Disclaimer: We own neither Naruto nor Harry Potter, although Kilerkki would pay for an ANBU mask. Which says a lot, 'cause she's really stingy. link no miko just wants a Shikamaru plushie. She'd pay for that!
Authors' Note: Heyo. link no miko here, teamed up with the wonderful Kilerkki, who makes everything really fun and exciting! You can tell her that too, she'll blush and everything, it's awesome.
Anywho, we came up with this idea the other night because we're desperate fangirls and wanted to try our hands at making a good HP/Naruto crossover. Whether or not we did, eh, that's up to you guys, but we're having fun doing it! We tried to come up with good, legit reasons for such a massive AU project, which was rather hard, but rather rewarding at the same time.
We would also like to state that we haven't read any of the other HP/Naruto crossovers, so anything you see in here that might be in another one, well, that's just pure dumb luck. We don't steal, kthxbai.
We both did the first chapter (that was fun, let me tell you) but all alternating chapters from now on are one or the other. We'll try to keep styles similar, but you can have fun playing Guess the Writer, if you wish. Hehe.
As always, comments and criticisms are appreciated.
Masks and Shadows
Chapter One: In Which Tsunade Meets An Owl And Naruto Learns English
There were few things about being Hokage that Tsunade truly enjoyed. Getting late-night important messages full of information that could possibly spell her village's doom was not among those few things.
But it seemed to happen a freakishly large amount of the time.
Blinking blurry eyes, head lolling forward just a teensy bit, Tsunade poured over the document that had, strangely enough, arrived with an owl. And an ANBU. Last she knew, none of her ninja used owls as animal companions, and from the way the tiger-masked ANBU glared at the bird, she was quite sure they weren't a pair.
Sighing, she dismissed the ANBU and opened the letter. One thin eyebrow arched incredulously as she read the header.
Tsunade-san, Godaime Hokage, Legendary Sannin
Hokage's Tower, Konohagakure no Sato
23 August 1996
Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
She gave the header an once-over, decided she really didn't want to know at 4 am, and continued to read the rest of the (thank the gods!) short letter.
My dear Hokage,
I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your predecessor. He was a very good man, and someone I'd had a few contacts with. My condolences, and my best wishes for you in your new role.
I realize how strange such a message must seem, coming from a stranger like me. However, something has recently come to my attention which I feel may impact your village. An attempted burglary at the school has not only left us with grave concerns about the safety of the students during the coming year, but has also provided us with information of a possible greater threat. It seems that, somewhere in my school, a strange beast was once imprisoned. It is possible that our enemies are attempting to gain control of this beast; fortunately they seem to know as little as we do about the creature. I must admit that my memory is not what it once was, but I do remember your predecessor, as well as a certain other Sannin, speaking of your village's dealings with a strange and powerful beast. From what little information I have been able to gather, it seems as though they might be related.
If possible, I would like to hire a team of your finest to aid in the protection of my students and the discovery of what exactly is imprisoned within my school. I am willing to pay whatever price you may demand, and I trust in your wise judgment of such matters. A trip to England will naturally prove difficult for you, so I have taken the liberty of making the arrangements myself. The details of the trip are enclosed.
I earnestly solicit your help in this matter, and extend my own hand to aid you in whatever manner I can return the favor.
Headmaster, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Tsunade read the letter over twice more. She hesitated, stood, and opened her vast liquor cabinet.
It was going to be a long night.
The Hokage's summons came early in the morning, half an hour after Naruto finally dragged himself out of bed and stumbled down the street to Ichiraku Ramen. He could easily have slept for another sixteen hours—he needed to sleep for another sixteen hours!—but his stomach had wrapped around his backbone and seemed to be trying to digest itself, and he was out of instant ramen.
"Tough mission?" the woman at the ramen stand asked sympathetically as she handed him his fifth bowl. Naruto nodded, swallowed half the noodles in one gulp, and devoured another load of his name-sake fishcakes before replying.
"Three days of nonstop—mph!—running n' fighting. Haven't eaten an'thing but soldier pills since the mission started." He tipped the bowl to drain the broth and set it back down with a clunk. "Pork, please!"
Ayame hid a grin as she turned to prepare the sixth bowl. When she turned back, though, her eyes went over his shoulder before they flitted to his face. "Sorry, Naruto," she said. "Looks like you won't have time to enjoy this one."
Naruto twisted on his stool and glowered at the chuunin runner entering the bar behind him. "What does Tsunade-baachan want now?"
The runner shrugged, handed him a folded note, and took off again to deliver his next summons. Naruto grumbled under his breath as he unfolded the paper. "Hinata already turned in our mission report, she can't possibly—ah, crap. In uniform and everything." He shoved the note back into one of the pockets of his battered jounin vest and flashed Ayame a brilliant grin. "I've got time for two more bowls if I hurry. Miso ramen next, please!"
"Should you eat so much if you've got another mission coming up?" Ayame asked doubtfully, but she was already preparing the seventh bowl.
"'know what 'm doin'," Naruto muttered indistinctly through a mouthful of ramen. "Fastest way to 'plenish chakra."
It was chakra he was going to need if Tsunade had another mission for him already. The injuries he'd taken in the last seventy-two hours had already healed, thanks to his demonic tenant, but the unnaturally accelerated healing was a huge drain on his energy reserves. Even after five and a half—no, six—bowls of ramen he was still ravenously hungry. He'd have to snag some of the energy bars they kept in the locker room. They tasted like mud-coated old leather, but they were nearly as effective as soldier pills, and they did a better job of filling the stomach.
He wolfed down the seventh bowl in record time, paid for his meal, and pushed away from the counter just far enough for the translocation jutsu. He really didn't feel like running all the way to ANBU headquarters.
Shikamaru was already in the locker room when Naruto arrived in a cloud of smoke and swear words. "Trust Tsunade-baachan to call us in just after we get back," he muttered darkly, stalking to his locker and canceling the seals that locked it. "We should be in bed now."
"The note said it was important," Shikamaru said mildly, tightening the straps on his right arm-shield. He wasn't too pleased with the Hokage either—he'd barely gotten to sleep when the summons had arrived, yanking him away from an entirely too pleasant dream of a certain blonde kunoichi. Trouble was, now he couldn't remember which one it had been.
Naruto tugged his black bodysuit and silvery armor out of his locker, dumped them on the bench, and stripped out of his wrinkled jounin uniform. The bloody slash he'd been sporting across his muscled bicep when they'd returned to Konohagakure the night before had already faded to a thin white line. Shikamaru glanced away. Naruto's 'tenant' was something he'd figured out years ago, long before Naruto had decided that it was his duty to tell his ANBU captain and comrades about the demon sealed inside him, but it was still something only rarely and reluctantly acknowledged.
"You ready?" he asked after a moment. He looked up from adjusting his shin-guards in time to see Naruto wriggling into his silvery-grey armored vest. Leg bindings took only a moment more, wrapped with the ease and speed of long practice. Shikamaru pulled his porcelain mask out of his locker as Naruto scrambled into the rest of his armor, his shaggy blond hair bobbing with every movement.
By the time Shikamaru had finished fitting the stylized deer-head mask to his face, Naruto was bundling his jounin uniform back into the locker and pulling out his own toad-face mask. "Ready," Naruto confirmed at last, checking the binding of the shuriken holster at his thigh. He slammed the locker shut with a sandaled heel and headed out, still muttering. "Dunno what she's thinking…swear I'm gonna give that old hag a piece of my mind…"
Shikamaru trailed after him, wondering for the five thousandth time what he'd done to deserve Naruto, the Hokage, missions, and the volatile combination of all three. "How troublesome," he muttered.
If he'd known how much more troublesome things were about to get, he would have wedged himself into one of the lockers and never come out.
The ANBU Falcon and Mouse were already standing straight and still in front of Tsunade's desk when Toad and Deer slipped through the door. Neither of the first two ANBU turned to acknowledge them, although Mouse's head tilted slightly to the left in a mute welcome. Tsunade suppressed a smirk.
"Good morning," she said, leaning forward with her elbows planted on her desk. The ANBU ducked their heads in greeting. Naruto's bright blond hair shone almost blindingly in the sunlight that lanced in through the window. Tsunade narrowed her eyes to slits and took a long gulp from the mug of tea on the corner of her desk. He hadn't exploded yet at being dragged in here so soon after returning from his last mission. A sign of growing maturity?
Or had he simply fallen asleep on his feet?
"Relax," she said, because although she derived secret pleasure from seeing them lined up smart and spiffy in front of her, she wasn't that cruel. "This is going to take a while. I'm sure you've already figured out that I've called you here for a new mission," she added.
"And that is…?" Shikamaru asked, pulling off his Deer mask and plopping into one of the two chairs drawn up to face her desk. Naruto moved to take the other, but Neji shot him a hard glance as he removed the Falcon mask. Naruto curled his lip at Neji and waved Mouse-masked Hinata into the chair instead.
"This," Tsunade said, passing Shikamaru the letter. The young man read it over, a raised eyebrow his only reaction, before passing it on to Neji, who showed even less emotion. Hinata bit her bottom lip and scanned it twice, then gave it to Naruto. The blond ANBU, naturally, had the most to say.
"The hell is this! You're sending us to England?"
"Not so loud please, Naruto," Tsunade said sweetly, "because my hangover hates you right now." He nodded grudgingly and handed the letter back. Two years ago he would have upped the volume even more, which said volumes for his increased experience in that time. He was still underage at nineteen, but, well, he'd trained under Jiraiya. What could you expect?
"So you believe what that man wrote?" Neji asked, lean face as impassive as any ANBU mask. "You'll send us to another country on the word of some foreign old man—"
"Of course she will," a new voice broke in, and the four young adults spun as Tsunade sighed. Jiraiya stood in the doorway, arms folded across his chest and face plastered with a knowing smirk.
"Well, now," the Legendary Sannin said, pushing away from the doorway and heading into the room. "You've grown a lot, Naruto." He pulled something out of his shirt and tossed it to the blond. "My newest book. Thought you might enjoy it."
"Jiraiya," Tsunade cut in, tapping her fingers on the desk. "Now is not the time." She sighed at the man's grin. "Just explain to them, please."
The white-haired Sannin nodded and booted Shikamaru from his seat, lounging down himself. "I happen to know that 'foreign old man,' as you so nicely put it." His smile broadened at the looks on their faces. "You meet some interesting people when you travel around doing research," he continued. "And I happened to meet him a while ago. 'S'how the Sandaime met him. Anywho," he scratched his nose, "he's strange and kooky, but you can believe what he wrote."
"You're asking us to trust someone we've never met." Neji's voice was cool, as always, but there was a hint of disdain.
Jiraiya burst out laughing. "Hell no, boy. I said you can believe him, I didn't say trust him. There's a difference," he added, winking, and Tsunade felt a tinge of malicious glee to see Neji's cheeks turn just the slightest bit pink.
"Still," Hinata cut in, her voice quiet but strong, "it is very far away. And," she paused and looked at the boys, then back to Tsunade. "How long would we be gone for?"
"Until you find the beast and have Jiraiya check it out."
"Eh?" Naruto cut in, slapping his hands down on her desk. "Ero-sennin is coming too!"
Tsunade nodded. "He's the best of the two of us with seals, and I can't exactly leave my post now, can I? This Dumbledore person mentioned an imprisoned—or sealed—beast, and we aren't taking any risks."
"You think it's a tailed demon," Shikamaru said, eyeing Tsunade. "That's the only reason you would send a team of ANBU so far away based on such a request."
"A bijuu?" Naruto asked, leaning forward so he was staring right at Tsunade. "There's a bijuu there?"
"There's the possibility of a bijuu there," she corrected, shoving Naruto away from her. "And yes, that's why you're going. He may want you to protect his students, but your main mission is to find this sealed beast and bring it back here. Until you do so, you are staying in England and you're going to like it.
"Now," she continued, rubbing her hands together and eyeing the four ninja, "by a show of hands, who knows English?"
Three hands made their tentative way in the air. Naruto just looked confused.
"Only three of you," Tsunade said, fighting to urge to rub her temples. Naturally.
"Hey, that wasn't something we needed to know in the Academy!" Naruto protested, folding his arms over his chest as he turned to face the other three. "Why d'you guys know it?"
"I had to learn other languages for diplomatic purposes," Hinata answered, blushing a bit as Naruto's gaze locked on her. "I'm not completely fluent, but I can hold a conversation, if I have to."
"That makes sense," Tsunade nodded. "Your duty as the former heir might bring you into contact with foreign dignitaries."
"But what about you?" Naruto's voice—and volume—rose as he pointed at Shikamaru.
For his part, the strategist just eyed the blond with something that could almost be called annoyance. "I'm lazy, not stupid." He turned to Tsunade. "I know enough for a basic conversation, but nothing more."
Tsunade nodded, then looked to the fourth member. "And you, Neji?"
He simply shrugged in reply.
Naruto's eyes narrowed; Tsunade could guess the cause. He'd just been shown up by all three of his teammates, and only Hinata had a valid excuse.
"So, Naruto," Jiraiya asked casually, the hint of a smirk gracing his features, "do you know any English?"
"Of course I do!" the blond retorted, then coughed into his hand and composed himself. "I know… 'Thank you,' and, uh…" He began ticking the words off on his fingers. "'Thank you—'
"You said that already."
"—and 'Ramen,' and 'Where's the ramen?' and," Naruto barely paid attention to the interruption, "and 'food' and…"
"Naruto," Tsunade said softly, the strain evident in her voice. "Do you know anything that doesn't involve food?"
"Not…that I can think of," he admitted grudgingly, then raised his hands to catch the book she threw at him. "What's this?"
"An Idiot's Guide to English," the Hokage stated flatly. "You will eat, breathe, and sleep that book during this mission, and you will be able to hold at least a five minute conversation by the time you get there."
"As for the rest of you," she said, some of the bite gone from her voice, "I expect you to catch up on your language studies. I don't expect you to be fluent overnight, but if you're going to be there for a while, it is in your best interests to be able to blend in as well as possible." She sighed and rubbed her temples. "That I even have to say that to an ANBU team…"
"We will, Tsunade-sama," Hinata replied, standing. The other three lined up before the desk with the young Hyuuga, arms behind their backs as they stood at attention. Tsunade watched them, a proud smile combating the pounding in her temples, and then she schooled her expression and stood.
"You will leave two days from now. Make all your preparations by then, and meet me by the gates as the sun rises two days from now." Her face softened. "You are dismissed."
The four ANBU bowed and left, the door closing silently behind them as Tsunade slumped down into her chair and sighed.
"Long night?" Jiraiya asked from his chair, watching her with one eye.
Without a word, she pointed to her liquor cabinet and the empty sake bottles. Jiraiya whistled appreciatively.
"I wish you wouldn't do that," the Hokage said, holding her head in her hands, "it kills."
The other Sannin chuckled, then leaned forward, laying an arm on her desk. "Hey, Tsunade, I think you forgot one thing."
Antagonizing bastard. "Oh, what would that be?"
Jiraiya pointed at his eyes. "How do you supposed two Hyuuga are gonna fit into a non-ninja world?"
Tsunade stared at him for a few seconds, and then proceeded to swear.
It took her quite a while to finish the list of words she knew.
Dawn two days later found four ANBU, cloaked and masked, standing before the gates to Konohagakure with the Godaime standing before them. "Morning!" she said with false cheer. Toad and Deer slumped just the tiniest bit.
"Good morning, Hokage-sama," the Falcon said, and she returned his nod with one of her own. Even at this obscenely early hour, Neji's voice was impassively polite.
"Are you all ready?" Four masks nodded, and she smirked as she stopped before the Toad mask. "Where are you going?" she asked in English.
"To England," Naruto replied in passable (though heavily accented) English. "For our mission."
"Very good," Tsunade replied, switching back. "You'll do fine if you keep up like that." Behind her, the sun crested the tree-lined horizon completely. "I expect frequent reports," she instructed the Deer, "just not too frequent." Shikamaru nodded. The mask didn't quite muffle his sigh.
"Shikamaru, you are in charge of all covert aspects of the mission. Neji, should there be any need for combat, you are in charge." The two glanced at each other and nodded. Naruto didn't even bristle. The team had worked together for almost a year now, long enough that such a division of responsibilities was routine. She probably hadn't even needed to say it.
"Hinata, Neji." Falcon and Mouse stepped forward smoothly. "Jiraiya has informed me that when you meet with the client, he will be able to do something to disguise your eyes that will not waste your chakra nor require constant vigilance. Until then, use a henge. Secrecy is key." The two nodded and backed up again, joining the line. She eyed all four a moment more, then moved so she was no longer blocking their path. "Your transport is three miles away, off the road and into the trees half a mile. Go!"
Four ninja disappeared in puffs of smoke.
Tsunade stood at the gates until the sun bathed her face and she could hear the stirrings of her village behind her, and then she was gone, back to her tower and her bed.