Author: romantiscue PM
After the war, the world-weary not-so-human Harry and Draco go in search of Harry's relatives to a place very much unknown. The two gets caught up in the mess that is Konoha's post-Kyuubi situation, and ends up drafted into the shadowy ANBU forces. ON HOLD; currently dissatisfied with the story in general.Rated: Fiction M - English - Drama/Angst - Harry P. - Chapters: 15 - Words: 47,338 - Reviews: 448 - Favs: 572 - Follows: 768 - Updated: 11-25-09 - Published: 04-15-09 - id: 4995527
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Cows over Mist
Harry hit Draco resolutely with a frying pan. It wouldn't hurt the blond, but it would hopefully cause him to surface from his Book long enough to glare at Harry.
It did. Draco glared; Harry smirked infuriatingly (living with Draco did wonders for his smirks). Draco shut the Book carefully, and the air stilled in that strange way that always warned of danger when in the field. Draco lunged.
His milky clawed hands ripped the now unusable bent frying pan to bits, and Harry danced around him, mouth serious and eyes laughing.
They had been home for several days now, having returned from a successfully completed assassination in Kiri a week ago. Sarutobi insisted that they rest for awhile- he argued that however physically unnecessary it was, mentally they needed it- before being sent out again. The duo had agreed, acknowledging the truth of the old Hokage's words in the back of their almost-shared mind.
Assassinations, for all that they weren't often violent per se, were the most taxing missions of all. Killing people in their beds. In their baths. In their 'safe-houses' and underground bunkers. Sometimes making it look like accidents, sometimes implicating someone else.
Neither of the duo ever spoke out loud on their missions. Never spoke of their missions, period. The Hokage would enquire about it sometimes- about their state of minds, how they were holding up, if there was anything they needed. He was an anchor, Draco supposed. He was what Dumbledore should have been. So of course they didn't tell him anything. They could feel enough of his guilt as it were.
Harry had just received word- by falcon, and wasn't that ironic?- that the Hokage had a new mission for them and after a few minutes of half-serious mock-fighting, he told Draco so. Draco nodded, already having figured it out, and they donned their masks and sped off towards the Tower.
They had gradually gotten used to running along the rooftops the way all shinobi did, and after mapping out the Village they inhabited -by running through all streets at least once- they now knew it by heart. Vampiric mental capacities were truly a wonderful thing.
In no time at all, they were standing in front of the Hokage. He hadn't changed much appearance-wise from the first time they saw him, but his eyes were much warmer now then they had been. They bowed.
"I have a new and very urgent mission for you." He began, sounding unusually grim. The duo immediately straightened in attentiveness, semi-worried and apprehensive.
"We received a request for back-up from one of our deployed reconnaissance teams two days ago, but unfortunately the falcon carrying the message was injured and took a long time to reach the Konoha missive outpost. Apparently ANBU Squad 7 were ambushed by Kiri-nin on their way back over the sea to Konoha, but managed to escape into hiding with the two remaining but injured members.
In situations like this I would normally send a medic-nin, but I fear we haven't the time for it. I know they would slow you down considerably."
Harry and Draco nodded, and Harry could feel Draco working out and discarding plans quickly. He left the strategic blond to it and asked the Hokage if they had any data on the ambushers, or if they were operating blind.
"Squad captain Lizard wrote that they were expecting to encounter a larger group of Chuunin and Jounin - possibly two squads - within a few days time. Since the targets are Kiri-nin, we may assume that their fighting style is largely based on the Water element, though that is only an assumption."
He looked at the both of them over steepled fingers. "Be careful. We do not want a repeat of Crow-drop." Harry winced imperceptibly at the reminder, but nodded in acceptance of the reprimand. That had been a carelessly preformed operation, and the Hokage was right in chastising them for it…
The Tengu Clan in Tsuchi had been a small Clan; more of a large family than a full Clan. Draco and Harry were ordered to take out the Head of Clan and the Elders- which was really almost half the Clan- and to make sure they left no witnesses. It had been their third major mission since their inauguration, and the second one with an expected high casualty rate.
Neither of the two had been at all happy to get the mission, but had said nothing. Konoha needed this; the Tengu Clan's crows were interfering with their messenger falcons and intercepting information.
The mission had gone south when two of the Clan's Genin walked in on them in the last stages of the (very messy) operation. The two Genin had screamed to high heaven and alerted the rest of the Clan- forcing Harry and Draco to comply with the 'no witnesses' command by killing everyone in the entire Clan.
Technically, their mission was a success, since their primary objective was completed and they were never identified- but it was one of the foulest successes they had ever tasted. Sarutobi hadn't said anything- hadn't needed to- and they had learned caution. They had both been so focused on not giving into instincts that they had completely missed the two approaching heartbeats, over-estimating their abilities and forgetting how dangerous living shinobi truly were.
The massacre that commenced then ironically became known as "The Crow-drop Massacre", both spitefully and sardonically.
The faces of the two screaming Genin from all those months ago swirled in Harry's mind long after they set out from Konoha.
Namiashi Raidou was bleeding sluggishly from the wound in his shoulder, trying and failing to stop shivering in the cold ocean breeze. His last remaining teammate (and Squad leader)- a blond high-strung pain-in-the-ass named Kobi- was slowly drowning in his own blood by his side.
Those Iwa fuckers had poisoned him somehow, Raidou knew, but he wasn't a poison specialist- and wasn't that ironic, that mad-poison-scientist-Ruka had been the first they'd cut down, because she was careless; just like always rushing straight in without a thought, laughing and smirking and throwing tiny vials around- and stop right there. He was not going to become absorbed in memories of her or the others he had fought with (trained with, lived with, laughed with for the past three years) with his Squad leader slowly dying right next to him.
He could hear the bastards trample around – not trample, maybe, they were shinobi and shinobi didn't trample- outside the cave they were in, but they hadn't noticed the two hiding Konoha-nin because of the Genjutsu Raidou had so carefully weaved around their hiding spot.
He was Taijutsu specialist, originally, but his taichou had been adamant that he wouldn't specialize so heavily in one area only. He had agreed, reluctantly, and Kobi had taught him the more advanced branches of Genjutsu.
It hadn't helped though, not where it mattered, and now everyone was dead and gone and Kobi was practically dead as well and-
There was an explosion in the distance and Raidou turned his head in the direction of the sand, trying to compensate for the newly acquired deafness in his right ear by pumping the small amount of chakra that wasn't focused towards the Genjutsu to augment his hearing. He knew it would further whatever the damage was, but he couldn't risk not hearing and be caught off guard.
He closed his eyes and listened, blocking out the sound of the crashing waves to take in the distant shrieks of metal against metal and running feet. He recognized the voice currently cursing up a storm as the bastard who had killed Ruka and almost smiled when the curses turned to gurgles.
Back-up, then. Finally. Not that it really mattered to his team, at this point. But the mission… it wouldn't be a failure. He leaned his head to touch the water-smoothed stones at his back, trying to sigh but only managing to produce something like a choked sob. He didn't cry, of course. His eyes were completely dry, because he couldn't really wish for more than this. They were ANBU, and their only objective was the completion of their mission. Everything was secondary to that.
He was a good ANBU too, he admitted in the stillness of his mind. He was always hidden and watchful, and his team had a good mission-record with almost hundred completed A-ranked missions in the years they had been a team.
He was- had been- a vital part of the team, the primary heavy hitter and if he was a little reckless and sometimes forgot that other people other than him and the- fucking- enemy existed, well that didn't mean he didn't care about his team. They knew that, he knew that, but sometimes you weren't human at all, sometimes you were just a mask in a sea of other masks… and you forgot, just for a second. Forgetting was only human, Raidou thought ironically.
It happened to everyone at one time or other, and it wasn't like those fragments of time were anything more than just fragments; just millisecond slip-ups that wouldn't actually hinder him when it came down to it. Really.
His team wouldn't break over a fragment in time. Would they?
Kobi's glazed eyes stared up at him, and he pretended he wasn't holding the fingers to his taichou's neck to confirm the stillness of his heart so he could safely burn the body. It was procedure, after all. Best not to think of it.
He was not mentally examining that one slip-up he had made, the one that forced Soba to dodge in another direction, one he hadn't intended. Because that one slip-up had occurred during the early stages of the battle, and Soba hadn't seemed hindered by it even when it forced him into a one-on-one with that giant with the nasty smile and hard-ass lightning jutsus.
So it couldn't have been because of that. Soba couldn't have died just because of that. There were a million other reasons, other tiny miscalculations or missteps that could have caused that lightning shot to streak through his stomach and spill Soba's guts into the water behind him.
But if the slip-up he had made, the one that forced Soba into fighting the giant in the first place… if that was the reason…
He very deliberately turned his mind away from that road, focusing exclusively outwards; on the pain in his face, the stiffness in his neck, the coldness of his skin. He had attended the obligatory 'no guilt, no blame' classes during the Academy, so musing over such amateurish thoughts during such a crucial time- crucial? Everyone's dead…- was beneath him as an ANBU.
The sounds of battle grew fainter and farther in between and as he closed Kobi's eyes, he wondered absently how many Squads Hokage-sama had deployed for the enemy to be defeated so quickly. Or perhaps he had sent the Hatake genius's squad, the guy they were starting to call 'the Copy Ninja'…
His last thought before he succumbed to darkness was patriotically enough the Konoha Leaf symbol with a vague question of whether they'd carve everyone's names into the memorial, so they wouldn't just be ANBU something-or-other in the afterlife.
He also might have thought he saw something green, but that was probably just delirium.
Harry could hear the heartbeats over the sound of the rushing waves and he flowed alongside Draco's movements as they sped up even more. There was a rather large chance that everyone of the Konoha ANBU Squad was dead and that all they'd have to report to the Hokage was the burning of the bodies and the elimination of the enemy-nin. Because the latter was almost a given, considering how tired the fighters should be if they had been out here for as long as the report suggested.
When the thumping of the hearts was so loud as to almost be the center of their attention and the labored human breaths were like gasps directly into their ears, they struck. Not the way they had a year ago, jumping in and attacking immediately- messily-, but in very carefully controlled motions.
It was like a morbid dance- almost completely silent, until the Kiri-nin discovered two of their comrades dead on the ground and a third one choking on blood and phlegm by their side. The wind rushed around the bristling water, diluting the blood and making the sea run read for a few moments.
Harry couldn't say he enjoyed fighting, but there was something about this- as he kicked a gigantic man (though not Hagrid-sized, of course) into one of the other enemy-nin and the impact against the rocky side exploded in his sensitive ears; the way his adrenaline rushed (did he even have adrenaline?) and his straining muscles sang with the joy of being challenged- that felt just right.
And well, he couldn't say he minded too much, considering his nature and his occupation. The corner of his lips inched upwards as the gigantic man- with a disappointed and disdainful snarl to his newly dead comrade- rose up and twisted his legs into a Taijutsu position. Harry could feel the human's pumping blood and tensing tendons and rolled on the balls of his heels on the rock he was perched upon- vaguely cursing his lack of chakra that made him unable to walk on water- tilting his body forwards. Predator, prey, vampire, human.
A fisted hand was suddenly inside his guard, and he turned sideways to avoid being hit by the kunai that was sneakily flung towards him at the same moment. Harry kicked the giant's shin, hard, and was rewarded with a grunt and a slight imbalance in the other's form.
He intercepted the next- somewhat unsteady- punch with a long-nailed (or maybe 'clawed' was the correct term, these days) grip and twisted it sideways. He heard the bones break and the human shinobi's heart speed up, and took advantage of the temporary distraction to kick his opponent in the stomach, still holding onto the broken hand. He heard the crunching of ribs and watched detachedly as the giant's eyes widened almost to the point of bulging.
He toppled backwards when Harry let go of his wrist, and fell into the waters ungracefully. Harry spun around to locate the other enemies left alive, and saw Draco dispose of one of them in a spray of blood that sent the tiniest shred of want through his head. Two enemies were still breathing, and Harry gripped a stolen kunai between his ice-cold fingers, running to meet them.
He heard their heartbeats spike in either fear or anger, and danced around the first trap sprung before him, severing the artery on one of the shinobi. The boy's expression was one of surprise as he fell down, and his comrade stopped moving for a second to stare at the deep gash across the fallen nin's throat. It was only a second's distraction, but more than enough time for Harry to slam his fist into the last Kiri-nin's chest.
They were young, he noted as they took their last breaths and their hearts slowed to a stop. Maybe fifteen or so, Harry judged and sighed quietly as their eyes glazed over to sightlessly stare up into the sky. Their expressions weren't ones of peace, but of abject horror and fear. He wondered how they had gotten pulled into this; had it been their choice, or had Kiri forced them?
"No point thinking about that now, Harry." Draco murmured quietly as he came up to stand beside the raven. We need to confirm the Konoha ANBU Squad. Draco nodded in the direction of an irregular heartbeat and Harry sent along his agreement.
They both noticed the wavering Genjutsu cast around the cave and approached cautiously from over the cave. It would be a bad idea to startle whoever was still left alive in there, especially when it could lead to them being perceived as enemies. Harry frowned when he felt the irregular heartbeat start to slow and carefully bent down to look inside the cave.
He met the eyes- well, eyeholes- of a Konoha ANBU holding onto another ANBU. Their captain won't make it. Harry thought to Draco when he noticed the twist in the blond man's ANBU tattoo that signaled his status as a captain. His heartbeat was so weak it was almost a whisper even to their ears, and there was no way they'd be able to do anything for him. He was already too far gone.
The other man, though- his heartbeat, though irregular and slow, still pounded rather strongly. That was good, though he was sorry that the man had lost all his comrades, knowing all too well how that felt. He pursed his lips grimly and vaulted down to land opposite him.
The man's mask was so splattered with blood that Harry couldn't tell what animal it was supposed to depict. He reached forward carefully and noticed that the ANBU was unconscious. He must be hurt badly to have fallen into unconsciousness despite his ANBU-training… Harry frowned and trailed his eyes down the muscular man's body, scrutinizing the rips in his clothing that might tell him what wounds he should be concentrating on.
I'll go take care of the bodies, Harry. Draco thought from somewhere above him and took off running before Harry had the chance to reply.
He felt around a larger rip in the ANBU's shirt, pursing his lips when his fingers came back smeared with blood. Making a snap decision, he ripped the shirt open, revealing a large, sluggishly bleeding gash. That was not good; if the bleeding was already slowing down this much, the blood loss must be…
Harry pulled out a small glass vial from a pocket and quickly slathered the jelly-like substance it contained over the man's chest, taking a break in his forced human habit of breathing to give him more focus on the treatment and not the delicious-looking wound.
The edges started to slowly knit together and Harry exhaled the stale air in his lungs with relief. If the ANBU still had the capability to heal, he wasn't too far gone just yet. Harry made sure to clean the area as well as he could with the saltwater, grateful that the man was unconscious and that the salt wouldn't pain him (…until he awoke).
The mask underneath the blood depicted a cow, Harry realized when the blood was almost gone from the white porcelain. Or maybe a bull, he mused thoughtfully, seeing the horns painted by the temples on both sides. So, from the report, this man would be Namiashi Raidou.
Namiashi was a Taijutsu - Genjutsu user, and supposedly a rather good one too. His heavily muscled build would to his opponents eyes be both completely obvious and very deceptive- because generally Taijutsu went with Ninjutsu, and they wouldn't suspect him of weaving illusions into their minds when their eyes met.
Harry sighed. He wasn't sure how close Namiashi had been to his teammates and didn't know if he'd even been aware that he was the only survivor before passing out. He'd obviously been aware of at least one passing- Harry snuck a glance at the dead captain –but he might not have been fighting in the same area as the others. If they had been on very good terms, this loss would be unimaginable.
Some ANBU- according to Sarutobi- stayed coldly professional with their comrades, knowing that deaths hit them hard- and some developed some form of codependency instead.
It was more common to stay with one unhealthy extreme or the other; only rarely did an ANBU balance between the two. Well, it was hard to stay sane and normal in a place like the ANBU corps. It was pretty well-known even among the civilian population that ANBU were the jumpiest, most paranoid shinobi around. Ironically, this had led to an increase in first-generation shinobi in the corps. Sarutobi hadn't been sure of why that was, but Harry hadn't been able to stop himself from drawing parallels to the wizarding world.
How the muggleborns were more often than not better at magic- not necessarily stronger, but they seemed to learn faster and perhaps expect more from themselves than the purebloods did. Maybe because the purebloods had grown up so used to magic and their heritage that they didn't bother trying to reach their potential, thinking that since they were born into it, they were bound to be superior. Whereas the muggleborns practically inhaled everything they learnt, curious and excited at the wonder that magic was.
At least, that was how Harry saw it. He doubted Draco would agree with him, or even acknowledge the possibility that Harry was right- it would shake up his pride and the remains of his prejudiced worldview too much. And in the end, at this point, it wasn't like it even mattered all that much- but perhaps it was something to spark a debate on one of their days off.
Harry surveyed the healed wound carefully, judging it completely closed and semi-clean. He grabbed a hold on the man's upper arms, hefting him over his shoulder like a potato sack and jumping over the cave wall. Draco was waiting for him, clapping his hands together to get rid of dirt. He had the strangest expression on his face, half between a frown and a sneer. Harry immediately wanted to ask what was wrong, but the mission came first as long as Draco wasn't hurt, so he held his tongue.
Draco? Can you take care of the last body too?
Draco nodded, openly grimacing, and bent over to jump down to the cave. Harry felt a little guilty about making him do all the grunt work, but since he had been the one to administer the salve to Namiashi, he had to be the one to monitor him. It wasn't all too unusual for the shinobi to be allergic to the magical ingredients, and this salve was one of the few with almost exclusively magical components. They only had a few of the concoctions from England left, so they were only used in absolute emergencies. It wasn't like they actually worked much for Harry and Draco since they turned, anyway.
Harry caught a whiff of the burning body from down below and gritted his teeth. The smell was especially strong to their senses, and Harry knew that Draco would have stopped breathing even before the true combustion of the corpse set in. Otherwise, the smoke would go down his throat, clogging his airways and making his eyes burn. It probably would anyway, but not as bad as it could have. Harry resolved to offer to burn the bodies himself next time, if only to soothe his bad conscience.
He maneuvered Namiashi's body to hang over his shoulder and jumped towards the shore, careful not to jostle the newly healed wound.
Upon waking it would take him only a few seconds before he remembered the fight and whatever deaths he knew of- and if Namiashi had - as so many other ANBU- lived and breathed his squad, the realization that they were gone would be more than terrible. Especially if he had no remaining family members.
Harry frowned at the ANBU's body. No matter what happened next, it was bound to be troublesome.
A/N: And my computer is up and running again… though it still crackles ominously at me every now and then –stares at it suspiciously-. I never realized how crippled one could feel without free access to a computer, you know? Terrible how easy it is to become addicted… not that I'm truly complaining, mind you.
Well, I have some bad news; a lot of what I wrote for RM disappeared when my computer broke, which feels honestly discouraging… I hardly remember what I wrote in the chapters after this (well, I remember the outlines, but not the details)… So yeah, I'm feeling kind of pissy at this story at the moment. I'm not satisfied with the rewrite of the chapter either, though hopefully you're enjoying it.
No, I don't mean to quit RM, but I'm not going to stick to the schedule I had- I can't, because after this chapter I don't have a word more written. Rewriting this was annoying enough, and I'm incapable of forcing things out. Still, thanks to everyone who waited patiently for an update! –gives flowers-
1. Most people seemed ok with the POV's I've had, which is a relief. I even got a few PM's from people specifically asking me not to change it!
2. When the eventual (EVENTUAL!) sex scenes arrive, I received the suggestion that I could write explicit foreplay but only hinted-at actual sex. I like this compromise.
On an unrelated note: The-Living-Shadow thought that this gorgeous piece (on Youtube) would be suited as the duo's theme song: / watch ? v = qMfoRqbS – Ko & feature = fvw If you want to check it out, just remove the spaces. It really is very beautiful.
I'll post the first chapter of my other story soon. Please review!