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Yellow Hair and Green Eyes

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A dangerously skinny boy with messy black hair and bright green eyes dressed in rags woke to the sound of female screeching and banging on the small door next to him. It took him bolting upright in bed and hitting his head on the low ceiling as he instinctively tried to attack to realize he was in a small confined space.

"Ow!" the boy cried, rubbing at his suddenly sore head.

-Baka! pay attention!- a grumbling voice in his mind scolded.

"Baka fox, what the hell is going on?" the boy grumbled, completely unaware of his unusual changes.

-I don't know. All I know is that we finally finished off that moon bitch and then collapsed in exhaustion before waking up here. That and your body has changed, not only are you a shrimp again but you don't even have the same coloring,- the grumbling giant fox in the back of his mind growled in frustration.

"Nani?! That's not possible!" the boy protested fiercely.

"Boy! Get out here and make breakfast!" a loud male voice bellowed, accompanied by more pounding on the small door.

-Better play along for now,- the fox pointed out grudgingly. The boy grimaced but nodded his agreement. Small lungs drew in a deep breath of the chemical and dust tainted air of the small space before he pushed open the door and stepped out of the cupboard under the stairs.

The first thing that happened after stepping out of the cupboard was that a small boulder of flesh slammed him back into the cupboard with a cruel laugh, closing the door and leaving him in darkness.

"Well at least I've already got the baka fox on my side," the boy muttered in a mix of relief and happiness at not being alone that made the Kitsune fox chuckle in the back of his mind.

Already feeling sore he made himself successfully climb out of the cupboard this time only for reflexes he didn't have before to kick in. As a result he wasted no time in making breakfast for the skinny horse faced woman and the two overweight males waiting at the table. He found it most interesting that they eyed him like a highly dangerous captive shinobi having been put to work.

"No food for the day for slacking," the larger overweight male growled, swiping at him but missing with a slight movement on the boy's part.

The green eyed boy kept silent as he secretly observed all around him. Bits and pieces of memory both his and not his surfaced as he looked around while habitually standing in the corner like a servant as the oblivious family gorged themselves.

"Mrs. Figg broke her leg so we have to take the freak with us," the horse faced woman said apologetically.

"At least he was unable to ruin my Dudley's presents since we let him open them last night," the walrus man said consolingly.

-Naruto... these memories...- the fox started hesitantly.

-I know,- the boy said silently. -The kami must have decided to change things a bit. It looks like I am now both Namikaze-Uzumaki Naruto and Potter Harry. It will probably take a while to integrate all of the memories and we need to start training immediately. At least Potter Harry has some activities that aren't that far from training. Though I get the feeling we are going to be doing a lot of D-rank missions without pay from the way these three are reacting to me.-

-Agreed. I will start working on repairs to your body and look for any bloodline limits you may have. As usual your chakra pool is immense and my chakra is bleeding into your coils. If we do this right the Kami may be willing to tell us what the fuck is going on,- the fox rumbled before turning away to start repairs on the badly battered body of his host, jailer, and friend.

The rest of the morning past in what he vaguely remembered was a typical fashion. Naruto cleaned up breakfast with several attempted whacks from various Dursleys and was threatened for good behavior as they all got in the car to go to the zoo. It wasn't until they got to the reptile house that things got interesting for the ninja turned wizard.

Naruto was the first to notice that the snakes were talking and not only that he could understand them. It didn't matter to him that he could tell it was another language. The demonic fox sealed in his belly noted the occurrence and immediately went looking for the source hidden inside the body of his friend and partner. Finding the soul fragment in his scar was a shock but still not the weirdest thing either of them had needed to deal with over the years. With a heavy sigh the powerful Kitsune settled down to observe to partially contained soul fragment and see if he could copy the snake speaking ability into a new bloodline for his human container.

A quick mental nudge told Naruto that his surly friend wanted him to see if he could speak as well as understand. Whichever it turned out to be both of them knew the talent would come in handy. They would just have to decide if they were going to try keeping it a secret or not, assuming the Kami would allow them to in the first place.

"~Sorry about the tub of lard. He bothers everyone except his parents,~" Naruto apologized to the snake that Dudley had been bothering.

"~You honor me Speaker,~" the serpent hissed, giving a bobbing bow to the green-eyed youth.

"~Nah, I just found out I could understand you guys and wanted to know if you could understand me too,~" Naruto said with a bright grin as he rubbed the back of his head sheepishly.

Dudley picked that moment to try and knock him to the floor with a body slam. Using the awareness of his surroundings refined by both Naruto and Harry he quick stepped backwards, letting the larger boy over balance and fall to the floor.

"He did something freaky again!" Dudley bawled from his place on the ground.

"How is taking a step backwards freaky?!" Naruto demanded incredulously.

"Boy!" the large man, that Naruto had gathered was his uncle, growled red faced.

"I didn't do anything except move!" Naruto protested. "Its not my fault he didn't stop when he tried to ram me. Most civilians aren't that clumsy, how was I supposed to know?"

"Vernon, the neighbors," his Aunt hissed in warning, glancing fearfully around at the crowded room.

"I will deal with you when we get home," Uncle Vernon fumed staring at him in obvious anger.

-Brat, from these new memories you just earned a beating and lost the pitiful amount of food they give you for more than a week,- the fox groaned. Neither of them were looking forwards to the pain or the time spent healing.

-Maybe I can turn that to my advantage,- Naruto mentally shot back.

"Are you going to hit me again?" Naruto challenged loudly, further drawing the attention of the people around them. Vernon's rough grab and yank on Naruto didn't help matters, getting the other people angry at his rough handling of an apparent child. What followed was protests following arguments with the people around them over his obvious mistreatment until Vernon threw up his hands in disgust.

"We never wanted the good for nothing freak any way. You people want him so badly, take him! We wash our hands of him," Vernon thundered. He turned on his heel and ushered his relieved and laughing family plus Dudley's friend out the door leaving Naruto behind.

Naruto felt something inside him shudder and dissolve away, leaving him confused and wondering if getting kicked out had been such a good idea after all.

"Despicable people, abandoning a child like that!" someone muttered in the angry crowd as Naruto was ushered away by a zoo employee. He was left alone in the children's lost and found area with a few other lost children and the employees that were tasked to watch them.

-Kit, whatever dissolved earlier had you linked somehow to those nasty people. It gave them some sort of protection but the part that would have given you protection as well was deformed. The power that went to protecting them has integrated with the protective seal that you apparently have and repaired the deformed portion. From what I can find and see of the seal you are somewhat important to someone since part of the activation is bloodline based while another part speaks of a life sacrificed. Whatever mess we are in will require us to train quickly,- the fox rumbled worriedly.

-So what rank do you figure this is and where do you place my current level?- Naruto asked curiously.

-From the complexity of the protective seal whatever mission this is is at least A-rank, possibly S-rank and your body is academy level,- the fox answered flatly. -You haven't done anything with chakra so I can't know your skills there yet but you can bet that you aren't much better than an academy student.-

Naruto cursed quietly before responding to his ever present companion. -Alright, training is top priority after staying alive and mostly undetected. I am not putting up with the same hateful crap as last time even if it causes trouble but otherwise we'll see what's happening before making a move. I get the feeling this isn't going to be a walk in the park.-

A mental rumbling laugh of agreement was the only thing to bother him as he took this time to observe, learn, and practice easily hidden training exercises. Hours later when most of the others had successfully been picked up by their parents Naruto was about half way through mastering the most basic chakra control technique. He was delighted that his previous experience was helping him remaster the basics in this new world.

An argument just outside of the room had him putting aside the exercise for later. Wondering what was going on he slipped up to the door and started to shamelessly eavesdrop.

"I don't care who you think you are but until I see some Identification buddy neither of you are going near that poor kid," the voice of a zoo employee Naruto vaguely remembered meeting earlier insisted. There was a sound of cloth and leather moving followed by plastic or something laminated being messed with before the employee gave short gasp. "Why in hell would your office be handling an abandoned kid?"

-That sounds far to much like root in this world for my liking,- the fox growled. Naruto nodded his silent agreement and wondered if he had enough Chakra control to use tree climbing so he could better hide or escape.

"We've been looking for him since he was kidnapped when his parents were murdered," a new voice answered.

-Definitely don't like the sound of that,- Naruto agreed with a mental grimace.

"Do you want the security footage?" the zoo employee offered helpfully.

"Someone else is pulling that. I have to get the boy somewhere safe before any of his enemies find out where he is," the new voice demurred firmly.

-Should we run?- Naruto asked his belly buddy in concern.

-We might not get away and finding what we need could be a problem. Let them think you are a simple civilian child. After you've remastered tree walking it will be child's play to escape. Besides, as far as we know they don't have sealing or know properly of chakra in this world,- the fox rumbled thoughtfully.

Before Naruto could shoot back a retort the door opened, revealing the zoo employee and the man they had heard talking. The new man was so utterly forgettable with what they now knew about this world that it set off alarm bells in both of them.

"Hey kid, someone's been looking for you," the zoo employee said. They didn't try to enter the room even as Naruto didn't bother backing away from the door or trying to hide his obvious eavesdropping.

"I don't know him," Naruto pointed out cautiously. He had unconsciously slipped into a mix between Harry's running stance and a Taijutsu stance he had known in his life as a ninja, a shinobi.

"Mr. Potter you were kidnapped after a failed assassination attempt that took the lives of both of your parents. Whatever was keeping you hidden from everyone, whether they meant you good or ill, broke today. Why? I don't know. What I do know is that finding you triggered a number of safety and security protocols. We need to get you out of here quickly, especially if the predicted memories have already been returned to you. Something I greatly suspect with your stance and generally mature, not to mention competent, reaction," the bland man explained after a careful study of his body.

"Oh? And whose memories do you think I have?" Naruto asked warily, not bothering to deny the second set of memories that had already started blending with his shinobi ones.

"I only know that you were a... Hokage," the man admitted, stumbling over the unfamiliar title.

The word prompted the captive Kitsune into sharing his brat's consciousness and bodily control. The process was so practiced and well known by the duo at this point that the transformation took but a moment. Naruto's left eye turned red with a slit pupil, his nails hardened and extended into short claws, even as his whisker marks reappeared on his cheeks as furrows in his flesh. This event badly startled both men but the proof of their courage was that neither ran.

"In whatever this world is I was born Potter Harry. The other set of memories and the skills I gained tell me that I am Namikaze-Uzumaki Naruto, Jailer and Jinchuriki of the Kyubi, Nanadaime Hokage," Naruto informed them flatly. In this merged form he could feel not only how crap his control was but the sharing of body, mind, spirit, and chakra control with Kurama, the Kyubi, was very helpful.

"Kyubi... that translates to Nine-tails? And Nanadaime is Seventh? I have no idea what Jinchuriki translates to..." the bland man double checked. "I recognized the reversal of family and personal names as common for Asian names versus our western form of introduction."

"Human Sacrifice," Naruto translated softly, pulling back the minimal force of Chakra they were emitting as much as possible. "Jinchuriki means Human Sacrifice."

"Well, that wasn't an expected memory set," the bland man admitted, while the hapless zoo keeper swore softly. "Or at least it isn't one of the few that were on the list I was given. You still need to come with me."

"Why? I get that there might be people after me but why do I need to go with you?" Naruto demanded suspiciously. He wasn't sure what technique had been used to make him admit who he was but damn did it make his skin itch. He suspected that had one of his more normal shinobi comrades been faced with whatever it was they would be sporting something like acid burns rather then a cross between a sunburn and an allergy rash. This was not turning out well.

"Eh? Ah, I see. I didn't realize that you would have a poor reaction. The potion mist was only supposed to help you stay calm, not compromise you or harm you in any way. My apologies," the bland man admitted sheepishly. "We had no idea what sort of temperament or condition you might be in. Once we leave the first stop is a medical check then off to a safe place so that everything that we know about the situation can be explained."

"And after?" Naruto asked sourly.

"I suppose you live your life," the bland man shrugged. "We aren't exactly equipped to hold you if you don't want to help shinobi-san, or at least not that I know of."

"Fair enough but no more trying to dose me with anything," Naruto insisted. -Kami, I must be insane to try taking on whatever this mess is with an academy level body and chakra control.-

The Kyubi retreated from sharing his body, laughing all the way as the physical changes reverted. Neither mentioned or made any move to separate more than the barest amount necessary in case they had to merge fast or were otherwise double crossed. If they absolutely had to they could kill the man and bolt. As double edged as this opportunity was it was at least something and would buy them time to learn.

The way he was practically rushed out of the zoo said a lot about not only what they had been told but the potential threat level. Once they were in the car and moving the bland man relaxed somewhat, making Naruto realize exactly how bad his eyesight actually was.

-I am fixing it but your body is so ripped up it may be a while before I get to everything,- the Kitsune rumbled, completely disgruntled.

"So who are you?" Naruto asked casually, mentally thanking the fox and trusting him to prioritize what got fixed first matched with a warning. -Leave most of it for now. If we really aare getting a medical check there is no reason to give away our healing factor until we have to.-

The fox agreed immediately and stopped healing anything obvious focusing on things that tended to heal quickly on anyone. Just because he couldn't fix the other damage until after the exam didn't mean he couldn't fix anything to give his human a better chance.

"Ah, my apologies. I was more concerned with getting you out of there without having to find out your skills first hand that I forgot. My name is Brian and I'm with a special branch of the Britsh Army, Intelligence Division. As I said before we've been looking for you for a long time. Contrary to what you may have been told your parents were not only important for saving you and their status in the other community but your father also held a more normal title. As a result your kidnapping placed a strain on the relations between the other community and the higher levels of more normal society," the bland man explained.

"Wait, so you are telling me that my parents were not drunks? Lovely, one more lie to chalk up to my so called relatives," Naruto said sourly, making his audience pause as he re-evaluated Naruto's information level.

"While neither of them were the best of people they were not drunks to my knowledge... perhaps I should be asking what you've been told rather then presuming you know something," the man suggested carefully.

"I was told that they were worthless, jobless, drunks that got another family killed when they killed themselves and gave me the scar on my forehead, leaving me with my relatives who didn't want me. What you are telling me is making me wonder if I am actually related to those... people," Naruto said warily, his eyes narrowed in thought. The knowledge of his parents in this world made him glad for the parents he had in the Hidden Leaf Village, even if both left him orphaned at an early age.

"So presume that you know nothing true about anything," the bland man concluded with a sigh. "In summary you should have been placed in crown protective custody to be raised by another family when your parents were murdered. Instead you were kidnapped soon after your parents died and you somehow managed to defend yourself. Whoever you were before you are now legally Hadrian Orion Potter but most people aware of your existence believe you to be Harry James Potter. In an act of desperation those in charge of finding you did something I am not cleared to know about. It was done to give you extra skills or the like so that you would either have a better chance of being found or at least surviving long enough to have children that could be found. I do know that it was considered to be irreversible. How much do you know about the community your parents were a part of?"

"Nothing, I wasn't aware they were part of another community," Naruto said flatly. He was putting his near constant practice of assimilating the memories of his shadow clones to good use during this little talk complete with flood of information. He was also wondering if he should risk escaping the car while it was still moving but discarded that quickly.

"You are what is called a wizard. You inherited a special potential to use an equally special energy from your parents called magic. What the energy actually may be is still unknown so the traditional term is still used. For obvious and less than obvious reasons the community of magic users is still hidden from the general public, separate with its own laws, government, and police force. Due to the events surrounding the death of your parents this community practically worships you as their savior. The so called magical government or Ministry of Magic is technically still subordinate to the crown but generally acts as though it answers to no one or, rarely, public opinion. Be expected to be used in political one-up-man-ship until you've learned to navigate their politics, which is something I can't brief you on unfortunately," the bland man explained apologetically.

"That's alright. I'll need to do my own checking later any way," Naruto assured him. The Kitsune hummed thoughtfully in the back of his mind as they pulled up to a nondescript building and were ushered inside to a mini hospital. The medical exam had everyone but Naruto furious as they documented the shear damage that had been done to him.

"Are you done getting your records? 'cuz the Kyubi has been fussing about wanting to fix it all. He keeps growling about not having a weak host," Naruto asked innocently.

"So there was a merging of body and not just mind?" the bland man asked with obvious interest as he took notes while the doctors ignored them in favor of arguing about what needed to be healed first.

-And spirit, you are both and nothing will separate us from Harry as we have become one... or at least the two of you brats have. I will have to eat the dark stain that lingers in the scar on your forehead later when we are safe,- Kurama rumbled thoughtfully.

"Kyubi says that we merged completely, even in spirit and that he has to eat the nasty thing hiding in my scar later," Naruto informed the man in a deceptively matter of fact tone.

"What do you need to do this healing?" the bland man asked, pen poised to write out the list.

"Raman, loads of food, a safe place to rest, and another one to practice. Oh and I'll need gear, Kunai, Shuriken, ninja wire, sealing scrolls, Fuinjutsu materials..." Naruto started listing off only to trail to a stop at the man's head shaking in dismay.

"I can get you throwing weapons but you won't be able to take them with you to the magical boarding school you have to attend in a little over a month and a half. I can get you books and maybe supplies to make your own scrolls and Fuinjutsu things but most of that gear simply isn't available or doesn't exist," the bland man apologized. "The best I can do otherwise is make sure you get all the books and raw materials I can lay my hands on."

"So I have to make or find my own stuff huh? Let me tell you you aren't making any of this easy and aside from the skill/power boost I still have no idea why I'm even here," Naruto huffed.

-Kit, this may be for the best. We don't know what is available or what our opponents will use. We can learn about it at this school while acting the clueless civilian... properly this time,- Kurama chuckled evilly.

"Why do I have to attend this school?" Naruto asked in a softly dangerous tone, mentally warning the fox not to comment yet only to earn a chuckle in return.

"Because of the magic you inherited from your parents. Without at least basic training it will flare up erratically and put you as well as those around you in danger," the bland man explained simply. "You've likely already shown signs of having a powerful version of it considering that it is at least partly the reason you survived when the assassin tried to kill you after killing your parents. More than that I do not know but it greatly puzzles everyone who knows of that night. The same night in which you became famous for surviving while effectively ending the civil war at the time through the unknown removal of the leader of the rebels who had, incidentally, been going insane. Also, a word of warning, the school master at Hogwarts has been using your authority within the wizarding community. He is also greatly suspected by all who are not blinded by his fame and apparent benevolence to be the one who arranged you kidnapping and previous placement. We don't have the evidence to destroy his reputation enough so that we may remove him from control of the children or out of his multiple political positions. Its another reason we don't think we can give you certain information because he would know and likely act to control you. It doesn't help that he technically your guardian at the moment and we may not be able to get that changed."

"Anything else?" Naruto asked warily.

"The wizards have several spells they use to eliminate evidence of their presence and modify memories. To counter this we have been filming all of this and any medical records will be stored all over the world in both digital and hard copy form. This protocol has been in place for years and the locations are checked and reviewed regularly in various forms by designated memory holders. Expect to have to face such spells in light of your fame," the bland man informed him sympathetically. "The school master has also lead everyone to believe that not only are you treated like a prince complete with extra training but that you have been properly taught the customs of the wizarding community."

"Okay, I can work with all of that but it means lots of reading and research," Naruto muttered with a scowl. He had never been taught how to properly read in his life as a shinobi but his memories as Harry had him being punished for doing better than his so-called cousin in school. Needless to say this drastically reduced his ability to enjoy books and research. Being near constantly thrown out of the library for his Jinchuriki status had not helped in Konoha either though his brieef time as Hokage had actually helped with all the paperwork. He knew how to read and write properly he just hadn't really been given the chance to practice in this new body.

-Just be glad they were required to teach you properly this time as any other student instead of trying to constantly sabotage you under orders from the damn civilian council,- Kurama pointed out. He had followed his host's line of thought and memory without any problem.

Naruto silently conceded the point and remembered fondly his love of reading before his shinobi memories had surfaced and integrated with his Harry ones. May be he wouldn't mind the research and reading as much this time? He would have to wait and see. At least he had enough life experience to know that not all answers are contained in written records.

Neither Naruto nor Kurama had missed the warning about people trying to use them. They had no plans to allow such handling for all they understood why Jiji-Sarutobi had needed to establish his loyalty to Konoha. Despite his continual mistreatment by most citizens he had still loved people there and the village had truly been his home.

"So what do you know about my parents? Discounting the obvious lie by the Dursleys, I know nothing about them and I haven't had a chance to go looking through my merged memories yet," Naruto asked a little to casually.

"The file we have on them is something I don't have full access to but from what I know your father was a bit of a bully and liked borderline cruel pranks. Your mother had some redeeming qualities but she was still convinced to throw away a years long friendship on the grounds that said friend was going evil and on the convincing word of the school master. She was otherwise a popular and pretty girl just as your father was popular, handsome, and rich. Both had matured somewhat after graduating school but not as much as they could have buffered by your father's wealth. Any faults were dismissed by most of the wizarding community when they died protecting you," the bland man summarized.

There was a commotion near the door before the room was inundated with red lights. Naruto saw the bland man drawing a gun even as they both went down blinding him in the blackness of unconsciousness. It was an unpleasant shock to wake back in the familiar cupboard under the stairs.

-Whoever it was tried to change your memories, which I protected. Whatever Jutsu they tried to use to identify you gave them an odd mix of your legal name here and the one you held in Kohona. From their actions they had no real idea who you are in either fashion and were working from obvious protocol. They already had the address of this wretched place so there had to be someone pulling their strings,- Kurama rumbled in obvious disgust.

-Then let the games begin,- Naruto thought back sardonically.

Kurama rumbled a laugh and started repairing the most dangerous damage done to his host's body, leaving the nasty thing in the scar for later as it was mostly contained. Both silently agreed that once they got to this school of magic they would be in a better position to figure out what the hell was going on and why they were so important to the major players. They would look underneath the underneath as they learned of this strange new world.

Over the next few days his treatment by the Dursleys was worse than usual and they caught the three grumbling about being forced to keep him. Neither of the bound duo was pleased at this but found they couldn't blame their nominal relatives for their grumpiness. Though they didn't appreciate the rougher treatment and lack of food in the least.

Kurama had gotten annoyed at his host's resistance to healing and lack of familiar features. As a result he made a few cosmetic changes while he worked on the various injuries that the Dursleys incurred, both new and old. By the time the week before July 31st arrived Naruto had his whisker marks back along with strawberry blond hair that bordered on actual pink. The Kitsune figured it was a decent balance between the hair colors of his brat's first parents to honor them. The thinly placed red highlights represented Lily while the untameability was an acknowledgement of James. Both of them had agreed that no matter who his parents had been as people in either world they needed to be acknowledged for their sacrifice for both sets had acted with honor in his protection.

Then the letter came.

At first neither Naruto nor Kurama could believe what they were seeing om the page for all that they had been briefed by the bland man. It wasn't just the blatant words of magic training that had them incredulous but also the fact that it was done so openly and in a way that anyone could read it. It really made them wonder at the sanity of these wizards for not even taking basic precautions or sending an actual person to explain the situation. In fact it bothered them so much that the Dursleys had time to notice he had gotten the letter and take it from him.

"You won't be going," Vernon told him flatly. "But you may have Dudley's second bedroom for your birthday. You'll move your things right away."

Which just set Dudley off and for the first time that any of them could remember his parents did not let him have his way. Naruto decided to take Dudley aside later and explain a few things about life, including why he got to keep the other boy's second bedroom.

"Dudley, do you want to know why I get the bedroom?" Naruto asked with an infuriating smirk. Vernon and Petunia were in the living room watching a sappy romance or reading.

"Why?" Dudley asked suspiciously.

"Its because they know what they are doing to me and teaching you is wrong. The way the letter was addressed spooked them and made them think we are being watched. Granted, we might be but I'm not sure that its a bad thing or a good thing either way. You see even when you don't tell on me I am getting all of your punishments. As much as you think they care about you they hate me and magic so much that they would rather turn you into as close to a human monster as possible than let you be nice to me or listen to me. How is that love? How is that anything but breaking a toy? I promise you that if you ever had magic they would treat you like they do me, I would be surprised if they didn't. You know what else? Your mum and mine were sisters and I got magic from both my parents, that means that even if you never have magic your kids might. What will they do then? What will you do then?" Naruto asked softly hoping he got his phrasing right to get through to his spoiled cousin.

Dudley gave him a suddenly pale look and bolted out the back door. He didn't come back until supper time and only a slight nod to his cousin matched with a lack of insults and swings told Naruto that he had gotten through. The newly strawberry blond boy, not pink, breathed a sigh of relief.

The continuing flood of letters from the school though irked everyone in the house. Vernon finally got so fed up with the stupid letters that he dragged them into the car in an attempt to escape the insane pieces of parchment a week after they started arriving.

"Can't you use your... you know, to make them stop?" Dudley asked in a falsely snide tone and pleading eyes. His words almost caused his father to drive off the edge of the road in an apoptotic fit.

"Sorry, Dudley but I don't know how to use it. If I had been allowed to practice with it I might have been able to keep it in check and not needed training. I think the letters are insisting I get training so I don't hurt someone as I get older or get stronger. I think that's why they won't leave us alone unless I'm famous or important to them for some reason," Naruto said casually. His words jabbed at the two in the front seat subtly, knowing that his cousin was completely unaware of his status beyond unwanted Freak and cousin.

The original plan, as overheard by both boys, had been to stop for at least one night at a hotel before getting to whatever remote place that Vernon had picked as a bolt hole. That changed with Dudley's question and Naruto's answer so they got to the rock with the hut just before the storm hit rather than part way through the early deluge. Once the snack bits had been handed out for the various meals, with Naruto's being the smallest as usual, they settled down into their designated areas in the ramshackle building.

"Here, you need to have enough energy to keep your thing in control," Dudley said, shoving a third of his food into Naruto's hands and shocking him in the process.

"Thanks Dudley," Naruto whispered in complete sincerity. He had been punished a lot lately with a lack of food and was really feeling it despite what the fox and experience had done to lessen the immediate painful impact. The additional food, if rationed correctly to avoid getting sick, would keep him from collapsing to soon during this mad dash and whatever came after it.

Right at midnight as he was keeping the tradition he had started when he was only Harry of watching the clock there was a booming knock on the battered door of the hut. What followed was meeting Hagrid, Dudley giving into his sweet tooth only to get a pig's tail, and a name being put to the unknown face of the school master who was looking to be another Danzo.

Hagrid's actions and explanations had both Naruto and Kurama thinking plant before downgrading it to clueless plant after he blew up over the supposed insult to Dumbledore.

"I'm not going with you. You aren't even a teacher so why shouldn't I think you were trying to kidnap me?" Naruto said belligerently, his eyes flat in calculation. The idea was to force someone with more information/authority to come and talk to him but sending the giant man away was a serious risk. "Besides if you're willing to give my cousin a tail what's to stop you from doing something to me?"

Hagrid was clearly stumped. Naruto completely ignored the looks of shock mixed with dismay, horror, and a vague satisfaction from the adult Dursleys. Dudley was too focused on having a new tail to think of anything else.

"But I wouldn' do th'at!" Hagrid protested.

"You don't have any ID, you could be lying, you did something weird to my cousin, and I'm going to be punished for you even being here. Its obvious that you aren't qualified to teach anything, especially since you already admitted that you weren't supposed to do magic. Which means that I would get in even more trouble for helping you than what I will just for you being here and not normal. Nothing you say is adding up and you're obviously dangerous. Aside from what you did to Dudley I have no proof you are who you say you are," Naruto said flatly.

"Boy?" Vernon asked in confusion as Dudley hid behind his parents.

"You're always going on about me being a burden but you keep me sort of protected any way. If I go with him without any proof or ID then someone may come and get Dudley too," Naruto pointed out reasonably. That hardened the resolve of his Aunt and Uncle. What followed was an epic scolding and shouting match that eventually drove the large man away, back out into the storm.

"Can you fix it?" Dudley asked in panic, gesturing at his tail.

"No, but I bet whoever comes to get me next can," Naruto said cheerfully. "This way I get someone competent and you guys get someone to talk to seriously about all of this."

"You didn't go on purpose so that they have to come and fix it?" Dudley said in awe before his parents could finish spluttering in indignation at being used.

"Partly," Naruto agreed but didn't bother to elaborate. Eventually, they all went back to whatever passed for their bed in the ramshackle hut. He still officially lost his food privileges for the next three days and a silent agreement formed with a single glance between the boys so that Naruto wouldn't actually be without food during that time.

The next morning, at an actually decent hour, someone knocked politely on the door. This caused it to fall once more to the floor, nearly squashing Naruto, because of the way Hagrid had broken it the night before. On the other side of the door they found a regal old woman in a full length tartan dress who introduced herself as Deputy Headmistress Minerva McGonagall.

"I do apologize for Hagrid's visit. For some strange reason the Headmaster insisted on him coming to pick up Mr. Potter rather than following protocol as a muggle raised potential student. Normally, anyone raised in the muggle world is spoken to by the Headmaster, Deputy Headmaster, or one of the four Heads of House who are rather like dorm mothers. I will never understand that man. He's strange even for one of our more eccentric members of our community," McGonagall complained.

"Do you have ID and can you fix Dudley? The other guy gave him a tail," Naruto said promptly, dismaying everyone else in the room and amusing the Kitsune stuck inside his belly greatly.

"Let me see," McGonagall instructed wearily. Dudley, now trusting Naruto somewhat, showed her the pig's tail. A silent swish of her wand and he was back to normal, much to the relief of the Dursleys. "I will have to do something about that when I get back. Hagrid was expelled and while he has enough training to keep from hurting someone he isn't actually allowed to practice magic because he never got his certification. I wonder where he hid whatever he used as a wand?"

"It was a pink umbrella," Naruto offered with a wrinkled nose of distaste.

"Thank you young man. I apologize for the actions of our grounds keeper... er, is this your normal residence?" McGonagall asked in concern.

"Nope, the flood of letters just spooked Uncle Vernon and they don't want me going to magic school. He's already sworn that they won't pay for it," Naruto informed her, cheerfully tossing his Uncle under the bus so to speak.

"At least you got a bedroom out of the first letter. I bet that your cupboard was getting a bit small," Dudley pointed out, forgetting for a moment that he wasn't supposed to mention Naruto's mistreatment in front of anyone outside the family.

"Cupboard?" McGonagall asked in a stunned voice.

"Its nothing, the boy just likes hiding in there. He has a proper bedroom," Vernon said. The now went unspoken. Naruto knew better than to contradict the large man, he was already on too short rations already and couldn't risk being hurt on top of it.

"Well Mr. Potter, your Uncle doesn't have to pay since your parents pre-paid for your seven years at Hogwarts and your trust fund should easily cover any supplies and books. I bet your Aunt and Uncle get a stipend from your parent's estate to help take care of you. That said you will have to give up those clothes, no matter how much you may like them, and wear a uniform and properly mended casual clothes on weekends. Is there anything you would like to ask? Or has Petunia already covered your questions about Hogwarts since I distinctly remember her sister frequently writing home when she attended as one of the students?" McGonagall asked politely. She knew how rough teenagers could be on their favorite clothes. While she hadn't ever seen a set that had gotten as bad as what Harry was wearing, all stretched, stained, and torn but lovingly repaired, she knew it was possible. She also didn't want to yet face the fact that her original instincts on that night had been right and that Harry had not been well treated for the last ten years.

"I want none of this nonsense in my home! Boy, if you go to that school you are never again welcome in our home!" Vernon declared stubbornly. "We've never seen even one penny for taking care of that abomination and we wouldn't take it to keep him even if we had!"

"Very well. This isn't the first time for such a thing to happen. I am afraid that every young witch or wizard must have some training or they become a danger to one and all as their magic attempts to help or protect them. As such you will need to sign these papers so that I have the authority as his temporary guardian to find him a home and get him medical care," Minerva told them. Her righteous anger simmered deep in her gut, already on the edge of outright fury but for being ruthlessly strangled. She promptly produced the appropriate Ministry and muggle paperwork, feeling heartsick but glad that they hadn't tried to kill him before she even got to meet him.

"We'll never see the little monster again?" Petunia asked suspiciously. She had some vague notion left over from the previous memory modification that they had tried getting rid of him before and it hadn't worked.

"Certainly, not if I can help it!" McGonagall huffed indignantly. She made a mental note to go over the basics of the Wizarding World, Harry's role in it, and the basics of Hogwarts.

The papers were signed with obvious glee as Naruto watched on impassively, unnerving the witch greatly.

"Mr. Potter is there anything you would like to retrieve and if so where is it so that we may fetch it?" McGonagall asked politely.

"I snuck my toys and drawing pad into Dudley's bag," Naruto said happily. He quickly retrieved the broken toy soldier, half mangled drawing pad with pencil stubs, battered spinning top, and bits of string with beads to show her. When his memories had merged they were still precious to him as parts of his second childhood and solace in the dark of his cupboard.

"Any clothes?" McGonagall asked uncertainly. Naruto shook his head meekly, much to Kurama's amusement. Her lips thinned until they were nearly gone as her temper finally showed its head. The vicious glare she sent at Petunia and Vernon could have stripped paint but Dudley's fetching of his favorite jacket and shoving it into Naruto's arms earned him a smile from both magic users.

"Thanks Dudley!" Naruto thanked him with a wide happy grin. He knew that the jacket would be able to last him well into adulthood with its nice leather and large size. It even had an embroidered dark orange flame logo on the back that he planned to supplement with the Uzumaki Clan spiral once he got some leather working tools.

"You made sure that guy didn't try to hurt me and taught me how to not get caught by his trap," Dudley ad-libbed, much to his parent's shock. "I owe you at least a good jacket that will keep you from getting caught on fences when rescuing people."

"You said you didn't want them to know," Naruto pointed out, eyeing the elder Dursleys warily as if the fictional incident had actually happened.

"Yeah well, like you said they would have freaked about how you helped when the guy had about knocked you silly," Dudley informed/reminded him. He was referencing one of the many times Harry had a concussion that went untreated as part of their story. Naruto nodded and the two magic users left the hut.

"Now Mr. Potter you will have to hold tightly to me, apparation isn't exactly pleasant so don't be concerned if you get sick when we land. It just takes a bit of practice and feels infinitely better when you are the one in control of the trip," McGonagall warned as she took a firm hold of him in preparation for the trip. Naruto nodded silently and took hold of her waist with a death grip, hoping it wasn't as bad as some of the transport Jutsu's he had to deal with before.

A single step, a sucking of their bodies through a straw and they landed in the apparation zone in the back courtyard of the Leaky Cauldron. Naruto fought to keep what little food he had in his stomach in place. He knew it had been really bad when his tenant went and fixed his nausea in a minor surge of chakra.

The two stayed put until both were silently sure that the other wasn't going to be sick before calmly stepping apart.

"As I said it takes some getting used too. Most magical means of transport do," McGonagall conceded. It took her but a moment to draw her wand and tap the sequence to enter Diagon Alley. It took several seconds afterwards for Naruto to comprehend what he was seeing and give her a face splitting grin of delight, acting like a proper eleven year old for once. "First stop the bank. Now, when we enter you need to be very respectful and understand that the goblins that run the bank are a warrior race. They do not hold wizards and witches in very high esteem for various reasons. Think of them like oh, honorable knights but much more fierce and blood thirsty. You greet them by offering a hopeful blessing of gold and/or bloodshed. The wording will need to come from you so that they know your greeting is honest."

"Thanks! I don't feel like being stabbed today," Naruto said in grateful appreciation.

McGonagall's amused smile told him that she hadn't taken his words seriously but as more of a joke. Since he'd meant it both ways it didn't bother him. He did make a mental note to be more careful about using shinobi humor around witches and wizards though.

Naruto noted the warning rhyme with great approval and respectfully bowed to the goblin guards as they passed, much to McGonagall's confusion and the goblin's delight. The entrance was in easy view of most tellers and every goblin that could took careful note of his respectful actions. They were subsequently given a slightly higher priority and collected by one of the tellers directly.

"I am Griphook, please come with me," Griphook, a gnarled goblin with the short stature and rough features of his kind, requested. McGonagall gave the goblin a look that said volumes about knowing something was unusual but silently followed with Naruto trailing behind her. They were led to a private conference room and all took a seat around a table.

"I am here as Hogwarts' Deputy Headmistress escorting an incoming student," McGonagall said, gesturing for Naruto to introduce himself.

Naruto stood and bowed as one warrior to another, never loosing eye contact with the short warrior before speaking, "Hello. I can't introduce myself since my name is in a bit of confusion but I've been told I am called Harry Potter by many. May your gold ever grow, and the blood of your enemies forever stain your blade or turn to become true allies."

The other two were shocked for different reasons as Naruto retook his seat calmly.

"Well, we needed an inheritance test any way," McGonagall said faintly.

"As this will double as confirmation of Identity the price is cut in half, 25 Galleons," Griphook informed her politely.

"This situation is a special case, take it from my vault. Also, you might want to audit the Potter accounts as I discovered this morning that his caretakers have received nothing for his care. I doubt he or his former guardians ever held his key and if they did they never used the money on him," McGonagall said firmly, regaining her equilibrium.

"Thank you for the warning," Griphook grunted. A quick call and they had a silver bowl, silver knife, and specially treated parchment for the inheritance test. "Three drops of blood on the parchment for Identity then 5 drops into the bowl before slowly pouring it over the same place that the three drops landed. The blood will become ink and list out your family tree."

"Er, that might go just a bit strange. Odd things happen around me," Naruto warned with a nervous laugh. Griphook nodded his acknowledgement of the warning and indicated for him to proceed.

Naruto did the first part without hesitation and his three drops of blood formed his new name as well as his titles.


Full Legal Name: Naruto Hadrian Orion Uzumaki-Namikaze-Potter
Short Form: Naruto Hadrian Orion Uzumaki
Nom de gur: Harry James Potter

Titles:

Wizarding Titles:
Savior of the Wizarding World
Chosen One
Lord Potter(Unclaimed)
Lord Black(Unclaimed)
Lord Peverell(Heir Battle - Unclaimed)
Lord Gaunt(Heir Battle - Unclaimed)
Lord Slytherin(Heir Battle - Unclaimed)

Titles of the Elemental Nations:
Nanadaime Hokage
Head of Uzumaki Clan
Konoha's Orange Hokage
Son of the Yellow Flash
Kyubi Jinchuriki
Hero of the Hidden Leaf
Boy of Miracles
Number One Unpredictable Ninja
Child of Prophecy
Noisy Ninja
Son of the Sage of Six Path's - Asura: Reincarnated
Friend of the Tailed Beasts
Toad Sage


"Ah, so the merge even shows up on magic tests," Naruto said with a knowing grin and a nod of satisfaction. The other two just stared at him in shock. Kyubi chuckled darkly and sent out a small pulse of chakra to supercharge the small amount of blood, making a list of abilities appear.


Abilities:

Wizarding Abilities:
Parseltongue (Horcrux contribution)
Partial Metamorphmagi (Hair Length/Color)
Enhanced Healing - Active

Shinobi Abilities:
Uzumaki Chakra
Uzumaki Stamina
Kyubi Jinchuriki Attribute: Advanced Healing - Partially Inactive, may depend on mood of Kyubi
Toad Sage Mode - Locked, needs remastery with Toad Sage and Toad Summoning Contract
Sage of Six Paths Mode - Locked, needs remastery
Nine-Tails Chakra Mode - Partially Locked, version 1 & 2 released
Kurama Mode - Locked, needs active cooperation and permission of Kyubi
Tailed Beast Mode - Locked, needs near death experience
Toad Summoning Contract - Broken, no longer attainable


"Well fuck, I really am back at academy level. Ah man, I'm going to have to retrain in everything. Not that I wouldn't have had to any way with this new body but still..." Naruto said, trailing off into stumped yet thoughtful silence, shocking the other two back into motion.

"Nanadaime, you have been missing for enough time that you were believed dead yet the Kyubi did not reappear as it would had you died and the seal broke. According to our records it has been 25 years since you were last seen. Iruka Umino accepted the Hokage position in honor of you once Sasuke Uchiha broke the illusion attached to the moon and disappeared. Apparently, the consensus was that there was need of a teacher to act as leader to help avoid renewing the conflict as you were not there to fulfill your duties. You were declared dead and given honors. The peace you forged through the survivors still holds today," Griphook explained very carefully. This warrior turned boy was greatly respected by his people and there would be shock waves at his discovery much less of his merging with the Potter Heir.

"I'm glad they lived past what happened to me," Naruto grinned happily, only to receive a mental whack from his Kitsune tenant.

"The goblin nation requests permission to send news of your survival to the Kages of the Elemental Nations," Griphook said formally.

"Eh, do you have to?" Naruto asked, doing his best to give the goblin puppy dog eyes.

"To not do so could cause war," Griphook said firmly, brooking no argument.

"Fine, but make sure its as secure as you can make it. Tell them it is a gift of a SSS-rank secret in congratulations or something. If they've moved on without me then that's a good thing since messing with time traveling to the past is generally a bad idea. Also... I'm basically untrained again," Naruto's last words were sheepish but he knew that the warrior across from him understood. He was incredibly vulnerable and if his enemies heard about it there was no telling if he would survive to the end of the week.

"We understand your concern and promise the utmost confidentiality," Griphook promised sincerely.

"What on earth are you talking about?!" McGonagall asked in complete bewilderment.

"Someone merged Konoha's Orange Hokage with young Mr. Potter. They are now one and the same person," Griphook explained, gesturing at Naruto who waved Hello sheepishly. "His friends and allies have been looking for him since he disappeared nearly 25 years ago. He was a trained and well respected warrior not only among his own people but also gained respect among the goblins. He disappeared before we could find a way to contact him and offer our aid in the conflict he was fighting. The merging of the two has combined their memories..."

"And bodies (sort of), and minds, and spirits," Naruto put in sheepishly. "I've still got Kyubi."

-Brat, repeat after me so that the goblin can understand. I, Kurama Kitsune, Nine-Tailed Beast and son of the Sage of Six Paths do recognize this kit as my child and heir,- Kurama ordered. He took the extra step of assuming temporary control of Naruto's vocal cords and mouth to make sure everything was said consequentially deepening Naruto's voice into a growling thunder temporarily.

"I, Kurama Kitsune, Nine-Tailed Beast and son of the Sage of Six Paths do recognize this kit as my child and heir," Naruto rumbled in the voice of Kyubi, his eyes wide in shock. The moment he regained control of his own mouth and tongue he started cursing in Japanese before finally switching back to English with a final "Stupid fucking fox!"

Evil laughter echoed through his mind and he knew that whatever had just happened was something that would forever change his life, sending a shiver of ice down his spine. Stupid Fox.

They all watched as the title: Child and Heir of the Kyubi no Kitsune added itself to the list. While Kitsune became his last name moving the other last names back into individual names as alternate middle or last names for use in his short form. Consequentially, his full name became: Naruto Hadrian Orion Uzumaki Namikaze Potter Kitsune while his short name became: Naruto Hadrian Orion Kitsune.

"Well, that changes a few things," Griphook said shakily. "I will personally see to the audit of your accounts Kitsune-sama. Is there anything I can aid in obtaining for you or any service you might inquire about?"

"I could do with some proper Shinobi gear," Naruto muttered sulkily, still put out while the fox continued to laugh madly in the back of his mind.

"I will add the request to the announcement of your return and ask our smiths if they would be willing to forge you weapons. You say that your skills have vanished in the merger?" Griphook asked carefully, making a note of the request.

"Yeah, my body reverted to academy level so I only retained the mental disciplines and knowledge, well except for Kyubi coming along for the ride. Though I haven't checked the seal yet. I should probably do that. Of course since we're friends now and he has apparently adopted me he wont try anything possession wise unless someone else is trying to screw with us," Naruto said thoughtfully. "Since I was basically sabotaged the last time around on the orders of the stupid council I had to work out a lot of things myself. Now that I know what works and what doesn't I'll have a better idea of how to train to a proper level. There is also this magic that I'm supposed to go to school for and I don't know what I need in regards to that or how it will interact with chakra manipulation. Will I have to pick one or the other? Or can I train both of them?"

"Who is your current guardian?" Griphook asked seriously.

"I am," McGonagall admitted, bewildered. She had no clue what was going on or what was being discussed. It made her a bit nervous, especially since she technically had guardianship of this young man who both was and was not the child of her favorite students Lily and James.

"May I see the paperwork? I presume you haven't filed it yet," Griphook asked politely. McGonagall handed it over and upon seeing which set of guardianship transfer papers she had used broke into a wide toothy grin. A quick word in gobbledygook into a communication ring had someone dashing in a new set of paperwork as well refreshments. "Professor McGonagall, due to the unique situation Mr. Kitsune nee Potter will need extra training which is mostly unavailable in the British Wizarding World. He can self train using his previous memories but that does not give him the normal student-teacher safety net. That said he has responsibilities in Asia which will need to be met at some point, including the revitalization of his Clan. Clan's are their equivalent of a wizarding Lordship."

"I understand so far," McGonagall said suspiciously. Griphook nodded and continued, both clients watching him warily.

"As it is clear due to his fame status and other factors that powerful figures in both Asia and the Wizarding World would seek to control him I am invoking a goblin covenant with you. On the publicly accessible official papers you will remain his guardian but on the real ones the goblin nation and the Gringotts Clan in particular will take on his guardianship. This will prevent a potential war and allow for him to receive the correct training that his unique abilities require to be safe on all fronts. His Kitsune training will likely evolve in the form of varying levels of pranks which will be employed nearly everywhere he goes. His shinobi training is somewhat covered by his memories of previous training. Though Gringotts will be supplying him with necessary gear and guidance we can not be seen to be in control of him with his status as Harry James Potter. Doing so would likely cause another war between our peoples yet allowing the wizards to keep control of him in any fashion would likely result in a different war with the people of the Elemental Nations. You will be handsomely compensated for entering this joint guardianship with the goblin nation and listed as friend of the goblin race. Upon arrival the likely representative to be sent to confirm his presence will receive mentor or secondary guardian status thus giving him a guardian in each concerned community," Griphook explained patiently.

"I hate politics," Naruto muttered in resignation. Kurama hummed thoughtfully in the back of his mind but didn't say anything.

"Even if I agree how would we explain why I have guardianship?" McGonagall asked warily.

"You accidentally provided the wrong guardianship papers when accepting him from his unwanting relatives, instead providing adoption papers. As you already have had children and raised them there is no threat to the succession or survival of your family. We would provide the official adoption paperwork and file them. It would be up to the two of you if you wish to blood adopt him as well," Griphook summarized.

"Blood adopt?" Naruto asked curiously.

"A potion, medicine, that allows you to take on the bloodline of the adopting parent so that you are not only their child legally but in fact as your blood would show them as your parent," Griphook clarified. "It does not replace the original parentage unless you use the specific formula that does so thus granting a third parent, just as your merge gave you four parents. In this case you would have five parents should she accept. This will give you an extra layer of protection and a family to call on should the need arise, Lord Hokage."

Naruto pondered this and reluctantly nodded. He could see the practical points in that and wistfully hoped that if she adopted him he would actually be part of the family and accepted by the rest of the McGonagall Clan. Being an orphan twice over wasn't fun.

"If I blood adopt him than I would in truth be his mother and would insist on fulfilling those duties," McGonagall pointed out stoutly. If she was going to do this she would to it the right way and wholeheartedly.

"Indeed and that would be taken into account should you choose that route. We are willing to take the blame of suggesting it should someone object. Perhaps we would use the odd movements on his accounts as justification knowing that you are an honorable woman? Even if there is no strange movement in his accounts we can manufacture it at need," Griphook suggested slyly. Oh how the wizarding world would be in for a shock and those high in wizarding power would weep and curse for the loss of control over this young warrior!

"I agree with your proposal and request the use of a blood adoption potion," McGonagall said formally.

"It will be done. By the end of today your account status and personal status with Gringotts will be corrected. You may now request special services and extra training as a member of the goblin people since you are choosing to adopt one of ours honorably to keep thieves and traitors from his back as he grows. Due to your age, Professor McGonagall, you will not be required to fulfill any of the combat training that any member of the goblin nation must under go. I welcome you brother and sister to the Gringotts Clan," Griphook said formally, his face split by a toothy grin.

Naruto and McGonagall nodded solemnly in response before breaking into their own smiles. The blood adoption proceeded without issue and the Inheritance test was performed a second time, creating an official yet crazy family tree for Naruto as it listed his Shinobi heritage with his Wizarding heritage. There were no further changes in his title but McGonagall was added to the list of last names next to Potter making his full legal name: Naruto Hadrian Orion Uzumaki Namikaze Potter McGonagall Kitsune.

"We need to take you to St. Mungeos for a check up and get your things for school as well as your uniforms," McGonagall call me Minerva said thoughtfully.

"Ah someone already checked me over and Kyubi was interested. So when they found problems he kinda got upset and started healing me. I think he's still fixing bits and pieces," Naruto said sheepishly. A sharp pain in his eyes had him saying "OW!" as he ripped the hideous glasses free and rubbed furiously at his green eyes. When he blinked them and looked back at the other two he cried jubilantly. "Yes! No more four-eyes! No more stupid glasses that don't even work right!"

They found his sudden victory dance highly amusing and his sudden healing a sharp reminder of Kurama's presence.

-Kit, tell them that I don't want any magic intruding while I fix the things those Dursleys broke and mangled,- Kurama ordered absently as he finally had the chance to go to town on the various internal injuries Naruto's body had received over the years, helped along by the blood adoption potion as a catalyst.

"He said he doesn't want any extra magic messing with what he's healing. I think he's using the blood adoption to fix a bunch of things fast that would usually take him a lot more time to mess with," Naruto obediently conveyed.

"Understood," Griphook agreed in complete understanding. Minerva reluctantly nodded her own agreement.

"Then I suppose we should leave your clothes for last or another day so that if your body changes to greatly we won't have to buy you two separate wardrobes," Minerva said with a pained chuckle. She had a good idea now that his previous guardians should be brought up on charges for hurting him but wasn't sure she could successfully get it done. A quiet word to Griphook while Naruto continued celebrating had Killing Intent filling the room which was quickly hidden and brought the strawberry blond sharply back to reality.

"No need to worry young warrior. I was merely informed of something that needs looking into," Griphook said, waving away the shinobi's sudden concern.

"Alright," Naruto reluctantly agreed. A quick collection of funds and they left the bank for their shopping.

Griphook wasted no time in sending off the message to the Kages and ordering that the security records be used to make a self adjusting wardrobe for Naruto. The complete wardrobe would include a full Hogwarts uniform set and with discrete armoring and weapons locations. This young warrior would not be lost to them due to the foolishness of wizards!

In Diagon Alley Minerva found that healing changes or not she could not abide seeing her new son in rags any longer. As a result she marched him straight into Madam Malkins and made him pick out new clothing to wear immediately as well as a back up set followed by going to the boot maker down the way. Thus she was exposed to his puzzling need to have orange in his wardrobe, fearing that her son had the fashion sense of Albus she asked why. This exposed her to the tale of how in his shinobi life the Anbu had gifted him an entire wardrobe of Orange jumpsuits. This of course was thought to be because at the time the shopkeepers wouldn't sell him clothing or would mark it so high for him as to be out of range of his meager allowance. He, of course, later discovered that he had gotten too good at evading his protective detail and this was their attempt to not only clothe him properly but to keep better track of him. No one had anticipated that it would only force him to advance his stealth and pranking skills to epic levels or make it his favorite color. Which led to his explaining about the Elemental Nations and the system of Hidden Villages as well as what exactly a Hokage was. Thus dressed far more appropriately they braved the other shops for his school supplies.

In one store Minerva caught him selecting a bottle of fire-whiskey and snatched it out of his hand, scolding him. It was at that point that Naruto regretfully explained to his new mother the harsh reality of shinobi life, finally realizing that she was a civilian. Her stern demeanor had fooled him and he needed her to understand exactly why he may have to do some things that would horrify her and give them both nightmares.

"Shinobi almost never live to see old age. When we receive our forehead protectors we are declared adults in every sense of the word. Old enough to kill, is old enough to drink and to fuck. There is a certain physical age and a certain rank barrier that prevents exploitation. You must be 16 or be in a previously established relationship such as an arranged marriage to have a relationship with someone more than a few years older than you. Or for a relationship between a lesser ranked shinobi and a higher ranked one the lower ranked shinobi must be at least Chunnin or in a previously established relationship. Breaking these silent rules have serious consequences because it can lead to harm for not only the rest of the shinobi forces but the village as a whole. For civilians they must be of roughly equal age until reaching the legal adult age or in an established relationship. Which is not so different for shinobi only relationships. The real problems come from trying to have a relationship between nations or Hidden Villages without sanction from your superiors or it being a political ploy," Naruto explained softly. He had pulled her to a quiet corner of the store and done his best to assure their privacy.

At her shocked stare he gave a sad smile and contained his explanation. "As Hokage I am... was the leader of my village and general to her shinobi forces. I have fought, I have killed, and I have utterly destroyed other shinobi. The packet the goblins gave me was a summary of your war and my own importance to that war. If I am attacked or forced to fight I will use all of my skills and while I will try to spare life when possible I recognize that it will truly be war and I will once more be forced to kill. As my Okaa-san, mother, you will be a target as will the rest of the Clan. I will teach those I can the way of the shinobi so that more of them may survive or at least use their lives to guard the rest. There is no such thing as a bloodless war nor a short victorious one. My nindo, way of the ninja, is to always keep my word and to keep those closest to me as safe and happy as possible. Do not worry, I will bring honor to our clan."

A gentle kiss on her cheek, quickly stolen with a light jump, had her blushing and pulling him into her side for a fierce hug. No more was said about it as they finished their shopping.

"As we agreed Mr. Kitsune you will select two wands, one for each of your unique personalities. I am to know what wands you obtain and if you need to replace them for any reason. I am also requiring you as my ward to keep them on you in holsters at all times. To that end I will buy you dragon leather holsters charmed so that they will not come off except for the one who placed them. They will each have self cleaning charms, impervious charms, and indestructible charms to prevent them from being ruined by the adventures that every young boy gets up to. Indeed they will stand up to the beating that an Auror or Unspeakable might put them through and I have known them to survive multiple wars to be passed down through at least three generations of family, provided the charms are renewed at the appropriate times. I will however allow you to select them and a back up for each," Minerva instructed as if they were continuing a conversation started outside the shop.

Olivander popped out of his usual hiding place in clear curiosity to observe the pair of new customers, noting the word ward and the lack of parents with the Professor. He didn't bother with the spooky mystical impression act as he would with others since he didn't want to be on the wrong end of the woman's wand.

"Hello!" the small strawberry blond boy with red highlights greeted cheerfully.

The youth acted as if he'd known where the older man was the entire time. A few bangs moved, revealing a jagged lightning scar that made Olivander wonder if this was Harry Potter under another name. He also wondered if he could get out of giving the young man the brother wand of the Dark Lord before remembering that he had to at least try or the consequences would be dire for him. Though the obvious lack of resemblance to his parents amused the wandmaker greatly as it would throw old Albus into a tizzy and ruin the image he had been building around the boy for years.

"There is a specific wand the Headmaster wants you to try Mr. Potter. From what little I have observed since you entered the shop I don't think it will fit you and the wand truly chooses the wizard. I would ask you to try the selected wand first and if it fits you I will allow you to take it with you free of charge along with whichever wand is chosen as your second. I will also not report your second wand to anyone, Ministry, Death Eater, or Hogwarts Staff included. I will leave that up to your discretion, as it should always be. Do you accept my terms?" Olivander offered genially.

"Why?" Naruto asked with borderline playful suspicion.

"I can tell that you will not suffer to be controlled or suffer fools to even try. You are clearly honorable yet I sense an air of mischief about you that matches with what Professor McGonagall called you... Kitsune. You are, from what I can see, very like those fabled magical creatures and I have no wish to be on the wrong end of your pranks," Olivander admitted with obvious amusement. "Though I would dearly like to see what you plan to pull on the old meddler. Alas, I am not a student or teacher at Hogwarts to enjoy the show you are certain to put on."

"Alright," Naruto agreed cheerfully. Kurama started laughing madly in the back of his head, making the boy wince briefly at the force of his friend's amusement.

"Kurama stop giving Naruto a headache, you'll get your turn to try for a wand once Naruto has his," Minerva scolded, earning a surprised look from Olivander.

"I've got two people in one body?" Naruto asked sheepishly.

Olivander laughed and congratulated them on the clever ploy to get a back up wand, obviously not believing them but willing to officially play along, before turning and fetching the brother wand to Voldemort. The moment that Naruto touched it Kurama noticed the increased activity in the nasty thing hiding in his brat's scar. A moment later he cut the connection to the nerves in the hand holding the wand, forcing his brat to drop it just as it sparked gold and silver.

-I'm gonna have to eat the stupid thing sooner than I thought,- Kurama grumbled in clear irritation as he eyed the blob of strangeness warily.

"Apparently, the wand is willing but you are not. How very odd. Well, as promised you may select two. I will start pulling the wands for you to test," Olivander said giving both Naruto and the wand odd looks before carefully retrieving the fallen wand and returning it to its box and shelf.

-This is going to take forever,- Kurama grumbled.

-Got a better way?- Naruto shot back sarcastically.

-Yes, actually,- Kurama said smugly before starting to gather his chakra.

-Stupid fox what are you...- Naruto started to complain only to be cut off by a deafening mental roar that he felt to his very bones as chakra flowed from him like water.

The young shinobi could very clearly feel that it was a mix of his and the fox's chakra forming in a pattern that mimicked powerful nature chakra and completely neutral to boot. The chakra was so thick in the air that it formed a bluish colored mist that had tentacles which plucked boxes from all over the store, laying them in two separate piles as the three humans watched in shock and awe. A total of seven wands were selected, a group of four and a group of three, held aloft by the flowing chakra. In the group of three there was one made of Acacia wood, one of Beech wood, and Minerva's own Fir wand which had slipped from her sleeve to join the others in flight. In the second group there was one of Ash, one of Hornbeam, one of Cherry, and one of Cedar.

For a moment of perfect stillness that caught everyone's breath nothing happened then they slid into two flower shapes, wand tips nearly touching in the center to flow outwards as petals. Then they began to spin in a whirlpool like fashion, faster and faster and faster until they were a blur. When they started to slow down, giving more solid form to the blur they found two wands floating calmly in mid air.

The one that had once been three wands was three distinct colors twisted into a smooth spiral shape all up and down its length. The handle though was carved in the shape of a sleeping lioness wrapped around a Phoenix feather. It measured out at 10" exactly.

The one which had been four separate wands on the other hand had a twisting intertwining pattern in the four colors of wood blending so as to seem like only one piece of wood was used in its creation. The handle mirrored that of a familiar Kunai that Naruto had once grown up using. A Kitsune was carved, tails streaming in mid run along its length past the handle all the way so that the lupine nose touched the tip and the tips of the tails stopped just short of the top of the handle. This one measured out at a touch beyond 11". Both new wands were works of art.

"I don't think you need two wands," Olivander choked out. The sight of the wand merging and the wands being offered to them separately was something he would never forget. It was also a very clear warning not to mess with the happy youth for he held immense power to terrify even the strongest of wizards. The old wandmaker had no idea he was facing the Jinchuriki of the Kyubi no Kitsune and an Uzumaki to boot, not that anyone telling him that would have made it any clearer to him.

"We are most certainly getting you a trunk with an extra room so that you can meditate in peace. I have no doubt that you will need it regularly and the castle can not be relied upon to have a quiet place for you to retreat to. A few extra galleons will save us the trouble in that regard," Minerva declared archly as she graciously accepted her newly crafted wand.

"Um... oops?" Naruto said sheepishly, rubbing the back of his head in embarrassment as he mentally cursed the laughing fox sharing his skull. He snatched his new wand out of the air, testing the balance as if it were an actual kunai before wandering over to the holsters along the wall and selecting one. A glance at his new mother and he selected a second one, taking them both over to be enchanted and pay for everything.

They quickly left and got the final thing Naruto needed, his trunk. He took to trying to convincing to get her to buy one with three storage compartments and several rooms once he understood her explanation about wizard space. Her amused exasperation reminded him that while he might want it he didn't need it, not yet at least.

"Naruto I am the one paying for every thing. Once we find out what is going on with your accounts and have that sorted out you can use your own money to buy things. I still have to pay for an entirely new wardrobe for my new son," Minerva scolded in fond exasperation making him droop in sheepish disappointment. Naruto gazed down at the floor, memories of the first time he met his birth mother before opening his mouth to explain.

"Please understand... I have never known the love a parent before," Naruto said sighing softly, while running his fingers thru his hair. "I have had to take care of myself, have only depended on myself for so very long. I was hated in the orphanage. As soon as I was old enough at the age of 6, I was place in an apartment by myself and give a monthly allowance by the 3rd Hokage. I have had to feed and clothe myself to the best of my ability. I was alone for a very long time before things changed," He paused long enough to take a deep breath trying to hold back his emotions. "Having Harry's memories are even worse in a way, being beaten, starved, being told that I am a freak, worthless. That I will never be loved. I have heard those same words from the villagers growing up."

Naruto gasped suddenly, his eyes shooting up to meet his mother's compassionate gaze as he felt strong warm arms wrapped tightly around him, pulling him in close and holding him securely. Minerva's voice was raspy, as she held back her nearly overwhelming emotions, reaching his ear, "Never again will you be alone. Oh little leinibh, you have me now, and you are not worthless, or a freak, and I promise you, I already love you with all my heart my son."

"Okaa-san," Naruto whispered as he clung to her, his grip fierce enough to bruise them both, something they both ignored as they took comfort from one another.

They left the shop with a plain, serviceable trunk that had three compartments: clothes, books/parchment/inks/quills, potion things/ingredients, and a meditation room. It was reasoned that anything else could be stored in Minerva's quarters or arranged for later. Strangely when Naruto tried to only get one with a single compartment and a meditation room, bowing to his mother's wish not to overspend on extras she had stopped him.

"No Naruto, put that one back. You need three compartments with the meditation room. One for your clothes, one for your schoolwork, books, ink, and quills, and one for your potion things. This will reduce the risk of contamination and keep things from reacting badly with one another. You will also be getting a feather light charm on it, and a shrinking rune that will work like a switch when you tap it with your wand. I would normally prefer that the lock not be magically assigned to only you in case the staff needs to get inside for some reason. However, with your... fans, you need the extra security so we will both be keyed to it. The blood lock will make it slightly sentient so do not abuse the privilege," Minerva informed her surprised son. "Due to your memory situation I will likely treat you as older than your body is and punish you appropriately for your mental age when you get into trouble."

"Yatta! You are awesome Okaa-san! Hey, can we pull a prank on the school? Make them think we don't know each other? Oh! Or I could answer to Kitsune at the sorting and then when you call out Potter I could stand up and confuse everyone as I get sorted again! Maybe use fuzzy but as the second me for the sorting... if that will even work," Naruto said excitedly. Minerva's laughter was like clear bells as it rang out around the shop and brought her son back down to earth sheepishly.

"I will punish you if the pranking is undeserved or harms anyone but I don't see why we can't use the two you just suggested. It might keep the meddlesome old coot from bothering us too much," Minerva suggested in open amusement.

"Thanks Okaa-san!" Naruto said gleefully.

Chapter Text

Minerva observed her new son thoughtfully as he nearly fell asleep over his food in the Leaky Cauldron. Somehow she suspected that Kyubi's healing, who's situation he had explained earlier, his previous mistreatment and the effects of the blood adoption were taking an excessive toll on him. He would need rest and food, a place of safety for even she could tell that as tired as he was her precious boy was still as alert as possible for danger.

The thought of him on the battle field squeezed at her heart but it was something he had already lived through and would likely have to face again, no matter how she wished he wouldn't. It was one of the reasons why she didn't argue when he asked about weapons and shinobi tools at the bank and why she planned on asking or blackmailing both Filius and Severus into helping to train her son. She would have to work very hard on Severus once he knew he was training the Potter Brat but that could be fixed with some of his own Veritaserum and sharing a few memories. Hopefully, her Naruto would be willing to share his own memories so that young Severus could see that the two of them were not so different after all.

Naruto jerked up into a sitting position with red eyes and cat slit pupils, his stance reminded her of a powerful lord, confident of himself and his battle prowess. She could tell immediately that Naruto wasn't home at the moment and that she was facing his prisoner, Kurama.

"Kurama," Minerva murmured, giving a regal nod of acknowledgement.

"You may have accepted him as your kit, woman, but if you harm him even Naruto will have trouble keeping you from my claws," Kurama rumbled warningly. "The kit has had a hard life, both times. I will not see him tearing himself apart again for scraps of affection even if it makes him hate me again."

"Your warning is heard and understood sirrah but I promise you on my life I will not knowingly mistreat my son nor will I allow others to do so. Fair warning, one of my colleges and fellow teachers has a harsh manner and was sorely harmed, repeatedly, by Harry's father James. He is a good man but may have trouble seeing past the harm James has done to him. Naruto's different coloring will help with that as will the fact that he has Lily's eyes. I do ask that you never play a harmful or humiliating prank on Severus for it will bring back nightmares of what James and his friends did. I would rather have him as an ally and friend for you both just as he is for me. Can we come to some accord?" Minerva insisted fiercely. It was clear to the Kitsune that she was fiercely protective not only for her newly adopted son but for this Severus as well, whom she likely saw also as one of hers.

"If you failed this Severus as your own kit than will you not also fail my brat?" Kurama asked shrewdly.

"I had no choice with Severus, his parents still lived and Albus delights in ignoring the plight of the abused children we find, especially those sorted into Slytherin house. I act as evenly as possible when handing out praise, homework, and punishment. However, Albus frequently reduces the punishments to the Gryffindors for whom I am Head of House and just as frequently punishes the Slytherins harshly or encourages their harsher treatment. I am not seen as a safe haven among the snakes because I am head of the lions and Severus tries very hard to protect them. Poppy and I have both aided him in less than pleasant circumstances for not only himself but the students of his house," Minerva shot back sharply. "As Naruto's mother I will have a greater leeway and will be better able to protect him even at school until I am pushed to take us both away to another school. Albus is unfortunately powerful in the government on top of controlling the school so it may pass that we will have to flee simply to receive the peace and privacy that is ours by right."

"Thank you for the warning lioness," Kurama rumbled thoughtfully. "I will do my best to keep him sane, whole, and healthy as you will act as his mother and shield in other matters. I no longer fear you may yet harm my kit for I recognize your acceptance of him as your kit as much as he is mine. Beware though, he will once more train as a shinobi. I will watch that he does not over do it without cause but this training is something you cannot forbid."

"I accept that but reserve the right to insist on being informed before hand and arrange extra training for him in our ways as well. I will also insist on him following certain rules for not only his protection but the protection of the other students as well. I will rely on you to help me judge his fitness for certain things that I might give him greater freedom and responsibility while he grows," Minerva informed him firmly.

"You are a shrewd one," Kurama laughed softly. "A mother lioness defending her cub. Well done and agreed. I kept him from rushing into traps and danger often enough before I will do so again."

"Now then, where should we stay until the school year begins? I have a house but its almost never used as I mostly stay at the castle during the year or visit my grown children during the summer. We can room here without too much trouble, as we probably should for at least tonight. Also, I know you did something to clear my mind when the two of you gave me my new wand," Minerva fixed her eyes sternly on her son's body in control of his prisoner. Kurama grinned and didn't bother denying it.

"I have an idea and it will increase how well our first two pranks on this world will work. Call it a third prank. It will also have certain added benefits as I will make the kit study and meditate to avoid... outbursts of power," Kurama chuckled mischievously.

"Go on," Minerva encouraged, eyes narrow in suspicion.

"You will return to Hogwarts with us but we will stay inside the meditation room inside the trunk. Don't think I didn't notice the bathroom you had installed in the same compartment or the pile of blankets slipped in there either," Kurama chuckled, causing her to blush furiously in embarrassment of getting caught. "As long as we have enough food and occasionally get to see you the kit and I can start on basic training along with going over the school books in the meditation room while we wait for the others to arrive. If need be we can simply switch between staying hidden in your quarters and slipping back into our trunk."

"Will Naruto object?" Minerva asked thoughtfully.

"It will help him finish healing and resting. The meditation room in the trunk will be a safe place even if he feels uncomfortable in your quarters. It will allow him to bring his control up and we can start working on his basic learning again in both the shinobi and wizarding arts," Kurama explained kindly. "He will also be glad not to have to be away from you for too long or too far. He truly hasn't had family until now. The Dursleys don't count, they would rather have seen him dead. They count more as being captured by the enemy than being raised by family."

"Fair enough. We'll stay the night here and once Naruto agrees to this made plan we'll head home in the morning," Minerva murmured, caving graciously. Kurama nodded, quickly finishing the food for his kit and they retired to the rented room upstairs.

Chapter Text

When Naruto awoke he found himself on a soft bed with his mother across the room in a second bed. A slight soreness told him that Kurama took over for a little bit so he reviewed his memories and was shocked at what had happened between his new mother and the Kitsune. Thinking about it a bit further he smiled brightly, glad that they weren't fighting and wouldn't try to kill each other. Thinking about their suggestion he found that he didn't mind the arrangement and his quiet snickers at the thought of what the other teachers would say when they found out woke Minerva.

"Plotting pranks already I see," Minerva noted in obvious amusement. Naruto shrugged, grinning unrepentantly.

"I like the idea you guys came up with... I really didn't want to leave you alone any way now that you're my mother," Naruto admitted shyly.

"Oh? And how did ya know what your beastie and I discussed last night lad?" Minerva asked in curiosity.

"I figured out that after we became friends he would basically take control with my permission so my body remembers it and I just have to think of when he was in control to remember it too. This new body isn't really used to his chakra yet so I'm gonna be sore every time he does it but it will get better," Naruto said cheerfully.

This drew a frown of concern from Minerva but she let it pass since he didn't seem to be hurt in any way compared to the night before. In fact he seemed to be better than yesterday and was clearly healing. She firmly decided to make sure he ate enough for the energy he was burning in his healing even if she had to go out and catch it herself for him to eat.

"Lets get you to the castle and hidden away in my quarters for your grand prank then," Minerva suggested mischievously.

"Yatta!" Naruto said excitedly. He pulled himself out of his warm bed and rushed about collecting everything so that by the time she had stood up, laughing at his enthusiasm they were ready to go.

"Come then," Minerva gestured with a laugh, leading him down to the oversized fireplace in the common room. She placed four copper coins in a metal lock box with a slit for coins that sat on the mantle before drawing an oversized handful of multicolored powder from the jar next to it. "Now, I've shown you side along apparation and thus also apparation. This method of travel is completely different. We take the powder and throw it into the fireplace that is connected to the floo network which is signaled by this rune carved here, Raido the rune of travel that looks like an R. If this is removed, or damaged, or not there the fireplace isn't connected to the floo network so that even if you have the floo powder it won't take you anywhere and might hurt you instead. To use the floo network, which is a number of fireplaces connected magically from all over, you must throw the powder into the fireplace or fire and step into the green magical flames. You must very clearly call out the address of your destination or there is a very good chance you will land somewhere else and some people put very nasty defenses on and around their fireplaces, lethal even. We are going to The Three Broomsticks."

"I understand Okaa-san," Naruto nodded his head enthusiastically.

Minerva took their baggage and shrunk it down to her son's amazement before pocketing it and gesturing for him to go first as she handed over the handful of powder. Naruto nerved himself and forced himself to do as his mother had suggested, leaping into the fire shouting the address as if he were fearless. He tumbled from the fireplace on the other end with a shout of surprise, rolling across the floor of the room to slam into the nearby table and chairs. Minerva stepped through behind him and upon seeing his predicament quickly hurried over to help him up.

"Oh dear, I've been using the floo network for so long I forgot to warn you about taking an extra half step just as you reach the right grate so that you don't go tumbling. I am so sorry Naruto," Minerva apologized sheepishly.

"Mah, its alright," Naruto said brightly, waving away her concern and quickly hiding the limp that he had gained with a deeply bruised hip

Kurama was cursing about not only his recklessness but the new damage he would have to fix without the proper supplies in the body. Naruto was badly undernourished even before he started trying to heal his brat. Taking a chance he forced joint control of the body, with the Kitsune in control of lips and voice box before speaking.

"The brat needs food before I can heal his hip and the rest of the healing has slowed down. I would say feed him enough raman to satisfy a small horde of teenagers but I don't know that you have the blasted food. Make sure he swallows at least four bowls of broth, several cups of juice, and several large slabs of meat in the next hours. If you have some sort of nutrition supplement make him take three of them. Nothing is life threatening anymore but I need more fuel and resources to fix much of the baka's damage. Even with the chakra from the adoption potion and my own chakra to work with he's been hurt too often with too little food," Kurama informed her before letting go his control. He quickly returned to working on his host's body while leaving a very embarrassed Naruto to face the woman's protective motherly wrath and concern.

"Minerva? Oh, dear! Is the lad alright?" a sweet voice came from the direction of the small bar, drawing their gazes. A slightly plump brunet with strong arms and stout body was looking at them in concern. They had thought the room was empty of people but the still moving door behind the woman told Naruto that she had just been in the other room and must have heard the commotion.

"Rosemerta! My new son tumbled a bit roughly from the floo is all. Oh dear, I'm sorry Naruto. I ruined your prank on top of forgetting to warn you about exiting the floo," Minerva apologized again.

"What prank? Come, sit down, I was just getting ready to open a slight bit late this morning. I'll feed the two of you in trade for answers about how he's your son and what prank the two of you are playing," Rosemerta said cheerfully, ushering them into seats and quickly fetching them breakfast.

"This is very kind of you dear," Minerva murmured, still more than a bit embarrassed at her error. Naruto gave them both a bright grin and, caving to Kurama's grumbling, dug in. "Naruto is going to be a student this year but I went to introduce him to our world and his... less than pleased relatives signed him over to my custody. Unfortunately, I had brought not the temporary guardianship papers but adoption papers or more likely a set of papers charmed to give the needed paperwork for important documents. A set that happened to choose to become adoption paperwork, not that I'd change that now. In any case I took him to Gringotts and they insisted I finished the adoption with a blood adoption potion. Which is how I gained another child. As for the prank... Well, as you can see my Naruto is mischievous and wants to pretend I'm not his mother so that we can fool the school and old Albus so that he will keep his beard out of our business."

"Not to mention it would give him time to get used to having you as his mother?" Rosemerta asked in open amusement.

"Never had a mother before," Naruto said with a shrug, deftly switching his now empty plate for Minerva's untouched one. He didn't even try to hide what he was doing but it made Rosemerta look at him slightly sharply and notice just how thin he was.

"When was the adoption?" Rosemerta asked softly.

"Yesterday. Albus has made everyone think he will look and act a certain way. He is who Albus thinks is Harry Potter but at the bank I found that the Potters never named their son Harry or James. The old fool has been spinning tales to the entire wizarding world and he would use my son as a pawn in his blasted manipulations. I won't have it!" Minerva declared, making Naruto stop and stare at her in shock before giving a sweet shy grin and returning to his food.

"This little one is Harry Potter? He's so..." Rosemerta trailed off in shock.

"Yeah, the people I was left with really didn't like me. At least they didn't call me slave or something," Naruto said with false cheerfulness.

"That doesn't mean they didn't act like you were one nor train you for that instead of treating you like the child you are. If I hear you once call yourself freak or worthless or monster you will find yourself writing essays about why their treatment of you was wrong," Minerva said sharply.

"Yes ma'am!" Naruto gulped, mentally growling at his laughing Kitsune companion. All three of them knew it was going to happen at some point as Naruto would parrot back the words he had heard all of his life out of sheer habit if nothing else.

"Well, can I feed you anything else?" Rosemerta asked in gentle amusement as she watched the last of two full breakfasts disappear into Naruto's ravenous maw.

"No, I need him to have a pot or two of tea and several bowls of broth but unless his magic is helping his stomach he may get sick from how much he just ate," Minerva said with a sad sigh. "I had best get him up to the castle and into bed to rest or read his new school books."

"I'll keep your secret but I want to know what happens when he's finally discovered," Rosemerta instructed sternly with amusement practically brimming behind her stern facade.

"Thanks lady!" Naruto said enthusiastically. Kurama gave him a somewhat friendly mental knock to the skull as punishment for being an idiot complete with mental eye-roll. He also set about making sure his blond brat didn't get sick from all the food while putting the self same food to use patching his brat up as fast as Naruto's body processed it.

They made their goodbyes and headed out for the Castle. By the time they got up to the stone building Naruto was practically sagging against his mother's side, proving the truth of Kurama's words and his need for both rest and healing. Laughing softly she cast a feather light spell and an invisibility spell over her son only to carry him up the several flights of stairs into her quarters and lay him on a guest bed. A guest bed in a guest bedroom which had become Naruto's room the moment she'd set him down. The castle reflected its welcome and approval by changing the walls into various oranges, reds, and yellows, mixed with white and blue to make it seem like the walls were decorated in painted flame. The bedding was a calming mix of bright blue and sky blue that made him look like he was flying as he slept when she stepped back.

"Rest my son. I will have those things for you to eat that Kurama requested when you wake," Minerva murmured, pausing only to unload his new things and unshrink them. She didn't want him thinking it was all just a weird dream nor wonder where his things had gotten to.

Minerva spent the rest of the day conspiring with the house elves, collecting the nutrition potions that would obviously be needed and trying to gather enough courage to talk Severus into helping her. If she could help it her son wouldn't face the scorn that James so rightfully deserved. If she was lucky they might even get along well enough to pull pranks on the students together.

Chapter Text

Minerva found that when she tried to raid the hospital wing Poppy's stores hadn't been restocked yet. Which immediately told her she would have to talk to Severus directly and he would want to know what was going on. He would also insist on meeting Naruto. This was not going to go over well and her son would have the right to be angry at her ruining his harmless prank but she would rather him be angry at her than let him stay hurting. With that decision made she headed for the dungeons, potions labs, and a certain surly dungeon bat that she cared for as one of her own.

The chill of the dungeons even in the high heat of summer quickly snuck past her clothes and tried to sink into her bones, prompting her to cast a warming spell. It took her no time at all to find the lab he was working in as it was the only one releasing heat or had a sign on the outside. She paused a moment to read what he had picked as his warning this time and snorted in amusement. It was a secret known only to the staff that the man only indulged in his odd sense of humor openly during the summer. It was equally secret that he was just as much of a prankster as were the Weasley twins, which was one of the reasons he played up the bat and vampire image around the students so much.

A sharp rapping on the door alerted the potions master of his visitor without potentially upsetting whatever potion he happened to be working on. The "dangerous exploding cauldron" prank he pulled on every single staff member and new hire made sure they would all obey his lab restrictions. Though, admittedly, some people had to face it repeatedly to get the hint.

"Enter!" Severus called, granting Minerva safe entrance into the lab. That meant he wasn't working with something that could explode at the slightest breeze or change in lighting. He also seemed to be in a good mood, pity she would have to spoil it since he so rarely got time to enjoy himself.

Minerva braced herself and entered her friend's domain, being careful to stay back from the various cauldrons and work tables that were in use. She made very sure that the door shut firmly behind her. It would keep anything from contaminating the potions and keep her from considering simply going to a potions store in Diagon... Severus' brews were much better any way.

"Minerva," Severus greeted in some surprise as he looked up from whatever he was brewing.

"Severus," Minerva greeted cordially, crossing her arms as if to ward off the chill of the dungeons.

"To what do I owe this honor?" Severus asked curiously, straightening to face her directly.

"I need several doses of nutrient potion, one fit for an incoming first year," Minerva said carefully. Apparently she wasn't careful enough in wording her request because his face darkened immediately.

"And where is the child you are trying to heal?" Severus asked smoothly as he moved around setting potions into stasis while gathering his potions and healing kit.

"He... Severus the situation is very complicated," Minerva hedged.

"I take it the Headmaster doesn't know?" Severus asked in dark mirthless humor, expecting some trite response parroted from the old man.

"No, he doesn't and he will be very angry with me when he finds out what I've done. My contract may be summarily terminated because I didn't make the boy stay with his beastly relatives and accidentally adopted him," Minerva fumed, stopping Severus in his tracks.

"Tell me," Severus demanded, once more facing her head on.

"The boy he set up to be our so called savior," Minerva said mirthlessly.

"Potter?" Severus asked in shocked surprise.

"He holds the name and title of Potter but its under his ridiculously long legal name, not his daily name or his short form. The only reason he will answer to Harry James Potter at all is because Dumbledore assigned it to him and before you go off on a rant you need to see him. He looks nothing like James nor do I believe him to be a bully. If I find him acting like one I most certainly will punish him so that he understands it isn't appropriate behavior," Minerva summarized quickly. "As to his health... I don't know. I am not a healer or a potions mistress. His unique situation has.... well you'd best come see him since I won't be able to explain it properly, unless you want to review my memories? Directly?"

Severus looked at her sharply, wondering what the hell was going on. She had just offered him unrestricted access to her mind and memories in an attempt to aid this boy thought to be the Potter brat. If her concern turned out to be unfounded she would breathe a sigh of relief and he would verbally tear into the brat for worrying her so with such a deception.

"By your leave?" Severus asked formally, raising his wand to cast the spell.

"My leave is given," Minerva granted, bracing herself for the mental intrusion. It was over in less than five minutes as the two of them stared in mute shock at one another. Not only had Severus seen the memories he needed to but the spell had forced Minerva to relive them as he viewed them and she had noticed things this second time around that she had missed before.

"I won't cater to the brat. I may be bound to him by that damnable oath Dumbledore forced on me but I will not cater to him," Severus snarled, falling back in confusion on his old hatred of James and what he had been building to turn on Harry.

"Severus, the bank test showed Harry James Potter as his Nom De Gur not his name," Minerva told him flatly, getting fed up with his pacing, muttering, and all around tantrum. "He is not a spoiled brat. He was abused for heaven's sake!"

"N.Nom De Gur?! I swore to protect the boy not the bloody image!" Severus exclaimed heatedly, his fury and agitation instantly diverted. He refused to think of the sickening idea that the boy of his most hated enemy had been mistreated... yet. The signs had been clear in her memories even if Minerva wasn't properly trained to pick up such subtle ones as her new son had shown.

"Then why don't you let me do the test to to check which the magic has bound you to," Minerva said in pointed exasperation. She had gotten some of his memories too as he hadn't bothered shielding from her at the same time.

"Very well," Severus said stiffly, still internally raging at the entire situation and how his life had turned on its head once again.

Minerva murmured something in Gaelic and a web of colored magical light appeared around Severus. There was the teaching contract connecting to the school, there was the faded symbol for apprenticeship to get his Mastery in Potions, there was the equally faded apprenticeship symbol for his Defense Mastery...

After running through and dismissing all of the normal ones she ran into the bonds that involved his work as both Order Member and Spy. There was the loyalty oath connected to the faded Dark Mark on his left forearm... that shouldn't look like that. Quickly, she found the one connected to the life debt to James Potter that transferred to his son, forced on her friend by Albus. She used that one to find the Unbreakable Vow to keep her son alive and when she looked at the three as a whole she caught her breath in shock. They had intertwined so tightly as to be a woven braid, leading right in the direction that her son was now sleeping.

The one small mercy that she absently noticed was that the vow bound him to Naruto as a person and not his image of the Boy-Who-Lived.

"Severus... I think we need to go talk to my son," Minerva said shakily. "If I am reading this right you just became his bodyguard. The magic connecting you to him looks like he can override any oath you've given to Albus except the one to protect my son and he might be able to disrupt the Dark Mark but not without binding you even closer to him. This... is going to take years to unravel and I have no idea how his... situation and chakra will affect your bond."

"Well, I have to make sure he is healing properly any way," Severus grumbled resentfully. Minerva could still detect his worry now that he had partly accepted what he'd been told and shown. She was heartened by his rapid acceptance and knew that Naruto looking nothing like James was a boon in getting the man's cooperation, not to mention his potions expertise.

One more double check of the unfinished potions that were now under stasis and they were off, Severus' emergency potions kit clutched in his potion stained fingers. It didn't take them long to get up to Minerva's quarters and enter. Naruto's room was just as she left it, sleeping boy and all. Severus hesitated at the threshold, gazing at the youth lying on the bed before him. Naruto twitched in his sleep only to whimper as his hip twinged.

The whimper brought Severus out of his contemplative trance and he swiftly moved over to the bed, wand out and a diagnostic spell on his lips. In the blink of an eye he was pinned to the floor, red eyes glowing, and fangs peeking out of Naruto's mouth as he snarled. Severus held perfectly still, his eyes wide in shock.

"Naruto, Kurama, Severus wasn't going to hurt you. I asked him to check your healing and your hip," Minerva scolded. She had decided that it was best to treat the situation as nothing out of the ordinary and the two as a fairly normal child even if he was far from it.

"Minerva, shut up," Severus ordered softly. It got him a tightening of the hand on his neck for his trouble.

"Then why do I feel a curse mark on his left arm? Right where the paperwork from the bank said the Dark Mark was?" Naruto asked with an underlying growl indicating that the duo was acting in concert.

"Because he is a spy," Minerva said simply. "Let him up and I will explain about my old schoolmate who became Voldemort as well as Severus' strange situation while he checks you over. Besides his magic will kill him if he hurts you, Albus forced him into an Unbreakable Vow to protect you before you were left with those people. I am afraid that I am partly to blame for that since I didn't stop him from leaving you there but before I could try to fix my mistake he memory charmed me. Something that you fixed with the wand you gifted me."

They grumbled a bit but let the older man up, watching him warily. He listened to Severus' sad tale spoken by the voice of his mother while the man silently checked him over using spells and more conventional methods. She also explained that in order to gain his help because of James' stupidity during school she had to let him see her memories. By the time she was done, with a few interjections from the man himself, Naruto was mollified enough for his eyes to bleed back to green so that Severus was faced with Lily's eyes and not those of Kurama.

Naruto looked at him warily, unknowingly stabbing at Severus' heart with his eyes, before allowing his gaze to fill with compassion. With a bright yell and a mischievous twinkle he tackled the man and started wrestling with him scolding him for being an idiot about not coming to visit him. He also made it very clear that whether the man wanted to or not he was going to become friends with the rambunctious strawberry blond. Severus allowed himself to be pinned when he noticed how tired the brat was getting again, as a result he was used for a pillow while Naruto slipped into a happy sleep.

"He's... unique. Potter would never have acted like that. Lily might have if she was happy enough," Severus admitted softly as the sleeping boy happily cuddled against his chest.

"I will have to tell him about Tom later," Minerva agreed sadly. She was appalled at how much damage had been done to his small body and this was after Kurama had gotten some of it healed. She didn't even want to think of how badly her little boy had been hurt before the healing. The story had served to focus all of them so that they wouldn't have to think about what was necessary to cause it.

"He is not Potter... and I don't believe I will mind being bound to him," Severus reluctantly admitted.

A red slit-pupiled eye opened to gaze at him in contemplation for a moment before Kurama spoke with a rumble, "Hurt my kit and Anbu or not, bodyguard or not, I will make you pay. Naruto is very good at converting his enemies into friends and knowing who can be saved. By his actions he has claimed you. While I acknowledge the claim I will wait to see if you let the past actions of others blind you and drive you to hurt my brat. Do enough damage and Naruto won't be able to stop me taking it out of your hide. Prove to be loyal to him and the baka will go to hell and back for you. He's already fought one insane god for the sake of his friends, why not another?"

Finished with his threat Kurama joined his brat in sleep, leaving two shocked adults to put Naruto to bed.

Chapter Text

Filius Flitwick of the Bloody Axe clan of goblins blinked in surprised shock as he saw one of his distant cousins, complete with team of helpers, traveling down the hall in the direction of the teachers quarters. The carry team was transporting a rather well appointed trunk that displayed runes that were goblin in origin and only ever allowed to leave goblin control under very specific circumstances. This was truly a puzzle and just like his Ravenclaws puzzles were the delight of the mind, a treat they indulged in as often as possible.

"Griphook?" Filius asked in shock. He was, like the full blood goblins, rather short and until he took the youthening treatments would continue to resemble a goblin with a slight human covering. It was something he had been thinking about since his dueling reflexes had slowed down a bit but the treatment would have to be formulated specifically for his part human part goblin body. It also took time to complete so he was thinking about getting it done next summer.

"Filius? Well, this is great luck," Griphook said with a toothy grin as the group paused.

"What on earth are you all doing here? School hasn't started and I don't know of anything to concern Gringotts with that would require you to actually show up here," Filius commented in puzzlement. "Has... one of my colleges taken the test of family? Or somehow become a friend of our people?"

"You could say that. Come, we will discuss this with the client and out of range of these blasted wizarding portraits," Griphook instructed, ushering his cousin along in front of them to Minerva's quarters. Filius raised his eyebrows in surprise but said nothing as Griphook knocked firmly on the frame of the lioness portrait.

Minerva quickly answered and ushered them inside, showing no surprise that Filius was with the goblin contingent. Though she was amused at his confusion she also knew that he would likely be picked as the public goblin representative to act in Naruto's best interests do to his position at Hogwarts and respected place among the wizards. His technical position was odd because he was of both peoples and many either expected him to choose a side or hated him for his lack of pure human heritage. It was something that had plagued the little man for years but after proving his battle prowess to the goblins he was treated as a full member of their people and a full clan member. He found out later that they had naturally been uncertain as to his loyalties and that he was the youngest clansman to pass the adulthood test for all that he needed more training. It took longer to gain respect among his wizardly peers but it had happened.

Just as the portrait door closed they heard the sound of a thump and cursing in a mix of English and Japanese. Minerva rolled her eyes and said "Naruto!" sharply, ending the tirade.

"My apologies, he's getting very frustrated being on bed rest. My son pushed himself to far recently and this is the only way to get him to stay still for the moment, not that it will last," Minerva explained, presuming that Filius had been filled in already.

"Son?! Minerva, what on earth?" Filius began only to be treated to a long complicated explanation in gobbledygook that quickly brought him up to speed. Minerva recognized her son's various names and titles scattered throughout the lecture and the sharp intake of breath told her that he had been informed of their status in regards to the goblins.

"That... is extraordinary!" Filius squeaked as he processed what he had been told. "I've wanted to petition to change her status or find some way of adopting both her and Severus for years! No matter how hard I searched I couldn't find a way."

"You are only part goblin and are not yet 150 much less the 300 you need to be schooled in the creating of a family and the duties of clan," Griphook explained. "Any of goblin blood who do not live long enough to reach the correct age must earn the knowledge in other ways. It is a matter of keeping the clan secrets and a test of the bloodline. By 300 you are expected to have proved yourself adequately in your chosen craft and your battle prowess as well as completed any weapons training and basic craft apprenticeship. You are one of the youngest to ever pass the adulthood test as most wouldn't pass until reaching nearly 250 but you have been living among humans and are still yet young by our ways and our laws."

"But he looks old," Naruto said from the doorway. He was fighting not to pant and to stay on his feet with how much energy Kurama was draining from him to work on some very nasty internal scars.

"What ails you warrior?" Griphook asked in great concern.

"My belly buddy is fixing something he thinks is important and its made me sorta tired," Naruto said sheepishly, rubbing the back of his head. "Okaa-san and Kurama won't let me train until he's done fixing stuff."

"Drink your potion," Minerva instructed sternly, ushering him to a chair while handing over a concentrated version of the Nutrition potion that Severus had brewed especially for him. Naruto downed it with a face of distaste at the flavor but immediately perked up as more resources were taking from the potion and less from his body's dangerously low emergency stores.

"Healing and fitness are needed before one can enter the field of battle and slay one's enemies," Griphook said nodding in understanding. "One's body must be as fit as one can make it before training to help avoid exhaustion and so that the training may not do unnecessary damage. This prevents a weakening of the warrior and keeps comrades from becoming endangered by an easily countered weakness. As for my cousin's apparent age, part of that is his human heritage and part of that is that he has yet to go through certain traditions and rituals which are a great part of our people. This is something that you will need to do as well one day as we have claimed you as a child of our people. Your mother is exempt because her status among us came so late in her life and she has amply proven herself in her craft."

"I guess I'm just used to people not really caring with how fast I tend to heal," Naruto muttered in sulky confusion. It broke Minerva's heart to hear the honest confusion in his voice and she promptly decided to find a place that would serve the Raman he so loved. She would later get him a good 12 bowls from a place called Bone Daddies of all things down in London. It would be her house elf, however, that eventually obtained the recipe.

"Severus confirmed the abuse when we arrived a week ago," Minerva's words drowned out the opening of the portrait as the man himself entered her quarters. He didn't even glance at the group of visitors, heading straight for Naruto until one of the goblins protectively blocked his way.

"Move, the brat needs to take his potions," Severus scowled menacingly. Naruto snickered, in no way intimidated by the look but still amused over it.

"You will not harm him," the young goblin declared, settling into a combat stance.

"I can't. I am bound to him by a mix of magics that may forever bind me to him," Severus informed the goblin dryly. He figured as much as he wanted to keep the bond secret it was best that the goblins and thus the bank knew of his connection to the brat just in case of bad things happening that he couldn't fix.

The young goblin flushed in embarrassment and guiltily returned to his previous position with the others around the chest. Severus continued towards the now openly laughing strawberry blond, giving him a light smack of admonishment. He quickly did a quick check and handed the troublesome brat a Bone Strengthening potion to swallow, which was done promptly complete with disgusted face.

"And what did you learn?" Griphook asked caustically.

"Take cues from your elders as to a situation until you are skilled enough on your own and always take care," the young goblin mumbled.

"Cheer up, you couldn't have known that Severus is his bonded guard," Minerva pointed out in amusement.

"When did this happen?" Griphook asked casually.

"When the brat survived the Dark Lord's assault. It transferred in the personality merger and remains intact," Severus explained shortly. With his attention momentarily elsewhere Naruto struck, tumbling them both to the ground with a gleeful shout, taking full advantage of his child status to wrestle with the man.

"I am not your toy!" Severus protested loudly even as his hands were gentle as the brief wrestling match petered out due to lack of energy from the 11 year old Hokage.

"Of course not. You're my friend and my target," Naruto cackled gleefully. He really didn't care that the goblins were there and would take what openings he could find. He wasn't a shinobi prank master for nothing!

"Be glad I made him promise to limit what pranks he pulls, at least until the students get here and he has more potential targets," Minerva informed him with open amusement. Severus continued to grumble for show as he deposited the cheerful brat back into his seat with gentle hands.

"The weapons are not yet ready but the wardrobe we arranged is. It is perhaps fortunate that you had yet to take him shopping for it as our gift should last him ten years without battle or training damage and two years with it. Barring excessive combat," Griphook informed them, gesturing for the trunk to be opened. Inside was a complete wardrobe with lots of orange and several random frog or shinobi themes. There was also several books and some training weapons such as blunt knives, blunt daggers, several wooden swords of varying types, a bow, and several wooden axes.

"Are... those for me?" Naruto asked, suddenly uncertain, as he stared at the trunk.

"Indeed, they are. They are for your training," Filius said cheerfully as he admired the choice in training weapons.

"You would honor this young warrior with teaching him your dueling skills?" Griphook asked shrewdly.

"I... of course!" Filius agreed in flustered shock.

"When he has found his preferred weapon inform us and we will craft one to his hand," Griphook ordered. Filius nodded his agreement in obvious shock while Griphook turned back to the taller magic users. "The message to the Elemental Nations is sent and should arrive around late September but will not reach the hands of the Kages until mid to late October. We will be obtaining basic weapon molds and the first round of supplies for Naruto-sama while delivering the messages. As such they should get here for delivery until we can make better ones around the New Year."

"We greatly appreciate it. His healing has made it all but impossible to get him more clothes before the sorting to say nothing of his uniform," Minerva thanked them with obvious relief.

"We used very durable material with special weavers magic so that you need not worry about him out growing the clothes," Griphook told her with a happy grin.

Naruto picked his target and timing before tackling Severus again.

"He's like a blasted puppy!" Severus said fuming in annoyed dismay as he deposited the laughing child back in his seat. "There is no way that he won't be an arrogant lion."

"I fully expect that you'll keep him grounded, once he is done converting you into his friend," Minerva told him, laughing behind her hand at his predicament.

"I already agreed he isn't Potter Snr.! What more do you two felines want?!" Severus protested, hiding his embarrassment and pleasure at the sincerity of her words.

"My Sev'rus," Naruto said happily as he dozed off, proving exactly why he was stuck on bed rest for the moment.

"What exactly is the furball fixing?" Severus asked in obvious concern.

"His lungs had scarring that dropped his breathing to 45%. The cupboard they kept him in had dangerous chemicals. He wasn't so bad off before because his magic had helped him adapt to being near them. Now... Kurama needed to flush his system completely, as you know, and then had to break down the old breaks that didn't heal right before fixing them. He's so low on nutrients that Kurama doesn't even really use his reserves any more, just the potions we give him. The problem is that he can't stop mid way through fixing certain things. Right now Kyubi is treating his lungs and his heart." Minerva murmured, finally allowing her worry to show.

"I missed any heart damage," Severus muttered, angry at himself.

"I think he's using the chance of repairing everything to strengthen somethings that were prone to injury the last time around," Minerva laughed mirthlessly. Watching these necessary changes to her son hurt her but she had gotten the blasted beast to promise no major changes without discussing it with her or immediate need to save her son.

"We will leave you to your day then," Griphook said softly, ushering out the goblins and leaving the two tall magic users to put Naruto back in bed.

Chapter Text

“Now son, are you sure you will be all right here by yourself?” Minerva asked, there were two more weeks before the start of the new school, yet that nutcase of Headmaster decided Minerva needed to do one last home visit this late in the summer. She was not stupid, she figured the Headmaster thought something was up, with the way she, Severus, and Filius were nearly bosom buddies, more so than in previous years. Thankfully, Naruto was basically recovered from his intense bout of healing.

“Yes ma’am, I promise I will be all right. I will gather what I need and go into the meditation chamber until you come get me Mother,” Naruto smiled, his face slightly red. It was weird to have someone fuss and worry over you constantly.

“Ok, I want you to call Daffodil once I leave. She will help you gather anything you need, so you do not have to leave the room. She will also guard our room against nosy intruders. Make sure you get some more rest as well, and that you eat. A nap would also not go amiss either. Kurama, you are to make sure he does not over do it! I will see you both as soon as I get back. I will come get you in the meditation room, so do not answer if you think you hear what sounds like my voice calling out,” With the last of her instructions issued, Minerva hugged her son tightly, kissing his forehead gently (that will always be his favorite), and turned to head out the door.

Before Naruto could utter a word, Daffodil popped quietly into the room, only to be tackled and gathered into a great big hug. “Suisen!” Naruto giggled as he gathered the long-suffering house elf into his arms. “How are you my friend?”

“Master Naruto would you kindly release me! I promise I am fine Sir, it has only been an hour since you saw me at breakfast!” Daffodil loved the young wizard, she really did! But there were days when he plum drove her batty since he arrived into their lives.

“Awwww Suisen, please don’t be like that,” Naruto pouted, giving her his best pout, quivering lips and large wet eyes included. “Oh you… you… rascal you! What is it you are trying to talk poor Daffodil into this time?”

She knew he would not purposely get her into trouble nor disobey Mistress orders for his safety.

Naruto sat back, his chin resting on the palm of his hand, “Well I need some stuff to start my training Suisen, I swear it really is for training and not for pranks!”

A long-suffering sigh could be heard before the elf nodded in agreement. Naruto learned early on that Suisen was patient and kind but also deserving of respect, she wielded a wicked spoon and had very accurate aim when it came to his backside! Daffodil, Suisen in Japanese, meaning respect in both language. She was aptly named!

“Well, I need a large supply of balloons, and as many palm size rubber balls as you can get. Also, as much leaves as you can collect from a small tree, but charmed to stay fresh and green please, “ Naruto asked politely.

“Why do you need so many leaves young Master?” Daffodil asked puzzled.

Naruto rubbed the back of his head grinning in a sneaky manner before answering, “Well Kakashi-sensei figured out that I can learn faster if I did multiple shadow clones. I figured I can speed up my basic training if I did that.”

“And just how many clones were you planning to use, you rascal?” Daffodil knew this did not bode well for the young wizard's health, but she had been a part of Mistress' family for many years. She had raised practically all the children born to the McGonagall clan. If she allowed this, there would certainly be stipulations he would have to follow.

Naruto pretended to sit thinking, he knew that look on Suisen face. He knew he could get his way within reason, but he must cave to her demands as well or he would get nothing and still would have to do what she wanted. With his own long suffering sigh, he thought about how many clones he could get away with creating. He would have gone for 100, but knew she would never go for that many.

Finally, he answered her in a hesitant voice, “Suisen can I make 10 clones?” He waited for her to shoot down that number but was pleasantly surprise when she agreed.

“In return, you will take a nap when I tell you too. Eat when I tell you it is time. If I feel that you are over doing it, you will stop without argument! I will place a pallet in your meditation room for you to nap on. I have already packed a hamper for you,” she smiles suddenly. “There is a pork bowl from Ramen Ichiraku, which I will let you have if you a very good wizard. Daffodil found young Master's Ichiraku for him.”

Naruto’s eyes light, drool already forming at the corner of his mouth, “Ic… chi… raku? Suisen, you really got me ramen from Ichiraku!” Daffodil squawked loudly, really there was no way one can remain dignified when being pounced on by a loving rascal. “I swear Suisen! I promise to be no trouble today, I promise!”

Daffodil patted Naruto’s back lovingly, “Ok, Master Harry. Let’s get into the room. Mistress should be getting ready to leave soon, and nosy Headmasters might come looking,”

While Naruto headed into the trunk to the meditation room, Daffodil made sure the room hid any signs of the young Master’s presence. With a snap of her fingers, the bedroom was once again a guest room with what looked like a storage trunk tucked into one corner. Naruto had made sure to add Daffodil to the wards on his trunk, so she would be able to access it to get his things or bring him anything he may need in is meditation chamber. Once he was inside, she closed and locked the trunk from unwanted nosy people, then popped herself into the room along with her young Master.

Once there she made good on her promise. A small comfortable bed was place to once side of the room with lots of soft pillows, and warm blankets. The food hamper was set on a small table that could do double duty for eating as well. She had made sure to pack lots of fresh fruits. She also packed both steamed and fresh vegetables for him to eat. There was plenty of broth from Ramen Ichiraku, as well as the promised Pork bowl. There were ice cold juices, apple and orange, Naruto wasn’t very fond of pumpkin juice they found out, and plenty of milk. She had also packed meat laden sandwiches, roast beef and turkey were both Naruto’s favorite. She had also remembered to pack his nutrient potions from Master Snape, along with a few healing potions and balms in case they were needed.

Once everything was place where she was satisfied, it was time to gather the requested item. With a click of her finger a small chest appeared, inside it was filled with self-inflating balloons. These she placed on a shelf that appeared on the far wall near the bed. Next, came what looked like a child’s play pen, but filled to the brim with palm sized rubber balls of all colors. Last, Daffodil dug deep into her magic to create something special for her young Master, AND to save herself the headache of cleaning up a myriad of leaves from the floor. A glass bowl appeared the size of a night stand. Inside, a field appear at the bottom of the bowl and from it a Japanese lilac tree sprung up. Growing to just beneath the rim of the bowl. Daffodil gave the bowl its own ecosystem so the tree could remain alive. All her Master and his clones would have to do was reach in and take a leaf, the tree was self-perpetuating so it would never run out!

Naruto stood to one side watching Suisen work her magic. She was always so particular, everything had to be in place before she was happy with the results. He loved Suisen because she didn’t expect him to be anything but himself. She treated him like a child when he seems to need it, playing games with him and letting him act childish without too much fuss. She showed him the utmost respect when he behaved more maturely, never trying to treat him like a young child when he didn’t feel like it. She accepted him, no matter the mood he was in. Today, seem to be one of his more childish days, and even though Suisen could be such a mother-hen, he knew she would spoil him rotten…. well within reason that is.

Before she left to attend to her other morning duties, Daffodil made sure Naruto had drunk his morning potions, eaten a snack, and had a glass of milk. With several warnings that she would be back to check on him, she popped out of the room, leaving him to begin his first training session.

Leaf Concentration Practice… A Time-Honored Tradition

As soon as Suisen left, the first thing he did was summon ten shadow clones, which left him swaying just a bit.

"Whoa, am I glad I didn’t try for 100, Suisen and mom would have killed me when they found me passed out after trying that. Ok guys! It’s time to get this party started, lets each grab a leaf and find a spot to sit and meditate!” Naruto declared, much to the approval of his clones. Soon each clone had his own leaf resting on his forehead, eyes closed deep in meditation.

Naruto remembered the first time Iruka-sensei tried to get Kiba, Shikamaru, Choji, and him to concentrate in class.

All right you knuckleheads, you are about to learn a time-honored tradition of the Leaf shinobi. The Leaf Concentration Practice! For generations Konoha shinobi have practiced using this method in order to better their mental focus. The leaf emblem on the Konoha forehead protector is said to originate from this training. This exercise has been used by Academy teachers as a way to teach knuckleheads like you how concentrate! However, the true purpose of the exercise is actually to hone the individual's concentration and to keep their mind from becoming distracted. Only those who have worked hard on their ability to concentrate can become excellent shinobi.”

Unfortunately, they weren’t incline to pay attention that day, in fact they had each been a bit of a brat all week to poor Iruka-sensei. The lesson did not click into place for Naruto until Jiraiya-sensei, used two plain white paper, one blank. the another marked with the symbol of the leaf drawn as a small dot in the middle of it to compare and draw his attention to what he needed to focus on. It took a while and a lot of effort on his part, along with the barely remembered Iruka-sensei's scolding, for it all to come together.

Hopefully, this time it would not be as hard as when he was young and hardheaded. With his resolved firmly in place, he closed his eyes, joining he clones in meditation, begining the process of slowly channeling his Chakra, focusing on the leaf. When his Chakra slowly started to move along his chakra paths, another movement caught his attention as well. It felt the same as chakra yet slight different, moving along a pathway he was not familiar with.

Throughout all this, Kurama kept silent, he knew better than to engage the young brat, his attention span was smaller than a flea, but this did not mean he was unaware of all that was happening. He also felt the strange new flow and followed it back to its source. He realized this was his brat's magic. It felt so much like Chakra yet was off somehow. It took little effort to analyze that Chakra users used their entire network, except this one unheard of pathway. While the Chakra network of magic users was blocked except for this one path, forcing them to use wands to channel their chakra!

‘It would be interesting to see how Naruto fares now that his entire Chakra network is free’ Kurama mused quietly, before returning to keep watch on his brat.

Three hours later Naruto lay gasping on his small bed with an angry Daffodil standing over him and a splitting headache.

"No more chakra testing today! Read books instead," Daffodil said, scolding him. She snapped her fingers and three of the books the goblins had givens him landed next to him. She huffed and popped away once he had reluctantly pulled the top book, called The Book of Paths, to him and opened it.

The True History of Magic

Magic and magical powers dates back to our earliest recorded history. In Egypt, for example, large number of magical papyri written in Greek, Coptic, and Demotic have been recovered by the Goblin Nation. These sources contain early instances of much of the magical lore that later became part of our cultural expectations about the practice of magic, especially ceremonial magic. They contain early instances of: magic words said to have the power to command the spirits; use of magic wands and other ritual tools; use of a magic circle to defend the magician against the spirits he is invoking or evoking; use of mysterious runes or sigils thought useful to invoke or evoke spirits.

Medieval wizards, under the control of the Church, confined their magic to compilations of wonder lore and collections of spells. Specifically, Christianize varieties of magic were devised at this period. During the early Middle Ages, the cult of relics as objects not only of veneration but also of supernatural power arose. Miraculous tales were told of the power of relics of the saints to work miracles, not only to heal the sick, but for purposes like swaying the outcome of a battle. The relics had become amulets, and various churches strove to purchase scarce or valuable examples, hoping to become places of pilgrimage.

There were other, officially proscribed varieties of Christianized magic. The demonology and angelology contained in the earliest grimoires assume a life surrounded by Christian implements and sacred rituals. The underlying theology in these works of Christian demonology encourages the wizard to fortify himself with fasting, prayers, and sacraments, so that by using garbled versions of the holy names of God in foreign languages, he can use divine power to coerce demons into appearing and serving his usually lustful or avaricious magical goals. Not surprisingly, the church disapproved of these rites.

Renaissance saw a resurgence in hermetism and other neoplatonic varieties of ceremonial magic. The Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution, on the other hand, saw the rise of scientism, in such forms as the substitution of chemistry for alchemy, the dethronement of the Ptolemaic theory of the universe assumed by astrology, the development of the germ theory of disease, that restricted the scope of applied magic and threatened the belief systems it relied on. Tensions roused by the Protestant Reformation led to an upswing in witch-hunting, especially in Germany, England, and Scotland; but ultimately, the new theology of Protestantism proved a worse foe to magic by undermining belief in the sort of ritualism that allowed religious rites to be re-purposed towards earthly, magical ends.

Scientism, more than religion, proved to be magic's deadliest foe. Alongside the ceremonial magic, followed by the education, were the everyday activities of folk practitioners of magic across Europe, typified by the cunning folk found in Great Britain. In their magical practices of astrology, folklore, and their version of ritual magic, wizards and witches worked alongside each other to build a better society.

The Real History of Merlin

There are many legends and stories surrounding the wizard we know of as Merlin. In history Merlin wore many hats: he was a wizard, a sorcerer, a prophet, a bard, an adviser and a tutor. He appeared as a young boy with no father. He appeared as an old, wise man, freely giving his wisdom to four successive British kings. He was dotting old fool, who couldn't control his lust over beautiful women, who held him in fear and contempt. He had even appeared as a madman after bloody battle, and had fled into the forest, where he learned how to talk to the animals, where he became known as the Wild Man of the Woods. Merlin was also the last of the druid, the Celtic shaman, priest of nature, and keeper of knowledge, particularly of the arcane secrets.

In reality, Merlin’s real name was Ōtsutsuki Hagoromo, or in western terms, Hagoromo Ōtsutsuki. Hagoromo was a man who sought peace by spreading his wisdom across the world. He was exceptionally wise, as he was able to bring about a great change to the world by simply disseminating the principles of chakra and his religion. He was a very intelligent man, as even from a young age, he was able to clearly see through the demeanor and intentions of others. Very methodical, he could learn new forms of study including language and culture, able to seamlessly change his speech patterns and dialect to be better understood by people from a different era.

At the same time, Hagoromo was a very modest man, openly admitting that change is inevitable and one can only hope to prepare themselves for it. Likewise, he was open and truthful about his personal mistakes and shames as a father and as a leader. Despite his deified status, he also believed that no one should have more power than any other because there is a strong chance that the person will become arrogant and desire even greater power.

Hagoromo appeared in Ancient British Isles roughly around AD 576. In his wanderings across the isles, Hagoromo gained various versions of his new name: Merlin; Merlinus (Saxon); Myrddin (Welsh); Lailoken, Lailochen, Laloecen, Laloicen (Scottish); Llallogan (Welsh); Merlin Calidonius (Saxon), Myrddin Wyllt (Myrddin the Mad). Merlin taught the Picts, the Britons, the Strathclyde, the Angles from Holstein, Germany, and the Scots from Ireland. As Merlin traveled across the land, he taught all those he could about chakra and how to manipulate it. They, in turn, adapted his teaching with their own beliefs. Which is how magic evolve into its modern form.

Magic and Chakra

Magic and Chakra are the same entity. They both born from the same place yet their difference is based on how they are channeled and used.

Chakra is created when two other forms of energy, known collectively as one's stamina, are molded together. Physical energy is collected from each and every one of the body's cells and can be increased through training, stimulants, and exercise. Spiritual energy is derived from the mind's consciousness and can be increased through studying, meditation, and experience.

These two energies becoming more powerful will in turn make the created chakra more powerful. Therefore, practicing a technique repeatedly will build up experience, increasing one's spiritual energy, and thus allowing more chakra to be created. As a result, the shinobi is able to do that same technique with more power. This same cycle applies for physical energy, except the ninja needs to increase their endurance instead. Some unique individuals have substantial potential that enable them to exponentially increase their chakra reserves in a relatively short amount of time.

At any given time, a shinobi will have a "maximum" amount of chakra that they can form and use before it runs out and they need to rest to replenish it. With practice this maximum can be increased, but to a certain extent as they are limited to the quantity and strength of chakra that their genetics grants them.

Each person's chakra is different and as such gives off a unique chakra signature, which sensor type shinobi are able to detect. Chakra signatures are passed genetically, allowing a person's clan to be identified by their chakra; over time, entire populations can have perceptibly different chakra.

The major two differences between what is known as Chakra and Magic are: 1. "Wild" magic, which typically of young and untrained children, manifest itself subconsciously, mostly in moments of strong apprehension, fear or anger, and sadness. 2. Almost all magic is done with the use of a supporting tool or focus, typically a wand. The ability to channel chakra/magic without a wand is slowly becoming a lost art due to the rampant inbreeding among wizards and witches. Only the truly powerful are able to channel their power without a wand in a consistent manner. With the inclusions of local tribal beliefs, ceremonies, and rituals, the ambient magic in Great Britain has since shown signs of being Sentient, not unlike Bijuus of the Land of Elementals were Chakra have been known to take on a life of its own.


"Wow this is pretty interesting," Naruto muttered before returning to his reading until his mother finally returned. He obediently spent the rest of the day reading.

Chapter Text

Time passed with a few more attempts by the Headmaster to discover why three of his Heads of House were suddenly driven to spend time together. It was especially a concern for him as he had not heard Minerva or Severus once argue about Quidditch. Instead his eavesdropping brought him words of training in battle spells, duels, and words of first years. This made him wonder even more greatly what the three were up to. He would never guess the answer was a fox, a boy, and great magic planning mischief in his domain. Hogwarts frequently led him astray whenever he mused about his plans for Harry Potter, never giving sign that the boy who had once been his planned icon was safe inside her walls.

Then came the day of the train. The time for the feast quickly approached as the other students arrived from the train via the thestral drawn carriages. Minerva happily fussed over Naruto, much to his chagrin, embarrassment, and secret pleasure while Daffodil made certain that nothing had been missed. They had gathered his things into his trunk together earlier in the day so that no one would be the wiser for his lack of travel on the train with everyone else. The plan was for Naruto to make a Kage Bushin, also known as a Shadow Clone, and for both him and his clone to slip in amongst the other students while Minerva explained the houses. The original would answer to their actual name and the Kage Bushin would answer to Harry Potter for the sorting. The clone was also Henged into a perfect replica of what Dumbledore had been telling everyone he looked like mixed with Hadrian's original looks.

Minerva had warned him that the prank might not work and suggested talking to the hat during his sorting to gain Alister's cooperation. Naruto shrugged, unconcerned due to the fact that however long the prank lasted it wasn't meant to go beyond a month without a good reason. He didn't actually expect to get past the sorting ceremony its self after hearing about the Sorting Hat and had quizzed his mother on exactly how everyone was sorted.

The two, original and clone, slipped into the crowd of first years without a problem. The trip into the great hall was peppered with random facts from a bushy haired girl and astonishment as to the various uses of magic/chakra. Naruto particularly liked the weather enchantment on the ceiling for all that he had been told about it by both Daffodil and his Okaa-san.

When he caught Severus' eye they exchanged a smirk. The early explanation about the coming possibly harsh treatment had comforted Naruto who, aware of Severus' status as a spy, knew that sometimes you needed to do things you hated to complete a mission. As far as Naruto was concerned it was up to him to gain the potential allegiance of Dark, Light, and Neutral to end the bloodshed and protect his precious people. There were no Chunnin exams here to replace open warfare.

"Kitsune, Naruto," Minerva called out from her list, reminding Naruto about what he was doing and sending him scurrying sheepishly to sit on the stool. She placed the hat upon her son's head, fondness shining from her eyes, hidden behind a stern visage as a mask of authority.

When the hat finally sat upon his head it didn't talk to him... yet. Instead, a man briefly flickered into being inside his mindscape only to break into four people. The sewer that was Naruto's mindscape trembled a bit at the intrusion, though it was very gentle.

"Odd, we don't usually manifest separately," a tall thin pale man in green and silver tunic and hose commented. His long potion stained fingers combing through his long beard in thought.

"Indeed, it is rare that the spell our dear Rowena cast once more splits us into our original presences," a brightly red-haired man of stout body decked all in red and gold answered with a booming voice.

"This is a special case," Rowena Ravenclaw informed them softly. She was dressed all in blue and grey with a sash of her house colors wound about the waist of her dress. They saw her looking down the tunnel towards something she could not yet see. Naruto's mental representation couldn't keep from snickering at their confusion.

"Hiding from us does no good young man," a plump brunet women dressed in ocher yellow and black with an apron about her waist scolded the voice.

"I'm not as young as you might think and this is my mind. I don't think you want to meet the guardian of it," Naruto pointed out, staying safely hidden.

"Students are sorted at age 11," the tall pale man said with a frown.

"Lord Hokage, we greet you. I am Rowena Ravenclaw, or what is left of her. My companions are Helga Hufflepuff, Godric Gryffindor, and Salazar Slytherin, again what remains of who they were in life," Rowena introduced them each in turn. "Normally, our joined magical essence is Alister the Sorting Hat."

Naruto stepped from the shadows, drawing a gasp at his mental form. He looked as he had just before the last attack on the moon bitch but for his eyes. Instead of crystal blue they were emerald green and he still had the lightning scar upon his brow.

"I am both Hokage and Boy-Who-Lived," Naruto said with narrowed eyes. "How can you tell which of us is more prominent?"

"The vision I had shortly before my death. It spoke of your merging with the young wizard. He was but a pale shadow and like you enough that the differences his own mind and soul made to your own were minimal. The injuries of his mind did not help him stay himself and upon realizing what was happening was given a choice to fight or willingly merge with you. The process would not have been so complete or painless had he not chosen to accept you and recognized you as a part missing from his own soul. I am not explaining this well but the words needed are not ones that I know," Rowena explained apologetically. "Not all of my visions have come to pass, for which I am grateful, but yours was particularly powerful. You are an element of change, unpredictable by your very nature. However, as to your question while you are both clearly the same person now the Hokage's greater experience and fewer open mental wounds are what led me to believe his memories and personality were dominant. Am I wrong?"

"No, we are but one the essence of a person and who they are is largely made up of memories, not just soul or body. To allow Hadrian to come forwards as a separate being, all of my memories and experiences would need to be suppressed. I don't know how our memories after joining would qualify, whether they would remain, be altered, or be suppressed with my Naruto memories. You are right Hime, in that he was hurting badly. His memories and mistreatment reopened some of my own wounds when we merged for all that our body was technically whole. I can tell you with absolute certainty that if someone tries to separate us into who we were before... we will fight back and we will make them bleed," Naruto informed her with a vicious smile.

A rumble of laughter that boomed around the sewers emphasized his words, coming from the direction that Rowena had been looking warily earlier, right behind Naruto.

"What was that?" Godric asked, white lipped.

"Kurama, a Bijuu. They are made of pure chakra... well I think you call it magic. He's got the most out of all of his siblings. I think you trained with his father for a while if what Severus-kun said is true about Merlin being in Slytherin house for a while," Naruto said casually with a toothy smile that held an edge of razor sharp danger.

"Mer... oh, yes. He offered to test an experimental age regression potion and it worked a little too well. As such he stayed on as a student until he regained his memories," Salazar admitted somewhat sheepishly, it had been his potion after all. "The last I had heard of him he had returned to his homeland to live out the last of his years in peace. From what I and Helga could tell he had at least another three score years to his life at the very least but he wanted to see his homeland any way."

"KIT, WHO ARE YOU YAMMERING WITH?" Kurama boomed in fake irritation. He already knew who was in his brat's mind and he wanted a word with the four founders.

"GIVE ME A MINUTE!" Naruto shouted back along the tunnel.

"Why are we sorting the young man if he is indeed full grown and trained in the ways to safely use his magic?" Helga asked with a frown.

"I'm not, at least not any more," Naruto pointed out somewhat sheepishly. "When we merged our body mostly stayed Hadrian's and our chakra pathways changed. I still have my furball tenant and my natural chakra reserves seem to have grown if one can believe it. I think that's how the chakra decided to better balance the merge because my personality was stronger and Hadrian's was hurting so badly and didn't even want to fight to stay. He especially didn't want to fight to stay separate once I promised I wouldn't hurt him and we could be friends if he wanted... Huh, I didn't know about that memory until now. Weird."

"BRAT! GET YOUR PASTY WHITE BUTT OVER HERE WITH OUR VISITORS!" Kurama roared menacingly.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Naruto grumbled, gesturing for them to follow before leading them to the seal containing his partner. Ever since he'd gotten the key and made friends with the Kitsune they didn't keep it locked all that often and either one of them could open it but the seal its self stayed in place. It was partly for safety, partly for nostalgia, and partly because they simply didn't want to leave each other.

Upon setting astral eyes on the Bijuu all four founders stopped dead in their tracks in shock.

"He is the reason I don't have to do much to protect my mind from intruders and illusions," Naruto said smugly before properly conducting introductions all around.

"YOU HAVE DIED YET FOUND A WAY TO REMAIN... GOOD THING THAT BAKA KA OROCHIMARU DIDN'T FIND OUT ABOUT THAT," Kurama grumbled, purposefully making his voice boom in a headache inducing fashion.

"Hey! Give the volume a rest will ya?! What do you think Okaa-san will do when she sees me walking away from the dumb hat clutching my head?!" Naruto complained.

"Oops," Kurama said vindictively yet still dropping his volume back to more normal levels. Both of them knew that sometimes his pranks weren't exactly nice but it was still a point of common interest and they had also learned long ago when to push and when not to. Less than pleasant pranks were for revenge or a very good friend you were extremely irritated with, deadly ones were for fully capable enemies and were called traps.

"Baka! What did I do to deserve that?!" Naruto complained petulantly.

"You haven't once summoned me in a Kage Bushin or some other form so I can stretch my legs outside of this damned seal," Kurama informed him flatly. He wasn't impressed at his Kit's memory and wanted a chance to see exactly what his outsides looked like so that he could tweak things properly when mucking with possible enhancements.

"Sorry," Naruto muttered in embarrassment and shame. He knew he'd forgotten something and this prank on the school with the sorting would have been the perfect time to let Kurama out for a bit.

"What my kit should have been talking to you about is the fact that the meddling old coot in charge of the school has set him up as an icon. We don't like that and are playing a prank on the school. When they call up the non-existent Harry Potter kit's Kage Bushin will come up and sit under the hat. Our new mother suggested we ask for aid from the hat to pull it off," Kurama informed them.

"I don't see any reason not to as long as it will not harm the students," Helga said thoughtfully after a short pondering silence in which she was joined by her fellow founders.

"He's going into my house," Godric said judiciously. "He's long since proven his courage if what we've read of his memories during this discussion is any indication."

"Then the shadow clone will need to as well," Salazar pointed out. The man didn't bother arguing since he planned to get the man Honorary Slytherin status if only for the cunning of the prank. Honorary Slytherins gained the protection and some of the perks of the house without being subject to much of the internal power games. Though they were allowed to view them and participate they were mostly granted sanctuary among the Slytherins.

"You never would have been able to touch his memories had we not allowed it," Kurama pointed out with an evil chuckle. The founders didn't argue the point and with a glance at one another withdrew from Naruto's mind without a word.

In the great hall the Sorting Hat nearly five minutes after being set on the strawberry blond head declared his house with a practical shriek. "GRYFFINDOR!!!"

Naruto quickly knocked it free and staggered a bit as he moved away from the magicked piece of cloth, scowling.

"Stupid Hat!" Naruto snarled, rubbing at his temples in obvious pain as he staggered his way over to the Gryffindor table.

"Mr. Kitsune, see me after the feast," Severus' voice rang out. Naruto nodded his head without even bothering to look up. Between the stupid laughing fox and whatever magic was a part of the hat he had a splitting headache. Unseen hands helped him into a seat at the correct table and kept him stable as he slumped over his empty plate. The rest of the sorting went without a hitch until he heard the name of his clone being called.

"Potter, Harry," Minerva's voice called out once again.

The clone trips a bit but otherwise has no trouble getting to the stool and the hat. From the what Naruto saw of his movements the clone was tripped and he would have someone to prank in the coming week or two. He couldn't keep bothering Severus since the man was a teacher and needed time to set up his class after all. Those memories from the clone were going to come in plenty handy very soon.

"Gryffindor!" the hat calls out fairly quickly as agreed, setting off a cheer from his table that sends his sense spinning and spikes his headache viciously. The dead silence that followed moments later matched the sudden influx of new memories and the tail end told him that the hat had accidentally sucked out the clone's chakra.

Naruto stumbles up and away from the table. He couldn't wait anymore and used his clone's memories to make his way staggering to Severus, met part way by both his mother and the Potions Master.

"Brat, you over did it with your prank," Severus scolded, force feeding him a painkiller in front of everyone. The two teachers didn't care about anything except making sure Naruto was alright at that point.

"What happened?" Minerva asked anxiously.

"Stupid hat has the minds of the four founders looking around my head and Kurama decided to play big bad Bijuu. The magic mixed bad," Naruto grunted out, fighting not to throw up. Severus shoved a stomach soother down his throat and everything quickly evened out so that he was fine again in ten minutes.

Once he was sent back to his seat the feast finished up in a fairly normal manner until a scrap of parchment landed next to Naruto's plate. Upon the encouragement of some of the older students he opened it and read it. He was being called to the Headmaster's office after the feast. Naruto stared at the summons blankly until Kurama gave him an oh so gentle mental kick in the arse. The strawberry blond groaned a bit, shaking his head to clear away the incomprehension before re-reading the note with shrewd look in his eye.

-If he is the one who placed you with those sacks of rancid meat then he has likely decided to try sending you back to them if only briefly,- Kurama rumbled with thoughtful disdain. -It would be a way to show he has power over whether you are allowed to stay at the school or forced back to the hell they put you through.-

-Yeah, I wonder what told him something was wrong? Aside from my prank and obvious complete unwillingness to play his puppet?- Naruto mentally snickered, keeping his face blank.

Two hours later he would be free of having to pretend not to know his mother.

"Harry must go back to the Dursleys to keep up the blood wards which have kept him safe for so long," Dumbledore insisted. Through the entire lecture over the prank before calling up the teachers the old man had kept using the name he had propped up as his link to Voldemort's defeat and fame. Naruto wasn't pleased at the continual insistence that his name was Harry, not Hadrian or Naruto but Harry. At least the baka ka could have waited a week or two so that he could settle into the dorms properly, not that he was going to be there often once everyone knew about his Okaa-san.

"You mean the weird dissolving feeling thing that happened when they abandoned me at the zoo? The energy thing that was cut from them and fixed the part that was supposed to be protecting me but was shaped wrong? They don't seem to remember leaving me at the zoo either," Naruto asked innocently in his best clueless child voice. The teachers stared at him in shock and Snape had the beginnings of a vicious snarl forming on his face while he turned a thunderous expression towards Dumbledore.

Come to think of it he still hadn't told his mother about those weird army guys... meh, he'd tell her later. They didn't seem like they could remember him with how he had been left at the Dursleys after being returned to them.

"He can't. When I informed them of his need to attend school they signed over guardianship to me, except that I had brought along the wrong paperwork. As a result I adopted him before taking him to the bank to withdraw funds for his school things. The goblins insisted I complete the adoption with a blood adoption potion as there had been suspicious movement in his accounts and associated accounts. I did so and ordered an audit. I haven't heard back from them yet so they must be working through a great deal of paperwork. I will not be sending my son away to people who would throw him away as they already have once, in front of him no less. At least his cousin seemed to have some affection for him if only newly born," Minerva informed them all smugly, nipping the entire argument in the bud.

Without further need to keep up the charade that they didn't know each other beyond school, ending the grand prank, Naruto stood up and bowed to his mother.

"Mother, may I go back to my friends and the early homework you gave me now?" Naruto's voice was all innocence for all that he was cackling in evil pranking satisfaction inside. He felt no need to inform the meddlesome old man that most of his friends at the castle were actually in the room and happened to be teachers or that he hadn't arrived on the train with everyone else. Minerva gave him a knowing look and shooed him on his way. He was gone before anyone else could say a word. His things were mostly moved back into his mother's quarters before bed time.

Chapter Text

Night found Naruto snuggled on the couch with his mother, warm beneath a blanket, cups of hot chocolate in hand. A photo album place between them, pages casually turned as Minerva pointed out family and friends, sharing stories about misadventures and family quirks. Still photos of his muggle grandfather, Reverend Robert McGonagall, and his magical grandmother Isobel McGonagall, nee Ross. Minerva explained what it was like growing up in an all muggle town, to a father who learned late that he had married a witch, how hard it was on her mother having to choose between the man she loved and the person she was.

There were baby pictures of his mother. How small and cute, and apparently, a handful, according to the stories repeat from his grandmother. From the moment of Minerva’s birth, she displayed magic, summoning toys from shelves around her cot, the family cat doing her bidding before she could talk., and causing her father’s bagpipes to play in other rooms to her great delight.

There were photos of Malcolm and Robert Jr., his magical uncles. He would get to meet both them and their families during the summer holidays. Much to his amusement, were photos of a young Filius, and the now Professor Sprout, Head of Hufflepuff, it was funny to see such distinguished adults, looking young and carefree, with gleams of mischief in their eyes. There was not much more Naruto could say when he saw his mother in her quidditch uniform but va va voom! Mom was a knockout!

There was a lone picture of his mother in the arms of a man, great joy on her face. Minerva’s voice became softer as she spoke of him. Dougal McGregor, the only man she ever truly loved.

“He was the son a local farmer in the town I grew up in. He was so funny, handsome, and so, so very clever. We shared a sense of humor, argued fiercely, and suspected mysterious depths in each other. And before the end of that summer, he got down on one knee in the middle of his father’s wheat field and proposed to me. At first, I was ecstatic, saying yes. I rushed home to tell my parents, but as I near our house, I realized... I couldn’t tell them. That night I laid in bed thinking about my parent’s life, my own life, and what my life with Dougal would be like.”

Minerva took a deep shaky breath, pulling her son closer, willing him to understand the choice she made that night, “I had seen what it had done to my parents’ marriage, a secret like that. Oh, don’t get wrong lad, my father still loved my mother and us very much, but the unconditional trust was not there anymore. My father was a fine upstanding Minister in our community and it galled him to lie to his parishioners.”

Dougal did not know that she was a magical witch, any more than her father had known her mother Isobel was, before they had married. Minerva had already witnessed the kind of marriage she might have, if she wed Dougal. It would be the end of all her ambitions; it would mean a wand locked away, and children taught to lie, perhaps even to their own father. She did not fool herself that Dougal McGregor would accompany her to London, while she went to work every day at the Ministry. He was looking forward to inheriting his father’s farm.

“The next morning was one of the most difficult I have ever had to deal with in my life. I told Dougal I had changed my mind, yet I couldn’t give him the true reason for doing so, and no other reason sounded acceptable. He was devastated, and I left three days later to begin my life as a witch among the wizarding community.” Minerva sipped at her hot chocolate letting memories washed over her. She flipped the pages of the photo album, finding the moving photo she was searching for, Elphinstone Urquhart, distinguished, elegant, his eyes twinkle in gently humor, his face graced with kindness and love as he gazed out of the photo.

“This is Elphinstone, he would have been your father had he lived, unfortunately, we only had three years of happiness before he was bitten by a Venomous Tentacula. You would have loved him Naruto, and I know he would have loved you dearly. And those people would have paid for how they abused you. He was the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, he would never have tolerated such acts!” She had not been back to their home since the internment of Elphinstone, she must remember to send Daffodil to the cottage before summer to see what repairs are needed, and to ask the goblins to make sure it is warded properly. She’ll be damned if Naruto spent his summers in the castle.

Minerva flipped through the photo album once again. She came across a group photo, there standing among the others holding a barely new born baby was the Potters, James and Lily. “Naruto,” she pointed to the two waving adults, “this is James, you birth father, and this beautiful lady, is Lily, your birth mother. And this squirming bundle they are hold is you, mo leanbh.”

“Okaa-san? How did they really die? Who is Voldemort? Why did all of this happen?” The questions came one after another, flood gates breaking loose, finally after all the years of wondering why he had to endure sure torments, why he was never loved by his so-call family, his need for answers burned within him. He was tired of living in the dark.

Before she could open that particular can of squirming worms, closed the photo album, setting it aside. She called to Daffodil to refresh their hot chocolates, pulled Naruto closer, and organized her thoughts before she spoke.

She spoke first of Gellert Grindelwald, the disruption and destruction he caused the wizarding community during the 1920s, which lead to his involvement in World War II. She told of a young child name Tom Marvolo Riddle, with whom she went to school with. A young charismatic boy, who came from the most unfortunate circumstances. What unfolded was a tale told of a young boy sorted into the House of Slytherin, outcast at first, only to use his allure to mesmerizes the Pure Bloods housemates. They would come together to form a political power house. The early days, they champion social reform, separation from muggle society, stricter monitoring of magical children in the muggle world, mandatory recovery of abused and neglected children, with blood adoption into screened and approved wizarding parents, along with periodical monitoring for the well being of the child.

Their platform was much more detailed, and as with any political party not every idea was well received. Sad to say, Albus Dumbledore, who never liked Tom, used the less received ideas to bring down Tom’s platform for change. Feeding into the people fears, stoking their doubts and their unwillingness to change the status quo. Dumbledore, the head sheep, leading his foolish flock of sheeples into stagnation. It was not known if the stress and frustration of being blocked caused Tom to slowly go mad. Eventually he retired from politics. It was then that Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters appeared.

“Each year, their actions grew worse than before, and Lord Voldemort seem to descend even deeper into whatever madness gripped him. It seemed the very ideas Dumbledore used to condemn them in the Wizengamot, became the very foundations for the atrocities that escalated year after year.” Minerva laid her son’s head on her lap, gently carding her fingers through the soft strands, lightly scratching his scalp, as she continued.

“Albus had brought together a group to help fight against Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters. Your parents, along with your godfather Sirius Orion Black and Remus Lupin, a longtime friend, joined in the cause. Your father and Sirius were both aurors, your mother kept house while your father went thru auror training. The Death Eaters were becoming a deadly threat, and fear became rampant, it seems all was lost.”

“It was Christmas of 1979, when we heard the good news that Lily was pregnant. Your mom and da were so happy Naruto, not to mention your godfather, you would have thought he was the one giving birth to you!” Minerva looked down gazing into her son’s eyes, fingers gently caressing his cheek. “Regrettably, that happiness wasn’t to last, a prophecy was heard right before you were born.”

She took Naruto’s hand in hers, “Understand this Naruto, Albus Dumbledore does not know that I know this information. Most of it was pieced together by Severus, Filius, and I. Hold what I am about to tell you in your heart, do not let anyone outside of us know that we know this information, not even the Headmaster.” Naruto nodded slowly, wondering what in the world he was about to hear.

“At the beginning of the summer of 1980, Albus went to interview Sybill Trelawney for the divination position. Now normally that woman is ninety-five percent full of cac and sherry, but only Morgana knows why this day she gave a real prophecy.” Minerva closed her eyes, bringing the words to the forefront of her mind.

The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches. … Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies … and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not … and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives. … The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…

“On July 30, 1980 at 11:55 pm, Neville Longbottom was born, to Frank and Alice Longbottom. On July 31, 1980 at 11:59 pm, you my precious child were born. Lord Voldemort, for some reason, decided you were the prophesied child and spent the time between your birth and the day your parents were killed, trying to find... and destroy you. To be on the safe side, Albus talked both your parents and the Longbottoms into hiding. The Fidelius Charm was cast by Remus, it was made known to all that Sirius Black was the Secret Keeper.”

Minerva explained the flaws inherent in the Fidelius Charm. It was the worst charm to use to hide under.

When a Secret-Keeper dies, their secret dies with them. Everybody in whom they confided will continue to know the hidden information, but nobody else. EXCEPT if you are within the premises of the protected area when the spell is cast, you do not need to be told the secret. AND if you know a secret place, you can bring someone who doesn't know the secret into the hidden place using side-along apparition. UNLESS the Secret-Keeper dies, then all those who know the secret become Secret-Keepers. UNTIL the spell caster dies, then the secret is revealed to everyone.

The Fidelius Charm only works as a powerful charm when you limit the number that knows the secret, and you truly trust that person as a secret-keeper.

“It is believed that you godfather betrayed your parents that night, leading Lord Voldemort to Godric's Hollow. Not much else was known about that night Naruto. All we do know is, your father was killed downstairs, your mother was found dead in your nursery, a pile of ashes and Lord Voldemort’s wand laying besides it. Priori incantatem on his wand showed that three spells were cast, three avada kedavra, one on your father… one on your mother…... and one on you, sweetheart.” Naruto eyes widen, “On me?!”

“Yes, little one, he cast the spell, but for some reason, it rebounded. You were found with a lightning shape scar on your forehead. The sole survivor of that horrific Halloween. October 31, 1981 became celebrated as the day He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was defeated, and you became the Boy-Who-Lived.”

Naruto laid there, thinking about all that he had just learned, his mother’s fingers caressing through his hair soothing him. It was a lot of information to take in all at once, but he was glad that okaa-san did tell him, and not tried to hide it from him. He filed it all away to sort out another time. “Okaa-san? Can you tell me what my parents were like?’

“There are many things I can tell you about them, and over the next few years, others will share their memories with you about them. I have no doubt the Headmaster will make sure of that. What I will tell you, is about the not so good things about your parents, your godfather, and the Marauders.”

Minerva told the tale of six young students who attended Hogwarts on September 1, 1971. Four of the boys would become friends. Soon they were known as the Marauders: Sirius Black, James Potter, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew. The other two students attending that year was Lily Evans, and Severus Snape. For unknown reason the four boys took a dislike to Severus, and made his seven years at Hogwarts a living hell. Their pranks got meaner and nastier, but soon Severus learn to give as good as he got.

“As teachers, we had a hard time keeping them under control, as our punishment were always over ruled by the Headmaster, while it seemed, Severus was always harshly punished. The abuse he received at school was only the tip of the iceberg. Severus home life was just as atrocious as your, my son. As bad as things were in Hogwarts, he begged each year to remained during the summer, or for help to leave his home. Each year he was denied, and we, his teachers forbidden to help."

"In all this, his one bright spot was his best friend, Lily Evans. Lily and Severus grew up in a town called Cokeworth, and came to school already the best of friends. Lily being sorted into Gryffindor and Severus into Slytherin, unfortunately, put a strain on their friendship. Adding in James obsession with Lily, and Sirius extreme dislike of Slytherins, and it was inevitable that their friendship would not last."

“I sometimes wonder if your mother was truly friends with Severus, or if she was just using him. What friend would turn their back on you and then decided to date the very person that tormented you. Don’t get me wrong, son, your father can be kind and generous, and eventually he did mature a bit. Your grandfather had a hand in that, forcing James and Sirius under a tutor of sorts to learn some discipline, but to put it plainly, your father and his friends were the biggest bunch of bullies, and if it had been up to me, they would never sit again for the things they did.”

“With all that Naruto, the one thing I do want you to remember is, we are all human, we all make mistakes, no one is a truly good or truly evil. We all have redeeming qualities and negative ones, just that sometimes it’s harder to find them. Your parents, and your godfather may be many things, but I do truly believe they loved you with all their hearts Naruto. If nothing else, remember that!”

Minerva sat quietly, lost in her own memories, her finger idly stroking through Naruto’s hair, eventually, her gaze shifted towards him, only find her son fast asleep. With a small smile, she cast a featherlight charm on her boy, transferring him more securing into her arms, and carried him to bed. Already in his sleep clothes, she tucked him beneath the down comforter, her fingers lightly brushing the strands of hair from his face. A soft kiss to his forehead, “Good night, mo leanbh,” spoken softly. Minerva noxed the lights as she closed the door softly behind her.

Chapter Text

Monday

 

The start of the school year found Naruto sitting at the Gryffindor’s table enjoying breakfast. Severus, he must remember to call him Professor Snape in class, with the help of Madame Pomfrey had formulated a diet especially for him. It designed to combat the effects of Naruto’s long term malnutrition and Daffodil made sure his meals appeared on his plate and within only his reach.

Beside him sat Parvati Patil, a very beautiful Indian girl with the loveliest, kind eyes. Across from him sat Neville Longbottom, recounting for him all he had missed by not sleeping in the dorms after the sorting. Dean Thomas sat next to Neville. Dean, whose complexion reminded Naruto of rich hot chocolate, added his own bits of anecdote to the story.

This morning's breakfast was a bowl of cream of wheat with a dollop of honey added, along with chopped fresh strawberries. The ever present glasses of milk and fruit juice were there too, this morning it was grape juice. They usually cycled between grape, orange, apple and grapefruit juice at breakfast. During lunch and dinner, he was given a choice of iced green tea, lemonade, or a fruit flavored drink to liven things up. Each morning Daffodil made a packet of sandwiches, cracker and cheese, diced fruits and vegetables, for him to snack on during breaks to keep his energy up. Daffodil had even charmed a bottle to never be empty of cold water, which he drank from between meals and classes.

As Naruto was enjoying the last of his porridge, including the company of his new friends, a shadow fell across him from behind. Kurama ears twitched and growled softly in warning as he sensed the presence. Naruto took his time turning to look behind him.

“You're Harry Potter aren’t you! Why weren’t you in the dorms last night, we looked everywhere for you mate!” A redheaded boy with freckles laced across his nose, stood there demanding an answer. Besides him stood another boy, with long straight black hair, his complexion, too sun-kissed to not be natural. His dark eyes and angular face held an arrogant, mean look that screamed bully. Hanging onto the red head, was a female with long wild curly hair, slightly chubby with baby fat. She giggled and simpered, giving off the impression of a head filled with air. Naruto looked deeper out of habit and saw the cunning hidden beneath those vacant eyes, the way her hand tightened on the red head's arm, claiming him as her own. It was neither kindness nor sincerity that leaked in waves from them. The trio would be very bad news indeed for an unsuspecting Harry Potter, if he had existed.

Naruto turned back to his meal, ignoring the three behind him. Parvati had just asked if he wanted to study together while Naruto downed his morning potions quickly followed by the last of his milk.

“We can get my sister Padma to join us. She's really smart, what do you think? We can ask the others to join us as well. This way we won’t fall behind, I think,” Parvati suggested confidently. Dean agreed without a second thought, his grin aimed only at Parvati. Before Naruto could answer, he felt a hand reaching to grab him, instinctively he moved instantly out of the way.

“I was talking to you, don’t you know its rude to ignore people! Not because your arse is famous!” the redhead growled at Naruto.

“First of all, my name is Naruto Kitsune, NOT Harry Potter. Second, where I spend my time is none of your bloody damn business, baka! If you really had searched everywhere then surely you would have found me, not that I want to know nor care why you feel it necessary to do such a thing. Third, who the fuck are you three?”

Naruto turned back to Parvati, quietly agreeing to study with her and anyone else she can talk into joining them. He liked Parvati, she was already like a big sister, asking why his breakfast was different and what was in the vial. She didn’t do it to be nosy, after she heard the reason why, Naruto noticed she kept a firm watch on him since then, making sure he ate all his porridge. It was her gently nudging the final potions vial at him that reminded him to drink it, he had forgotten it while dealing with the three interlopers.

“Well I’m your best friend Ronald Weasley, these two here are Stephen Cornfoot and Lavender Brown. We've been assigned to show you around Hogwarts since you never been around magic, being raised by muggles and all,” the redhead boasted proudly. Ronald thought he could impress the famous boy with a few simple spell, getting him to beg to be taken under his tutelage.

“There is so many things wrong with what you just said,” Naruto turned to Dean, “Yo Dean, were you assigned three idiots as well to show you around Hogwarts too?”

Behind him, Naruto could hear various forms of protest to him calling them idiots. Dean looked up, fork frozen in mid-air, waffles drenched in syrup dripping slowly.

“Nope not that I know of, don’t think we rate high enough on the who’s who scale,” Dean laughed.

Naruto rolled his eyes and stuck his tongue out at the muggle born, who laughed even harder. He turned back to the baka yarous, before addressing them coldly. “First of all, onara atama, you are not my best friend, I have yet to meet you, much less become friends with you. Secondly, I already know my way to my classes thank you.”

Naruto tried to go back to his friends, when the baka ka known as Cornfoot suddenly grabbed his shoulder hard and finally spoke up. “The Headmaster wanted to be sure you associated with the right Light people. You would do well to come along quietly.”

Naruto spoke very quietly yet clearly, “You busu baita, move your hand before omae o korosu.”

Kurama's mental growl was getting deeper, both of them getting ready to act. It was too early in the morning for this unko, or as Okaa-san would say cac, Naruto thought with an inward laugh.

Speaking of Okaa-san, Professor McGonagall slipped behind the group unbeknownst to them, she heard the threat directed at her son.

“Mr. Cornfoot, you will remove your hand from Mr. Kitsune immediately. Ten points from Gryffindor for verbally threatening your classmate, and another Ten points for not keeping your hands to yourself. I trust you will learn to do so in the future. Miss. Brown please conduct yourself as a proper young lady and stop hanging onto Mr. Weasley like a common trollop. Five points from Gryffindor. Now, why are you three still standing there like dolts! Takes your seats so I can pass out your class schedule!” Minerva said sharply. She then walked to the head of the table, handing out the schedules, starting with the seventh years, working her way towards the first years.

“Please check your schedules carefully, if you find a mistake or something that conflicts, please bringing it to my attention now. Those of you who have questions please remain behind, the rest of you have fifteen minutes to get your books and get to class!” Minerva informed everyone in a more kindly yet brisk tone.

Since Naruto already had the correct books he needed for the day he headed to Potions while the others dashed back to the dorms to grab their book bags and any other essentials. He peeked into the classroom before entering, heading to the first row on the left. Severus had wanted to keep an eye on him and had instructed him to sit in the front row of the classroom.

The Professor was not in the classroom currently, thus, Naruto spent his time thoroughly cleaning his work table and setting out his notebook and brewing utensils. He also pulled out the notes Severus helped him make about the different preparation methods needed in potions. On the days that the Headmaster was not in attendance at Hogwarts, they had been able to sneak Naruto into the potions lab. That was when Severus gave him a working knowledge on the basics of preparations needed in brewing such as dicing, slicing, grounding, and pulverizing.

Naruto went out of his way to cast a brewing shield on his cauldron and a protective one on his text and notebook as Severus had taught him.

Naruto quietly reread the first chapter while waiting for the others to arrive. It wasn't long before he heard the ruckus outside the potions lab. Above all the others, he heard his “new best friend” insulting the Slytherin in an overly harsh way. He quietly stood, intended to put a stop to this nonsense, when movement caught his eye. To say his heart nearly lept out of his chest would have been an understatement. It seemed Professor Snape was in top form this morning as Naruto had had no hint of his presence in the classroom at all.

With a smile, Severus motioned the pouting boy, who was clutching at his heart, back to his seat. It was very rare to get one over on Naruto, and the Professor savored every minute when he did. Emptying his face of all emotions, he yanked the door opened, gazed at the lines of student with disdain. Weasley and two other lions were faced off with Draco and his two snakes.

“Are you all going to stand there like idiots? I do not have all day, I would suggest you find your seats, NOW!” Everyone scrambled in quickly, darting into the nearest seat. The Weasley boy forcefully pushed Parvati and Neville out of the way so he could sit beside Naruto.

“Why are we sitting in front? We should see if there are any empty seats the back Harry. Lavender and Stephen are at the back of the class,” the clueless boy reached to grab Naruto’s robes. Instead of grabbing fabric let out a screech as he was zapped hard by Kurama for his troubles, compounded by Professor Snape deducting ten points for excesses noise. Naruto internally shook his head at Kurama's nonstop laughter.

Weasley sat with huff, his arms folded as he scowled. Severus rolled his eyes and began his class lecture. After going over the rules of the classroom, as well as the rules for safely brewing potions in general, Severus flicked his wand at the black board. Elegant script appeared, listing the potion they were attempting today.

“The Cure for Boils is a simple potion, which will help me gauge your strengths and weakness' when it comes to potion brewing. Read the directions TWICE, before adding any ingredients. Pay attention to the order in which they are added, in brewing, timing is everything so pay…ATTENTION!”

 

The Cure for Boils

 

A simple potion to cure boils: an effective remedy against pustules, hives, boils and many other scrofulous conditions. If not brewed correctly, it may cause boils instead of cure them.

  • dried nettles
  • crushed snake fangs
  • stewed horned slugs
  • porcupine quills (added after taking the cauldron off the fire)

Instructions for Brewing

 

Crush 6 snake fangs in the mortar

Add 4 measures of the snake fangs to your cauldron

Heat to a high temperature for 10 seconds

Wave your wand over the cauldron.

Allow to brew for 45 minutes.

Put 4 horned slugs in the cauldron.

Add 2 porcupine quills to the cauldron.

Stir 5 times clockwise.

Wave your wand over the cauldron to finish.

 

Naruto took special care in writing down the instructions, making his notations the way Severus had taught him to when reading recipes. Once they were given leave, he waited until the others had gone first, before going to collect his own ingredients. He even made sure to double check the freshness of the ingredients he collected.

Naruto crushed six of the snake fang to a fine powder. After he had portioned out the snake fang, he lit the flames under his cauldron setting it on high, adding four exact measures. The snake fangs had a high oil content, and the powder could be heard sizzling in the cauldron. Naruto counted ten seconds and waved his wand, and water was added to the cauldron.

Weasley was constantly trying to distract him, rather than concentrating on his own potion. Naruto allowed the snake fang to brew for the allotted time while pretending the redhead did not exist. More than once the shield on his cauldron flickered as it repelled items tossed his way.

His wand vibrated softly, letting him know that the forty-five minutes were up, he then added four whole stewed horned slugs before turning the fire off under the cauldron. Only then did he add the two porcupine quills, stirring clockwise five times. He waved his wand one last time, completing the potion.

During the class, Severus walked through checking on the students’ progress. He studied Naruto’s potion intently before quietly advising the brat. “Slow down when you are stirring next time, count to three for each rotation. Bottle your potion and place it on my desk.”

As the Professor moved on, Naruto did as instructed, making sure to thoroughly clean his work area for the next class. This was something Severus had drilled into him time, and time again, when he helped Naruto prepare for the school year. Naruto shrugged as he heard muttered curses from behind him. Weasley had hoped to distract him enough to ruin his potion and cause the Professor to hate him even more. ‘Oh well, another plan bites the dust!’ Naruto thought gleefully.

 

Wednesday

 

The next few mornings became a repeat of Monday’s mayhem. Kami knows Naruto was getting really tired of it. If one of them put their grubby hands on him ONE…MORE…TIME! Even trying to study in the evenings were becoming a problem. The nasty trio insisted in joining Parvati’s study group, yet did nothing but cause distractions. Brown and Cornfoot insulted and tried to intimidate everyone. Weasley, though, kept trying to get Naruto to leave with them to explore the forbidden corridor or at least skive off studying and play chest or talk about quidditch. They were constantly demanding to know where he went and why he was not in the dorms at night.

It all came to a head on Wednesday when a near brawl broke out in the library. Draco approached Naruto, and before Naruto knew it Weasley and Cornfoot were standing between Draco and him, yelling insults about snakes and Death Eaters, claiming Harry (Why are they still calling him that name?!) would never be friends with scums. Fed up with unwanted, unneeded people making decisions they had no business making, he pushed past them to speak to Draco himself.

That is when all hell broke loose! Cornfoot grabbed Naruto, causing the Kyubi’s temper to explode. Kurama quickly decided that Cornfoot should live up to his name, and did precisely that, gave him two corn on the cobs for feet along with cornstalk legs. Brown ended up with a bald head, and a beard to rival the Headmaster’s, on top of that he blew her up like a balloon. Dean reacted quickly, tying her beard to a chair before she floated away. Weasley... since he hated snakes so much, was turned into a humanoid snake, forked tongue and all. Slytherin green coloring and silver scales decorated the prat’s skin. Every time Weasley tried to yell, a hiss could be heard instead, filling the room with the sound of angry teapots.

The study group didn't know whether to be worried or to laugh themselves silly. Self-preservation kicked in as Draco and his group had the wit to backed out of the library before they could be blamed. Madame Pince, not knowing what was going on, kicked everyone out of the library for such disruption of the peace. Naruto headed to his mother’s quarters while the trio stormed off, Merlin knows where, Brown the balloon bobbing along behind the group, dragged by her beard.

That night found Naruto, Professor McGonagall, and the very comedic trio in the Headmaster’s office. The Headmaster sat back in his throne like chair, a monster of a headache forming at the rabble coming from the three aggrieved students. The boy, Harry Potter, sat looking innocent, yet smug, and his mother—the Headmaster grounded his teeth at that thought—looked ready to hex everyone.

The Headmaster closed his eyes, rubbed his temple. He need to get firm control of the boy, he needed his symbol of Light to maintain control of his wizarding world. He needed the rich coffers of the Potter and Black vaults, he needed the many seats to continue controlling the Wizengamot. He needed the blasted boy to do as he was told and stay where the he put him!

“Mr. Potter, can you kindly explain why you have… hexed your friends? Also, would you please remove the hexes while we are on the topic.” Dumbledore tried to pour every ounce of grandfatherly charm into his demeanor.

Naruto looked around the room searching for this Harry Potter, aggravating the Headmaster even more.

“Mr. Kitsune,” the old man finally ground out through clenched teeth nearly five minutes after Naruto refused to answer.

“Well Headmaster Kondo-san,” Naruto rubbed the back of his head bashfully, “I wasn’t the one who changed them. I have no clue how they got the way they did. I think someone was pissed…” His Okaa-san sent a mild stinging hex to his bottom with the admonishment of his language. It made him glad that she didn't yet understand the Japanese insults he regularly used.

“OW! Okaa-san!" Naruto protested before continuing his story. "Well someone was not happy at our study time being trashed by those three every time we met. I’m not sure why it’s their business where I go all the time, nor where I sleep. Nor do I appreciate them putting their hands on me!”

“Mr. Kitsune,” oh how that name irritated the light out of him, making him weep for want of more lemon drops. “Your friends are just worried about you. You do not spend any time with them at all. A young man such as yourself should be in the dorms, being around others of your age. I’m sure once you are fully moved into the dorms tonight you will see how right I am.”

“I am not moving into the dorms! If you think what happened to them is bad, just try it! I will make what happen to those three baka ka look like child’s play! They are not my friends Headmaster Kondo-san, and no matter how much your force it, they will never be… my… FRIENDS!”

Dumbledore decided to switch tactics as there was no reasoning with the dratted pest. “Minerva, he cannot remain in your quarters full time. He needs to be in the dorms to build relationship with his fellow year and house mates. Surely you can understand that?”

Minerva pulled Naruto to one side and toss up a privacy shield, after an intense discussion, where both were seen nodding, the shield came down and both returned to their seat. “I will agree to my son spending the week with me and the weekend in the dorms.”

“Come now Professor McGonagall, he needs more time than that to be around his friends, how about the week in the dorms and the weekend with you?”

“Not on your bloody beard! I am not staying that long in the same room as these idiots!” Naruto yelled. His fury wasn't an act but at the same time he knew he was still seen as a child and thus supposedly had no say... supposedly.

“Three days a week! He can stay in the dorms on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday! I will allow him to study one hour a day in the common room each day with them, provided they do not interfere with the study group. I reserve the right to keep his bedtime at 9:30 even in the dorms, where warranted. That should allow sufficient time for him to socialize, if he so desires. I will not budge on this Headmaster. Remember, I can just as easily withdraw my child and transfer us both to another school. I am sure there are plenty who would welcome a Mistress of Transfiguration, such as myself and my child,” Minerva and Naruto has worked out that these days would do the least damage to his studies, and give them enough time to spend together from Friday to Monday.

The Headmaster knew when to withdraw from the battlefield, at least he was able to get Harry within the grasp of his minions. He will just have to make sure they make the most of the opportunity. He sent a patronus to Madam Pomfrey, asking her to make arrangements with St. Mungoes' Magical Mishaps Ward to treat the trio. With a heavy sigh, he dismissed the group from the defiled sanctity of his office.

 

Thursday

 

Thursday found the young lions and snakes sharing a flying lesson. Naruto could not see this as being such a good idea, but then Headmaster Kondo-san was full of really bad ideas to begin with. Madam Hooch issued instructions in a no-nonsense voice, each of them lining up beside a broom. Things were progressing fairly well until Neville’s broom decided to run wild and take the poor boy along with it for the ride. Everyone watched as the broom flew madly into the air, bashing into the castle wall.

Naruto calmly tracked the broom progress while Kurama gathered chakra, readying them to act, if it became possible. The broom zoomed towards the group of students, flying low to the ground. As it neared, the students scattered out of the way screaming, giving Naruto the room he needed to act. Pushing chakra through his feet he sprang, grabbing Neville and pulling him free from the broom. He made sure to turn in midair and take the brunt of the fall himself as they rolled along the grass.

Madam Hooch ran over to them, checking both for injuries. Neville had a sprained wrist, while Naruto claimed he was fine. Madam Hooch gazed at him suspiciously, not truly believing his words, but decided to get Neville to the infirmary first and work on the apparently unhurt Mr. Kitsune once she got back.

Leaving behind threats of dire consequences should anyone be caught in the air on a broom, she left with her wounded student. The students milled around discussing what had just happened, when Draco found Neville’s rememberall. Weasley chose that moment to be the twat Naruto knew him to be, mixing demands, insults, and threats of bodily harm towards Draco specifically and Slytherins in general all while trying to take the ball away from Draco.

Naruto politely and calmly asked Draco to give the ball to him instead, but Draco, his dander already up, jumped onto a broom, daring Naruto to come get the ball from him, or brand himself a coward. With a sigh, Naruto picked up a few pebbles from the ground, asking politely once more. Not wanting to lose face in front of his house, Draco threatened to leave the rememberall on a tower roof top for Neville to find. Raising his hand to throw the stupid ball, he was shocked when pain lanced his wrist. Another spot of pain blossom along his forehead causing him to drop the ball and wobble unsteady on the broom before falling off.

At the Draco’s threat, Naruto wasted no time, aiming and pegging the wrist of the hand holding the ball. Another pebbled smacked into Draco’s forehead, causing the ball, followed by Draco to drop. Naruto sprang into the air catching first the ball then Draco, landing into a rough roll, his second one in less than an hour. His body protested the mistreatment, causing Kurama to curse up a storm about the idiocy of children and foolhardy kits.

Naruto lay on the grass, not really caring to move at the moment, when a familiar scent surrounded him, before a dark shadow blocked out the sun. Looking up into Professor Snape’s face, Naruto groaned, he was in for a scolding now. Severus reached down, grabbed both student’s ears and dragged them to their feet. Naruto swore that one ear will be longer than the other after Severus and Okaa-san were done dragging him about by the poor appendage. The fact that the troublesome strawberry blond wasn't moving quiet right was not lost on the potions master. This forced him to slightly readjust his hold for better movement of his victim.

The highly-irritated Professor dragged both miscreants directly to the infirmary, where Neville was still being attended too, as Madam Hooch waited. Eyeing Severus, Madam Hooch gave a questioning look, in answer to which the Potion Master quickly summarized exactly what he had witness by pure chance.

The gaze of the adults landed on Draco and Naruto, waiting for an explanation, but were met with silence from both. A swift yet light cuff to both their heads loosened their tongues… somewhat. Their explanations were stilted, muttered beneath their breaths, causing demands for further clarity. Only with the threat of being smacked yet again, did a full explanation of what happened come forth. Madam Pomfrey wasted no more time in rushing to examined both students, scolding them fiercely.

After conferring with Professor Snape, Madam Hooch, addressed both the boys. “Mr. Malfoy, while I can understand, being aggravated by certain students, this still does not excuse your choices and actions. You flew unsupervised when told not to, you chose to mistreat the property of another student, rather than turn it in to a staff member, or keep it safe until returning it to the rightful owner. Twenty points will be deducted from Slytherin Mr. Malfoy.”

Turning to Naruto Madam Hooch gave him a stern look and offered her deal. “Naruto, twice today your actions have saved a student from grievous harm. While your actions may have caused Mr. Malfoy to fall from his broom, he should not have been on it in the first place. Twenty points will be awarded to Gryffindor. I will not assign detention for causing Mr. Malfoy to fall, if and only if you allow Madam Pomfrey to thoroughly check you over and you abide by her decision to give you bedrest if so needed. Do we have a deal?”

Kurama rolled over, laughing his fool head off at Naruto being out maneuvered by the Flying instructor. Naruto sighed, there was no way he could say no, not with Severus-sensei standing right there. Naruto nodded meekly, willingly submitting himself to Poppy’s ministration. Unfortunately, it was found that he had cracked a few of his ribs in his heroics. Kuso! He was so in for it now from his sensei and his Okaa-san! It was one hell of a way to start a school year.

 

The Land of Wind, Village Hidden in the Sand

 

It was the anniversary of the defeat of Kaguya, the Gedo, and the breaking of the Infinite Tsukuyomi. While a monumental achievement to be celebrated, it was also the day Naruto, Seventh Hokage, The New Sage of the Six Path, and precious family to those gathered, had disappeared from their lives and their world. While the rest of the Land of Elementals and the Shinobi celebrated, a few gathered each year in memory of their friend, keeping hope alive that he would return one day.

This year, it was the Sand village's turn to host the gathering. The gathering this year included the retired Fifth Hokage Lady Tsunada, Shizune, Kakashi, Interim Seventh Hokage Iruka, Shikamaru, Killer B, Konohamaru, Sai, Hinata, Rock Lee and Mighty Guy, and the Kazekage Gaara. Each year many others also attended as time and circumstance permitted. After twenty-five years, many now had families and little ones of their own to take care of. The day was spent toasting the fallen Shinobi, sharing memories, and hopes for the future. It was during this gathered that a beautiful owl swooped into the room heading for Lord Iruka. It was an Eurasian eagle owl, and it landed on the Hokage shoulder, sticking out its leg, showing the missive tied to it. Surprise by this, Iruka carefully remove the roll of parchment. Before unrolling it, he offered the bird of prey slices of meat from the food laden table as thanks.

One look was all it took to send Iruka staggering as he read what was written, his legs refusing to support him. Kakashi quickly guided him to a chair, while the others gathered around wondering what news could affect the Hokage this way. Iruka gestured to Gaara, whispering quietly in his ear. All the servants were quickly cleared from the room and privacy seals put up.

Once the room was locked down, Iruka looked up at the others, tears streaming down his face. “Naruto is alive,” he whispered loud enough for everyone to hear. The word alive was repeated in hushed tones across the room. Many seeking their own chairs as shock rocked their own bodies. ‘My little brother is alive!’ he knew the matter was not simple, nothing ever was when it comes to Naruto, but right then he didn’t care, Naruto was ALIVE!

Gaara took the missive, reading through it quickly. Yes, his friend… his brother… was truly alive, but as always Naruto had gotten himself in a situation as only Naruto could. Looking at Iruka, he realized the man was currently in no condition to make plans for Naruto’s safety. Calling Shikamaru to him, he gave him the parchment to read, while he made plans in his head on what was needed. The other Kages should be notified. Naruto would need retraining as well as gear, most of all he would need protection.

All the younger Shinobi clamored to be the one to go, but it was quickly decided that Shikamaru and Konohamaru would be the ones best suited, they would provide training and protection, with provisions for Kakashi and Killer B joining them later and acting as messengers as Naruto powers grew once again. With that the day of memories turned into a true celebration. Their Beacon of Hope shined again!

 

Friday

 

Quirrell sat in his office planning. Fine tremor wracked his body, the possession of the Dark Lord taking its toll on him. So far, he had failed to acquire what his lord wanted, and Voldemort’s patience was wearing thin. Quirrell laid his head down on the desk, eyes closed in weariness, he soon fell asleep giving Voldemort full use of his body. The Dark Lord shook his head at how far he had fallen. Reduced to possessing this weak excuse for a wizard. He wished he could go to Severus for help, but he doubted his dark potion master would help him, rather, the man might try to kill him outright. No man alive could hold a grudge like his Severus.

He had always loved the man Severus Snape grew into, his dark Potion Master. He was not foolish enough to think Severus would ever return his feelings, considering he was much older than Severus. Despite that, Voldemort made sure to keep his love out of dangerous raids and mostly in the Potion Lab and later spying on the old fool, protected. Voldemort knew he had lost Severus the day he killed Lily. He admitted to himself, he took great pleasure killing her for how she treated his love.

Even in his descent into madness, yes, he knew he had been going insane, he would never hurt Severus, even now, when his betrayal was blatant. He would find a way to draw Severus back to him and keep him safe from harm. First, he needed to get that fucking stone and get his body back! Hopefully Quirrell's plan for Halloween will be a success.

Chapter Text

Naruto was less than pleased to find himself forced to spend several nights out of the school week in the Gryffindor dorm, especially with the nightmares he tended to have. Being required to spend time in the common room wasn't his idea either but it was better than being banned from seeing his mother completely except for class time. He and the fox had both agreed to make the old man pay dearly for these restrictions on his family time. Waking everyone else in the dorm up with his screams regularly turned out to be just a bonus.

Naruto knew that eventually someone's complaints would let him stay with his mother full time but until then there was nothing anyone could do or so he thought. He hadn't expected his mother to become aware of his nightmares at all since Kurama had sympathized with his need to keep them from her. The Kitsune had been helping him either wake up quickly before they got too bad or disabled his voice box temporarily to keep from waking Minerva, something they were about to get into quite a bit of trouble over.

"Brat, stay behind. You're mother will be here shortly," Severus said ominously at the end of his last class with the man at the start of October.

A shiver of dread ran down Naruto's spine but he complied, packing his things up while everyone else streamed out of the classroom around him. When his mother arrived the thunderous look on her face made him want to bolt. In fact he did try to bolt only for knowing hands to grab him up and pull him back into the classroom before sealing the door.

"Hehehe, so what's wrong Okaa-san? Sensei?" Naruto asked nervously.

"Your nightmares," Severus said calmly. Naruto slumped, acknowledging defeat in keeping them from these two of his precious people.

"Why didn't you tell me you were having nightmares?" Minerva asked in a hurt voice, dropping her stern mask almost immediately.

"It was war and I lost friends what do you expect?" Naruto asked, his throat clogging in sadness. "Our lands were very nearly wiped out, many of the shinobi died protecting me and Kyubi. Yes, we understood that if they had caught us and taken Kyubi from me it wouldn't have been simply the Elemental Nations that suffered. Hell, they did take Kurama away from me for a while. I was always afraid he would be taken or split again until I merged with Hadrian and found him solidy back where he belonged with no outside loopholes. As much as I like seeing the other children simply being children.... I cannot stop seeing the faces of the dead and those fallen to the enemy, in turn becoming the enemy. I may have ended it but there were too many lost to the conflict to ever be without regrets or possibly nightmares."

"Then why were we unaware of them before you moved into the dorm?" Severus asked softly.

"Because Kurama helped me keep them from waking Okaa-san. She may have adopted me but that doesn't mean she has to put up with my nightmares. The Dursleys made that perfectly clear," Naruto said with a bitter laugh that made the older two flinch at the barely contained brokenness in his voice. A split second later he found himself buried in the warmest most comforting hug in existence, wrapped in two sets of arms he broke down and finally cried for those who hadn't survived.

-Baka, I told you to tell them,- Kurama scolded softly, offering his own form of comfort from within the seal. Naruto soaked it all up as best he could and hated the fact that not only did the comfort have to end some time but that this was one of his nights to spend in the tower.

"We gave you time to come to us but you didn't. From now on you will get nights where you need to take a potion called dreamless sleep," Severus informed him sternly. "Because of its addictive qualities I will be monitoring you while you take it."

"Yes Sev'erus," Naruto muttered wetly into their robes.

"Oh my boy. You are only eleven again. You are not only allowed but expected to come to adults about these things, to come to us," Minerva murmured comfortingly.

"Kurama said I should but I didn't want to scare you away," Naruto admitted in embarrassment. He was becoming much more cheerful again after his crying jag and both of them were relieved that his natural cheerfulness hadn't been more than momentarily affected by this flash from his past.

-Kit, tell them that you are dealing with it but that the nightmares might last for some time,- Kurama warned. Naruto repeated the information while making a face, making sure to tell them it was Kurama's words and not his only to get another tight hug.

"I need to get back to the common room for my mandatory study time," Naruto reminded them reluctantly.

"He should never have assigned you mandatory time in the common room or for that matter friends," Minerva scowled. "Friends can not be simply assigned like that."

"I know," Naruto said with a bright grin. "But I get to prank them every time they start in on the Dumbledore worship!"

Laughing in amusement the two older magic users sent him off on his way, glad that the issue had been sorted out for the most part and that he hadn't been suffering alone. Both knew that they couldn't help him properly with the memories of a shinobi war. They promised themselves that they would do what they could and see if the goblins couldn't find someone to help their bright little Hokage where they could not.

Naruto left the dungeons with a much lighter heart, intent on finding a snack before being stuck in the common room until dinner time. He didn't particularly mind the other children but with his very adult memories they seemed very childish. It was also easy to tell when they simply wanted him for his supposed fame of being the Boy-Who-Lived and who genuinely wanted to get to know him. The fans often drove away the genuinely interested in various forms of jealousy and his assigned helpers ie. planted friends didn't exactly help matters. As a result he was fairly isolated, a situation neither was going to let stand for much longer.

A sneering voice and a shout of anger just ahead of him in the corridor drew him from his reverie in time to see one of his dorm mates, Ronald Weasley, try to curse a blond Slytherin in the back. A quick burst of speed and a deflected wand sent the spell high into the ceiling, blasting a bit of stone free and telling Naruto that the spell was meant to do actual harm.

"What the hell did you think you were doing?!" Naruto demanded. "You don't curse someone in the back without a very good reason and you don't even try to do it until you are at least out of school!"

"I should have known, you are a traitor! A traitor to the light and a slimy snake!" Ronald raged before physically trying to attack Naruto. "You should have died with your parents!"

The strawberry blond boy dodged the first couple of strikes out of remembered reflex but took the third directly to the stomach with a whoosh of air. It slowed him down enough in his barely healed younger body that a blow from a different, older Gryffindor connected solidly with his head, dazing him. Kurama growled inside his head, already working on repairing the bruising at his stomach and keeping his rattled skull from swelling dangerously. There was a barely heard shout from behind him the Slytherins ran off to find a teacher. Naruto couldn't afford to pay attention to them and their escape as he forced his mind to focus. Automatically, he slipped into a sloppy Taijitsu stance and started to actually block hits, ignoring the building number of bruises as the three boys did their best to beat him bloody. He refused to strike out and hurt these civilian children, no matter how much they were hurting him. They hadn't been trained to kill. Once upon a time, he had.

There was a shout of adult rage from down the corridor in the direction of the dungeons but Naruto blocked it out. His head was finally starting to clear properly thanks to Kurama and he was trying to decide where to best land disabling strikes that wouldn't cripple the other boys. Before he could decide the four of them saw a wash of red light before everything went black. The teachers had stunned them to end the fight.

 

Draco had been shocked at the pink haired kid that was supposed to be Harry Potter coming out of nowhere. Not just out of nowhere but acting in defense of the group of Slytherins that the three Gryffindors had decided to bully. The oldest boy had some name like McLaggen while the redhead's family had a long running feud with his own. He didn't know the third boy's name.

Draco had been disappointed in not being able to make friends with Harry Potter, now Naruto. He was possibly still hoping to get a reason why he never heard back from the boy when he'd written to him around age five would have been a bonus. He never imagined being rescued by this weird kid that his Uncle Sev was always growling about being forced to spend time with the lions and assigned friends by the barmy Headmaster. His father and mother had told him to be patient when he'd written to them about not being able to get near Potter and his new but interesting weirdness.

The fight that erupted between the four Gryffindors had been a shock. Weasley's accusation of being a traitor less so but the one about being a snake had an idea sparking in the regal blond's head. Of course for it to even remotely work they had to keep Naruto from getting killed in their defense first.

"We have to get Snape!" Draco ordered his goons, heading for the nearby dungeons, intent on retrieving his godfather. Crabbe and Goyle followed along at a flat run. Both of them acted dumb but were fairly smart, they understood the implications of what was happening and had no intention of being blamed for Naruto's beating. They wanted the weird idiot alive if only to thank him properly.

They didn't have to run far to find Snape who was walking with McGonagall. A spluttered explanation had the two teachers in a flat run only to arrive at the fight and be unable to separate the boys safely. Snape noticed that Naruto was getting ready to deliver his own strikes and knowing the boy's training realized they were out of time. A barked order for stunners and on the count of three the four boys were knocked out with the red streaks of light.

"What exactly happened?" Snape asked his three snakes while Minerva checked the unconscious boys. Naruto was looked at first, partly to see what injuries he had been dealt before they faded and partly because he was her son.

"The redhead came up to us and started insulting us, Draco especially. Draco insulted back and won the insult battle that followed. We tried to walk away and Naruto came out of nowhere to knock red's wand away so that the curse missed us. It hit the wall over there and we got showered with bits of stone," Goyle explained. He might normally be quiet and play dumb but this was important.

"Weasley called him a traitor and a snake and said he should have died with his parents. Then they started hitting him. He didn't fight back but we saw blood and they weren't stopping," Crabbe added glumly. He didn't like watching people fight, he saw it too often at home.

Minerva growled low in her throat as she found the blood on her son's uniform and on the knuckles of the other boys. That wasn't good, reactions from her animagus form were starting to bleed through.

"Uncle? I want to propose a status change within the house for him," Draco offered softly, gazing at the unconscious pink haired idiot who saved him from a trip to the Hospital wing and a letter home.

"To what?" Severus asked cautiously. He knew that the brat was still seen as Harry Potter among the snakes, which was partly because they didn't know about him nor had they really met him. The problem was that Harry Potter a great number of enemies among the Slytherin families for Voldemort's fall and his survival. Draco proposing a status change could be very good or very very bad.

"Honorary Slytherin. He protected one of our own and was labeled one of us by the Gryffs... I don't think he had a choice when his parents died and he obviously isn't the old man's puppet like we've been taught. I want him to have safe passage and maybe we can get him to see why we were upset..." Draco said trailing off, finally remembering McGonagall as he glanced at her fearfully.

"You have nothing to fear from me little one," Minerva said gently as she picked up her son and levitated the other three boys. "If it were up to me you'd have equal treatment to my Naruto and any other student. My son is the one who cleared my mind of the spells someone keeps casting on me. I may be Head of the Lion Pride but I will not turn away a Snake that needs me."

"Thank you ma'am," Crabbe and Goyle said gratefully.

"I will back your nomination in the common room tonight," Severus agreed softly before sending them off while helping to take the four Gryffindor's to the hospital wing.

"He's not in trouble Severus, not with me. He acted honorably, bravely even. It just makes me wonder how I'm going to keep him from getting hurt and if he will try to face something more dangerous without help," Minerva sighed regretfully.

"I'll take the points and assign the detentions. You don't need to face the old goat and his attempts to over ride this," Severus offered quietly.

"You're a dear," Minerva told him in relief.

"100 points and a week of detentions with Filch for the three Gryffindor attackers and 25 points for Naruto in reward for defending fellow students while refusing to escalate the incident beyond self defense," Severus decided.

"You noticed he refused to lash out as well then?" Minerva chuckled wryly.

"I did. It was one of the reasons we used stunners, he was getting ready to strike back," Severus admitted. Minerva nodded her agreement and sighed over her once more injured son while Poppy fussed, took another history, and put the four back together again.

Chapter Text

Quirrell stumbled into the great hall in the middle of the Halloween feast that Naruto hadn't really wanted to go to in the first place to stutter out a warning about a troll in the castle. While everyone else paused in shock only panic a second later over the situation Naruto blinked and double checked where each of his precious people were in the room. Seeing Severus and his Okaa-san trying to calm people down he decided that if he raided the table he'd have enough things combined with wind chakra to kill whatever a troll was.

-Okaa-san won't be happy about this baka,- Kurama rumbled in token protest as Naruto gathered up his knife and fork for close range weapons while swiping several plates and platters for throwing weapons.

-As long as the troll thing is dead by the time Okaa-san and Severus-kun have to see it I don't really care how angry she will be. Filibuster, Okaa-san, and Severus-kun have some combat experience but everyone else is a civilian, and most of them are children on top of that. No, as the only even half way trained shinobi I have to take out the threat,- Naruto pointed out stubbornly.

A cup of water dumped on Quirrell as he passes to wake the man in case he can't actually stop the troll in time was the only concession he made to the supposedly protective status of the staff. If Naruto could help it the troll, whatever it was, would not be getting anywhere near his Okaa-san.

It was laughably easy to slip out of the great hall even when he was so blatantly not hiding that someone should have stopped him. It made him wonder how badly security was run at the school and if he could inscribe enough seals into the stone over the years he would have here to make it even remotely safe. The seals would have to wait for him to get fuinjitsu supplies in any case but he'd have to think about at least using seals on their quarters later, after the troll was dead.

It took him very little effort to find the troll. He almost regretted asking Kurama for the slight boost to his senses for better tracking of the stinky thing. Naruto found it very strange that it was lumbering down the second floor corridor when it was supposedly in the dungeons. He carefully reminded himself that enemies tended to move and that he was dealing with civilians. Since no one was around he decided on stalking the thing for a good ten minutes to get a gauge on what he was dealing with before rushing in to kill it. The sound of quiet crying down the hall made his decision for him before he was ready.

"Hey stupid!" Naruto called out, coming out of hiding while lobbing a chakra edged plate at the troll. It sliced into the thing's back just barely far enough to lodge there. This told him that not only was the creature blessed with a thick hide but that he badly needed to work on his strength training.

-BAKA! RUN!- Kurama yelled in his skull. Naruto dropped instead and barely missed getting hit by the club that swung around at him as the troll turned. Another plate of his limited supply went towards the troll's shins only to bounce off and lodge in the stone of the wall.

Naruto bolted to his feet and decided that he needed to be far inside the thing's reach. He darted forwards, knife and fork enhanced with his natural wind chakra, cutting and slicing whatever he could reach, leaving behind only scratches in the hard hide. Then the club connected against his side, slamming him against the stone wall with a meaty thud.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kiba once said, mothers are scary. I had no clue what he meant. Never having known a mothers love before. In fact, I have never known what it was like to have the love and attention of a family. Then came Lady Tsunada, or as I call her grandma Tsunada, she was the first that was like a mother to me, she believed in me, but damn she gave new meaning to knocking sense into someone! The granddaughter of the First Hokage, she saw in me the spirit and the will of fire of her little brother Nawaki and her lost love Katou Dan. She was a strong kunoichi, who had suffered much in her life. She was also quick to piss off, getting flicked by a single finger was to be avoided at all cost.

Then there was my own mother Kushina, who I had only met twice in my entire life. Once, when her chakra activated to help me gain control of Kurama, and finally, when I was transported to another dimension by Madara, a world where both my parents were still alive. When I had met the spirit of Kushina, I learned my history, and also heard the story of how Kushina and Minato met. I also learned about the Red-Hot Habanero, but it took coming face to face with an angry Kushina that I realize, defying your mother was a bad idea. I still remembered her words to this day, "It’s about a hundred years to early for you to start disobeying me, ya know!" For that brief time, I began to understand what I was missing in my life. It made going back to my home universe even more painful.

But right now, I would rather take on Grandma Tsunada and my Okaa-san Kushina, hell toss in a pissed off Sakura, than having to face a very angry Scottish Okaa-san Lioness that seems to have designs on my poor tender backside!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Naruto staggered back against the rough stone wall of the hall way, all the aches and pains he had ignored during the brief fight flooded his body, causing a soft groan to escape from his lips.

-You did well kit, even with the lack in training, although you still need to learn how to duck,- Kurama’s smug voice sounded in Naruto’s head.

"Yeah, yeah, I know! Who the hell knew trolls hit so damn hard! Merlin’s saggy nut sack, I’m gonna be feeling this tomorrow!" Naruto grumbled aloud, aching all over.

The sounds of running feet filled the hall way, followed by voices raised in shock, surprise, and even horror, from some of the sounds reaching his ears. Looking up might have been the worst thing he could have done. Standing there was his Haha, his new mother…Minerva, and SHE… DID… NOT…LOOK… HAPPY!

In fact, Naruto tried to scramble back into the wall to get away from the almost killer intent leaking from his Okaa-san's eyes. Minerva stalked closer, lips disappearing in her anger as she reached out. The part that was Harry flinched, expecting to be hit. Instead of the pain that would have blossomed from being punched or hit across the head his right ear screamed in pain as his mother grabbed the poor appendage, yanked and dragged him behind her. She stalked her way out of the hall, through the castle to their private quarters. The entire trip was peppered with her scolding words, words that made even Kurama hesitate in making an appearance.

"WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU WERE DOING! I don’t give a rat’s ass if you were a shinobi, or a damn Hokage, YOU ARE AN ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD BOY! MY ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD BOY! And if you think I’m going to let you just prance your happy little butt into trouble on a whim, YOU BETTER THINK AGAIN! AND…AND YOU KURAMA! Keep him out of trouble you said, not rush into traps you said. A BLOODY KNIFE AND FORK! You let him fight a bloody troll with A BLOODY KNIFE AND FORK! IF I COULD DRAG YOUR MANGY HIDE OUT, I WOULD TAN YOUR MISERABLE HIDE KURAMA!" Minerva ranted at them in a right fury.

Kurama was just about to switch places with Naruto to explain what it meant to be shinobi yet again, but upon hearing that, even he decided to back pedal into a safe corner in his cell. He, who was the most powerful Bijuu alive! The most feared entity alive. He who was the embodiment of hatred, was cowering before this raging lioness. He had never been on the receiving end of a mother’s scolding much less threatened with a tanning!

It felt like forever before they finally reached their quarters, Minerva’s ire not lessening one iota along the way. Naruto let out a squeak in surprise when he found himself over his mother’s lap, his robes vanished and his pants and jeans yanked down. Turning his head to protest, he was just in time to witness a paddle being conjured out of thin air. Just as quickly it was applied to his poor defenseless bottom. Amid squeals of pain and the sound of the paddle meeting flesh, Naruto cursed at the Kyubi for not stopping him from fighting the troll.

-No fair what am I the only one in trouble?!- Naruto mentally cried to the Bijuu.

"OW, OW , OW OKAAAAA-SAN!" Naruto wailed with each smack to his behind.

-Well next time baka, DON’T GET CAUGHT!- Kurama shot back, shivering in fear in his corner.

"OUCH! OWWWIE! MOOOOMMM NOOOOOO!" Naruto cried, ignoring the fox's unhelpful response manfully.

"You and Kurama will STOP *SMACK* to THINK *SMACK* the next time you think it would be fun to take on A BLOODY TROLL *SMACK*" Naruto squealed (although he would never EVER admit that) as his Okaa-san emphasis her points with the flat of the paddle.

-STUPID FOX…. STUPID TROLL…. STUPID PADDLE!- Naruto mentally complained as he cried like a baby at each smack.

Minerva dropped the paddle and pulled Naruto into her arms roughly, there were tears streaming down her face, "Don’t you ever scare me like that again!"

The floo sounded a minute later, looking up Poppy’s head was in the fire, "Can I come through Minerva?"

"Certainly Poppy, I’m pretty sure he needs to be checked over," Minerva sniffled while wiping away the tears from her face.

Naruto sat silently, both he and Kurama were confused about the emotions that were swirling around inside them. From the memories of Harry’s, they expected a harsher punishment, but in reality, Naruto’s ass was sore, but no real damage had been done beyond making sitting uncomfortable for the next few days.

Anger he had expected, Grandma Tsunada and even Kushina always reacted with anger when they think he was being stupid or put himself in danger. It was the hug and comfort that confused him. Minerva hugged him like he was the most precious child in the world, her tears, the way her arms felt around him, holding him. This felt the same as when the alternate world Kushina had held him after she got hurt trying to protect him. That had confused him as well.

Poppy came thru bringing along her medi-witch bag. Minerva refuse to let go of Naruto, so Poppy had to settled for scanning him while he was still on his mother’s lap. Naruto and Kurama were too engrossed in trying to figure out these new feelings to protest being treated like a little kid.

"Well, nothing is broken, thank Merlin. He’s going to be sore and bruised though. A level 2 bruise balm should do the trick. Maybe some dreamless sleep potion as well? I would recommend bedrest for a few days, but I doubt you will let him go long enough even get him to the infirmary," Poppy chuckles as she summoned the required vials and banished them to Naruto’s night stand. "Minerva I swear, you’re going to crack the boy’s ribs if you hold any tighter! He is fine, I promise! He can rest here in your quarters, which would be a good idea anyway. He won’t be disturbed by unwanted visitors."

"Naruto, can you go to your room for a bit? I would like to talk to Madam Pomfrey for a moment," Minerva smiled a bit sadly, "I will be in soon to rub the bruise balm on your bruises, so why don’t you go take a long hot shower?"

Naruto silently nodded his tear streaked face and did as she asked, heading straight for the mercy of the hot water on his sore muscles.

~~~~~~~

'This world is very different from the Lands of Elemental. The way of the shinobi is all we have known, was I wrong to help my kit to fight the vile creature. No, he will have to face such creatures in battle! So why was she so angry? And why did she make my fur stand on ends? Is this what to means to have a mother? I have only known my Father, Hagoromo Otsutsukithe, the Sage of the Six path. He was considered the savior of his world as well, a kind gently man that traveled across the land, giving chakra to everyone in the world as well as spreading his ideals and ninshu.' The Nine-Tailed pondered on this.

‘Father was always kind hearted, never one to scold us, even me when I raged at the world. His compassion and desire for peace was so great that even after learning of his mother Kaguya’s amoral actions, including the death of Haori, his beloved, father never succumbed to his grief and rage, despite it also awakening his Sharingan. Instead, he hoped to settle the matters with words rather than violence. Despite rebelling against Kaguya, he still loved and respected her, constantly referring to her as "Mother" even when acknowledging how evil she became. That is all I ever known a "Mother" to be. Someone evil and vile.’ Kurama compared the feelings and intent he got from Minerva to what he has always known from Kaguya.

'There was no hatred! Yes she was angry… no not angry… upset? Yes! That was the feeling, upset, and… scared. What was she scared of?' Kurama went over the words Minerva through at them as she dragged them through the castle earlier. ‘She was scared for Naruto… No… for both of us. She was scared we would get hurt!’ Kurama gave an all-over body shudder, ‘She’s scary when she is like that!’ Kurama curled up on the floor, his mind occupied with this new development.

~~~~~~~~

Deep into his own thoughts, Kurama never noticed the path Naruto’s own mind took. Eventually, Naruto finished his shower, unconsciously reaching for a towel, and absently drying himself. On his bed, a house elf had already laid out his green frog night cap and his favorite sleeping shirt with the picture of a frog that almost looked like Gamatatsu. Pulling on a pair of boxers and his orange sleep pants, he crawled onto the bed, laying there wondering what would happen next.

Naruto pushed his venomous thoughts aside, trying to bring calm to his mind. Soon after he felt another presence in his room, a gentle hand caressed his forehead, trailing down to his cheek. His eyes opened to meet his Okaa-san’s eyes. They were glistening, her smile softly quivering, she turned to sit on the side of his bed.

"I am sorry Okaa-san, for being so much trouble, if…if… you want me to leave…" Minerva pulled him into a rough hug, her hands buried in his hair holding his head onto her shoulder. "Why…Why would I want you to leave a thasgaidh! Bà, mo leanbh, no more talk of you going anywhere. You know you nearly gave me a heart attack, I do not need greyer hair, mo laochain!" Minerva breath was still a little shaky, her hands gently rubbing his back, confirming that, Yes! He was really here in her arms. "Naruto, I love you so much my son, and yes ever that a bhobain Kurama… I know you are a shinobi… I know you must fight. But do you think you can at least promise me you will wait to take on anything larger than pixie with a dinner knife and fork? I promise I will get the goblins to provide you the tools you need to stay safe." Minerva gently raised his head from her shoulder, waiting for her needed promise.

"I promise…," Naruto looked away blushing "mom."

Minerva’s eyes fought back the tears that threaten to fall yet again, this time in joy even as she spoke, "Come laddie, let’s get this healing balm rubbed into those sore muscles and bruises. Then you can get to sleep after some warm milk. Poppy wants you to rest for the next two days at least. She will return then to give you a checkup. Only then will she decide if to clear you or not to go back to classes. For now, your visitors will be limited, and only allowed when I am present. Is this alright with you Naruto?"

Naruto nodded his acceptance, before tugging at the helm of his night shirt over his head. Rolling over, he snuggled into the softness of the bed as his Okaa-san, his mom, smooth the balm into his skin, massaging his aching muscles. A gentle tap on his sore bottom told him she was finished. His clothes back in order and a glass of warm milk later, he was tucked in, kissed on the forehead soundly, before the lights were extinguished. The doubts and fears that were Harry’s tried to resurfaced in the darkness, only to be pushed ruthless back and Kurama flooded Naruto’s mind with memories of Lady Tsunada, Kushina, forcing to ponder anew.

~~~~~~

Kurama asked me what is a Mother’s love. I thought back to the days in the village, when I watch the other children with their mothers. I had always thought a Mother loves you when they buy you treats, when they play with you, that they are always there smiling and laughing, watching you be a happy child. The memory of Grandma Tsunada, crying over me after I first used the rasengan on Kabuto. I remember feeling the darkness closing in… then wetness... drops of warm moisture on my bare skin. Grandma Tsunada hands had felt so warm and nice against my skin. I remember reaching up… Yes… the wager… the necklace. I had won the wager… I had mastered the rasengan in a week.

Kurama then brought forth the limited memories I have of Kushina. Ah this is when we went after the Blood Moon Scroll in the alternative world. Kushina had gotten hurt, pushing me out of the way of that worlds Gamabunta’s attack. I had expected to face the Red-Hot Habanero yet again. Instead, I was wrapped in my mother’s arms as she cried. It was a while before I could bring myself to wrap my arms just as tightly around her. Her touch was warm like Lady Tsunada. This was something I have always wanted, dreamed about. That memory merged into the moment when Sakura was taken and the village destroyed. I was set to go after Sakura, but Kushina wouldn’t let me go, "Yes, we are a shinobi family, but we are also human! What kind of mother would I be to let my child run into more danger than he can handle?" Finally, the last memories I have of her and father, the came… even knowing that I wasn’t truly their son, they came despite that, to them I was still truly their son.

-Kit, I know that Harry never truly experience having a Mother, that he has only know hurt and rejection, but you… you have! Take what you have experienced, see what I have seen from Minerva’s actions. I… I think this time Kami has blessed us, little kit,- Kurama sighed deeply. -Rest for now little one, we have time to think further on this tomorrow-

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Midnight found Naruto sitting on the wall of the Astronomy Tower, he had refuse the dreamless sleep potion at bedtime. To him it was unnatural to sleep so deeply that you are unaware of your surroundings. The slightest swish of cloth against stone alerted him the presence arriving behind him.

"Mr. Kitsune, may I ask what are you doing out of bed after curfew? As far as I know, you should be on bed rest, although I am surprise Professor McGonagall let you out of her sights at all," Professor Snape’s voice washed over my like melted chocolate.

'Mmmm, his voice is like their touch, its warm too' Naruto thought to himself before answering. "I couldn’t sleep and came here to think about what happened tonight sir."

"Ah, planning your next escapade I see. I doubt your adorning fans will not be hesitant in showering your foolish young head with accolades come morning. Pray tell, I hardly doubt Minerva remembers to a sound stinging hex to your backside for your foolish daring’s tonight," Severus shot back sardonically.

Naruto blushed bright red, before mumbling quietly, "Actually Professor, she paddled me herself over her lap."

Snape stood in quiet shock, then smiled with barely a smirk, "Then young Mr. Kitsune, she has done very well by you. I would suggest heading back to you bed before she ordains to administer another paddling sooner than you care to expect."

"Yes Professor…" Naruto turns to head back down the towers, he stopped at the doorway and turned to Snape with a puzzled expression. "Sir? Are all mothers so scary?"

Chapter Text

Reality Check

Headmaster Albus Dumbledore

Headmaster Dumbledore, Professor Snap, and Professor Quirrell, stood in silent as McGonagall stormed off with her young son in towed. The stinking body of the troll lay dead in the hallway, shredded to pieces. Albus hid a triumphant smile, he now had the means to control the brat, there was no way the child did not use a dark spell to destroy the troll. Albus chanted softly, his wand weaving in a complex manner, “Erubescant omnes cantus cast!” Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on who your rooting for, no spells, charms, jinxes, or hexes were revealed, Dark or Light!

“How did a child killed a fully-grown troll without casting a single spell?” Albus was fuming, he was so damn sure that dark magic was used he cast the Educ (bring forth) spell in front of Severus and Quirrell, now there was no way to claim otherwise. Other staff members were starting to gather, he could not obliviate the two at this point. Questions were flung at the Headmaster faster than he could think to answer them. Fuck Merlin’s twitching asshole, that child was going to be the death of him!

Professor Severus Snape

FUCKING HELL! How in the nine Hells of Hades, did that child take out a grown troll with a knife and fork! Not only that but do this kind of damage! The troll was shredded to pieces, troll blood painted the walls and floor, the horrendous stench of death swamped the halls. Severus watched as the Headmaster performed a slightly illegal borderline dark spell on the troll and hallway.

Severus wasn’t sure who was more shocked, him or the Headmaster, when nothing showed up. Severus felt a wave of dizziness, realizing that Naruto went up against this monster without magic. He was going to kill that child…right after Minerva was finished with him. Severus started casting spells to clean the mess and dispose of the dead troll. He spied the lone fork, knife, and two metal dinner plates, their edges sharpened. With a shake of his head, he banished these to his room, one day…hopefully…he will look back and laugh the next time he sees these instruments of idiocy.

Professor Quirinus Quirrell

Quirrell was gob smacked! There was just no other way to say it. Forget about his plans failing, who could plan for an eleven-year-old child taking on, much less destroying a TROLL! Even his Lord was struck silent, as both stared at the dead festering body laid in the hallway. All the blood drained from Quirrell’s face as the spell cast by Albus came back negative. Fucking hell, what kind of child did the Lord go up against! Is it any wonder the Dark Lord was reduced to ashes by a mare babe?

It was in that moment of shock that clarity finally slipped in, and Voldemort questioned his plans and actions. ‘How the hell can I get that fucking stone now? Albus is bound to lead that pest of a child to the stone to stop me? But I need it to regain my body! Why do I need it to regain my body? How did I even know about the stone to begin with? Oh, for fuck sakes, I’m here at Hogwarts, I could have easily have gotten the bloody diadem and been on my way, rather than jumping through that fucking bastard’s hoops!’

Voldemort open his thoughts to Quirrell, “There has been a change of plans, we are no longer seeking the stone. There is another item I require your assistance in getting, then we are leaving during the winter break and not returning.” Between the diadem and the item, he left with Lord Malfoy, he will soon gain his body back, and then he will come for his love and keep him safe, as he takes control their world.

 

Even Heroes Need Down Time!  

It was raining yet again. Autumn in Scotland was so very different from the Land of Fire. The leaves were more green with all the evergreen trees in the forest, to him the gold and red where much duller than what he was used too. The biggest difference was the cold...and the rain. It rained...and rained... and rained! The only place that rained this much is, of course, the Land of Rain.

He was trapped inside the Castle for the sixth day in a row, unable to train outside, and unable to avoided the “friends” Albus had assigned to him, baka ka!  It was finally Saturday; his plans were to explore Hogwarts to his heart’s content on his own. Naruto groaned as he got out of bed, his feet trampling over the mess that was the floor of his bedroom.

Kuso! I’m going to have to clean my room before Okaa-san sees it or there will be hell to pay,” he grumbled on the way to the bathroom to get ready for the day.

-   Baka ne   kit, do not have you mother coming after us again, bakabakashii boy!  The last thing Kurama wanted was to face Minerva’s ire. All this blasted rain was making Kurama sleepy, this was the most active he has been in days. He curled up in a nice warm spot, muttering quietly as he fell back asleep.

Damare! I will get to it I promise, after my shower.” It was easy enough for Naruto to forget he could use magic to clean his room with a swish of his wand. He still prefers doing it by hand, that is, whenever he gets around to it! He made quick work in the bathroom, exiting fully awake and refresh. Naruto dressed in a dark colored light-weight jumpsuit allowing for good maneuverability. Over it he wore the jacket Dudley had given him, it was still too big on him, but it also allows for him to easily slip out of it, if the need arose. Bare footed, Naruto began the task of picking up his mess, tossing his dirty uniforms into the hamper by the door.

 ‘That was one thing he would not miss, washing his own clothes by hand,’ Naruto thought. Books and the odd bits and end were soon put away, next, was making sure his bed was made. While he prefers staying in his mom’s room, that onara atama of a Headmaster, insisted that Naruto had to spend some days in the dorms to spend time with his “friends”. Which is why Albus new name is Headmaster Kondo-san! Naruto giggled at that thought, although, it would be wise to never let his mother find out about that little tidbit. Today, Naruto and his mother were having breakfast in their quarters. After slipping on his boots, he headed into the family room to see if his mother was up.

“Ohayou okaasan!” he called out upon seeing his mom, sitting in her favorite chair sipping tea. In the few months since Naruto has been her son, Minerva had begun to pick up a few phrases, here and there, that her son commonly used.

“Good morning dear boy, breakfast will be in another 20 minute, I think.” There was a pot of bancha tea waiting for him, while it was not the most refine, it was all he could afford when he was younger and soon he acquired a taste for it. “Mom, does it always rain so much?” Naruto had just about enough of the soggy weather and being cooped up inside the castle.

Minerva laughed softly and recited a poem to him, “It rained and rained and rained, the average was well maintained; And when our fields were simply bogs, it started raining cats and dogs. After a drought of half an hour, there came a most refreshing shower; and then the queerest thing of all, A gentle rain began to fall. Next day ’twas pretty fairly dry, Save for a deluge from the sky. This wetted people to the skin, but after that the rain set in. We wondered what’s the next we’d get, as sure as fate we got more wet. But soon we’ll have a change again, and we shall have…... A drop of rain.” Naruto groaned, falling back on the couch dramatically.

 

After a truly fun breakfast filled with laughter, Naruto heading out to explore, leaving his mother in peace to finish her grading and lesson planning.  He quickly made his way to the higher levels of the castle, knowing no one would look for him there, climbing all those stairs challenged his stamina in a way tree walking did not. All the aches and soreness from training started to make themselves known again making him wish he could go to a hot spring like he used to in the Land of Fire.

On the seventh floor, he stopped to study a weird moving tapestry of an idiot that was trying to teach trolls to dance. “Baka!” he muttered at the tapestry, rolling his shoulder, and wishing once again he could go to a hot spring bathhouse, when a fusuma suddenly appeared out of nowhere, it was out of place with all the other doors in Hogwarts.

Naruto slid open the fusuma panel and peered into a Japanese Bathhouse. It was more of a sento than a onsen. Woven basket for clothing lined the wall separating the changing room from the bath itself. In his eagerness to finally enjoy a real bath, he took no noticed that the doorway he entered disappeared into a wall.

Naruto stripped, carelessly throwing his clothes into the nearest basket and going through the second set of sliding doors into the bath proper. Stools where spaced out across the area near the set of water taps that lined the other side of the wall that separated the changing room from the bath.

Grabbing a washbowl from the stack sitting on a table near the door, Naruto settled on a stool at the nearest water tap to rinse his body in preparation for enjoying a good long soak.

The bath itself was a long rectangle with curls of steam rising across the surface. The wall behind the bath gave the impression of a being made of glass and looked out onto a stunning autumn visage. Brilliant reds intermingle with golden yellow and vibrant greens leaves. A Japanese wooden bridge can be seen peeking out from between the foliage. The soft clacking of a shishi odoshi, gave the impression that a stream in the vicinity, with deer grazing nearby. A sudden peace and calm came over Naruto as he relaxed into the bath, calm mixed with slight pangs of homesickness, he missed his friends and comrades. Thoughts drifted to Iruka-sensei and Kakashi-sensei. He wondered if they had finally gotten together. He hoped they did, as he wanted his big brother to find happiness. A spicy, lemon scent rose with the steam filling his sense. "oh, hinoki," he thought with a smile, breathing in the scent of traditional bathhouse oil deeply. Clearing his mind and letting go of the tension in his body, Naruto relaxed for the first time since awakening in the cupboard.

An hour later, a quiet cough alerted him to the presence of another in the room. Opening his eyes, a house elf waited with a small basket, a washcloth, and a loofah. Naruto smiled, back home it was common for his friends to help wash each other’s while they enjoyed the bathhouse. Rising from the comforts of the hot water, moving with relaxed confidence. “Yoroshiku onegai shimasu” he said quietly to the house elf with a bow, before he sat on the stool the elf gestured at.  Naruto watched as the elf mixed red kaolin clay, powdered oats, aloe, and kelp powder. Camellia oil, white tea and ginger filled the air as these where added next. Watching the elf work was relaxing, and made Naruto feel cared for. Never had he have someone mixed bath soap just for him. Before he used whichever the bathhouse had the cheapest.

"What is your name little elf?" Naruto ask as the elf began to apply the exfoliating mix gentle into his scared skin, rubbing in gently circles.

"Bluebell Master Kitsune," the elf answered shyly. Naruto smiled and thought, 'buruberu in Japanese, which means gratitude, and I am truly grateful for bluebell's care, and the name suits her, she is small, shy, and beautiful like the flower.'

"Little bluebell, please call me Naruto." Bluebell blushed as much as an elf could blush and nodded shyly. After ten minute, when the mixture had dried she washed it clear from Naruto's body, washing his hair as well.

Rising Naruto headed back into the bath to relax and savor the heated water once more, while Bluebell tidied the room as Naruto relaxed, laying out his freshly cleaned clothing and a huge soft fluffy towel.  A selection of snacks and drinks for him to enjoy when he was done were laid out on a kotatsu, the low tables common to japan.

It was nearly two hours later, before Naruto consider heading back to the ground floor. He had thoroughly enjoyed this relaxing break. He bowed in respect to his little buruberu, “Arigatou gozaimasu bluebell, if I were to return, would you be here again?”

“Master Naruto…. Yes, will be here… if Master Naruto ever need me, will always been happy to serve Sir,” bluebells squeaky voice quivers with shy excitement.

“Thank you buruberu, I look forward to seeing you again, and getting be friends!” He was excited, he made an awesome new friend. He raced out the door and down the stairs, relaxed and carefree. Not even the rain can upset him now!

Chapter Text

Kurama woke up, ears twitching madly. He could sense the sun had yet to rise, giving a dark chuckle he realized what it was he was sensing. Kami, help the poor bastards in the castle, trouble was about to descend on the unsuspecting fools. Then again, he grinned, a look of pure evil mischief dawned on his face. Perhaps… Yes!... it would be more fun this way. If one was listening, all they would have heard was low growls, huffs, and soft yips as he worked his chakra on the kit he had claimed. His job done, Kurama went back to sleep, waiting for the mayhem to descend!

Daffodil popped into the room, her goal to wake her young Master in time to make it to breakfast in the great hall. Mistress has already left to be there early to keep the young urchins in line. At least that was her intended goal. Daffodil suddenly found herself pinned under a yipping. squirming young Master.

“Master Naruto?” Daffodil asked in a mixture of confusion and exasperation. By now she was used to being pounced on by the young boy, but this… this did not feel quite like her beloved Master! ‘Merlin’s balls! Its looks like it’s going to be a very long day’ she thought with a sigh.

 

A string of curses flooded Severus Snape’s mind as he cautiously peered around a corner, trying to discern how dangerous it would be to traverse it. He is The Feared Dungeon Bat of Slytherin, Esteemed Professor of Hogwarts, A Master Spy… and he was being stalked like juicy prey! He would feel much shame to being reduce to this, if only he had a moment to feel ashamed. He edged around the corner, inching he was down the corridor as quietly as possible, preparing himself to run at the first slightest warning. How could his day have gone so very wrong!

 

The Wonderful thing about Tiggers!

 

Professor Severus Snape, youngest Potion Master of this Century, started his day as he always did: first checking the potions that were brewing over night first, followed by his daily ablutions. Armored in his black teaching robes he stepped out of his quarters… only to find himself pinned under a squirming, yipping, growly, playful handful of a brat!

“BLOODY HELL!” Severus shouted as he fought to get a grip on this squirming bundle of brathood.

“MR. KITSUNE! Damnit…NARUTO STOP SQUIRMING BRAT!” Severus ordered finally managing to grab the young miscreant by the scruff of his neck. He pointed his wand, muttered and sent a binding spell at the brat. With a sigh, he rose from the castle floor with as much dignity one can muster under such conditions. He prayed to Lady Magic that none of his snakes had witness their dear Head of House in such disarray.

“Mr. Kitsune, while I do appreciate you enthusiastic greeting, and your eagerness to start your day in this wonderful bastion of wizarding education. I will have to ask you to please refrain such outbursts and endeavor to maintain proper decorum,” Severus scolded, with a flick of his wrist, he removed the bindings. He left without glancing at Naruto, too busy straightening his clothing and brushing away the dust. As a result he missed the pout, the soft whining grumble, and the quite mischievous gleam that lit his young charge’s eyes. It was about to a very long day for Professor Severus Snape Extraordinaire.

At first Potion Master Severus Snape's morning preceded as usual until suddenly a flying bundle of robes tackled him from an unknown direction. A loud screech escaped Severus’s lips before he could stop it, his body turning to catching the nuisance before they both hit the stone floor. Naruto squirmed in his arms, nuzzling against Severus briefly before scampering away.

Severus fell back on the floor in bewilderment, “Morgana's tits, what the hell just happened??!”

Once again, rising from the cold stone floor, Severus had the presence of mind to cast a cushioning charm on himself. He made certain it would last the rest of the day, especially as a trend seemed to be developing.

Every turn Severus made that day ended in the same result… being tackled, cuddles, and abandoned. Soon those who were lucky enough to be in the hall way, got to see their dreaded Potion Master, running, ducking, and shrieking as he was tackled by a flying black bundle with pink hair. Who knew the Potion Master’s, deep rich voice could get that high? There would have been more in the audience, but those who were witness to the undignified way Professor Snape was stalked, feared for their own safety. Who would be crazy enough to go against the scary Professor?!

 

Wilbur Willoughby was a mediocre student, his father before him was a mediocre student. The entire clan of Willoughby males were mediocre to say the least. Wilbur’s mother, Sybil Anastasia Willoughby, was a very strong woman. She wanted more for her son than a mediocre existence, and was the main reason Wilbur was pushing himself so hard at Hogwarts. His forced dedication to his studies made Percy Weasley seem like a slacker. Which was why he was questioning his sanity and course load after witnessing one of the pouncing attacks on the Potions Master.

Wilbur had a little-known secret. His father, Mervin, made sure he knew never to reveal it to anyone, not even his mother knew, thank Merlin! The Willoughby Clan were aura readers. It was about the only useful ability they have. While powerful, it really didn’t make for a great career path, and all Willoughby men knew to NEVER… TELL…THE WIFE! A life of mediocrity was better than a lifetime of nagging.

Every time Wilbur turned a corner, he saw his dreaded potion professor being tackled by a being cloaked in brilliant white aura with a playful pink tinge. Wilbur shook his head, not his business, he returned to running Arithmancy formulas through his mind. The second time, Wilbur chanced upon another encounter in one of the first-floor halls, the ball of light sporting a tail of light.

After the tenth such strange encounter, this time the ball of light was shaped like a fox with nine rippling tails that pulsating with power. Wilbur stopped in his tracks, clearly, he has been studying too much, besides who needs a top-level job in the Ministry of Magic anyway! Wilbur checked himself into the infirmary, and promise himself that he would finally visit the hidden green house near the forbidden forest for some herbal relaxation. The Willoughby men had it right all along.

 

Severus Snape was going mad! Absolutely barmy, he could not catch a break today, not with that crazy child attacking him every chance he got. His daily routine went to hell in a hand basket, and now Severus was reduced to hiding, darting for cover, and sneaking around the castle. His potion lab was not the safe haven he had fought to make it since he could never make it to the door before being tackled and dragged away. The hidden alcoves behind statues and tapestry were also a no go, he was found time, pounces on from unexpected angles. If Severus didn’t know any better, he would have sworn Naruto tackled him from the rafters! Severus even resorted to hiding in Hagrid’s pumpkins patch!

'There is no way he can get me here, I’m safe finally!’ Severus sagged against a humongous pumpkin, finally a moment to think!

Naruto hide under the broad pumpkin leaves, watching his target. His embedded whisker scars twitched in happiness, he was playing with his favorite person! He was never allowed to play all day before, but daddy fox said I can play with the dark-haired man that smelled sooo good. His whiskers twitched happy, his chakra tail flicking slowly, not disturbing the leaves he was hidden under. When his target had relaxed, thinking he was alone, the little kit pounced on the unsuspecting man.

The man yelped as they both fell backward rolling on the soft grass, “BLOODY Hell, ARE YOU TRYING TO BLEEDING KILL ME BRAT?!”

The big daddy fox in his mind was rolling around laughing so hard, he now sounded like a cat trying to hack up a hairball, and the yelling was the kits clue to escape to hide once again.

"That is the last straw! I'm going to the shack," Severus snarled as soon as the kit disappeared back under the leaves.

The kit followed closely as his dark-haired man playmate darted towards the tree that moved, heading for its roots. Kit realized that his playmate wanted to pretend to be a rabbit hiding in its burrow but didn't want to wait for the man to come out for a proper pounce. He darted in front of his playmate and landed just in reach of the branches, trying to playfully block the way.

It was just close enough for the branches to sweep him up and drag a panicked shout of "NARUTO!" from his playmate's lips.

Clutching close to the branch that had grabbed him Kit instinctively used chakra with a vague memory of roof hoping and wall walking to scamper further onto the branch and along towards the trunk. Deciding these moving things were fun to run on and pounce on or from he proceeded to pounce on randomly moving branches with wild, gleeful laughter, as he scampered through the branches. When he finally noticed the Potions Master again he used one of the branches near him to pounce down on the man, sending them tumbling out of reach of the now murderous tree.

"ARE YOU INSANE?! ARE YOU TRYING TO GET YOURSELF KILLED?!" Severus raged as he clutched the kit close, refusing to let him wriggle free if his terrified hold. Kit whined in confusion and a little pain at the tight hold while daddy fox laughed hysterically in his mind. That's when Severus realized something was actually wrong. Naruto wasn't himself and hadn't been all day.

"What am I going to do with you brat?" Severus asked in amused despair. It was supper time and the only other people who might know what was going on with the miniature Hokage were both already at the teacher's table in the great hall.

"Well, the embarrassment is exactly what you deserve after what you put me through today," Severus muttered gleefully. He physically carried the confused kit with him into the castle and straight past the rest of the school towards the teachers table.

"Severus? What on earth have the two of you been doing today?" Minerva asked in amused confusion as she watched her college approach with her son squirming in his arms.

"The brat is acting like an over active kitten and has been hunting me all day," Severus said dryly. "From his lack of actual words and the way he ran across the branches of the Whomping Willow just now, I'd say he isn't exactly himself. You're a cat animagus, see if he can't understand you in cat form."

"He what?!" Minerva's shocked words made the kit whimper again, shrinking into the broad protective chest of his playmate and shivering a bit in fear at the sharp pitch.

"Minerva!" Severus' sharp words rang out in response to Naruto's reaction, reminding her to keep calm and that this very obviously wasn't Naruto's fault. Minerva nodded stiffly before shifting to her cat form and meowing at her kitten. Naruto looked at her in confusion for a moment before trying to pounce on her, only to be held fast by his playmate.

"I don't think its working Minerva. Perhaps you ought to change back? That way if he tries to pounce on you again you won't be squished?" Filius suggested in open amusement. That's when everyone noticed the chakra tail.

"Kurama! Return Naruto to himself right this minute!" Minerva ordered, fuming as she returned to human form.

Daddy fox sighed in disappointment but slowly returned kit back to being Naruto. Naruto looked around, blinked, and readjusted how Severus held him before promptly falling asleep an adorable smile on his lips as he replayed the day's pounces in his sleep.

Chapter Text

Naruto raced as fast as his little legs could carry him without Chakra. As much as his health had improved his body was still deemed as being too injured to apply chakra to the muscles and bones. Not only had using the temporary enhancement been vetoed by his Okaa-san but it had also been vetoed by Severus-sensei and Poppy-san. Kurama had even agreed with them after his little prank with turning him mentally into a fox kit. Apparently, the stunt with the Whomping Willow during his pouncing hunt had put a strain on his coils and had put hairline cracks in them. The damage was healed easily enough but it highlighted a weakness in his coils that Kyubi had said would take some time to fix.

As for running chakra through his body for a boost... Yes, he knew it was technically a Chunnin and Jonin trick but it was just so bloody useful that he hated giving it up when pulling pranks with a weakened body. Once he tried it without permission while everyone, including the fox, was asleep and found his muscles practically crippled for the next 48 hours, earning him a scolding. Which in turn led him to his current situation, fighting for breath to laugh and run as he tried to escape his latest prank victims.

"Get back here you stupid pink haired brat!" the furious seventh year Ravenclaw raged while Naruto ran past the group of people dressed suspiciously like shinobi. He was attempting to laugh madly and escape at the same time while dogging the hands of the seventh years.

"You little monster!" the other seventh year roared, causing Naruto to flinch hard enough in a mini-flashback to nearly crash into the group of adults that contained the Headmaster, his Okaa-san, Severus-sensei, and the visiting shinobi wanna-bes. It was also just close enough for one of the shinobi to pluck him from the floor as he tried to pass. Naruto struggled mightily but his still young body couldn't succeed against chakra enhanced muscles.

"Thanks, this little firstie decided it would be funny to mess with our term project homework," the lead Ravenclaw growled, reaching to grab Naruto from the pineapple haired man.

"Get lost kid. We've been looking for this brat of a prankster for 25 years," Konohamaru informed the Ravenclaw with more than a little amusement while Shikamaru quietly scolded the squirming blond. Neither believed it would do much good but they had to at least try for appearances sake. The seventh years scowled and stalked off proving that it had worked for the moment.

Naruto stiffened in the man's arms before hesitantly craning his neck to take a better look at his captor. A half choked cry of shock, surprise, and unbelief left the strawberry blond's lips as he realized who exactly had captured him.

"Hey boss," Konohamaru Sarutobi smirked, giving the prankster a light knock on the head to reboot his brain.

"Troublesome blond... or should I call you a pinkette now?" Shikamaru Nara pondered aloud with a fond smirk.

"I suggest you put our brat down... now," Severus instructed in a tone that was soft yet left no doubt that there would be consequences for refusing.

"Naruto?" Minerva asked in concern, carefully drawing her wand so as to be ready to retrieve her cub by force if necessary. Naruto started trying to hyperventilate causing a round of concern by everyone except Dumbledore who watched in interest.

"Hokage-sama? Breathe, just breathe. Iruka-sensei and the Kazekage would be very upset to find out you died of shock upon meeting us again when we have been sent to act as your Anbu guards. I would also find it most troublesome to have to find a local trustworthy med-nin on such short notice," Shikamaru commented gently.

In response to the soothing words Naruto broke down crying, clinging to the Nara's vest in a death grip, clearly afraid that the two Shinobi would disappear if he let go. Severus let out a snarl and lunged, trying to retrieve Naruto using surprise to his advantage. Konohamaru had a kunai to his throat, pinning him bodily to the wall in under a second. Naruto's chakra had instinctively reached out to cushion the potion master's landing against the stone and inadvertently saved his life as well as keeping his back from being horribly bruised. Konohamaru had felt the movement of Naruto's chakra and changed his killing strike to simply holding the man pinned against the wall with a kunai at his throat.

"Boss? Why did your chakra protect this guy?" Konohamaru asked carefully. His eyes never left his pinned captive who was sneering at him and struggling unsuccessfully to get free. His words caused the man to stop struggling and switch to evil glowers promising much pain and retribution.

"The kit can't come to the door right now. I'd say leave a message and get lost for a while but that might break his last hold on reality, so would killing his Severus so try not to slice our favorite pouncing target wide open. As a result I am in charge of the security questions and unlike the kit I am perfectly happy to kill you if you aren't who you appear to be," Kurama said dryly from Naruto's mouth. He opened Naruto's eyes to reveal red eyes with cat slit pupils as his entire body posture went from shocked, sobbing survivor child to loose and ready for combat.

"Kyubi?" Shikamaru asked with more than a little apprehension. Konohamaru paled and wondered if this was the first sign of the usual insanity that typically followed his Kage and childhood idol.

"Hello Nara. How has the cloud watching been?" Kyubi asked with a grin that was all teeth. "Also, you get to deal with the white haired bastard who keeps trying to pull a Danzo with Kit playing the part of a ROOT agent... provided you pass inspection."

"Troublesome," Shikamaru muttered while subtly moving to shield the small body in his arms from Dumbledore.

"Kurama?" Minerva asked, wanting to know if she had to fight these two strange men to get her son back.

"No need to worry Okaa-san they've already passed part of the test," Kyubi informed her, his toothy smile growing wider in relish. He was really going to enjoy the upcoming chaos.

"Who is Danzo and why exactly do you claim that one of my staff belongs to Mr. Potter? For that matter I am going to have to insist on the return of my student post haste," Dumbledore informed them, finally entering into the conversation. He sent a look at the two teachers that said they would be discussing all of this later along with the implications. He, once again, completely ignored Naruto's actual name in favor of the icon he had propped up as a symbol.

"Be quiet Danzo," Kurama shot back. "By the way we have a potential Obito as well and the kit keeps plotting at random about the bastard. Old goat, I know you plan to use my discovery against the kit but frankly our... contract won't end until he dies and possibly not even then. I am also the only reason that the kit isn't dead and is sane after your so called caretakers tried to kill us. Okaa-san doesn't count in that since she actually adopted us and sees us as her kits."

"Remembering that spanking she gave the two of you?" Severus smirked, taking on a much more at ease stance despite still having a blade poised to carve out his throat.

"Fuck you," Kurama shot back, obviously pouting.

"Kurama, Language!" Minerva scolded sharply. His words had her relaxing enough to put away her wand and simply take the situation as part of her son's natural knack for mischief.

"Yes Okaa-san," Kurama smirked, not even trying to fight her on the matter.

"How the hell did she get a Bijuu of all people to obey? I get that boss probably mellowed him a bit with who he is but seriously?" Konohamaru muttered with a shake of his head. He still hadn't let Severus loose and was seriously contemplating the insanity that was Naruto's ability to alternatively piss people off and/or earn their undying loyalty.

"Expect marriage proposals once our report gets back to the village," Shikamaru advised the stern witch.

"I don't plan to entertain such offers but I thank you for the warning," Minerva answered with a blink of surprise.

"Perhaps we should move this to my office?" Dumbledore offered, noticing the still watching seventh year Ravenclaws.

"Don't bother. These two are here for me and the kit. I bet that the only reason they aren't whisking us away already is because they remember the kit's strange knack for trouble," Kurama pointed out with an evil laugh. He silently vowed to set the kit pouncing on Severus more often in the future for pointing out that they had been spanked. No mutated monkey would win against him... except perhaps Okaa-san.

"That is not for you to decide Tom," Dumbledore pointed out harshly. It didn't take anyone long to realize the man honestly thought his name was Tom. It wasn't much more of a leap for Kyubi to realize that the goat thought him to be part of Voldemort.

"You seriously need looking at by a Yamanaka or Ibiki or something. I am not the blasted Dark Lord you keep shoving in everyone's face or hanging over their heads. I am an elemental being, not an idiot that my kit is likely going to try and rescue even as the bastard tries to gut him... I already went through that with the brat once," Kurama scolded. He mentally shuddered at the thought of having to fend off his overeager brat's assault on his emotions again. Stupid knack for creating undying loyalty in murderous enemies. "I do appreciate you telling me what the nasty little thing in my brat's scar is though. It gets annoying at times and wont always settle down if I don't smack it a couple of times. Of course if we are keeping a part of your Dark Lord safe and contained there is no telling what would happen if our joint control... slipped."

"Troublesome," Shikamaru groaned and mentally tried to decide if it was worth sending for a med-nin or one of the clan of mind-walkers for help.

"Its not as much of a problem as it could be. If it gets too uppity and aggressive I'll just eat it. If I can't eat it then the brat had enough fortitude to hold me off for so long that I doubt the nasty little thing will get a proper hold on him anytime soon. I am suddenly craving fish or squid... Maybe I should set the kit to turning the giant squid into calamari sometime soon..." Kurama said evilly.

"The squid, unfortunately, is a part of the school's defenses," Severus pointed out dryly as he was finally released from his imprisonment against the wall. Though, much to his irritation, Konohamaru kept himself between the potions master and the Kyubi possessed Naruto still lying in Shikamaru's arms.

"The brat had some nasty injuries when we properly woke up merged with the Potter kit. Injuries that I and Severus are still healing. I was not pleased to find my host slowly dying to the point of gratefully accepting an elemental and a second personality to merge with, no questions asked," Kurama growled out. His vicious glare aimed at Dumbledore forced the man into taking a step back while his had drifted towards his wand.

"Anything else you want the public knowing? Especially of the things Naruto wouldn't say anything about?" Shikamaru asked in open amusement. This turned the strange reaming out into an apparent prank on Naruto while pointing out how badly the old man had screwed up.

"Frankly? If I couldn't feel the stupid prophecy tugging on us I'd ask you to simply take us, Okaa-san, and Severus-kun back to the Elemental Nations whatever the kit may think. The so-called good guys in this conflict seem like they want some very nasty things especially considering how much healing I've had to do on the kit, whom they currently consider to be their savior and the ultimate symbol of good. They obviously aren't as good as they make themselves out to be. I've been making the kit practice his stealth and information gathering skills in exchange for either helping him with his pranks or not telling Okaa-san when he has done something especially stupid. At least his trap specialty hasn't been suffering with all of the pranks he has been pulling," Kurama grumbled. "Though knowing the kit once he finds out about the prophecy that is keeping us here and gets his hands on the exact wording he's likely going to twist it all to hell and back."

"He wouldn't be Naruto if he didn't at least try... troublesome," Shikamaru acknowledged with a sigh.

"My office," Dumbledore insisted forcefully, trying to usher them along and out of public view.

"Tch, no concern over the kit's actual well being, shameful," Kyubi mocked as he curled Naruto's body even closer to Shikamaru.

"Exactly how sore is he going to be when he regains control?" Minerva asked in a mix of concern and amusement.

"He will be trapped in bed with sore and cramping muscles for a day or two," Kurama admitted with a wicked smile. "It will give these two a chance to update him and familiarize themselves with the things we've learned before the kit escapes on another pranking spree. It also gives the students we just pranked a heads up so they can hide. Neither of us like being harassed nor do we like watching kiddies being bullied by the people who are supposed to be their senpai."

"Twenty points from Ravenclaw for bullying, each and detention with Filch all day Saturday," Severus growled out. He glared at the recently pranked older students who in turn quickly slunk off in fear of further punishment, not even trying to argue with the man.

The group finally did move to Dumbledore's office by which point Naruto had regained enough of himself emotionally to share joint control of his body with his fuzzy tenant. This, of course, forestalled the coming muscle cramps that would keep him in bed for the next few days. Oh how they both hated the lack of adjustment that Naruto's current body had to Kurama's poisonous chakra. They would both be glad once all of the basic healing and enough growing had finished so they could start conditioning flesh, blood, and bone to accept Kyubi's chakra. The first measure of success once that happened would be the lack of problems whenever they switched or shared who was in the driver's seat, something they both looked forwards to immensely.

What followed in the office most of the school would never find out but it ended with the two shinobi taking up residence with Minerva, a smug Severus, a resigned Naruto, and a confused Dumbledore. The genjutsu and Shikamaru's clever arguments would forever cloud the encounter in Dumbledore's mind. The memory would be beyond any ability to recall as more than a pleasant meeting and granting blanket permission to the two shinobi for just about whatever they wanted to do at Hogwarts. Minerva, Severus, Shikamaru, and Konohamaru learned that Kurama was the one to actually kill the troll after they escaped to Minerva's quarters immediately following the meeting with Dumbledore.

 

Voldemort and Quirrell took full advantage of the distraction caused by the arrival and integration of the shinobi which was complicated by Kyubi's rather public reaming out of the headmaster. It was child's play to slip into the room of requirement and retrieve the diadem. Temporarily retrieving the Malfoy heir for access to the family manor was considered but discarded in favor of sending a letter informing Lord Malfoy of a needed parent-teacher conference. He skillfully suggested they meet on the platform when Draco went home for the holiday. The response received the next morning requested a meeting in Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade. Quirrell sent out an acknowledgement with a time and place before arranging a private meeting room at the Leaky Cauldron, complete with lunch.

The meeting took another decade off of Lucius' life and had Draco spending the holidays at school with a hasty apology. It was also suggested by Lucius (endorsed by the Dark Lord, during a flash of lucidity) that he try asking Naruto about being friends. Draco sent back an ecstatic thank you for lifting the ban on getting close to him as well as a full recounting of what had happened to nominate the hyperactive idiot for Honorary Slytherin status. He continued further on by explaining Professor Snape's support in the nomination and obvious fondness for the excitable Gryffindor. An entire page was even dedicated to a recounting of the pouncing hunt that the potions master had suffered through. Upon reading all of this Lucius wondered when his life had started going insane and knew this was only the tip of the iceberg.

Chapter Text

Naruto sat on the roof of the highest tower Hogwarts had, it was still dark and chilly, a stiff cold wind wrapped around Naruto, inducing him to bundle deeper into his winter cloak. Kurama radiated a gentle heat, warming his kit with his chakra. The two looked out over the landscape camouflaged in darkness through the same set of eyes, soon the sun would rise on a new year. Naruto considered everything that had happen over the holiday season, to be honest, it was the best time that Naruto, Harry, and Kurama had ever had in their entire lives.

-It was good wasn’t it kit? We made so many new memories,- Kurama’s voice rumbled through his mind. A goofy smile filled Naruto’s face, his whole body lit up with joy as he rocked back and forth on the roof top, thinking back to all the wonderful things his family had done.

 

Weekend of November 16, 1991

 

Naruto settled into bed, knowing a long, pain wreaked weekend lay before him. He really hated when Kurama switched places with him without his consent, it made the aftermath that much more difficult to deal with. ‘It was good to see Konohamaru and Shikamaru again, but damn were they always that tall?’ he thought to himself. Yesterday he woke up hysterical, believing that he would be dragged back to the Land of Fire; not that he did not want to go back one day, but he had so much he needed to take care of before he traveled back home. Kurama was quick to ease his worry, filling him in on what had happen when his mind took a mini vacation.

Minerva knocked softly on his bedroom door before peeking in to see if he was awake. Naruto smiled seeing his Okaa-san as she slipped inside and strode over to the side of his bed, perching on the arm chair placed there for visitors when he was stuck in bed.

“Far too often," he muttered under his breath, thinking of the times he was bedridden. Minerva leaned over kissing Naruto’s forehead gently, fondly carding her fingers through his hair before settling back into the chair.

“So laddie, are you comfortable? Is there anything you need son?” He smiled as his mother fussed over him, Naruto knew he would never get tired of all the attention she gave him, never in a million years!

Daffodil quietly popped in with two glasses filled with dark liquid, she served one glass to her Mistress while giving Naruto the much smaller of the two. Naruto looked at the drink curiously, taking a tentative sniff before trying a sip. Minerva hid a snicker behind a healthy quaff of her own drink.

“Mmmm, this is good Okaa-san! What is it?” Naruto took a deeper swallow, savoring the taste of intense butterscotch sweetness with hints of caramel and vanilla.

"It’s milk stout, about the only alcoholic thing I will allow you to drink in limited portions. This one is crème brûlée milk stout, I figured before I let you anywhere near scotch, or have you sneak some behind my back, I will allow you to try milk stout as a treat. Besides this will help build your body up a bit. It is a stout, a type of beer that is common here in Scotland, just don’t go blabbing to everyone that I let you have some.” She lectured sternly, yet with a merry twinkle in her eyes. Minerva relaxed into her chair, an expression of contemplation graced her face as they enjoyed their drinks in companionable quiet.

“Naruto, have you thought about what you would like to do for the winter holidays? Are there any traditions or customs you would like to practice?” Minerva asked him several minutes later.

Naruto lowered the glass of deliciousness as he pondered. Growing up in the Hidden Leaf, he never got to be a part of any of the winter traditions. He was alone during any holidays, and training was all he ever knew. Harry was even worse, he was forced to cook and clean during Christmas, then locked away in his cramped little cell while the Dursley celebrated, enjoying the fruits of his labor. Kurama was even more clueless as to celebrating any holidays, he had been far too angry and pissed at the world to take notice of anything human related.

“Um, I really don’t know Okaa-san. What do you usually do? We can do that.” Naruto shrugged. His concentration was more on wiggling his toes playfully beneath the sheet than reminiscing over a past he would rather not think about. “I know that New Years is always a big deal. I would make sure my home was cleaned and everything was washed and put away the day before, then I would get up before dawn and watch the sunrise on New Year’s Day. January first is a very auspicious day, best started by viewing the new year's hatsu-hinode, the first sunrise, and traditionally believed to be representative for the whole year that has just started. The first three days are supposed to be full of joy, free of stress and anger, while everything should be clean and no work should be done. It’s one of the few times I will not train Okaa-san. I know that many in the village hold bonenkai parties, year forgetting parties, but I have never been to any.”

Minerva thought over what Naruto said for a while before expressing her own ideas.

“My brothers and I have celebrated the Winter Solstice and Yule, that is, once we became a part of the wizarding community. Here at Hogwarts, the Headmaster insists on celebrating muggle Christmas. There is nothing wrong with celebrating it, most children enjoying getting lots of presents,” Minerva smiled thinking of the many gifts she planned to spoiled her son with. “From the seventeenth of December until the twenty-second, we celebrate what is called Saturnalia. Some of the professors who follow the old ways, would relax on discipline, easing up on homework during this week. Your Uncles, their families, and I usually reserve a day when we give the house elves the day off and cook a lovely feast for them, where we serve them ourselves. Those first seven days is about giving back. On the twenty-second we celebrate Yule, we would go out and cut an oak log about eighteen inches long. On that night, we burn the log until there was nothing left but ashes. Our family favors using oak for its magical properties. Oak is symbolic of strength and wisdom.”

Minerva paused, taking a deep sip of her drink, wetting her throat before continuing. “The ashes are used to strengthen the ward of our home for another year. It can also be used in charms and potions, which I believe Filius and Severus used their ashes for. On the twenty-fifth of December, we hold a small feast for the staff and students who remain behind during the winter holidays, I was thinking we can go Christmas shopping once the other students go home. Then on Christmas eve, we can have our own private dinner with Severus and Filius if you’re alright with that Naruto?”

“Why can’t we do all of that Okaa-san? I bet we can have a feast for the house elves that work at the castle! Professor Sprout and the Hufflepuffs might be happy to help too I bet! We can rope Konohamaru and Shikamaru into helping serve the Hogwarts house elves…... but can we do something private for Daffodil and Bluebell?” Naruto started getting excited, thinking of all the possibilities, “I would love to go into the forest with Severus-sensei to find a Yule log! I would love to spend some time with Oji Filius as well Okaa-san. Can we not also invite Professor Sprout to our Christmas eve dinner?”

Naruto's excitement suddenly turned shy, hesitant to voice his next request, “Okaa-san, can we have our own bonenkai party? I promise to help with everything, even the cleaning up!”

Minerva grinned openly, “Of course child we will make our own traditions as a family. So, we can see if we can rope others into helping with a feast for the house elves, and yes, we can have a private one on a different day for Daffodil and Bluebell, we can even arrange for them to have the day off as well. I’m sure Severus would be happy to have you accompany him on the hunt for the Yule log, and Filius would love to teach you how to decorate for the winter holidays! He usually takes charge of the task of decorating Hogwarts, maybe you can pick his brains for tips on how to decorate our rooms as well. I was also planning to give you 100 galleons to do your Christmas shopping in Diagon alley if you wish. Do you think that will be enough to shop for those on your shopping list?”

Naruto blankly looked at her, “Shopping list? Um…er… I haven’t made any list. I never had to shop for anyone before, except for maybe Iruka-sensei… but then there was so much going on that I never had time to think about things like that,” Naruto smiles a little in remembrance. “Although, once when I was feeling down about not having anyone to welcome me home, I came home to find Iruka-sensei in my apartment with a cake welcoming me home. He was always the first to acknowledge me, to treat me like I meant something, that I was family.”

“Then you can start your list with Iruka,” Minerva stated with a fond smile hidden by her mug.

Naruto thought about it some more, “What would you like as a gift Okaa-san?”

“Oh no, a bhobain! Half the fun of getting gifts is not knowing what you’re getting until Christmas. Whatever you buy, trust that I will be more than happy with it. Just go with your heart, little one. How about you make a list of the people that means the most to you. Start with that this year, your gifts could be things they might need, or things that might make them smile or laugh. It can be something pretty and useless,” Minerva explained with a laugh. His flummoxed look had her laughing heartily for a few minutes before bringing herself back under control.

“Just think about what kind of things you wished for. Not everything must be bought, for instance, I know Severus would appreciate potion ingredients that were collected fresh or hard for him to get himself. I also know he has a secret passion for really good chocolate,” Minerva revealed, grinning to herself. “Think about what you know about each person, the things they like, where they are from, things they may have hinted about in conversations. Everyone will be happy with whatever you get them for Christmas."

“The ones going home, leave on the twenty-second, and everyone will return on the fifth of January, that will give us two weeks to enjoy our time together! We can leave with everyone on the train and head to Diagon Alley to do our shopping, that way we can get it out of the way and avoid the rush,” She suggested in open amusement.

Naruto face radiated happiness, he was finally going to enjoy a real holiday with his family! Naruto and his mom spent another hour coming up with, as Minerva humorously called it, a plan of attack for the holidays. Her child never complained once that weekend about being stuck in bed, Naruto was too busy conspiring with Kurama on who should make the list and what to possible buy for each one.

 

Naruto quickly fell into a new routine with the addition of Konohamaru and Shikamaru, both now living with them. Hogwarts turned Minerva’s Deputy Headmistress quarters into a large family quarters, which now consisted of four bedrooms, a separate living and dining area with a full kitchen, a small library, and two luxurious bathrooms. After a small private conference between the Heads of House, it was decided to allow both men to join Naruto in class. Severus had escorted them to Diagon Alley the weekend Naruto was stuck in bed to get them wands. A quick trip to Gringotts was also included, where they found out that Ironclaw was now managing an account that had been opened in both Konohamaru and Shikamaru’s name, funded by not only their clans but Gaara and Iruka-sensei. Severus could now outfit them with clothing that allowed them to blend in to the wizarding world.

The three shinobi woke up early each morning. The first order of the day, was helping Naruto practice his meditation. It was like being back in the academy all over again. The days Naruto stayed in the dorms, Konohamaru stayed with him, both sharing the larger bed the elves quickly found and placed in the dorm room Naruto stayed in. Naruto was wise enough to never leave any personal belongings in the dorm. Bluebell made it her goal to lay out her young master and his protector’s clothing each morning and their nightwear each night when they stayed in the dorms, bringing them anything else they needed from her mistress’s quarters when asked. Naruto had showed the two men the cool room he found before, where he first met Buruberu. As a result it had become the room they generally trained in, outside of Naruto’s meditation room in his chest.

Each morning started with chakra focusing, then flowed into practicing taikyoku kata. This was the most elementary kata. Taikyoku helped new students learn basic kata principles, which was what Naruto needed. Harry’s body needed to learn the basic movements, this allowed Shikamaru to regulate Naruto’s training, preventing him from over using his body. After showering, they headed together to the great hall for breakfast. Daffodil and Bluebell both shared the task of making sure they were fed the foods they were used too and loved. Konohamaru generally sat with Naruto at the Gryffindor table, while Shikamaru sat at the teachers table with Severus and Minerva. Both gathered intel from the conversation floating around them and kept an eye out for trouble from the room in general.

Anyone would assume that two grown men attending classes at Hogwarts would be noticed, fueling gossip for weeks. Fortunately, as both men followed Naruto to each class, secluded in the back of the classroom, they went unheeded by the other students. They were quick to pick up the nuances of using their wands and performing magic. Filius, Minerva, and Severus also made sure to give them a thorough foundation before letting them attend the classes with Naruto. Shikamaru quietly observed the baka idiot trio hassling Naruto, trying their best to prevent him from paying attention in his classes. He also watched as they tried to isolate him from the other students. He knew Naruto would just swallow the abuse as he tried to avoid them as much as possible. Shikamaru realized he would have to watch those three closely. It was fortunate that the shinobi were skilled in blending in, it also helped that Severus taught them his own tricks he picked up spying, for blending into wizarding society. Those nifty little spells would really come in handy back home.

After class, Naruto headed to the library with Parvati and Neville to work on homework, get in an hour of so-called studying with the headache inducing baka ne triplets, before he broke off to change into work out gear. This was Naruto’s favorite time of the day! The trio had begun a ritual of playing tag throughout the castle an hour before dinner. Dressed in open toed shinobi boots, a comfortable jumpsuit, and his hair braided back, Naruto joined his friends. As he neared the two behemoths, (really, why did Harry have to be so short?) he thought back to his conversation with his mom. They were definitely on his shopping list, along with Gaara and Iruka-sensei, Okaa-san and Severus-sensei and Oji Filius. He tried to think of what would be a nice gift for each of them.

He was so lost in thought that he walked into Shikamaru, who laughed as he grabbed him, making sure he didn’t fall. “What has your mind so occupied brat?” he asked as he ruffled Naruto’s hair, which earned him a huff.

Naruto stuck his tongue out at him, while trying to smooth his hair back in place. Naruto blushed a bit before answering Shikamaru’s question, “I was actually trying to think about what to get you both as a Christmas gift.”

Both men looked at each other confused. “What is this Christmas?” Konohamaru asked as Shikamaru began leading them into stretching and warming up exercises.

Naruto took a moment to think as he bent over touching his toes, opening muscles tight from a long day of sitting in class. He thought about what Okaa-san told him before answering. “It’s a day you spend with family I think. You exchange gifts and there is lots of eating.”

Shikamaru stopped in the middle of a squat, a surprise look on his face, “That sounds like the Rinne Matsuri, I didn’t know it was celebrated outside of the Land of Elementals. There is so much we must learn about this world. Honestly Naruto, I will be happy with whatever gift you give me. I already got the best gift ever in finding you little brother,” Shikamaru pulled Naruto into a tight hug, kissing the top of Naruto’s head as the brat hid his face against Shikamaru’s chest before adding his next words jokingly. “Even though you are the most bothersome little brother in the world!”

With all the cuddly feelings out the way, it was time to get down to business. Today, Naruto would have to avoid both Konohamaru and Shikamaru! Naruto peeled up and down the stairways laughing his head off, trying to avoid both. He wasn’t allowed to use his clones or magic. He would have to re-learn his hiding skills using the given resources of his surroundings. It didn’t help much that Naruto was having the time of his life trying to avoid them and couldn’t stop the laughter bubbling out of him. Neither man begrudged him his enjoyment, Shikamaru was focused more on building Naruto’s stamina than improving his ninja skills anyway. An hour of chasing the laughing brat, usually left him in stitches, trying to catch his breath. Whenever they did catch him, they made sure to tickle him without mercy as his punishment for getting caught. They also found that it increased his appetite at dinner, something Severus and Poppy was very glad to see and actively encouraged.

Their evenings were spent together, talking, and sharing stories. Naruto would sprawl in his favorite position, his head resting on Minerva’s lap, her fingers light scratching his scalp as they comb through his hair.

That night, Minerva explained more about the various winter traditions. “Naruto and I have decided to combine a few traditions to create our own family traditions. You are both more than welcome to join us in celebrating, and if there are any traditions you would like to included, we can easily add them as well.”

Konohamaru easily volunteered to help with the feast for the Hogwarts elves. This would leave Shikamaru free to act should anything suspicious happen. Shikamaru already had plans in place to reconnoiter.

There were things that troubled him greatly. One was an overheard conversation, the baka trash were planning to lead Naruto into a dangerous mission to find some stupid stone. The overly loud conversation hinted at some mystery, it seemed especially designed to tempt the bothersome brat into mischief. Thank Kami-sama that Naruto tended to be oblivious to such manipulations. Shikamaru took Kurama’s warning to heart, he didn’t trust the old man, nor the baka trash he forced on Naruto. Children were even more valued now than before, each one was the future of the Hidden Leaf. Naruto sacrificed more than anyone had ever realized. This time… this time, they would protect him from the beginning. Naruto had become one of the most important Kages of the hidden leaf village. He would be protected at all cost.

With Konohamaru watching over Naruto, it left the Nara's evenings free to join Professor Snape on his rounds through the castle. This gave him a chance to learn more about the man who had become important enough to his little brother that his chakra protected him even while unconscious. During his time spent with the Professor, he learned about Harry’s background. Severus filled him in on all he knew about Lord Voldemort, about Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix, what lead to the death of Harry’s parents, and finally, what he learned about Harry’s life growing up with the Dursley. On one such evening patrol, Severus produced a copy of Naruto’s medical file, it detailed abuse going back to the age of one and a half years old. Shikamaru was a shinobi that had seen much death in his life time. He’d even known of the village hatred of Naruto, but the abuse this child suffered over the years was beyond his understanding. Shikamaru now understood the hatred Naruto faced in Konoha wasn’t actually aimed at the boy but instead at the bijuu sealed within the child. What reason could possibly possess these people to treat Harry with such hatred?

Severus enjoyed the time spent conversing with Shikamaru, it was rare that he found someone with his same level of intellect. Shikamaru was a perfect blend of Ravenclaw and Slytherin. He gathered intelligence and stored it away for future use. He was always aware of his surroundings. He didn’t get bogged down in acquiring knowledge, power didn’t tempt him, and he didn’t foolishly rush into a situation without several back up plans. He was adaptable to any given situation, not bullishly loyal to any set decision. Shikamaru, in turn, enjoyed Severus’s snarky, candid assessment of ongoing events. He appreciated Severus candor about his role as spy between the Light and Dark factions, what lead him to accept such a position. It had seemed strange to Shikamaru that such a talented, intelligent man would put himself in such a situation. That is until he heard about Severus’s life growing up, and his time at Hogwarts.

While Voldemort had kept him out of the fiercer raids and in the potions lab, he did see action, and had experienced the harshness of war, unfortunately, mostly under Albus guidance. Shikamaru got Severus to expand on how Albus directed the operations for the Order of the Phoenix. He came to understand that Albus preferred hiding behind his soldiers, rarely getting his hands dirty in the actual fighting. While the Order was currently disbanded, Shikamaru knew that the Headmaster would not hesitate to recall the them. Civilians, who were not trained in combat or gathering intelligence. Severus was the only real warrior among the Order for all that Minerva was also a member. He was a properly certified duelist with a Mastery in Defense to match his Potions Mastery. Over time, Shikamaru also got Severus to divulge details about the Death Eaters, their training, and their organization. Severus gave him a clear picture of the more dangerous members that would be problematic such as Fenrir Greyback and Bellatrix Lestrange to name but a few.

A deep friendship blossom between Shikamaru and Severus. The Potions Master turned Spy made time in his day to train the older men in the art of dueling with wands and magic. Shikamaru left an open invitation for his young friend to join them in the morning for meditation and kata training. Severus planned to joined them during the holidays. In truth, Severus was looking forward to this holiday season, it promised to be the most interesting thing he had ever experienced in his life. He also found that Naruto was bound and determine to drag him into every planned event. Severus even found himself promising the little brat to take him out to find the best Yule log along with showing him how to use the ashes in rituals and potions.

He was also roped into helping with the Saturnalia feast for the Hogwarts elves. A smirk appeared on Severus lips as he thought back to Naruto’s guilelessly questioning him about what possible gift he could want. The smirk turned into an evil one as he remembered the frustrated pout Naruto aimed his way when he refused to tell the brat what he wanted as a Christmas gift.

Severus hugged Naruto, kissing the top of his head laughing softly, “Whatever you decide to get me little brat, I will be more than happy with.”

Naruto mumbled against Severus chest, “Why does everyone keep saying that?!”

“Because it’s fun to keep you guessing!” Severus chuckled. Deep laughter filled the hallway as Naruto stomped away promising retribution.

It was the week before the seventeenth of December, when Minerva held an informal Head of House meeting. She expanded on their plans for the holidays inviting everyone to joined them. She passed on Naruto’s request to Pomfrey asking for help with the feast for the elves. The merry, rotund Professor was more than happy provide help. She was tickled pink at the idea of treating the hard-working elves to a party. Pomona expanded on the idea, suggesting that the Heads announced to each house that they will be responsible for cleaning their own dorms for one day.

“I bet if we make it a free day for the students, we can rope the sixth and seventh years into helping cook for the others for extra credits, the elves can supervise, as we all know how hard it will be just to get them to take the day off. Instead of meals in the Great Hall, we can do sandwiches, fruits, and snacks in the dorms while the students tidy their dorms. Those who are willing can help with decorating the Great Hall for the Saturnalia feast. Hopefully we can promote house unity with this project.” Pomona was practically bouncing in her seat at the idea. The dorms Filius and Severus were in charge of were well kept to begin with, each professor had instituted a policy were the students did not rely on house elves for everything in the dorm rooms. Their charges were adept at keeping their dorm and common room tidied. The elves took care of the larger tasks, such as dusting, mopping, bathrooms, and laundry.

Minerva groaned, out of the four houses, her lions would be the hardest to get organized in cleaning their dorms. She had long ago given up trying to maintain a clean environment, only entering the den when she must. She would have loved to wear a hazmat suit, but knew the irony would go over most of their little heads. Pomona laughed hearing Minerva’s groan, for years she had listened to the head lioness rant about how toxic it was in the lion’s den. One year it got so bad, the house elves went on strike, refusing to step foot inside the Gryffindor dorm for the entire year. They would even mime fainting or dying just being within ten feet of the dorm. It was fortunate some of the more wealthy students had personal elves which tried to help pick up the slack, but even they were at their limits by the end of the year.

“Minerva, I can see if I can get a few puffs to help tidy the lion’s den, if that would help?” Pomona offered.

“No, no, I would not subject your puffs to such torture! I will make the announcement and leave them to fend for themselves,” Minerva let out a long-suffering sigh. “Perhaps my lions will surprise me.”

Minerva flicked a mild stinging spell at Severus after she caught the smug smirk that he hadn’t tried very hard to hide. There was a soft pop which drew their attention from their conversation.

Malry the head house elf, bowed before speaking. “Mistresses and Masters, we house elves heard about the planned feast and day off. We are very honored you would be considering us elves in such ways. If yous will allow, we would work very hard to get all the dorms cleaned and cook meals for the young mistresses and masters which we will put under stasis for the day in question. If yous will allow this, we promise not to make a fuss at the feast.”

The four Heads of Houses looked at each other, each knew Malry was the most adept elf Hogwarts could boost. As this would save loads of headache, each nodded in agreement before turning to Malry.

“Malry thank you, its seems weird that we are trying to honor the elves, yet the brunt of the work still falls to you. Thank you Malry, we thank you and all the other house elves that work so hard each day.” Severus ended his little speech by bowing to the Head House elf. Each of the Head of Houses stood following Severus lead and bowed to the elder elf.

Poor Malry was nearly in tears, but sucked it up, straightening his shoulders proudly before addressing them in turn. “We elves are honored each day to serve our Mistresses and Masters of Hogwarts.”

With that Malry popped out of the room back to the kitchen. The four continued their holiday planning in which the next step was getting the Professors and other instructors to tweak their lesson plan for that week. Meanwhile, Malry filled the rest of the elves in on what has been decided.

Every elf was excited and proud to serve such Mistresses and Masters who would plan such a treat for them. Malry quieted everyone while planning and issuing out orders. The elves in charge of cooking were set to make extra foods over the weeks, placing preservation charms on them to keep for the day of the feast. The elves in charge of cleaning would work to make sure all the public areas were thoroughly cleaned. Once the other dorms and public areas were cleaned, all the elves would descend on Gryffindor’s dorm to do a thorough cleaning.

One cheeky young elf piped up, “we should get two days off just for going into the Lion’s Den!” This made the other elves fall out laughing hysterically.

The feast was original planned for the twenty-first, but was vetoed by the students themselves. They chose to honor elves on the twenty-second instead of having a leaving feast for themselves. The staff were surprised at how excited the student were to participate, well most of the students. Surprisingly, defiance came mostly from a small faction within the Gryffindor’s, namely Ronald Bilius Weasley, Stephen Theodesius Cornfoot, and Lavender Euphemia Brown. Following in their lead were the very few pompous, overbearing, grandiose, presumptuous Gryffindors that squirmed and wriggled their way out of the wood work, refusing to lower themselves to serving those they consider beneath them. It seemed not was not only the brave were allowed into House of Gryffindor.

In another astonishing event, the know it all Granger was one of the first to volunteer to help, along with Draco and his two shadows, Crabbe and Goyle. Soon after the entire first year Slytherins volunteered to help at the feast, leaving the older dorm mates to tackle the Slytherin dorm. The girls took over deciding how to decorate, resorting to writing home to their parents for ideas and items. The younger Hufflepuffs decided to make better uniforms for the elves as gifts, while the older puffs along with most of the female muggleborns volunteered to help with the cooking. The older Ravenclaws researched recipes, planned the menu, and organized the work load, while the younger took care of making sure the dorm were kept tidy. They had much fun ordering/reminding some of the older students to keep tidy or running around playing target practice with the rubbish into the bins that had been charmed to move for the simple cleaning game.

While the rest of the students were bustling around, Naruto enjoyed helping Oji Filius decorate for Christmas. He got to practice his levitation charm, and learned a few basic household spells and non-standard charms in the process. Filius kept him entertained with stories of great goblin battles, and a few of his more adventures escapades. The boy enjoyed every moment spent with his uncle and co-guardian. The pint size powerhouse also shared another little tidbit, he was taking a year off from the dueling circuit and spending the summer teaching him the basic of weaponry. As was inevitable, the task of decorating soon broke down into playing, as Filius and Naruto raced Brightly colored baubles around the great hall, made the Christmas trees danced to bag pipe music, and one grand mock battle using the Christmas ornaments as soldiers.

Chapter Text

The next day, Minerva bundled her son beneath a million layer of clothing before turning him loose on Severus. One potions master and three shinobi trudged into the forbidden forest as Naruto gabbled away happily, retelling the story of the Great Pounce Caper. Severus' face turned pink at the retelling as Shikamaru and Konohamaru fell into the snow laughing. He sent a mild stinging hex at Naruto who barely felt it, thanks to the layers he was entombed in. In retaliation, Severus found himself tackled by the giggling mummified brat. Which somehow triggered an impromptu snowball fight. While outnumbered, Severus proved he was no push over, even against two Jonin and one over active brat. Severus ducked, dived, fired with amazing accuracy, and shielded himself from the onslaught of attacks. Severus flung tickling spells at Naruto, jelly leg, anserrus, and a few other inventive mild curses along with a barrage of animated snowballs.

Naruto nearly died laughing hearing Shikamaru honking like a goose after being hit with the anserrus hex! Shikamaru got revenge by cloning a snow ball mid-flight to create a barrage which hit everyone. Eventually, the quartet ended up sprawled in the snow, bodies quaking with fits of laughter. A muffled pop and the scolding voice of Daffodil could be heard. All heads turned her way, soon followed by a mad scramble for the thermos of hot chocolate she brought. Severus' nearly sinful groan at his first sip of hot chocolate, did very funny things to Naruto’s insides. Right there, he decided to get the largest and best chocolate collection he could find, just to hear Severus react like that again!

Flushed and toasty from the delectable treat, and a healthy dose of elvish magic, accompanied by a hearty round of maternal scolding, the gang headed deeper into the forest, their mission to find the perfect oak tree to acquire their crowning jewel…the yule log. Naruto scampered ahead peeking into every bush and behind every shrub, exhibiting all the qualities of a happy child. The three men smiled watching Naruto’s antics, while quietly discussing Shikamaru’s findings over the past few days.

“It’s clear those three idiots were meant to lead Naruto on a mission to find this stone. They were assigned to be his friends here at the Academy, but from what I can gather, their animosity to him steams from the lack of funds, funds they stopped receiving. They were paid, before Naruto even entered the school, to be his friends. The red headed one and his family were to meet him outside of the train station. The plan was for the red baka ne to isolate him from the others and become his first friend. The one you call the Know-it-all was the first choice as the other member of a trio, but the Headmaster thought she asked too many questions and would dig too deep, questioning what was going on. Also, the red head just couldn’t stand her, and the future black widow would not allow any other females to be around him, even for the eventual payoff at the end. I am still trying to figure out how Cornfoot fits into their plan...” Shikamaru quickly cut short his report as Naruto scrambled back to them, gibbering about the perfect oak tree he found. They took after him at a mellow lope, ending up at outside the perimeter of the most magnificent grand old oak tree.

Severus stared in wonder. He looked around, realizing that he had never visited this part of the forest before. Before him was a live oak tree! Magic buffeted them, whirling around in eddies emanating from the grand old oak. The oak stood over one hundred feet tall, the full green crown spread for over three hundred feet with massive lower limbs sweeping down towards the ground before curving up again at severe angles. The massive trunk was at least twenty feet in diameter, thick ropes of root spread farther than the crown of the oak, creating a boundless snow free clearing.

Quercus virginiana, Merlin take me, this species is normally found in the southern climes of the Americas. The size and power radiating from it, it must be at least three millennia old!” Severus reverently touched one of the massive lower branch as he wandered beneath the open canopy. Spanish moss hung in thick sheets scattered throughout the branches. Here and there, Severus could see copious clumps of the finest yield of mistletoe he had ever seen. Naruto yelled, pointing to a figure peeking out from behind one of the upper branches. It was a female.

“Don’t yell brat. It’s a dryad, also known as a tree nymph. She must be the spirit connected to the oak tree. Each one is born with a certain tree over which she watches - she comes into existence with it and often lives in the tree, in which case she is called a hamadryad. The lives of the Dryads are critically connected with that of their trees; should the tree perish, then she dies with it. If a human caused the tree harm, Magic will surely punish them for that deed. The Dryads themselves will also punish any thoughtless humans who would somehow foolishly or cruelly injure the trees. We should ask her permission before we try to get our Yule log from the tree. Really, it shouldn’t be a surprise to find her here. Dryads were very often associated with the Oak tree,” Severus bowed to the nymph as he closed his little lecture to Naruto.

Naruto was used to his senpai falling into lecture mode. He had come to realize it was Severus way of teaching him the right way to act as well as giving him the information, like the way Severus bowed to the nymph. The others followed suit, bowing in respect to the beautiful nymph that was now stood openly on the upper branch.

The denizens must have been listening, because the tree exploded with life. The air was filled with thousands of beautiful butterflies, flitting about among them were brightly colored fairies. Music played on a reed pipe filled the air as fauns and satyrs pranced along the many limbs chasing one another. It wasn’t long before Naruto was high in the tree playing chase, his infectious giggles soon making him the favorite playmate in games of tag. A small herd of unicorns and pegasi appeared out of the forest to graze on the fresh green grass beneath the canopy, their young foals, prancing and playing together. Squirrels and chipmunks scampered among the branches feeding on the sweet ripe acorns dotted among the leaves. The oak tree was the vast home to mundane and magical creatures. It was a potions master’s wet dream. His Slytherin side kicked in as he wondered if he might arrange access to gather ingredients freely.

Severus approached the dryad as the other two men stripped off their winter coat before laying down in the warm grass. Under the tree it was like a cool spring day, the air was crisp and clean, the shinobi were content to laze about while Severus negotiated and Naruto played among the branches. All four knew they were safe here, if they respected the tree and the creatures living within it.

Severus was not about to embarrass himself by trying to climb the tree. He apparated himself to branch the Nymph stood watching from, but at a safe, respectable distance. He kept his movement slow and open, broadcasting his every intention. He bowed again in respect before speaking, “Good marrow Mistress, my name is Severus Snape. I and my companions mean you and this grand oak no harm. I am the Potion Master of Hogwarts School of Wizardry for Witches and Wizards, that lay just outside the forbidden forest. The hyperactive brat that is bouncing around in your tree is Naruto, a student of the school and one of my charge. The other two men are guests and protectors of Naruto.”

The dryad tilted her head as if she was listening to the very wind before responding. Her voice was rough and old, filled with ancient power, a mixture of rough bark and dry crackling leaves. It was a startling contrast to the young and beautiful visage before him. “I am Balanos,” Balanos touched the trunk of the tree warmly, “and this is Eismew. We have guarded this glen for over three megaannus, you and yours are welcome beneath his bough.”

“Thank you my lady, and thank you Eismew. We have come seeking a gift of log to use in the ritual of Winter Solstice and Yule. I would also beseech thee to grant me safe passage to collect ingredient within thy realm. I swear on my magic that I will do no harm to thee or any beneath Eismew’s realm, unless accosted first. I respect all within thy realm and the realm of the forbidden forest. I will collect only what is needed, and swear that it will only be used in the potions I will create to help others, and will not be used to promote harm.” Severus ended his entreaty with a deeper bow. His older, more formal language had been intentional and seemed very fitting, all things considered.

Balanos looked deep into Severus eyes. He did not dare resist not did he throw up his typical shields. Yet he could not feel her searching his mind, what he felt was an overwhelming power filling his very being. Venerable, potent, wise beyond years, it seemed to search his soul, testing the bond threads that emanated from it. Soon the entity withdrew, Severus expected to feel drained, but he was energized. It was equal to being hugged by the most beloved grandfather. He was left feeling loved…and forgiven.

Balanos opened her eyes, an affectionate smile graced her lips. “I will show you the place where Eismew's cast off limbs are stored. You are free to choose from what is there and take it with you. He has granted your request, with the condition that you become a mighty oak in your own right in time. There will be those who will need to shelter under your limbs. Do not shy from the responsibility, guide and treat them well. To many young saplings have been twisted and allowed to grow in the dark, even as the light shined upon them.” Balanos’s gaze followed the wildly giggling child pouncing from tree branch to tree branch. “If you take on this task, soon the mightiest oak the world has ever seen will grow from within your protective arms.”

Severus’s gaze also followed Naruto’s path among the branches. Become a might oak? The Oak symbolizes strength and wisdom. It would take strength and wisdom to take charge of your own life, it was so much easier to follow and blame mishaps on others. Was Eismew trying to tell him to stop following the path of others and take charge of his own life? He analyzed his past decisions and actions. He had been a follower all his life. He followed Lucius into the Death Eaters. He followed Voldemort, even when things took a turn for the worst. He followed along with Albus’s plans, instead of just dragging Lily and James to safety on his own. He followed along, letting Albus leave Harry with muggle relatives. He followed along becoming a spy, something he didn’t really wanted to be. Perhaps Eismew was right, it was time for him to lead, instead of follow. It was the only way to keep Naruto safe, to keep his friends and budding family safe in the days to come.

“I agree to the terms, I swear to take on the responsibility fully. To lead and not follow, to protect those who shelter beneath my bough.” A whirlwind of magic swirled around Severus, ripping away the binding that were wrapped tight around his soul and magic. He fell to his knees, he felt lighter, stronger, yet overwhelmed. His magic flared, threatening to explode. Balanos stepped closer, resting a delicate hand to rest gently on the top of his head. His magic came under control quickly at the touch of her hand. “You can now become what you were always meant to be. You will find that you may have to relearn many things, but it will come much easier for you now,” Balanos quickly stepped away with rich deep laugh as a flying bundle tackled him flat on top of the branch, nearly rolling them off of the bough they lay on.

“Insufferable brat! Are you trying to kill the both of us!?” Severus bellowed in terror as he crushed the imp to him, holding on for dear life. Naruto’s answer was a mischief grin as he snuggled deeper into Severus terror charged grip. “You are an audacious, unprincipled, high handed, holy terror I will have you know. Next time you do something this rash I promise to make the spanking your mother gave you look like a love tap.”

“Aww senpai, you don’t really mean that, do you?” the little heathen dared to pout at him, lips quivering, eyes wide and round, with the cutest, saddest, wettest, naughty puppy eyes. ‘Mighty Oak, Mighty Oak!’ chanted the Potion Master in his mind. A hard warning swat to Naruto’s padded bottom was his answer, followed by an indignant yelp. Leaning on Eismew’s trunk, Balanos laughed at their antics, the air filled with the sound of tree branches rubbing against each other on a windy day.

Naruto looked up at the sound, smiling sweetly at the pretty lady, before turning back to Severus-sensei. “Grandfather Eismew said I can come back anytime I like, but I have to come with you or Shikamaru or Konohamaru. I’m not allowed to come by myself until I’m much older. Sensei? Even though he didn’t say so, I think we shouldn’t tell anyone outside our family about Grandfather Eismew and Granny Balanos. Although I think Neville will get a kick out of visiting here, I don’t think I will tell him either. I think this is a sacred place, only we were supposed to find it.”

Severus opened his eyes once his heart rate slowed down enough for him not have a heart attack. He found Konohamaru and Shikamaru kneeling beside his head.

“I think the knucklehead is right, we should keep this place to ourselves. The chakra level in this place is higher than what Kurama can put out. I would hate to see this place fall into the wrong hands, it should and will be protected,” Shikamaru decreed, punctuating his words with his own hard swat to Naruto’s backside. “You know better than to pull a stunt like that brat. You could have seriously hurt yourself and Severus-kun.”

Naruto rubbed his bottom as he glared at Shikamaru. Shikamaru must have put some chakra behind that swat as his bum now stung fiercely.

“Sorry senpais!” Naruto apologized contritely.

Konohamaru hauled him off Severus, then decided to cheer him up a bit. “How about a piggy back ride down the tree? Balanos-sama can show us were we can pick out the log.” Naruto’s pout vanished in a heartbeat and soon he was back to his happy self, climbing onto Konohamaru’s back.

 

The two followed Balanos, while Shikamaru checked Severus over, “I saw you collapse when the chakra level rose suddenly and that woman touched you. Are you sure you’re ok Severus?” he asked and he helped the dark-haired man into a sitting position.

Severus watched his friend’s eyebrows crawl upwards. Shikamaru studied his features intensely, the sallowness had faded, unearthly healthy glowing skin, the lines evened out. The crook in his nose straighten out, the size shrunk slightly, forming a more resplendent roman proboscis. Severus' hair, while still coated in the solution he used to protect his hair while brewing, was richer, lavish, falling in lush waves. The changes were gradual, and slowly appearing, but Severus looked younger than when they left the castle this morning.

Shikamaru wrapped his hand around Severus’s bicep, the man’s body was racked with tremors he was obviously trying to suppress. Concerned, his first goal was to get Severus to the ground before field checking him over. Wrapping his arms around Severus' chest to support him, Shikamaru jumped lightly from tree limb to tree limb. Once at the bottom, he rested Severus against a low laying limb, just as the others returned. Konohamaru kept a firm hand on Naruto, anticipating the brat trying to pounce on Severus yet again. Naruto talked nonstop about the perfect Yule log.

“Eismew decided to donate a fresh limb, still imbued with his potency. I have placed a stasis aegis until your ritual,” Balanos explained.

“It’s an awesome log Senpai! I’m not sure how the four of us can carry it back!” The brat was practically bouncing with excitement. Shikamaru wasn’t sure there even would be four carrying the log. Severus would need help getting back to the castle. He tried to work out different contingency plans on how to approach the situation.

Severus saved him the headache. “Naruto, you inattentive Gryffindor ninny! Unfortunately, I will not be able to help carry anything at the moment. Now pull out your wand, I am going to teach you the mobiliarbus spell.”

Severus went into lecture mode, guiding Harry in the wand movements, and the precise pronunciation of the spell. Konohamaru paid attention, following along with his own wand, and reciting the spell. He would be able to help Naruto, if it was needed. Severus made them practice on the acorns and twigs scattered across the ground, before attempting it with the log. Once confident in their skill, he sent them off. Balanos stayed behind this time.

“Severus please try using that spell you just taught to young ones on an acorn,” Balanos requested with the crackle of dry leaves infused in her voice.

Both men looked at her uncertainly, but Severus pulled out his wand and cast the spell at a nearby acorn. In his weakened condition, he expected the nut to float a few inches above the ground, instead the acorn exploded violently. The power surge was unexpected and uncontrolled. Balanos nodded confident in the outcome. “Listen well young one. The changes so far are only superficial, I have slowed the effect for now. You will need the comfort and safety of your family when the full development takes place, and to help you deal with the ramifications. You need not worry about others commenting on the changes. Only your true friends and allies will see you for who you truly are. Heed me well, you will need to rest,” she looked at Severus very sternly. “Rest in bed, for the next two days. Clear broth and water only, it will be the only thing your stomach can handle for the time being. Do no use your magic until afterward, ask the one that is like a father, the goblin to re-train you in controlling the strength of your spells.” She turned to Shikamaru, “Train him in the way of the Shinobi, he will need to re-learn chakra control. The training you are putting Naruto through will work just as well for Severus.”

Her attention was drawn away, as she spied the two returning. “In time, you will bring the others here, Minerva and Filius must come first. The others, you will know who and when to bring them...” Her voice drifted off as she watched Naruto walk slowly towards them, his face a mask of concentration, Konohamaru following with his wand out at the ready. As the duo neared, a branch lowered itself within Balanos reach, a cluster of eight acorns hung. They were deep, polished mahogany, each was carved with the Celtic Treskele. Balanos careful picked the acorns, placing them in a grass woven pouch. “Make eight strands using freely given dragon hide, use the Celtic braid, then secure each acorn as an amulet. On the night of the Winter Solstice, give one to each of the other Heads of House and to the Healer, only then must the four of you also wear yours before the ritual, the rest will be taken care of. This is ageless magic, what will be done, cannot be undone by mere mortal wizard. Trust in us and do exactly what we have asked.”

Shikamaru tentatively took the bag from the Dryad, securing it within his ever-present pouch. Reaching down he carefully assisted Severus to his feet, before both bowed reverently to Balanos. “My lady, I thank you and Eismew for all that you both have done, and for allowing us into your domain. We will obey the tasks given to us with great heed. We will watch for the best time to bring Minerva and Filius here, when their absence will not be questioned, and we will not be followed by inquisitive individuals.”

Balanos graces each with a smile and a warm touch to their forehead. Both Shikamaru and Konohamaru never felt such energy within themselves before, their many aches, left over from previous battles, vanished.

The quartet made a beeline back to the castle, halfway there, in the snow-covered meadow where the snowball fight took place, Bluebell and Daffodil waited.

“Master Naruto, please let bluebell take the log, Daffodil will take yous all back to the castle right away,” Daffodil ordered.

Bluebell instantly took charge of the log once Naruto released it from the spell, quickly popping out to secure it in a protected place within the house elves storage area. Once they had a hold of each other, Daffodil popped them straight into Minerva’s quarters where a temporary room had been added, set up like the infirmary but much nicer with a very comfortable bed. Too tired to fight his accommodation, he allowed Shikamaru to lower him onto the bed. Once settled, Daffodil banished his winter clothing, replacing it with loose cotton pajamas. Already the tremors were getting worst, Naruto ran out the room screaming for his ka-san, while Daffodil popped into the infirmary to retrieve Madame Pomfrey. It would be a long night.

Chapter Text

It was what the muggleborns termed a “Mexican Standoff”. The Headmaster, Argus Filch, Professor Burbage, Percy, and his ignoramus brother Ronald, along with the rest of his sycophants stood against Deputy Headmistress McGonagall, Professor Sprout, Lord Malfoy (representing the Board of Governors), and the rest of the entire school body.

It seems the Headmaster took offense to his subordinates going over his head to arrange, as he called it “an outdated, archaic, moth-eaten pure blood ritual.” Percy Weasley and a few of his stuffier rule abiding friends agreed, they were used the way things were run in Hogwarts and could not abide changes to this degree. Ronald, Stephen, and Lavender just wanted to throw a wrench into the works and ruin anything Professor McGonagall and Naruto planned.

“These antiquated traditions are obsolete, and hold no place in today’s modern Wizarding society!” Dumbledore stated in his faux grandfatherly voice. Inside he was seething, ‘How dare they interfere in the running of his school! HOW DARE THEY STAND AGAINST HIM!’

“Christmas is the only acceptable tradition that is celebrated here at Hogwarts, this way muggleborns and muggle raised would not feel out of place in the Wizarding world. Besides, who doesn’t enjoy getting numerous gifts?” And that is the end of that, went unsaid by the old man. Said muggleborns and muggle raised students voice raised in protest, as quite a few did not practice the tradition of Christmas at all in their muggle home.

Lord Malfoy’s measured tone filled the hall, quieting the students. “Headmaster it seems teaching these young minds that it is better to receive than to give may be on your agenda,” Lucius arched an elegantly shaped brow at the Headmaster, “The festival Saturnalia, while archaic in origins, still has many values to teach our young witches and wizards in, as you put it, today's modern Wizarding world. The Saturnalia teaches us to remember the less fortunate, to give back to those who have served and taken care of us, to forgive those in need of clemency.”

Dumbledore started to interrupt but was ignored as the blond continued speaking over his unformed sounds.

“These students, pure blood, muggleborns, and muggle raised have embodied the spirit of Saturnalia without even realizing it. They have put aside their differences to come together to plan a feast for the Hogwarts elves, who have spent their lives taking care of them. These children did so willingly, and the Board of Governors are willing to take advantage of this willingness to give them the opportunity to learn about an ancient wizarding customs that has fallen to the wayside,” Lord Malfoy face, usually an unemotional mask, was filled with pride. Pride at the many students standing behind him willing to fight for this opportunity. It was a major shift in dynamics, it was usually the pure bloods versus the wizarding society when the matter of old traditions came up.

“These children have invested time in researching the festival, learned about the house elf culture, planned the menu, and organized the workload. Many of their parents have contacted the Board offering to donate all the supplies needed, this way it will not put a strain on the school budget. Also, a few mothers have also volunteered to help supervise the cooking of the feast, I dare say, they stress their concern about a few of you students being even near the kitchen,” the regal man lectured. His statements were followed by a round of laughter mixed with a few angsts filled groans at the thought of some of the more over bearing mothers in charge in the kitchen.

When his dragon wrote home about the feast, he was frankly poled-axed! The fact that it was rumored to be Naruto’s and McGonagall’s idea caused him to swear aloud, drawing a surprised and censored look from his wife for his outburst. He wasted no time calling an emergency meeting of the Board of Governors, knowing that Albus would squash this idea as he had many others in the past. Once he has the Boards written agreement in hand, Lucius contacted the pure blood families, doubling his chance of the festival succeeding surviving to fruition.

“Albus, this is a chance to teach our students to give back to the community they will one day be a part of,” Minerva stated, her body ridged with determination as she stood beside Malfoy.

“They have also showed house unity as they have never done before! You are always going on about promoting house unity Albus, but now that its smacking you in the face you want to forbid it?” Sweet, kindly Professor Sprout argued. “Listen here you… you are a fucking stupid old goat…” Pomona’s rant was cut off as Minerva covered her mouth to prevent the rest of that rant from spewing forth. Pomona was by no means sweet and kind today, the badger was all teeth and claws.

Lucius was shocked to find the Professor and her puffs were the strongest proponent to celebrating this feast. Many even suggested having the feast in Hogsmeade if the Headmaster was too stubborn or too stupid to let this go. Lucius steeled himself facing the Headmaster, his countenance expressionless, but his bearing proud and strong as he knew he had won this round.

Albus fumed, barely containing himself from hexing the whole lot of them. He had spent decades stamping out the old ways, and controlling what was considered light and good. He needed these brats to be selfish, more concern about their own wants than helping each other. Christmas help to enforced that, filling their greedy little heads with getting the best presents or more presents than their friends. He knew if he continued to push, it would damage his image of a kind grandfatherly Headmaster.

“If the children are so adamant, then I will allow it for the greater good. Perhaps they will see how outworn the old traditions are and how much more fun Christmas is,” Dumbledore stated sadly. With that back handed comment delivered he turned heading to his office to blast a few trinkets to relieve the anger boiling inside him, as the jubilant cheer echoed all through Hogwarts chasing him back to his Office.

It was as the cheers settled, and the festive planning really go into full swing that Naruto dashed into the Great Hall searching frantically for his mom.

 

Severus could feel his fever building even as he dimly sensed the others moving around him, settling him into bed. His body racked with tremors and pain, worse than the most intense cruciatus curse. Severus entire body was wrapped in a wave of fire. Daffodil popped in with a flustered Poppy, who lost no time casting diagnostic charms, the professor’s body glowed briefly before sheets of paper scrolled out from her wand.

As the concerned voices floated around him, Severus retreated deep into his mind, withdrawing from the pain his body was suffering through. The pain fell away leaving him surrounded by calm comforting void of darkness. A stray thought wandered aimlessly across the void, followed soon by another. Severus found himself being gently pulled in an unknown direction rather than just floating in a cocoon of darkness.

His journey ended before two plain wooden doors. He felt himself being pulled toward both doors, the tugging was insistent, demanding he chose. ‘Only a fool would choose blindly!’ Severus scoffed sarcastically. He wasn’t sure what was behind either door and wasn’t very particular to find out.

Glancing around there was another door further away, turning towards it, he contemplated how to achieve approaching the door. He was dragged to the current doors involuntarily. It really would be easier for him to just choose from one of the doors that was right there, but that distant door, it called to him. It would take a tremendous amount of energy to get to that door, would it be worth working that hard without knowing what was behind that door?

Severus focused hard, pouring all his energy into reaching for that unknown door. Eventually his efforts were rewarded as he started to drift toward the door in question. To his dismay, the force that dragged him to the twin doors tightened its hold on him, trying to force him to stand before the dreaded doors forever, trying to figure out which one he should open, yet not wanting either choice.

Severus fought harder, every inch closer to the door a hard-won victory.  The bind holding him to those two doors slowly broke strand by strand, inches becoming feet, his progress toward his chosen door becoming easier. Severus felt exhilarated, a freedom he has never known before as determination fuel his want, his need, his obsession. He wants what is behind that door, regardless that its unknown.

His hard-fought journey ended at the door, there was still one strand holding on, not tugging him be determined not to let go of him. Severus drifted before this new door. It’s plain like the others but smaller, battered, but the door is stronger and well made. Severus waited no more and pushed the door open, there is no hesitation, no deliberation, his choice firmly made.

Severus found himself in an old muggle movie theater, reminiscent of the one Mrs. Lauren Evans, Lilly’s mum took her three kids too often. Severus smiled softly, He had forgotten that tidbit.  Mrs. Evans had claimed him as her own, he would have gladly let her take him forever, if he had not felt guilty leaving his mother alone against her muggle husband.

The Potion Master was distracted from his brooding thoughts by the obstinate strand, still clinging to him taking shape behind it. A ghostly shade appeared, although featureless, Severus knew it was male. Having made no move or otherwise revealing its intent, Severus decided to ignore it for the moment. The theater was empty besides him and his ghostly companion, there was nothing compelling him to act in anyway, showing him what he needed to do next.

Instead he focused on the room he was standing in. The scent of freshly popped corn, the sweetness of candy and soda filled his nostrils, the air was cool on his skin as he wandered down the wide isle, awakening memories of happier moments in his life.  With a disheartened sigh, Severus took a seat, unsure of what is expected of him now. His phantasmal chaperon stood for a moment undecided before parking itself one chair over from Severus.

Apparently, this was the cue needed for the show to start, as the curtains quietly withdrew, revealing the large movie screen. Severus was agitated at first to see scenes from his life play out on the huge screen. However, he realized what a unique advantage he had gained, seeing each moment, not as a participant, but as an outsider.

Cues he had missed, points where he could have pressed an advantage, rather than buckled under the pressure of his internal emotions and thoughts. He grasped that he was not the consummated Slytherin he thought he was, rather than beat himself up about his lack as he was wont to do, Severus faced this new reality, carefully analyzing each moment, noting where he was weakest, resolved to work harder to overcome them.

His life as a Death Eater manifested in slower motion, giving the man more time to study, think and weigh each of his decisions and actions. His eyes fell increasingly upon the form that was Voldemort, the Dark Lord. Severus sighed deeply, ‘my Dark Lord’ he admitted to himself.

Lord Voldemort was a malicious man, his actions malevolent and destructive. His ideals corrupted and hateful.  The Dark Lord as Severus knew him was vastly different. The man was always polite and considerate of Severus.  Honest in his word and actions, the Potion Master always knew where he stood, good or bad with his Lord. The Dark Lord pushed the young man that Severus was to gain more knowledge, to never settle for mediocrity, to strive to be the best in all things.

Severus sunk into his seat, aghast that he had forgotten all this, the nights of long deep discussions, the mentorship, the fervent arguments over magical theory. Severus smiled as he studied the two men on the screen. The way their bodies leaned towards each other, mirroring each other’s movements, eyes dilated, Severus saw the love each displayed for the other clear as crystal from this outside view. This was the man he wanted to follow, the man he loved, this brilliant, powerful, mad genius.

It was then he realized the shade had become agitated, the longer flashes of Severus and Voldemort appeared on the screen. The scenes were getting darker, more violent. The madness over taking his Dark Lord, the cruciatus curse becoming Lord Voldemort’s favorite form of punishment, even he was not spared

The shade moved closer, wrapping its pale shadowy arms around Severus as the images become darker still, reveling the deepest darkest hell that Severus had went through. A soft warmth radiated from his ghostly companion, sheltering him from the cold that threaten to seep back into his very soul.

They watch in silence, tears spilled from Severus eyes wetting his cheeks. He watched as his life was destroyed, then slowly rebuilt. Scenes of his first meeting of his brat, his horror at finding the comatose brat laying close to the torn apart remains of a troll. That horrifying day—okay maybe not so horrifying—when he was stalked and pounced, and hugged… and snuggled… and cuddled to death.

Severus face softened at that thought, a smile lit onto his lips unknowingly. He had never had anyone be that physical with him, giving him such unquestionable love. Even his fiercest scowl and moody demeanor did not deter his brat, it only seemed to encourage him more to invade his personal space and hug him to death, showering him with the biggest happiest smile that never failed to warm the depths of Severus heart.  

The room darkened as the last image faded from the screen, the curtain gliding silently back into place. Severus closed his eyes, meditating on all that he had seen and learned, sorting out his own feelings on his past actions. From this point on he would have only himself to blame for his future actions, this was his gift from Lord Eismew and Lady Balanos.

Opening his eyes, he turned to the shade still wrapped around him tightly. He contemplated the figure closely, reaching up to gently brush his fingers lightly against the shade’s cheek.

“My precious Dark Lord,” Severus whispered tenderly, the Shade shuddered at the acknowledgement. “I love you with all that I am, but Naruto is ma raison d'être. I will not allow you or any other to hurt him. If I can save you from the madness, if I can bring you back to me, I will go to the ends of the earth to do so, but not at the cost of my Naruto.”

Savage ripples cascaded throughout the shade, threatening to tear it apart. Severus watched as images of his Dark Lord and Lord Voldemort emerged and disappeared repeatedly.  Eventually the ripples relented, flickering slowly as the images slowly solidify. Before Severus, sat the man he loved, his Dark Lord. 

Tom Marvolo Riddle sat gazing at the curtains. Curtains hiding the screen where he watched all the cruel things he had done to his love. He was the essence of the bond that tied both men together, the embodiment of the Dark Lords love for this dark brooding man. He could not let this man go, he had struggled for so long to keep this love alive, throughout the madness, the pain, the sorrows.

“I love you, I have always loved you, even in my deepest madness, I have loved you. I have hurt you in so many ways, I do not deserve your love, yet I crave it all the more. You deserve to be happy, happiness that I cannot promise to give you for the foreseeable future. Yet I cannot let you go Severus, please do not ask this of me.” Tom sobbed quietly, his eyes pleading with Severus.

Both men sat in the darkness lost in their own thoughts. ‘If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it’s yours forever. If it doesn’t, then it was never meant to be.’ Tom remembered reading that long ago. He shuddered at the thought of letting Severus go, he was selfish enough to know he could not let Severus go without some small hold to his love.

“Severus?” Tom’s head swerved to glance at his love, his own raison d'être. “Severus…I release you from my mark, from the bonds of being a Death Eater, from the service to Lord Voldemort. I will free you from that pain and heartache. Instead I bind myself to you Severus. I am selfish and cannot truly let my love for you die.” Tom sighed deeply, “So, I pledge myself to you my love. If it is your will, I am yours…. when you are ready, in whatever way you want me, even in the smallest space in your heart. I promise not to interfere in any other bonds you form, so mote it be!”

A soft golden glow wrapped itself around both men as they sat there enfolded in each other’s arms. As the glow faded Severus found himself alone drifting once again in the dark void. A soft touch, gentle hands caressed his forehead as an unknown voice whispered softly in his ear.

“Sleep my Severus, rest now, everything will be okay.”  With a gently exhale, Severus closed his eyes and sunk deeper into the darkness finding rest in gentle oblivion.

Chapter Text

                

Severus drifted peacefully in that dark abyss disconnected from the world without. This was one of the few times he has ever felt such tranquility. A slight frown marred his brow as he felt his magic wakening slowly as soft gently fingers caressed his face. That voice returned, the one that beckoned him to rest before, this time gently urging him to wake.

“Severus, it’s time to wake now.”

The voice whispered softly against his ear. The Potion Masters eyes fluttered open expecting to see endless darkness, instead squinted at the blurred closeness of strands of pink strawberry blonde hair framing worried emerald green eyes gazing at him intently. Naruto sat back, allowing Severus to see the most amazing smile filling the young boy’s face.

A glass of water appeared before Severus as unknown hands slipped beneath his head and shoulders, helping him to rise and sit more comfortably against the pillows, and to drink from the glass. This gave Severus time to take stock of his surroundings. Naruto still sat before him on the bed, Konohamaru was on Severus left and was attached to one of the unknown hands that help him to sit up. The older of the two shinobi, Shikamaru, held the glass of water. A smirk worthy of the Potion Master sat on Shikamaru’s face, alerting Severus that the blasted shinobi found something vastly humorous.

The cool water felt wonderful to his parched throat, as he drank as much as Shikamaru would allow him. A frown crinkled Severus’s brow as both Shikamaru and Konohamaru smirk began to irritate the life out of him. Naruto was just plum awestricken.

“What in bloody blue blazes are you both laughing at?!” he growled out self-consciously, preparing himself to be the butt end of a joke yet again. Even with what Lady Balanos and Lord Eismew had spoken to him about, some things were still hard to overcome, like years of being on the receiving end of Marauder’s sense of humor.

“Peace little brother.” Shikamaru’s smirk turned into a full fledged grin as he produced a mirror, placing it before Severus. Whatever Severus was expecting, it certainly was not this!

“This cannot be me!” He whispered, the reflection was vastly different from the one he saw every day for the last twenty-nine years.  His hair hung in waves of curled silk, that reached just below his shoulders. His skin was flawless and held a healthy glow. His teeth lost their crookedness, and gleamed, gone were the stains, chips, and cracks he has acquired thanks to his father and years of hard living.

The most shocking was how much younger he appeared. At twenty-nine, Severus had appeared ten years older on his best days. Being a Death Eater and double spy was not conducive to one’s health. The face that peered back at him looked to be on the cusp of turning a vibrant twenty.

Severus groaned, ‘Well that accounts for the little brother comment now, I look younger than bloody Konohamaru!’ Severus glared at Shikamaru, who was having a very hard time containing his laughter, with Konohamaru joining not far behind.

As Severus scowled about both the idiots, Naruto crept closer, straddling Severus lap to reach up and gently caressed Severus cheek, mesmerized by how beautiful his senpai now appeared. Severus attention fell on Naruto, his scowl weakening as he watched the awestruck face.

Naruto blushed, he had only ever felt this way once when he thought he was in love with Sakura, but it was really Sasuke. He really liked his senpai before the changed, but now Severus was gorgeous. Naruto smile a bit sadly, he was always trying to reach for goals beyond what he deserved. Well this time, he wasn’t going to make a fool of himself like he did with Sakura or Sasuke. He knew Severus saw him as a ward, or at best a son, he will take whatever he can get of his Severus.

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Severus was allowed to rest for the rest of the day alone, with Shikamaru checking on him periodically. “Allowed my arse!” The blasted shinobi had forbidden him from leaving his bed by himself for the time being and made sure Severus was obedient to this rule.

Grumbling about meddling ninjas and interfering school healers, Severus spent the day cataloging the changes his body went through. His eyesight was vastly improved for one. Missing were all the aches and pains he had endure throughout his life from poorly healed broken bones and torn cartilage. While not muscular, his frame had filled out some, with some added work out his body would round out nicely with muscle tone.

Severus blushed as he peeked beneath the bed and under his robe. “Oh my!” Severus quickly dropped the bedding, his face turning bright red. Eismew gave new meaning to the phrase ‘Might Oak!’ It seems Eismew was very, very generous with his gift of change. Severus couldn’t help taking one more peek, stifling the heady chuckle from escaping.

Severus felt more vibrant, more alive than he had in ages. His magic ran wild within his core, wanting out, to be free! Severus glanced around searching for his wand, the cursed up a storm, just knowing that the interfering busybody that was his family had absconded with it.

Shikamaru peeked into the room, only to duck a few seconds later as a pillow sailed towards his head. Severus growled at the cackling shinobi, verily itching to cast a stinging hex at the infuriating man.

“Ah peace Severus-kun! Now what has your robe in a twist?” Shikamaru asked as he sauntered into the bedroom.

“I know you have my fucking wand you bastard!” Severus mouth was suddenly filled with foulest tasting soap in existence.

“Language Severus!” Severus scowled, wiping the nasty taste from his lips as Minerva tucked away her wand. Severus swallowed the vile rant, aching to spew from his lips, but he knew better. Minerva was more than apt to not only threaten but used the paddle she constantly threatened him with over the years.

“Severus, you will not be receiving your wand, until you have been cleared by Poppy and Filius has arranged your first lesson. Until then you will be under the care of Mr. Nara.” Minerva stated as she glared at Severus daring him to argue.

“Woman! what the …” Severus hastily changed direction on his rant as Minerva wand slipped into her hand. “Minerva, I am completely capable of taking care of myself, I do not need your busybody interference!”

Shikamaru laid a hand gently on Severus’s shoulder as Minerva stood to her full height, leaning over the bed, coming nose to nose to a suddenly very nervous Potion Master.

“Severus Tobias Snape! If you so much as cross me and leave this bed, or so much as flick your eyes towards a wand, I will make a Death Eaters meeting look like a cauldron cake walk compared to the punishment you will get from me. DO…. I…. MAKE…. MYSELF…. CLEAR?!”

Severus gulped and nodded his head in agreement, did he really forget how scary Minerva could be when riled up? He gazed up at Shikamaru as Minerva left the room.

 “Not a word!”

Chapter Text

Severus spent the following days after he woke instructing Naruto on the preparations of the Yule Log, teaching him how to make a libation of honey mead that needed to be prepared following the ancient druidic tradition, and exactly how generous is a generous sprinkle of purified salt and mead need to drench the Yule log.

The elves carefully levitated the log once prepared, to await its burning the next night, while other preparations were undertaken. It was decided to use to clock tower courtyard to hold their celebration and much was needed to be done to the area.

Seeing as Naruto would be the only child amongst the adults, he was given the choice to invite others he felt would appreciate celebrating with them. Neville, Padma, and Parvati were his first choice to ask. George and Fred, overhearing the excited conversation between the four children, asked if they too could join.

That Thursday morning, the eve of Yule, ten children showed up in the courtyard early. Naruto wasn’t sure how Draco, Theodore, Cedric, and Hannah came to know about what they were doing, but he welcomed them anyway. Each house was represented, so everything worked out in Naruto’s happy little book.  

The students got to work cleaning the area thoroughly in preparation for Yule. It had to be done by hand to limit contamination from residual magic.

Severus, Minerva, Filius, and Pomona worked on creating smudge sticks for their part of the cleansing ritual.

  • Pine and Rosemary representing the West, protection, and prosperity, as well as continuation of life and renewal and to ward off evil spirits and nightmares.

 

  • White sage and holly representing the East, symbolizing the old solar year, protection from malevolent spirits, for immortality, longevity, wisdom, protection, granting of wishes, and purifying the body.

 

  • Sweetgrass and ivy representing the North, that life goes on, in the endless cycle of life, death and rebirth, the breath of the Earth mother and the blessing of Mother Earth's love.

 

  • Holy basil and desert chaparral representing the South, to help steady the mind, brings happiness, love, peace, prosperity, and protects against insanity. Negative energy clearing, overcoming challenges, healing, stability, survival.

 

Two table were set in place, one the children decorated as the Yule Altar, the other would be where the Yule feast was held. Once the cleaning was done, the children spent the morning collecting fir boughs, holly and yew branches, and mistletoes in which to decorate the space.

Filius charmed hundreds of thick white candles to float above, ready to be lit later that night. Poppy, Minerva, and Pomona prepared the robes that would be needed that night. Shikamaru and Konohamaru help where needed but mostly stayed on guard, protecting the group. Daffodil and Bluebell prepared the Yule Feast.

Everyone played their parts preparing for Yule. Even Hogwarts vibrated with a low hum, as if anticipating what was to come. By noon all the preparation they could do before hand was finished. Severus took the time to instruct the children on what would be happening later tonight and bid them to rest until then.

All the males meet with Severus after curfew that night, their first task was purifying their bodies. The females would meet up with Minerva in another part of the castle for their purification ritual. The men stepped into a vestibule of the ritual room, the atrium opened into the apodyterium, where they disrobed completely.

The room beyond was set up as a roman balinea, consisting of three chambers: the caldarium (hot bath), the tepidarium (warm bath) and the frigidarium (cold bath). The scent of lavender wafted from the frigidarium, where they would begin. Th cold water and the scent of lavender help to purify their mind and spirit, clearing away stagnant energy. Each took the time to meditate and reflect upon the things they wished to wash away.

Soon it was time to enter the tepidarium, the aromatic scent of sage assaulted them. By choice each was quiet, taking in the solemnity of the task. The sage eliminated the negative energy around them, ridding them of any lingering unwanted energy, opening them up for the ritual to come.

Finally, it was time for the most crucial part of the cleansing ritual. The group heading to the caldarium which was pungent with the scent of sandalwood.  They were consecrating themselves before the ceremony, the sandalwood help to intensify their wishes to be carried out during the ceremony.

After the last bath, the group sat in quiet contemplation as the bath water dried on their skin, leaving them smelling faintly of lavender and sage, and strongly of sandalwood. At a nod from Severus, they exited through another door, which lead them back to the atrium, where their white ritual robes were hung, waiting for them.

It was fortunate that the Ritual Rooms were found on the highest level of Hogwarts. As both groups meet on uppermost landing, Shikamaru and Konohamaru escorted Poppy and the children down towards the courtyard, while Pomona, Filius, Minerva, and Severus each took a smudge stick and a ceremonial bowl. It was time to begin the first of the rituals they would perform during the Yule day.

At the stroke of midnight each professor lit their individual smudge stick from a candle. Each represented the four directions. Minerva represented the West, Water associated with passion and emotion. Pomona, the North, Earth which is considered the ultimate feminine element. Associated with birth, life, death, and finally rebirth.

Filius represented Air which is the element of the East, connected to the soul and the breath of life. And finally, Severus, who represented Fire, a purifying, masculine energy, associated with the South, and connected to strong will and energy. Fire that both creates and destroys, heal or harm, and can bring about new life or destroy the old and worn.

With their individual smudge sticks lit, each began a harmonious chant with echoed throughout Hogwarts, as they waved the smoke into all corners, across doorways and into shadow spaces, working from the top of Hogwarts downwards into the dungeons.

 

Yule is here, and I smudge this place,

Fresh and clean, in time and space.

Sage and sweetgrass, burning free,

as the sun returns, so it shall be.

 

 

The air felt fresher as the Professors exited each of Hogwarts entrances, driving out the negative energy before them. They would have to do a more extensive ritual during Ostara. Each rendezvoused at the courtyard to join the others.

Shikamaru, Konohamaru, Fred, and George lifted the Yule log carefully into place, while Filius began casting the circle. Poppy and Minerva used the time to put the final touches on the Yule Altar, while Pomona set the still smoldering smudge sticks into holder placed East, West, North, and South of the courtyard.

Soon, it was time to begin the long Yule Ritual. Each member was given a dragonhide necklace with an acorn amulet. Severus was somehow not very surprise when more amulets appeared then were originally given.

As each placed their gift around their neck, Naruto was given the honor or lighting the Yule log. Each member took their place around the log as Severus began intoning the first line. Each adult picked up where the next line ended, in an unbroken rhythm.

The Wheel has turned once more, and

the earth has gone to sleep.

The leaves are gone, the crops have returned to the ground.

On this darkest of nights, we celebrate the light.

Tomorrow, the sun will return,

its journey continuing as it always does.

Welcome back, warmth.

Welcome back, light.

Welcome back, life.

 

The group moved as one, walking clockwise around the fire, stopping only when they had returned to their original position. This time it was the children’s, which also included Daffodil and Bluebell, turn to chant starting with Naruto, and just like the adults, each took up the next line in an unbroken rhythm.

 

Shadows go away, darkness is no more,

as the light of the sun comes back to us.

Warm the earth.

Warm the ground.

Warm the sky.

Warm our hearts.

Welcome back, sun.

 

The group moved towards the Yule Altar, with Severus leading the way.

“We are gather this Yule to give thanks for the life we have been given, and to welcome back the life-giving sun into our world. We shall start by recounting the many blessings we have been given.”

The family, for that is what they are now, took a moment to think about the blessings they had received during the year, or at least the blessings they hope to receive during the new year.

Fred and George spoke of acceptance, their fervent wish to belong, but also to be their true selves. Neville spoke of finally having true friends, and learning to have more faith in himself. Draco and Theodore were eerily similar, they both spoke of a new path in life. The elves were surprised when they were also asked, both were just happy to have such an incredible family.

As the leader Severus was the last to say his peace. “I am incredibly blessed, to have such a wonderful family, and to have such a strong positive guiding force in my life now.” He looked towards Minerva and Filius, “but it seems that I have always had that, but was too stubborn to see it.”

This part of the ritual ended with a prayer to Mother Earth.

 

Cold and dark, this time of year,

the earth lies dormant, awaiting the return

of the sun, and with it, life.

Far beneath the frozen surface,

a heartbeat waits,

until the moment is right,

to spring.

 

It may seem to the casual observer that the group were simply enacting a simply ritual. But to the members of this familial band, they each began to feel the sleeping power awaken slowly from the start of the very first ritual. It was the very reason they took such care in each step, putting heart and soul into each word they chanted. As the night progressed the magic slowly woke.

The group gathered around the feasting table, enjoying the simple pleasures of each other’s company, taking sustenance to fuel their bodies for what was to come. The table was laden with roasted fruits and vegetables, urns of hearty stews and warming soups. Still warm from the oven caraway breads, fresh creamed butter, and pots of golden honey were scattered across the table. There were bowls of spiced nuts, and each child was allowed one goblet of wassail, otherwise hot ginger tea was offered.

The Yule Log fire began to burn low, and the adults can sense it was time for the next part of the ritual, the last part that the children needed to take part in until sunset. Taking time to clear the feasting table, the group gathered once again before the Yule Altar.

Filius doused the candles overhead, leaving the flickering light from the low burning Yule Log, as each member took the hand of another. Severus began the Ritual to Welcome Back the Sun. Facing the Altar, Severus deep melodious voice filled the courtyard. Everyone could feel the power rising to his call.

 

The wheel of the year has turned once more,

and the nights have grown longer and colder.

Tonight, the darkness begins to retreat,

and light begins its return once again.

As the wheel continues to spin,

the sun returns to us once more.

 

Severus lit the tallest standing candle representing the sun.

 

Even in the darkest hours,

even in the longest nights,

the spark of life lingered on.

Laying dormant, waiting, ready to return

when the time was right.

The darkness will leave us now,

as the sun begins its journey home.

 

Severus chanted as he lit each candle, working outwards from the sun candle.

 

As the wheel turns, light returns. The light of the sun has returned to us,

bringing life and warmth with it.

The shadows will vanish, and life will continue.

We are blessed by the light of the sun.

 

Severus felt the sun rising as the last verse of the chant died upon his lips, the golden rays warming them, as the power surrounding them hummed loudly. Each member reflected on what the returning sun meant to them.  As one, the group chanted the Yule Sunrise Prayer as Severus worked backwards and extinguished all but the Sun Candle.

 

The sun returns! The light returns!

The earth begins to warm once more!

The time of darkness has passed,

and a path of light begins the new day.

Welcome, welcome, the heat of the sun,

blessing us all with its rays.

Filled with exuberance, the children jumped about yelling, Welcome Back Sun! The adults looked on smiling, knowing their work was not done yet. The ashes from the yule log were collect, fortunate two pieces of the log were let untouched. One section would be stored for next year’s ritual, while the other was cut into smaller sections and given to everyone, in case they were not present next year.

Each staff member took a portion of the ash to use in their own rituals, while the bulk would be used at noon to renew the Hogwarts wards. Severus gently caressed the walls of Hogwarts, smiling at the thought of her at full power once more.

The old girl had been sorely neglected over the years. Even Filius could not remember the last time the proper rituals were performed. Severus glanced around the courtyard, yawns were starting to make an appearance from the students. Shikamaru saw his look and smiled, nodding in agreement as he began to usher the sleepy heads back to their dorms.

The Heads of House would need their rest as well, Filius noted, as he cast a warding over the courtyard to protect it. The Sun Candle need to burn throughout the day unmolested. The bulk of the ashes were poured into four ceremonial jars until noon. Now it was time for sleep!

As the group trudged wearily back inside, hugs and yuletide blessings were passed along. Sleep would be most welcome now, before the madhouse that was the saturnalia began later that day.

As the sun began to peak in the sky, each Head of House was in place. Gryffindor to the West representing Water, Ravenclaw to the East representing Air, Hufflepuff to the North representing Earth, and Slytherin to the South representing Fire.

Each Head of House had drawn a line in ash from east to west along one side of Hogwarts enclosing it, before finding their anchoring points. As the Sun reached its zenith in the sky, each could feel the pull on the magic of Hogwarts. The answering hum reached its strongest, perfect time to recharge the wards.

The chanting began slowly, softly, growing louder and more powerful as the energies answered the call. The magic pulsed throughout Hogwarts, not only was the warding being recharged but the old girl herself. She drank her fill and then some, throbbing with new life, giving her the power to rid herself of dark artifacts that had been hidden within her walls over the centuries, purifying herself of curses that have lain dormant.

The ritual lasted an hour, it was tiring but the Heads of House would not slack on this duty. The main warding stone was now fully powered, the minor ones connected to the Heads of House were also fully charged. Hogwarts used the remaining ambient power to repair herself while it still flowed, yet kept her warding stones fully charged.

While the sun finally reached the one o’clock mark, the power settled, rather than dissipate. Minerva, Filius, Pomona, and Severus each felt a loving caress to their magic. An overwhelming feeling of thanks wrapped around them as the acorn amulet glowed briefly.

The hardest and most tiring part of the ritual finished, they gathered wordlessly, before trudging back inside to rest. They had, at the most, two hours before the house elves feast began, time to rest before they were required to monitor the little dunderheads.

Minerva seriously contemplated never agreeing to one of Naruto’s hare brain schemes ever again. To quote Severus, it was simply…a Madhouse! Some idiotic student thought it would be a good gesture to supply to feast with an unlimited supply of butterbeer.

If she ever got her hands on the bloody idiot, she would wring their scrawny necks! The feast, that started out well-mannered turned into a royal bacchanal, reminiscent of the old roman days. The elves were having a blast, drunk off their collective arses, and performing random magic. The students were mingling among them, laughing and having just as much fun.

Unbeknownst to the staff, it wasn’t just the butterbeer that affected the house elves, but the sudden influx of strong ritual magic, the likes of which they had not seen in a long time. The staff had their hands full keeping order the rest of the afternoon.

Naruto spent the time ferrying dishes back and forth from the kitchen, cleaning up messes, wrangling naked dancing elves back into their uniforms. He thoroughly enjoyed himself, even as he wisely kept out of swatting reach of him mom and Severus. They did NOT look very happy at the moment.

As the feast started to wound down, sleepy elves were wrangled back to their rooms by the staff to sleep off the binge. Naruto and his friends jumped in to help set the great hall to rights once more. Overall, it was a memorable Yule even, if he did say so himself.

In the midst of all the revelry, one cannot blame the inhabitants of Hogwarts for missing the awakening multiple rooms, especially a certain special room. Granted the room was not easily accessible. It was a small but comfortable room, with five larger than life paintings situated inside. Soft murmuring, and lazy yawns could be heard as the portraits began the process of waking up.

 

They were tired, sore, worn out, but happy. The group once again trekked back to the courtyard, near sunset, to begin the final ritual of the day. They stood around the site where the Yule log was burnt, holding hands, watching the sunset on a very eventful day. Severus began as the last rays of the sun shimmered in the air.

 

The longest night has come once more,

the sun has set, and darkness fallen.

The trees are bare, the earth asleep,

and the skies are cold and black.

Yet tonight we rejoice, in this longest night,

embracing the darkness that enfolds us.

We welcome the night and all that it holds,

as the light of the stars shines down.

 

The group moved one last time clockwise until they returned to their original position, closing the circle, and ending the ritual. It was then they felt the incredible rush of power scorching through their bodies. The each amulet levitated off their chest and glowed bright enough to rival the sun. In each was scorched the Celtic Oak Tree, and runes of shielding, protection, and healing. That night each would sleep peacefully, content to have fulfilled a vital task.

Their task completed, their promise kept, Severus blew out the Sun Candle, ending their eventful Yule.

While Severus and the others revel in the glorious feeling of peace and love, Albus Dumbledore spent the Yule day in blinding agony. The amount of power that ripped through Hogwarts and thus him, through his Headmaster’s connection to the wards, was agonizing. He had been forced to relinquish control of the wards or perished. “Merlin’s fucking beard! What the hell happened?” His head was ready to explode even trying to contemplate the cause, groaning, he decided to worry about it another day.

Chapter Text

New Year’s Morning Before Sunrise

Naruto was lost in his memories of the holidays, so much had happened in such a fleeting time. As promised, the Solstice ritual broke the magic leech from the remaining heads of houses and it seems from Madam Pomfrey as well. With the student’s departure for their own holidays, Shikamaru could spirit the adults into the forest to meet with Lady Balanos and Lord Eismew using the confusion of the departing students as cover.

The days leading up to Christmas were spent shopping, wrapping gifts, and hiding them from each other. Mayhem ruled on Christmas day, with Haha’s brothers, Oji Malcolm and Oji Robert showing up with their brood. Naruto’s itokos fell in love with him instantly, the castle hallways ringing with laughter as they chased each other in games of tag and hide and seek.

While Naruto appreciated all the gifts he received, he was most grateful for his beloved extended family. The love he was given, from his uncles and their wives, from all his cousins, from his mom and his Chichi Filius, from Severus, Shikamaru, and Konohamaru, Naruto’s heart was filled to near bursting with the warmth and love he soaked in.

Naruto felt the presence of Shikamaru and Konohamaru join him on the castle roof top. He broke into a smile as his friends settled in beside him giving and sharing in the warmth. Together, they watch the sun rise above the mountain, setting Hogwarts ablaze in golden sunshine. A new day, a new year, a new life. Time to get down to business.

It still amazes Naruto, every time he chanced upon his mom and his dad Filius, to see how young they now appear. The same can be said for Professor Sprout and Madame Pomfrey, each appearing twenty years younger, glowing with health and vitality. Naruto yelped as he got smacked across the head forcing him to pay attention to the family meeting and not let his mind wander again. He grumbled giving Konohamaru the stink eye, before focusing on the plans being laid out.

With Severus getting the all clear from Poppy, Filius and Shikamaru were now detailing their torture…regiment for Severus in the coming weeks. Filius particularly looked forward to putting Severus through his paces. Severus eyed the gleaming Filius with dread, nothing good can come of that absolute look of gloating.

So far, he has lost his morning of peaceful bliss, instead spending the time with the evil incarnated shinobis exercising and learning the beginning Kata. His evenings were spent with an even eviler incarnate known as Filius, working on controlling the power of his spell work.

The discussion soon turned to including other students into their training, Naruto more than happy to talk Neville and the Patil twins into joining them, and the red headed menaces Fred and George. Granted their younger brother was an idiot, but not everyone was perfect and Naruto refused to hold Ron against the twins. When Naruto also mentioned Draco, it was all Severus could do not to laugh himself sick, thinking of the blond Slytherin prince breaking a sweat. Oh, this was going to be worth all the torture!

A New Term Begins

Dumbledore paced back and forth in his office, not only did he have to deal with that blasted child and those interfering Shinobis, but on top of everything else, he now had to find a Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor.

Quirrell disappeared over the damn holidays, prompting the Headmaster to check on the stone to see if it was stolen before everything could be set in place. He knew the wraith of Voldemort squatted on the back of the man’s head. Nothing was going as planned, his chest pieces were not following his lead!

The blasted brat still refused to be friends with Ronald Weasley, the Headmaster could not care less about Cornfoot and Brown, it was more important for Weasley to get even a toe hold on the little nuisance. The shinobis were teaching the boy things Dumbledore did not want him to know. The students and even the staff were starting to rebel against him, and now he lost control of the Hogwarts wards.

He tried everything to get the damn castle back under his control, but Hogwarts was having none of it. Even worse, he did not know who had control, at least if he knew who held the wards he could control the cursed person. Merlin’s pimple covered arse, when did everything begin to go so blasted wrong.

The agitated man sucked on his potion laced licorice snaps, trying to remain calm, and refocus himself. The ward on the gargoyle alerted him that the three idiots in his employment will soon arrive. With a wave of his hand, the door to his office opened, letting in Ronald, Lavender, and Stephen.

“Sit, lets get down to business!” The headmaster glowered at the three as they found their seat quickly. “I highly suggest if you three wished to continue to receive payment, that you bloody well get off your collective ass and get with the program!”

“It’s not that easy Sir, Harry is such a bloody git it’s hard to be friends with him. He ignores us all the damn time, and Merlin’s nose hairs, it’s hard to keep track of him out of class. He never does his homework around us, and saves his actually studying for when he's around the Patil twins and the squib Neville. We can’t touch him, cause the bodyguards are always lurking in the shadows.” Ron pulled his hair in frustration.

He knew just how important his job was in the scheme of things, if he did well, his little sister would marry the damn brat, and after he was killed off, his family would never be poor again. Only thing was, they weren’t dealing with an abused, submissive freak, that was supposed to cling to him as his first friend.

It would have been awesome to have the so-called savior of the Wizarding world looking up to him, hanging on his every word, instead he was left with this strange creature that ignored him, insulted him at every turn, arrogant and conceited brat, he was worse than Malfoy. Thought they were too fucking good for the likes of him, they did.

Ron hid a flinch when Lavender clung to him yet again, her hands pawing at him. Granted the girl was a good kisser, but he couldn’t get a moment's peace away from the chit. As for Stephen, all he did was groused about how he would love to get Naruto alone for five minutes, and how he would show the boy his place.

Ron may not be book smart, but he did excel in being able to size up his opponent and if he was able to take them in a fight or not. Harry Potter or whatever the idiot decided to call himself now, would be able to wipe the floor up with Cornfoot, and not even break a sweat.

“We can’t take him head on, and trying to be friends with him isn’t working, we need another way to get him under our control. Mom is good at brewing potions, she may have an idea of what we can use on the brat. We need to isolate him from everyone, Neville and the twin girls have too much influence over him. Either drive them away, or try and bring them over to our side.” Ron tapped his foot in thought, trying to work out the various angles to their dilemma.

Albus gazed at the Weasley boy, ‘maybe not an idiot after all.’ Excellent Mr. Weasley, while you work on that, I will try and get the Board of Governors and the Ministry to send the Shinobis back home.” ‘I also need to find a way to rescind the adoption, and get my little sacrificial piglet back with his Keepers.’

While evil was being plotted, mischief was at play as two handsome twin devils accosted a laughing Naruto. After the Solstice Celebration, Naruto made it a point to seek out the two, enjoying the time just getting to know them, planning elaborate pranks for the new term.

After such an exuberant greeting—an all-out tickle hex war—a breathless Naruto explained about the training and asked if they would like to join in. Fred and George silently communicated with each other. Granted would lose precious time from their pranking and inventing new prank products, but they would gain much more, spending time with their new little brother and adults who appreciated them.

They would also learn skills they would never get to learn in Hogwarts. The boys were not stupid they knew their parents believed that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named would come back one day. They had lost their namesake uncles in the first war. Now would be the best time to take advantage of the training and be prepared.

“Count us in!”

Naruto grinned at how easy it was to convince the two. Hopefully, Neville, Padma, and Parvati would be just as easy to convince. The hardest to tackle would be Malfoy and the Slytherins, he was not looking forward to that discussion. He could still hear Severus laughter ringing in his ears.

Draco Malfoy stared at Naruto in disbelief. No, the boy was being serious, Naruto thought that, he Draco Lucius Malfoy, Heir to the Malfoy Lordship, Scion to the Malfoy Dynasty, would actually stoop so low as to break a sweat exercising!

A look of hopefulness stared back at him, making him groan at his own stupidity for what he was about to do. He really hoped his father and the Dark Lord appreciate what he was about to do.

With a much put-upon sigh, “Yes Naruto, I will join your little morning group.” If he was going to suffer, he will make sure others suffer along with him. “I’ll bring Blaise, Vincent, and Gregory with me as well.” Malfoy smiles evilly as the laughter died from the named trio, only to be replaced with looks of pure horror. The blonde would further deny to his dying days the shriek of surprise he let out as he was pounced on and suddenly hugged to near death.

A happy Naruto skipped off down the hall to find Neville and the twin Patils, eager to find out how their holiday went and just to be with his dear friends now that his mission with Draco was accomplished.

Chapter Text

Kurama’s ears twitched, that feeling was back again. He chuffed a low rumble of laughter. Maybe it was about time he found out where this power was coming from. While he enjoyed the mischief the little brat caused, it would not do to let such power go unchecked causing true havoc!

Hogwarts was feeling very playful today. She gladly helped Naruto partially transform into a playful young kit with cute furry pointed ears and four fluffy cute tails waving happily in the air. The castle rounded his new form off with soft delicate paws and twitching whiskers.

Soon a transparent young little girl appeared before the yipping, bouncing kit, her fingers caressing through his soft strawberry blonde hair, a mischievous gleam twinkling in her eye. It was her turn for revenge against the old meddlesome goat for weakening her over the years. The kit was clearly going to be happy to help!

“Would you like to play little one? I know a really good playmate that would love to play chase with you. As long as you both promise not to harm the children, and to stay away from the Potion Master and his lab you have free reign of the entire castle as your playground,” Hogwarts suggested sweetly.

Even as the little girl smiled and giggled, an ancient and powerful intelligence lurked deep within her eyes. She was finally freed from her chains, thanks to Lord Eismew, Lady Balanos, Severus and the other heads of houses, something she wasn't about to forget anytime soon.

Naruto yipped in happy agreement with her suggestion, causing Hogwarts to smile and lead an overly ecstatic Naruto kit bouncing along the corridors to the forbidden corridor. She felt the flow of natural magic change. She glanced back and she saw Naruto's body had changed into a more natural Kitsune shape with a cloak of natural energy surrounding him. The feel and smell of old magic waft on the air surrounding the young boy, magic even older than her’s.

One of the energy cloak’s tails wrapped around Hogwarts in a loving caress before the kit bounded ahead yapping and barking happily before a locked wooden door. Laughing, she skipped merrily up to the door and with a wave of her hand the door opened.

“Hello Fluffy!” Hogwarts greeted happily.

Hokla………Okshakla………chim achukma?......... Sa yoshoba Ąmafo!.......... Ish haklo ho?.... Sυ nυkshopa, Amafo!........ Chishke yυt katimma ia tuk?...........Katimma ish υtta? .... Ak akostinincho? Sa li…ilapissa… ilap bano…. illi………. Sa li hotupa, Ąmafo!........Chi hollo li hokla ippok nakni!....... Chi hollo li! ....... Chi hollo li, Amafo!

--------

Okshakla woke up crying, the echoes of his grandfather’s voice fading away yet again. Every night his grandfather search for him in the spirit world, Okshakla could hear him…see him, every night Okshakla called out trying to answer his grandfather but it was pointless. No matter how hard he tried to reach his grandfather, his calls were futile.

Nothing was going as planned! Harry Potter was not following the plan Headmaster Dumbledore had laid out! Okshakla felt his anger building within him yet again.

He hated Harry Potter, he hated Dumbledore, he hated being at this shitty school, being in this accursed, disgusting country that was so disconnected from the natural world that the land was slowly dying.

He was constantly in pain since being abandoned in this God forsaken country, unable to use his ability to draw natural or spiritual energy as he was taught by his grandfather Holahta Hopaii Kashofa Hina Hanta.

Okshakla smiled thinking of his grandfather’s name, War Prophet of the Sacred Way of Peace, the name described his grandfather perfectly and never failed to bring a smile to his face, the only thing that could in these dark days.

Crawling out of bed, Okshakla gathered his personal bathing supplies and headed for the communal dorm showers. As he stood, soaking under the hot water, he thought about what he wanted to do today. He really wasn’t in the mood to deal with anyone, not the red headed idiot who thought he was the world’s cleverest wizard, nor the clinging limpet of a future black widow.

A new year and a new term… yet, things were still the bloody same, he really didn’t feel up to going to classes and dealing with all the bullshit. With a heavy sigh, he decided to spend the day exploring the hidden places of the castle.

The room shook as Fluffy bounced up and down ready to play. He had been sooo bored locked and chain in the room. Hogwarts released the chain with a flick of her fingers and a smile, freeing the Cerberus. Waiting at the magically enlarged door was the Kitsune kit arched in the universal signal for let go play!

Jubilant barking and baying echoed throughout the halls as the two tail waggers played an over enthusiastic game of tag. It was pretty funny watching the students scream and dive out of the way of the three-headed dog chasing a partially transformed Naruto that was playfully yipping at his partner in crime, egging Fluffy to tag him.

Doors and hallways mysteriously widened to allow ease of passage, the professors were either scrambling out of the way or trying to corral the wayward miscreants. Even the shinobis were at a bit of a loss as to what was going on.

Severus climbed the last step out of the dungeons to the first floor just as a mad barking Kitsune scrambled past him followed by the bounding monstrosity that was supposed to be safely behind a locked door on the third floor.

Pinching the bridge of his nose, Severus decided that the treasure chest of Honeydukes chocolates that his brat bought him for Christmas was more compelling than chasing the brat and an overgrown mongrel through the castle. There was was a bar of Honeydukes Dark Chocolate Special Edition with his name on it.

“I am so not getting paid enough for this nonsense,” Severus growled before stalking off.

Spiritual energy! It has been months since Okshakla has felt such abundance of gathered nature energy. Okshakla stood in the middle of a hallway basking in the growing ambient magic that was heading his way. He wasn’t really expecting the spirit cloaked, half transforms fox that pounced on him, flattening him to the floor, then bounding off with glee.

He was saved from becoming a human pancake when a pair of hands grabbed him and dragged him out of the way into an alcove just as a gigantic slobbering mutt bounded past, claws scrambling and scraping against the flagstone floor.

“Cornfoot, what the hell! Do you have a death wish or something!?” a worried female voice demanded near his ear.

Okshakla, otherwise known at Hogwarts as Stephen Cornfoot, turned towards the scolding voice to find his savior was none other than Hermione Granger, resident Know-It-All of Gryffindor House.

“Why were you standing there daydreaming? Do you want to get squashed flatter than a pancake? There is a bloody Cerberus running loose in the halls!” Hermione scolded. Cornfoot stared blankly at the pale face scrunched up into a scowl framed by a wild mane of bushy curls.

The weirdest thought crossed his mind, ‘such pretty eyes!' as he ignored her harping to stare after the playful canines in a slight daze from the slowly dissipating nature energy.

Kurama padded through the hall of Naruto’s created inner space, the floor flooded as usual. He really needed to talk that boy into creating a better living space for him. With a huff at the thought, he continued to track where the strange energy was coming from. Twisting and turning down one flooded halls after another Kurama finally came across a small lost kit huddled into a hidden corner.

Laying down before the smallest, fluffiest baby Kitsune, Kurama chuffed in question. The greenest pair of eyes peered back at him from a handsome mix of Kitsune and human face. Silky black fur covered most of his body with light goldish-red underfur and pure goldish-red sox on each limb.

The little Kitsune chirped in answer, his downy tail swishing forward to wrap protectively around himself. Kurama smiled and licked the little one, earning a very indignant snort from the little fluffball.

“Come on little one. Let’s get you somewhere much more comfortable than here,” Kurama said gently. Picking up the protesting bundle by the scruff of his neck, Kurama padded off back to his current den with the transformed soul of Harry Potter.

Headmaster Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore leading his staff to confront the threat to his beloved school, standing tall, his royal blue velvet robe embellished with silver shooting stars and comets. He let his magic loose presenting a strong, impressive, dominating presence that screamed leader.

“Yes! I will put a stop to this nonsense once and for all!” the barmy Headmaster declared to the staff that was assembled behind him.

All that power and presence was lost as the brat pounced on him swiping the Headmasters wand then bound off, setting the staff scrambling out of his way, followed by a drooling, tongue lagging, oversize hellhound puppy heading right for the downed Headmaster. Unknowingly, Naruto had stolen command of the elder wand that day, something Kurama would later laugh his ass off over while chocking it up to Naruto's insane luck.

Only the quick casting of protego totalum by Kettleburn saved the Headmaster from getting crushed by the huge paws of the overly happy pup. Kettleburn silently berated the fool of a man, time after time, he had warned the senile old fart about the creatures he allowed Hagrid to bring onto the ground.

“I’m really getting too old for this shite!” Kettleburn muttered in near tearful frustration.

Severus happily lay before a roaring fire, on the most comfortable divan, dressed in his silk lounging robe. A glass of port sat next to a small treasure chest filled with an assortment of chocolate bars, truffles, and other dainties. He was already unwrapping his chocolate of choice while firmly not thinking about whatever Naruto happened to be doing with the blasted Cerberus.

Hogwarts phased into the room right as Severus sank his teeth into a bar of Honeydukes Dark Chocolate Special, the moan that followed had the poor spirit blushing bright red and fleeing the room, throwing up magical wards preventing anyone from disturbing the man, and there was No Way her Potion Master wanted to be bothered, Na ah, not from the moans he was making.

Minerva, as usual, was picking up that bumbling arse of a Headmaster's slack, getting the students to safety first and foremost. She employed the school house-elves and the two shinobis to find all the students and get them safely into their common rooms while the staff dealt with the current emergency. This left Filius to deal with their wayward mischievous imp of a son. Consequentially Naruto came dashing around a corner to see his adoptive father standing in the middle of the hall tapping his diminutive feet and a fierce scowl on his face.

The transformed Kitsune knew what that look meant. Before his chichi-san could raise his wand, Naruto quickly focused his magic and wordlessly cast Tajū Kage Bunshin no Jutsu, splitting into ten different clones and scattering down different hallways in an attempt to escape.

“NARUTO!!!!!” the small Professor thundered.

His dad’s enhanced shout echoed along the hall as he ran for safety, the ghostly little girl leading the way. He just was not ready to face the music just yet, and he sure as hell didn’t need a crystal ball to know a spanking was in his near future. The retreat was the safest option until things cooled down.

It was weird though, he really hated the thought of ghosts and spirits. Hell, he made it his personal goal to avoid the floating menaces that inhabited the school. His antics usually left Konohamaru laughing in stitches that resulted from the antics he went through not to be in the same vicinity as one. This time he felt nothing but warmth, happiness, and peace from the little girl, well that and the primal power pulsing from such a tiny thing.

Naruto happily followed behind her into an area of the school he had yet to explore.

The stones were older, more rough-hewn than the more inhabited parts of the castle. Ancient rushlights came to life as they walked down the corridors and Naruto slowly released the natural energy he had gathered allowing it to seep into the castle walls as he returned to his human form.

Hogwarts and her young scamp stopped before a narrow stairwell that winded its way up a hidden tower. They stood there waiting for the one that had followed them from the halls below.

“Are you coming or not Cornfoot? We don’t have all day to wait around, so hurry up if you want to come with us!” Naruto casually called over his shoulder in the direction of his hidden classmate.

A red-faced Cornfoot stepped out from around the corner and bashfully walked quickly towards them. Together the trio - Ninja, Wizard, and Spirit - made their way up towards the unknown.

Chapter Text

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“Severus…I release you from my mark, from the bonds of being a Death Eater, from the service to Lord Voldemort. I will free you from that pain and heartache. Instead, I bind myself to you, Severus. I am selfish and cannot truly let my love for you die.” Tom sighed deeply, “So, I pledge myself to you, my love. If it is your will, I am yours…. when you are ready, in whatever way you want me, even in the smallest space in your heart. I promise not to interfere with any other bonds you form, so mote it be!” 

A soft golden glow wrapped itself around both men as they sat there enfolded in each other’s arms. As the glow faded, Tom found himself alone in the theater.

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Death and destruction….. his entire life….nothing but death and destruction.  As his Severus faded out of the theater, a force guided him back into a chair as the curtains drew open once more. This time his life was on display.

His birth in the infirmary of Sir Nortons Wool’s home for Unwed Mothers, his mother’s life slowly slipping away after he was born, her final soft whisper of his name, Tom Marvolo Riddle. He spent most of his very young life among the babies and toddlers of the Unwed Mothers Home, receiving basic care until he turned five and was shipped off to the Sir Nortons Wool’s Orphanage.

It was a whole new environment. The boys were separated completely from the girls, even brothers and sisters were forbidden contact with each other. Considering that there were only two options open to the boys once they left the orphanage at the age of fifteen-- find a job or join the military—the boys were constantly drilled each and every day. All the boys’ teachers were men that stressed the boys learn to read, to write and had a strong mathematical foundation before leaving Wool’s.

Life in the orphanage was not easy, something Dumbledore never seemed to have understood. The children owned nothing, whatever possession they had owned before coming to the home was fought for and held onto through their own strength. Getting stabbed in a fight for a toy or a shirt was very common, you either got stronger or you become the orphanage punching bag.

The staff never interfered, in their opinion, the children would face far worse once they were out on their own, so better they toughen up now than wind up dead later. Tom learned to thrive in such condition, using manipulation when he was at a disadvantage physically. When his magic started manifesting, it made holding his own even easier against larger older opponents.

Coming to the Wizarding world was a cultural shock for him, having been institutionalized since birth. Everything he had to learn about how to survive did not work in this new environment, he had to learn a whole new set of rules living in the Slytherin dorm. Thrive or die.

And thrive he did, using all the skills he had learned over the years to carve out a place for himself at Hogwarts. His intelligence, his looks, and his powerful magical core helped greatly, unfortunately, his arrogance and sense of self-entitlement coupled with first hand witnessing the death and destruction caused in the Muggle war, a deep seethed fear began to take root in his soul.

How many muggleborns went missing during the evacuations, falling victim to cruel muggles who were supposed to keep them safe, who, when faced with strange incidents focus all their fear, hatred, and helplessness on children that were not of their blood.

How many died during the bombings of England, children whose magic flared to protect them and their family, only to not survive the magical backlash. A miracle where families, or in some cases entire bomb shelters were saved except for one or two casualties.

The Wizarding world did not care about those who were left out to fend for themselves in the Muggle world. They did not suffer from food shortage, did not fear bombs falling on their homes, as long as they were safe nothing else mattered.

What was the point of being powerful and intelligent when the affairs of men could easily wipe you off the face of the earth? Death and Destruction. The world was always at war, the method of destruction becoming more advanced with each battle.

Each night Tom was dragged to this theater, his life displayed across the screen. The moment he found the Slytherin’s Chamber, the moment he found that one mention of a Horcrux among Slythern’s writings that sparked his insatiable need to learn more and possibly defy death.

The dark path he began to travel was laid out before him on the screen. The book that was given to him by Professor Slughorn and….and his first murder. It was anger that fueled his killing of his father and grandparents. Their ridicule and laughter, the way they looked down on him, it was a mistake to even consider embracing his muggle side. What need did he have of such weak and pathetic insects that dared to look down on him?

Tom staggered as his thoughts had earned a hard smack across the back of his head from whoever had dragged him here. A physical presence began to manifest itself besides Tom, an older man dressed in simple green druid robes. A stern face with kind dark smiling eyes peered back at Tom. His long hair and flowing beard reminded Tom of burned oak leaves during the fall season, a beautiful simmering goldish red.

Tom quickly backed away from the apparition, eyeing the male warily. It seems Tom was finally coming face to face with the power that dragged him to this place on a nightly basis. The red-headed menace arched an eyebrow that was remarkable reminisces of Severus when he is most annoyed.

“Who are you? Why do you drag me here night after night? What the point of showing me my life, what could you possibly hope to accomplish?” Tomas glared at the silent man.

“Are you a God?” Tom really hope he was not a God, that would be a shit storm he would not want to be in the middle of.

The being smiled sadly at him taking in Toms full measure before deigning to answer.

“No….no I am not a God, although if I were you I would avoid any such Heavenly beings for the foreseeable future.  Lady Caillech, Lord Arwan, and Lord Dagda would like to have a very long talk with you, and young man, do you have any idea how annoyed Lady Danu currently is at the mess you wizards have made of the Àrainn os-nàdurra?”

Tom shook his head absently in answer to that question, he vaguely recognized the names Caillech and Arwen, Lord Daga was the Lord of the Tuatha de Danaan, also known as a Lord of Death.

“The magic in the British Isle is out of balance because of this ridiculous war filled with ridiculous ideas wizards have about magic.”

“How can it be ridiculous! Our traditions, honoring the old ways, what rights do the light have of forbidding us from magic?! THe muggleborns want to do away with our traditions and the Light is letting them!”

“What rights do you have to force them to bend to your ways? How do the acts of murder, rape, and torture bring honor to the old ways and traditions? Who do you honor in such way, but your own arrogance? While you Wizards fight over your ideals, creatures suffer for them. Creatures who are the very bones and blood of magic are being restricted, killed, even wiped out of existence. You say you honor the old ways, yet, rather than protect those that remain, you used them to fight you senseless war.”

“Are you here to judge me then?  Are you going to collect my soul?” Tom was both fearful and indignant, fearful at the thought of dying, indignant at being accused of destroying magic.

As one atrocity after another flowed across the screen, their effect on the entire Isle was also shown. The slow extinction of powerful creatures, the lost of ancient sacred sites, the increase of children born without magic.

"Your Severus has done more to honor and rebuild magic by honoring the old rites in the past few days than you have done through fear and threats."

Eismew sighed, shaking his head sadly as he turned to give Tom his full attention.

“I am here neither to judge you nor to reap your soul, young one. I am here to offer you a choice”

Chapter Text

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“I am here neither to judge you nor to reap your soul, young one. I am here to offer you a choice”

 

Tom stared at the man before him.

“A choice? What possible choice can you offer me?” Tom scoffed in disbelief, “why would you want to give me a choice?”

Eismew stared long and hard at the insolent youth. With a wave of his hand, the screen began to show the more intimate moments of Tom’s life. He studied Tom’s interaction with the people he cared about the most.

“You are constantly seeking to create a family for yourself, young one.  Although your idea of what constitutes a family needs to be re-evaluated.”

“Family! What need would I have for such idiocy?  Family makes you weak, the only thing I am seeking is power!”

“Yes I see, and how is that working out for you so far?”

Tom stared icily at the man before him. HOW DARE HE! The only thing that matter was power and being strong enough to hold it, only the weak and foolish needed love and family!

“What use is power if it not used for a purpose? What is the point of immortality if you do not have loved ones to share in the endless eternity? Power does not make you strong, young one, it makes you a target. It generates reckless behaviors, begets paranoia and distrust.”

‘He didn’t need anyone!’ Tom stood sulking at the admonishment.  ‘Although, would have been nice to spend eternity with Severus.’ That brought a small smile to his face that vanished as the next thought that crossed his mind, ‘Why would Severus even consider spending an hour with me much less eternity? He has the brat now.’

It was the story of his life. No one willingly stayed by his side unless he wielded power. They flocked to him, adored him, soaked in his favor and followed his every command when he was at the height of his power. Then it all fell to pieces, and where were they? The ones who worshipped and adored him? 

Everyone scattered like roaches when he fell from power except for the few who were mentally unstable to deny him. When he needed them the most, he found himself alone once again. Family? BAH! He did not need them nor did he miss them!

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Those thoughts floating around in Tom’s head gave Eismew the opening he needed. As much as Tom tried to deny it, he wanted and needed a family.  This young one….no….His young one had been disappointed time and time again.

The lack of love and family structure in the orphanage, the rejection from his then living muggle and magical family, the betrayal of his created faux family had chipped away at this man’s soul.  It helped to speed up the damage from the creation of the Horcruxes. There was no one to pull his young one back from the brink of insanity.

Tom’s face went blank suddenly, his back straightened, his shoulder pulled back as his young one faced him. Ah, there was that spark he was looking for, there was still a tether he could use to pull this one onto a better path if the boy only chose wisely.

“Why are you allowing me a choice, Sir?” Tom was tired. So tired of it all. “I am not a deserving person, after all, I was conceived because of a love potion. According to Dumbledore, it means I can not and will never know love. I am a selfish man, the only good I have ever done was to release Severus from the miasma that is my life. So, I ask again, why allow me any choice, Sir?”

“My young one, how can you know how to love if you were never shown how to love? There is some virtue in you my young one, which I hope to nurture. You were not given much choice on the path you are on now, I hope that given a real choice your life can be better. That you can have a family and know true love. Are you willing to listen?”

Tom took a deep breath, letting it out slowly as he tried to center himself. Listening was not agreeing, therefore it would do no harm to hear what options he was being given by Lord Eismew. The being had already stated he was not here to reap his soul, even though he knew about the Horcruxes already.

He could already guess the choice centered family from what the being had already spoken to him about. He knew it was more than just making a choice, there was always minute details and consequences with any choice to be made. It would benefit him greatly to pry all he could from the man before he finally chose.

“I am willing to hear what you have to say, Sir.”

Eismew smiled, his young one was beginning to show due respect for his situation, he did not know how long it will last once the full details are revealed but the outburst was bound to be spectacular.

“It is very simple, young one. You can continue on the path you are currently on to whatever end may come without interference, come what may, or I can step in and change your path, give you a family and a true sense of purpose.”

“What will this new path and sense of purpose entail? Would you really just forgive all I have done and wipe my slate clean without punishment or are there stipulations that I would need to follow?”

Eismew noticed his young one did not ask about having a family, it made him smile as his child avoided that aspect.

“You will not pursue this war any further, you will also not attack the muggle world. You will cease all acts of aggression. You will continue to uphold all the old traditions and holidays and teach them to any who are willing to learn regardless of their blood status. It will be your charge to nurture magic’s growth back into the British Isles.”

Tom sat quietly as Eismew continued.

“You are to take a good hard look at your Death Eaters, weed out the truly despicable that should be kept from society, help the ones that truly need help, release those that want their freedom. There will be those who will willingly and truly want to help you with your new goals.”

“You're asking me to be a modern-day draoidh!” Tom asked in wonder.

“Yes, in a sense young one. You are intelligent, well spoken, and a good leader when you put your mind to it. You will make wonderful mediator for the magical creatures of clans. You also have a love of learning and a love of sharing what you learn with others. You will be a great teacher for future generations.”

“A new path and a true sense of purpose,” Tom whispered softly.

“Power is too much of a temptation for you, my young one, you will not enter the political arena, instead you will leave that to others. Severus will be the head of your mateship, both you and Naruto will answer to him. And you WILL answer to him little one.”

Tom flinched slightly at the hard tone Eismew tone took.

“While you will be asked to teach all forms of magic, you will personally be banned from performing forbidden black magic, and your use of dark magic will be monitored. You will need to seek Severus’ permission before you cast any such spells and you will abide by his decision.”

“Why would I have to answer to Severus! Hell, asking him for permission to cast a spell, I am not a child!”

Tom’s outburst earned him a fierce glare.

“This is in part a combination of your punishment and your redemption, young one. As far as I can see, you are a child who has been on one long temper tantrum and it is time to deal with your behavior. If you choose this path and find yourself straying, I have measures in place that will rectify your behavior before you stray too far.”

Tom did NOT like the sounds of that. It was not lost on him that Lord Eismew kept calling him young one. Then again, he supposed in the eye of this man he was nothing more than a child.

“During The Nameless day, you will perform the Ritual of Oak and Mistletoe and integrate all your soul pieces back into your body. Lady Malfoy should be able to help you attain the locket and the cup. Once you have completed the ritual, you will spend the rest of year and next year learning your new duties and sorting out the Death Eaters.”

He will not tell Tom of the one he made accidentally, he had plans for all three of his young ones but first they each had to prove they will be up to the task given to them.

“And if I choose not to go this path?”

“If you choose to stay on your current path, you will be freed from here to follow your destiny come what may. You may succeed or you may not but your life will not be interfered with from the divine realm. Whatever happens will be because of the choices you have made.”

Tom sat contemplating the choice given to him, it was not something he could rush into deciding. He had spent the last fifty years chasing power and trying to make a place for himself in this world. He had always fended for himself not relying on anyone else for his needs.

Could he…..would he give all that up for a family and a new purpose? To now answer to another for his actions…..would he truly be able to submit to another’s will?

His dream of teaching would be realized, to be able to learn and share his knowledge, to uphold the old magical traditions. To be apart of returning true magic to the British soil.

 

Which should he choose……?

Chapter Text

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Tom lay in bed staring up at the ceiling.  Quirinus Quirrell consciousness was tucked away sleeping--and had been for the last few days--allowing Tom free reign of his gracious host’s body. Yet, every night Tom had been dragged into that dream world where he was forced to face his past actions.

Love… of all the useless emotions to have to deal with, love caused nothing but pain. It made you weak and easily controlled, and it would be the only reason he would ever accept the offer presented to him. Having his love for Severus realized would be the only reason he would ever put himself in such a weakened position.

He crawled out of bed and got ready for the last day of the term, he really did not want to see what the farce of a celebration the children came up with. Tomorrow he will be safely away from this place with the diadem, and soon back into a body.

As he walked through the castle watching the students bustle back and forth, he gave serious thought to the offer.  A chance to really teach about the true meaning of their traditions and the proper way to honor magic, but to give up his goal of attaining power, was it worth it to give up all he had worked for?

Tom locked himself in Quirrell’s office, reading through the students’ homework and wondering just how low the standards have fallen at Hogwarts. He couldn’t wait to leave on Sunday, as much as he hated the paperwork, Albus would not allow the staff to leave if everything was not turned in.

It was around lunch when he felt the rise in ambient power. He eyes widened in surprise, someone was performing a ritual!  And a powerful one from the feel of the magic, how the hell did they get that pass the headmaster? He basked in the flow of power as it washed over him.

Power! This was what he was always chasing after, the ability to perform rituals of this level. To be the most powerful Wizard in history, how could he ever turn his back on his goal? No, he will continue the path he had begun come what may. The diadem was already secured in his trunk, Malfoy was already alerted to his coming, the ritual room and all the need items were being prepared. His choice was made.

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Lord Eismew was nothing but determined to have his young one within his grasp and was not above playing a bit dirty to get his way.  He knew his child's warp sense of entitlement and power, as well as the madness that constantly bombarded his mind, would shape his decision.

Eismew used the ambient magic to lull Tom into sleep and dragged the soul back into the theater one last time. Unbeknownst to Tom, he was able to give the shade a physical form while in this magical landscape, a fact that Tom should have taken note of.

The room was changed slightly, there was still the screen behind the curtains, but instead of rows of seating, there was a table, where lay a parchment, besides it lay a silver bowline knife. Tom eyed him warily as he gazed around the room.

“So, it is not just at night you are able to drag me unwillingly about, old man. I regret to inform you that I will not be accepting your offer.” Tom watched as Lord Eismew shook his head in exasperation.

The curtains opened revealing the screen once more. Tom steeled himself against whatever the old man was going to show him in a chance it might change his mind. HIS MIND WAS ALREADY MADE UP DAMMIT!

“So, you would give up a chance of being loved and cared for just to seek your illusions of power. Such a shame and such a waste of one’s life, little one.”

Tom eyed the screen hesitantly, he was sure it would show some pathetic scene of him being in a happy family, maybe during the holidays. Such things would not move him in the least. Instead, the screen showed an elaborate Wizards bathroom, with a long pool-like bathtub. The room was empty now, causing him to wonder what exactly he was being shown.

Soon the door opened and in walked Severus. Tom’s jaw dropped. It was a much younger looking Severus; whose skin was flawless and glowed with excellent health. He was wearing a silk bathrobe and a pair of loose silk pants and bare feet. Tom caught glimpses of smooth hard flesh peeking out from the folds of the robe.

He stood mesmerized as Severus turned away from their view, the robe loosening as Severus untied the belt and let it slide from his shoulders. Such wide shoulders, sliding down a stunningly well-sculpted back that made Tom’s mouth watered. He wanted to run his hands over that back and trace every ridge and valley down that broad back to the narrow waist.

Severus bent down to touch the rune that would let the water bubble and toil, not unlike the muggle jacuzzi, to this he added two bottles of potions, one which caused a riotous mass of bubble to form. Tom was too busy staring at the lovely silk covered ass to pay heed to what the potions were.

His breath caught as the pants loosened and begun to slowly, or so fucking slowly, ‘really Severus?... did it take that long to take those fucking pants off!’ slide the pants off, revealing mouthwatering well-toned hard globes that Tom wanted to worship. ‘Oh, that is one ass I would love to kiss repeatedly,’ he thought to himself, shifting from side to side as a strange feeling took hold of him.

His back still facing them, his beloved entered the pool and began to bathe. That was an experience in itself! Watching long nimble fingers caress lightly golden skin tenderly. The way his hand glided over slippery flesh, Tom ached for it to be his hand touching Severus’ flesh. Those sinful hands move to wash the long black wavy mound of hair that graced his head, Tom’s eyes followed the graceful curved lines that fashioned the length of each arm.

Ever so often, he was gifted a peek at a chiseled jawline, or long dark lashes fluttering closed against a well-shaped cheekbone, he really, really wanted Severus to turn around. The Potions Master sunk under the water to rinse his hair out, rising out of the water with an elegant twist that had him facing them…. ‘FINALLY!’....as if he had known Tom’s wish.

Oh, Tom was officially drooling now, that hairless Greek sculpted chest with dark nipples that begged to be licked and sucked, ‘Ooooh my,’ Tom moaned softly, those sinfully wicked abs, and a start of dark treasure trail of hair. Severus chose that moment to move to the shallow end of the pool, slowly revealing the rest of him, which Tom eagerly awaited.

That dark trail of hair got denser the lower down it went, Tom could imagine running his fingers through that well-trimmed pelt downward until. “Oh, My Fucking Merlin on a pogo stick!” So exquisite, so magnificent, parts of Tom twitched in anticipations of what he had no idea, but oh damn he loved the way the water flowed down the man’s body. His Severus was gifted in so many, many ways.

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While Tom was entranced by Severus on the screen, Eismew enacted his plan, gently taking his child's hand and pricking a finger with the bowline knife letting three drops of blood fall onto the contract that lay on the table. Lady Magic did the rest, using Tom’s true desire and need to seal his fate and bound him tightly. There was no wiggle room for her Slytherin to get away now.

Yes, it was underhanded but Eismew had not lived so long to let a human's version of morals stop him from doing the right thing. His young one will now be safe and heading onto a safer path. Eismew conjured a comfortable chair while waiting for Tom to roll his tongue back into his mouth. 

He was pretty sure Severus would find a way to kill him if he ever knew that Eismew conjured an image of him taking a bath to lure Tom, his death would be so worth it. The look on Tom’s face was priceless, love was worthless… indeed! While Tom may not have experienced much love, lust, on the other hand, was universal and worked just as well for roping obstinate, pig-headed children into place. Something Lady Magic whole heartily agreed with as well.

Everything was in place for the ritual on Nameless Day, Tom will soon have a body back and his training can begin in full. Lady Balanos was looking forward to nurturing Tom’s growth and he was looking forward to teaching the correct traditions and rituals and the meaning behind each.

Eismew sipped from a goblet waiting for Tom to come too, which was not much longer. The curtain began to close as Severus dressed and exited the bathroom. Tom finally breathe, his face flush and a noticeable tent to his britches. Now comes the part where his willful child will spout more nonsense.

Eismew cut him off before that obdurate boy could dig himself into deeper trouble and handed him the magically accepted contract to read.

“What the hell? How is this possible!”  An incredulous Tom read through the contract that apparently, he somehow agreed too without reading. There was an adoption component, he was now the ward/child of a Lady Balanos and a Lord Eismew; a triad marriage contract between himself, Severus and the brat with Severus being the Head of House, how the hell did that happened! There was even specified punishment laid out that Severus can be used on him!

The little that the old man told him was laid out in details, what magic he could and could not use, what he needed permission for, even down to what books he could and could not read. It listed all the other obligation he would have to fulfill as well.

On a good note, his training to be a druid was explained in detail and will be quite extensive, at the end he would be able to truly teach others, but not just others apparently. One of the clauses he was still trying to wrap his mind around…he was the designated bearer for the triad.

Bloody Hell he was going to be a MOTHER!

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Chapter Text

Last Time

Hogwarts and her young scamp stopped before a narrow stairwell that winded its way up a hidden tower. They stood there waiting for the one that had followed them from the halls below.

“Are you coming or not Cornfoot? We don’t have all day to wait around, so hurry up if you want to come with us!” Naruto casually called over his shoulder in the direction of his hidden classmate.

A red-faced Cornfoot stepped out from around the corner and bashfully walked quickly towards them. Together, the trio - Ninja, Wizard, and Spirit - made their way up towards the unknown.

 

We return to our regular schedule program now in progress…….

Cornfoot quietly studied the boy climbing the stairs ahead of him, he could feel the residual energy leaving Potter and being soaked up by the ancient stones. He took stock in how he felt, which was better than he had in months.

Cornfoot core, akin to a man lost in the desert, greedily drank all the natural energy it could from his early encounter with the transformed boy.  He wondered how Potter was able to gather so much energy. Hell, how did the British boy even know what natural energy was!? 

“Hey, Potter? How did you do what you did earlier? I mean with the energy thing, how were you able to gather so much natural energy?”

Naruto looked back, a bit shocked that the boy knew what natural chakra was, as he continued climbing, he gave some thought to his answer.

“Where I come from; we call it Natural Chakra. Gathering energy is very easy, controlling it is another matter. I trained long and hard to learn that control. Why do you wanna know?”

Cornfoot thought about how he should answer that question for a bit. He knew the Headmaster had designs on the kid, but that was not he concern.  He knew his own dislike for the boy was more frustration on his part for the hand life had dealt him.

Cornfoot did not have any friends at that school, none that he would even consider trusting, but here before him, was someone that had access to something his tribe considers sacred. Maybe there was a slim chance that Potter would consider teaching him.  A very slim chance considering his prior behavior!

“Potter…”

“Actually, it’s Naruto…but if you still insist on last names, then call me by the right one, which is Kitsune!”

“Um, oh okay then please call me Stephen, Naruto. Anyways… um…the reason I asked was 'cause my tribe…well…*sighs*… I’m not from here... I mean not from England, or anywhere in Britain. I was born in America to a hidden Magical Choctaw tribe that never traveled the Trail of Tears. We followed the old ways and live in harmony with the natural world around us. One of our most sacred rites is the harnessing of natural energy.

My grandfather is a War chief and our Medicine Man…guess you can think of him as a Spiritual Healer. Anyways, grandfather used the energy he gathered in our sacred rituals to help heal the tribe.

He was just starting to teach me when my mom showed up one day and took me away.  My dad had died, and grandfather was looking after me, you see.  I hadn’t seen her for a long while, even before dad died…then she fucking shows up out the blue cause she got married to some rich Wizard that was Lakota, but his family had lived in England for generations.”

“Whoa, there! Take a breath!  So, you say you were living with your Grandpa, and then you mom just took you away?”

‘From the sounds of it, old man War Chief was a Sage,’ Naruto quietly thought to himself.

“Yeah, that basically it, I guess.  Hubbie wanted an heir but didn’t want to take the time to make one, and mom was never going to get herself knocked up again not when she already had me, so I got dragged from my real home and sent to this awful school.”

“Sounds tough kid, but you haven’t exactly been a basket of roses yourself, you know!”

Stephen had the decency to blush hearing that, this was not the way his grandfather had raised him to behave. Inwardly groaning, he already knew the lecture he was going to be in for. Abducted or not his behavior had been appalling.

“Naruto?  I’m sorry for how I acted towards you.  I miss my home and my family and being here is driving me nuts. And the damn Headmaster with his plans. I don’t know why, but he is hung up on Ron, Lavender and me being your friends, but we had to spy on you and stuff. I didn’t want too but he said if I did what he wanted he would send me back home to my village.”

Naruto paused in the stairwell turning towards Stephen as he babbled through his explanation. He already knew that the Headmaster wanted those three to be his friends, but he didn’t realize it was against the will of at least one of them.

“I’m sorry I took my anger and frustration of my situation out on you, Naruto. I know we may never be true friends, but I’m begging you please teach me, I swear to do whatever you want! I…”

“Nah, you don’t need to do that. Sheesh, just stop being such a dill hole all the time. I take training very seriously and I won’t go easy on you, so you better be certain this is what you want!”

Stephen froze.

“You mean it? You really will train me?”

“Hey, when I give my word on something, it means I’m dead serious! No, joking!”

Stephen smiled bashfully rubbing the back of his head, “Then can I ask you another favor…um…my real name… the one my grandfather gifted me is Okshakla, it means Deep Waters. I just wanted at least one person to know.”

“So, Dee it is then!” Naruto laughed as he turned to continue climbing up the stairs.

The newly christen Dee stood shocked at his name being shortened and at the easy acceptance from to Naruto.  Shaking his head he smiled and began trotting up the stairs behind the kid.

 

“Is it me or does it feel like we’ve been climbing these stairs forever,” the newly dubbed Dee whined.

Naruto shook his head at the lack of stamina wizards seem to have in general. He swore between the two sets of twins and Neville and now Dee, he never heard such pitiful whining at a little hard work. Then again, if he really tried to think back to his youth the first time around at the Academy, he and the others were pretty much a bunch of lazy louts themselves. Poor Iruka-sensei… guess this was his payback in spades for all the crap he put his poor brother through. 

The ghostly little girl turned and smiled at him with a mischievous gleam in her eyes as if she knew what Naruto was thinking and agreed with him. “FINE, I’ll write him a letter apologizing for all the crap I ever gave him about training, sheesh, pushy brat!”

Good!”

Eventually, after an epoch of climbing those shitty stairs, the boys exited out the center of the floor to a circular hall filled with delicately crafted stone arches.  There were seven arches in total, six of them housing huge life-size portraits. Above them sat a huge dome enchanted ceiling, but instead of showing the night sky outside, the view was of swirling lavender mist against a sage green sky. 

A huge stone dangled from the center like a weird chandelier.  Naruto could feel the power pulsing strongly from the stone. While Naruto’s attention was caught up with the stone, Dee was busy gazing around.  The room was bare of any furniture, except the portraits.

 

While the boys' attention was caught elsewhere, the spirit of Hogwarts skipped over to stand before one painting, a mischievous smile plastered on her transparent face. Ōtsutsuki, more commonly known as Merlin on the British Isle, shook his head at the little brattling, nearly a thousand years old and still as impish as ever.

The Sage of Six Paths stepped forward out of his portrait gateway into the Halls of Time, the others followed his lead, stepping out as well into the hall and quietly approaching the boys.

“Naruto…” Ōtsutsuki called out softly.

Naruto’s gaze shifted from the ceiling towards the familiar voice, his eyes widen as he once again stood before the venerable Sage.  

“Ōtsutsuki-Sama….” Naruto gasped quietly.

Hagoromo placed his hand fondly upon the lad’s head. The boy looked well, although looks can be deceiving. His sisters had been yelling his ears off since this venture started. Godric and Salazar had a grand time laughing at his expense when Morgana took too casting hexes at him, although they weren’t laughing for very long when she learned of their part in the scheming.

“Ōtsutsuki-Sama, what are you doing here? Hey, are you the reason I got dragged here? Please tell me Harry wasn’t another reincarnate of your son and that’s why I got dragged here to go through this mess again!”

“In a way... yes, Naruto, I am the reason you are here but not for the reason you think, child.  No, Harry is not another reincarnation of Asura.”  Hagoromo paused, gazing at the ceiling in contemplation, “so much have been placed on your shoulders, dear one…too much. You were denied a childhood and a family, you have had to prove yourself again and again in order to earn the respect of the family you were able to gather. I thought…we thought…that it was time you were the priority for a change.”

Bright blue eyes gazed at him in question, that was a better reaction than the Sage was expecting. Anger, outrage, maybe a hex or two. Even Kurama would have taken the chance to mutter a few obscenities…wait…” Hagoromo concentrated for a moment before huffing in quiet laughter before turning his attention back to inquisitive eyes that were still staring up at him, waiting with unusual patience.

“When I first came to this land many years ago, little one, I never thought I would find the family I did. In this place I found a family that accepted me even with my flaws,” the Sages chuckled softly. When my brothers and sisters found out about your childhood and the many trials you have gone through, they pointed out my arrogance and demanded that I fixed the mess I had created of your life.”

“And it was arrogance in a way, my child, I sincerely beg your forgiveness for placing your young life in such a mess. I fervently hope that by bringing you here… you will have the love and support of a true family, one that will love and care for you, not for your deeds but for your impish, bratty self.”

Naruto laughed, blushing furiously as he brought a hand up to rub the back of his neck. He thought about his mom Minerva and his dad Filius, he knew that they loved him no matter how much mischief he got into, and he was pretty sure he had a spanking coming his way for his stunt with Fluffy, Naruto shudder as he thought about that.

“I know that I had to prove myself many times before, I fought hard for that family and I won’t forsake them, but…...,” Naruto smiled softly, “thank you for giving me more family, Ōtsutsuki-Sama.”

“Your life is your own, my son. No prophecy, no destiny, no expectation but normal everyday ones. You can be a lazy bum if that is what you wish.  Your life will not be perfect, there will be some hardship and some joy, like any normal life, my child.”  Hagoromo kissed the top of Naruto’s pale golden hair softly.

“So, little imp, tell me about your family and what you have been up too!” Hagoromo conjured up two comfortable armchairs to sit as Naruto excitedly explained about his mom, dad and most of all his Severus!

 

Stephen ‘Dee’ Cornfoot stared in amazement at the room they exited out of, he was even more amazed at the man that shared an eerily likeness to Merlin who was walking towards his new friend Naruto. He totally missed the stout redhead and the slender raven walking towards him, At the deep clearing of a throat Dee turn to come face to face with a pair of, what his granddad would fondly have called ‘temptation pillows’ of a busty blonde that smiles humorously at him as his face lit up furiously in a bright red blush.

Dee found himself surrounded by three of the founders and one statuesque female who could only be Morgana Le Fey, who was more beautiful than how her pictures in the history books portrayed her. The beautiful busty blonde was Helga Hufflepuff, it was easy to see glimpses of her Norse ancestry in her curvaceous plump figure.

Godric Gryffindor carried his Highlander heritage very well, tall, muscular with broads shoulders, handsome in a ruggish way. He had the kindest dark brown eyes that hinted at a mischievous nature. Whereas Salazar Slytherin was rocking his Basque Welsh heritage, long well-groomed wavy hair framed pale skin with eyes black as night peering out with shrewdness.

Godric’s voice boomed as he slapped the young Gryffindor’s back and demanded news of his house. The ghostly little girl captured the attention of Salazar, who was smiling at her softly as she passionately explained about all the ills that the current headmaster had done and how the staff was changing things. Morgana and Helga's concentration were split between the conversation between the two while keeping an eye on Rowena, who had yet to join them.

Rowena Ravenclaw had every intention of joining her brothers and sisters in greeting the young ones, but her magic insisted on tugging her attention to what was possible happening downstairs. Her smoky grey eyes started to faintly glow as she paid attention to what her magic was showing her.

 

The Headmaster stormed his way back to his office. This day was turning out horribly, humiliated before students and staff by a brat that did not know his place!  Slamming the door shut behind him, he stomped about the office like a petulant child. ‘There must be a way to salvage his plans…. that insolent brat was of no use to him. There must be a way to rid the world of blight, leaving a world of only good and light, a world he would control as the most powerful wizard, greater than even Merlin!’ he thought to himself in agitation.

 

Rowena’s vision took her past the point of that foolish deadly thought of the Headmaster to a future of possible death and destruction. As the vision grew stronger her magic reached out to each of her family, one by one their eyes glowed as the vision was shared of what lies ahead for their world.

The energy built around them almost stifling the boys, who watched unnerved by what was happening. When the magic seemed to have reached its crescendo, Rowena’s voice broke the silence but was soon joined by the others as one by one each spoke the next line until they all spoke in creepy unison.

 

When the rays of light reach its brightest

The fallacy of its reign shall be revealed

And the world shall know true Darkness

That will scorch the earth

 

Once more the elements unite,

Earth, Wind, Fire, Water, and Lightening

The great nations will gather the remnants among them

Until the last of the false light fades

 

From these elements will flow waters deep,

Cleansed, purified, remade new

With the power to revive the earth,

Drive out the darkness

And bring forth life once more.

 

The last bit of prophecy echoed through the chambers as the power faded from the room. Stephen Cornfoot, aka Okshakla, stood trying to puzzle out what the hell he just heard when Naruto turned towards him, slapping him on the back with a smirk the reminded him way too much of their dreaded potion professor.

“Huh, I bet you wished Old Man War Chief had named you Shallow Puddles right about now?”