Disclaimer: All HP characters are the property of JKR, the WB, and respective publishing companies and all Naruto characters are the property of Masashi Kishimoto. This is nothing more than a simple FanFiction that I have written. I have made no money from this or any of the other stories I have posted on this or other sites.

Warnings: Mentions of character death, angst and drama, mild to moderate violence, mature content (foul language & mentions of alcohol), and AU. Child!Harry, Powerful!Harry, Intelligent!Harry, NOTstupid!Naruto, Powerful!Naruto, and Protective!Naruto.

IMPORTANT AN: Please note that this story is going to be written from a single point of view; Naruto's PoV. This means that as a reader you will only know what Naruto knows, will only see and hear what Naruto sees and hears, and will only ever read Naruto's thoughts, feelings, and observations. It also means that there will be no short flashes to show what is happening off screen. Not going to happen so please don't ask what so-and-so is doing or how some-one-or-other is reacting because I'm not going to deviate from the plot here. If you find it annoying to be left in the dark alongside the main character; this is probably not the story for you.

You should also keep in mind that this story represents an Alternate Universe; meaning that I will be playing fast and loose with the Naruto Canon when the mood suits me – something that is far more entertaining for me to write than robotically following the script of the manga or the anime. HP Canon may be mangled when I feel the need to twist it to suit the plot but as this story is firmly planted within the Naruto-verse you aren't likely to see very much, if any, of the butchering I did the HP Canon.

AN2: This story is self-beta'd; so there may be occasional grammatical or spelling errors that crop up every now and then and for those I apologize in advance.

Prologue: Homecoming Rescue

July 31, 1986, Late Afternoon/Early Evening
Konohagakure no Sato, Hi no Kuni

The afternoon sun was just touching the horizon when fifteen year old Uzumaki Naruto stumbled to a stop the moment the towering wall that surrounded Konohagakure no Sato came into view. It had been just over two and a half years since he'd last seen his home and he felt his heart swell with a hundred emotions even as the burning of unshed tears filled his eyes. It was good to be home. Taking a deep breath and blinking away the nostalgic tears that had filled his eyes, the orange and black clad teen dashed forward to catch up to the white haired man he'd been walking beside just moment earlier.

"Excited to be back?"

"Hai, Ero-Sennin. Dattebayo!"

"Well then; don't me hold you back, gaki. Go reacquaint yourself with Konoha; I'll report our return to Tsunade-hime."

"Arigatou," Naruto gushed as he gave the man beside him a huge grin before he took off running; never more thankful that Jiraiya had (for some unexplained reason) decided to cut his training short by a good two months than he was right at that moment as he impatiently signed the gate register before eagerly venturing further into the village.

Excitement filled the teen as he walked through the streets for the next four hours staring wide eyed at the village he'd grown up in; a village that didn't appear to have changed much during the many months he'd been gone. Even the people (civilians and shinobi alike) seemed pretty much the same; if you didn't count the fact that everyone was two years older. Using skills he'd mastered long ago, Naruto walked up the side of a light post to perch on top of it as he spun around in a circle to take in everything. Unable to contain himself any longer, Naruto laughed out loud as his dancing sapphire eyes fell upon the Hokage Monument as it was washed with the night's first beams of pale moonlight and he took in the five familiar faces that had been carved onto the cliff.

"Tadaima Konoha!" Naruto suddenly bellowed out as loud as he could when he could no longer contain his excitement; his loud voice startling more than a few of the evening pedestrians that were within a five mile radius of his perch.

He dropped down from his perch on the lamp post several minutes later and landed nimbly on the balls of his feet before he headed in the direction of Ichiraku's Ramen Stand; eager to devour his favorite ramen recipes as well as sample the latest combinations that his good friend Teuchi and his daughter Ayame had come up with while he'd been gone. He was just passing the mouth of a darkened alley not far from the ramen stand when a brief flash of gold and a cry of pain followed by the angry snarl of a dog caught his attention and he slowed to a stop so he could peer into the shadows that filled the small alley.

A second, sharper cry of agony accompanied by the scent of freshly spilled blood had Naruto instinctively calling forth three shadow clones as he fearlessly rushed into the shadows to investigate. In the deepest shadows near the back of the alley, Naruto found a huge stray dog looming over a small child half sprawled on the ground and half dangling from the dog's mouth. Naruto grimly pressed his lips together as he recalled all of the times that he'd been cornered by one of the village stray dogs after he'd been kicked out of the orphanage and before the Sandaime Hokage had set him up in an apartment.

Shoving away the less than pleasant memories, Naruto dashed forward, straddled the huge dog, and wrapped one arm around its neck in order to lock the angry beast in a chokehold. Two of his waiting clones jumped forward the moment he had it partially restrained and pried the jaws of the dog apart while the third clone rescued the dog's victim before the orange clad copy rushed the kid off towards the hospital. The dog took immediate offense to having its prey forcibly taken from it and Naruto's two remaining shadow clones were violently dispelled when the dog viciously bit them and raked its claws across their bodies.

Not wishing to leave such a vicious animal free to terrorize the streets of Konoha and not wishing to get mauled, Naruto clamped his legs around the dog so that it couldn't shake him off as he activated the kunai launcher he had on his right arm to release the kunai he kept there into his hand and deftly slit the dog's throat. He generally disliked killing but he was willing to make an exception in this case. Knowing that there was a fifty-fifty chance that the dog had been suffering from distemper, Naruto sealed the dead body and the kunai he'd used to kill it into a storage scroll before he headed towards the hospital in order to make certain his clone had gotten the child to a medic. He'd just reached the hospital when his clone was pushed out the door by an angry nurse and two irritated shinobi.

"Boss, we've got a bit of a problem," the clone declared as he turned away from the door with a soft growl.

Naruto clenched his jaw when his eyes zeroed in on the small form that his clone was still cradling protectively. It was immediately obvious to Naruto that the child had not been treated and he let out an angry snarl over the fact that the hospital staff had turned away a child in need. Just like they used to turn him away if the Hokage or another sympathetic shinobi wasn't around to make certain he was treated on the rare occasions he'd been seriously injured beyond what the Kyuubi's chakra could heal.

He was on the verge of storming into the hospital to give them a piece of his mind only to pause when he heard a soft, pain filled whimper issue forth from the child cradled in the arms of his clone. Closing his eyes, Naruto forced himself to calm down before he collected the child from his clone while passing it the scroll holding the dead stray. He then sent his clone off to hunt down Tsunade in order to inform her about what had happened while he carried the child to his home.

When he finally reached the run down old apartment building where he lived, Naruto climbed up the side of the wall to the small balcony outside of his bedroom (to avoid the rickety old stairs and save time) before slipping in through the sliding glass door. Once inside the apartment, he immediately headed straight for the bathroom with his burden so that he could tend the child's injuries. As he stepped inside the small room, he used his elbow to flip on the light switch so he could see what he was doing and jumped when the small body in his arms cried out and buried its face against his chest.

"Sorry, kid," Naruto apologized contritely as he realized the sudden brightness had probably hurt the kid's eyes. "I guess I should have warned you to hide your eyes before I turned the light on, ne?"

When he didn't receive a response, Naruto shrugged it off as the kid just being frightened by everything that had happened. Stepping over to the sink, Naruto shifted the kid around, set the kid on the counter, and chuckled to himself as the kid clung to him momentarily before reluctantly letting go. The fifteen year old then got his first good look at the child he'd rescued.

The first thing he noticed were the oversized clothes that the kid was wearing; a dirty, torn, and singed red shirt that hung down to the kid's knees, an overlarge pair of tattered blue jeans that was held up by a blood caked leather belt, and the strangest looking black, red, and gold kimono (which the kid was practically swimming in) that Naruto had ever seen (made from what looked like some kind of leather) that was equally tattered, covered in blood and grime, and looked burnt in more than a few places. It almost looked like the kid had been caught in a war zone due to the tattered and singed appearance of the dirt and blood covered clothing.

The kid's hair appeared to be dark beneath the blood and dirt that coated it and far messier than Naruto's own locks; standing up in every which direction and tangled in knots. In contrast, the kid's skin (what little Naruto could see of it) was pale beneath the dirt, blood, and vivid bruises that stood out starkly against his pale skin. The kid was also painfully thin beneath the clothes he or she wore and Naruto knew the kid didn't weigh very much. The child's face was thin and angular with an aquiline nose, thin lips, pointed chin, high cheekbones, full eyebrows, and a wide forehead marred by a scar shaped like a lightning bolt. He couldn't see what color the kid's eyes were at the moment because the kid had them tightly scrunched up against the light.

The child's age and gender were rather difficult to tell but if Naruto had to guess, he would say the child was a boy based upon the shape of the kid's face and somewhere around the age of four due to his size. Overall, Naruto thought the kid looked rather exotic and tragic; his features far different than anything Naruto had seen before and the ragged too large clothes, fresh and drying blood, and the dirt implying that the child had been suffering long before the stray dog had gotten to him. Brief inspection complete, Naruto created a couple of shadow clones to air out the apartment, change the sheets on his bed, and clean up the kitchen; a small part of him having noticed the thick layer of dust covering practically everything as he'd traveled through the small apartment.

Turning his attention to the kid's injuries, Naruto noted that the kid's left pant leg was torn from the dog's teeth and soaked with the kid's blood from where the dog's teeth had torn through the skin. Digging a clean kunai out of his utility pouch, Naruto used the throwing knife to cut away the ruined pant leg so he could assess the injury and winced as he took in the still blossoming bruises, puncture wounds, and deep gashes along the boy's shin and calf as well as the scrapes on his knee. He also noted that what he could see of the boy's right ankle peeking out from the kid's pants was covered with older scars that indicated this wasn't the first time that the kid had been attacked by a dog (or other animal).

Frowning at the severity of the wound, Naruto reached over to turn on the sink (to let the water warm up and to clear the basin of dust) before he dug into his utility pouch and pulled out the first aide kit that Jiraiya had insisted he start carrying back when he first left the village to train under the old pervert. Shifting the kid further back on the counter so that he wouldn't fall, Naruto tested the water; adjusting the amount of cold water until the water was tolerably hot. He then turned back to face the kid and found himself trapped in a pair of tormented leaf-green eyes that turned ageless the moment their eyes connected.

Naruto felt his breath catch as those eyes pierced straight through him as the child weighed and measured his soul with an intensity that was beyond anything he'd ever felt. A small part of Naruto's mind couldn't help but note how out of place those eyes seemed in the face of a child; they were the eyes of a veteran shinobi that had lived through a lifetime of suffering and war. Deep within the blond teen, another being shifted and stirred briefly before stilling.

The spell that held Naruto frozen in place ended roughly two minutes later (though it felt far longer to Naruto) when the child broke eye contact first as he reached out with one hand to lightly trail his small fingers along the whisker marks on Naruto's left cheek. Naruto felt a strange tingle slide across his face and sink beneath his skin in the wake of the light touch before his entire body was suffused with a comforting warmth that reached straight to his soul. The gentle heat faded into a distant memory a short while later when the child's hand slipped from his face as his eyes slid shut with a grimace of pain.

Shaking off the feeling that something important had just happened, Naruto gently took hold of the boy's injured left leg and placed it in the sink. The child let out a soft whimper as Naruto began carefully rinsing off the blood and dirt that had caked the leg and the blond shinobi winced in sympathy and murmured a soft apology. Next he grabbed the bar of soap and lathered up his hands so he could wash away the rest of the dirt and germs while he attempted to distract the child from the pain by drawing the child into a conversation.

"My name is Uzumaki Naruto, dattebayo," Naruto introduced himself as he flashed the kid one of his trademark grins (though the child never saw it because his eyes were still closed). "Can you tell me your name?" After a few minutes, when no response was forthcoming, Naruto babbled out, "Hnn; a shy one are you? Did a passing cat steal your tongue? Or was it my awesomeness that stole your voice away?"

Glancing up from where he'd been washing the boy's leg, Naruto found the child leaning against the mirrored medicine cabinet above the sink with his eyes tightly closed and his little hands fisted in the hem of the red shirt he wore. Sighing, Naruto figured the boy was just in too much pain to respond to his attempt at humor at the moment and tried a different track.

"What was a little tyke like you doing out this late all alone anyway? Did you get separated from your parents and end up lost? Did that dog chase you into the alley? Do your parents even know where you are? I bet they're awfully worried about you right now. You know that you don't have to worry about me getting you in trouble for being out late all by yourself; if that's what you're worried about, ne? I used to sneak out to play pranks on people all the time when I was little and I know better than to snitch on someone else, dattebayo! If you tell me where you mumphf…"

A small hand covered his mouth before he could finish speaking, catching Naruto by surprise and he glanced up to find the kid staring at him in complete confusion and more than a little uncertainty. He arched an eyebrow at the kid as he leaned back to break the contact so he could ask, "What's the…?"

He'd barely started the question when the kid once again covered his mouth; his little brow furrowing as he frowned at Naruto. This time when he pulled away in order to free his mouth, the kid's hand followed him and Naruto narrowed his eyes slightly before he smirked behind the hand and opened his mouth so he could lick the hand. Naruto then cried out in shock and disgust as the kid smeared his own spit all over his face in retaliation. He automatically reached up to wipe his face dry only to end up with a face full of soap and water and he cried out a second time as he got soap in his mouth.

"That was a rotten trick you little gaki!" Naruto whined in irritation as he bent closer to the sink to rinse off his face and wash his mouth out.

When he straightened up and caught sight of the kid again, Naruto found him leaning as far away from Naruto as he could while pressing both of his hands to his mouth and staring at Naruto with wide frightened eyes. Sighing, Naruto wiped his face dry against the sleeve of his black and orange tracksuit before he refocused on rinsing the soap off the boy's injured leg. He then turned off the water and grabbed a towel to dry the leg off before opening up his first aide kit and digging out the bottle of astringent and a tube of antibiotic cream so he could disinfect and treat the wounds.

"I'm not angry," Naruto offered after another quick glance at the kid revealed that he was still frightened. "I promise I'm not going to hurt you for pranking me. I'm just not used to getting caught in someone else's prank since I'm the one usually doing the pranking, dattebayo."

He glanced up again to find the boy staring at him without any comprehension and with more than a little despair (his hands still firmly clamped over his mouth). Returning his eyes to the kid's leg, he began gently daubing an antibiotic cream onto each of the gashes. The moment he'd coated the final bite mark, he wiped his fingers on the towel he'd used to dry the boy's leg before opening a roll of gauze so he could wrap up the wound to prevent the cream from getting wiped off. While he was doing that, he tried to figure out the puzzle that was the child he'd rescued. He finished up a few minutes later and tossed the left over gauze back into the first aide kit before he pursed his lips and studied the child once more.

"Are you hurt anywhere else?" When that question remained unanswered just like the rest of his questions, Naruto sighed again as he muttered, "Only one way to find out I guess."

"Unless you tell me where you are hurt, I'm going to have to have you undress for me so I can make certain you aren't hurt anywhere else. Come to think of it, I probably should have had you take a bath before I bandaged your leg but I was worried about the amount of blood you were loosing. I suppose we'll just have to use a washcloth to clean you up as best as we can for now. I'll have to wash that rat's nest that is supposed to be your hair the old fashioned way though; there's no way I can leave that the way it is now."

He reached out and grabbed hold of the sleeve of the kid's oversized leather kimono and gave it a gentle tug in order to get the kid to release his mouth long enough to pull it off his arm. It took him a few minutes to convey what he wanted to the boy and Naruto was beginning to get the impression that the kid didn't understand a word he was saying. It would certainly explain why the kid hadn't answered any of his questions and why he'd grown frightened; Naruto couldn't imagine what it would be like to find himself injured and alone and not able to understand a word his rescuer said. It made him wonder who the kid was and how he had ended up alone on the streets.

Naruto's introspection ground to a halt when he pulled off the kid's shirt and caught sight of the scars decorating the kid's arms, chest, and back. There was large oval on his right arm just a few inches above the elbow, an obvious stab wound in the crook of the boy's right elbow, and there was a rather nasty looking scar on the back of his left shoulder that looked like someone had clubbed him with a mace. Lastly, there were two or three dozen pencil thin scars scattered across the boy's arms and chest; as if he'd been caught in a storm of flying shuriken.

There was also a half healed gash that wrapped around the boy's chest and back through the bruises that littered the child's body; Naruto suspected that the injury would leave a nasty scar once it had finished healing. The wound started at the left armpit, cut across the chest below the nipple, wrapped around his side to slice across his back below the shoulders, continued around to the front once more where it traveled across his stomach before curving around to his back again where it ran diagonally across his back until it disappeared beneath the boy's pants near his left hip. It was an inch wide from end to end (from what he could see of it), the edges were blackened (as if the injury had been caused by a flaming whip), and it was obviously infected as the skin on either side was more than a little discolored and swollen.

"That's going to be a problem," Naruto deadpanned as he stared at the poorly healing wound for a long minute before he reached out probe the wound; immediately noting the heat radiating from the horrible gash before he even touched it.

To his surprise, the boy tracked his hand with his eyes and then flinched as he caught sight of the wound; as if the kid hadn't even known it was there until that moment. Before his fingers could come into contact with the fevered flesh, the kid's hands reached up to wrap around his wrist and Naruto glanced up to find the kid shaking his head at him. He supposed the infected gash must hurt and he bit his lip as he considered how he was going to convince the kid to let him clean the wound. In the mean time, he gently tugged his hand free and turned so that he could fill up the sink with warm water.

Grabbing a washcloth, Naruto dipped it into the sink before lathering it up with soap. He then glanced at the boy watching him warily and contemplated his best course of action. After a moment, he decided it would be best to start with the boy's arms in order to give him time to relax a bit. It didn't quite work as the kid tensed up the moment the cloth came into contact with his skin but he at least didn't squirm away as Naruto carefully washed his left arm before he washed off the scrapes on his left hand before moving onto the right. As he washed the back of the right hand, Naruto paused as yet another scar was unveiled; a single line of letters on the back of the hand that spelled out something he couldn't read.

The kid squirmed uncomfortably and Naruto put the odd scar out of his mind for now as he finished washing the kid's right hand and arm. He washed the boy's neck and face next; which drew a soft whine of protest from the kid and Naruto couldn't help but chuckle. Once he started on the kid's back, he made sure to avoid washing too close to the infected gash before he worked his way around to the boy's chest and stomach. He then rinsed the wash cloth and began rinsing off the soap.

Once he was finished, he emptied the dirty water from the sink and turned on the faucet so he could rinse the boy a second time to make certain he got all the soap off. He would fill up the sink a third time before he lifted the boy up so that he was standing on the sink so he could remove his pants. The kid actually squeaked out a protest and turned bright red as he tried to hold his pants up after Naruto removed the belt.

"Relax, kid, I'm pretty certain that you ain't got nothing that I haven't seen before and I need to finish cleaning you up because you are filthy," Naruto instructed as he gently removed the boy's hands and tugged his pants down.

Part of the reason the kid had been embarrassed was because he hadn't been wearing any underwear. The rest was most likely because the infected gash that circled his chest and back continued around his left hip and over the front of his left thigh before it jumped across to his right thigh and wrapped around the right leg twice before ending at the base of his calf. It took all of Naruto's willpower to not continue staring at the terrible wound as he passed the kid a hand towel he could use to preserve his modesty when he noted how uncomfortable the boy was. He then soaped up the washcloth once more and began washing the kid's right leg, paying close attention to the scrapes on his knee and once again doing his best to avoid getting too close to the poorly healed wound before he moved onto the kid's left thigh.

Naruto then pressed the soapy washcloth into the boy's hand that wasn't holding the towel over his privates and after trying to verbally explain to the boy that he needed to wash himself, he gestured between the washcloth and the boy's crotch. The kid went bright red a second time when he finally realized what Naruto wanted him to do and Naruto couldn't help but snicker as he lifted up the dirty towel he'd used to dry the dog bite on the boy's left leg to form a privacy screen of sorts. The kid huffed and whined before he sighed and washed himself. He would whine again when he was required to rinse the soap from his privates twice (to make certain he got all the soap off).

Fifteen minutes later, the kid was wrapped up in one of his larger towels, a dry washcloth pressed over his face, and leaning half in the shower as Naruto washed his hair. It took three shampooings to get all of the dirt and blood out of the kid's hair and then Naruto conditioned it twice in order to loosen up the numerous tangles. Once he finished rinsing the last of the conditioner out, Naruto wrapped the kid's hair in a towel, grabbed his comb, and carried the boy into his bedroom. He then dug out some of his older clothes for the kid to wear and helped him to get dressed.

Naruto took a seat on the bed at that point and set the kid on the floor at his feet before he used the towel on the kid's head to dry his hair as best he could. He then combed out the black-as-sin rat's nest that paraded as the kid's hair. By the time he carefully untangled the final knot, the boy's hair had dried and the kid had fallen asleep against his legs. Not knowing what else to do with the kid, he picked him up off the floor and tucked him into his bed before he returned to the bathroom in order to clean up the messes he'd made washing and treating the boy.

He'd barely finished cleaning the dirt and soap scum from the shower stall when someone started pounding on his front door. Tossing the rag he'd used to clean the shower into the still dirty sink, he headed to the front of the apartment and unlocked the door to find the Godaime Hokage and Jiraiya standing outside his door.

"Where's the gaki your clone said you found?"

"In my bed; he fell asleep just a short while ago after I finished washing him and treating the dog bite, baachan," Naruto replied as he held his door open so the two adults could step into his apartment. "The problem is that the kid wouldn't let me do anything for the infected gash he has that wraps several times around his body from armpit to knee."

"Naruto, the medics said you tried to bring them a puppet dressed up to look like a dead body as a tasteless prank; how could a lifeless puppet stop you?"

"The medic was an idiot; neither puppets nor the dead bleed, breathe, or develop fevers," Naruto growled as he scowled at the Hokage.

"A person can't survive without a chakra network, Naruto; they said the body you brought them lacked the spark of life."

"Come see for yourself, baachan," Naruto insisted as he grabbed Tsunade's hand and dragged her to his bedroom where they found the child in question caught up in a nightmare as he struggled beneath the covers.

Translations: Japanese to English

Baachan – grandmother or old woman
Dattebayo – Naruto's catch phrase; has no true meaning but has been translated as 'Believe it' in the English version of the Anime
Ero-Sennin – Pervy Sage
Gaki – brat
Hai – yes
Hi no Kuni – Fire Country
Konohagakure no Sato (Konoha) – Hidden Leaf Village
Tadaima – I'm home or here I am

AN: I originally wasn't going to start posting this until after I finished Banished Destiny but my muses have all decided to go on strike all at once and I've not been able to write much of anything for the WIP stories I have up right now. I'll be posting a couple of other stories as well in order to clear out my queue of prepped chapters and in hopes that I can finally finish up Banished Destiny and Wizard's World YR2. I'll be posting at least one chapter per day but no promises on which story it will be on as I've got about seven different stories that are at least 2/3 completed and have 20+ chapters ready for posting.

Anyway, the next chapter for this story will be up in a couple of days. ~ Jenn