Author: romantiscue PM
Hermione died and woke up bearing a flowery name in a world full of shinobi. Harry was never the only person with a penchant for tripping into the most absurd of situations. Reincarnated!Hermione.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Friendship - Hermione G. & Sakura H. - Chapters: 6 - Words: 29,400 - Reviews: 418 - Favs: 974 - Follows: 1,183 - Updated: 02-08-13 - Published: 09-14-12 - id: 8525251
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Chapter 5: Necessary Education
The shinobi library was actually an offshoot of the regular, civilian library. In the main hall you could walk into the reading halls to the right or left for fiction or unclassified non-fiction, or you could turn to the nondescript door on one side of the main desk where the shinobi part of the library began. Before a receptionist had told her differently, Sakura had always thought it to be a staff break room or some such.
Behind the door was a brightly lit corridor, and Sakura walked through it with the feeling of being watched from somewhere. Not that she'd expected any less, really, but the feeling still made her twitch.
"Registration card?" the bored shinobi behind the desk at the end of the corridor asked, looking over the card Sakura produced in one glance and nodding. Yawning, she then lazily directed Sakura towards another nondescript door.
This hall wasn't nearly as big as either of the civilian sections, but there must have been thousands of books and scrolls here all the same. Shinobi of varying ages were seated in chairs, or occasionally on the floor or even on top of the shelves, and though Sakura assumed most of them were genin, she spotted three chuunin vests in a cluster at a table to her left.
Fuuinjutsu, Fuuinjutsu... Sakura spotted signs reading Ninjutsu Theory, Genjutsu Theory and even Ijutsu Theory, but nothing on Fuuinjutsu Theory.
An older genin with an armful of books was about to pass her, so Sakura decided she wasn't in the mood for scouring the whole hall aimlessly when she had the opportunity to ask someone for directions. "Excuse me," she called out, and the genin turned to look at her. He had a kind face; round glasses perched on his nose and hair in almost the same color as Kakashi's shining under the lamplight.
"Oh, Fuuinjutsu? Not many people look for that section," he said with a smile that Sakura couldn't help but return. He described how to find the part of the library she was looking for, bowed politely and went on his way. About to turn, Sakura caught the eye of a man with a strip of white cloth across his nose. The man blinked at her, nodding briefly in greeting before he turned away, but Sakura was still left with the curious impression that the man had been watching her.
Shaking her head, she moved along, determined not to let herself fall to the paranoia that had been a large part of her first year in this world and that had caused nothing but trouble and suspicions on her mother's part.
The feeling of browsing books and being unable to choose just a few to take with her was a familiar and comfortable one, and Sakura's brow smoothed out as she searched the shelves. She should have brought her bag with her, because already four different scrolls and two books had caught her eye. Well, perhaps she could take two... or maybe four of the tomes with her and read the larger, heavier ones here.
With that thought in mind, Sakura pulled out The Basics of Sealmaking, and moved to an unoccupied table. After skimming the first few pages, she thought it might be a more comprehensive version of the scrolls in the Academy library.
"This section is closing, miss," a voice interrupted Sakura's focused reading, and she blinked up at an unfamiliar shinobi who she assumed was an attending librarian.
"Already?" She's only managed to read through the book once, what with having to stop to take notes once every spread. At this point, she wouldn't really need to take any of the books back with her.
He cocked his visible eyebrow at her. Half his face was covered by dark brown hair, and he was only wearing enough of his mask to cover his chin. "It's almost nine, you know." Sakura blinked again, torn from her appraisal, and her mouth opened in a small 'oh'.
"Oh no- I didn't even tell mom I was going here today-" Sakura gathered up the book, pushed it into the empty slot she'd picked it from several hours ago and cursed herself for her tendency to fall into a book and lose track of reality.
"Huh, she must be getting worried, then," the man commented, and Sakura very nearly shot him a glare. "Want me to send a bird?"
Sakura paused in her frantic gathering of notes. "What?"
The shinobi smiled. "I work in the Messenger Tower at the moment, so I could send a bird ahead to inform your mother of your location..." he trailed off, a question in the tilt of his head.
"I'm not going to tell some stranger my address, but thank you anyway," Sakura said smartly, tucking her notes away. The man shrugged, not looking like he disapproved of that answer.
"Fair enough." He eyed her for a moment. "You know you can't let anyone below the rank of genin-"
"- see my notes. Yes, I know." Normally she wouldn't have interrupted an older, higher-ranked person, but she was frazzled enough right now that she couldn't bring herself to care. Murmured something apologetic she hoped softened her rudeness, Sakura then quickly made her way to the exit.
He kept pace with her, and though it was uncomfortable to have someone all but outright following her, they weren't alone in the library and wouldn't be alone on the streets of Konoha either. Not that she was about to let him follow her home. She said as much over her shoulder as they exited, but he just grinned at her.
"You're very suspicious, genin-chan!"
Sakura turned around to face him, putting a hand on her hip. "And you're very annoying, chunin-san." Looking him up and down, she huffed. "My team leader is Hatake Kakashi. Go accost him if you're that curious about me. And if he doesn't tell you anything, I'll take that as a sign that I should report you." She didn't appreciate feeling hunted.
There was a flash of surprise in the man's dark eyes, probably at her vehemence. "Maybe I just want to talk to a pretty girl?" he tried, though it sounded weak.
"I'm twelve," Sakura said flatly, and watched the shinobi deflate. "I don't know what you're up to, but I'll make sure to remember your face." And height, and hopefully his general movement pattern.
"Since when were genin this suspicious?" the man muttered to himself, and mustered another smile. "I know Hatake. I'm Izumo." He waved and Sakura wasn't sure she could trust his bright eyes. He could be a really good liar... or just an awful spy. The fact that he'd been so blatant did lend some credence to him not being a potential enemy, though.
"I'll see if Kakashi-sensei recognizes your name and description. If he does, I won't report you."
"Not like being reported to Hatake isn't almost as bad as being sent to Ibiki," the guy muttered under his breath, but nodded.
Sakura threw him a sharp look before turning away. "Don't follow me." Grinning again, he gave her a two-fingered salute and disappeared.
Sakura took the long way home, ducking into different alleys and tracing back her steps to make it as difficult as possible to trace her. Maybe she was just being paranoid, but it was always better to be safe than sorry.
Later that night, Sakura went to bed wondering if Sayuri didn't have traces of her first mother in her. She'd come home apologetic, expecting Sayuri to be half out of her mind with worry, only to find her mother seated at the kitchen table with a book in one hand and an apple in the other, looking calm as you please.
Sakura had already half-started in on her explanation that she'd just forgot the time, only to have Sayuri wave her off. "When you didn't get home on time, I contacted your jounin-sensei to ask if he was keeping you for some reason, only to receive the answer that he'd sent you to the library." Here she'd thrown Sakura a dry look. "I know how you are with books, daughter mine, so I passed by the library main hall, asked if the receptionist had seen you and found that your card had been registered in the genin section."
She'd shrugged, and Sakura had tried not looking too startled at her words. Her first mother, Jean Granger, who'd been a very no-nonsense, not-prone-to-hysterics kind of woman, had been likewise thoroughly methodical when she worried about Hermione. Of course, Sakura never told her mother the truth about the important (terrifying) things that happened at Hogwarts every year, so that might have had something to do with Jean's lack of hysteria. She wasn't sure where her new mother's organized calm came from, though.
Sakura apologized to Sayuri, if with some bemusement, and had been given a look stern enough that she'd make certain not to forget herself like that again. Burrowing into a book was no excuse to chance her mother's worry.
The moment the team had been assigned their first D-rank for the day and moved out into the village, Sakura asked, "Kakashi-sensei, do you know someone called Izumo?" She'd turned away from where she was packing groceries into seven different bags, grateful for the break in the monotonous work. What kind of mission was grocery shopping anyway? She'd seen the older man's guards when they left their employer's house – couldn't he have had one of them do this?
Sometimes Sakura suspected that having the funds to hire a genin team for common chores was a mark of status among Konoha's wealthier members.
"Hmm? If you mean the chunin with only his chin covered, then yes." He hadn't looked up from his book, but Sakura had learned to ignore the irritation that arose from the feeling of being ignored fairly quickly. If only because she had a nagging impression that Kakashi knew it annoyed her, and delighted in it.
She started packing again. "And he's... okay?"
Kakashi blinked slowly at her over the book. "Well, when we were genin he had the most awful sense of timing when it came to self-entertaining 'nightly activities' -"
"Kakashi-sensei!" "Pervert!" Sasuke didn't add anything to hers and Naruto's protests, but Sakura could see a light dusting of pink over his cheekbones. He was also glaring something fierce down at the cucumber he was trying to force into an overflowing bag.
"Other than that, he's a decent shinobi," Kakashi finished with an air of long-suffering, like he thought they were being most unreasonable and rude. Sakura could hear Naruto huff, and agreed with the sound. "Why?"
"I ran into him yesterday, and he appeared to have some stalker-tendencies," Sakura said vaguely, then hefted one of the bags onto her shoulder, thankful for her shinobi strength. As Hermione, she'd never have been able to carry this much so easily.
"Ehh? You met a stalker, Sakura-chan?" Naruto managed to look both fascinated and worried while also awkwardly juggling two bags, one of which contained stalks of celery long enough to poke his left cheek. Two clones were also picking up bags, scowling when one of them tripped over the other.
She smiled at the blond, shaking her head. "I don't know. He followed me out of the library, and I wasn't sure why, but then he said that he knew Kakashi-sensei..."
"And that was supposed to be reassuring?" Sasuke asked with a snort, and Sakura held back a surprised surprised glance. Was that a joke? Sasuke had over the course of the past few weeks been acting... not more open exactly, but slightly less closed off and distant. Sakura smiled at him, hoping to encourage more of that attitude. If that dry joke was typical of the Uchiha's kind of humor, she'd like to see more of it.
"It's not precisely a glowing recommendation of his character, no..." she added quietly, and her comment was rewarded with a smirk from Sasuke and a snigger from Naruto. And his two clones.
"I can hear you, you know," Kakashi said, like they hadn't been perfectly aware of that.
Sakura stared at him for a moment. "Oops," she said flatly. Kakashi muttered something about her general 'uncuteness' and turned back to his book. Sakura traded glances with the boys, and for once there was no bickering or aloofness in between the three of them.
"Alright, let's head back to the old man!" Naruto said, breaking the moment, and his clones immediately bounced down the road without waiting for a reply. Their creator yelled after them, but in true Naruto-fashion they only turned back to stick their tongues out at him before continuing on ahead. They were out of sight a second later, apparently racing each other.
"Aren't they supposed to listen to you?" Sakura asked, amused, as Naruto scowled.
"They totally should!" the blond said, then frowned some more. With a decisive movement he brought his hands together to make two new clones, who took off after the first two. "But they don't! They act like -" He made a vague gesture after the running clones, looking annoyed.
"- you?" Sasuke finished, with a smirk tugging at the corner of his mouth. "Shocking."
"Oh, shut up. Bastard," Naruto muttered under his breath, though he didn't actually disagree. Sakura hid a smile, pretending to focus on their employer's now visible house. "Clones are really useful, you know, and -" Naruto abruptly cut his burgeoning rant off, and Sakura watched with alarm as the blond's face rapidly lost all color.
"Naruto?" Between two heartbeats, her amusement had been replaced with dread as heavy as tungsten. Sakura's leg muscles flexed, and her focus sharpened.
"What the hell," the boy mouthed, the words barely a whisper. His eyebrows drew together over wide, horrified eyes. There was a long pause, and Sakura felt herself tense. "They're dead..."
Sakura tensed further, a flash of George's face as he stared down at Fred's body zipping past like a photo in her mind.
"Who is, dead-last?" Sasuke said, a sharp shard of worry undoing the calm tone he was going for.
"My clone," Naruto said, swallowed, and Sakura's worry tripped over itself in confusion. But then the blond continued, "It dispelled, and..."
"And you received its memories?" Kakashi asked, and Sakura didn't startle even though she hadn't noticed how close the jounin had come. "Did it reach the client's house?" he asked, calm and steady, book nowhere to be seen.
"Uh, yeah..." Naruto's throat worked like he was about to be sick.
"That old man is dead?" Sasuke asked, hand hovering vaguely over his kunai pouch, like he wasn't sure whether to arm himself or not. Naruto nodded, his fingers flexing. Sakura carefully put a hand on the blond's shoulder, feeling the battle-cold she hadn't had use for since the war settle in her stomach like frost.
Kakashi's posture turned crisp and business-like. "Is Abe-san the only one deceased?" Naruto blinked, then shook his head. "How many others?" Naruto blinked again, face going grey at the edges, but then held up three shaky-looking fingers. "Is there blood?" Kakashi asked carefully, and Naruto slowly shook his head. He rubbed at his face as if to get rid of some invisible grime.
"I th-think... probably poison? There is a weird smell..." he trailed off, swallowing convulsively.
"In the air or just around the dead?" Sakura asked, not noticing Kakashi's glance at her at that. Her mind whirled like a toy top. If the strange smell was just generally in the air, it could be an airborn poison and if that was the case, they couldn't enter the house as they were. Plus everyone in the area would have to be evacuated.
"Just around the, um, b-bodies. Or at least around Abe. Uhm, he was c-collapsed over the kitchen table, and I, uh, my clone, the other one, turned him around to- to-" Naruto squeezed his eyes shut, then rubbed at them with the back of his hand. "- check on him. But he was already d-dead. Then it poofed out." He was taking it a lot better than she'd thought he would, considering how naive Naruto still was, but then again he had been trained as a shinobi for several years now. And from the description he provided, the scene didn't seem like it was too gruesome. Nothing like the sort of mess Greyback liked to leave behind.
"And your other clones checked the other bodies?" Sakura guessed, squeezing her teammate's shoulder.
Naruto nodded, rubbing at his face again. "At least one of the others, yeah."
"How did your clone dispel?" Kakashi asked, and the blond shakily explained it'd been so shocked to find their employer dead that it'd tripped backwards and dispelled when it hit the ground. Nobody commented on it. In fact, Sakura thought Sasuke looked faintly concerned rather than contemptuous, like he would have under normal circumstances – though of course that concern wasn't necessarily directed at Naruto. It could just be the situation in general that concerned him. Still, Sakura liked thinking the best of people she cared about even a little, and Sasuke was nowhere near as cold and hard as he tried to be.
"Alright, we're heading in. Diamond formation with me at the head and Naruto at the back. Keep your panchrest pills at hand," Kakashi said, voice sharp and commanding in a way Sakura had never heard it before. She moved to stand on the jounin's right, four steps behind him, and from the corner of her eye saw Sasuke do the same to their teacher's left. Kakashi didn't appear to be paying attention to anything going on behind him, but he didn't move in until Naruto was four steps behind and between her and Sasuke.
Sakura mentally went over what she had on her today: several kunai and shuriken, three of her long senbon, food pills, panchrest pills (as they were a lot more expensive than the generic food pills though, she only had two of them on her), rolls of bandages, a small pack of ointment – that was about it. During the course of the D-ranks, she'd gotten into the habit of packing lightly, since most of what she carried with her didn't get much use anyway.
Cursing herself for that as they moved into the house and there was a distinct lack of guards by the door, Sakura discreetly armed herself with one of her senbon. There was a tenseness in her legs she hadn't felt since the Battle of Downing Street in '99, the Second War's final battle. There had only been two handfuls of Death Eaters left at that point, and Sakura still wasn't sure what they'd imagined would happen if they'd actually succeeded in their plan to assassinate the muggle prime minister.
In the winter of '99, there hadn't been enough followers of what the Death Eaters referred to as 'The Old Way' and everybody else called 'racist crap' for the war to continue, even should their attack have left the prime minister dead. They hadn't even died as martyrs for the cause, if that's what they'd been hoping for with their fool's gamble, since everybody under suspicion for Death Eater activities had been so closely monitored in the time following the Battle of Hogwarts that even the slightest slip of the tongue would have left their already very shaky reputation in tatters. There were no renewed efforts among blood purists to change the tide of the war; the attack never became any kind of rallying cry. Instead, everybody that might have had an interest in answering that renewed call to arms had immediately distanced themselves from it, in true Slytherin fashion.
Sakura's eyes narrowed, her reminiscing interrupted when the first body came into view. There had been no suspicious or hostile movements at their team's entrance, and though her ears were sharpened for the slightest sound, the house was quiet. Much too quiet. Their elderly employee had had children and grandchildren and Sakura desperately hoped that they hadn't been here when the intruders showed up. Because if they had, and the house was this quiet, there was a very large chance that they'd also be laid out like this somewhere in the house.
Their was a small cup of tea upturned on the table, and the sound of drops hitting the pool of tea on the floor grated in Sakura's ears. Abe was pale and still, his temple meeting the tabletop like he just sagged forwards as the poison took hold. His fingers was still lightly curled around the ear of the cup.
"Shit," Sasuke muttered, and Sakura's fingers twitched around her senbon. She hadn't realized how hard she'd been gripping it, and had to make a conscious effort to unclench her fingers. Her dark-haired teammate's face was a shade paler than usual, though he didn't look too frightened or nauseated. Sakura abruptly wondered if he'd been there when his family was killed, but the horror she'd normal feel at that thought was distant in this quiet, focused moment.
"Uhm, Kakashi-sensei, should we-?" Naruto made a vague sort of gesture towards the three bodies. A man Sakura recognized as the servant who'd opened the door for them this morning, and an elderly woman Sakura recognized as Abe's 'lady friend'.
"No. Don't touch anything," Kakashi said tersely, bit the tip of his thumb and worked with lightning speed through a series of hand seals. Crouching, he slammed an open hand to the floor. Seals spread in a pattern around his spread fingers, before with a poof of smoke, a small dog appeared in the pattern's midst.
The jounin held a summoning contract, was Sakura's subsequent realization. She'd heard of them, of course, but they were supposed to be rare. The only other shinobi with summoning contracts that she could name were the equally famous and infamous Sannin. Then again, a shinobi of Kakashi's caliber was almost as scarce a breed as the Sannin were.
"Pakkun, can you identify the poison used here?" Kakashi gestured towards the tea and Abe-san's body, then stood up again. "Do any of you have any experience with poison outside of Academy lectures?" Sasuke and Naruto both shook their heads, which made Sakura hesitate for a moment before she nodded. She didn't know much about poison, at least not poisons of this world, but from the lectures in the Academy, she'd surmised that the general making of poisons and their anti-dotes were the same here as they'd been back home, just without any magical components.
Kakashi gave her a long look, before nodding. "Stay with Pakkun, isolate and quarantine." Sakura saluted. "Naruto, send clones to scout the other rooms." Naruto paled, but nodded. Sakura wasn't sure if he thought he'd be seen as weak if he protested having to see more dead bodies, or if he for once just thought it better to obey than question their teacher. Kakashi added, "I want your physical self to stay here in the kitchen in case Sakura needs help." Sakura was quite sure the jounin had noticed Naruto's horror, and was trying to soften the nastiness of the assignment. He didn't relent, though. This was a part of being a shinobi; this was necessary education.
Kakashi turned to Sasuke. "Sasuke, with me. We'll be scouting the perimeter." He made a handsign, and two clones appeared. Though they showed up with a lot less smoke than Naruto's usually did, Sakura recognized them as Kage bunshin. They disappeared out of two different windows in a flash of movement that made Sakura acutely aware of just how fast their teacher must be, even though he never used that speed against her and the boys in their occasional spars with him.
Sasuke nodded, pausing briefly before saying, "If your clones are scouting the perimeter too, wouldn't it -"
"They're not." Kakashi threw the Uchiha a flat look. "They're acting as guards and sentinels. I wouldn't leave Sakura and Naruto here unguarded." Usually, Naruto would have shouted something about how he didn't need to be guarded at this point, and Sasuke would have been frowning heavily in Kakashi's direction. That was not the case today. From the corner of her eye, Sakura thought she saw a flicker of relief in Naruto's pale face. Sasuke's shoulders seemed to loosen a little too, though his expression didn't change.
They headed out and Sakura turned her attention to the wrinkly little pug as it sniffed around the spilled tea and the body of their client. It looked up at her with calm, old eyes that reminded Sakura of how Professor Flitwick had sometimes looked in his more serious moments. Though maybe it was impolite to compare her Charms professor to a dog... And she was letting her mind carry her away. Unacceptable. Just because she hadn't been in this kind of position for quite a few years, that didn't mean she could allow herself to be anything less than focused on the situation at hand.
"It's some kind of organic venom," the pug said, voice gravelly, and then his shoulder blades moved in a way that Sakura interpreted as a shrug. "Can't narrow it down more than that. Scent's too covered by some artificial oil- reminds me of cyanide, 'cept cyanide wouldn't give the human a peaceful death."
Sakura nodded. The pug was a shinobi then, not just a talking animal. Nin-animal, she remembered. She'd known enough non-humans not to find her resolution to treat him like she would any other superior officer too strange. "I can't smell it, but from the sheen when the light hits it," she pointed at the pool of tea, "I'd also guess it's some kind of oil." What oily poisons had they been taught about in the Academy? Castor bean oil, of course, but that caused convulsions- most Academy poison they'd been told of had noticeable symptoms preceding death.
No surprise there, really. You couldn't really do anything about a poison that didn't cause any symptoms since you wouldn't know you'd been poisoned in the first place, unless the poison was odorous or of a particular taste. And not many high-level shinobi would use poisons that were easily detectable. That was one point in favor of Abe and his people having been killed by a low-level shinobi, or another civilian... unless the murderer didn't think civilians would have recognized its taste (which they hadn't). But that would mean the murderer either didn't realize or didn't care if shinobi recognized the poison used when they came to investigate. Sloppiness? The stupid kind of arrogance?
Or something else entirely?
A/N: Argh, real life. For all you reviewers who wished me good health after the last A/N, thank you. I'm still not well, but better, and your kindness cheered me up. (And again, there might be some mistakes here... hopefully not, but if so, I'll be back to edit.)
What did you think of this chapter? Felt a bit choppy to me, unfortunately, but work is eating my life... plus health issues in the family now too :/ Bear with me, please.