Teaser: Thirty five hundred miles away from home, Naruto and the gang are stuck infiltrating a European school that doesn't exist according to satellite maps. Meh, things are starting to get troublesome.
Disclaimer: This is the only time I'll say this for the rest of the story. I don't own Naruto or Harry Potter – they belong to Masashi Kishimoto and J. K. Rowling respectively. No profit is being made out of this fanfiction. Also, distribution of this material elsewhere has not been consented; if you see this fanfic anywhere other than here and on my dA account, it's without my permission.
I'm going to assume that people who read the later chapters have already read this one. Also due to the nature of crossovers, I consider this story to be AU. That means that I might take some of the information presented in the most recent chapters/books of either series, I might just continue on as if they had never happened. You have been warned.
In Way of Trouble
Chapter 01: "What Mission?"
Grinning from ear to ear, he burst towards the stall and slammed his hands down on the bar, earning annoyed looks from some of the other customers.
"Oi, oi!" he shouted. "Four miso ramen please!"
"For here or to go?"
"Hai, Uzumaki-san!" Ayame giggled as she placed the order and left to prepare the meal.
Less than ten minutes later, she emerged balancing a tray on each hand. By that time, the rest of Naruto's team had caught up with the hyperactive blond ninja and sat down with him. With a chorus of "Itadakimasu!" the three genin and their instructor dug in to their food, letting their stomachs happily get to work after a hard day's worth of training.
"So what'cha got for us, Kakashi-sensei?" Konoha's number one obnoxious ninja asked his jounin instructor between gulps of ramen. "It must be really important if you agreed to pay for our lunch."
He turned around to quickly inhale the rest of the soup before asking the waitress for "another bowl of ramen, but shrimp this time please!" She smiled and complied with his wish, disappearing again behind the curtains before coming out with his order.
Hatake Kakashi sighed and shook his head. If Naruto kept eating at this rate, then he was going to be hard-pressed to pay for the lunch bill.
"Well," he replied slowly, setting his own empty bowl down. "It seems as if the Godaime sent us a message about something special. We'll discuss it later."
"Sounds good," the blond stated, not really paying attention.
Sasuke watched with mild amusement at the pace the food was disappearing from the bowl. Then looking over at his sensei, he noticed that all of the jounin's ramen was already gone. When had he taken off his mask…?
The Uchiha looked back towards the rest of his teammates, wondering how little things had changed during the past few months. Naruto was still eating his noodles like a vacuum cleaner and Sakura was scolding him for his eating habits. Ayame-san and her father were busy catering to their other customers at the Ichiraku stand while the inhabitants of Konoha talked pleasantly with one another. Turning his thoughts elsewhere, he stared at the ceramic bowl in front of him, thinking back to the not so distant past.
Had he really tried to run away from it all – his friends, his peers, the people he could call family? Had he really been that desperate to go through such lengths to do so? Had revenge taken over his mind to the point where all rational thought fled from his being?
A tingle from his shoulder was the reply and Sasuke unconsciously brought his right hand to rub against the curse seal. The time when he had tried to defect from the Hidden Village of Leaf was still a big blur in his mind, and he had trouble distinguishing the events that had transpired during his flight away from the place he had considered his home. The fight between himself and the loud-mouthed person that sat not two feet away was even more shrouded than the haze after he had 'died' in the sealed container.
…Had he really been that close to killing the closest person he had to calling a best friend…?
A voice interrupted his silent brooding. "Oi, teme! Aren't you going to eat before your soup gets cold?"
"Urusai, dobe," Sasuke automatically replied, not registering what the blond had even said. Naruto bristled from his spot, trying to come up with an insult to throw at his face, but immediately stopped after one Haruno Sakura's glare. Sasuke wisely chose to tune them out, knowing that that wasn't going to get him anywhere.
"Ano, Sasuke-kun… You haven't touched your meal."
Indeed, he hadn't. As if noticing for the first time, Sasuke blinked at the now cooled ramen in front of him. Ignoring Sakura's slightly worried look, he broke apart his chopsticks and began eating his food. Taking his time to chew and swallow methodically, it wasn't long before his thoughts got carried away again.
It was as if he had never left. His team had forgiven him for his actions, as had the genin (plus one chuunin) who had been involved in his capture and retrieval.
But that didn't mean the rest of the village had forgotten about his temporary betrayal. Whispers were being exchanged behind their backs, and if Sasuke prided himself on being a ninja, he could bet his life that they were talking about him.
"Hey, isn't that the kid who tried t-"
"Hush! We're not supposed to talk about that."
"Hai, hai. I know. Demo saa-"
"The Hokage expressed her wishes for that subject to remain silent."
"Keh. If you ask me, they should have killed him instead of bringing him back. I don't know what the hell that woman was thinking when she ordered that mission, but I don't appreciate traitors in our midst. Even if it involves that kid."
"Haruka! Keep your thoughts to yourself! We should be glad that they were able to bring him back. What if he had succeeded in running away to him? Konoha would have been in big trouble then."
"Which is why they should have all died in the first place."
"Watch your tongue!"
Sasuke shrugged them away without a second thought, pretending that he hadn't heard the hushed conversation with his sharp ears. Looking at the rest of his team, he could tell that they too had picked up the voices but were too polite to place attention on it. Naruto kept on smiling and talked even louder than before despite the fact that he probably had a better sense of hearing than all of them combined and couldn't drown out the whispers no mater how loud he tried to cover it up. And Sakura – poor Sakura – was trying so hard not to let any of these comments get the better of her by engaging in whatever topic Naruto was spouting up in efforts to talk over the gossip around them.
Noticing the tension rising in the ramen booth, Kakashi cleared his throat. "Well, if you three are done with your meals, I propose that we head out."
They nodded and rose from their seats. Kakashi thanked Ayame-san and left the necessary amount of money with a generous tip before following his students. Seeing that the others were well ahead of him, the jounin then disappeared in a flurry of leaves and transported himself to where his students had decided to wait for instructions.
Several seconds later, he reappeared at their usual meeting spot on the bridge where Team Seven had chosen to regroup.
Kakashi greeted them with a goofy face and a raised hand. "Yosh. Good to see that you all didn't get distracted on your way here." He then pulled out a scroll from his pouch and opened it so that the others could see it. "I wanted to make sure that we weren't being overheard in a place full of people. This is the request written by the Hokage stating that she wishes to see us at 1000 hours tomorrow."
"Anything specific, or will she tell us that when she meets us?"
"Just a small meeting about a special ops mission she wants to send us on. She was very pleased with our last big mission, so she thinks that we're capable of handling another one."
Three pairs of eyes brightened at the prospect. "Another protection mission?"
"That's correct. And it seems like they're important as well. Any other questions and or details will be explained next week at the official debriefing."
"Is that all?" Sakura asked as she took a quick glance at the sky.
"For now, at least. You're all dismissed."
"Thanks," the kunoichi replied as she took off. "I need to get going before I'm late for something."
"Hey Sakura-chan!" Naruto called out, chasing after her. "Where are you going?"
"Tsunade-sama wanted me to train with Shizune-san for extra lessons since she's too busy to see me in person today," she replied as he caught up next to her.
"That old hag is still giving you a hard time?"
"Well, I'm just grateful that she decided to give me extra lessons on top of my training with my genin team."
Naruto gave her a smile. "Well, I gotta go for extra training as well with Ero-sennin. And I'm sure that you'll be just fine."
She nodded and leaped onto a rooftop, taking a shortcut towards the direction in which Konoha's hospital buildings stood. Naruto followed suite, heading for one of the training grounds less frequented by other shinobi. That left only Kakashi and Sasuke on the bridge, watching as half of the team left without so much as a second glance back.
Not much had changed during the past few months. But then again, the little that did was enough to remind the Uchiha that nothing was the same as before.
"What rank?" Sasuke asked as his teammates left to find their secondary instructors.
To Be Continued…
(May 2008) Important notice! IWoT is undergoing a rewrite! For extended explanations, please see the A/N in chapter 13.
January 22, 2003