealously guarded their techniques, they didn't just let anyone become their Summoners.
And then Naruto got to his feet, panting and spitting blood to the side, blue eyes hot and furious in direct countenance to the frigid ice green of the girl who bore the face of the Yondaime with Naruto's birthmarks.
No way. No fucking way.
Dark eyes widened in realisation. Orochimaru-sama had even spoken the man's name upon sighting the girl, she teleported, she was faster and stronger than he was, had some kind of relationship with Summons, possessed the same birthmarks as Uzumaki Naruto, the boy who bore the same last name as the Yondaime's girlfriend. It finally clicked into place, why the boy hadn't been snapped up by Danzou for his ROOT programme, why he had been the Prison for the Kyuubi in the first place.
He had to kill them. He had to kill them now before they became the same monsters that their parents did!
He flicked a kunai up, hand shaking ever so slightly, he would take Naruto out first. If the boy lost his hold over Kyuubi after the death of his sister then any chance at dealing with him would be lost and given how low his Chakra was getting after all this, Kabuto didn't fancy his survival chances against a hacked off Bijuu.
"Naruto, run!" Tsunade screamed, her eyes widening as she watched the other Medic prepare, he knew, he'd realised and now fear drove him to cut down the possible threat in front of his eyes. "If you die, you'll never accomplish your dreams or anything else! That's enough Naruto, get out of the way, RUN!"
Blood flew as Kabuto lunged forward.
"Naruto!" Harry screamed, trying to stagger to his feet, shredded legs refusing to bare her weight.
Naruto grinned, blood decorating his face as his fingers clamped down on Kabuto's fist, blood flowing freely from the kunai piercing through his hand. He lifted his free hand, Chakra beginning to gather in his palm as he savoured the look of stunned astonishment on the Traitor's face, the sheen of fear beginning to touch his eyes.
"Until I become Hokage," the blond stated, his voice unwaveringly firm in the face of the other Shinobi's previous mocking scorn, "I refuse to die! So sit back, Kabuto-Yarou. You won't be able to escape from this one," he promised, scowling grimly as the Chakra in his fingers knotted, swirling faster and faster and faster, his fingers sending each wave of Chakra into a different direction but always within a perfect circle.
Light filled his hand as the screaming ball of Chakra finally reached its final creshendo. And a smirk curled on tanned lips as dark black eyes widened in horror.
Hedwig's amber eyes widened, as the Oto-Nin was flung backwards twenty feet, the ground beneath him shredded and swept away as though under a Wind-Drill. "That is a very dangerous technique," she noted, feeling her Wizard using her armour to climb up on ruined legs. "Gamajusho, would you please be kind enough to heal Harry?" the Owl asked, her head turning to the Toad whom had swiftly taken cover when the fighting began. He was a support Toad, capable of Genjutsu, Fuuinjutsu but primarily Ijutsu, his fighting was at best escape and evade style as his messages were of utmost importance, more so than his pride as a Warrior.
The Toad removed his Genjutsu cover and hopped over as the dust from Naruto's attack began to thin. "Of course," he agreed gruffly as he began to make Handseals with webbed fingers.
"Thanks Trevor," Harry said with a strained smile, sweat beading his face as pain made him shaky and weak.
The Toad pressed his glowing hands against the now female's legs.
"Ugh," an unwelcome familiar voice groaned as the dust finally settled.
Kabuto was panting, clinging to the rock he had made such an unkind impact with. That Jutsu was very unpleasant and he was lucky to still be standing, Naruto... Naruto-kun was really something. But... he smirked as the boy vomited blood and fell backwards, gurgling.
"Naruto!" Harry screamed, Hedwig had to slam a huge clawed foot down on top of him to prevent him from running off in the middle of Gamajusho's healing efforts.
"You took that attack... you..." Tsunade trailed off, having darted to Naruto's side to check him.
"I collected Chakra in my abdomen before I took that attack and began recovering immediately," he boasted. "I'm the one who saved Orochimaru's life. It's senseless to try and kill me with that technique. My resilience is overwhelming. My Kekkei Genkai, Regeneration, allows me to active my cells and create new ones to replace damaged ones." He chuckled cruelly eyes panning downward to the wheezing twelve year old, his lungs rattling unkindly as blood filled them from his last second attack. The Chakra Scalpel he slammed into the boy's chest as the Rasengan drilled through into his stomach. "This technique... it looks like Naruto-kun's last gamble." He took one step forward and screamed as blood flew.
Trembling, he looked down, fingers twitching spasmodically as he stared at the glowing golden chain of Chakra through his chest, sizzling with his own blood.
He screamed a second chain slamming into him. Again and again, he felt his arms being wrenched open, his thighs pierced and yanked apart, his body lifting off the ground. The smell of Chakra and burning blood filling his nose.
Dark eyes turned down in shock and pain.
Blonde hair seething wildly behind her, formerly green eyes now golden with pupils blown wide, red bleeding out from around her eyes like overdone make-up in the shape of wings, stretching out from her hand, glowing and throbbing, were the golden chains of Chakra that held him aloft.
"Heal my brother, Tsunade-sama," the girl requested, her eyes never leaving Kabuto's pain-glazed charcoal. "Hedwig, Trevor, please go and assist Jiraiya, the white haired gentleman fighting with the Voldemort wanna-be." The killing Intent that was pouring off the girl made Gamajusho sweat, he recalled Harry Potter having a temper, but not this barely leashed murderous fury. Hedwig seemed unsurprised and merely crouched to allow her old friend to climb aboard.
Tsunade flung off the jacket around her shoulders as she began to make hand-seals, Naruto was still alive, he was in danger but she would save him! She would save him!
Kabuto wheezed, staring at the girl as she slowly approached him, the Chains within her hands shivering with every step she took. "Don't try to talk," she told him calmly. "And don't try any techniques either, this chain was once used to control even the Kyuubi no Kitsune. I doubt you can do anything he could not," she told him smoothly before smiling. And damn if that didn't make the Oto-Nin more frightened than before. "You don't need to speak for what I'm about to do. I only hope I can forgive myself when all is said and done, because I won't lie. This will hurt you, more than it will hurt me. I promise.
Fina-fucking-ly! This chapter was by far the most difficult one to date (03/03/12) to write. I tried to include everything in a realistic manner as well as pull out the classic Naruto -ZOMG been training this really awesome technique and when the chips are down I manage to pull it off W00T!- thing that they do so often in Shounen Manga.
Hedwig, Trevor, Harry and Chakra Chains. Basically, I wanted Hedwig to have more of a role in this beyond messenger bird, so I made her part of the most badass thing I could think of. BATTLE OWLS. Fuck yeaah. Trevor, while I'm quite certain that if it came down to it, would be a beast of a fighter just like Neville was, his speed at message carrying is what defines him best. So while he'll be handy in a fight, he'll stick to support because his messages are more important than his sense of honour when it comes to not backing out of a fight. Information can often be what wins or loses the war and he knows how much of an essentially important role he plays in doing this.
As for Harry and the Chakra Chains. He has been training them. But did I ever mention anything about him using his own Chakra? He's a Senjutsu adept, he's leeching off the life energy of everything around him which is what wizards do. (Hedwig will explain this properly in future chapters, along with a few other things I'm sure you're dying to know) Which is why he's gained the Sage-face when using Chakra and Magic. As for the blown wide pupils and red wings, well, she's not got a summoning contract with the Toads now does she? Hedwig was her familiar as a Wizard so while her name isn't on the contract, she does have the connection to the Owl Summons. Hence the difference in appearances.
ALSO: I've started a collection of Minato/Harry drabbles. They're updated daily, called Wire to Wire. Some are cute, some are angsty, others are a little naughty. Check 'em out and give me your thoughts and opinions.
WARNING: Character death and explanations
Kabuto couldn't have stopped her, no matter what he had done. Already he could feel his mind shredding under the force of her attack, 'Legilimens'. Memories flashing through his mind's eye too quickly for him to follow, voices, sounds, distant songs and dirty jokes, screaming, the bubbling of test-tubes, hospital tannoys, Orochimaru-sama commanding him. A thousand different voices and a thousand different faces, jumbling together. Smells and sensations, he felt cold and hot and wet and dry and dirty and sweaty all at once.
And then it stopped.
The girl was vomiting and sobbing. She had seen everything. Knew everything he knew. Understood everything he understood from his perspective. And managed to keep herself separate from it. Such a unique mental state, he would have liked to explore her brain.
He would never get the chance though.
Tear filled, horrified green eyes stared up at him. She really was quite lovely, he decided. Beautiful in her fear.
She tore him limb from limb.
There was a lot of blood in the human body. More than he thought possible.
Blood accounts for 8 percent of human body weight, possessing a density very close to that of pure water at 1000 kg/m3.
Kabuto had already lost a fair bit being strung up like that but the fountain-like sprays as his muscles and bones and veins snapped and tore was sickening in its volume.
The average human adult has a blood volume of roughly five litres, 1.3 gallons, forty-five percent of which is red blood cells. The average Shinobi possesses a blood volume of roughly 1.5 gallons and a red blood-cell count of sixty percent.
The human body can be drained of blood in 6.8 seconds given adequate vacuuming systems.
Hogwarts was in disarray.
Bits and pieces of Kabuto's mind were splashed and discarded everywhere, knowing how essential the order of his mind was, Harry was immediately gathering everything up into an off-room, one that he recalled as an abandoned classroom on the Third Floor. Medical knowledge, torture techniques, Jutsus, intelligence of various Ninja from the lowest Academy Student to the strongest Kage and the most secretive of ANBU, even recipes for meals and a map of the Konoha Hospital were all gathered and organised within the room.
Later, hopefully with Tsunade's help, they would go through the information and sort it properly. But for now, Harry didn't want it affecting him or his personality. And so sealed the room and set one of the suits of armour outside as a guard, to prevent memories from getting in, or out.
There was still a fight going on.
"Harry! Harry, wake up!"
Oh god, her mouth tasted like arse. Gagging a little, Harry screwed his face up and heaved himself upright, feeling Hedwig nudging her with a gentle, cold metal plated, talon. The fight was over though. Or rather, Orochimaru had just been ploughed under by Tsunade before fleeing by sinking into the earth.
"I was worried when I saw you collapse," Hedwig admitted, fluffing herself up and shifting an armoured wing protectively around the blonde woman. "I am glad you're alright. What happened?" she asked, picking a few leaves from Harry's hair. She, quite wisely, didn't go anywhere near the part of his hair that landed in the puddle of vomit.
"I scrambled my brain digging through Kabuto's memories," she admitted as he got to his feet, leaning heavily on the monstrously proportioned bird and just breathing. "I feel light headed," he admitted quietly as he turned his face into her white plumage and closed his eyes.
"Hari-chan, you alright?" Jiraiya asked, limping over.
"The better question is, what have you broken?" Hedwig interrupted, golden eyes narrowing. "Trevor, would you be so kind?" she asked, turning to the Toad perched upon her back, his webbed fingers hooked into her armour.
"But, of course," the Messenger agreed instantly, lightly hopping down and towards the white haired man.
"Aa, thanks Gamajusho-kun. It's a busted rib and leg, clean breaks." Harry turned and opened his eyes to watch the flexible digits of the amphibian bend and twist themselves into the appropriate Hand-Seals for the green light that Shizune-san used to heal Naruto the previous week. It hit her then.
"Where's Naruto? Is he alright?" he demanded, pushing himself away from Hedwig and casting around for any sign of her younger brother. He ignored any comment from Jiraiya the second his eyes landed on the prone orange form of the twelve-year-old lying on the ground sixty feet away. A trembling old woman with a strong resemblance to Tsunade watching over him with Shizune at her side.
"He'll be fine. He'll probably wake up tonight feeling better than you will in three days," Jiraiya pointed out, watching as the rather peaky looking young woman stumbled over to his side. He sighed, "Some guys get all the girls," he muttered unhappily as she fussed over him.
Hedwig sniffed, "Keep your hands to yourself, or I shall eat them," she warned darkly, casting the Toad Summoner a dark look. No one was touching her chick without her approval, and most certainly not seek to mate themselves to him – now her. Really, she was thankful to him for all that he taught her during his years of turmoil, it brought her to the upper echelons of her Tribe's Warriors despite her young age, but couldn't he just please keep it to a low burn? Changing gender was something she would never have fathomed but really should have expected. If it weren't for the familiarity of him, and the forewarning of Trevor, she would have thought him to be the young Jinchuuriki.
Suitably mollified by the way the Toad Summoner had paled and nodded, she spread her wings and hopped over after the Gryffindor, greeting the older women present as was only polite.
"I am in agreement, Jiraiya-dono," Gamajusho admitted quietly. His Jutsu fading away as he stared at the Summoner with an uncommonly severe look that made him straighten up almost reflexively. "Hari has been though enough pain and heartache. It is a miracle he has not yet become the monster that took his parents and plagued our home to almost extinction. I would respectfully request you maintain a distance and not pursue your usual flights of fancy with her at this point. Or I shall hold you down while Hedwig follows through."
Jiraiya pouted, "But you should be listening to me," he muttered. Already this girl was causing him no end of difficulty. Messing with Naruto's training (alright, for the better), interfering with the fight against Orochimaru (Okay, so she killed Kabuto while Tsunade was incapacitated, Naruto down and Shizune too injured to walk) and now turning his own Summons against him.
Gamajusho gave him a look, "Respect is earnt, not given, Jiraiya-dono. You are strong and I do respect your skill. I would faithfully serve when called upon to the greatest of my capabilities, no hesitation. However, your personality and integrity are another matter entirely, those I cannot respect. Hari, I have known since he was a child of eleven. I would trust him above all other humans in the Elemental Nations, regardless of a Summoning Contract," the Toad explained, almost gently, to his Summoner. He understood that it would seem almost a betrayal of the Contract and while he would serve Jiraiya-dono without hesitation and to the greatest of his capabilities. Should he dishonour Harry, a child he had watched grow and struggle and become a man, someone he considered as much his own as Neville had been, one of his cherished teachers and one of the boys he watched over in the Gryffindor Tower. Jiraiya's punishment would be swift and in the form of Hedwig's fury. The two of them had been united for many years in the defence of the Gryffindor boys, the two of them being the only Trainee Sages within the Tower.
The Sannin stared at the Toad in contemplation. He had known Hari-chan from such a young age and still, regardless of a Summoning Contract, would trust and support her? That, was quite the endorsement.
"Bah, too fussy for me anyhow," he grunted and smiling slightly, Gamajusho bowed. Recognising it for what it was.
The bathhouse owner wasn't happy in the slightest, but the Headbands on Naruto and Jiraiya's foreheads dissuaded her from making a fuss, along with the wadge of cash from the Toad Sannin. Still, she threw an unhappy and almost filthy look at Hedwig as she landed delicately on the pale blue tiling of the women's bathhouse. It was just the two of them, Harry and Hedwig, the others having gone to get food while he cleaned up and spoke to his dear friend for the first time in over a year.
Hedwig had discarded her armour and was now busily preening herself while Harry washed his hair and the two of them spoke.
"I am glad you freed one of the dragons, but you could have been more careful about it!" she scolded, gently cuffing the Gryffindor's back with a wingtip upon hearing of his daring escape from Gringotts.
Harry chuckled self depreciatingly before turning her attention to helping Hedwig clean up, smaller hands, cleverer and nimble worked water through her feathers to make sure that everything from feather tip to soft down was cleaned of dust and dirt. Clearly it was the first proper bath Hedwig had been given as she very much seemed to be purring under his efforts, the water running into the drains being decidedly grey and grubby as Harry worked steadily around her.
His work done, she ruffled herself importantly, flicking now cold water everywhere and making Harry laugh as he was splattered. The blonde climbed into the bath water to soak as Hedwig set herself out in the sun to dry, ruffling herself every now and again, turning her feathers so the down could dry properly.
Hedwig stared at her Chick before sighing, "I... I begged a favour," she admitted, her head dropping, shamefaced. "It... is a standard that the Owl Seers send us off with the knowledge of who would take us and what would happen to them. While I was with you though, I stopped seeing you as my Teacher, and started seeing you as mine, my own. You had such a pure soul that it was painful to know that you would die to protect the Magical World. They didn't deserve it. So... I begged Fawkes," she explained, shifting from foot to foot as Harry sat up in the water.
"You had missed your Death Date as an infant, only the Prophesy was keeping you tied down. I begged Fawkes to send you here when you passed on. This is the closest Twin to Earth, which is why Summons send Adepts to you for training. I thought, at least, when you passed on you would find the Splittings of your parents to greet you. I... I didn't expect your own Splitting to be a Jinchuuriki. Or for you to be half-Shinigami."
Harry held a hand up, "What's a Splitting?" he asked, he needed to know what that was before he could even begin to make sense of what she was telling him, and compare it to what Pa Toad told him.
"A Splitting is, essentially, a soul. Your soul." She sighed, and began to make scratches on a fence with one of her talons. "This is your universe. And you. This is the Summon Realm and that line here is this universe. And your splitting. It is essentially you. But elsewhere. Have you noticed yet? The similarities to yourself and Naruto? In your destinies? You're Splittings. Just like your parents were one another's Splittings as well. Though, from what I understand, things got tangled. Your Magical Mother ended up being your Shinobi Father and your Magical Father your Kunoichi Mother."
James Potter was Kushina's Splitting?
But, Kushina looked almost identical to Lily Evans!
"Appearance is entirely negligible to Splittings. Personality sometimes contributes but Destiny and events can identify themselves to those who know how to look. On occasion, those with unique souls on one side may be morphed into one person in the other. Such as Jiraiya-san. Here he is a singular entity. But on Earth, he was two. He is a Splitting Knot of both Sirius Black and Rubeus Hagrid." Well, he certainly had Sirius's perversion and Hagrid's lack of social awareness – but those together and you'd get a Super Pervert. "With what Voldemort has done to his soul, it is hard to say who possesses a greater portion of him, Orochimaru or his assistant Yakushi Kabuto." Here the owl smiled slightly, "Tsunade-san is Professor McGonagall's Splitting, I would try to be a little nicer."
Harry gaped, "That soul old hag has the same soul as Professor McGonagall? No way!"
Hedwig chuckled, "Did you not know that Hagrid, Voldemort and McGonagall all attended Hogwarts at the same time?" she asked, making the blonde girl goggle at her. "I told you, personality may contribute a little to a Splitting. But destiny and events are the truth of it. The three who attended Hogwarts in three separate Houses, became Teammates and branched off to focus on three different disciplines in this world. One betrayed the whole, one remained loyal regardless of hardship, and the other became a teacher.
"Not even changing worlds can thwart Destiny from her plans, Harry."
It explained a lot, Harry decided as he stared up at the starry sky above. They were heading back to Konoha at a nice sedate pace, camping out at their leisure. Harry didn't know why but judging by the looks Shizune and Naruto were shooting her it had something to do with him. He couldn't have known that the delay was so that Gamajusho could reach Konoha ahead of them and warn Ibiki and Inoichi of her along with putting forward the paperwork for them to interview her for citizenship – cutting Danzou off before he could put in to torture information out of her, regardless of what information it may have been.
Harry and Naruto were Splittings. They had the same soul.
He looked down at the tiny blond pre-teen as he squirmed and shuffled in his sleeping bag, quite dead to the world, over the two feet of space between them to properly cuddle up against his Neechan. At first Harry had merely believed it to be a Child's simple craving for love and affection that he didn't otherwise obtain. The abrupt and complete show of trust from him was uncharacteristic but it made sense now. They had the same soul and so they instinctively knew the other would never harm them. They couldn't. Every bone in their body would rebel against harming the other.
Hedwig was currently en-route back to Kaminari no Kuni in order to obtain permission from the Elder in order for Harry to sign the Owl Summon Scroll, or at least for permission to become a personal Summon, outside of the Order, for him alone. Individual Contracts were rare, but in the Noble Clans they were rather common if the Head Honcho did not approve of a Summoner. Hedwig had explained that there were Individual Contracts amidst the Owl Clan already, a member of Kumogakure no Kuni had one with a horned messenger owl, Ishika, she was fairly low in the food-chain and thus didn't have to petition the Elder to create an Individual Summons. Hedwig, being a Sen-Adept and also a High Tier member of the Battle Owl Division, needed to speak with the Elders regarding any possibility of a Summon Scroll, between just her or the whole clan.
Either way, Harry was likely to be visited by the Elder in person.
Wrapping her arm around Naruto, he decided to go to sleep. He'd worry about all this in the morning, at a sensible hour, with a full stomach and some advice from the two Sannin. They had been two of his most trusted Teachers once upon a time ago, perhaps they could be again?
Short Chapter I know, but I wanted to get this out for you all tonight before I went to bed and completely forgot about doing anything productive for the rest of the week as I concentrate on Final Deadline.
I hope this explains a few things. Originally, I didn't intend on explaining just how or why Harry ended up here. Pa had his theories, but as we see here, the Toads aren't familiar with much in the way of Dimension Travel. The way I see it is that Toads work like a Yakuza family, they value strength and order. The Owls, much like tradition states, value knowledge and strength. The smarter and stronger you are, the more valued you are. So I figure the Elders would have explored everything they could when it came to... well everything. Hence why they know things, like Splittings, that the Toads don't.
"We need to tell her."
Jiraiya paused, glancing over his shoulder at the blonde girl. She had an odd look on her face, as though she had to force herself to say those words. He tilted his head in askance. He was fairly certain what she was talking about, but he had been wrong before and that had caused a lot of people a lot of pain, so he didn't like making assumptions like that anymore. "Who, Tsunade?" he asked.
Harry nodded, swallowing hard. "We need to tell her about me. The truth." He wetted his lips and rolled a shoulder agitatedly, eyes flickering around to make sure they were still alone. That Naruto was still sleeping and both Shizune and Tsunade were still at the river having a bath. "She'll be the next leader of Naruto's village, right? The one where we're going to live. I have absolutely no intention of abandoning Naruto or leaving his side." He snorted, indeed, as if he could physically stomach the idea of being separated from his soul. The idea made him break out in a cold sweat as if there were a Dementor close by. It hadn't been so bad before, when he hadn't known, he'd felt guilt and his mind flickered back to the blond a fair bit, but now that he knew... "She'll need to know if... if... well, I'll need papers if I'm going to get a job or buy a house, won't I? And you guys have police too I assume, so they'll need to know I'm not some kind of illegal immigrant or a spy."
The Sennin nodded, she had good points. Then there were the problems he hadn't enlightened her about. True, Ibiki and Inoichi had orders to do nothing more than a citizenship interview, but he knew Ibiki. And Inoichi was one of Hatake Sakumo's students. Hari-chan was the living spit of Minato in a way that Naruto had yet to grow into, so much so that it was disturbing in a creepy 'back from the dead', kind of way. Inoichi would end up mind-walking her just to be certain that it wasn't some kind of infiltration attempt and Ibiki... Jiraiya really hoped that Inoichi's findings would be enough for him to hold off at least until the hospital finished confirming the blood tests.
Having Tsunade in on it would definitely make things easier.
He nodded, "Alright girlie. We'll give her the run down before we reach Konoha."
"Give whom the run down on what, Jiraiya?" the Slug Princess demanded, snatching at the old pervert's ear before he could react to her sudden appearance.
Jiraiya hissed, batting his hand at her, "OW! Leggo!" he yelped as she squeezed harshly. "Ow, ow, ow, ow, owhowhowhowwww!"
"The truth about me," Harry broke in, before Jiraiya lost his ear.
Tsunade's eyes narrowed as her hand flicked open, releasing the now whimpering Sage who rapidly scooted away, rubbing his red and swelling ear.
The group were still at last night's camp-site, the firepit had been kicked over with dirt and leaves, carefully the ashes had been scattered so that no trace of a Shinobi presence remained. The sleeping bags were rolled and tied and sealed away and all their discarded food wrappers had been disposed off in much the same manner as Naruto's bloody bandages had been the previous two days ago. The blond in question was curled up, fast asleep, on a patch of grass as he waited for them all to finish with their morning chores. He was never very good with mornings. Leaving just the adults arranged in a loose circle, sitting on their backsides with faces far too serious for seven o'clock in the morning.
"Well, get on with it girl," Tsunade growled, idly cracking her knuckles and mentally plotting as much physical pain and torture her medically inclined mind could come up with if this girl was taking Naruto for a ride. Claiming to be a sister who didn't exist.
Harry took a deep breath. "How familiar are you with Senjutsu and Summonings?" he asked.
"Let's assume I don't know anything and explain yourself," the older woman growled softly, wondering where this was going but willing to listen. Jiraiya rarely put his business face on around her.
"Hoo... okay. From the bottom up then. Summonings have their own dimension. To summon, you create a contract and offer up a blood sacrifice to summon aid from the clan you contracted with. There's more than one dimension and certain Summons, the noble ones, have contracts with the Guardians of them. One in particular is used as a training ground for Senjutsu Adepts. Toads, owls, cats and a few others. When contracted out to learn, they are given new bodies. Bodies that age at a natural rate and are just as delicate and prone to illness and injury as those of the natives. Upon the death of that body, they are returned to their original forms and dimension where they're tested and reintegrated back into their Summoning Clan. But this is just the summons. There are people in that other dimension as well. Splittings. The exact same people on that side as there are on this side. The exact same souls and destinies but with different personalities and appearances.
"I am a Splitting. I come from that other Dimension."
Tsunade stared. A hundred different mental disorders were filing through her mind in an effort to diagnose this fanciful young woman of her problem – aside from an over active imagination. Jiraiya nudged her and shook his head meaningfully.
"She's not making it up, and she's not mentally abnormal. Fukusaku-sama confirmed it and had one of their Adepts vouch for her. Gamajusho was a student under her learning Senjutsu. Though, the Splitting thing is new," he added with a narrow eyed glare at the girl to explain herself, now, before he turned her over his knee like an errant child.
She shifted a little, "Hedwig explained the parts Fukusaku-san got wrong. But essentially, I am Naruto. That's why we've been gravitating towards each other so much and so hard. We recognise each other. How much, I'm not sure. I'm pretty certain my soul is a little damaged after everything. Tsunade... I should have died seventeen years ago back home. I was subject to a one hit kill technique, no blocks, no counters, it touches and you're dead. I am the only recorded survivor in History. I survived because of a Prophesy that claimed I was supposed to end the war. I missed my time to die. There's no place for me in the afterlife because of it. A month ago, I died again. Properly. The same technique from the same man. I was supposed to cease existing, completely and utterly. No afterlife, no reincarnation, no hell or heaven, just oblivion.
"Hedwig called in a few favours that the Guardians owed me."
"Whoa, wait, wait, wait, back it up there!" Jiraiya exclaimed, waving his dust-bin lid sized hands. He really was massive, almost as big as Hagrid, almost, just as broad though. He had the same business face as Sirius though. "The Guardians owed you favours? The Guardians of your world, the Phoenix and Dragons?" he demanded.
Harry nodded, "Yes. When you free more than one from Slavery and Madness, they tend to think fondly of you. My school Headmaster... had a pet Phoenix. Until Hedwig and Gamajusho explained it to me, I never thought twice about it. But, a Phoenix will never willingly join a human. Ever since his original hatching over sixty years ago, my school Headmaster had been imprinting himself on Fawkes. Every time he hatched or was reborn, Dumbledore would forcibly press his magic against him until a bond was formed. When I was twelve, I beat him to the punch by accident. I broke the cycle and Fawkes imprinted on me instead, willingly at that. It was enough that when the Headmaster died, Fawkes was free to do as he wished, he returned to being a Guardian. As for Dragons... When I was eleven our Groundskeeper got hold of a Dragon Egg, Norberta, I sent her off to a reserve in Romania where she would be free. Same thing happened a few months ago. I stole a rather abused dragon from the Goblins, flew it out of their underground passageways and let it fly free in Scotland.
"Apparently it was enough of a debt in my favour to send me here. They figured that I would pass away without a body of my own as the native Soul here, Naruto, would reject me. I would go to the afterlife here, meet the splittings of my family and friends', be happy. But that Seal, Chuckles, and my inheritance made for a different story. Kyuubi made this body for me when Naruto pushed me out of my mind. His reasoning was that, A) he liked me, and B) he wasn't always going to be around to look after Naruto, he needed someone to do it for him. I don't think he was expecting it to work so well."
"So what are you asking of me?" Tsunade demanded, her mind reeling from this as all the pieces began to fall into place. She had indeed studied a little Summoning History when she went in search of the Slug Contract, it fit with what little she knew of Noble, Greater and other Summoning Clans. Those who could use Ninjutsu were Greater Clans but only those who went to the other world, who learned Senjutsu were known as a Noble Clan.
Harry glanced down at Naruto who shifted, murring in his sleep. The Gryffindor smiled slightly, gently placing a hand on the blond's unruly mane. "Growing up, I would have given anything for some distant family member to show up. Someone who would take me away, someone who would care. That someone never came. I ended up dying. Even if I weren't Naruto's Splitting, I would want to change that for him. To be that someone." Green eyes looked up and pinned the future Godaime Hokage in place. "What I want is pretty simple. I want to protect him. Jiraiya's done a pretty piss poor job of dealing- "
"Hey!" the white haired man snarled, dark eyes narrowing furiously.
"- of dealing with caring for a child," Harry continued as if he hadn't spoken. "Jiraiya, I... I know you were looking for information on the Akatsuki, I know you were managing the Spy Rings so that Naruto would never have to grow up under the threat of war. I know. But while you were so busy with the big picture... there was no one to handle the little things. No one to teach him how to read properly, or what table manners were. There was no one to help with homework or teach him how to throw kunai, not even someone to greet him when he came home. It may not seem like much but it does make a difference. It makes a huge difference. It may be too late for Naruto to know that, but he's got so many glaring problems and no one seems to see them but me, no one seems to care if he's only barely able to stop himself from drowning."
The Sannin exchanged looks, unable to articulate their feelings. Dark and heavy, sad, knowing, understanding. Yes, they knew what she meant.
Tsunade sighed, "Alright, alright," she muttered, rubbing the back of her neck. "I'll pull some strings, keep people from snooping, cover your ass. But you'll owe me double, that's two favours."
"If they don't put Naruto in danger then sure, within reason I'll give you those favours," Harry agreed and Tsunade's eyebrow raised.
"And what would you consider 'Within Reason'?" she echoed mockingly.
"No killing or torture," responded the Gryffindor instantly. Tsunade blinked, then she remembered the girl's reaction to whatever she saw in Kabuto's mind. Harry smiled sardonically, "I just finished with one war Tsunade, the memories are still a little too fresh for comfort," he admitted.
She nodded and wisely didn't ask any further. To a Shinobi, killing and torture were something you had to do in a war, regardless of age or rank, so asking if the girl had been forced to do so would have been a stupid question. "I'll do what I can when we reach Konoha. Do you have a workable backstory?" Tsunade asked.
"Something close to the truth," Harry admitted with a chuckle. "Who better to know how to handle a Jinchuuriki giving birth than the Medic Nin Granddaughter of the first Kyuubi Container? Everyone important knows that female Uzumakis' have been used as the container due to their unique Chakra. The story is that because it was so close on the back of the Iwa War, Kushina gave birth to me in secret with you and Minato attending. Jiraiya squirrelled me away in hiding to avoid a second Kumo incident, with Kushina giving me training in the Uzumaki ways whenever she could, as I was to be the one who became the Jinchuuriki after her. But with the incident on October 10 with the Rogue Uchiha, their deaths and the desperate circumstances, Naruto took that role and I was hidden away with the Summons as I could still be used as a Jinchuuriki or taken by Danzou into ROOT. Same back story after that. Sent to my original home where I was given a different body, watched my surrogate parents die, get tangled up in a war, die, come back, find my way home. The fact that I can use Kushina's Chakra Chains and a similar teleportation technique as Minato will only solidify it, never mind the blood tests. If you two back that story up, then I'm air tight. And Naruto will not only be able to reclaim his heritage but he'll have all the protection that entails."
Jiraiya sighed, "Its a damn good idea, a lot better than my idea," he admitted. His plan had just been to claim that she had been with him, hidden away but that would involve a lot more effort than the very close to the truth story the Gryffindor had handed over. Damn, it was practically true save for the part where Minato and Kushina were her parents. The fact that Kyuubi liked her enough to give her his name also added to the evidence.
"We have our backstory then. Let's get going. I want to reach the village before lunch," Tsunade declared, climbing to her feet.
Jiraiya grinned as he followed suit, "Before rush hour, yes, need to get a good spot," he agreed, face distending in that disgusting grin that usually told everyone that he was thinking perverted thoughts again. Harry pulled a face as he shook Naruto awake, no doubt the Pervert Sage was talking about peeking on the womens' baths, from what Naruto told him it was the man's favourite past time.
Naruto hadn't been sleeping.
He was fairly sure that Neechan knew he had been faking but she hadn't called him out as she explained the plan and just what she was to him. He didn't understand a lot of it, couldn't understand a lot of it but some of it really did stick in him. The fact that she understood him, his loneliness. That she wanted to help him and be that precious someone who took the loneliness away.
He clung to her hand as they made their way to the front gates of Konohagakure no Sato, worry gnawing his insides. He didn't think he could stomach it if his friends didn't accept her. He was also a little afraid of what she would do when she saw how the Villagers treated him. The idea of her leaving him never even crossed his mind as he tightened his grip on her hand, but the thought of someone trying to separate them by force certainly did and it filled him with ice.
"Not going to happen, Whiskers," Harii-neechan told him softly, giving his hand a firm squeeze as if she could read his thoughts. Which he guessed she kind of could! She did have that nifty mind walking ability that let her steal people's memories and learn their techniques. It was so much cooler than Sasuke's Sharingan as well as her eyes didn't turn funny and creepy. They turned gold. Gold like her hair.
"You have whiskers too," he pointed out in defence against her new nickname for him, feeling a warm glow in his stomach as he pointed out their family resemblance.
She smiled and hugged his smaller body to her side as Jiraiya and Tsunade approached the Gate Desk, "Would you prefer that I got called Whiskers and you got called Sunshine?" she teased, tweaking his nose with her free hand. Naruto laughed and tried to squirm free but she refused to let go and caught his nose between her fingers. "Ah, what'cha gunna do now, Sunshine? I have your nose, its mine now, you can't have it back," she teased.
Was this what having a family was like? Naruto wondered, if so, he liked it. That warm glow in his stomach was getting bigger and made his fingers and toes tingle. He could feel his eyes prickling a little as he flung his arms around her waist and squeezed her tightly, snickering into her stomach.
"Harii-chan, you need to sign in!" Jiraiya called from the desk, he felt a little bad for breaking up the moment but it still needed to be done. Not to mention the Gate Guards, Kotetsu and Izumo, were having difficulty making their brains work again.
"Alright," Harry agreed, gently stepping free of Naruto's hug and making his way over. He eyed the two Chuunin speculatively, memories from both Kushina and Kabuto niggling at him. He remembered them as little more than Academy Children from Kushina's memories, pranksters who took unholy glee in messing with exploding tags and loudly lamenting the end of the Iwa War before they could graduate and show their stuff. She had a distinct memory of hanging them from the roof of the Academy by their toes for it. Kabuto's memory was nothing more than an impersonal information card bearing their faces and details. Chuunin from minor clans, well known for their Teamwork, hence why they were always partnered, often times worked on attachment to the Torture and Interrogation Division. Had a fondness for using Fuuinjutsu to seal impressively large weapons and other such things for combat use.
He shook his head and signed his name, his signature standing out starkly on the book as the only one written in English. 'Harry Namikaze-Uzumaki' glared out from the pages, curved, jointed up letters in an alien language that looked so flowing and looping next to the chicken scratched tallies of the other names.
"Are you... sure, she's not an Oiroke no Jutsu?" Izumo asked, peering desperately at the former Wizard who frowned and folded his arms.
"Quite certain, thank you," Harry bit out, making the Chuunin lean back a little in his seat warily.
"Its just – " Izumo spluttered only to be cut off.
"Yes, I'm quite aware of my little brother's joke Henge. Its quite funny," he admitted with a smirk. "After all, we've never met, the fact that he can accurately guess everything from the colour of my hair to the size of by breasts is rather impressive. Shame he got the eyes wrong." By this point, both Chuunin had bloody noses as they remembered the many times Naruto had got them with that Jutsu and realised that they had pretty much seen this girl naked because of it.
"STOP DROOLING OVER MY NEECHAN!" roared the blond Genin as he jumped onto the desk in front of them, baring his teeth furiously. Harry caught him by the back of his jacket and pulled him back.
"Its okay, I was just teasing them about your little Henge pranks," the blonde assured her younger brother, hugging him to her chest tightly. Which really wasn't helping the two Chuunin at all in the slightest.
Naruto coloured, "I'm sorry!" he squeaked, realising that because he'd used the Oiroke in so many pranks pretty much the majority of Konoha had seen his sister naked!
"Can we get a move on? Hilarious as it is to see Harii causing trained Chuunin to bleed out, we have more important things to do," Tsunade pointed out coolly as she gave the Gate Guards a dirty look which hastily had them wiping their noses and sorting out the relevant papers and passes.
"Here, we hope you enjoy your stay in Konoha!" Kotetsu managed to squeak out as the blonde girl swiped the papers from his fingers with a sharp smile, Naruto clinging to her free hand looking devastated, embarrassed and guilty all at once. He wasn't surprised, to suddenly find yourself with a sister and then realise you'd created a joke Henge that looked exactly like her which you'd been running around the village completely starkers in? Naruto was very lucky that his sister had a sense of humour. If Kotetsu had done that, his sister would have strung him up from the Hokage tower by his testicles with razor wire. Naked.
"First stop, the Tower to get Tsunade introduced to the Elders, then the Hospital for blood tests and while Tsunade's seeing to Kakashi, Sasuke and Gai's student Lee, we'll be taking Harii-chan to Torture and Interrogation for her citizenship interview with Inoichi and Ibiki," Jiraiya listed cheerfully as he took the lead through the village.
To Harry, the place was very strange and unique. Most of the buildings made out of wood instead of brick, it looked like everyone was in the middle of major repairs. People with baskets were moving through houses and collecting metal weapons like shuriken and kunai that home owners had tossed down to the ground having been forced to prise them from the wooden beams of their homes and fill the holes. No one seemed to have heard of buttons or Velcro or poppers either from the look of their dress, so many of them wore fishnets as well. Ninja could be seen flitting here and there. Complaining groups of teenagers with headbands forced into helping with the reconstruction. Carrying loads that normal adults couldn't, walking up walls and hanging from beams to do repairs otherwise not easily done. It was a bright and warm place, the people were in surprisingly good spirits which Harry hadn't been expecting for a place that had just survived a major attack that killed their leader and god only knew how many other people.
A few people stopped and gave him looks confusion, disgust, wariness. Naruto must have pranked quite a lot of people with that Jutsu if he was getting this kind of reaction. He arched an eyebrow and looked down at his brother who was beet red and trying to avoid looking at him. Harry laughed and ruffled his hair. Really, this body wasn't his, why would he be upset? Well, he supposed it was his now but before? Yeah, no. Besides it was something the Marauders would have done. Harry couldn't blame him for inheriting the pranking gene that he never did.
There was definitely a very Asian feel to the whole place, Harry decided as he sniffed the air, identifying a Chinese Restaurant close by and something that smelt like a BBQ Steak House as well. He could live with this.
Ibiki was horrifically scarred, serious and looked like he enjoyed the more subtle forms of torture, the mental kind. He reminded Harry a lot of Alastor Moody, if only because of the scars. He doubted this man would ever retire though, he would probably die in that chair doing the same job as he'd been doing for years and years. Yamanaka Inoichi wasn't anything like Harry had been expecting but the man was a mind-walker, so his pretty boy looks could be forgiven he guessed. There was also the small fact that every single male Shinobi he had seen possessed more muscle mass than any person Harry had ever met! Even though Inoichi was a pretty boy, he was corded with thick, powerful muscle. It was a little intimidating. These people had honed their bodies to such a state through exercise and experience. Not through steroid abuse like people had back home.
"Now," Inoichi began, "Why don't you tell us why you want citizenship?"
Harry arched an eyebrow, he would have thought that was obvious. "Naruto. No one's been taking care of him properly," he explained curtly.
"Uzumaki Naruto, correct? What is your relationship with Naruto?" the blond continued, making Harry sigh and scowl.
"I'm his elder sister," he stated, desperately wanting to ask if he was being deliberately obtuse.
"There's no record of there being another Uzumaki in Konoha," Inoichi pointed out coolly, making Harry snort.
"So I suppose Miko-obaasama never married your Shodaime. Just like Kaasan never married your Yondaime," she retorted sarcastically, making the two men tense up, their pleasant faces dissolving into all business. Good, Harry mentally declared, the sooner this was over with the sooner he could go and find Naruto again.
Let the interrogation begin.
And Chapter Eleven END! Not a lot happening in this but it moves things along, explains everything in full and gives you the story that Harry will be going by for the rest of the story.
Next chapter: Harry meets Kakashi. Sakura fucks up. Danzou pokes his nose in.
Word to the wise: I don't mean to bash anyone in this fic. Things between Dumbledore and Fawkes aren't what they seem and things with Sakura, Danzou and Kakashi aren't what they seem. Sufficed to say, bashing is not my intention with this fic. If it comes across that way, all I can do is apologise and say that the characters have their own reasons for doing things that may or may not be apparent at first.
He had to whistle in admiration. Inoichi enjoyed his work exploring people's minds, it was utterly fascinating, he liked to keep records of the more interesting minds he had encountered in his career but never had he ever seen one so complex in its construction, conception or defence. He had never seen a structure like it.
The huge stone castle that loomed up to the heavens, wide glass windows with wooden frames, grotesque statues with wide open gaping mouths that leered down at the people below. Behind him stretched an almost endless expanse of short grass, distantly the shimmer of water. He would feel the wind and hear the distant found of bird call. Truly, it was less like a mind scape and more like a section of a place had just been taken and planted into the young woman's mind.
"Are you going to stand there gaping or come in?" demanded a voice. Inoichi tensed and glanced over, seeing a set of steps leading up to a huge heavy oak door six times taller than a man and three times as wide – head to foot. Leaning against one of the open doors was the girl, Uzumaki Hari. She was dressed in a manner he had never seen before, black robes with a high collared shirt, a red and amber tie around her throat and a similarly coloured patch on her left breast bearing a rampant lion and a symbol he had never seen before.
"Uzumaki-san?" he questioned, stepping forward.
"Come in. The sooner this is over with the sooner I can find Naruto," the girl declared, pushing herself away from the structure and leading the way into the building. Inoichi wished he had eighteen other eyes just so he could see everything. He was in a huge hall made almost entirely out of creamy coloured stone, torch brackets and candelabras provided warm light in which to see by. The girl turned to face him.
"Welcome to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, more commonly known as Senjutsu in Konoha. Lying is impossible within a mindscape so ask your questions, say what memories you want to see and then leave," she explained gesturing around herself. But already Inoichi was busy exploring the huge hallway behind her, five tables stretched through the room, all of them covered with golden plates and cutlery, random things littered the tables , foods and objects he had never seen. Hanging from the large ceiling was four large tapestries, one bearing the same golden lion as on the girl's chest. The others had a black and white bear like creature, a bronze raven and a silver serpent on backgrounds of yellow, blue and green.
Harry sneered a little in frustration. "The Great Hall," he stated, bringing the blond's attention back to him. "Where we had our meals and the Headmaster would give announcements. When Kaachan and Tousan died... I was brought here. The people who raised me were my mother's," and here he used quotation marks with his fingers, "sister and her husband. They hated people who could naturally use Senjutsu so they treated me quite badly until I was accepted to Hogwarts. It was the first place I called home, despite how dangerous it was."
Inoichi stared at the ceiling, the ceiling which showed the sky and a strange mixture of weather patterns. If he had to guess... this was where the emotion nexus was, this sky was displaying what the girl was feeling.
He looked around again, spotting a rather rough hewn wooden cup next to a stool with a patched and ragged hat on top of it, curious, Inoichi picked the hat up and popped it onto his head, ignoring the sharp angry inhale from the girl and the ominous crackle of lightning overhead.
"Hmm," a small voice said into his ear. Inoichi tensed immediately. "Difficult. Very difficult. Plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind, either. There's talent, oh my goodness, yes – and a nice thirst to prove yourself, now that's interesting... So where shall I put you?" Inoichi didn't think it described him well at all. Then a second voice, younger, softer, frightened. 'Not Slytherin, not Slytherin.' it pleaded. It was hard to tell the gender but Inoichi would guess that the owner was the young girl, back when she was very young. "Not Slytherin, eh?" said the small voice. "Are you sure? You could be great, you know, it's all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, no doubt about that – no? Well, if you're sure – better be GRYFFINDOR!" The Yamanaka winced at the sound of the hell in his head and the following roaring cheer of many many voices, many children, filling the air.
He pulled the hat off. The girl wasn't happy at all.
"I would appreciate it if you didn't go nosing into everything that didn't concern you," she hissed.
"What's the problem with this Slytherin?" Inoichi asked, not bothering to answer, he had to assess everything to make sure she wasn't a threat to Konoha, make sure there were no hidden triggers or sleeper seals. And he was abominably curious about the way her mind worked. He'd never seen anything so complicated.
"Everyone's Sorted according to their personality. Gryffindor was for those who were Brave and Noble. Ravenclaw was for the ones who loved learning and were particularly intelligent. Hufflepuff was for the loyal and the hard working and Slytherin... Slytherin was for the cunning and ambitious. It had a bad reputation. A lot of the people in Slytherin were from old blood families, the ones who thought they were better than everyone else because they could trace their ancestry back hundreds of years. They took it too far and started a civil war, trying to murder everyone they deemed unworthy. The groundskeeper once told me that 'there's not a single witch or wizard who went bad who wasn't in Slytherin'. The man who murdered my parents was one of them. And getting a look at Orochimaru, it wouldn't surprise me if he fitted in quite nicely as well."
"Your parents?" Inoichi demanded, giving her a sharp glare.
"Lily and James Potter were my parents on this end. Follow me. I'll take you to them," she declared and began to walk away. Inoichi was torn. On the one hand, given how complicated this mind was, he couldn't be entirely sure he would find the memory on his own, but at the same time, he really wanted to explore! "Hurry up or the Castle defences will throw you out," she called back.
Inoichi hurried after her.
"This is a castle? I've never seen one of its make before," he admitted, fishing for information.
"And I doubt you ever will. It is a British Castle, built a good thousand years ago at least." To Inoichi, who lived in the Shinobi world where things rarely stayed the same for ten years, the concept of something still standing after a thousand was utterly mind boggling! "There are three known dimensions. Yours, the Summon Realm, and the one I was raised in. There are no Ninja in the place I came from."
Inoichi was fairly certain his jaw had just dropped open as they stepped into the marble corridor. The stair cases were moving. The portraits were moving. He stared, slack jawed as what was unmistakably Jiraiya-sama got his ass kicked by Tsunade, the background looking remarkably like a hotel bathroom. He followed the girl who lead him unhesitatingly through the corridors, occasionally there were portraits of people in similar uniforms as she was wearing here and there. They would smile and wave. Occasionally he would get a glimpse of what was unmistakably a classroom and inside would be books and objects and portraits of people and events. They passed a library and he had to stop himself from plunging in as he witnessed the rows of strange books in languages he couldn't read and scrolls in different colours along with a display case with an odd golden glow.
They passed a large tapestry with a blood red nine tailed fox, too detailed to be anything but a memory and the blond man shuddered, unable to hide his unease. Phantom laughter filling his mind as he recalled the huge beast that would forever haunt his nightmares.
"Here. Both sets of parents. Their deaths." He jerked and stared up at the two large portraits the girl was gesturing to.
Minato and Kushina impaled upon the Kyuubi's tail, both of them having thrown themselves in front of the javelin-like tail to protect their new born son, wailing on a bed of blankets beneath them, his mother's blood decorating the sheets and his whiskered cheeks. He could see Kushina's lips moving, the expression of pain that twisted Minato's face. Inoichi felt sick as he stared up at the portrait. Very few people knew the exact details of how Minato and Kushina died, no one really even knew they'd had a child. No one, no one, knew they'd had two.
He looked at the other picture.
A woman stood protectively in front of a crib, her long fiery red hair framing her face and her green, green eyes. Her water filled eyes. She was crying as her mouth moved wordlessly. Pleading. The man opposite her, visible just over her shoulder, white faced, scarlet eyed, balding and dressed in ragged black. The twisted look of contempt and disgust written across his face as he raised a wooden stake and snarled a single word. Green light flashing through the picture and then the woman falling, her red hair a scarlet banner behind her as she crashed to the floor, motionless. Dead. The red eyed figure looming over the crib with a toothy grin that displayed yellowing and crooked too-long teeth. Another flash of green light and the portrait went dark. Only for the crying woman to appear again as she scooped what had to be an infant into her arms and ran for the stairs, passing a dark haired man in glasses, he held a stake in his hand as he pushed her towards the stairs, mouth moving fast as he brushed a hand over the child in the woman's arms. She ran up the stairs, leaving him stood there, his hand still outstretched as if to touch them, face anguished before the door exploded and different coloured lights splashed and glowed across the walls. The woman burst into a nursery and paced around desperately, hugging her child to her chest. She set it down in the crib and pulled her own stake.
Inoichi looked away and towards the girl who was staring at the portraits with dead green eyes.
She looked over at him, "Are we done?" she asked quietly. She looked as if she were on the verge of tears.
He nodded. He'd seen enough to confirm it. She'd been there for Minato and Kushina's deaths, her memories confirmed her story about being sent else where to learn like Summonings did and, as she'd said earlier, one couldn't lie within a mindscape.
She nodded in return, "I took several memories from Kabuto when we fought against one another. They're in no order though. I need to categorise them before they can be reviewed. Is there any way of arranging some kind of meeting so you can collect them at a later point?" she asked.
"We'll discuss it with Ibiki-san," he informed her.
"Alright. Now, get out," she ordered and Inoichi grunted as he felt the walls of the Castle snap down upon him.
"Whoa!" he inhaled sharply as he jumped up, the forceful ejection from the girl's mind jolting him back into his own with more force than he was used to. Ibiki gripped his shoulder to steady him, "Thanks."
"Well?" the gruff man asked as the girl opened her eyes to glare at them.
"Well," Inoichi began, rubbing his forehead, "She's got the most complex mind I've ever had the fortune to encounter. Moving staircases, portraits and wall scrolls that move like a film, and the sky for an emotional nexus. But its true. She has the memories to confirm it, not to mention its impossible to lie within the mind," he explained, closing his eyes briefly as he pressed the palms of his hands against his eyes until stars exploded across his vision. Impossible, unless you were lying even to yourself, but that had very tell-tale markers that he learned how to identify as a pre-teen, like everyone in the clan did.
Ibiki nodded, "Understood. But she's still a problem. Publicly, the Yondaime never married and never had children. The Uzumaki clan officially also ended that evening. Uzumaki Naruto was given the clan name for reasons unknown to the general public. So soon on the back of an attack and the inauguration of the new Hokage, the last thing we need is the Civilian sectors descending into chaos, if not outright civil war," the scarred Jounin pointed out with chillingly flat tones.
Hari's lip curled, she wanted – desperately – to tell them that if her brother was such a problem he had absolutely no problem removing him from Konoha as a whole. As far as he was concerned, this place was the worst thing that had ever happened to the Uzumaki Clan since the sundering of the Jubi. But he was more intelligent than that. They would never let him near Naruto if he expressed even the slightest desire to take him away from their village, but judging by the way Ibiki's dark eyes were glittering and fixed directly on his own eyes, he already knew what direction the Gryffindor's thoughts were going.
"Loyalties?" the scarred man demanded.
Hari bristled and drew himself up to answer, but it was Inoichi who saved him the trouble of opening his mouth.
"To Naruto. Only Naruto. She respects and trusts Jiraiya-sama to a degree but there's a lot of disgust and wariness mixed in there and not just because of his research and writing habits," the blond explained, pulling his hands away from his face. "Hari-san, while I can see absolutely nothing that would prevent you from obtaining citizenship, things regarding Naruto-kun are... complicated," he began, looking uncomfortable under the lazer-like stare of his scarred superior officer. He was very close to skirting the lines of treason by even insinuating Naruto's Jinchuuriki status.
"I'm aware of Kyuubi," Harry pointed out flatly. Inoichi blinked, Ibiki's face could have been carved from stone for all it moved. "I am Uzumaki. Who did you think was going to be the Sandaime Jinchuuriki after Kaachan died?" he demanded with a raised eyebrow. "Trust me, Kyuubi won't be a problem. If anything, he provides even more reason for me to be close to my brother because he actually likes me."
"You're certain of this?" Ibiki asked, sitting forward for the first time since this whole thing began. Green eyes latched onto his face and fearlessly glared into his eyes. He would give the girl respect for that, she hadn't even inhaled at the sight of his scars, she had been unhappy about the whole situation and cut to the chase. She was as apparently unimpressed with mindgames as her mother yet just as adept at noticing and playing them as her father. Such a shame. Minato could have made for a very good interrogator. Then again, he could have made for a very good anything with that kind of mind, ability and Chakra Control.
"As certain as I'm sat in front of you," she told him softly, but no less truthfully. He could read that truth in her body language quite clearly. She turned and looked at Inoichi, "Can we arrange a second day in the future for me to turn over that information?" she requested, "I would like to get everything out of the way today so I can concentrate on my family."
"Ah yes, of course. How long do you anticipate it taking to organise the information?" the Yamanaka asked, before frowning briefly, "And for that matter, will you need any assistance?"
She shook her head, "Thank you but no. I'm quite adept at sorting my mind out. I may not be able to stop you from coming in, but whether you get any information or even leave with your mind intact is another matter."
"I didn't see any defences," Inoichi pointed out, suddenly sounding wary as the girl smiled.
"No, you wouldn't have. The Castle Defences only kick in when I command them to," she told him and it wasn't just Inoichi who felt a chill run down his spine when her eyes glowed in the semi-gloom of the interrogation cell.
Harry stretched languidly in the sunlight, sighing as he pushed against the small of his back and groaning in pleasure at the numerous juicy pops and cracks his spine gave. He was drawing more than a few looks from passers by but couldn't find it within himself to give a damn. It was mid afternoon already, once Inoichi had finished with his mind-walk, Harry had been forced to play word games with the scarred interrogator Morino Ibiki. Damn the man was a beast. Not only did he have a mind as sharp as a bacon slicer he was smarter than Hermione and just as observant and irritatingly all knowing as Snape and Dumbledore rolled into one with all the paranoia and suspicion of Alastor Moody. And that was just his mind, physically he was a beast as well. That much muscle wouldn't have looked out of place on Hagrid. On someone who barely capped 6'4" he ended up looking like a brick-shit house.
Still. Everything had checked out. He just needed to head to the Hospital to get a blood-test to confirm it all and to get several vaccinations for various local ailments he'd never heard of. Also, arrange for two appointments, one with a trained Medic Nin to assess his physical health and a second one with a councillor in order to assess his mental health. That last one being Inoichi's idea. Evidentially, Harry did not have the right mind-set for an active Shinobi and they were concerned that his actions to one Yakushi Kabuto, not to mention the memories he tore out of the Spy's mind, would eventually cause some dangerous psychological damage that would compromise him.
Harry didn't mind. It gave him time to find his brother, get a bite to eat and then have Whiskers take him to the hospital before heading home. He wanted to see what kind of place his brother had and whether or not he was going to have to find a job sooner rather than later.
Relishing the warm sunlight for a moment, the Gryffindor eventually began his trek through the village, ignoring the looks of passers by, the majority of disgust that quickly turned to confusion, thinly veiled hostility made him uncomfortable for a moment before he remembered the instinctive Apparation he had been given. It would get him out of the way of anything fatal.
Pretty soon she could hear her brother loudly bragging in one of the food stalls, smirking slightly she ducked under the flaps and waited for him to notice her. He didn't, but the man he was talking to did, his eyes widening minutely when he spotted her. He grinned and pressed a finger to his lips while pointing to Naruto. It took a second, but the man turned his attention back to the blond, only very occasionally glancing at her as she stood casually behind the oblivious blond Genin.
She snorted and caught him in a headlock, rubbing her knuckles in his thick blond mane, "And just where am I in this story, huh, Whiskers?" he demanded as the boy struggled and eventually squirmed free, only to tackle her to the floor in a rib cracking hug, shrieking about how she was okay and he knew Tsunade-baachan wouldn't let him down. "Yes, yes, I'm fine Naruto. Just need a quick stop off at the hospital so they can confirm the blood-test and to organise some appointments for vaccinations and assessments. Why don't you introduce me to your friend?" he continued, patting the blond on the head as if he wasn't being crushed to the breaking point.
Naruto hopped to his feet and hastily hauled his Neechan up, grinning and chuckling self consciously, "Neechan, this is Umino Iruka-sensei. He was my Academy Instructor and he's one of my most precious people, he saved my life," the blond admitted proudly, scratching his cheek happily.
Harry smiled, "In that case, you have my most heartfelt gratitude Umino-san." He bowed as deeply as possible without getting on his hands and knees.
"N-no, don't thank me. I- Naruto is," he stuttered, embarrassed and flushed, happy that someone had acknowledged his actions but confused that it was a clone, especially one within the Oiroke-no-jutsu. He thought Naruto's Shadow Clones had all the same experiences as him? Had something gone wrong with this one, it could certainly explain the change in gender and the difference in her Chakra presence compared to the Genin.
"Iruka-sensei, this is Harii-chan. She's my older sister, she managed to track me and Ero-Sennin down when we were looking for Tsunade-baachan. She really, really is! She even knows about," he made a pointing gesture to his stomach that made Iruka's blood turn cold, "and she still came looking for me!" Naruto exclaimed gleefully, latching onto the girl's side.
She hugged the boy to her and gave the Academy Teacher a smile that seemed both equal parts sad and pained, "I was supposed to be... Well, I should have been the one to take that burden when the time was right, I had the Chakra and I had the training but... Circumstances were more complicated and I ended up being sent away from Konoha and far out of reach for even Jiraiya. I found my way back quite by accident. It seems as though I have Okaachan's luck though," she joked, giving her brother a squeeze. Naruto only giggled and burrowed his face into her side.
Iruka however, was a little more suspicious, "Have you been confirmed by Yamanaka-san?" he asked warily.
She nodded, "Ibiki as well. Tsunade and Jiraiya were aware of my circumstances, they were there for my birth. Interrogation and medical examinations are simply to confirm what they already know for everyone else's peace of mind," she explained as she absent mindedly ran a hand through Naruto's hair. "Can't have an unknown element getting close to the Seal for subverting the Host's mind and all that rot," she added with a bitter snarl that made the Chuunin flinch a little. He knew exactly what she was talking about. The value that Konoha placed on his troublesome little student wasn't on the fact that he was Naruto, but everything on the fact that he was the Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi no Kitsune.
It dawned on him then that he was being very rude. "Ah, would you like to join us, Uzumaki-chan? Naruto and I were just having some ramen, my treat," he offered, gesturing to the stools.
"Ichiraku Ramen is the best, Neechan!" Naruto piped up, tugging on her clothes.
She chuckled, "I wouldn't want to intrude. You've not seen Naruto in a while, Umino-san. As much as I would love to steal him away," she said, bending to kiss the blond on the forehead, "I imagine that out of everyone in Konoha you're the one he wants to spend time with the most."
Iruka was torn. On the one hand he did kind of want to keep Naruto to himself, but on the other hand, he knew how much this girl meant to his young student. He frowned when he caught sight of a yellow crested Konoha sparrow as it landed on the ground in front of him, it looked like he wouldn't have to worry about stealing Naruto away from his sister anyway. He was being called for a mission.
"It looks like I may have to take a rain check on today, Naruto. I've been summoned to the mission office," he explained, nodding to the little bird as it chirped and promptly flitted off once again. The little birds were trained and had tiny recognition Seals tattooed onto their legs that responded to anyone in a Flak jacket. Sometimes a member of the Yamanaka clan would possess on if a certain Shinobi needed summoning discreetly, but in this instant, it was a general Chuunin summons for whomever was available. "I'm sorry, maybe another day?" he offered as he threw down the cash to cover both his and Naruto's bowls toward Teuchi-san.
Naruto drooped a little but nodded, "Yeah! Is... is Neechan allowed to come?" he asked hesitantly, gripping her clothes tightly.
Iruka nodded, he wanted to get to know the young lady anyway. "Of course, you know where I live Naruto, don't be a stranger." And with that, he moved off, jumping quickly to the roofs and powering his way towards the mission office.
"Bye Sensei!" Naruto called after him, waving wildly. He then quickly turned around and hugged his sister, burrowing into her stomach. Hugging her had quickly become one of his favourite things to do, right next to eating ramen with Iruka-sensei. Since he'd been deprived of one, he was going to damn well enjoy the other since no one else was even going to try and stop him – and if they did then Neechan would kick their asses like she did to Kabuto-yarou.
"Not that the hugs aren't appreciated, why the sudden attention? Is everything alright, Naruto?" he heard his sister ask, her hands gently running through his hair and rubbing his back. She sounded concerned and even though he knew, technically, Harii had been born male in the other place, he was the perfect sister. He was soft and sweet and he cared. He thought about all those little things that he knew Kiba never did and Sasuke certainly never did. He'd seen the list she'd made one night, a to do list, one of which was circled and underline: "Get a job – support Naruto".
"I'm just happy. I never had anyone I could hug as much as I wanted to. And you smell nice," he admitted with a shameless grin.
Harry chuckled, a little nonplussed and confused, "Thanks, I think," he said, giving the boy's shoulder a squeeze. "Have you finished eating?" he asked and received an exuberant nod. "Alright, think you can lead me towards the hospital then? The sooner I get my shots and get these blood-tests confirmed we can talk to Tsunade and Jiraiya about our next step."
"Okay, this way," Naruto agreed and began to pull him through the main market place – the roofs weren't supposed to be used if you weren't on active duty, it was one of Konoha's little safety measures, if there was an unknown face roof hopping then chances were they had an infiltrator on their hands.
They had barely managed to get halfway through the Markets before someone called Naruto out on his Neechan. It was just his misfortune for that person to be Haruno Sakura, his team-mate. And she wasn't happy. He could kind of understand, she had been stressed quite badly with the recent events. The Chuunin exams, the invasion, Gaara nearly killing her, Sasuke nearly getting killed by his brother and now in a coma, him vanishing, and now she sees him messing around with what everyone had been assuming was a Kage Bunshin in Oiroke no Jutsu while his team-mate was still rather messed up and traumatised in the hospital. Yeah, he would be pissed off as well, he decided as he saw his pink haired team-mate, brown paper bag in arm, storming over with that ugly look on her pretty face that promised pain.
"NA-RU-TO!" she bellowed, enunciating every syllable of his name with her anger.
Harry raised an eyebrow at the tiny pink haired spitfire on her way over. This must be the wonderful and beautiful Sakura-chan that Naruto spent most of his time gushing about. The Hermione to his Harry if what useful information he'd managed to glean from the boy said. Though that look on her face made him think more of Ginny than Hermione to be honest.
"Sasuke-kun's laid up in hospital and you're here playing with one of those disgusting prank Bunshins of yours?" the rosette haired girl screamed as she finally drew level with them. "You ought to be ashamed of yourself, baka!" she scolded furiously.
She didn't even look at Harry as she flipped out a kunai and jammed it into the blonde Gryffindor's stomach.
"Even Kakashi-sensei's still in hospital! Do you think of no one but yourself?" the girl continued furiously as she yanked the now bloody kunai free and moved to land one of her hay-makers on the now horrified blond boy.
Harry hadn't felt the stab. It didn't even register that he'd been injured until his stomach felt unusually warm and he looked down and saw the thick spread of crimson from a tear in his clothing. What he did see, was the pink haired girl raising a bloody hand, a knife clenched within it, to attack her brother.
The response was immediate.
His leg snapped out and his knee rammed itself firmly into the twelve-year-old girl's stomach, flinging her like a rag doll across the street. And tearing his wound open further.
Harry groaned in pain, pressing a hand against the now gushing wound, gritting his teeth. Oh god, it didn't have the burning sensation that the basilisk fang had but it fucking hurt none the less. He was vaguely aware of Naruto fluttering around him, already tearing one of his sleeves off to make a compress for her. He was near enough in tears as he tried to pull his hand away so he could use his sleeve to stop the bleeding.
"You'll be okay, Neechan! You'll be okay, don't die, please don't die, I only just found you, please don't die Neechan!" the blond Jinchuuriki begged rapidly.
Harry gave him a strained smile, "I'll be fine. But let's get to the hospital sooner rather than later, ne?" he suggested tightly.
Naruto nodded rapidly and looked around, there was no way he could carry his sister comfortably without pulling that wound and she couldn't make her own way there before she bled out. "Proctor-san!" he bellowed, spotting the brunet who'd been the examiner for the last portion of the Chuunin exams, the one with the senbon between his teeth. "Proctor-san! Please, you gotta help!" he exclaimed, waving the now mildly curious Special Jounin over.
"I do have a name, y'know. I'm not just the examiner for the Chuunin Selection," the brunet stated as he sauntered over, and then spotted the blood seeping from between the Bunshin's fingers. Blood that it shouldn't possess. His eyes widened as he realised this was actually a person. A person bleeding out in the middle of the Konoha market place.
"Please, Proctor-san!" Naruto exclaimed, "She needs to go to the hospital! We were goin' there anyway but my team-mate thought she was a Bunshin and stabbed her," Naruto explained as the Special Jounin handed off his bag of groceries to the distressed blond Genin and promptly scooped the bombshell up bridal style.
"The name's Genma, Uzumaki! Genma!" the brunet told him lazily, "I hope you can keep up," he told the blond before jumping onto the nearest roof.
Sakura was completely forgotten as she cradled her bruised ribs and realised just what her careless violence had cost her. She'd just stabbed her orphaned team-mate's sister. One that he must have only recently discovered.
Oh Kami, what had she done? She'd nearly destroyed what chance Naruto had at a family! She felt sick.
Regardless of what followed, Haruno's words had made Naruto upset. Had he really been callous by not visiting either Kakashi-sensei or Sasuke? It took extracting a promise from Genma-Proctor-san not to leave his Neechan's side before Naruto allowed himself to go looking for his wayward Sensei and team-mate, leaving his sister to the tender mercies of the Medic Nin and the amusement of the laconic and laid-back Special Jounin.
"Is he usually that clingy?" the brunet asked, watching with an appreciative eye as the Medic Nin gently ran green glowing hands across the taut muscular abdomen of the shirtless blonde girl. Built like a bombshell but possessing the muscle of a Jounin Kunoichi, damn, he was almost sorry that stab wound wasn't low enough to necessitate her needing to take off her trousers. He was quite certain she had a killer pair of legs – literally and figuratively.
Harry shook his head, "No," he admitted. "It's to be expected though, we only found each other recently."
Genma made a sound of interest, eyes tracing the planes of her body, damn, not a scar in sight. She had flawless pale golden tan skin – a little copper stained now from her own blood but fuck, not even Geisha were that unmarked these days!
"Uzumaki-san, is now alright for me to take the blood-test?" the Medic Nin asked now that she had finished tying the bandages around the girl's middle. The wound may have been sealed but it was far from flawlessly healed, her Chakra control wasn't good enough for that and even if she had all the time in the world, she didn't have the reserves for it either.
"Namikaze," the girl idly corrected, "But you may as well. Which arm do you want?" she asked.
The nurse smiled and made a note on the clipboard, she'd assumed that the girl had the same clan as the Demon Host as they were siblings but that must not be the case. Perhaps she took the clan name of their other parent? She was a remarkably pretty girl, the nurse decided as she took a needle and phial from the desk and started her work. Though she had the very nagging feeling that she had seen the girl's face before, yet she was quite certain the Demon Host had no family within Konoha, it was one of the points the late Sandaime had stressed. That name too, it was rather familiar.
"Namikaze, huh?" Genma questioned, face lazy but his eyes intense as he looked over the young woman.
She glanced at him and away from where the Medic Nin was extracting her blood, "My father. Mine and Naruto's. The blood-tests should confirm it. When that happens, we're taking back our inheritance," she declared, her eyes narrowing on him as if daring him to object.
Genma couldn't help but admire her balls. She comes into their village holding the hand of their best kept secret, admits she shouldn't even exist and then states she's going to put every single civilian's nose out of joint, give the Council the finger and pretty much tell Danzou, Homura and Koharu to go and fuck themselves. He smirked at her, taking in the way her shoulders relaxed a very minute amount. Oh good, she knew she was going to face an uphill battle and was quite prepared to be as nasty as possible about it.
"Let me watch when it happens," he told her with a grin.
She smirked and then frowned, looking up, "Something's wrong," she stated frowning. Harry could hear Kyuubi growling from somewhere within his mind. He wasn't happy. Something was happening to Naruto. Her stomach was beginning to fizz and churn with anxiousness and anticipation. "I have to go, something's happening to Naruto! Something not good!" he told the Special Jounin as he jumped to his feet, leaving his bloody shirt behind as he made for the door.
"Ah! Wait, Namikaze-san! You can't go running around in just your bra!" the Medic Nin squeaked as the blonde girl pulled open the door and took off running without paying her even the slightest bit of mind.
Genma grinned, shaking his head, idly he wondered if all siblings had a danger radar when it came to the little ones. He remembered that Inuzuka Hana always seemed to know when her kid brother needed bailing out. Uchiha Itachi's was even more finely developed before he went off the deep end. He wondered if he should follow, he glanced at the cute, if flustered, little Medic Nin. Hmm... nah, she probably wouldn't be all too receptive to the idea of an Icha Icha moment in the examination room – most Medic Nin weren't. Instead he picked up the abandoned shirt and told the pretty little thing that he would make sure the bombshell stayed out of trouble before following after. All he had to do was follow the slack jaws and nose-bleeds.
The roof, they were on the roof! Harry ignored the pain in his side as he ran for the roof, as hard and fast as he could up the stairs – leaving a rather impressed Genma behind in the dust. The sound of screaming birds and the familiar whisper whine of Naruto's Rasengan filled his ears along with an even more familiar anguished scream of a certain pink haired girl.
"BOTH OF YOU! STAND DOWN!" the girl screamed desperately as Harry came up onto the scene.
Naruto lunging forward on his right. Sakura rushing forward, centre. Black haired boy with screaming lightning around his hand to the left. They were going to kill Haruno, they were going too fast and couldn't stop!
At the same time, a shadow moved with him.
He had perhaps a split second to catalogue silver white hair and a flak jacket before the shadow twisted around Sakura – whom Harry had just swept up – catch both boy's wrists and fling them away where they couldn't harm anyone. All this while Harry skidded with Haruno in his arms between the man's legs where he twisted and crouched protectively over the girl now clutched in one arm against his chest – free arm with its fingers played, prepared to unleash a Chakra Chain if needed.
"What are you two doing on the roof of the hospital?" the silver haired shadow demanded, sounding rather exasperated, if not bored, with the whole exchange.
"Kakashi-sensei?" Haruno quivered from where she was held in a surprisingly powerful and warm arm. She trembled a little as she digested the previous three seconds. Throwing herself between her stupidly testosterone fueled team-mates in the hopes that they would stop when they realised she wasn't going to let them kill each other. Realising they couldn't stop and she was going to die. Her team-mates were doing to kill her. Run her through with their Jutsus in an accident! Just a stupid little girl who got between two duelling Shinobi. And then... two people. She recognised Kakashi in the split second he stopped and threw the boys but there was another body, softer, warmer, behind her, around her and then inertia took her as she slid between her Sensei's legs, the world wheeling around until she realised it had stopped and the warmth she was held against was a rather impressive bosom. A bosom belonging to Naruto's sister.
Naruto's sister who'd jumped in without hesitation to save her.
"If you're fighting, you're getting too heated, both of you. Those jutsus aren't the kind that you should ever use against a team-mate!" the Jounin lectured. To Kakashi, the exchange had shaken him up far more than he was ever willing to admit. Not just because Sasuke had attempted to kill Naruto. Not even because Naruto was using a Jutsu he should by all rights have no idea existed – he could smell Jiraiya's fingerprints all over that one though. It was the ghost. He didn't turn to look, he couldn't afford to, not right now.
Instead, he focused on Sasuke.
"Why are you so obsessed with your superiority complex, Sasuke?" the Jounin asked, flickering over to the younger man's side. "That level of Chidori just now, isn't an appropriate technique to be used here, against your own comrade. Were you trying to kill Naruto?" he demanded, allowing some of the anger he was keeping leashed to seep into his voice. The fact that his Genin heard the anger in his voice should be warning enough as to how much this encounter and their behaviour was unacceptable. "Where did such... immature behaviour come from?" he growled.
Sasuke grunted, legs coiling to throw himself over the railings – only he never got that far.
"NO YOU FUCKING DON'T!" a female voice roared, taking everyone by surprise as a golden chain swept through the air and wrapped around the young Uchiha heir, flinging him forcefully back onto the roof. Kakashi found himself staring at a ghost, all the blood draining from his features. That face.
Angry, cold, furious, Kakashi knew that face, the eyes... different but...
"I don't care if you're Mikoto-bachan's son!" the blonde girl snarled, making Sasuke stiffen and his eyes widen in a mixture of emotions as the girl stalked forward, "This kind of behaviour is completely unacceptable young man," she sneered coldly.
"Your mother would be ashamed of you."
And viola. Chapter twelve finished! I hope you guys enjoyed.
I wasn't able to cram in the Danzou segment I wanted to (This thing is already pushing eight pages) and I wanted to get it published before three in the morning, so here we are!
Now, little info, I actually LOVE Sakura.
I really do. She's immature, a brat, she's weak and 'useless' but she's still standing there with the titans and doing her best. She is a normal girl. A girl who despite being the weakest in the team still tries to pull her weight. She's quite willing to throw herself in front of the client if a nasty gets by the boys, she wants to do the right thing. She makes mistakes, she learns from them, sometimes she regresses and she's not invincible. To me, Sakura is the most human character in the whole series. And then Shippuden arrives and we learn that this girl, this weak, helpless little girl, remade herself into someone who can and will stand up and fight for her most precious people. She didn't give up and she didn't run away, she didn't lie to herself and say everything was fine, it wasn't her responsibility or her problem. She grew up. And she has continued to grow throughout the series.
So people asking for Sakura bashing... I'm sorry but no can do. I love her too much.
Note: Had some people requesting a Genma/Harry, sorry to burst bubbles but its not happening. He's in his thirties. He's older than Kakashi! He will be a main character, I promise, but he won't be a love interest. Not unless I get some DAMN good arguments for that will make me get over my squeamishness for age differences and make me like the pairing. Do one shots and fanart. XDD You might convince me. I'd need a lot for it to work though. (COUGH-COUGH NOT BLATANT ATTEMPTS AT GETTING FANART NOT AT ALL COUGH-COUGH) 8);;;
Sasuke's reaction was immediate... and to be expected.
He lunged forward with an inarticulate shout of rage, sounding more like a wounded bull than a twelve year old boy, his arms still pinned behind his back by the golden links of the Chakra Chain. She had been expecting it though and he had barely managed to take three steps forward before her free hand snapped out, a second golden chain sailing through the air, past him, around one of the support struts of the water towers and snapping around his neck like a choke chain – stopping him dead with a rasped yelp.
"Sasuke-kun!" Sakura squealed from somewhere behind the eldest Uzumaki sibling, on the right.
"Sasuke!" Naruto yelped.
"What would you know about my mother?" the black haired boy snarled, rasping against the chains around his neck. Everything he knew about Chakra said that this should be burning, blistering, even outright scorching his flesh – Chakra in such concentration to manifest in a physical, non-elemental substance, shouldn't be possible! And it was around his neck.
"Not a lot," Harry admitted, memories of Uchiha Mikoto, Jounin Genjutsu specialist filling her mind. "Jounin Uchiha Mikoto though, her I knew of pretty well. After all... she was my mother's Genin Team-mate."
Sasuke froze, his eyes widening as he stared at the woman in front of him. She... he would have liked to think her nothing more than one of Naruto's dumb clones but the steadily reddening bandage around her waist said otherwise. Clones didn't bleed. Aside from that idiot running around in his disgusting Henge, he had never seen her face before and even then, that henge was different. It was subtle and small, but the faces were different and even though Sasuke knew he'd never seen her before, he knew he'd seen her face somewhere. Was she speaking the truth? Was he distantly remembering someone else, the idiot's mother? He was an orphan though, it was well known that Uzumaki Naruto had no family. If his mother really had been on the same team as his own then Civil Law would have placed him with the Uchiha Clan unless the other member was from an even more prominent Clan with better finances. It was an unwritten law that if the orphan in question had no clan, their godparents were not to be found, then the genin team-mates or sensei of the parent would take the child in themselves. Otherwise they would end up in the Orphanage.
This girl was lying. Clearly. Otherwise he would have grown up with the idiot.
Anger flared hot and dizzyingly through him as he strained against the chains. "Don't lie to me! If they were Naruto would have been in the Uchiha Clan!" he snarled, trembling in fury as all the blonde woman did was tilt her head.
"That would have been the case, yes... If a member of your Clan hadn't been the one to murd- MFMTH!" She was cut off. A broad, tanned and calloused hand quickly slapping over her mouth. Sasuke felt his eyes widen in shock. He'd had his Sharingan open the whole time, he hadn't seen the old man move! He was just suddenly... there. Broad-shouldered, thicker than Kakashi with the same thick, wild mane of white hair, this time extending well past his shoulders and down to the back of his knees, an odd Hitai-ate bearing the symbol for oil etched upon it. His hands were huge, cupping the girl's face almost entirely as he loomed over her by at least two feet. He was clearly a Shinobi. A powerful one, especially if he had lived to that age. His face was lined and mature possessing two red streaks running down below his jaw line, a heavy chain-mail under-shirt half hidden below green and red cloth. He was eccentric and old. Therefore, a threat.
"Now, now, Hari-chan. Can't go talking about that night," he told her in a gruff voice that sounded like gargling boulders. "Its an S-ranked secret and if you say a single word more, both Kakashi and I will be obligated to execute you," he explained apologetically. "Now, be a good girl and release the Uchiha. We don't need another mess like the one you made of Kabuto." Could he get any more patronising?
"Kabuto?" Kakashi asked, jerking his head at the white haired man. He was pale from what little was visible of his face and he'd lost the laziness that usually permeated around him. "What mess?"
The old man laughed a little wryly. "Hari-chan here took exception to his attempts at killing Naruto. She tore him limb from limb and even Kabuto can't regenerate if his limbs are thirty feet apart from each other," he stated with a shake of his head. "Not a pretty way to go."
Sakura went white and even Sasuke started to sweat when he realised that he had his throat in this woman's grasp.
His fears came to nothing as the chains faded away into golden smoke that just faded away into the light.
"Good girl," Jiraiya exclaimed as if rewarding a particularly difficult dog on a trick well done. He patted her on the head again and Harry's patience snapped. One silent Levicorpus later, as Jiraiya's hand had still been attached to her face, and he was hoisted up by his ankle in mid air, leaving Harry to retreat a few paces and scowl at him.
"WHOA?" he yelped, loudly.
"I don't appreciate being treated like an errant puppy Jiraiya. Perhaps you and Tsunade should have told me what was and wasn't allowed to be spoken about before we got here. Its not like I was even in the Hidden Countries when those Laws were passed," she snapped scratching irritably at her hair.
Jiraiya chuckled awkwardly, "Alright, alright, I'm sorry Hime-chan. Can you let me down now? My Senjutsu isn't good enough to dispel this myself," he admitted, giving her what was most possibly the most disturbing Puppy-Dog eyes since Ron attempted to steal the last slice of Treacle Tart. She cringed back in disgust but never the less pressed a finger against the bare skin of his foot and released it, allowing him to tumble back down onto his feet with a clack of wooden Geta. "You've got to teach me that stuff later, alright?" he declared pointing at her.
"Later, not now," she said brushing past him to face the trio of twelve year olds. They stared at her in varying expressions. Expressions that quickly turned to ones of pain and surprise when she clonked all their heads together.
"Neechan! What was that for?" Naruto wailed, cradling his sore skull.
"I don't know the whole story but I can guess at it. Naruto, you need to keep a cooler head. Don't rise to the taunt, a good Shinobi needs control. What would have happened had Hatake-san and I not jumped in? You and Sasuke would have killed Haruno." Naruto hung his head, uncertain about the feeling in his chest, it felt like the same one when Jiji got upset with him. He always used the same phrase as well and even though Neechan never said it, he knew she was thinking it. He'd disappointed her and he felt that same heavy cold and choking feeling now as he did whenever Jiji said it.
"Haruno, did you think at all when you plunged in there? No. No you didn't. You nearly got yourself killed and your Team-mates drummed out of the Shinobi courts. No, no it wouldn't be that good. They hold more military value to the village than that. They would be split up, their minds destroyed and then rebuilt. Everything that made them who they were would be done. All emotions would have been conditioned out of them and nothing left but the guilt of your death, which would be used to keep control of them for the rest of their lives, to manipulate them into taking missions that they shouldn't even touch. Your team-mates are incredibly important both politically and militaristically, you need to double check yourself before you plunge in and do something as stupid as getting between an Assassination technique and a variation of a Biju Ball." Sakura cringed in on herself. She knew Sasuke was important because he was the last Uchiha, but she had no idea that Naruto was important as well, though now she thought on it, he was surprisingly close to the Sandaime. Not only that, but he was also known to Jiraiya of the Sannin and judging from the gi- from Hari-san's words, he was also known to the new Hokage, Tsunade-sama whom had healed both Sasuke-kun and Kakashi-sensei.
"And you Sasuke. I don't know what set you off but you need to buck your ideas up, where the hell is fighting your team-mates like this going to get you? A whole lot of nowhere and trouble, that's what. You need to play to your strengths. Everyone starts out somewhere and chasing someone else's shadow isn't going to help you improve, it's going to slow you down and lead you down roads you may not be suited for. If what I got out of Kabuto is right, then you're obsessed with revenge against Itachi-cha- against Itachi." It was hard, the -chan endearment that both Kushina and Mikoto and even Minato had often used in his memories nearly slipped through. A lot of endearment terms almost had, it was a battle trying to control what came out of his mouth. And judging by the way Sasuke's eyes had just narrowed, he caught the slip.
"You're not Uchiha Itachi. You're not a traitor. You're not a Kin Slayer and you never will be. You. Are. Better. Than. Him. Better than that," she told him firmly, jabbing him in the chest with every word, staring him firmly in the eyes. His startled, young and lost black eyes. "The best revenge isn't always killing the bastard who wronged you. Where does it get you afterwards Sasuke? It leaves you with just one more dead body and an empty life afterwards. Fugaku may have wanted you to avenge the family, a fair few of your Clan likely would. But Mikoto wouldn't have. She loved you, with all her heart. She used to sing to you when she was pregnant and giggle about all the things you and her could do together because Fugaku was so determined to make Itachi-chan the perfect Uchiha Weapon she rarely got to see him and he was always too tired or hurt though he did try so hard for her. She would rather you lived happily. It's the best revenge after all. Living well." Nothing had pissed Voldemort off more than being forced to hide in the forests of Albania scavenging for food while piggy-backing on the soul of a snake while he was at Hogwarts enjoying feasts and warm beds, laughing, joking. Living well often was the best kind of revenge, nothing pissed someone off more than basically being told that they weren't worth the time and effort or the heartache of being hated.
"Focus on yourself first Sasuke. Forget your brother, forget your father, your mother, your clan and think about what you want for a change. What would your aim be? To be Jounin? To follow your father's footsteps and become Chief of the Police department? Become a Decoder? Learn how to dance?" He cast around for an idea. "Chief editor for Icha Icha? The quality control taste tester at a Sake Brewers? What? Professional Quidditch Player? Honeydukes stock manager? Your brother is nothing more than a traitorous Kin Slayer and he will get what's coming to him sooner or later. I know you're determined to kill him, that much is easy to see. And you can. You can kill him. Just not yet. There's no need to go running in pell-mell and cave your skull in on a brick wall you can't surpass yet. Everyone starts somewhere, we're all born into this world red, weak and squalling, unable to even hold the weight of our own heads up. Some adapt before others, some need a little more time. There's no shame in either way. That's just the way it is. When there's something you can't do, trust your team-mates to do it for you. Just as they trust you to do what they can't. That's what makes you strong. You may not be able to kill your brother yet, but with help," she said, gently pushing the three preteens shoulder to shoulder, "you're three steps closer than yesterday when you were alone."
Sasuke stared at her briefly before glancing at the other two. At book smart Sakura who he would often consider useless and weak, yet always had the mission objective in mind, always hung back to protect the client, always came up with a plan that worked on little information, who remembered the little details like geography or economy. Sakura who had stayed by his and Naruto's side for two days guarding and providing medical support constantly and without sleep, who fought tooth and nail, until she was bruised, bloodied and ruined against three superior opponents. All for them. She smiled, looking a little uncomfortable with the idea of killing someone, but nodded, pressing her shoulder firmly against his. She was with him.
Dumbass Naruto who was too stupid to know when to give it up, who struck from the most unlikely of places, the pre-teen who personified the term maverick, free and wild but... every time the chips were down he pulled through, every time either he or Sakura were threatened he pulled out all the stops. He gave everything. And then some. He sacrificed himself, heart, body and soul for the people he cared about and somehow forced up the power to fight and defeat Sabaku no Gaara and that monster he turned into. He ploughed that giant snake away from him when he saw it bearing down on him. When it came to him and Sakura... he would throw himself in front of a death-blow, just as Sasuke had done for him in Wave. Naruto didn't grin at him, that disconcerting somewhat blank grin that fell short of true happiness and showed far too many teeth to be sad. He smiled, eyes clear, face set, and roughly bumped him with a shoulder. Nothing short of a crowbar and a Jounin was going to pry him off. He was stuck with the knuckle head even if he hadn't wanted him.
Sasuke looked up at the green eyed girl, Naruto's sister, and she smiled before drawing all three of them into a tight hug that, for the first time since his family met their ends, Sasuke managed to return, feeling the arms of both Sakura and Naruto banding around his shoulders and waist, warm and strong.
Genma couldn't help but chuckle from where he was leaning against the doorway to the stair well, bloody shirt in one hand. He was getting flashbacks, a man at his age, already reminiscing about the old days. It was rather sad actually. He glanced over and smirked a little at the expression on his cute little Kohai's face, poor Kakashi looked like he'd been clipped with one of Kushina-hime's haymakers which he could say with experience were not fun. Jiraiya though looked like a proud papa as he watched the four Gakis hug and have their moment.
Quietly, so as not to ruin the moment (he was quite certain that Sasuke needed this. Any interruption could ruin everything and snap him back into his old thought patterns), he slipped over to the older Jounin.
"Did you plan this, Jiraiya-sama?" he questioned softly.
He shook his head grinning, "Nah. Hoped, sure. Hari-chan's upbringing wasn't as safe or as pleasant as I'd hoped when I sent her off with the Summons. But I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Whatever happened over there made her into the person she is now and if she can help the Uchiha off his self-destructive path, well, I can't think a single soul here would hate her for it."
"Where did she come from? She looks just like..." Kakashi couldn't even bring himself to say his Sensei's old name and Genma felt a sharp sting of sympathy and pity for the younger man.
Hari-chan was just like Minato, not just in looks either (though she'd definitely inherited her mother's curves). That blond bastard had been charismatic too, he always seemed to know exactly what to say to make everything seem alright, to make the world seem a little brighter and kinder than it really was. He inspired people, for no other reason than he cared. As abrasive and seemingly apathetic as Hari-chan tried to be down in that hospital room, clearly she was a lot more like her father than she was willing to admit. He couldn't imagine what it must have been like for her to be there when he died, when both of them did. That night, October tenth, was a nightmare that would never let him rest.
Genma sighed, "She's had a blood test. They're confirming the results right now but she's already had the work-up from Ibiki and Inoichi. She'd be in a cell right now if Inoichi was even the slightest bit suspicious. He only seems like a soft-touch at first." Minato wouldn't have asked him to head up Torture and Interrogation if he were anything but. Being part of Minato's personal guard had been the high point of Genma's life, of his career. That one shining year he had been amidst the Hokage's most trusted, his best and brightest, he wore his Flak Vest with pride and remembered being among the first that the blond bragged about Kushina's pregnancy with. He bought everyone drinks and dragged them off down the bar with Jiraiya. They kept the reason for their celebration hush-hush but never the less, they celebrated and Kushina decked him for bringing her husband home unconscious and reeking of Sake. He remembered waking up the next morning on their couch because she'd knocked him out then and there on their porch. He ended up having to run for the toilet and vomiting copiously at the smell of the fry up she'd made, Minato looking as fresh as a daisy, as if he hadn't drunk three times more than Genma, laughing his ass off from the kitchen table as his youngest guard paid his respects to the Porcelain Throne of the Hang Over Gods. Having Jiraiya for a sensei gave him an alcohol tolerance a Mist Nin would be jealous of.
And then October Ten... and it all fell apart. For everyone.
Whispers pointed the finger at the Uchiha Clan. The only ones known to possible be able to control the Kyuubi aside from the Shodai's Mokuton Kekkei Genkai. Genma didn't want to believe it, not when he remembered picking up a trembling and sobbing Uchiha Itachi, the four year old barely up to his knees, dirty and splattered with someone else's blood, his eyes red and wide with the Sharingan. Sure they were arrogant bastards half the time and some of the arguments that Kushina and Fugaku got into could be down-right vicious – if it weren't for Mikoto and Minato there would have undoubtedly been a throw down that would have ended with body parties in the hospital. Though Genma was fairly certain that the two probably would have become best friends afterwards, that was just the way Kushina worked and Fugaku needed to square off with someone before they earned his respect.
For both Kakashi and Genma... if was as if the world ground to a halt. It was almost as if he were frozen in time but for Kakashi... Kakashi started going backwards. He held on too tightly, everything he'd known, everyone he'd loved was gone and he couldn't look to a future without them, so all he could do was cling to the past. And while his skills never stagnated, it wasn't as if they got any better either. The fourteen year old just... broke. It took Jiraiya slapping some sense into him before he would stop his suicidal mission rates. The following two months after Minato's death, the young Jounin had taken a total of six missions a day when he could, he very nearly worked himself to death.
Then he joined ANBU and Genma couldn't keep an eye on him anymore. Something he never forgave himself for. He was nineteen, he had a responsibility, none of Kakashi's team remained, he had no clan and no sensei, and Genma was the last of the Fourth Guard. He swore to himself he would keep an eye on all those things Minato considered precious. And he failed Kakashi. True, he never knew Naruto was his son, he thought the whole family had died, the Kyuubi murdering both Kushina and her child – no one knew if she'd given birth to the baby before its attack and Genma would often wake in a cold sweat, grisly images of her stomach bursting open like an overripe grape as the Kyuubi crushed her, the unborn child spilling into the world wailing only to follow his mother the same way. But he kept an eye on the kid anyway. His Kage had entrusted a powerful and dangerous entity to the boy, he would protect the child until he was old enough to protect himself. But the Sandaime wouldn't allow it. Any petition or offer to adopt was denied and the child was raised in the orphanages of Konoha. Not to mention in the aftermath, they had foreign villages sniffing around like scavengers and he was so bogged down with missions, he could barely muster a threatening glare at those who bad mouthed the kid.
It was almost as if... the sun had died.
Everything had been so bright and hopeful when Minato and Kushina were alive and in the village, things were so peaceful and content for everyone, there was a baby-boom. Pregnant mothers puttering up and down the streets, giggling and making play-date meetings with one another, comparing bumps and swollen ankles, gossiping over who was going to drop first and whether it was a boy or a girl. Old men playing Go in the park as grand-children ran riot at their feet and played their games with origami Shuriken they learned to make at playschool or from each other. For the first time in years, Genma remembered, the gates of the village were open and the markets were bustling. Even the flowers had been celebrating, bursting out of every crack, windowbox and guttering they could find. He still remembered the utter bemusing moment when he almost landed in a patch of daffodils growing out of a broken chimney. Their obnoxiously cheerful yellow trumpets somehow looking right at home.
Those daffodils were crushed in the Kyuubi's attack. The gates were closed. So many mother's miscarried or gave birth prematurely from stress, so many little ones didn't make it. So many old men and women died. So many children left homeless, parentless. There had been no more flowers growing from the scorched and broken ground for almost three years. He remembered because... the village had seemed so grim without them.
"Uh oh, looks like Hime wants us. All of us," Jiraiya muttered, eyes skyward.
Genma looked up, spotting the tawny red falcon that circled them. His eyes narrowed when he caught it snapping it's beak. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight? Yeah, all of them. Eight people, eight snaps of the beak and three circuits around the roof to hammer home the fact it was them needed before it swept away. Yamanaka controlled definitely. A private meeting.
He glanced over and nodded to Jiraiya before stepped forward and plastering the most shit eating grin on his face as possible, he had to be careful how he did this. Sasuke's mental state was still fragile.
He coughed, pointedly, and grinned when he saw the group look up, but not remove their arms from one another. He couldn't help a split second of jealousy though, the Uchiha's face was very nearly right between those magnificent tits and he hadn't a fucking clue. He nearly shook his head, he was thirty one damnit, he could admire but that was it, she was barely sixteen from the look of her, legal or not, she was still Minato's daughter, it would be creepy and he was certain Kushina-hime would kick his ass six ways to Sunday before Minato got his hands on him.
"You forgot something downstairs," he stated, lifting her bloodied shirt with a grin.
Sakura went red as she realised that YES throughout that whole confrontation, the blonde girl had been shirtless and in nothing more covering than a bra. A bra that she had been clinging too and a boob she had her face pressed against. She wasn't the only one who went red though. Naruto just blinked up at him, clearly finding no problem with being wrapped around his half-naked sister but the Uchiha... oh his reaction was glorious.
He took one look down, realised right where his face was, went scarlet right up to the tips of his ears and down beneath the collar of his hospital issue top, his eyes practically bugging out of his head and unable to move.
"If you think I'm putting that back on, you've got another thing coming. I can't stand the feeling of dried blood," Harry pointed out bluntly with a frown at him.
"Well, its better than running around in a bra. You do know that all anyone has to do to find you is follow the nose bleeds," he pointed out with a grin, jerking a thumb towards the stair well, incidentally also to the leering and giggling and dribbling Jiraiya and the suddenly rather pink skinned and damp masked Kakashi – they had been a little too caught up in the seriousness of the situation to notice the fact there was a reallyhot girl without a whole lot on in front of them. She recoiled and snatched the shirt so quickly he almost caused it to tear as he hadn't finished letting go.
Jiraiya squawked in pain a moment later when a golden chain flicked him on the forehead, not hard, but enough to get him to stop drooling, "Put your tongue back in," Harry sneered, lip curling half way into a snarl. Goddamnit! That pervert was old enough to be his grandfather, it was just fucking CREEPY thinking that this guy was not only a mixture of Hagrid and Sirius. It was like being perved upon by an Uncle! (Not Vernon! Oh god not Vernon!)
The exchange was partly deliberate and partly out of true emotion, it gave Sasuke enough time to calm himself down and to have both Sakura and Naruto reaffirm their presence at his side, even they seemed to sense how important it was they stick with their more emotionally fragile team-mate.
"Either way, the new Hokage's summoned us, you too Sasuke. So let's get a movin'," Jiraiya called boisterously.
"At least let the kid get some shoes!" Harry snapped in reply as the dysfunctional group of Shinobi and one misplaced Wizard made their way back into the hospital in order to sign the Uchiha out and get him his clothes and footwear back.
"You're covered in blood," Tsunade barked as means of greeting as the group came through the door. The place looked like a bombsite, remains of Ninja wire littered the floor, books and broken furniture, the doors were busted and there was the burnt out remains of an Exploding Tag that was interrupted before it went off. Genma whistled in idle amusement, he hadn't seen the place look this bad since Kushina-hime's hormones kicked off during her last trimester and she nearly set Minato on fire for spending more time in the office than with her. Something about how he didn't lover her anymore because she was fat with puffy ankles? The memory was a bit fuzzy. He took a table leg to the face.
"That happens when you get stabbed," Harry stated nonchalantly, "I need to go back and finish booking my vaccination and full medical examinations, I was needed elsewhere," she explained, smiling at the preteens who grinned, flushed or wobbled an anxious smile at her. Tsunade huffed and waved a hand dismissively as she made her way over.
"I'll get Shizune to do it later. Hold still, you reopened it." The blonde Kage didn't wait for permission before she was jerking the other blonde's shirt up, prompting immediate excitement from Jiraiya and Kakashi, the former of which got tackled and ravaged by a rabid Naruto. Sakura squeaked and went pink at her Kage's brazen disregard for their public location while Sasuke went red and turned away, with his eyes still fixed upon the scene. Genma tried not to laugh, instead he covered it up with a coughing fit and covered his nose as if he too were affected by the very near lesbian scene in front of him.
Tsunade casually tore the bandage from the Spit-streak's stomach, eyeing the Kunai wound with a critical and experienced eye as it oozed ever so slightly. A substandard Medic Nin had seen to them. Not enough Chakra control and not enough Chakra capacity. Half healed, muscle fibres frayed and now torn. If the damn girl hadn't exerted herself over much she would have been fine within a week as long as she took it easy and didn't do anything severe with her abdominals. Now she'd torn the frayed muscle, flesh and lost a fair bit of blood. She'd need a good meal later. Lot's of meat and no alcohol. Lentil beans too, soup would be best. She nodded and made the seals necessary, a soft green glow enveloping her fingers as she began her work. Fingers twitching with every muscle fibre she reconnected and healed, with every cell she encouraged to divide.
The Hospital needed renovating, no, it needed a revolution. A complete overhaul. An overhaul she would put into planning in a few hours after Shizune had finished helping her put this office to rights after that Gaki had destroyed it. Honourable Grandson or not, he was lucky she hadn't beaten him black or blue for that stunt. Really. Just like Naruto, he looked far too much like Nawaki. This place was going to be the death of her.
She smirked a little as she stepped away, leaving an unblemished stomach behind and severely disappointed faces – or in the case of Jiraiya a very bruised and scratched one. Naruto was still gnawing on his leg. She tossed the bloody bandage in the waste-paper bin she'd found in an abandoned corner.
"Take a seat, anywhere'll do." It wasn't like she had any chairs that weren't broken she could offer them to sit on. When everyone had found a good spot, the younger generation sitting on the floor quite easily while Kakashi found a corner to lurk in Jiraiya perched himself on a pile of junk like it was a throne and Genma joined the kids on the floor as if it were story-time. She tried not to snort at the mental image as she perched herself on the windowsill "Alright, earlier I had a few complaints about our little Spit-Streak over there." Harry scowled at the nickname and Tsunade couldn't stop herself from grinning at her. "So I figured I should clear the air first with Team 7 and you Genma, since you were a member of the Guard, and then with the Council and the rest of the Village," she explained as she rubbed an eye tiredly.
"She can't possibly be- " Kakashi began in an undertone only to quiet down when Tsunade shook her head.
"But she is. I ran the blood tests myself and compared them to Naruto's. Not only that but she's got the Uzumaki Chakra nature and both Jiraiya and I have seen her using the Hiraishin. Or at least a variant of it." She lifted up a sheet of paper revealing an official paper from the Hospital comparing blood. "She's the real deal Kakashi. I didn't think she'd even survived that night so I never said anything."
"You knew?" the Jounin demanded, face almost heart broken.
Tsunade winced, "I delivered her. It was a while before your promotion Kakashi. You were only nine at the time and the art with Iwa was getting more and more heated, Minato was only just beginning to make a name for himself and he didn't want to put Kushina or the baby in danger. Only Jiraiya and I knew. Not even the Sandaime was aware. She has no records in the village at all because she was never born in it," Tsunade explained, spinning and bullshitting the way that only someone who lived her whole career as a lie could. "Plus, we didn't want another Kumo incident. Being distracted by the war, you can bet your Hitai-ate they would have tried for the baby if they knew of her existence. They certainly tried to get hold of Kushina afterwards, if I remember the rumours right. Minato had a hard enough time with A and Bee it would have been worse if he'd been forced to protect his child at the same time. Jiraiya and Minato held the seal of her Kekkei Genkai while I did the delivery. A healthy baby girl, blue eyed and whiskered, five pounds five ounces. Underweight I know, but she was already kicking and snarling so I returned to Konoha and the war and that was that. I lost Dan later that year and left completely. I only heard later what'd happened, I thought she'd died with her parents."
Jiraiya picked up as the blonde Kage fell silent and stared out of the window. It didn't hurt as much as before, thinking about Dan, but it still hurt. "I left Hari-chan with some lady friends of mine, Miki-chan recently lost her baby so she was capable of being a fairly good wet-nurse. She and Kushina really hit it off," Jiraiya explained, recalling a young civilian girl that Kushina had been friendly with during the war, apparently she made damn good tea. The woman died during the Kyuubi attack. Kakashi nodded, accepting it, no doubt recalling the few times Kushina told them she was going out to have tea with Miki-chan and she might not be back until morning. "Kushina was training Hari-chan to take the Kekkei Genkai after her, you see, the Uzumaki's have two Bloodline limits, their special Chakra, which you've seen Hari-chan use in the form of those chains, it gives them unbelievable stamina and vitality. And the other is directly tied to the first. It can only be held by one Uzumaki at a time and only ever by the one with the strongest concentration of that special Chakra, otherwise their minds will be overwhelmed and poisoned. Hari was going to hold the second Kekkei Genkai as the female child, thus far, only girls had been chosen for the role but on the night of her parents' death, when Naruto was born and the seal on his mother's Kekkei Genkai broke, he was the closest and so they sealed it into him rather than let it risk rampage. It has a mind of its own and it is very evil."
Harry made a sound of disgust, "He isn't evil," she snapped, causing the eyes of all the Jounin to swivel to her. "He's just pissed off. You would be too if someone got you thrown in what amounts to a very boring jail for eighty years for something that wasn't even your fault."
Kakashi spluttered, "He murdered your parents!"
"They got in the way!" Harry snapped back, her hand was already around Naruto's as she glared at Kakashi. "He wasn't aiming for them when they died. He was aiming for Naruto. He knew they were going to put him behind bars, he knew Hahaue was dying anyway, I heard them say it. She wasn't going to make it, she said they should seal it in her so when she died it would go with her and take a long time to reform. But Dad... They split it in half, Dad took half with him when he died and sealed the other half Naruto. So he attacked, he attacked my brother and Mum threw herself in front of him and Dad... Dad threw himself in front of her. They stopped it. By inches, but they did."
Kakashi was silent and chalk white as he collapsed back against the wall behind him. He never knew the details about his Sensei's death. Somehow... it didn't seem as grim as it once was. A pressed a shaking hand over his eye as Naruto crawled into his sister's lap and sniffled. She hugged him tightly and almost hesitantly, Sakura scooted forward to offer her own support, she too was pulled in tight. It took another sniffle from Naruto for Sasuke to shift closer, he didn't join the hug, but he elbow was pressed against the curve of his team-mate's spine and it was enough.
"Who is he?" Genma asked, his eyes narrowed. He knew there was something different about Kushina, she tended to fly off the handle fairly often but he had never seen her homicidally enraged. Her emotional control was actually pretty good, but she seemed to have a pathological terror of mind-readers and certain Genjutsu that messed with her brain. He was beginning to get an idea of why. If her second Kekkei Genkai had a mind of its own... who's to say that while her mind was busy with a Genjutsu, that one couldn't take over? Or if it was locked up, the mind reader attacking her wouldn't set it free by accident?
"And earlier, you said that my clan had something to do with it," Sasuke added, frowning at the whiskered blonde. She looked up at Tsunade with a raised eyebrow.
"He needs the truth, they all do," she pointed out. There was also the small problem of neither Tsunade OR Jiraiya knowing the full truth of what happened that night. They knew bits and pieces, they hadn't been aware she retained the memory of the whole night and the person who attacked them. Both were sitting forward, their faces intense.
"Speak. No one, not even the Sandaime ever knew who opened the Seal. Did you get a name?" Jiraiya demanded, his eyes flickered to Sasuke, chances were...
"He called himself Uchiha Madara. He ore a face-mask and a black coat with red clouds printed on it." She knew that design. "Akatsuki." Kabuto knew that design. He knew it well. "Aka no Sasori... Orochimaru... Pein... Uchiha Itachi..." she flinched and cradled her head, feeling a curious stabbing sensation behind her forehead.
"Don't force it," Tsunade commanded.
"Well, aside from that second name, the others are all members as well. I take it Kabuto's memories are playing up?" Jiraiya asked with a raised eyebrow. He hadn't known that the Medic Nin was aware of the shadowy organisation. He really was damn good at infiltration, better even than him Jiraiya would wager if the youngster hadn't also focused on Ijustu.
"They are. So many names and countries..."
"Well, maybe this'll help you sort it out," the pervert offered before beginning to explain the Akatsuki to those present. He didn't have a lot of information, a few names, their countries of origin, and their goal. All the Biju, the tailed beasts like Kyuubi and Shukaku whom they faced. It did help. Harry could feel the information in his head beginning to shuffle and sort itself, the whirlwind of information dying down. Akatsuki was far reaching and vast, all the information that Kabuto had accrued about the organisation had tried to force its way to the forefront of Harry's consciousness, all tried to be acknowledged at once.
"And my brother is a part of them?" Sasuke asked, his eyes narrowed.
Jiraiya nodded, "Yes. The big fellow he was with earlier was Hoshigaki Kisame, one of the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist, he successfully assassinated the Daimyou during Zabuza's uprising. An S-ranked criminal. Akatsuki only accept people of that calibre and only after they've betrayed their villages."
Sasuke cast his thoughts back. "They were after Naruto," he stated, remembering what the Jounin had said, what his brother had said. They wanted Naruto because of their organisation and their organisation wanted... Naruto's birthday was October Tenth, same day as the Kyuubi's attack. His mother had something Sealed in her, something sentient that broke free that day with outside help from an Uchiha. An Uchiha who reportedly had the Ultimate Sharingan, one powerful enough to control a Tailed Beast.
"Naruto's a Jinchuuriki, like his mother before him, they both held the Kyuubi, that's why the Akatsuki were after him!" he exclaimed in realisation, making everyone in the room go tense before.
"Kushina-hime had the Kyuubi?" Kakashi and Genma chorused in surprise.
"What an interesting little gathering this is, Tsunade-hime."
Harry's blood ran cold at the voice behind them, issuing from the broken doorway, feeling something rising up in her mind.
Tsunade scowled, "Danzou."
Yeah, cliff hanger. Because I'm about to pass out over my keyboard. Night everyone, enjoy the chapter.
(CRAWLS INTO BED FOR SLEEPS)(looks at clock) ... Huh, wow. Seven pages in four hours, not bad.
Author Note: Sorry about the delay guys, moved house and the internet people screwed us over a barrel. Apparently our internet provider fucked up so we're looking at August-September before I get internet back. We're thinking of changing providers. But have this in the mean time.
Tsunade could have smacked a bitch. "I cleared the fucking tower for a reason! Where the hell are my ANBU, why didn't they stop you?" she snarled. This was supposed to be a closed meeting, hence the emptying of the tower and why it was so important for her to kick Konohamaru out of the office quickly – she wouldn't have been so harsh with him if it weren't important that she got the place checked for Fuuinjutsu and such before she started this meeting.
Danzou stepped forward, only to stop as Jiraiya stepped forward, arms folded, face grim as he tilted his head and arched an eyebrow. Warning him without words that any aggressive movement toward the blonde woman would result in immediate protective measures – and Jiraiya's idea of protective measures usually involved giant toads, crushing and or being set on fire. The one armed elder sniffed and brushed off the non-verbal threat.
"That is the thing, Tsunade-hime. They aren't your ANBU yet," he pointed out slowly.
"This is a closed meeting, Shimura," the blonde woman growled, "Meaning classified!"
He sneered, "Unfortunately, Tsunade-hime, you don't have the authority to host one of those, or say who and who cannot be present. You aren't Hokage yet," he pointed out scathingly before brushing her off, his eyes flicking over those present. Toad Sage, Copy Nin, Surviving Yondaime Guard, the Loyal Uchiha, Haruno, the Jinchuuriki and... "I received intelligence of an unknown female wandering unchecked through the streets of Konoha. Not to mention her coincidental resemblance to the Uzumaki child. Amongst others," he added, flicking his eyes meaningfully at Jiraiya. The white haired Sage merely raised an eyebrow.
"Neechan?" Attention diverted from Danzou with an almost jarring click at the sound of Naruto's voice, high with concern as he cradled his sister's cheeks.
For Harry, she was completely oblivious to the clamour starting up around her. Too busy trying to deal with the whirlwind of memories and emotions that was Kabuto's mind as his whipped itself into a storm – bursting out of its room to lash out at her mind. She was completely unaware of the blood that ran like a river from her nostrils, or the slow ooze from her ruptured ears.
You used to be called the 'Walking Maiden', and now you're just a babysitter. I haven't seen you in a while... but you look somewhat worn out Nonou.
I think it would be easy for a thief to enter the orphanage...
You should be careful, they might kidnap your children too. There are many ways to employ kids without a family or an identity.
One of our men died to get that piece of information. I'll get one of your kids to replace him.
The new Jinchuuriki for the Hachibi is a young Chuunin by the name Kira Bii. Here is the full profile you requested. He's set to partner with Jounin Heavy Combat specialist A. The majority of his information is classified. My apologies, Danzou-sama, this was the totality I could gather on Jounin A.
Observe, Kabuto. Hang in the back, behind the treeline and study Hanzou's methods and attacks. When the time is right, we will take Ame no Kuni. After the Salamander has removed the pestilence that is Akatsuki's Yahiko. We can't afford a Martyr to rally the people against the Leaf.
Not bad kid. I'm surprised you were able to escape my fire attack!
The defection of Aka no Sasori from Sunagakure no Sato – it seems as though he had some kind of altercation with Suna Elder Chiyo. His paternal Grandmother.
Who... are you...?
I'll be straight-forward. ROOT decided to get rid of both you and Mother. You were too skilled as Spies... and now you know too much.
At times, information can be more powerful than weapons and Jutsu... They currently see you as dangerous.
Long and slow brainwashing... it's one of ROOT's favourite tricks.
I will protect you from Danzou. I'll give you a new background. As a child you were found in the Battle of Kikyou Pass and raised by the Captain of the Medical Team. When you go back to Danzou's place, on the surface you will be the child of Captain Nonou Yakushi. From now you are reborn as Kabuto Yakushi.
Memories, voices, images, emotions! They whipped and howled through her mind, scathing the walls and scratching at the tapestries. Grisly scenes of dead bodies, living bodies, eyes the colour of blood being plucked from their skulls, pure white orbs that glowed with an inner light, implanted into the faces of children with a shadowy figure stood in the background. Children taken from the crib. Technique Scrolls stolen in the dead of night. Screaming as needles tore flesh and injected Chakra infused Ink into Seals across flesh and muscle.
Brutal training. Torture. Murder. Passing out orders to kill. Itachi's face. A boy she knew was called Shisui – his face bloody and his eyesocket a gaping red and empty maw.
The bodies of women, children, the elderly, the healthy, the Uchiha Clan littering the streets like a mockery of discarded gum wrappers on Dudley's bedroom floor.
This is the least we can do... to protect the Leaf!
She had to get away from him! Had to escape! Get Naruto somewhere safe! Get the children somewhere safe! Away from him! Get away from Danzou! Escape! Escape NOW!
She lunged forward, slipping past Tsunade where she flung her arms out and swept the three Genin against her, varying squeaks and yelps of surprise drowned out in the sound of Tsunade and Jiraiya's calls for her to stop – before they were Apparated away. Drowning the world away in a crack and rush of displaced air. Away to the only place in Konoha that she knew of, the only place where Danzou had no control and no operatives – he had killed them all the day he betrayed Mother, betrayed Kabuto and Nonou.
The group of four landed clumsily on the roof of the Hospital, Harry falling to his hands and knees vomiting hard enough to spit up blood as he trembled and sweated under the onslaught of memories. Thankfully, she'd released the kids before she ralphed so none of them got covered in the stuff – though with how Naruto was fluttering around him and fussing he may end up slipping up in the stuff.
"Neechan! What's wrong?" Naruto begged, hands gently touching here and there, almost afraid of breaking her as he took to pulling her hair aside so it wouldn't trail in the small pile of blood streaked bile.
"What the hell kind of technique was that?" Sasuke spluttered in horror whipping around wildly.
"We-we're back at the Hospital," Sakura gaped, "That's... half a mile from the Hokage's office!"
"In just a split second..." Sasuke breathed, still staring around, his eyes wide.
Harry coughed and spat a mix of blood and bile to the side, "I... I want you all to listen," he rasped, looking up at the three Genin. "I need one of you to go and find Yamanaka Inoichi. Tell him that something triggered Kabuto's memories and now it's all going crazy mad in my head. Hurry. I'm going to need help to get it all under control again, he's got some pretty strong memories and emotions about that bandaged guy. I need someone else to fetch a Medic Nin who specialises in Head Trauma. Tsunade and Shizune would be best but they're probably busy and too far away." He swallowed, bowing his head as he tried to dredge up the words, "I – think this is an aneurysm. Or something? I don't know. But I need some medical help."
"I'll get Yamanaka-san," Sakura volunteered, "I know all the short cuts to Ino-pig's place and her Dad's usually in the shop this time of day," she added, glancing at the sky before turning and running to the side of the roof and using her Chakra to race down the side of it. She didn't wait for Sasuke's approval of her plan, she knew she was the best person for this job.
"I'll get the Medic," Sasuke agreed. He saw enough of them the first time he had been under the Tsukuyomi technique years ago. He had the Trauma Ward memorised down to the air ducts he used to escape once. He turned and ran back into the stair-well, planning on grabbing Kusushi-san. He was the most down to earth and prepared of the Trauma Medics he knew, the man was get good with delicate work which often meant he was sent out on missions where severe injuries were a high possibility.
"What about me, Neechan? What can I do to help?" Naruto asked, rubbing her back, desperately wanting to do something but being unsure of how to help or what to do. This was just like when his brain broke itself back when they were hunting for Baachan.
"Keep me awake. Talk to me. Tell... tell me about Konoha, the streets, the people. Tell me about Team 7 and your time at the Academy. Umino-sensei seemed kind, is he really?" Harry asked, having to pause a little sometimes to force his words out coherently. He was starting to slur his speech. Not good.
He nodded and used his sleeve to mop up as much blood as possible, already off and talking about his time at the Academy, about Umino Iruka, the rest of the Rookies he graduated with and how they behaved in school. He kept his voice low so as not to damage her ears further, but he didn't let her drop off, didn't let her sleep.
His orange sleeve was scarlet and brown by the time Sasuke returned with the Medic Nin, a rather pleasant faced man in white scrubs and glasses. Barely a second later, Yamanaka Inoichi appeared with Haruno in a whirlwind of leaves.
"We really need to stop meeting this way, Uzumaki-chan," the blond Yamanaka stated with a wry grin as he stepped through the scorched doors of her mental scape. The girl in question was jumping around catching small white cards that wildly flew through the air, slashing into the walls of her mind leaving ugly tears. She dropped to the ground and narrowed her eyes at him, she looked tired and more than a little worse for wear.
"I'm not exactly happy about it either Yamanaka-san. I didn't expect to encounter someone so foul in Konoha. That man should be arrested for everything he's done," she spat. She had half a mind to say he deserved the Kiss but given how she only knew information from Kabuto's point of view, from what Orochimaru had told him, perhaps she was being too hasty in calling for his execution in such a way. Knowing both sides of the story would be good.
"May I ask who you're talking about?" Inoichi asked, frowning at the chaos around him. It looked like the stolen memories had been triggered into violent chaos, they had been disconnected but now looked to be trying to reconnect forcefully within her mind, as if attempting to take control of it and force action or reaction. In this case... violence. It looked like a broken Attack Trigger he often found within black-band Iwa Sleeper Nin, the ones who were sent on suicide missions with the sole purpose of killing one high-priority target before being struck down. Often triggered by sound or a specific verbal tic unique to the target. Sometimes, if the Medic Nin implanting the Trigger were skilled enough, it could even be triggered by a specific scent or symbol.
The girl glanced over at him and blew a strand of hair off her face, she flipped through the cards in her hand until she found a specific one and flicked it to him. "Shimura Danzou. He's responsible for..." she trailed off, frowning and scowling, "Blood line theft, child abduction, grave robbing, assassination of Konoha citizens, illegal genetic experimentation. He carried out unauthorised missions, undermined the Sandaime Hokage, attempted to undermine Chichiue, worked with Orochimaru in his experiments, aided Salamander Hanzou in attacking the fledgeling Akatsuki – thus turning them into a legitimate threat against Konoha, he fucked around with Kabuto to such an extent that he drove him straight into Orochimaru's willing grasp and turned him into what basically amounts to an S-ranked threat to our country. Imagine what would have happened if Kabuto had decided to share all his classified information with Iwagakure or Kirigakure, or even Kumogakure. Konoha would have been trashed and destroyed within a month."
Inoichi was white by the time the girl had finished explaining. He knew that Danzou was often up to no good but this took the biscuit. The man was on the Council of Elders, his authority was limited to advising the Hokage only. True, in order to affectively ADVISE, he had to be privy to not only their Spy Network's classified information, but also as much of Konoha's dirty secrets and foreign affairs as possible – they were basically secondary Hokages' who took over as a group should the current Hokage fall. It sounded as if Danzou had been acting as a Hokage from the background, in secret and working with some of their worst criminals.
"What bloodlines have been stolen?" he asked, rolling his sleeves up and getting to work, he coated his hands with Chakra, providing a barrier between his mind and the memories he was handling. Given how the memories were attempting to reconnect, they needed to not only break the connections again, but order them before Sealing them and then removing them. Complete removal was impossible and in this girl's case... Inoichi was beginning to think that Sealing them away would be a shame. Most people's minds were not able to handle so much information so affectively. Her mind was still functioning even with a second one trying to enforce his will over her own. She had managed to maintain an affective control over herself and responded to what she saw as a threat in a passive aggressive fashion by removing what she deemed to be the high-priority targets from the area and taking them to a perceived safe location. In other words, she removed the only Kekkei Genkai user from the area along with the Jinchuuriki and a girl with strong emotional ties to them both – and thus vulnerable to Trigger commands and manipulation/brain washing that would put them both at threat. All the while with her brain trying to kill itself. Impressive.
"Several members of his private army have implanted Byakugans, one or two have Sharingans. There are children abducted from both Clans and techniques stolen from both your family and others," she explained taking up an oddly sleek looking broomstick and mounting it of all things. Inoichi stared for a moment until with a small flex of her legs she was airborne, the broomstick easily baring her up through the air by its own power. He gaped as suddenly she turned into some kind of airborne hunter and scooped up card after card after card with falcon-like dives and sweeps, hands lashing out and snatching them out of the air like a Jounin did a Genin's wild kunai throw. "He himself has both Sharingans and Mokuton," she finished making Inoichi drop the memory he had just picked up.
"Mokuton?" he echoed in horror.
She nodded, catching the last of the wildly flying cards and coming to a stop, hovering in front of him. "Kabuto worked with Orochimaru on his Shodai experiments. A number of the children provided for the project were from Danzou's private army. When the Sandaime caught him and ran him off, he Sealed the labs. When word reached Danzou that a single child remained alive, Kabuto implanted the cells within his ruined arm at his command and Orochimaru's agreement. They were both curious about the results." She didn't add that Kabuto had been secretly hoping that it would kill the old man who murdered Mother.
The Yamanaka shook his head, "I... Let's get this all sorted out. Then we'll take the information for study in the T and I division," he told her, picking up the fallen memory again.
She nodded and moved away on her broomstick.
For the next few hours they gathered and organised the chaotic pieces of Kabuto's mind. Inoichi saw more of young Miss Uzumaki's mind and couldn't help but dip a finger into one or two memories, learning more about the young lady and the world she had been hiding in. He learned about her cooking and cleaning like a slave for her family, living in a cupboard. Her life wasn't as unhappy as most, but it was heartbreakingly akin to that of her younger brother's. The cold eyes, the judgemental comments, the emotional abuse and bullying from those who should have taken care of her. He saw incredible technology that if utilised within Konoha would truly turn them into an incredible military super-power. It would cement their position as a nation that you did not want to attack. No one would risk War with them.
He learned about the people she essentially could call her Genin Team, the red haired boy with the tactical mind that would have Shikaku itching to challenge him to a game of Go – after explaining the rules to him – and a young girl with enough intelligence that would make her a good fit for any intelligence based division within the Village. He learned that she was the best flier in her home, that she became the youngest Seeker in over a hundred years – a position that involved retrieving a tiny golden orb in what basically amounted to a low-level battlefield. He was betting that she had some form of Fuuton Affinity.
Eventually they both managed to gather everything up and disconnect it into one of the side rooms. He watched in curiosity as the girl commanded two suits of armour to stand guard outside and placed a portrait guardian over the door in order to prevent any more break outs.
"Thank you, that feels a lot better," the girl stated leaning back against the wall.
He shrugged a shoulder, "It was educational." He had deeply enjoyed the chance to explore such a complex mind. "Unfortunately, we're going to have to take you to the T and I division immediately. His mind is disconnected right now but there could be another trigger – we should deal with this ASAP."
A grimace of discomfort wrote itself across her face, "Oh, very well," she muttered unhappily. He refrained from patting her on the head like he would his Ino-chan. Having seen her memories, he felt a tad protective of her, not to mention she was one of Minato and Kushina's little ones – whom he went to the Academy with. He had always had a few suspicions about Naruto, but suspicions weren't good enough, so he just kept his eye on him and gave his Ino the hiding of a lifetime when he caught her bullying him once. He would not accept that kind of behaviour from her, ever. No matter who it was she was abusing. Now that he knew that the boy was his Classmate's son, and not just the Kitsune replicating his face onto it's host to spite them as the rumours howled, Inoichi would be keeping a much closer and much more protective eye on him.
His shoulder went cold and the distinct static feeling of someone touching his physical body shuddered through his mental projection. "We should go, it seems as though the ANBU are here and require our attention," he told her. She sighed and slid down the wall, looking grey and more than a little tired, rubbing at one of Kushina's green-green eyes. He smiled a little wryly. She was a little too old to be giving piggy-backs but he did slip his arm under her waist and lift her easily off the ground and back to her feet. "Come on, they're getting impatient." The cold on his shoulder was steadily getting uncomfortable and tingly to the point of stinging.
She gave him an odd look and stepped away, out of arms reach and he had to refrain from frowning a little at the reminder of her ingrained reactions from childhood.
The headache was dull but the sunlight still hurt like a bitch. She groaned weakly, face feeling tacky and stiff.
"Neechan?" He heard the tremulous whimper of his younger brother.
"Please, Uzumaki-kun, she'll be fine but her head is rather sensitive. It's best she stay lying down and not be disturbed," a second, older, voice soothed and scolded in equal measure. It was smooth and low. Must have been the Medic Nin that Sasuke collected.
"Sorry Kusushi-sensei, Uzumaki-chan needs to come to Interrogation. We need to extract those memories for study and Seal the more emotionally charged information," a third voice, Inoichi, broke in. He sounded a little rough voiced but apologetic enough.
"No!" Naruto hissed lowly, sounding more threatening than she had ever heard him. "Until she's better, Neechan isn't going anywhere!" he snarled and she felt air shift over her skin and could tell Naruto had taken a defensive position above her.
"Naruto!" Inoichi barked, sounding even more severe than he had when they first met in the Interrogation room. "She needs to have these memories dealt with or she will relapse when a memory with particularly strong emotions attached to it triggers!"
"Please! Ino told me some really bad things can happen when memories are messed with!" Haruno's voice piped up anxiously.
Flinching, he opened his eyes, cringing away from the bright sunlight. Naruto was crouched above him, hands twitching towards his Shuriken Holsters, but thankfully hadn't drawn any weapons. His sleeves and clothes were slathered with blood – her blood. No wonder he was so distressed with the idea of Inoichi taking him away from the Medic Nins. He could see the pleasant faced Medic Nin with Sasuke hovering behind him, Inoichi stern faced bearing down on Naruto like a disappointed parent with Haruno stiff and anxious behind him, wringing her hands, and a pair of white animal masked ANBU off to the side observing behind their sightless eye-slits.
She shifted and sat up, wrapping an arm around the blond twelve-year-old's waist and pulled him down against her in a hug. She couldn't have spoken anything if she wanted to, too tired. But cuddling wasn't out of the question. It seemed to shut him up as he shifted and clung tightly to her clothing. He looked up at Inoichi and nodded tiredly before lying his head down on top of Naruto's spiky mane, burying his nose in the coarse hair.
Kusushi pushed his glasses up, "Perhaps a compromise," he offered. "As Uzumaki-kun is concerned with Namikaze-chan's health, I will go with her into Interrogation in order to guarantee her health. Is that acceptable?" he suggested with a raised eyebrow.
All eyes turned to the siblings, the tired girl with her faced buried in her brother's hair, a pair of sapphire eyes peeking out from over her shoulder. "Can I go too?" he asked quietly.
Anyone else would have been worried with how attached the Jinchuuriki was being to the relatively unknown girl, but Inoichi could only sigh in mild relief. Having witnessed her memories, he knew she would die to protect him and work solely towards his happiness and well-being. Hari would never betray Naruto. And Naruto would never betray Konoha. With them like this, someone would finally take care of Naruto properly. With some personal support, he would likely blossom into quite the fearsome Shinobi. And given how Hari was, she would be taking Sasuke under her wing as well. Sakura had a family, but they didn't quite understand her drive to be a Shinobi – as much as they accepted and were proud of her, they still didn't understand what she faced every time she stepped outside of the village gates. Unless Sakura had problems at home, Hari would be a support in a distant way. She wouldn't be family.
Inoichi repressed a grin when the mental image of Kakashi being mothered was added. The white haired Jounin would join the brood when Hari got a better idea of how damaged he was. She wasn't the motherly type, but she cared, cared enough to do something which very few people in the Jounin's life did.
"Yes, it's fine. Please come along. Are you two going to tackle my legs if I tell you to stay here?" Inoichi asked, looking at the remaining two Genin. Sakura nodded firmly, eyes flicking to the blonde haired girl with a wince of guilt. Sasuke folded his arms and didn't say anything, face stony, neither agreeing or disagreeing. Mainly because he didn't know how he felt about this whole thing.
The two faceless ANBU exchanged glances. One turned and raced off while the other stepped forward and gently picked the two siblings up, not even bothering to try and pry the Genin off the blonde girl – Harry guessed they had tried to do it before and gotten bitten for their efforts (there was a nasty looking bite mark on his upper arm). Naruto sniffed a little and burrowed back into her, arms and legs squeezing tightly.
By the time they arrived, Jiraiya was waiting for them with an impatient look on his face. The second the ANBU appeared, his arms were empty and the Toad Sage had both of his student's children bundled up in his arms. Inoichi blinked in surprise, the ANBU flexed his empty arms with an almost comical look of surprise as the Toad Sage bent his head over the two. Forehead pressing against the back of Naruto's skull and Hari's forehead. He was fairly certain that when he saw Hari's nose start to bleed, his heart stopped. Then she flung herself forward, gathering up the kids and vanished. Vanished while suffering some kind of mental trigger – likely from Kabuto's mind, which if it regenerated like his body, had the high risk of possessing her – thus the reason for abducting the Uchiha as well.
But here she was, tired and weak, Naruto wrapped around her, protective and scowling with Inoichi and the rest of Team 7 flanking him.
"Where were they?" he asked, glancing over at Inoichi.
"The hospital roof. Kabuto's memories had a negative reaction to Danzou. With good reason from what I could see. We'll talk more inside. Cat, could you go and fetch my cousin please?" Buta was better at memory extraction than he was.
Jiraiya nodded and turned on heel, without waiting for them, and marched inside towards one of the isolation cells for friendlies. He wasn't leaving these kids for a single second until Tsunade had dealt with Danzou.
Following after him, Inoichi found his palms sweating at the thought of what they were going to find sleeping within Kabuto's mind.
Well, here we go, chapter fourteen and Danzou's crimes are about to be blown WIDE open. I have plans and this will be important. Important for Harry's future in Konoha.
Cookies to anyone who figures it out.
Tomorrow is final result day for my Uni Work. According to the website it should have been yesterday but we got e-mails saying tomorrow on Wednesday 18th. I'm more than a little anxious.
WARNING FOR ANKO'S MOUTH.
Unusually for a member of the Yamanaka clan, Buta was a very powerfully built man that towered over even Morino Ibiki. He made a name for himself in the Third Great Shinobi War as a tank, scout and internal insurgent. His skill at memory extraction and understanding allowed him to not only understand all that there was about an enemy Shinobi upon possession, but to also effectively impersonate them long enough to get into enemy territory and go on a killing spree using their own techniques and Kekkei Genkai. They called him the Change of Heart because any Shinobi that encountered him on the battlefield would betray their own – and hold no memory of their actions while he was in control.
Jiraiya knew him fairly well, Buta was usually amidst those first in line at his Icha Icha booksignings – second only to Kakashi and Anko (Hiru-sensei usually got private signings, even previews of the next books). He had a killer sense of humour but when it came to his job, the mask slammed up so hard and fast it would give you bruises just talking to him.
Hence why he tried not to bristle too angrily when the man marched into the room, picked Naruto up by the scruff of his neck – ignoring the whirlwind of fists and feet – and dropped him outside the door without a backwards glance. Leaving just Jiraiya, Inoichi, Ibiki, Kusushi, Buta and Hari in the room.
The bear-like blond man glanced around, "I doubt her mind is capable of this many intrusions," he rumbled slowly.
"Kusushi-sensei will be remaining here to maintain her health," Inoichi explained, "As for our presence, Uzumaki-chan's mental fortitude is immense, she will easily be able to handle the strain of multiple intrusive presences as long as we take care not to damage anything." Her mind showed no signs of the repeated attempts at possession he witnessed in her memories, let alone the mental intrusions she suffered at the hands of the dark haired man she called 'Professor Snape'.
Buta stared at his cousin, an eyebrow moving up into his hairline. Inoichi chuckled, "Don't worry. She's had mental intrusions a lot more traumatic than anything you can do," he assured his cousin. There was a reason why Buta stuck to front-line combat, his mental techniques were powerful, but brutal. He was a bulldozer who often destroyed more than he intended to upon possession – hence why his victims tended not to remember what happened when he controlled them. Mental trauma prevented the memories from being catalogued. But Uzumaki-chan's mind was resilient enough to handle his cousin's presence, and it wasn't like she would try to fight back either.
"She's gone mind to mind with the Kyuubi, repeatedly. You're not all that scary Buta-kun," Jiraiya pointed out impatiently. And that was that.
"Right, we're going in, Uzumaki-chan will guide us to where she's sealed Kabuto's memories within her mind. We've yet to go through them and I had intended on leaving things to her as going through memories with so many foreign presences in her mind is dangerous. However, the events of earlier today have necessitated the risk. Kusushi-sensei, please maintain her vitals and check for any brain haemorrhaging. If things go wrong, I want Anko and ANBU Cat to guard the room, send for Tsunade-hime or her assistant Shizune-san. Get Uzumaki-kun to do it if needs be, he will certainly be determined to help." The boy would probably abduct Tsunade right in front of Danzou if he had to. "Ibiki, Jiraiya, as you two aren't seasoned mind-walkers, I want you to stick on our coattails, don't touch anything and keep your Chakra steady. Buta, I hate to say it, but keep your hands to yourself and be careful how to speak to Uzumaki-chan, she's stable right now but her mind is volatile. If she takes you as hostile, you'll end up with mind burn." Everyone nodded as Inoichi gave out their orders.
He turned and knelt down beside the blonde girl's bed, she had been quietly watching them with half-lidded eyes, worryingly still on the prison issue grey bedsheets.
"Ready?" he asked, she sighed through her nose and nodded, arm shifting and stretching out. Skin contact wasn't necessary but it made a stronger bond when he could pass directly from body to body without needing to lose energy traversing empty space. He felt Jiraiya and Ibiki plant hands on his shoulders and knew that Buta was right behind them, one hand on each man's back. Mentally, Inoichi would go first, opening the door as painlessly as possible for the others while Buta would bulldoze forward sweeping both Ibiki and Jiraiya up along with him in the Chakra link. It was a bit messy and would give them the headache of a few too many Sake the night before, but nothing a mug of coffee and a plate of dango couldn't resolve.
Tsunade never had the best of tempers, she knew that, but what so very few also forgot was that she also had the best control and the best poker face of her old team-mates. Only Jiraiya beat her on that front, and only because he had more practice. But either way, here she stood, leaning against the ruin of her Sensei's desk with the three Elders stood in front of her, their wrinkled up faces even more prune-like with disapproval.
"You're a bit late, Danzou," she told him lightly as she pushed herself up and turned away from him. Everything was a subtle power play, from the way she stood, deliberately showing her back, the sound of her voice, even the lack of honorific she attached to his name – far from her usual disrespect, no, this was calculated. Like surgery against a poison, or weaving a delicate Genjutsu that would shatter like a frozen spider's web at the first wrong move. Danzou was no stranger to them, but he was a butcher with them. He worked from the shadows but left his sticky dirty fingerprints on everything he touched – fingerprints so bathed in shadow that only those who knew who they were looking for could find them. And within the next four hours, Tsunade would know every dirty fingerprint he'd left behind in Konoha's Black Files.
The elderly man arched an eyebrow, "How so, Tsunade-hime?" he questioned, voice lightly reprimanding almost as much as it was mirthful. Like she was a naughty child he found amusing or cute by being so disrespectful.
That tune would change soon enough. Already her mind was working in layers and layers, the way only Genjutsu specialists, Iryou-nin and Fuuinjutsu masters managed to make work. Ways of catching the slippery eel, ways of shutting down his ANBU, ways of executing or assassinating him if needs be, how to save face in front of the other nations, how to maintain the spy-network he had built up within the last forty years (it would be a shame to lose such a resource).
She shuffled the papers Shizune had delivered not too long ago.
Upon the disappearance of Team 7 and the Spit-Streak, Danzou sneered and made his dramatic exit, dropping his ominous 'blah-blah ruin of Konoha blah-blah Sarutobi's taint blah weakling blah'. She had been a bit busy swallowing back her nausea over the fresh bloodstains on her office floor and gesturing Jiraiya to find the missing teenagers and at Kakashi to gather any trustworthy ANBU he knew to go and find them as well. Shizune had then returned with the hospital's blood-test results and a rather flabbergasted head of the hospital demanding to know it it was true. If the Demon Brat really was the son of the Yondaime and a real Uzumaki descendent, if the young lady really, honestly and truly was of the Yondaime's line as well. He had vomited into a waste-paper basket when she confirmed it. She then learned that, while he may not have condoned it, he never stopped any of his Medics refusing the whiskered boy service when he was injured or from ignoring him when they were forced to deal with him.
She then let him leave, without ordering his silence – knowing that by the end of the week, the majority of the village would likely be aware of the truth. That would resolve half the trouble the Council would no doubt give her about revealing the truth – and really, she understood that Sarutobi was worried about Iwa and Kumo wanting the boy (for different reasons) but with the whole village looking to protect the Yondaime's legacy, it was just stupid to keep quiet about it and risk him turning into that bloodthirsty psycho that Suna had created out of their Jinchuuriki. The Ichibi was one thing, she could handle the Ichibi easily, Jiraiya even more so. The Nine Tails? Not so much. If she had inherited her Grandfather's Mokuton it may have been possible, but her grandmother's Uzumaki genetics had ended up superseding his in terms of Kekkei Genkai. She still possessed his regenerative abilities, but they were so much weaker in comparison to his that it couldn't really be called the same thing. She was his grand-daughter in name and blood only, she had none of his skill, ability, charisma or any of those things that made him great.
Which was why she was going to ignore his shadow entirely and be the best that she could be. She would be great – without his special talents and gifts. She would rise above him on her own terms, in blood, sweat and tears.
But she never said that it would be her own blood and tears.
She lifted the blood-test, "I hate politics and I suck at it, so let's cut the crap." A lie, but they didn't know that. She was good at politics, true she hated it, but she was good at it. Hard not to be when you sat at your Grandfather's feet and witnessed him strong-arm the other great Nations into some semblance of peace. "Your attempts to delay my inauguration so you can get your private ANBU forces to forcefully interrogate Hari are about as obvious as those bandages you insist on covering yourself with," she told him blandly. And really, with the length of time he had been without an eye and without the use of his arm, he could have found something other than bandages to use. Even Kakashi had more imagination – using his Hitai Ate to hide his Sharingan instead of bandages.
Homura and Koharu frowned but she didn't give them a chance to speak.
"But as I said before, you're a bit too late. For the last three hours I've had Yamanaka Inoichi, Morino Ibiki, Jiraiya and Yamanaka Buta combing through the girl's mind for anything of interest. And had the head of the hospital run her blood-test along side Shizune to confirm the test I performed earlier. Here," she said, offering them the folder, face bland and uncaring as she handed over the proof that Hari was not only the Yondaime's daughter, but she was also Kushina's daughter. And she was old enough to know it. The three elders scanned the information with crow-like gazes before turning their attention back to the blonde woman. Tsunade smiled thinly. "There is no longer any doubt who she is, and any attempts to spirit her away for any reason will be treated as if it were an abduction attempt on the Sandaime's grandson. So keep your hands to yourself, Danzou. Or I'll break them," she added with narrowed brown eyes. Naruto was family, that made Hari family. And Tsunade had lost too much family to risk losing any more.
There was a beat before the one-armed man bowed his head somewhat, wrinkles tight with displeasure, "Of course, Tsunade-sama." Ah, he was acknowledging her victory? That was unexpected. She kept her expression stony as he made his customary excuses and left, Homura and Koharu following behind with their usual parting graces. She waited until she could no longer hear their dwindling footsteps before sighing and shaking her head. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
"Genma," she called, knowing the brunet was stood outside, standing guard as he had done for Minato so many years ago. It made her smile a little on the inside, she wouldn't have to look far for the Captain of her personal Guard. "I want you to keep an eye on the office. Don't let anyone in or out. I'm going to T and I to see how things are going."
He saluted, thumping a fist to his chest in an archaic but more respectful gesture than she had received from anyone in Konoha yet, "Understood, ma'am. Also," he smirked, "Very nicely done, Tsunade-sama."
She smirked in return, glowing a little under the honest praise. "It was, wasn't it?" she decided as she left the room, preening a little at her success. It was nice to have that feeling again after so long of drowning herself in Sake and failure and pain. Maybe coming back really was worth the headache. Already those kids... that stubborn brat Genin and his snooty but well-meaning sister were making her... better than she was before. Better than the bitter drunk she used to be, the woman who lashed out and tried to hurt others as much as she was hurting. A woman she would have pitied twenty years ago.
She chuckled as she Shunshin'ed to the appropriate entrance and let herself in, feeling the Fuuinjutsu markers on the wall identify and allow her entrance. Once inside, she moved towards the chambers they set aside for their own people and spotted ANBU Cat and Mitarashi Anko stood/lounging outside one of the nicer rooms.
"S'up, Sexy-Kage-sama?" Anko chirped mirthfully from her spot on a chair, chewing on the wooden skewer of her long eaten dango. Tsunade refrained from pointing out that if she kept doing it she would get splinters in her tongue, mainly because Anko would make a great many jokes about oral and licking her out that she may have to put the Special Jounin into the Intensive Care Unit for – not to mention Jiraiya was behind that door and she was fairly certain the conversation would end up in Icha Icha.
"How are they doing in there?" she asked instead.
Anko snorted, "Finished about twenty minutes ago. They sent several of the blond Gaki's clones to get munchies and they've been talking about what to do with the information ever since. And how to handle Missy." The dusky haired girl made a scoffing noise, face twisting in disgust. "What a waste of talent," she muttered unhappily, exchanging a mutinous glower with Cat – who judging from her body language was almost as displeased with it as Anko was.
"Explain," Tsunade demanded, fighting the urge to rub her eyes.
"Buta and Ibiki have been pushing for a complete Seal of the girl's memories. Everything she managed to rip out of Kabuto's mind. Inoichi and Jiraiya have been trying to shoot them down but given how the girl isn't even a Shinobi, it's hard going. Ibiki's also been pretty damn insistent that we get the technique she used to steal those memories shut down somehow. Sayin' how it's a threat to the security of Konoha and all that." Anko made a sound of disgust in the back of her throat. "If 'Chino is sayin' the girl is capable, then I say she's capable. No offence to 'Biki, but 'Chino knows what he's talking about when it comes to minds. When it comes to mental fortitude and shit."
"And Jiraiya?" Tsunade asked.
Anko shrugged, "He's been quiet, weird enough. I think he's got at least eight ideas chasin' their tails in that bushy brain o'his, but it's hard to tell when he gets that stony expression on his face."
"Awake in here. The others have all shufted into one of the secure Lounges. The kids are in here too. Last I heard, Missy was giving Pinkie a chewing out for stabbing her earlier. There was tears," Anko added with a sneer of disgust. She was of the opinion there should have been blood – some people needed to spill blood to really understand what the problem was, she should know, she'd shed a fuck ton of it working under that cunt Orochimaru.
Tsunade's eyebrow shot up, she'd known that the Spit-streak had been stabbed, she hadn't thought it had been Haruno. She would have to have words with her at a later point. That sort of behaviour, to civilians, would provoke pure outrage and cries for disciplinary actions. The Shinobi would shrug and say Hari should have been more observant and dodged. Given how she wasn't a Shinobi though, the line became a little blurred and Haruno would have gotten a write up and a black mark on her record. But if Hari wasn't making a fuss then Tsunade didn't see any reason to add to her already almost mountainous pile of papers – and given the girl's performance against Kabuto, she really should have been more careful and dodged it, she was fast enough to put Haruno on her ass before the girl was even aware of her moving.
Anko grinned ghoulishly, "I know, right?" she crowed, interpreting her new Hokage's facial expression into... whatever it was. The way her former team-mate's student worked, mentally, was still an area that Tsunade was afraid of treading. She was too scared of finding out how badly Orochimaru had tortured and twisted the young girl who even now was barely hanging on and trying to rebuild herself.
Oh well, it took a mountainous level of pressure to compress coal into diamonds.
"Alright. I'll check in on them and then see what Inoichi and Jiraiya have to say before coming to a decision," the blonde woman decided before heading into the room, the closing door cutting off Anko's salacious and witty retort before it could taint the delicate ears of the three Genin.
The three of them were sat on hard uncomfortable plastic chairs around the grey bed, Hari was sat up looking a little pale and shaky as she listened to them argue and chatter. Tsunade arched an eyebrow in mild alarm. The girl was shaking ever so slightly, her eyes were a touch glassy but most damning of all was the fact that her legs were completely still, not a twitch or a tremble. Striding forward, ignoring the Genin, she set her hand against the girl's forehead, frowning at how cool her skin was and the clammy feel of her flesh. Her hand lit up pale green.
Hm, no actual damage. Residual feed back of Chakra blocking- ah, that was it. The nerves to her legs had been pressured and pinched by the intrusion of so much foreign Chakra presences in her mind, she was temporarily paralysed. It would last an hour or two and she would be weak for the rest of the day but tomorrow she'd be right as rain.
"You'll be fine. Just some nerve pinching. Give it an hour or two and you can start walking again, slowly though. Your legs will be weak until tomorrow morning," the Medic explained easily.
Hari nodded, looking unsurprised. "Kusushi-sensei said much of the same thing," she admitted and Tsunade made a mental note to speak to him, any competent medic she could find would be a boon at this stage.
"How are you handling things?" she asked, slipping into her Commander mind-set. Having been one of the combat generals during the Second Shinobi war, it was easier to slip into that role than attempting to take her Sensei's as Hokage.
Green eyes slid away to focus on a corner on the far side of the room, no doubt gathering her thoughts. "It's... hard to say. Having seen everything... I regret... I regret killing him. Kabuto. He may have had no love for us but... he wasn't evil. He'd been used and abused and hurt so much that, I can understand where he's coming from. Why joining Orochimaru would be attractive, despite what he was doing at the time," the girl admitted, hands twisting in her blankets. "He... Danzou took him away from Mother Nonou. Took him into ROOT. He said that if Kabuto went, she could stay behind. He lied and set them up to kill each other. Nonou didn't even recognise him. ROOT had completely replaced the Kabuto she rescued with someone else, some imposter. He was betrayed on such a intimate level that it destroyed him. Orochimaru just happened to show up at the right time."
Sakura stared sniffling again, "That's horrible," she whispered. Kabuto hadn't been a bad person when they'd spoken, she had hated him when she found out he was a traitor but this... no wonder.
Tsunade sighed, "Welcome to the old school of traditional Shinobi," she stated. That was the way things were done, before the Hidden Villages. Shinobi were attached to the Daimyous and treated as disposable. They were tools who existed without honour or emotion because such things were a liability. It was a belief that had persisted from the old days with very few who actually knew why or where it came from. Just that it was from the golden age where mountains could be moved and oceans could be split. They mistakenly believed it would make them strong without understanding that it was simply an insurance mechanism created by their Lords. After all, if all emotion was removed, if you had nothing or they had something dangling above your head, why would you ever betray them if they treated you badly? It's not like you would even care. "The downside to that is, what happens when the one you betray survives. After all, you can't betray someone who has already stabbed you in the back. You're either a dead-man walking, or you've been released from your previous line of work."
Good grief Danzou. For someone who was slated as her Sensei's rival, as the one most likely to take the Hokage title away from him, he was was remarkably short sighted and ignorant about people.
"Alright, here's what's going to happen now. You four are going to stay here with ANBU guarding you. You're all high-profile targets and it's best if you stay here out of Danzou's sphere of influence." Her smile was sharp. "He's tried to have agents placed in T and I before, but part of the assignment is submitting to mandatory mental and medical examinations. He's never managed to slip someone inside so you'll be safe here. I promise."
Naruto nodded, turning strangely serious and earnest eyes on her, "Thanks Baachan," he said seriously. Taking everyone in the room aback with his show of levity. She couldn't even find the reflexive annoyance at the nickname. She nodded seriously, wondering if this was one of those changes brought about by fixing the mess someone had made of his mind. Unlike Naruto, Kushina was capable of shutting up and sensing the seriousness of a situation, she could drop the prankster spirit and turn into someone who was serious and capable.
"I'll get someone to bring you guys some food later," she promised before turning and leaving.
It looked like she would be removing Danzou sooner rather than later. But what she did with him would depend almost entirely on what information she received from Jiraiya and the others. She could see Ibiki's discomfort with allowing the girl to keep access to Kabuto's memories and knowledge if she'd formed an opinion like that – it could easily evolve into something Anti-Konoha, much like Kabuto's had, and then be passed along to Naruto. And yes, Hari was quite anti-Konoha. The difference was, Naruto would never let her do anything against the village, or be swayed against his dream. Even by her.
"Bye, Sexy-sama," Anko catcalled as the Slug Sannin departed, grinning like a chesire cat around her wooden splinter.
Tsunade only shook her head and flared her Chakra a touch. A moment later she sensed an answer from Jiraiya a few rooms down and made her way towards the source. Ibiki's office. It wasn't what you would have expected from the stoic Shinobi, but then again, it used to be Inoichi's office before he stepped down as Head of T and I. It was a circular room with red wood panneling, bookcases lined the walls filled with files – duds – and an array of squishy arm chairs and one office desk with an even squishier chair behind it.
The occupants of said room all went quiet and looked up expectantly as she entered. "Report," she demanded, not arching the eyebrow she wanted to when Inoichi quickly vacated his seat so she could sit down. She supposed she should get used to this differential treatment from her old friends, she was the Hokage now. Even if she hadn't wanted the job to begin with.
Ibiki opened his mouth to speak, only to have Jiraiya snap his head up and look intently at his old team-mate, silencing the Intelligence Specialist. "He murdered my student," the white haired Shinobi growled, filling the room with the thunderous growl. Tsunade knew she was the only one who's blood had not chilled at the sound, but that didn't mean all the hairs on her arms hadn't stood on end. Jiraiya was protective of his students, all of them, he didn't act like it, but one message from Minato was enough to have him haring back to Konoha as if the Kyuubi itself was nipping his heels. "Remember the kids in Rain, Yahiko, Nagato and Konan? Yahiko is dead. That bastard, murdered my student." Tsunade could see his eyes bleeding gold, his pupils distorting. This time her blood did run cold.
"Jiraiya, stop," she ordered softly, already seeing his fingers beginning to mutate.
"He ordered the Uchiha Massacre. It was nothing more than a cover up," the Toad Sannin continued, his voice now harsh, grating, a bass rumble of grinding boulders. The skin around his eyes was changing colour, darkening to a muddy red – maroon. His fingers were webbing and his forearms were thickening, she could see his face beginning to swell.
"Enough!" Tsunade snapped, jumping from her chair and slapping him forcefully out of his chair and into the far wall. She trembled a touch. That was the first time she had ever seen Jiraiya lose control of himself and gather Sage Chakra without Ma and Pa Toad to regulate the energy and prevent him from turning into a toad himself. He hated that form, but he still showed her and explained what would happen if he gathered too much energy and wasn't able to balance it properly.
He would turn into a Toad. And then his body would calcify into a stone statue. And he would die.
"You will get a grip! Now, Jiraiya! I need the head of my Intelligence Division and Spy Networks functioning with a cool head and an objective eye right now! Danzou's crimes go significantly further and deeper than any personal hurt to you and I!" Tsunade barked to the man who hadn't bothered to move from the floor, from the wood splinters and destroyed files. She made a mental note to requisition a new bookcase for Ibiki and send him some of her favourite Sake.
There was silence in the room, the other Shinobi were too shocked by the strange transformation the white haired Sannin was going through to even move. It was common knowledge that he didn't possess a Kekkei Genkai! It was one of those things he bragged about often. That he didn't need fancy family techniques to be awesome and he wouldn't use 'em even if he had them because he made his own and that was just how he rolled.
"He defiled your Grandfather's grave on Orochimaru's behalf. He took the Mokuton gene treatment."
Tsunade stilled at the almost guilty rumble from the splintered bookcase.
He... Her Grandfather... Orochimaru...
Killing Intent exploded off her tiny frame but she didn't say anything, or channel any Chakra. Inhaling deeply, she turned around and looked at Kusushi-sensei, "Kusushi-san, would you be so kind as to pop outside and request some tea? I need something to settle my nerves before we go any further," she told him, her voice deceptively light.
The Medic-Nin, his face chalk white with a mixture of fear and horror, nodded and quietly excused himself as Tsunade returned to her seat and sank down in silence. No one in the office moved for a time. In all honesty, they were too scared to. Tsunade was still radiating enough Killing Intent to put most Chuunin into Shikumi (Death Viewing), her hands were laced so they couldn't see just how much they were trembling with the need to wrap themselves around Danzou's throat and squeeze until he stopped twitching.
Kusushi returned, tray of tea and dango in hand, clinking ever so slightly as he trembled.
Again, in complete silence, Tsunade made her tea and took a sip. Mustering a herculean level of self control, she reigned in her Killing Intent and gave Ibiki a level expression.
"Report," she ordered slowly as Jiraiya pulled himself out of the splintered bookcase and sat down on her otherside.
This chapter was the closest to being finished so I broke my planned schedual of updates to throw it up here. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to the cinema with my friend to watch Brave 8DDD
WARNING: Character Death.
The blonde soon to be Hokage paced her office with a mutinous glower twisting her pretty-Genjutsu'd features into an expression more fitting the painted depictions of Tengu, ugly malicious crow spirits. Her office had been cleared, all the broken furniture removed and cleaned, all that remained was a low table and several traditional seiza mats. There was a tea pot and several cups on the table and the light from the slowly sinking sun cast her office in shades of gold and orange.
Apart from the Slug Sannin, there was no one else in the room.
"You... summoned us, Tsunade-hime?" sneered Danzou as he ghosted his way through her still shattered doorway, Koharu and Homura shadowing him with the silent cat-like step that no Shinobi was ever truly able to rid themselves of. It only reminded her that they were still deadly warriors, only so old because they were good enough to survive that long. Two subtle Chakra presences settled into the rafters, unable to completely hide from such finely tuned senses as a Medic Nin Sensor who'd been in at minimum of two Wars and seen over forty years of service. (Whether or not ten of those years was spent dodging Yakuza debt collectors and Missing Nin was a moot point, she still made great use of her senses.) Danzou's personal ANBU.
"Yes," she stated, steeling her nerves and not even bothering to hide the fact. Everything was dependent on the fact that she couldn't hide her feelings if she tried. Or rather, on their belief that she couldn't. "Sit, please," she added, sounding like she would rather stab them in the eye than offer them any form of hospitality. Which wasn't too far away from the truth in all honesty.
Thankfully, the three elders, arrogant, self assured and eager to rub in any failure of her's into her face so they could better cow-toe her under their sphere of power and control, eagerly took the offered place mats, sitting with their legs curled beneath them. Tsunade took her seat at the head of the table and offered them a strained smile, hands folded politely in her lap and as unthreateningly as possible.
"Tea?" she offered, gesturing to the pot which was still quietly steaming away in it's flawless white and blue patterned porcelain. There wasn't even a moment of hesitation as Koharu nodded her head imperiously. She was just as big of a tea-snob as Hyuuga Hiashi, Tsunade recalled with dull, almost guilty, amusement.
"Why have you summoned us, Tsunade-hime? You are entirely too old for tea parties," Danzou stated sharply as the Medic Nin reached for the pot. There was a moment of silence as Koharu snapped her head around and treated the one eyed Elder with a vicious scowl, every aged line of her face disapproving of his clear lack of decorum. She may have been just as invested in getting Tsunade under their thumb but manners cost nothing and Danzou's complete lack of respect for the first female Hokage was not only galling but also insulting and near-enough treasonous. Had they been Samurai, it would be enough to challenge him to a duel, or demand Seppuku.
Tsunade half snarled at him, "It is called diplomacy and manners, and if you don't shut up right now I will break this pot over your head and leave you with third degree scolds. If I'm lucky I may ruin the one eye you have left," the woman practically roared, slapping a hand on the floor which had the whole room shaking and set the delicate porcelain cups on the table rattling. There was a moment of stunned silence from the elders before that painful smile returned to the blonde's face and she held the teapot aloft once again, "Would you like some tea, Councilman Danzou?" she asked, stressing her syllables in warning.
He settled down and gestured at her silently to hurry it up, unable to hide the almost sulk in his posture as he caught the almost proud look of Utatane Koharu's face as her Team-mate's student elegantly went about pouring them a cup of the fresh brew.
"Mmm, peony white tea," the elderly woman admired, picking her cup up and inhaling the delicate fragrance.
Tsunade's smile eased a touch as she followed suit, sipping at the pale blend, "Yes. It was a gift from Inoichi's wife, apparently the flowers were of her own garden, I thought it a nice gift and a good way to start my tenure here as given our positions, I would prefer to keep all meetings between us four relaxed and impersonal," the blonde explained as she set her cup down. "Sensei didn't leave anything for a successor but I did find a few documents from when he inducted the Yondaime in. He spoke rather regretfully of his strained relationship with you and how much he valued your thoughts and ideas in regards to Konoha. I would like to avoid such discomfort or unpleasantness between us. Konoha is prosperous for now, but clearly this attack from Oto is a herald that such things will not last for much longer.
"Konoha needs to present a united front, but more than that, it truly needs to be united, even here. We cannot afford weakness," the new Hokage declared firmly, her brown eyed unwavering as she looked at Koharu, ignoring the two men who had been watching the exchange in silence.
In reality, Koharu had always been particularly close to Tsunade. The woman had given her those little touches in her training that only a Kunoichi could really give. Sarutobi-sensei tried, he did, but he just didn't quite understand why they were important, or what the best way of doing things for a girl was. Koharu had been the one to teach her those little things. Such as how to bind her breasts for training and missions so her ribs would not suffer from compression, like what plants would blacken her hair without damaging it, or how to handle that time of the month without it impacting on her mission performance – at least until she developed the Jutsu which was now a standard Kunoichi E-rank jutsu taught in the Academy. Little things that Kunoichi kept to themselves in their own little society of warrior women.
Tsunade set her cup down on the table with surprising delicacy, her hands folding in her lap as she then looked at Danzou, her expression solemn. "Councilman Danzou, I do not like you. Sensei has butted heads with you for so long that unfortunately it has bred a rather ill opinion upon myself and Jiraiya. He wrote often that you do what you do only in concern for Konoha and that is something I do understand. However, I doubt we can ever be friends but I had hoped that we could repair whatever bridges were burnt in the past. After all...
"You only stole children from prominent clans, family techniques, and consorted with Missing Nins, not to mention you have also violated my Grandfather's grave and taken part in forbidden Mokuton Gene Therapy techniques developed by Konoha's most notorious Missing Nin," she listed coolly, almost pleasantly. Enough so that it actually took them a moment to understand what she said through the pleasant hum of the room's atmosphere and the warmth the tea suffused within their bodies.
There was a pause and then Danzou's empty cup slipped from his fingers, shattering on the table as he stared at his fingers, unable to even twitch them. Koharu twitched, attempting to turn and look at the one eye'd elder only... all the nerves in her body went fuzzy and her vision began to spin. What was this? What...
Tsunade got to her feet and calmly kicked the table upwards with such force, the two Chakra signatures hiding in the rafters were crushed by it.
Koharu stared at the blonde woman with dazed eyes and realised, as she watched those delicate petal painted lips speak, this had been planned. From the second they walked into the room, she planned to put them in this position. Tsunade's eyes were cold, her mouth was smiling, backlit by the setting sun it was almost symbolic, dramatic, as the light seemed to set the younger woman's hair on fire. The end of an era, their era, the birth of a new Will of Fire.
And Koharu couldn't move. None of them could. They'd been had. Even the two ANBU Danzou had attached to him for protection due to his physical disabilities had been cleanly and efficiently taken out.
It was... flawless.
Tsunade stared down at the three Elders, paralysed by the heat activated solution she had wiped their cups with before even letting them into the room. "Genma, summon Jiraiya and the ANBU from downstairs. Have these three shipped to T and I for a full mental strip. I want to know everything. Jiraiya will be in charge. Ibiki and Buta will defer to his judgement. Is that understood?" the woman ordered as the senbon chewing Special Jounin stepped out from where he had been hidden behind the door frame, invisible to all senses but her own thanks to the Chakra suppression tag Jiraiya had planted on him.
"It shall be done, Hokage-sama," the brunet agreed, thumping his chest and bowing in respect.
She watched as Kakashi, Inoichi and Genma picked the elders up, staring into Danzou's single malevolently glittering eye. "Don't forget to strip search them. Entirely. Danzou always was proficient in Fuuinjutsu," she added as the group began to move from her office.
Kakashi and Genma exchanged looks and nodded solemnly in agreement.
"Permission to bring Hyuuga Hiashi in?" Inoichi requested, holding Koharu bridal style. As much as the elderly Kunoichi may have frustrated him something awful, especially in this latest débâcle... she was still his Hanako's Jounin sensei and ultimately the one to introduce them. Until her treason was proven, he would treat her with the respect a Kunoichi of her calibre, and a lady of her age, demanded.
"Granted. I will join you when I have the office cleared and those rats splattered across my ceiling removed," the Kage stated, waving them off.
No one in Konoha would know what happened in her office that day as the sun finally set, casting long shadows across the worn wood flooring. The Hokage's tower had tunnels leading to most key locations throughout the city. The Academy, Torture and Interrogation, the Civilian Shelters behind the Kage Mountain, the Hospital, the Code-Breakers and Archive department, ANBU offices... Anyone not already in the Torture and Interrogation Department would only hear the cover story, they would only know what she told them. And depending on what she found, she might even tell them the truth. Might.
It all depended on Danzou.
She stayed and watched as the Hunter Nin slipped silently into her office, nodding their hooded and masked faces in her direction, black painted masks putting her in mind of carrion birds as she watched them hang upside down from the ceiling and carefully extract the table, seal it, and remove all trace of the broken corpses, blood and wood splinters. Leaving nothing but broken wood. Not even a damp mark from whatever Jutsu it was they did to syphon off the blood. She would have to make a point of learning that.
"Give them a full work up. I want to know everything you can get from them," the blonde ordered, watching as the Hunter Nin nodded and vanished down the corridor, feet silent and their presence barely felt upon her senses. Konoha Hunter Nin were widely considered amongst the best, they captured every rogue ninja from Konoha save those S-ranked threats they couldn't deal with discreetly and those troublesomely lucky A-ranked Nin who kept themselves to themselves and didn't cause trouble. The moment they did, the Hunter Nin would be back, and their quarry would not be so lucky a second time. The Undertaker Squad were second only to the upper echelons of ANBU and were much more frightening and shadowy in comparison to their flashier counterparts who visibly worked as Village Security on top of being the Hokage's Black Ops division – the ones who handled the missions that legally Konoha should never have had their fingers in. And the Hunter Nin would follow and destroy all evidence of ANBU's involvement should that mission go awry.
She frowned, turning at the sound of Genma's voice, he sounded anxious and harried, not a good sign. "What is it?" she demanded, already moving towards him, readying herself just in case one of the Elders appeared in order to fight her. While she had every faith in Jiraiya and the T and I corps, the Elders had only gained such advanced years by being that good at what they did. Old and with somewhat dull edges meant nothing when you had the experience and craftiness to make up for such short-comings. And all three of them had that cunning in spades.
Genma shook his head when he saw her, "They're still restrained and under the affects of the drug, Tsunade-sama. But... you have to see this. I – I can't explain it," he told her, shaking his head. Genma had seen a lot, but this? This was something even he was finding difficult to verbalise.
"What is it?" his Kage asked again as they made their way down the stairs towards the basement entrances used by ANBU and Hunter-nin.
Genma took a deep breath as they descended into darkness – no lights were used in these tunnels, not enough air for torches or candles and electrical lights would cause a hard to explain cost on the electric bill. He lit his hand with Chakra, filling the tunnel with a quiet eerie blue glow. No one but the Hokage's Guard, ANBU, Hunter-Nin and high-ranking Jounin were to know of these tunnels unless they were Chuunin assistants to the Hokage and trusted enough with valuable message running missions.
"There's... there's a face in Shimura's arm," he managed to get out. It wasn't the rows of active Sharingan that glared out of his flesh like ruby beads of hatred, it was the face moulded into his shoulder. That familiar face, smooth despite the man's wrinkled old flesh, darker skinned and almost peaceful looking, his cheek and eye twitching on occasion. "The Shodai's face is growing out of Shimura's arm," he continued, as if trying to convince himself of what he had seen.
She faltered for a split second, stomach flipping in disgust and horror.
"His body will be burned once we've finished with the investigation," she grit out stonily. The last thing anyone wanted was some kind of undead Shodai growing out of dead tissue, especially one that had been implanted with multiple Sharingan. The Edo Tensei Kinjutsu was bad enough when it came to causing nightmares. An undead not under the control of a Jutsu was even more frightening. Cremation would be the only guarantee.
One would have thought the Torture and Interrogation department was cold stone and dank dungeons with barely any light and metal torch brackets everywhere. It couldn't have been further from the truth. It was actually quite a pleasant, if clinical, place. It looked more like a hospital clinic than a classical dungeon one would find in the Daimyou's palace.
The basement was attached to the Hunter Nin division and as they passed one of the windows, they could see a group of five Hunter Nin swarming around a pair of corpses laid out on a metal table, blood draining into beakers for analysis and the floor tiling fairly glowing with the amount of Fuuinjutsu inscribed into the ceramic. Tsunade nodded as the black garbed men and women went about their work, studying everything about her attackers, unravelling the secrets of ROOT's training methods, food consumption, Jutsu usage and drug regimen.
Genma shook his head mournfully as they passed, "They're kids," he muttered, eyes lingering on the bloody forms. Or rather, the hand he could see poking out from between the ghoulish masked Ninja. Any Ninja worth their salt could tell someone's age by the lines of their hands, and the Nin in there couldn't have been any older than a teenager.
Tsunade nodded with a soft sigh, "Danzou likes his Ninja young. They're easier to condition and brainwash," she explained bitterly, even though Genma was just as aware of it as she was. It just... It needed to be said out loud. Otherwise it would fester just beneath the surface, poisoning their thoughts.
They carried on up the stairs, leaving the grim sight behind as they stepped into a wide corridor flooded with electric lights that stung their eyes after the comfortable Chakra lit gloom of the Running tunnels. Men and women in the T and I uniforms were marching up and down the corridors purposefully, casting glances and respectful 'Hokage-sama', 'Tsunade-sama's at her as they passed. No one stopped to stare. They didn't gawk. They didn't bow. Just a nod of the head, polite acknowledgement and then onto more important things – like their jobs. This was one of the things that the Slug Sannin truly appreciated about the Torture and Interrogation Division. They didn't waste time and they didn't pander to the egos of others. It was refreshing to see people more interested in getting the job done than brown-nosing their superiors. Ibiki didn't tolerate slackers.
The interrogation rooms where the Elders had been confined were in the middle floor of the building, just below ground level with no way of getting to the upper floors. Trustworthy Jounin were swarming the place. Kakashi, Raidou, ANBU Cat – Uzuki Yugao, ANBU Racoon – the young survivor of Orochimaru's Mokuton experiments Tenzou, and Shizune were stood outside the rooms as back-up and support. There to make sure that the ageing Shinobi didn't break free and escape.
Marching into Danzou's room, Tsunade felt her blood turn cold as she took in the sight of Jiraiya with sealing-scripts in hand, Hyuuga Hiashi with his Byakugan bulging almost painfully hard on his face, and Danzou covered in bleeding red welts where the clan head had destroyed his Tenketsu – and sealing script being slapped over what was unmistakably the Sharingan. Everything was on display, they had done as requested and completely stripped the older man of his clothing revealing every invasive surgery he subjected himself to, every bloodline he had stolen and every Fuuinjutsu Seal he had inked onto his flesh. Now, all of which were shut down and impossible to call upon. Hiashi and Jiraiya had ensured that.
"What have you done?" the blonde woman breathed, staring at the Council Elder. Danzou merely glared hatefully up at her, his mouth and right eye hidden under sealing script. Intellectually, she knew, she had been expecting but... seeing it, with her own eyes, actually seeing his crimes painted out across his skin, was so very different than just hearing about them.
Jiraiya straightened, slapping the last of the seal-scripts onto the wrinkled flesh of the old man. "Hokage-sama, a word outside," he requested, using the title to not only give her the authority that the Elders had been attempting to remove but to also rub it into Danzou's face that now he and his lackeys were accused of treason, they had no power. And their attempts to delay the inaugration were defunct. Tsunade was the Hokage now, and it could not be repealed by any apart from the Daimyou and a select group of Jounin from Konoha. None of which were loyal to Danzou, and not through lack of trying.
Closing the door and waiting as the Fuuinjutsu that was carved into the Chakra reinforced wood glowed, the Toad Sannin faced his teammate with the most severe facial expression he could muster. She recognised that face. It was the one he wore when he was as serious as the grave.
"I want Namikaze Hari in on his interrogation," he declared strongly. Tsunade's eyebrow shot up but she kept her mouth shut as he explained, "Her mind-walking techniques are head and shoulders above the Yamanaka, she simply lacks the experience with Interrogation and with Inoichi holding her hand, that won't be an issue. We should assume Danzou already has counter-measures against the Yamanaka Shintenshin techniques, and may possibly subvert them to either possess a new body – as we've seen Orochimaru do, or turn them into a traitor mole through some form of temporary brainwashing technique typical of ROOT."
Tsunade folded her arms, "And if he manages the same with the – Namikaze? That would be even worse." She had to catch herself, having almost called the younger woman 'Spit Streak' in front of the T and I division, something that was hardly professional. And at this, not only turbulent, but also tremulous time, would be a bad idea.
Jiraiya shook his head, "Senjutsu isn't something you can counter unless you have the talent yourself. And Danzou has been hunting for a way to work those techniques since Orochimaru got a grasp on them, however small," he added with a sour twist of his mouth. When he'd discovered his Senjutsu, he thought he'd finally found something he could lord over his teammate, something that his so called genius couldn't replicate. It turned out that he needn't have bothered. Orochimaru was gifted enough to do so anyway. Tsunade was the only one of them who had no talent for the art, along side their sensei Sarutobi.
The blonde woman pursed her lips, brown eyes narrowing, "There's more to it, Jiraiya. What have you got planned?"
He narrowed his eyes a touch before sighing softly through his nose, "I'll explain later," he promised.
Tsunade huffed, "Very well." She turned, narrowing her eyes on the assembled Nin who were standing guard, trying to decide who would be best. Kakashi was too valuable as a fighter to lose in this instance, he possessed a Sharingan that he could use to counter Danzou if he managed to pull something unexpected out. Hiashi would be needed to disable the elders, Shizune was to keep the elders alive long enough to finish the interrogations, Cat and Raccoon were on guard detail and had worked with Kakashi before, thus able to use standard ANBU capture tactics and team-jutsu formations. Leaving Raidou and Genma. Genma was the better combatant, but Raidou was an unknown to Hari and the children. He wouldn't be trusted and more than likely, given the way Hari was still unable to move and how protective Naruto had turned over her, there would be a scuffle and time would be wasted.
"Genma," she barked, "Fetch Uzumaki Hari. Make sure to leave the Genin in the secured room. If you catch Kotetsu or Izumo in the area, send them out to fetch some food for them. They've been in there all day," the blonde woman ordered.
Genma saluted and dashed off downstairs to a separate floor – that was the only way to access the upper floors and the Civilian and lower security holding cells above ground. Gesturing at Jiraiya to follow, Tsunade stepped into the observation room where Shikaku was languishing along with Yamanaka Hanako, Inoichi's wife and a well respected psychologist. The two gave her a nod but continued to observe the interrogation of a rather naked Mitokado Homura at the hands of Yamanaka Inoichi and Morino Ibiki.
Tsunade turned to Jiraiya, "Why the Spit Streak?" she demanded in an undertone. Shikaku and Hanako could be trusted, not that the others couldn't, but Jiraiya was clearly antsy and not comfortable sharing his plans in a semi-public location.
He dug a hand into his thick white hair. "Naruto's determined to be the Hokage, he has a shot at it too. But he can't be Hokage and manage my Spy-rings at the same time, he doesn't have the right mindset either. Hari though. She's got talent. Not to mention her mind-walking techniques. I plan on taking both of them as my students, but while Naruto will be the heir to the Toad Sage, Hari will be the heir to the Master Spy. Even you can't deny what she's gone. She's the one who uncovered this whole mess and brought it to the right people's attentions. Naruto wouldn't have the slightest idea of how to handle information like this. He would have gone running to his Academy Teacher at best and bragged about it from the rooftops, or kept it to himself, at worst."
Tsunade waved a hand, "Enough, I understand, Jiraiya. But just remember, someday she's going to have to go back. And no one knows when that will be or for how long. She's got a mission to finish."
"And she'll be getting training to finish it alongside everything else once she's settled," he assured his old teammate.
"Tsunade-sama?" Shikaku's voice interrupted, dragging their attention to the other occupants of the room and the old man currently unconscious in the interrogation chair. "We can rule out treason from Mitokado's record. He's done some dodgy stuff in the Hokage's name and all, but aside from his involvement in the Uchiha Massacre, it's no worse than anything else we've seen," the Nara Clan head reported.
"There's nothing wrong with him on a deep psychological level, either," Hanako added, leafing through her notes. "He is disillusioned with the Sandaime and his predecessors values, the 'Will of Fire', but that is a conditioning. Likely due to prolonged contact with Shimura-san. The only interesting blip is his inexplicable trust in Shimura-san. He seems somewhat puzzled by it himself now, he has no memory in which to reinforce that belief, just that he trusts his word and opinion. Not without question, but to a degree that while he may disagree with it, he will allow it. This could be a thing, but we won't know until we've checked with Utatane-san," the younger blonde woman explained, her blue eyes narrowed and thoughtful as she reported.
"My thanks, Shikaku, Hanako. I don't think we'll keep you any longer than tonight, once we've finished with Shimura you'll be free to return to your families and cleared from Active Duty with pay for the remainder of the week," Tsunade decided. Interrogation was stressful enough, interrogating possibly treasonous Council Elders who had the power to destroy the village at a whim was something to tingle the nerves of even the most cynical of Jounin and Black Ops.
Shikaku leaned back in his seat and put his feet up, "Yah, it's troublesome, but even more troublesome than this would be the damage done to the Village and our ties with various allies if they'd been allowed to run unchecked for however long it took to come to light. If it ever did."
A knock on the door halted whatever response the Hokage had to that and Genma opened the door, Hari perched on his back looking tired and a little confused with her hair loose acting like a curtain down her back and around the pair of them.
"You wanted me for something?" the girl asked as Genma gently lowered her into a chair.
A quick shared glance and Jiraiya stepped forward, "We want you to assist in Danzou's interrogation. Specifically, in removing his memories. Inoichi will be helping you in selecting only the memories and leaving the emotional impacts of them behind. But for the most part, it will be an in and an out. No lingering, no exploration. We can do that in your mind where it's safer for everyone involved. Danzou likely has fail-safes and the like in order to protect himself. But Senjutsu is something he can't manipulate. Meaning you would be not only the safest but also the one able to protect the other interrogators during the extraction process."
To Harry, it seemed to make sense... Most bad guys tended to have some form of fail-safe to prevent their evil plans from being discovered. Even Naruto had a little protection, but that was Kurama who just didn't like the idea of people wondering through his territory without permission. And without even wiping their feet.
"Alright. I'll do it."
News spread through Konoha like wild fire as the sun rose and threw long glistening shadows across the ground.
The market was positively buzzing with gossip and activity.
In the aftermath of the honourable late Sandaime, the three elders, Shimura Danzou, Utatane Koharu and Mitokado Homura had worked themselves into the ground in order to keep the village protected and running. Enough so that when the new Hokage finally arrived and they were allowed to relax that they grew severely unwell. Unwell to the point that poor Shimura-sama passed away before anyone was able to realise the true extent of how poorly they were. Thankfully, their new Hokage was Tsunade the Medical Genius and both Utatane-sama and Mitokado-sama were saved, though they were confined to their homes under strict bed rest and isolation orders. Their immune systems were so run down that even the tiniest of infections could steal their lives away. No one, not even family, were allowed to visit and all mail and food had to be strictly monitored and cleaned before being allowed into their homes.
Many people commented on how lucky their village was to have such a caring Hokage who was so determined to keep as many of them alive as possible, regardless of how old or useful they were to the village.
But not even the news of Shimura Danzou's death could stifle the news that the Yondaime's children had been found. That one of them had been living in Konoha under his mother's maiden name all along. The horrified whispers and gasps that rose from the Market when word that Uzumaki Naruto was in fact one of those children would have been likened to that of a displeased snake pit.
ANBU did nothing to quiet the rumours while ROOT did everything in their power to shut them down. The seeming split in the village's Black Ops force only reinforced the rumour's truth. After all, the Yondaime must have had ANBU protecting his wife and children! The ones not quelling the rumours must have known! It explained why the Jinchuuriki boy was so close to the Sandaime! Why Jiraiya-sama took such an interest in him and why Kakashi of the Sharingan was his Jounin Sensei! It all made sense!
Hang on, wasn't there that pretty red haired girl, Uzumaki Kushina, seeing the Yondaime for years before the Kyuubi attack? Yeah! They were even in the same Academy class! AND the Yondaime was the one to rescue her from those Kumo Nin who abducted her years ago!
There was another Uzumaki years ago who had whisker marks. Remember?
The Shodai's daughter, Inari.
Wasn't her mother an Uzumaki as well? Mito, wasn't it?
And just like that, the village of Konoha began to stir and spies from every major village were writhing. Spy networks caught fire with information and the Councils of both Kumo and Iwa began to riot with mixed feelings over the revelation of the Yondaime's legacy.
All the while, stood in the kitchen of his dinky apartment, Naruto had his tongue sticking out in concentration, comb in hand as he worked hard to brush his Neechan's pretty long golden hair without pulling on it as she stood, elbow deep in hot water, washing up their breakfast dishes.
Neither of them had any idea what was waiting for them on the otherside of the front door.
Whew. Well, I hope you guys have enjoyed this so far. It's not the END-END of the Danzou Arc, but it's the end of the man himself. We still have the lovely aftermath of ROOT to deal with but don't worry. It will be, it will be.
It would probably surprise you guys that I had PLANNED on keeping Danzou alive. Despite him being the way he is, he cares for Konoha in a way that very few people do. He was completely loyal to the village and it's well being. It was just a shame that he thought the only way to ensure that wellbeing was through his leadership. But no worries. His shoes won't go unfilled – at least after they're washed and bleached and washed again.
Reviews please, I would love to hear your opinions on what has happened and what may follow.
Shaking off the suds that clung to her hands – HIS! HIS hands. Harry scowled; he really needed to sort this whole gender thing out. It was getting confusing and he'd noticed that he had even begun to think of himself as female, as evidenced by his mental avatar and by the fact that he often slipped and referred to himself in female terms. That was the problem. He wasn't a girl, just stuck in the body of one! He really needed to get this sorted.
He smiled over his shoulder down at the twelve-year-old Naruto, "Do you have training today?" he asked as the smaller blond, tongue sticking out in concentration, tied the end of his new braid off.
Stepping back and grinning at the now thick braid he'd gathered all of his Neechan's pretty hair into, Naruto nodded, "Nope. Kakashi-sensei decided that we had the next three days off 'cause of what happened with Scar-face and Bandage-Freak," he explained excitedly. Meaning that after those three days, Naruto and his teammates would be back on the active mission roster.
"Well, if I've got you all to myself for the next three days, you can give me the guided tour then," Harry decided, drying his hands on the over-large sleeping yukata he was currently wearing. "Go and get dressed and then we'll go out. Just remember, I still need to drop by the Hospital for my medical exam, maybe you can drop in and visit your friends? Sakura-san mentioned that you hadn't visited Rock-san yet," he pointed out.
"I'll definitely visit today!" Naruto promised loudly.
Harry nodded and ruffled his hair, "You're a good kid, Naruto, I know you will," he told the smaller blond as he passed to go and get dressed for the day. Before he got very far though, the blond boy had latched onto his hand and was peering up at him a little anxiously.
"Would you come with me, to see Bushy-Brows? I want him to meet you," the boy pleaded, big blue eyes staring up at her. He wanted Bushy Brows to meet his Neechan. He trusted and respected Bushy Brows for protecting Sakura-chan, even though he didn't have to. Bushy Brows was strong too, he kicked Sasuke's ass and gave Gaara a beat down in the Chuunin exams. Out of almost everyone, he trusted Bushy-Brows to jump in and protect Neechan if ever he weren't there to protect her himself. Not that she couldn't protect herself! But everyone needed back up and she couldn't even use normal Chakra, plus, she wasn't a Ninja and she didn't know how Ninja stuff worked.
She ruffled his hair, "Course. Just let me get my shots first and then we'll drop by and visit." Naruto grinned before darting over to his cupboards.
Harry smiled slightly as he unrolled his storage scroll. Naruto's apartment was a tiny thing and typically Japanese. It was pretty much a one roomed affair. The front door was the dividing line with the kitchen against the wall to his left as he stepped in, and Naruto's bedroom on the right. Two doors on the right led into a cramped bathroom with a toilet and sink crammed inside, and a simple shower cubicle, barely big enough to stand up in – you certainly couldn't sit or bend down properly inside without some impressive flexibility and gymnastics. However, it was perfectly large enough for a twelve year old boy, possessing a tiny little shelf with a bar of soap and a scrubbing brush. The water was ice cold. Apparently the boiler for the flat was broken and the landlord couldn't afford to have it fixed. Harry didn't say anything but added getting a new place to live on his mental to do list.
Aside from the kitchen against the left wall, the round wooden table and the large green fridge, there wasn't much in the small flat. Naruto's side of the room was just as battered, the walls lined with sliding door cupboards which had his clothing, books, a few boxes of broken equipment and weapons, shoes, and other assorted bits and bobs. He had a bed – which was nowhere near as comfortable as it looked Harry knew having spent the night sleeping there with Naruto curled into the hallow of space between his legs and chest. The curtains were perhaps his favourite part of the room. They had little painted ramen cups on them. So silly and so Naruto, he couldn't help but snicker when he saw them.
Unsealing his clothes, Harry threw on the first acceptable things he found, black canvas trousers, a green short-sleeve top and a black light weight poloneck. He would probably bake in it but exposing skin had never been a comfortable thing for him. England was just too cold for seventy percent of the time and the remaining thirty was spent during the summer either being rained on, or cause for sunburn if he didn't cover up. England was a bit of a bitch like that. People didn't get tans from the sun there. It was burns or nothing. Konoha on the other hand, had that nice midway that seemed mildly tropical, without causing skin cancer.
Leaving the little flat, Harry grabbed his red yukata and slung it on. Childish it may have been, but he did feel a little more comfortable with the almost robe as it swished around his ankles.
That comfort drained away faster than his patience when confronted with Snape in a particularly vicious mood when they stepped out into the streets of Konoha and found hundreds of eyes suddenly turn and fix on them. Their expressions a mixture that was hard to read, male, female, young, old, it didn't matter. They all just looked. Watched. Some were angry. Some were confused.
Harry's hand immediately shot out and gripped Naruto's shoulder as he glared at the collective people who had stopped. He didn't like this. Too many people. All of them watching. Waiting. It felt like a scene from one of Dudley's horror movies where the main characters are suddenly confronted with a wall of ravenous monsters/zombies/demons/aliens, just waiting for the first signal to attack. The first attempts to bolt from their prey before they sprung.
Naruto swelled, drawing air in, fully prepared to shout those bastards down and away. But then Neechan began to push him. He stumbled, all the air in his chest wooshing out a little in surprise as he craned his head around to stare at her. She was tense, her eyes were narrowed but they were fixed ahead, not on any of the people around them.
"Just keep walking. Pay them no mind," she hissed quietly. Her hand was painfully tight on his shoulder. Naruto's stomach flipped. She was scared. He subsided and went quiet, bowing his head but watching them intently from under his lashes. He supposed he could understand a little. So many people watching, staring, and she didn't know what they were thinking or what they wanted and he knew she wasn't worried for herself. She was scared for him. She was trying to get him somewhere safe, somewhere far away from them, but why she was doing it slowly, why she wasn't freaking out or running, or even doing that popping thing she did before to get them to the roof of the hospital, he didn't know. But it didn't matter what happened. If anyone ever raised a finger to her, he would destroy them before they got within three feet – even if he had to sell his soul to Kyuubi to do it.
Getting stared at wasn't new for Harry.
But this manner of staring though. This was new. This wasn't adoring. This wasn't judging. This wasn't hostile. This... this was confused. This was still trying to make up its mind about how to feel. This was the edge of a knife. A crystal ball on a see-saw. A tightrope with a blind clown.
This had the potential to turn ugly. All it took was one wrong step. One careless comment, look, sneer, smile. Until she knew what this was all about... he had to keep Naruto safe. Keep him under control and quiet.
His stomach was in knots, his palms were sweaty, and he was fairly sure Naruto's shoulder was going to be bruised with how hard Harry had been gripping it during their walk to the hospital. The reactions of the Nurses was equally unsettling as they recoiled and all hurried to try and find something to do, more than a few glancing at the pair guiltily, confused, anxious, hesitant, and even a few with naked hostility and hatred.
The receptionist looked like she would have rather been anywhere else but right in front of them as Harry approached her.
"H-how can I help you?" she stuttered a touch; her eyes flicking between the two and the wall behind them, unable to continue looking at them and becoming increasingly anxious and flustered.
Harry felt his shoulders beginning to ache with how tense he was. "Yes. Namikaze Hari here for immunization shots and a full physical. Also, could you tell us which room Rock Lee is in and when his visiting hours end," he requested, fighting to keep his tone level even as he was hyper aware of the nurses peeking at them from behind the corners.
At least, until Naruto turned around and glared at them, sending the older women scattering with squeaks and gasps.
"Y-yes. Room Three, with Kitou-sensei. As for Rock-san, Room 311. Visiting hours end at eight o'clock, start at eleven in the morning," the nurse explained, busying herself with papers so she wouldn't have to look the girl in the eye.
Harumi wanted to cry. She had been one of the many ignorant who had believed the Demon had taken the face of their beloved Hokage to spite them. Whenever she had been forced to deal with him, she had assigned drugs and treatments just a little off from what he should have received. Treatments that on a healthy individual, which he always was thanks to the demon, would have caused severe problems. Mutations, severe illness, addiction, disease, immunity crash, organ failure, just to name a few. And none of it had worked, none of it had caused the boy damage (thankfully!). It was because of Harumi prescribing the correct treatments (if a little tweaked) for why Naruto was brought in, that no one knew of his advanced regeneration.
She couldn't look the boy in the eye. Not now. Not having the truth thrust under her nose. Not after hearing that he was Minato's son.
Harumi had attended the Academy with him. He had always been nice. The nicest, most down to earth boy in their class. He was her first crush. It was hard not to like him, his sunshine coloured hair was so cute and he had dimples when he smiled. He helped her with her kunai throwing before her Genin exams and she'd dissolved into a giggling pile of goo afterwards, much to Uzumaki Kushina's loud and embarrassing disgust. Harumi had always hated the tomato faced girl for that. She was a foreigner who was so scornful of everything even though she was bottom of the class, bragged about how she was going to be Hokage because she thought she was better than them. She was nothing special, just a loud mouthed idiot with the strength of a gorilla and none of the grace, elegance, culture, or refinement that a proper Kunoichi should've had. And then... then Kumo abducted her and Harumi thought her insides were going to turn to ice when all those lessons about Kekkei Genkai theft slammed into her mind. When she learned why Uzumaki Kushina was so important, her special Chakra Nature and the Uzumaki Fuuinjutsu skills, how she was bottom of the class because her Chakra capacity was so outrageously huge she couldn't sit still for bookwork, couldn't suppress or control her output to do the basic Academy sets. She had been the one who went sprinting through the village looking for Minato when she heard some Jounin talking about the crimson haired girl's abduction. She had run so hard her leg muscles tore when she finally staggered to a stop in front of him, sobbing and somehow managing to explain everything to him, heedless to Jiraiya-sama's frantic hand motions to stop talking. She didn't even see him move. Just that Minato's eyes turned cold and sharp, like icy mirrors, when she told him about Kushina and described the Kumo-nin, and then he was gone.
Those same icy mirrors now boring into her forehead from a face so familiar it hurt and eyes belonging to a woman she hated as much as she loved. Because Kushina had that effect on you. You loved her, but you wanted to throttle her at the same time. And Harumi had been jealous. So jealous. Because Minato was never happier than when he stood with Kushina, than when she turned to him with her green-green eyes so bright and alive and mischievous.
"Thank you. Naruto, stop glaring at the nurses," the girl scolded.
Harumi watched from beneath her eyelashes as the girl pulled her brother away. Her hand firmly, protectively, on his shoulder, the lines of her body tense and hard. And the Medic Nin could only watch as the two left before placing her elbows on the desk and hiding her face in her hands and sobbing.
H-How... How could she have...
Not even Rurika-chan could cheer her up and Harumi had to go home. She spent three hours drinking and contemplating the kunai on her table before slapping herself, taking a bath, and then marching to the Hokage's office. She booked an appointment and borrowed several sheets of blank paper and a pen.
In the two hours it took until the Hokage could see her, she wrote down the names of every individual she knew who had been directly responsible for every injury Uzumaki Naruto had been forced to the hospital for treatment. Every Doctor and Nurse who abused their positions in regards to the boy. And all those doctors and nurses who did not.
She added her name to the list of those who abused her position and walked into the Hokage's office with dry eyes and hard resolve.
When the time came and she walked into the afterlife... She refused to be unable to look Uzumaki Kushina in the eye.
The shots were a simple affair. Unlike the nurses, Kitou-sensei was perfectly professional. Harry had to strip out of his yukata and poloneck, at which point he explained how they would be giving him eight shots for various ailments. They were dead viruses so at most he would feel mild cold like symptoms. Sore throat, stuffy nose, maybe a mild headache. If anything unusual happened, such as fevers, chills, odd rashes, bad headaches, musculature pain, anything at all, he was to immediately return to the Hospital for a check-up.
After that came the physical. Some basic physical tests, how long he could hold his breath, flexibility, reflexes, eyesight, hearing, smell, Chakra sense. A large number of little tests to figure out his limits, where he excelled and failed. An I.Q. Test along with a few other things – a few more blood samples were taken and even a Chakra sample was taken, though how that worked he really didn't have any idea. But it involved an odd machine syphoning off a chunk of his Chakra and beginning some kind of odd compressing process.
A marble of shifting gold and white energy was the result and Harry couldn't help the raising of his eyebrows. And then he spotted other colours, hidden, glazed under gold and white as he peered in closer. That was definitely green. There was blue. Before he could get a more in depth look, Kitou-sensei was already sealing it away into his sample box, ready to be taken to Tsunade and Shizune for an official S-rank examination. Once they had finished, the biological samples would be destroyed and his Chakra sample returned.
"We can't really destroy them without causing some massive Chakra backlash to the area. They have to be smothered with a Chakra nature that is completely opposite and more powerful to avoid it. So once we've finished, you'll just get it back and we'll teach you how to reintegrate it into your Chakra system," Kitou explained as he zipped the bag up.
Harry nodded, "Are these things common?" he asked, thinking back to the necklace that Tsunade gave Naruto. And judging by the way the twelve year old's hand was hovering over his throat where the shard of the Shodai's crystallised Chakra was resting, he was too.
Kitou shook his head, "No. The technology is rare, Konoha is the only hospital I'm aware of that possesses it and while there is a process of doing it yourself, the amount of Chakra necessary is huge. Without the use of the machine, the Shodai is the only recorded Ninja to have managed to solidify his Chakra into a crystallised form. Tsunade-sama possesses it even now, after his death. Which just goes to show how much power is in there if his life-force lingers even now after death."
Harry hummed, "So, this is an unexplored technology? No one knows about it?" he asked thoughtfully, eyeing the machine. He ignored the way Kitou went tense and wary.
Harry hummed, "How many people have these stones?"
"A rough handful. Mostly Jounin and ANBU who have just returned from long term assignments. Why the questions?"
Harry shook his head, "Because it occurs to me that they could be quite the trump card," he admitted, only to blink at Kitou shook his head, relaxing with patient understanding and amusement.
"No. They're actually quite the handicap," he explained gently as he sat down. "Which is why we only let the highest rank individuals have them, and even then not for long. A lot can be learned from a Ninja's body, even their urine or faeces. Imagine how much someone could learn with a sample of your Chakra? Your Chakra is everything. It's your thoughts, your body, your Jutsus, even your personality. Having someone steal one of these is a huge problem for Village security. With it, they can learn your techniques, your training regime, your background and emotional responses to it – whether or not you had a happy childhood, even what kind of drugs you took during medical procedures or while at the Academy. That's why they're only taken in terms of village security. The results of the exam are recorded and the crystals returned to be reabsorbed. You have to apply a special dispensation from the Hokage to keep them in crystal form. And it's almost always no.
"When Jounin or ANBU return from long-term or high risk missions, they have new Chakra Samples taken and compared to their pre-existing results. It's one of the village fail-safes against moles. Fuuinjutsu and Genjutsu cause discrepancies in the Chakra pathways so it always shows up on the exams. Same with strangers attempting to pass themselves off as certain Shinobi," Kitou-sensei bragged with a toothy grin of amusement. "We've caught more than a few moles and spies this way. Right now, this is just for the records. The blood-tests confirm who you are, and if Tsunade-sama and the Council are in agreement then you're a member of the citizenry. Your position as the Yondaime's daughter and sister of the Jinchuuriki, not to mention cousin of the current Hokage, means that you have a high political pull within the village and thus are a target of infiltration and extraction. Meaning we need to keep a record of your Chakra sample should anything happen. We need a point of comparison."
Harry nodded, "I understand. One more question though..." He trailed off, unsure of how to word it. This was really something he would have felt more comfortable confronting Tsunade with as she was not only in the know, but also just a more easy to handle person for Harry, but she was likely entirely too busy with running the village, the fall out from the Elders, and directing Torture and Interrogation in dealing with the rogue ANBU unit ROOT to give Harry the time of day. "Are there any procedures or techniques for... well, to be blunt, sex changes? Male to female, female to male?" he asked.
Kitou-sensei's face more than said enough.
Harry refrained from swearing as Naruto enthusiastically led him to Rock Lee's room.
Konoha had never heard, nor considered, the possibility of changing one's original gender. They had illusionary techniques that gave the impression of a change in gender, that was considered enough to get the job done and the development stopped there. And Harry couldn't really explain why he asked, or what he would have done with the information because, well, from what he could tell the idea of perverts, gender-swap, homosexuality, and other such things were a sore point here. A little frowned on, but not hated to the degree it was back home. Either way, Harry couldn't screw himself or Naruto over this.
So he dropped the questions, laughed off Kitou's curiosity as just an idle question that had been bugging him a while after seeing Ninja using Henge and not knowing what it was at the time. He thought he'd bullshitted it pretty well. But it looked like the reminder of his true gender and origins had upset Naruto a little because he was quiet and subdued when they left the room.
And Harry couldn't bring anything up in the middle of the corridor where there were nurses and doctors peeking around corners at them here, there, and everywhere. It was... unbelievably frustrating to have so many eyes following him at all times. Especially after spending so much time hiding from everyone else, terrified that discovery meant death.
"Hey! Hey, Bushy-bro- huh," Naruto exclaimed and trailed off, blinking at the empty room. "Wonder where he is..." the blond muttered. He hadn't even been aware that Bushy-brows could walk around just yet, Gaara had done a real number on his leg.
Harry peered around the rather empty and somewhat sad looking room. No 'get Well' cards, or even flowers. Nothing. He felt a little squeeze. Even when he'd been in overnight at the Hospital Wing someone had always snuck him something, even if it was just a torn scrap of parchment either wishing him well or telling him to hurry his ass up and get back on the Quidditch Pitch. A chocolate frog smuggled into his blankets – and the ever famous Toilet Seat from the Weasley Twins which he was reminded of whenever he visited the Hospital Wing. They would ask which bathroom he wanted the next one from but never really followed through. The House-elves had placed Permanent Sticking Charms on the hinges. Which was just a challenge to them really. Well... to George now. He shook the muddling thoughts away and turned his attention back to the depressingly empty room.
"We can come back later, Naruto. And bring some Get Well goodies as well," he suggested, wrapping an arm around the smaller boy's shoulder.
"Yeah! We can get him some Ichiraku Ramen!" he enthused. Harry decided not to tell him that the hospital staff were unlikely to allow it – patient diets were calibrated carefully so as it wouldn't put stress on their bodies systems, or interfere with the medication.
The reactions of the general public were a little more toned down when they left the hospital a second time. People weren't being overt in their staring and whenever Harry caught their eye they turned away quickly enough with a flush of embarrassment or guilt. Some of the hostility had died down but it was still there, simmering beneath the surface. When the reached the market place, one old woman actually marched over, stood squarely in front of them, looking the two of them up and down. She was old enough to remember when the Shodai was in power, and being a civilian she paid more attention to gossip than most.
Reaching forward, she actually had the stones to pinch Harry's cheek, rubbing one wizened old thumb against her whisker birthmarks.
Ayase Kimiko had been the best friend of Senjuu Inari, the Shodai's daughter and mother of the current Hokage. The two had attended all the same etiquette classes and been at the same standardised Civilian school, thick as thieves and the best of friends. She remembered being as curious as a bag full of cats and breaking all forms of traditional etiquette and rubbing her best friend's whiskered cheeks in fascination – and only ever behind closed doors where no one else could see. She knew the feel of genuine Kyuubi-born whiskers.
Tears prickled at the corners of her eyes as her hands felt that familiar texture that wasn't quite scarring, not quite tattoos and almost furred with the finest, softest down of hair. Almost invisible with how fine and thin the hairs were. This girl even had Inari's temperament when it came to the unwanted molestation, disgruntled resignation, tempered with a little hopelessness and confusion.
"They're real," Kimiko announced, to the confusion of the two Uzumaki siblings, and the mixed emotions of the Market place.
A short one, and the ending was not what I envisioned, but I needed to get this out because I've made you wait entirely too long. So, I hope you've enjoyed. A few of these characters will make a return appearance. Especially Kimiko, which is amusing as she was a character I literally came up with the moment she appeared – now she is a plot device who will be exceptionally useful (hopefully) in later chapters.
Next chapter should hopefully have 30-maybe-40 percent more Lee, some job hunting, and another Kyuubi revelation.
If there were ever a time that the Yondaime Raikage wanted to follow in his predecessor's footsteps, it was now. He tapped a finger against the table, rereading the report from their Konoha Mole.
"Has this been independently verified?" A demanded, glancing over at his faithful assistant.
Mabui nodded, "Yes, Raikage-sama. Motoi-san was dispatched yesterday to confirm, his report arrived two hours ago." She handed over the packet of papers in her hand, "He was able to infiltrate the Village for all of six hours before village ANBU came down upon him. He was posing as a Kiri-nin at the time. His escape was successful. He was not pursued outside of minimal safe-range of Konohagakure," the women reported politely as her Raikage began to sift through the papers their best Hunter-Tracker gave them. It was rather frustrating that their infiltration teams were all deployed, and the new generation were not yet up to snuff for verification missions into major villages. Motoi was good, damn good, but even he had only just managed to escape. Konoha ANBU were not to be sniffed at.
The packet contained the basic run down of current rumours, and confirmations. A could already feel a migraine forming as he scanned the information.
Kumogakure had long known that Konoha had a viable Kyuubi Jinchuuriki – that was why they had tried so hard to abduct the Uzushio-Princess, Kushina, despite it not being confirmed as to whether or not the beast had been Sealed within her yet. To learn that the current Jinchuuriki of the Beast was none other than her son was not as distressing as he anticipated. It was the apparent treatment the boy received before the identity of his father was revealed. A knew that Kumo's treatment of its Jinchuuriki was different compared to other villages, the fact that they tried their best to treat them as well as possible, even celebrate them, and not seal them until the stability of the Host was guaranteed. He knew that other villages were not as careful. One only had to look at the difficulties that Suna had been suffering for nigh-on a decade because of their hamhanded treatment of their Jinchuuriki. Even their Daimyou had been disgusted and turned his money elsewhere.
A mildly neglected, and somewhat abused Kyuubi Jinchuuriki, son of the former Host, son of the Yondaime Hokage (A remembered that speedy little bastard with grudging respect), and now student of the Gama Sennin Jiraiya. He was likely so closely guarded it was next to ridiculous. Their mole would have no chance of getting close. Tsunade was a very different creature to Sarutobi, and likely as not, given who her Grandmother was, she would be less than merciful should they make a move on the boy. Kumo certainly had the Military strength, but Konoha had the numbers, and their Kekkei Genkais, and their vaunted geniuses. And with both Tsunade and Jiraiya in the village, apparently cleaning house if his mole as correct, things would be changing drastically for the Village Hidden in the Leaves.
A pulled out a photograph, eyebrow climbing speculatively.
The sister on the other hand...
Newly discovered, a Senjutsu Adept – in that according to reports, she couldn't use anything but Senjutsu – and possessing the Uzumaki Kekkei Genkai. She was of breeding age. Looked healthy enough. A studied the picture of the young woman carefully, frowning slightly.
While they had, for the first time in village history, managed to cultivate a pair of stable Jinchuuriki in both Yugito-kun and Bii... They still didn't know how. Whether it was a simple anomaly in the Biju's Sealing, or whether it was something inherent within the Host themselves, neither A nor his best Fuuinjutsu adepts could tell him. Which meant they would need to prepare for the next Sealing. And in truth, the Uzumaki bloodline was, thus far recorded, the penultimate in stabilising a Jinchuuriki.
One only had to look at the Kyuubi Jinchuurikis' of the past to know this.
Even the current Container, neglected and abused, was stable and, above all else, loyal to his village. The famous Uzumaki stubbornness and loyalty showing through in equal parts. A stubbornness and loyalty that Kumo could put to use a lot better than Konoha in this instance. For one, they would return that loyalty by not treating their Jinchuuriki like shit.
The Raikage scowled at his own train of thought. After the Hyuuga incident, Kumo had made a private decision to no longer attempt bloodline theft from major villages – unless those Kekkei Genkai carriers were in danger and approached them first. Their ranks had been greatly bolstered by the Kiri blood purges, and they were not above liberating misunderstood children from minor villages like Grass, or River, or Frost.
But to provoke a major village for one bloodline...
He rubbed his chin, glaring down at the photograph.
She was easy on the eyes, he could give her that, looking far too much like her pretty-boy father to be anything but. Her mother's green eyes. Whisker marks. Pale skin. Her choice in clothing was surprisingly modest for her body type – women with breasts like that did not wear polonecks in his experience.
He growled under his breath, once again tapping irritably at his desk. Did he possibly poke the sleeping Lion and try to steal one of its cubs, or did he leave well alone?
Currently, Konoha didn't have the military strength to wage a war. Not an all out one against them at any rate. But they had the sheer numbers to square up. And with their Yondaime's precious daughter being the one who was taken, they would fight three times harder to get her back before they managed to get even one child to term. And A did not particularly wish to see what an enraged Kyuubi Jinchuuriki would do to their forces. Not to mention the fact that she was a relative of the current Hokage – whom was well known to have fallen apart after the deaths of her loved ones, it was why none of the major villages had attempted to abduct her for their own ends, she was useless with her haemophilia. And then there was Jiraiya. And with his Spy network, he would know where she was taken.
Did having the Uzumaki bloodline outweigh the possible risk of being discovered in the act of abducting it?
"Who do we have stationed in Konoha?" he asked, still staring down at the photograph. Bii did have a thing for blondes with large breasts. He was constantly teasing Yugito-kun, calling her flat just to get her hissing at him. They had already levelled one mountain range throwing Bijuu-dama at one another.
"Tango-san, sir," Mabui answered promptly, making A pause.
"Your older brother?" he questioned in mild surprise.
A huffed softly. Mabui would never hold it against him if he ordered it, but he knew he would never be able to look her in the eye if his order got her brother killed. It also explained how her brother got the reports to him so quickly time and time again, he likely as not possessed the same ability as she did.
He grabbed a fresh scroll and brush and began to write.
This had to be carefully done, thoroughly planned out. One slip up and things would get very, very hairy. It would not be the product of months, this would likely as not be the product of years. Almost as many years as it took to get Tango into Konoha without triggering their suspicions.
He hesitated for barely a second before he handed his Assistant the scroll, "Deliver this to Tango," he ordered gruffly. Watching as she bowed in acknowledgement and swiftly retreated from his office in professional measured steps. The door clicked shut behind her and he finally allowed himself the luxury of pinching the bridge of his nose and slumping back in his seat.
For better or worse, he had just signed the order to 'liberate' the Uzumaki Kekkei Genkai carrier from Konoha.
Itachi was confused. Thoroughly so.
With his mother being Uzumaki Kushina's bestfriend and former Genin-Teammate, Itachi had grown up with the young woman's constant appearances for afternoon tea, how she would laugh and ruffle his hair and swing him up onto her shoulders before racing the length and breadth of Konoha as swiftly as she could while he clung on for dear life. How she would blow his father off with a snarky comment and then ply his mother with Dango. She had been the one to teach him how to properly throw Kunai, and manipulate wires to use with his Katon jutsus.
She had never mentioned having a daughter. His mother had never brought it up. Minato-san, who was almost as frequent a visitor as his wife, had never mentioned it either.
So when Zetsu gave his report on Uzumaki Naruto having stumbled upon an older sister, he was understandably suspicious. And then word of Danzou's quiet execution, the house arrest and confinement of both Koharu and Homura, the disbanding of ROOT ANBU, on top of the messy death of Yakushi Kabuto, one of Sasori's spies and Orochimaru's lapdog. Itachi was becoming twitchy.
Things were moving too quickly in Konoha and it was making their plans unstable. It was making Itachi himself skittish. He had to get back to Konoha and check on Sasuke.
"Another Uzumaki, hmmm... Possessing Kushina's abilities at that..." Obito murmured quietly to himself. This could prove useful. The Sanbi was currently unshackled, it would be much easier to re- ...could... Rin... Moon... Kakashi... An Uzumaki without a Biju could be useful. If they got too rough and released one of the more powerful beasts, they could simply have her recapture it. A suitably powerful Genjutsu was all it took.
The moon was bright tonight.
"I shoulda kicked her ass!" roared the voice of one Kyuubi Jinchuuriki from behind the protective shrouds of Ichiraku Ramen. "Where the hell does she get off molesting Neechan's face, huh?" he demanded indignantly, jabbing his chopsticks at Ayame and Teuchi who were both nodding and smiling in amusement and bemusement as their favourite customer blew off his temper loudly and with a lot of gesturing. His sister sat beside him rubbing her slightly pink cheek with a queer expression on her face, the ramen in front of her quietly steaming away.
"You can't attack little old ladies, Naruto," Harry admonished absently, "And don't talk with your mouth full."
Teuchi could only grin in appreciation as Naruto almost immediately settled down. It was about time someone gave him the attention he needed. The boy was a good lad, his heart was in the right place, but he suffered from his lack of parental figures in more ways than one, and Teuchi was for one, very glad that Hari-chan found her way back into her younger brother's life. Already he was calmer, beginning to think things through, looking twice and listening. He less of a chaotic ball of energy that just splurged everywhere and destroyed his surroundings. Just like when he joined Team 7 under Kakashi, his energy was focused on being a Ninja, Hari-chan had managed to focus her brother even further into being a good ninja.
Ayame giggled, "What did she look like?" she asked curiously. Not many people had the bravery to approach the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki and that would undoubtedly extend over his sister until people calmed down. Then Ayame wouldn't be surprised if the poor girl found herself with a fanclub of all things. Ayame remembered having one of her own in Civilian School, it was quite intimidating and she had to double check her windows and curtains everytime before she got changed. The shop was one of the only safe places for her since her father wielding a mean ladle and no one wanted to get on his bad side.
"Late seventies, early eighties. Erm, about eyelevel with my shoulder. She was a little hunched over. Had pale grey hair pulled back in a bun. Black hair sticks with gold bits. Erm, she wore a kimono. A dark purple one with pink flowers on it. And a dark red obi. She had a cane, black with a silver handle," Hari-chan detailed thoughtfully before wincing slightly, "Good grip. I think she was a friend of Tsunade's mother, she seemed to know about the whiskers."
Ayame nodded, "That would be Ayase-dono. She attended school with the Shodai's daughter, Inari-hime, they were supposedly pretty close. At least, that's what village gossip says," the girl explained cheerfully refilling the other girl's cup of tea as Naruto listened in.
Harry nodded and finished up her ramen, "Well, I guess that means the whiskers are an Uzumaki thing," he mused before looking over at Teuchi. "You wouldn't know of any employment agencies around here, would you?" she asked.
Teuchi frowned, "I... I don't quite know what that is, Hari-chan."
She frowned, "Basically, people who are looking for work sign up with them, they then turn around to employers and do the job hunting for them and match the jobs to the best person for them."
Teuchi shook his head, "Sounds useful, but I'm afraid the closest you'll find to that is the Mission office in the Hokage Tower, and that's Shinobi only. But hey, if you're looking for work I can ask around, see who's hiring. What exactly are you looking for?"
"Really? Thank you very much Teuchi-san. I'd prefer a full time job but I can work multiple part-times if needs be. I'm pretty good at cooking and cleaning, I could easily work as a housekeeper. Erm, I can work as a wait-ress, no problem. My maths is pretty good and I'm okay with people so I can do cashier work, I'd just need someone to walk me through using the cash register," she explained, gesturing to the device sat on the table, "They're a fair bit different back ho- well, back where I was. Err... I'm good with animals so pet sitting is okay. I can take care of children alright. Erm, I've been told I make for a pretty good teacher so, a tutor maybe?" He trailed off, racking his brains for something else. "In all honesty, any job will do as long as they're willing to show me the ropes. I don't really care if I end up sweeping the sewers if it pays well enough for me to get Naruto out of that craphole he calls an apartment."
"Neechan! It's not that bad!" Naruto exclaimed indignantly.
"Naruto, the showers are ice cold and the water is brown. Your Fridge doesn't work. And the floorboards are rotting in places. I'm also pretty certain I saw a cockroach last night, but it was too dark to tell. I'm sorry, but it's just... not pleasant. And it's too small for the both of us. I'm pretty sure you'll be wanting some other pretty girls to share your bed in a few years, and I for one don't find the couch very comfortable," Harry explained, smirking slightly at the look of confusion on Naruto's face.
Teuchi laughed, saving Naruto from possibly putting his foot in it – he quite clearly hadn't caught the joke, "Well, I know that the Yamanaka Flower shop is looking for workers. Then there's the Yakiniku stand just over there. I know the Three Bladed Blacksmiths is looking for an apprentice. And Sango's Teahouse is always hiring," the old ramen chef listed. "I would recommend avoiding any of the Fuji shops, he and his group have always been rather hard on Naruto. I wouldn't want to take the chance they would turn that behaviour on you." Knowing what he knew of Fuji Yusuke, Teuchi would not have minded inserting a red hot ladle into the man rectally. The man was as power-hungry as it got and he wasn't the first one to warn off various Clan Heiresses from him – he had attempted to gain forceful entry into Inuzuka Clan by trying to claim that he was the father of Inuzuka Hana. Tsume laughed him out of the compound while Kuromaru left teeth marks in his buttocks that still adorned them today. When he brought his claim to the Council, they had just looked at him as though he were an idiot.
Fuji Yusuke had been trying to get into the Shinobi clans for years, he would try to land an Heiress, get her pregnant, claim the child was his, and then try to marry into the Clan so that when the previous head passed, he could take the reigns and become a political power within the village. He had not succeeded with the Inuzuka Clan because that was a clan that ran off wolf mentality, the strongest lead. If Fuji wanted to be Clan head, he would have to beat every other contender for that title, even the so called mother of his child. A claim that the Inuzuka laughed at because the girl did not carry even one scrap of his scent – thus proving she was not his child.
He attempted the same thing with various other clans but the girls themselves had quite cunningly made themselves unavailable to him. But that hadn't stopped him attempting to rape what he thought was the helpless, and somewhat sickly Heiress to a minor Shinobi clan – even sick and unarmed, she broke his arm in three places and laid him in hospital for a month.
No, Teuchi would not put it past Fuji to make an attempt on Hari-chan, not only to befoul and upset Naruto, but to also get his claws into the Namikaze clan and wield the prestige that a Hokage's Clan possessed. And given how Hari-chan was an outsider, she was completely unaware of these political ploys that would be happening around her. He would have to bring his concerns up with Jiraiya-sama the next time he passed by, someone needed to teach her how to watch her back in the shark's pool.
"I would definitely try the Yamanakas' first, Hari-chan," Ayame broke in, smiling. "Hanako-san is very easy to get along with, but she's a little worked off her feet with little Ino-chan a Genin now. Last I heard, her husband was reinstated at the last moment so she's quite beside herself trying to fill in various orders. Do you know the Flower language?"
Harry floundered a little in embarrassment, "On-only the Victorian one from back home."
Naruto promptly interrupted, "We can get some flowers for Fuzzybrows!" he exclaimed, "His room was empty so we gotta get him something!"
Harry smiled, a little overwhelmed, "Alright. What do you think he would like?"
Naruto hummed as he finished his last bowl and pushed the stack of empties forward where Ayame could collect them, "He's always blabbering about youth and – Oh! A lotus! He said something about the... the lotus of Konoha always blooms... twice? I think. But yeah! We gotta get him a lotus!" Naruto then jumped up and off his stood, grabbing his sister by the sleeve, "C'mon!"
"Hang on a second, let me pay for our meals at least!"
"It's alright, Hari-chan," Teuchi assured her, "We'll just pop it on Naruto's tab. He's a good kid, he always settles it at the end of the month."
"Well, if you're sure..."
"We're sure, off you go. Have fun you two!"
"We will, bye jiichan! Ayame-neechan!" Naruto called, dragging Harry off down the street towards Ino's shop.
It always kind of surprised him how quickly things could move at times, it still felt like Harry had walked through the village gates half an hour ago, not several days ago. Then again, he had been in and out of the hospital, the Hokage's office, the Interrogation Department, and now being pulled around the village for the second time. A lot had happened. Yet, being pulled down the market street, receiving those curious glances, the occasional stare, as Naruto forced her to run in order to keep up, it... didn't feel like very long has passed. It barely felt like she had stepped foot into this village. It felt strange to think of how much time has passed, and how little it felt it had.
Then again, looking back on Hogwarts... his years there had passed all together too quickly.
He looked up towards the flawless heron blue sky with its lazily drifting snow-white clouds and wondered when Hedwig was coming back.
And fin. A little shorter than usual but for an important reason: Hari's job. I'm leaving this one up to my lovely readers.
Yamanaka Flowers: In this job, she would work as a cashier, also in the greenhouses tending the plants. Learning Ikebana from Hanako, learning about psychology from Inoichi, also learning a lot more about mind walking and such. Ino would get involved and teach her about being more feminine. There will be some manner of relationship (Non-romantic, non-sexual. More respect/rivalry/awe/wanted to be like, etc.) between Hari and Ino.
Yakiniku Stand (Yakiniku B): Working as a cook and a waitress. She'd learn to make certain japanese foods, learn about herbs and other such useful bits and bobs. Meet various Shinobi as well, in particular Anko and Ibiki. This would have less of an impact on plot-events, it would be simply as a money draw for their little family. This will bring a fair bit of interaction with the Akimichi Clan too.
Three Blades Blacksmith: This is an apprenticeship role, so she'd be learning blacksmithing, possibly also even Fuuinjutsu. This job would involve making weapons, working as a cashier, also as a forge assistant. It would bring her to Tenten, who would end up fulfilling a role much like Ino in the Yamanaka situation, teaching her how to be a lot more feminine, but also how to be kick ass. Also a fair bit of weapons handling, and interactions with Team Gai.
Sango's Teahouse: Waitress role, but this one would be more intensive with courtesan/geisha training. The way I figure, traditional Teahouses have three zones, public where folk go to enjoy tea and snacks, pretty much a friendly but upper class café. The Tearooms, which are very traditional and tend to be for actual tea ceremony and special private events like birthday parties and marriage receptions. And the Geisha rooms where they have the entertainment events like dancing, poetry reading, etc, etc. Hari would be waitressing but eventually becoming more involved with the way the place is run in other areas. This will bring a fair bit of interaction with the Hyuuga Clan.
So yeah. I'm leaving this choice with you guys. All of them have different impacts on the future plot, which is why I've kept chapter notes after this point purposefully vague so I can take this any which way.
The response for last Chapter was MAHOOSIVE, I was honestly quite shocked. Usually I'm looking at between a hundred and a hundred and fifty reviews a chapter – imagine my shock when the first day yields over three hundred.
At this point, with Chapter 18 alone we're looking at a near two thousand review increase alone. Damn. That's... I had no idea so many people read this. I'm a little terrified of fucking up now. XDD;;
A lot of people forwarded their thoughts and opinions, which is great, I love them all, every review has been read and cherished. You're all awesome. The decision has been made, special thanks to those people whom I had some rather in depth conversations with over the matter, you know who you are. Also special thanks to my Facebook (link on my profile) for sounding board and generally camping out to intimidate me into updating faster.
I shan't say who won the poll. You'll just have to read and find out.
People have also been bothering me about Pairings. As of right now, nothing is planned.
Harry didn't have the slightest clue what had happened, but either word about what Ayase-san had done, or people just stopped caring, either way, neither she nor Naruto were stared at as they made their way down the street. A few people waved at them, called greetings to 'Namikaze-hime' and 'Uzumaki-kun' – evidentially, as they were more familiar with the distinctly informal and playful Naruto they called to him in affection, and to her in deference as the eldest and thus the Clan Heir/Head. It was a surreal experience that was making Naruto panic, she was however more used to public ogling as the Boy Who Lived and then as Undesirable Number One, so the constant changing opinions of the public was no skin off her nose. She was well used to it and no longer had any care to give in regards to a stranger's opinions. As long as they didn't try to weedle their way into his life then that was fine.
Stopping Naruto from grabbing her hand and haring off over the rooftops to Tsunade and screaming about village wide Genjutsus and conspiracies was surprisingly more difficult than she had anticipated.
Speaking of Tsunade, she really needed to talk to her about Sasuke and the whole Uchiha Coupé. Sasuke deserved to know before it really destroyed him, yes Village security was a thing to be concerned over, but in this case, if they didn't tell Sasuke, then... Well, Harry had seen how keeping secrets could damage things. Sasuke was very important to a lot of people, Itachi for one, Orochimaru for another, not to mention the other worrying things about that she had discovered in Danzou's mind. Itachi hadn't done the whole massacre alone. He had help. Help from a masked stranger with the same ability to phase through things as the man who released the Kyuubi at Naruto's birth. Harry didn't like the idea that such a man was still running around and screwing with everyone and everything. They needed to tell Sasuke the truth, control the fall out, instead of letting him find out himself. And he would find out. These things never stayed hidden. Ever. And he knew that best of all.
She sighed, nodding to yet another young man who greeted 'Namikaze-hime' as they passed. She ignored the glare Naruto shot him as they came to a stop outside a shopfront, Yamanaka Flowers emblazoned over the door.
Naruto barged in, pausing only long enough to hold the door open for her, shouting a boisterous greeting to 'Ino-san'.
"SHUT THE HELL UP DEADLAST! QUIT SHOUTING IN MY DAD'S..." Harry arched an eyebrow, pinning the mouthy young girl a cold stare as she stepped in making her fall silent for a moment. It was a pleasant shop, a typical florists, buckets full of fresh-cut flowers, pleasant smells, the occasional broken stem on the tiled floor, hanging baskets, anything and everything you would hope to find at a florists, even tables of small potted plants, seed packets, gardening tools, etc, etc. Behind the counter was a blonde girl probably the same age as Naruto, she had the same eyes as Inoichi and Buta-san and pale cornflower coloured hair. She was thin and didn't have all together that much in the way of muscle mass, but her clothing was simple and easy to move in and a muted shade of indigo that would work quite well in the dark – if not for her bright hair. Her face was currently caught between stunned, and horrified.
"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING PLAYING WITH THAT SICK HENGE IN MY SHOP!" she suddenly started screaming, launching herself over the counter at Naruto who was gaping at her with a deer-in-the-headlights expression on his face. He didn't even dare move, knowing from experience back in the Academy that if he ran it would just make the beating more painful when the girls finally did catch him. Ino wasn't like Sakura who lashed out violently for every little thing, which was why he was so shocked by her sudden attack.
Ino didn't get that far before a hand was clamping down tightly on her wrist.
Harry scowled at her, "Touch him, and you will regret it," she promised darkly, squeezing the girl's wrist a little tighter before releasing her. Ino retreated a few steps, rubbing her reddening flesh and staring at the older blonde woman in a mixture of confusion and fear. Harry, however, ignored her, "Find the flowers you want and then we'll go," she said to Naruto who blinked up at her in mild confusion.
"I thought you were going to ask for a job?" he asked, bemused as he went about collecting the flowers he wanted. He knew Fuzzy-Brows liked green, so he made sure to get a lot of green leafy things, along with some awesome yellow and orange flowers to cheer him up.
"I decided against it," she declared flatly, eyeing the younger girl who coloured almost immediately upon realising that she was the reason for that decision.
"Just who the hell are you?" she hissed warily, taking another step back. The grip she used on her wrist was way stronger than that of a civilian, not to mention that despite her... generous proportions, she had the sleek muscle toning of a successful Kunoichi. And that, combined with her obnoxiously long hair could only count up to a very skilled fighter – after all, if you were going to have long hair, you were going to challenge anyone and everyone in a fight to try and grab it.
Green eyes flicked away from her dismissively as she stalked off after Naruto, the smaller blond flitting around the brightly coloured flowers eagerly. "Naruto's older sister," she stated idly.
Ino scoffed, "Naruto doesn't have an older sister," she snapped, "He doesn't even have family!"
You would had to have been blind not to notice the way everyone treated him like crap, the fact that the civilians were both terrified and revolted by his very existence and the way the Shinobi watched him like hawks, as if he were about to either attack or turn evil. Naruto didn't have a family. A polite way of saying that they had been removed from the records, blackmarked. Either because he wasn't supposed to have been born, or because they were major criminals and traitors. Naruto didn't have a family. And when you don't have a family in that sense, it was the Administration's attempt to keep what might otherwise be a potential asset in the village. His parents must have been fairly powerful and skilled for that to happen, they were hoping that their bloodlines had bred true in their son so that they could ensure his loyalty to the village – well they had somehow managed to succeed despite every civilians' attempt to make it otherwise.
"And yet here I am," the woman sighed lazily as she picked up some purple iris to add to Naruto's growing collection of flowers.
Ino scoffed, a little hysterically, "Then where the hell have you been? Have you bee- "
"Namikaze-san, and Naruto-kun." Ino jolted as her father interrupted her, smiling as he came out of the backroom, eyes flicking between her and the other blonde girl in the room.
"Yamanaka-san," the girl greeted politely with a bow of her head.
"Hey! I didn't know you were Ino's dad!" Naruto burst out in surprise.
Her father chuckled, "Yes. How's your head, Namikaze-san?" he asked rounding the cashier's table to take the girl's face in his hands, gently pulling her eyelids down and checking her ears, the girl stoically letting him. Ino frowned, he was doing the Check, but... he only did that to other Yamanaka who had just gotten back from difficult Mind-Walks.
"It's fine. No more headaches or bleeding. I still have dizzy-spells when sitting up too fast and I'm taking the medicine that Tsunade-sama prescribed. I should be back to one-hundred percent in the next two days," she explained bluntly as Naruto hovered uncertainly, she ruffled his hair without looking at him and the boy grinned before returning to gathering flowers. He had an eyebleeding collection by the time he bounced up in front of Ino who was still gaping at her father and the strange blonde girl.
"Can I have these please, Ino?" Naruto asked, breaking her out of her reverie as he rummaged in his pockets for that stupidly adorable frog-purse she had seen him with on occasion.
She wrapped the flowers mechanically, noting how much each of them cost as she did so, "Who the hell is that, Naruto? She can't be your sister, where has she been?" the gossip hissed leaning over the counter.
Naruto's face twisted unhappily, "She is my sister," he bit out, "And her name is Hari." Needle, go figure, she was definitely as sharp as one.
"Well, where's she been? Everyone figured your parents were traitors with the way the rest of the village treated you, has she been off with them?" she hissed.
Naruto growled at her, he actually growled!
"My parents aren't traitors!" he snarled loudly, causing the conversation between his sister and Ino's father to falter, the two of them turning to stare as Naruto laid into his former classmate. "They were kept a secret because my Mum had an ultra-rare Kekkei Genkai that Kumo tried to steal before and Dad was hated by Iwa! If either of them knew that Hari or I existed we would have been kidnap or assassination targets!" he shouted loudly before a hand dropped onto Naruto's head.
Ino flinched as she got a look at her father's facial expression, "Ino-hime, Naruto's parents were heroes and dear friends of mine." She wilted at the disappointment practically dripping from his voice, he sighed and ruffled Naruto's hair, "Well, I suppose it's alright to tell you. The rest of the village is positively buzzing with it anyway. Naruto-kun is the son of the Fourth Hokage. His mother was the beloved grand-niece of the Shodai's wife, Uzumaki Mito." Ino felt the bottom of her world drop out from under her. "Hari-san's birth was kept a major secret, only the Sandaime and the Sannin were aware of it. She was sent away to learn Sage Arts as she was born unable to mould normal Chakra, but Natural Chakra instead. The Chakra of every living thing around her. She only returned recently through happy accident," he explained to his beloved daughter.
"We should be moving on, Yamanaka-san. There is a lot to do today," the blonde woman said quietly, holding the door of the shop open. Naruto quickly pushed over the money owed for the flowers and gathered them up, eagerly bounding over to the woman's side.
"Of course. You're welcome back anytime, Hari-san," her father told the younger girl who nodded shortly.
"I'll think about it," she agreed before following her younger brother out of the door.
Ino spluttered and turned her gaze to her father, he eyed her for a moment before sighing and patting her head, "Go. Just be back before dinner-time," he told her as she eagerly threw off her apron and made for the back door.
She needed to find Sakura!
They wondered through Konoha for another two hours, Naruto showing her the sights as they looked for Lee-san (Harry having to take the flowers off him within five minutes of leaving the Yamanakas' for fear of their getting damaged with Naruto's enthusiastic gesturing). Harry was shown to the Academy, which was situated in the same building as Tsunade's office and the Mission Desk, Naruto enthusiastically explaining the process as they watched a dusty and muddy genin team hand over a grumpy looking cat to a portly woman in heavy make-up before quickly escaping out of the building. She was shown the training grounds, all of them, including the memorial stone where Naruto became part of Team 7, he very enthusiastically told her this story, complete with how Sasuke was a jerk, Sakura was pretty, Kakashi was a pervert, and he was just amazing – even if he did end up tied to the log. They just couldn't comprehend his majesty and awesome.
Going through the market district was an experience, Naruto pointing out the good shops here and there, she looked in on the Yakiniku B stall and made some enquiries about the waitressing role. After speaking with Akimichi-san (Chouji's aunt, according to Naruto), she was all set for a trial day, to see how she handled the workload and the role, the day after tomorrow.
There was a beautiful teahouse that sat on the edge of a large estate with a huge garden, it seemed to be split into three, a nice tearoom, and two other, more traditional areas that were closed off from all sight. They were looking for servers, but taking a quick look inside, not to mention how a great deal of the patrons, and even the woman she was speaking to about the potential job-role, reacted to Naruto, she opted against it. They were looking at him like Aunt Petunia used to look at her, as if she were something rotten and half-liquidated at the bottom of the vegetable draw in the fridge. She opted out of their trial week and bid them good-day, mentally noting that she would never return to that teahouse ever again.
She was a tad wary of the Apprenticeship role to go for it right now. An Apprenticeship was not only a huge responsibility, but also a huge commitment, it meant he would have had every intention of continuing into his role as a career. If something happened to Naruto, it would make caring for him vastly more difficult if she had to juggle the demanding hours of a blacksmithing career too – it was a very time and labour intensive, not to mention physically demanding, job role. Plus, the pay would be a lot less as an Apprenticeship compared to a full time job, even as a waitress.
She brought these concerns up with Iruka as they ate dinner, Naruto having spotted him leaving the mission office after his shift and demanded he eat dinner with them – both adults outvoting him on returning to Ichiraku and instead stepping into a nice sushi place that did Shinobi discounts for the mission office.
"Well, that's a bit of a misconception," the pleasant teacher corrected after she explained her concerns on the whole apprenticeship side of things when she mentioned job hunting. The Ninja D-ranks tended to fill the short-term temporary jobs so finding a job was proving difficult right now as after the invasion most of the stores and businesses were hiring out overworked Genin-Teams to fill the voids that death or disappearance had caused.
"What do you mean?" Hari asked, setting her drink down, a pleasant juice from some Fire Country native tree she couldn't remember the name of, but ordered because it sounded interesting.
"This is a Shinobi Village, our blacksmiths are our lifeblood. Without them, we can't do business. They're some of the most highly paid individuals in the village. An Apprenticeship with the Three Blades would be well paid, more than enough to support both you and Naruto-kun. The owner is a family man as well, his daughter is a Genin only a year older than Naruto. I believe you've met her already in the Chuunin exams," the teacher said to his former student.
Naruto squinted sceptically at him before lighting up, "Fuzzy-brow's teammate! The weapon girl!" he exclaimed in remembrance. That was the only Konoha girl at the Chuunin exams who was older than him and not in his class.
"Yep, Miura Tenten. She's a budding weapons-specialist and the Top Kunoichi of her year. She'll go far that one. I can't say much for the hours or workload, the Blacksmiths guard their secrets better than the Hyuuga do their own. Competition to get that job will be ridiculously high. It's a very honoured role. You should definitely try though, you might get it," he suggested with an encouraging grin.
Harry scoffed in amusement, taking one of the prawn topped rice-ball things and popping it in her mouth, "I sincerely doubt it. I have absolutely know skill, or knowledge on blacksmithing," she pointed out as she took a drink from her juice.
"You can do it, Neechan! You're really smart and strong!" Naruto exclaimed enthusiastically.
Iruka ruffled his student's hair with a smile, "Strength would definitely be a boon. There'll be a lot of heavy lifting and, I hope you don't mind me saying so Hari-san, but you have the muscle toning of a Jounin Kunoichi. You'll have more than enough strength and stamina to keep up with the workload, make no mistake. Most Blacksmiths are civilians, hence why they're so precious. To cripple a village, one need only remove their lynch-pins. The children, the blacksmiths, and the hospital. Hence why the Academy is in the Hokages' tower, the Hospital is next to the Hokage monument, and the Hunter-nin offices are directly opposite them. It's the protective triangle, in that triangle are most of the village's essential services, like the blacksmithing shops and medicinal clinics, plus the orphanage."
Harry sighed, "I forgot this is a Military village," she muttered, looking out of the window, "It's very different from the ones back home."
Iruka hummed as Naruto's order of mango parfait came out and he eagerly dove in with a hoot of delight. As soon as Hari-san said it was orange coloured the excitable boy was ordering three, but the two adults managed to argue him down to just the one – in case he didn't like it. Which, given the rate he was gobbling it down, he wasn't tasting it enough to be able to find out.
"If you don't mind me asking, Hari-san, what was your home like?" he asked before thanking the waitress who brought out a fresh pot of tea and a new juice for the young lady. And she was a Lady, make no mistake. Sat next to Naruto who was all elbows and wide flailing motions, Hari-san was strangely dignified, her movements restrained, and her back straight in her seat. She ate neatly and with very good, if odd, table-manners.
She smiled a little bitterly, "Very, very different. There were two societies back home, those who practiced Senjutsu, and those who did not. I was raised amongst the non-practitioners, we called them Muggles..."
"I think Iruka-sensei likes you," Naruto told her guilelessly as they made their way to Rock Lee's hospital room, to give him his flowers.
Harry laughed, "Don't be silly, Naruto, we barely know each other."
"But he was laughing! He doesn't do that! Plus, he's a pervert too, and you're pretty. He likes you," the boy stubbornly insisted, with some volume.
"Shhh, calm down. We're in a hospital, Whiskers," she admonished, patting him on the head and deciding not to get into an argument over the matter. Now that he'd made his mind up, it would be next to impossible to get him to change it, "Let's give Lee-san his flowers, and if he's sleeping you are not to wake him, understand?"
"Yes, Neechan," he sulked as they finally reached the boy's door.
Knocking lightly, she waited for a response, but to her surprise, the door was opened. By a man much bigger than someone Naruto's age. He was huge, not only in height but also in width! And built with even more muscle than Ibiki-san and Buta-san, though, perhaps, not as much as Jiraiya. It was a lot more easily seen as well with the tight green spandex he wore stretched over every inch of himself, a Jounin jacket unzipped and left loose on his chest.
Eyebrows thicker than Hagrid's and dark black eyes, just as friendly, peered down at them.
"Ah, Naruto-kun. I'm afraid Lee-kun is sleeping. Though it is youthful of you to visit, I cannot allow you in right now," the man told them in an undertone.
Harry nodded, "That's understandable. We came earlier and saw that Lee-san didn't have much in the way of gifts. These are from us, please give him our best for a speedy recovery," she intoned, gently presenting him with the collection of flowers.
Naruto nodded, "Yeah! I know he likes green but yellow and orange are really cheerful and they make me happy so I thought they might make him happy and Sakura-chan said he looked a little down when she saw him, so Neechan and I got these!" he gushed rapidly, only falling quiet when Harry's hand dropped onto his head. It was becoming a very familiar feeling, to have her fingers running through his hair.
The man grinned, his teeth bright and shiny, practically sparkling in the hospital lights, "You have my most Youthful thanks, Naruto-kun. I am sure Lee-kun will be filled with the Fires of Youth at your most heartfelt gift. And to you, beautiful blossom of Konoha, thank you for your kind words. To know a lovely flower such as yourself has wished for his recovery will greatly cheer him on."
Harry smiled a little weakly as the reminder that he was, in fact, a beautiful young woman that would have boys, young and old, interested in her. "Th-thank you. I'm... I'm glad," he managed to get out before bowing politely and ushering Naruto away, the boy waving over her shoulder to the tall man as they left.
Okay, sorry guys. I know I said May for an update but things pretty much exploded.
Final hand-in was a bust, then there was suddenly finding a new place to live – it's a great place and I wasn't likely to find anything anywhere near as good or nice for the price so I grabbed it with both hands, first chance. So there was moving out – I only unpacked my desk two days ago.
And then my Dad nearly killed himself. And I WISH I was joking about that. He was moving a powertool, it got caught and turned on, caught him in the stomach. Tore a four inch long, inch-inch and a half deep slash through his stomach. I get a voice calling me from downstairs asking me to call an ambulance, and find my father staggering down the hallway holding his stomach shut and bleeding. Get him sat down, call the ambulance, he goes into shock and nearly vomits, so goes outside – we'd just painted the hall, he didn't want to get vomit over it, stupid man, like we would have cared. He then passes out while I'm mid-conversation. Smashes his head open on the concrete flooring, breaks his glasses and nearly blinds himself. I'm freaking out and rolling him onto his back, and then spend what feels like the next half an hour holding his stomach shut while waiting for the ambulance while his head is gushing like a faucet.
So yeah. That happened.
And I was in no shape for writing at all that week. Then the week after I was moving. And now we're hear. June. And I finally have a chapter for you, after wrestling with it for far too long.
So please, don't send me snotty messages asking if anything is abandoned. Check my bio, or check my fucking FACEBOOK. I have a link to it ON my bio specifically so people can keep up with what's going on. I also have some exclusive stories on there that I won't be posting on FFnet, typically because one of them has porn. /cough.