Auhor's Note: This chapter is edited by KarinMS.
Harry was awakened from his well deserved slumber—seeing as his sore muscles, the result of his sword training all day yesterday, were screaming at him for more rest—by a loud crash and the feel of the wooden floor vibrating roughly, as if there was a short localized earthquake happening at his residence only. Grumbling for getting his sleep interrupted, he forced himself to rise from the bed lazily, something that he became accustomed to after months without people trying to kill him. A year ago if the same thing happened he'd have waken up in a second, a wand in his hand and his lips letting out curses to whoever it was that created the ruckus. 'Act first, ask later' was a habit that he had to remind himself to change, lest he wanted to curse Naruto or Dobby—especially the later who kept surprising him, Naruto was not that great in stealth… he really needed to teach that kid about that by the way—to oblivion.
Fifteen minutes later, a much more awake Harry Potter entered the kitchen for breakfast. He'd take a bath later, his tired mind told him. Dobby took pride that he could make the room as spotless as it could be. Harry couldn't even find a trace of dust when he wiped his finger on the kitchen table, checking it for the sake of curiosity. What awaited him at the table was a miserable looking Naruto with a lump on his head, after falling downstairs in his haste. The poor boy looked as if he hadn't slept a wink last night and the bump on his head didn't help him much. Seeing that Harry himself was rather grumpy this morning for having his rest interrupted, a smile lit on his face. Misery loves company after all.
Harry pulled out a seat and as soon as he sat there Dobby began to serve them breakfast. He found Naruto picking at his food, eyes not really seeing anything around him. Look like he had taken a trip to LaLa Land.
Oh right, it was 3 weeks before the exam started and today was the last day for any Leaf genin to register if they wished to join it. The offer was sent for Leaf genins only. Naruto hadn't given Kakashi his answer yet even though said jounin had already nominated his team. He wondered why the boy hadn't handed in his form yet. He knew that Naruto's already filled questionnaire form was hidden under his bed. How did he know? Dobby.
Obviously the boy had some interest to join it, seeing that he wouldn't look so miserable if he didn't.
Harry sighed. Apparently Naruto really needed to be nudged in the right direction. He looked decidedly pitiful, as if his puppy was killed in front of his eyes.
"Okay, talk!" he barked, startling the blue eyed boy.
Said boy looked up in surprise and blinked. "Huh?" he asked dumbly.
"Talk! What's bothering you?" he demanded.
"It's nothing," Naruto hastily dismissed him.
Unfortunately the boy had forgotten that Harry was a stubborn man that could even rival him, if he wanted to.
"Well, this 'nothing'," he sneered sarcastically, doing an impression that his late Potion professor A.K.A Snape the Snappy, was famous for, "—has made you skip food and added to the gloomy atmosphere in this house; I can see a dark cloud forming above your head," he pressed on. "It's a way of speech, brat," he rolled his eyes when Naruto looked above his head. Still, the boy stayed silent. "Is this about the chuunin exam?" he prompted. Naruto flinched. Bingo!
He looked at Harry in surprise, obviously wondering how the older man knew it, before he turned sober once more. "…Yes," he eventually said.
That was admitted much faster than he thought.
Harry tapped his finger on the table, causing the boy to observe him nervously. "What are the reasons you're so apprehensive about this?"
"Well…" the boy scratched his head. "We lack the experience. We're just rookies, fresh out of the academy. It's said that the ninjas being sent to the exam are the best of the best of their villages and I don't want to fail another exam. Two failed genin exams are already enough for me," he pursed his lips, eyes downcast not wanting to see his new brother's piercing emerald eyes for some reason.
"If you enter it, then it will be an experience for you. You can of course ask Iruka or other chuunins or jounins about their exams and compare them. I doubt they're identical, but I'm sure it's not that different either. Plus being rookies don't mean you'll lose. About the genins attending being the best of the best; I don't really think so. I mean, hello, hidden village here. There are secrets and what not that won't be revealed for just a genin exam. Even if they were truly the best of their villages, they won't just let out their trump card to be recorded for a simple genin exam that can be taken once per 6 months. Plus why are you afraid of failing? Failing is a part of the path of success… as long as you don't give up anyway. Where's the boy that I met in Wave? Are you going to back out of this opportunity just like that?"
"You mean you won't be embarrassed or disappointed in me if I fail?" the boy blurted, before slapping his hand on his mouth for the slip he made.
Harry arched an eyebrow. "Of course not. It's not as if I have never failed either. No one is perfect. Is that why you don't want to enter it? Because you're afraid that if you fail I'd be disappointed?" the boy nodded fearfully. The wizard was incredulous. "Silly little brat!" Naruto looked indignant, but didn't voice protest up. "I won't be disappointed if you fail, but I'll be if you don't give your best or come home dying. Now eat! After that you can give your form that you hid under your bed to your jounin!" the blond was alarmed to find that Harry knew about that one. A big smile bloomed on his face, before the now cheerful boy attacked his food with gusto. The two didn't realize they were being watched by a smiling house elf who wiped his tears and blew his nose on a tissue he took from nearby box.
'Well at least, that's one problem solved,' Harry sighed inwardly.
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Harry was going to buy food after one of his routine sword practices when he felt a growing unease settle in his stomach, coupled by the warning spark emitted by his sword. His feeling was often set off by ninjas (the competent ones), especially by those ANBUs whose masks reminded him of death eaters. During the first weeks he had to tone down his paranoia somewhat, otherwise he wouldn't have been able to sleep, seeing as that Hokage had ordered his men to keep an eye on him. It was only in his home that he was able to relax completely. Thrice some ninjas tried to enter the area of his house without his permission and the wards he had set up along with Dobby's help repelled them. They never tried again the fourth time after he leveled up the ward for being irritated and caused the ninjas to be sent to the emergency room to be treated for second degree burns.
With a sigh, wondering what he had gotten into now, he opened the block he had put on his danger sense to feel the one who had cause his spidery sense to scream its head off. He stumbled when a wave of killing intent hit him head on, as he wasn't prepared for this kind of strong killing intent yet, but regained his footing a second after. Harry shook his head.
"Whoa, that's some killing intent. It's been so long to feel that one directed at me personally," he muttered. He turned around and spotted the source; a red haired boy, who was followed by a blonde girl with big steel strapped on her back, and a boy that wore something that seemed like a cat costume, his face was painted as if he was a Kabuki player. The red head had a big gourd with him and the skin around his eyes was black. Now… why did that sound familiar? Oh yes. Naruto had told him about the 'creepy panda guy' and his teammates from Sand. They must be here for chuunin exam.
Harry blinked. Why was the boy glaring at him? He didn't think he had done something to him. Heck it was the first time he met him. He'd like to think he was able to reign in his usual instinct from lashing out at anything remotely threatening to his health, mentally or physically. So, why?
Oh right, how could he forget? Zeus. The sword on his back was crackling threateningly and it was directed at the red head. Now that he paid attention, he could feel something demonic about him that kind of remind him of Naruto. But while in Naruto's body the evil feeling was muffled by magnitude, this boy wasn't. In fact he was oozing with it. Funnily it didn't seem like the Leaf ninjas felt it.
Not wanting to deal with the unnecessary headache, Harry apparated out, not realizing that Gaara had already marked him as a target for his 'mother'. Appearing outside the intended grocery store, he was pleased to see that he had scared off some passersby; he entered it and found one Umino Iruka was currently there too. Oh boy, the man was a firm believer that no genin should enter the chuunin exam, which was an irony because he was a chuunin himself.
"Iruka-san," Harry called him who was examining the spinach in his hold intently. Harry's lips twitched at the sight. The chuunin looked up and smiled.
The wizard nodded, as he reached for a shopping cart. "Yes, I'm planning to make a party to celebrate Naruto's entrance to chuunin exam," he informed the academy teacher, as he took 5 packs of tofu, knowing that he wouldn't like to hear it.
"What? What do you mean Naruto is going to enter the exam?" Iruka shouted in shock. "I thought he was reluctant to enter it!"
"Oh yes, that. It's funny actually. I had a talk with him this morning and after that he decided to enter," he scratched his head sheepishly, knowing that he'd be chewed up soon. Iruka was such a mother hen.
"What? How could you! It's better if he doesn't enter it! He's not ready yet!" All thoughts of shopping were chased out of the chuunin's mind.
Harry frowned. "And how do you know he's not ready yet? Sure I heard that the exam is dangerous, but so is life, especially for ninjas. And Naruto is a ninja and he has chosen this path. If this exam will prepare him for his life then I'm all for it."
"But he's just a kid!" he insisted.
"Really? Because I heard that genins were already considered adults by law of Konoha. Look. I know you're worried of him, but cuddling him, sheltering him won't help him. He's a ninja not an invalid. Naruto is strong. You saw how he resisted all those things thrown at him by those jackasses. And don't start me about how he needs to enjoy his childhood, because he has no happy childhood to begin with. The boy needs this. What doesn't kill him will make him stronger."
"How can you be so sure of that?"
"Well so far, I'd say he turned out darn right."
"What if he dies?"
"I have taken steps to ensure it won't happen. And no, you can't ask what it is."
"But he can still be hurt!" Iruka was adamant.
"Yeah well, no one say that life as ninja is easy. If by being hurt he'll realize that being a ninja isn't a game and thus he'll take the job seriously, I'm game," Harry had half mind to blast off the stubborn chuunin.
It was fortunate that they were in the back of the store and there was no one in sight, other than the shopkeeper, but he was in the front.
"You're a ninja too, so surely you understand what he feels. Tell you what, why don't you have a talk with him? Hear him out first."
Iruka opened his mouth, but closed it again before he sighed deeply. "…I'll do that," he murmured dejectedly.
"That's all I ask. Why don't you come over for dinner today? I'm sure Naruto will be happy. The last time you two eat together was 2 weeks ago and the kid was sure complaining to me about it."
Iruka perked up. "He was?" he asked in astonishment. It was bad for him to feel it, but Iruka was jealous. He felt like Harry had stolen the boy under his very nose.
"Yes, I also told Naruto to invite his team over. It's at 7. That will be in 4 hours. So will you come?"
"Yes, I will. So it will be only team 7 and us?"
"Actually I told him that it's alright to invite the other teams that also entered the exam. I heard all rookie genins joined the exam, but I don't know if Naruto finds them," he shrugged.
"I know where Asuma-san and Kurenai-san usually hang out. They're the teachers of the other rookie teams by the way," he said when he saw Harry's questioning look.
Harry nodded, but asked Iruka to wait until he finished with his shopping first. Three carts later, he paid for the grocery and wrote down the address to his house so the store could deliver it there. As they walked to their destination; a tea and dango shop, Harry got the occasional stares for his big wrapped sword on his back. Even after months walking with his sword, there were still some people that gave him odd looks. He even got hateful glares from those who hated Naruto, but his unnerving narrowed stare, focused by his killing intent he emanated managed to get them to back off. And most who did that were civilians, so they didn't dare to challenge an adult with a huge sword that didn't appear to have problems retaliating. A fool had challenged him and he had ended up in a coma in the hospital 2 months ago. The man hadn't awakened yet. After that no one openly showed their dislike anymore. Naruto were still glared at, but when he was with Harry people chose to ignore him lest they wanted Harry breathing down their necks. They also sold him things even though they did it grudgingly.
Apparently there was a get together or something because there were more jounins than just Asuma and Kurenai. Kakashi was there too, giggling as he read his porn book. A red eyed woman looked livid, while she squirmed exasperatedly on her seat at the same time, not liking having someone drabbed herself on her. That someone was a black haired woman with the most indecent clothes he had ever seen: fishnet shirt with only a brown coat to cover her… assets. Iruka identified the red eyed woman as Yuuhi Kurenai, while the heavy smoker one was Sarutobi Asuma. There was also a light brown haired jounin chewing on a metal toothpick who was talking to a sickly looking jounin who should be admitted to hospital in Harry's opinion. He knew the other 2 ninjas. He had seen them when he met the old Hokage. They were carrying a stack of papers at the time. If he wasn't wrong their names were Kotetsu and Izumo.
Kakashi arched his eyebrow when he saw his blonde student's guardian with the academy teacher walking toward their group. "Yo, Iruka-san, Harry-san. What bring you two here?"
"Naruto should've invited you for party tonight, Kakashi-san," Harry stated, while he glared at the porn on his hand. The Copycat-nin moved discreetly to hide his book, as he feared what he would do to his precious book.
"Huh? Oh, yes he already asked me. Sakura and Sasuke will attend it, don't worry."
"Who is he?" Anko whispered curiously in Iruka's ear, causing him to blush.
"Eh, er… he's the blacksmith that Naruto had invited to come to Konoha. You know; the one that was praised by sandaime-sama? Naruto stays with him now," he said in whisper.
"Hee…" Anko gave Harry a look over and licked her lips. Iruka gave her a worried look, not liking the expression etched on her face.
"—entering the exam, why not make this into a pre-exam party for all? The more the merrier."
Asuma and Kurenai looked at each other. For Asuma, he had heard about Harry from his father, the famed sandaime nicknamed professor, and this party would provide him with the opportunity to grill info as subtle as he could. For Kurenai, she too was curious of Harry, but the real reason why she wanted to accept his invitation was Hinata. The girl had a crush on Naruto and the boy now lived with the young man in front of her.
"Well, sure. I know that Chouji won't refuse free food and it'll be good for once in awhile to force Shikamaru out of his cloud gazing," Asuma chucked out his cigarette into an ashtray.
Kurenai nodded in agreement. "Hinata is a bit down lately and a party will cheer her up. Kiba won't say 'no' to a party. And Shino… he'll be there too."
"The—" someone was sneaking behind him, so he took a step aside and avoided being caught by whoever it was. His hand flew to his sword's handle. When he turned around, he found that it was the scantily clad black haired woman. Only the thought that she was a Konoha nin that stopped him from withdrawing his sword completely.
Meanwhile Anko was pouting. "Aw…" she cooed and was about taking a step forward when his wrapped blade crackled and let off sparks of lightning, warning her to back off. The other ninjas stared at it interestedly.
"Who the hell are you?" Harry demanded. He didn't like it. He had purposely tone down his danger sense somewhat so he wouldn't kill anyone accidentally, but this woman was trying his patience.
"Call me Anko-chan, darling," her comrades sweated. Did she have death wish or something?
"Well Anko-san, what just you're trying to do?" the wizard crossed his arms. For some reason Harry was reminded of that bug reporter, Rita Skeeter. They were both persistent, irritating and clingy as hell.
"Why, seduce you so you'll invite me too, of course. I love parties," she grinned madly.
"And what make you think I'll invite you after this? Let alone leaving you with a bunch of children?"
"Well, let's see… they're chuunin exam participants, while I'm a proctor of said exam, the 2nd part of it." The phrase 'And you don't want them to be kicked out for not inviting me' was left out, but Harry understood the message.
Harry narrowed his eyes. "And what'll I get for inviting you?"
"Hm…ever the businessman, huh? I don't know," she shrugged. "Maybe I'll accidentally say something about the exam," she suggested with a naughty smirk. The others were staring at her incredulously (minus Kakashi who was giggling, as he read his book).
The young man snorted at the older woman. He didn't believe she would tell them anything remotely informative, not to mention Naruto wouldn't accept that kind of cheating, which was strange considering a ninja should always use whatever means he could get his hands on. Harry was tempted to tell her to get lost, but he realized that people like her would bug him needlessly and persistently if he said 'no'.
"Fine, but if I find you sniffing around places where your presence is unwelcome, I'll kick you out before you can so much blink," he warned.
Orochimaru's former student arched an eyebrow. "And pray tell me how I'll know which rooms I'm not supposed to enter?" she challenged. The other ninjas watched them back and forth like a tennis match.
Harry gave her a devilish smirk. "Oh, I'm sure you'll know when—oh sorry—if it happens," he had put wards to ward off unwanted presence, which what she was clearly. Those who tried would regret the assuredly never-to-be-forgotten memory. The others were left wondering what he meant. Did he plant traps in his own house?
Harry then sent a discreet look at the other ninjas that later were introduced by Iruka. He felt bad inviting Asuma and Kurenai only (Anko excluded) in front of them. Should he invite them too? He was hoping they'd be able to reign in the crazy woman from doing whatever it was on her mad mind.
"What about you four?"
Genma blinked. "What about us?" he was a proctor for the exam too, but he didn't think Harry knew that so there was no reason to invite him unless he was just being polite.
"I'd like to invite you too for the party. Might as well invite all of you since she—" at this he sent a dark look at Anko. "—decided to use threat to have her way," he said, scowling all the way.
"I'm feeling so unloved here," Izumo muttered quietly.
"Party huh?" Kotetsu scratched his head. "Sure, I'll go," he needed all the refreshment he could get his hands on after 8 hours slaving on the flood people called paperwork that didn't seem to end anytime soon, especially with the upcoming exam.
"Sorry, but my girlfriend is going to kill me if I cancel our date for the 5th time in a week," Izumo said mournfully. Being Hokage's assistants had its disadvantages.
"If it isn't much problem," Hayate coughed. He'd like to talk with the praised blacksmith as a kenjutsu user.
"Well… someone has to reign Anko in," the kunoichi glared at senbon chewing man, who proceeded to ignore her.
"Alright for those who don't know where my house is, you can ask Kakashi to lead y—" Harry frowned and then stopped speaking. "Actually, never mind. I doubt he'll ever arrive punctually," the others snickered, while the silver haired jounin scowled.
"Don't worry, I know where it is," Iruka smiled. Inwardly Kurenai knew that Hinata would know where Naruto's house was. After all she had taken to stalk him some times (okay… many times). The red eyed kunoichi sighed when she realized that one of her students, her favorite one at that, was a hardcore stalker.
"Then I'll leave now to prepare for the party, excuse me," just as he was about to exit the tea house, Gai and his students entered. Harry froze in his track. Even though Gai was helping him improving his physic (and indeed it was developing nicely under his guidance), the man was still too strange for his taste. He wanted to discreetly leave the tea house when the green beast spotted him, causing him to swear inwardly.
"Harry-kun!" this time the young man truly groaned, not that Gai and his smaller clone noticed this, or it they did they ignored it. Gai's other students cringed sympathetically. They knew how weird Green Beast and Green Beast Jr. were, as they were forced to be in their presences constantly.
"Er, Gai-san, fancy to meet you here," he faked a smile. The other jounins snorted when they saw how uncomfortable he was. "Ah… how have you been?" he asked for the sake of politeness. He should know he shouldn't do that. The man was practically droning on about their training. "Eh, right. I have to go now or I'll be late," Harry excused himself before stopping in his track. "Speaking if which… are you all busy tonight?" he asked all members of his team.
"Well I have training like usual. Why?" the jounin asked curiously, wondering if the younger man wanted to train with him.
If he had to endure Gai's weird way then Naruto and the other rookie genins should be graced by Gai's presence (and Lee's) too. Beside it might be a good idea to introduce them to their senior genin team and possibly their future comrades. "There'll be a party in my house at 7 tonight to celebrate the genins' entrance to the exam and since your team enters it too I'm hoping you'll join us. It's just a small casual party, so not all of the genins are invited. In fact I only invited 3 teams other than yours and they're all rookie genins."
"You invited the rookies, Harry-san?" Tenten asked, startled. She had known Harry because she had seen him speaking with Gai occasionally and sometimes even trained with him. She also knew that he was the infamous blacksmith that had been talked about some months ago, but that was about it.
"Well yes. They're all Naruto's former teammates when they were academy students. At first it would be just a small party for both of us, but I thought the more people the merrier, thus I extended invitations to the other genin teams.
"Wait, Naruto as in Uzumaki Naruto?" she asked again. Harry nodded, surprised that she knew Naruto.
"Who?" Neji didn't know any Naruto.
Tenten turned to him. "You don't remember him?" he shook his head. "Remember the flushed toilet incident? Or the defaced Hokage monument?" Neji blinked and then nodded unsurely. "Well, Naruto was the culprit." The Hyuuga raised his eyebrow.
"Hey, I know him too!" Lee exclaimed, cutting off Tenten's reply. "Blond hair, blue eyes and strange line marks on his cheek, right?" Harry nodded. "I often saw him dodging his pursuers though it stopped after he graduated, some times I even saw ANBUs joining the hunt," Neji and Tenten blinked. They didn't know about that one. "Yosh, Uzumaki Naruto-san is so cool! His youth must be burning passionately!" the other nins (minus Gai) plus Harry sweat dropped.
"Wow, for a prankster, he sure garnered much attention," the weapon specialist muttered.
"Whatever, I have other things to do than just attending a party," the Hyuuga spoke and excused himself.
"Don't worry, Harry-kun! I'll convince my student with my burning passion even if I have to drag him!" Harry would like to say that he had much better things to do other than watching him pose, but kept his mouth shut. And before he could stop Gai following Neji, the man was already gone.
"Gai-sensei, wait for me!" Lee shouted.
Harry turned to the last member of Gai's team. "So," Harry started, "Are you going to attend the party?"
"Why not? It'll be a chance to relax. But… I was kinda hoping that I could see your weapon collection," she added sheepishly.
"Oh, right. You're a weapon specialist, right?" the girl nodded. "Alright, but it will probably be better if you show up at 6, so I can give you a tour. I'm sure you'll like it. Anyone else, aside from her I mean?" he narrowed his eyes when Anko waved her hand frantically. The woman pouted.
The other ninjas looked at each other. "Perhaps we should just arrive at 6 and the party can start at 7," Kurenai suggested. "I'm sure the genins will be pretty interested too."
"Six o'clock it is then. Tenten-san, can you please tell Gai about it?" the girl smiled and nodded. After that they parted.
When he arrived home, Harry immediately went to his potion lab to tend his potions that had been put into stasis. These potions were ranging from beginner to advanced healing potions. It was trued that he wasn't a potion master material, the drive to pursue more knowledge of it was beaten out of his body and mind by the greasy bat who called himself potion master, but Harry was still quite proficient in making potions without him breathing down his neck, especially when said potions would ensure his survival. They had saved his life numerous times, and now he hoped that they'd help Naruto. He knew that the boy had fast regeneration, but it wouldn't hurt to prepare, not to mention Sasuke and Sakura didn't have that advantage.
Harry also had a collection of poisons, but he wasn't sure he should give them to him. Although he had improved, the boy could still be clumsy at times. It wouldn't do if he swallowed a vial of poison instead of healing potion. By the time Naruto was back, his potions were all finished. He poured cauldrons of potions into vials and bottles, labeling them, using both Latin alphabet and katakana for Naruto.
He was glad that there were potions that used herbs only as ingredients, as he didn't think he could find any magical animals here, aside form those that had been put into stasis in at least one of the crates he had taken from his Gringotts' vaults. He had neither the time nor patience to take care of animals of all things.
He shrunk the unbreakable vials and put several of them inside a black velvet box and set it aside on a table, while he put the rest on his own shelves, before he went inside his house to clean himself and perhaps helped Dobby with the dishes.
"Ne, Harry-nii, what're you going to do with Dobby?" spoke Naruto, as he set up the plates. The elf in question perked up, as he flipped an omelet expertly. Several cooking utensils could be seen moving on their own.
Harry poured the chicken soup into a big ceramic bowl and put a heating charm on it, looking pensive. "He could disguise himself as human, but that will attract questions I don't want to answer. Civilians are okay, but we're talking about ninjas in their own hidden village here. It's best that Dobby stays hidden," he said regretfully. The elf's ears sagged. "Of course we can have a private party for the three of us later," he suggested guiltily. Dobby's wide eyes looked at him with hopeful adoration.
"Sure, why not?" Naruto said, knowing how much Dobby looked forward for it. He didn't expect the elf to jump and steal his breath by hugging him tightly. The poor boy was in a daze, as the elf bawled his eyes out, causing Harry to snicker.
"Uh, Dobby, the eggs?" wide eyed, Dobby scrambled to save his cooking. Naruto could only sweat drop at the sight.
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"Man, Naruto lives here?" Kiba asked in shock. It was a big residence for just 2 people after all.
"Naruto-kun," Hinata blushed brightly, not noticing the hateful glare she got from her cousin.
"Come on, Akamaru!" Kiba leapt the high wall that surrounded.
"Kiba, that's rud—" before his sensei could finish her talk, the duo was blasted off by something invisible. "Kiba!" the others ran to check him up.
"Ite te te te," Kiba rubbed the bump that was forming on his forehead. "What the hell was that?" he shouted.
Meanwhile Harry felt like he had forgotten to tell the group something, but for the life of him, he couldn't remember it.
"I don't detect any genjutsu," Kurenai said, checking up their surrounding. "Hinata, can you check it up?"
"Hai sensei. Byakugan!" at the same time Neji activated his and at the same time both Hyuugas' jaws dropped. "I can't see the house, sensei! It's like it isn't here," she cried out. The jounins looked at each other anxiously. Was there really something that can deceive the famed byakugan?
"I can't smell anything strange either, Kurenai-sensei," Akamaru barked in agreement.
"Shino?" she turned to her other student who was conversing silently with his bugs.
"…There's something that repels them from entering the area. Even now they feel like they want to go away from here," there was a worried tone on his voice.
"Wow, Harry-san is truly great to be able to keep out intruders!" Lee praised.
"Erm… perhaps we should just ring the bell?" Iruka suggested. They went to the front gate quietly, lost in their own thoughts, except for Lee who was shouting about Harry's greatness. Tenten and Neji were red in the face.
"You know, I heard rumors that there are some ninjas that were sent to the hospital after they tried to jump from some roof. Reckon that they meant this?" those ninjas were sent by the Council, not Hokage, so they didn't know the details and they didn't want the young ninjas to know they were spying on Harry.
Kakashi sighed. "Probably," he said before going back to read his porn book. Kurenai had dragged him along forcefully, so Kakashi had no choice but to follow her. The kunoichi snatched away the book in anger.
"I feet something fishy here!" Anko giggled, much to the exasperation of others. The genins were wondering who she was.
"It's too troublesome," a genin moaned out. Guess who it was?
"Shut up, Shikamaru!" a blonde girl shouted.
They were right in front of the front gate and Sakura rang the bell. A minute later the door was opened by Naruto. The boy was dressed casually: dark blue shirt and baggy black pants. There was a kunai holster on both his thighs.
"Hey, guys," he greeted with a wide smile. Hinata stuttered in the background. "Come in!" he invited them. Unknown to the party (including the clueless Naruto) there was a ripple around the ward that allowed them to enter the residence after Naruto invited them.
"Naruto, you asshole! What the hell was that, huh?" Kiba was all but shrieking.
"Huh?" the boy asked confusedly.
"This, you bastard!" he pointed to his forehead.
"…wow, that's a big lump. You should treat it, Kiba."
"Why youuuu!" he growled, thinking that Naruto was mocking him.
"What the hell is your problem, mutt?" Naruto yelled as he dodged Kiba's attacks, thinking that he went nuts.
"It's your fault that I got this lump!" Akamaru wagged his tail as he watched his master attacking the blond.
"How in the hell it's my fault? It's not like I slammed the gate open in your face!" Naruto defended, he caught Kiba's wrist and swung his body like a rag doll. The Inuzuka boy rolled in the air and landed, crouching on the ground, baring his teeth.
Before he could attack Naruto again, Kurenai spoke frostily, "Kiba-kun," she glared disapprovingly. Said boy gulped. He sent a last glare to the confused, but irritated Naruto, and walked behind his team angrily.
"Naruto, you have truly improved!" Iruka said, trying to defuse the situation. It worked. The boy was distracted.
The Kyuubi vessel grinned. "Of course I am, Iruka-sensei. Can't let Sasuke get all the glory!" the black haired genin scowled.
"Naruto-san, you're such a youth with your burning spirit!" Lee jumped.
Naruto blinked. "…Who are you?" he had no idea who he was. Why was he here? Then again he didn't know several other people in the group.
"My name is Rock Lee and I'm—"
"Why don't we enter the house first before we introduce ourselves?" Iruka interrupted. Naruto nodded and led them to the main house. The ninjas noticed that the house and garden were well kept, but they saw no servant to tend them. Naruto led them to the main house.
"Where's Harry-san?" as they walked down the corridor.
"His room," he stopped in front of a room that faced the inner court garden. "Harry-nii, they're here," he spoke. The sliding door opened to reveal the wizard.
"You're all here, eh?" he shot a warning look toward Anko. "Why don't we go to the hall first, before we start the tour of my weapon rooms? Not all of us know each other." They agreed. After the introduction was over, Harry led them to one of his weapon rooms. Several rooms in the house had been converted to weapon rooms where Harry kept his own crafts or others that he had bought from weapon dealers. As Naruto had been in the weapon rooms before and could enter it as he wished, Harry sent Naruto away to set up the dishes.
"There are 6 rooms that I have converted into weapon rooms. This one is for thrown weapons, that one for blades, and then for blunt short range weapon like tonfa and also heavy artillery like mace, and the next one for miscellaneous weapon while the last one is for experimented weapon that I haven't finalized yet."
The first room was full of kunai, shuriken, bow and arrow, javelin, crossbow, dart, chakram/disc, senbon etc of various shapes and sizes. "I found that it was a waste of time making most of them on my own, so most of the weapons here were bought. I made sure to only pick the best ones I could find." Tenten acted like Christmas had come early. It was too bad the weapons were in display cases; else she would have run her fingers through them. The other ninjas were interested too, as kunai and shuriken were ninja's basic weapon though they had never seen this much variant like in this place, but they weren't as giddy as Tenten.
Hayate paid more attention to the next room, because he was kenjutsu specialist. There were many kinds of blades there. Kodachi, katana, bokken, wakizashi, sickle, spear, long sword, broad sword, rapier, army knife even blades in the shape they had never seen before. There were also different kinds of shields.
"Wow, I didn't know there are these many kinds of blades before," Chouji looked around in awe. Shikamaru nodded. He too was fascinated by these, already calculating the right way to use these weapons, its advantages and disadvantages.
"I usually make blades like these. Most of the weapons in this room were made by me actually. Most ninjas prefer thinner and less weighted swords than I what I used to make though. Come on, let's go, you can see it again later after we eat," Hayate and Tenten nodded reluctantly.
There were tonfa, stick, brass knuckle, gauntlet etc in there. Asuma immediately went to the brass knuckle section, wondering which variant suited him best.
The next room contained mace, huge hammer, metal bat, spiked chained ball etc. "Whoa, I don't think I can even lift it," Ino commented, as her gaze landed on the heavy weapons. "These are more like Chouji's weapon choice," said genin stopped in the middle of his chip crunching.
"Are you implying that I am fat?" he glowered.
"Wh-what? Of course n-not!" she sweated. "I mean you're stronger than both Shikamaru and I, so you must be great if you're using these weapons. Yes, that's what I mean," she gave him her best 'Who? Me?' smile. The others rolled their eyes.
The other room, just like Harry said, was full with miscellaneous weapons that couldn't be fit into one of the rooms. There were things like whip, wire string, poisoned ring, something that resembled fish hook, explosion notes, and smoke bomb. "And that concludes our one hour tour. Hope that it satisfies your curiosity somewhat. Come, I'm sure Naruto has finished. We can talk as we eat. There are some dishes that come from my homeland, you should try them," the fat Akimichi perked up.
True to what he said, Naruto was already done (helped by Dobby, not that the others noticed it) and was currently lounging in front of TV, watching a movie.
"Oh, you guys are done?" he switched off the electronic.
"Hey, where's Anko?" Kotetsu looked around. The jounins groaned simultaneously and they observed Harry cautiously, wondering what his reaction was. To their surprise, their host was smirking, as if he knew something they didn't. They were answered by a shrill scream that rang from the other side of the house. Harry nodded, allowing them to run toward the source.
Behind Harry, Neji activated his byakugan. He could still see tenketsu in people, or seeing 360 degrees, but he couldn't see past the wall! This house somehow had dampened his bloodline. His eyes swept Naruto and he raised his eyebrow when he saw the blonde boy had thicker chakra coils than even jounins. He turned to their host and all thoughts about Naruto were swept from his mind, as he watched in shock the lack of chakra coils and tenketsu in Harry's body. What could it mean?
Anko was rubbing her sore electrocuted butt. Her hair stood up, defying gravity. She glared when she spotted Harry who smirked mockingly at her, ignoring Kurenai's fuss. She had attempted to enter his room after checking for traps, but just as her finger touched the door, it electrocuted her!
"So," Harry started with amused smile, leaning against the wall. "Having fun?"
"Damn you," she hissed angrily.
"Hey, I did warn you, didn't I? I hope you learn from it. The more you try, the more you'll be hurt. It's not my fault that you didn't heed my warning. Come on, I'm famished," he said offhandedly. Kurenai had to restrain her from attacking their host.
"I'm going to enjoy ripping your flesh!" Anko yelled, fist clenching, while struggling against her comrade's hold.
"Anko, stop it!" Kurenai sighed.
The foods and drinks were delicious and it was clear that the guests were quite enjoying it… with the sole exception of one special jounin who was glaring heatedly at the calm blacksmith, while she shoved foods down her throat. The atmosphere was rather tense and no one wanted to start any talk incase she directed her ire to them. The silence were interrupted several times by Hayate coughing like usual. Even Gai and Lee felt awkward.
"ARRGGGH!!" they looked at Naruto who slammed his bowl against the table and stood up. He pointed angrily at the irritated woman. "This is supposed to be a party, damnit! Not a funeral! What's your problem anyway?"
Anko stopped eating. "That's not your business, brat!"
"B-brat?" he repeated incredulously.
"Naruto," Harry called, a smile was plastered on his face.
"It's okay. She just has some… issues. Apparently she failed to understand the meaning of privacy and reaps what she sows," Harry explained, smirking at the woman.
Naruto blinked. "Huh?"
Hinata flinched when Anko slammed her fist against the table. "Issues! I'll show you issues!"
It was really easy to bait her. Harry felt like he was facing Draco Malfoy v. II. The difference was (aside from their genders) she didn't know about his life so she didn't have ammunition against him, unlike Malfoy. He remembered the fond memory of dismembering him and ending the Malfoy line on his generation. Funny… he didn't feel happy when he thought of Tom's death, but Malfoy's death made him pleased. Anyway, it was her fault for trying to pry in his privacy. He was always a private person and it never changed, in fact it had gotten worse after his friends' deaths. And really, she was being very obvious about it; she really should learn discretion. No one blackmailed him and got away with it.
He was baiting her. And she was eating from his hand (not literal, of course). Kurenai wanted to groan.
"A-ano…" Hinata flushed when all attentions turned to her. "F-fight-fighting when ea-eating is r-really bad. We s-should… um," she mumbled the last part, fiddling with her fingers and ducked her head, cowering under the others' gazes. Neji scowled.
Harry scratched his head and sighed. "Don't worry, Hinata-san, I won't provoke her," then he turned to Anko, raising a questioning eyebrow.
The crazed jounin watched Hinata's fearful and embarrassed expression. Damn, she was getting soft. "Fine, bastard."
"Uh-uh, such word is unbecoming for a lady," Harry wagged his fingers. The others sweat dropped when Anko's eyes were burning with rage though she refrained from yelling or lashing out.
Genma leaned against Hayate's shoulder. "Anko as a lady? Pft!" Anko had a fine hearing though, especially when it involved her. The senbon biting jounin was having a glare drilling his head.
"Whatever, you guys all suck!" Naruto muttered and resumed his eating. And he thought he was going to enjoy the party too! Why did Harry-nii have to invite her anyway?
"N-Naruto-kun," the Hyuuga heir bowed her head shamefully thinking that he meant her too.
"Ma maa," Kakashi started. "Why don't we talk about something then?"
"About what?" Ino queried scathingly. Perhaps it was a mistake agreeing with this. Sure the food were great, but she was on a diet, damnit! And the sullen atmosphere didn't improve her mood.
For Shikamaru, speaking was too troublesome, while Chouji was entertained with just the food, so he didn't really care to speak at all. Neji and Sasuke didn't feel like becoming conversationalists anytime soon. Shino were already talking… to his bugs. Kiba was busy shoving foods. Tenten was waiting for others to start it first, while Lee for once didn't have anything in mind to say (read: yell about). Sakura was wondering whether it might be a good idea to excuse herself and go home. Naruto just hoped that the sucky party would end soon or he'd start throwing things, preferably at that livid woman.
"Well, since it's a party to celebrate your entrance to chuunin exams, why don't you ask them about the exam? She did say she would be a proctor for the exam. I'm pretty sure we can squeeze information from her is she isn't willing to talk," Harry grinned. The genins perked up, while the older nin were frowning inwardly, they were hoping that the genins would ask questions about him. People usually loved to solve puzzle, and Harry was such a mysterious guy they should be curious about him. Unfortunately the young man diverted the attention from him perfectly, though whether he was avoiding it or just giving suggestion to the genins was unknown.
Anko found herself bombarded by questions. "QUIET!!!" she bellowed. The solemn and quiet atmosphere returned, hanging above them. "Now," she glared at Harry, "I said that I MIGHT slip something out, but that didn't mean I WOULD!" the blank, yet somehow hopeful stares from the genins were starting to get her really uncomfortable. "Ur… what I mean is… ur…" the other adult nins enjoyed seeing her squirming on her seat uncomfortably.
"Yes?" they chorused.
"God damnit, ask your own jounins about their exams! I have no time to deal with this. That old man might punish me if I really slip out something about it!" She snatched her plate and resumed her eating, ignoring the disappointed groans.
"Just hints, please!" Ino pleaded.
"I'm the 2nd exam's proctor! It's not like you guys will be able to pass the first one, anyway!" she said scathingly. "And don't even ask about the first exam because I don't know. That's Ibiki's area, he is the one in charge," she then smirked evilly, as she turned to Kotetsu. "Say… don't you have a task to do for the first exam?" in seconds, the attentions were shifted and Kotetsu watched the genins warily, afraid that they'd pounce on him.
"…Not really, I am only tasked to weed out the weaker teams first, so Ibiki will have an easier time. Sorry, but that's the only thing I can tell you. Any further then that and I'll get demoted," he cringed, hoping that they'd stop asking him.
"How many parts are there in the exam, anyway?" Sakura questioned curiously.
"Three parts… well that and plus some other unofficial exam parts, like my job is supposed to be. It'll be better if you ask your jounins."
"Unfortunately, Gai and I got our ranks during the war, so I didn't undergo a chuunin exam like you," he cut off. Gai nodded energetically. He would have yelled about his burning youth, if Anko hadn't crushed his foot below the table. He let out a silent cry. Lee was wondering why his beloved sensei acted so oddly.
"You mean you can get chuunin title without entering the exam?" Ino was surprised.
"Desperate time needs desperate measure," Asuma shrugged. "I got my rank from a C-rank mission gone awry. There were some missing-nins involved and my team was deemed worthy."
"Hey, our C-rank mission was blown out of proportion too, and there were also missing-nins involved. Plus we had freed a country from oppression, but we didn't become chuunin," Naruto grumbled.
"That mission in Wave? That was because Wave wasn't involved with us in any way other than being our client. My mission stopped a war from forming against Konoha, even if that wasn't our actual mission. We stumbled upon the information and acted accordingly. My teammates and I almost got ourselves killed. Not a funny experience. What about you, Iruka, Kurenai?"
"Eh? Me? I didn't enter the exam or finish a mission like you, Asuma-san. In fact since I had chosen to be an academy teacher, there was a separate exam that ninjas had to take, whether they were genin, chuunin, jounin or even ANBU. I had taken the exam when I was genin and my rank was upped when I passed it, as the minimal qualification to be an academy teacher was chuunin. Even then I had to become a teacher assistant for 2 years, before I became an official academy teacher."
The genins and even some older ninjas blinked at that revelation. They didn't know about that one.
Harry scratched his head. It was no wonder that Iruka was worried about Naruto. The man actually became a chuunin through a different and safer method.
They then waited for Kurenai. "Although I did become a chuunin by passing the chuunin exam, the situation was different," she then looked apologetically to Hinata, "Remember the tension with Cloud years ago? Konoha hadn't fully recovered from Kyuubi's attack," thankfully none of the genins was looking at Naruto, because the boy had flinched, "—and thus it had lesser qualifications and the exam was easier, because Konoha needed fresh chuunins in case there would be a war against Cloud."
"Tell us about it anyway, Kurenai-sensei," Kiba said. The others nodded in agreement.
"Okay. The first exam, we were tested as a team. Each one of us was given a specific map that, if we put the 3 parts together, would tell us the location where we must gather after being separated from each other within 5 hours. The examiners would disguise themselves as one of use and we had to make sure that we recognized our own teammates. The proctors wouldn't attack us, but would take our maps if we failed to recognize them as not our teammates. Thankfully my team had developed our own unique hand signs and we were able to pass the first part despite the attempts of sabotage from other teams," she mulled and sighed fondly at the memory.
She continued, "In the second exam, we had to pass through a forest full with traps individually for 3 days, none too lethal I assure you, they didn't want us killed and there were medic-nins around to help if we were in dire needs… they'd only came if we failed to pass the exam though. And we had to do it with only basic weapons and basic techniques, so no fancy techniques, as they wanted to see whether we could use them effectively and creatively. We had to retrieve red flags in the heart of the forest. What we weren't told, however, was that from all 75 flags hidden and scattered around, there were only 16 red flags, the rest was camouflaged by genjutsu to appear as red flags. There were still 99 genins around, there were influxes of genins trying to become chuunins that year, so you know what happened. One of my teammates failed. He wasn't with me and he sucked at genjutsu or detecting things like this, so even though he had retrieved a flag, he didn't know that it wasn't red flag," Naruto grimaced. It seemed he had to train his genjutsu. He sucked at it. The last exam was a public tournament, held 3 weeks after the second part was finished. We ninjas had to show off our capability in front of thousands of eyes inside a stadium where we would be judged whether we were worthy to get advanced to upper rank or not. In fact the last part of the exam was usually a public tournament, so perhaps it would be that again this year. Obviously I passed it; else I wouldn't be telling you about it."
"You passed on your first exam, Yuuhi-sensei?" Tenten asked interestedly. A kunoichi like her was her inspiration.
"No, actually that's my second exam. My teammate made a blunder on our first part and we were disqualified," she smirked evilly when she remembered what she did to that rash teammate of hers, rubbing her palms.
"Does that mean that the first exam usually tests our teamwork and then the next one will test us individually?" Shikamaru opened his mouth.
"Well, that's how Konoha and Grass usually did it. I heard it was different in Kiri. No clue about Rock or Cloud; Konoha were and are not exactly in the best terms with them. Sand will follow through the same method like us, but I heard a rumor that since they had lower shinobi population, those who failed their exams had to undergo training for a year of some sorts and they could become chuunin after they passed the training," the genjutsu specialist answered without looking up from her spaghetti. She was staring at it in fascination. It would be her new favorite food after this. She had half the mind to grill the recipe from Harry. "Em… this one is really good," she complimented. "What's its name?"
"Spaghetti," Kurenai tried to pronounce it correctly, but failed.
"Can you give me the recipe for suppa-whatever it is?" she asked. Harry nodded. "Where did you buy the noodle from? It was different from udon or ramen," she frowned.
"Eh, made it by myself actually," he said.
"You mean I can't buy the noodle instantly from the market?" even though she was a woman, she was a kunoichi. A busy kunoichi that shouldn't waste her time on cooking!
"Unfortunately." She groaned dejectedly. The plates of food were slowly emptied; a fifth of it was by Chouji himself. Naruto didn't have to gorge himself, as he could always ask Dobby for food anytime, so he ate slower than usual and took his time, having Harry drill table manners inside his brain, nothing much, just so he would eat like a civilized man, not someone that hadn't eaten for 10 days. He was ticked to know that Kakashi could finish his plate in seconds when people weren't looking and thus didn't see him removing his mask to eat. He wondered if his mouth was a vacuum or something. "I hope all of you came here with empty stomachs, because we still has desserts," Chouji and Kiba cheered (Akamaru was barking, as he got a portion of Kiba's food). Ino and Sakura mourned their ruined diet.
The tension had disappeared and they started to talk amongst them. The jounins eventually forgot their intention to grill Harry, wanting to enjoy the time with their fellow comrades and genins.
"Damn, I can't move," Kiba moaned after he cleared the last dessert, leaning back against his chair. On his lap, Akamaru curled his body lazily. Chouji was petting his stomach; a satisfied smile was plastered on his face. The ninjas were pretty subdued with their stomachs full of food. And even though Gai and Lee spouted their usual crazy talk, they were quieter. Harry and Naruto had refrained themselves from eating too much, as they would have a private party with Dobby. "Naruto, don't think that just because Harry-san is your guardian I will be easier on you," Kiba smirked, looking at the genin beside him.
Naruto snorted. "Say it, when you're fit to fight, baka. Right now you don't look like you can do anything."
"What did you say?" he bellowed, their foreheads pressing against each other.
"I said, you should say it when you can fight, baka. Right now you can't even lift your finger, much less fighting against me. And don't underestimate me, because that'll be the last thing you'll do before I beat you into oblivion."
"Oh, yeah?" Kiba shouted, while his dog was still lying on his lap, undisturbed.
"Geez, if you children want to blow each other up, why don't you play exploding snap while we adults play pokers."
"What?" all of them turned to Harry who had spoken. They had never heard about those games before.
(AN: let's say that they didn't play card game here, or if there are cards, they aren't the same)
"They are games from my homeland. I'm lucky that I have them with me," Harry walked to a wooden box he had prepared. He took out the card box and the exploding snap. "Here are the rules and how to play it," he said, explaining them.
"Wait, wait, wait, you mean it can truly explode?" as Harry never taught Naruto how to play it, he too was as clueless as others.
Harry nodded with a grin. "Yep, but don't worry it won't hurt you… much," that didn't reassure the young genins, but they played the game nonetheless. The older ninjas were then taught to play poker after watching 1 round of the exploding game. "And Kakashi, kindly remove your mask, so we can see your face?" the genins stopped playing.
"What for?" he was bewildered.
"So we can see your face," Harry repeated.
"No, I know that, but what is the relation with the game?"
"You see, there's this thing we call poker face. We have to avoid displaying our emotion from our face, so the others can't read it. It'll be unfair for us, as you wear a mask and hitae-ate to cover your eye," Harry pointed out. Harry blinked when he looked over his shoulder. The genins were all behind him, eager to see Kakashi's face.
"Oh, alright," he reached behind his back. The genins went closer, high-fiving (AN: is that even a word?) each other. Anko and Gai cheered. They were both really curious to see his face.
"If you reach for your smut book, I'll swat you with it," Kurenai growled.
Instead of porn, Kakashi took out 9 other masks (For Kotetsu, Iruka, Hayate, Genma, Anko, Asuma, Kurenai, Gai and Harry). The others dropped to the ground anime style. "Why don't we even the field?" he smiled victoriously, as the others grumbled under their breaths.
Harry sighed and massaged his forehead. "Naruto, may I borrow your hitae-ate?" he asked, as the others adjusted their own headbands to cover one of their eye. It looked like they were trying to imitate Kakashi… and failed spectacularly.
Naruto silently handed his hitae-ate, still dazed from what had happened.
I did tell you that this chapter will be the long awaited chuunin exam, unfortunately when I wrote this, I don't expect it to become this long. So chuunin exam will be the next one. Sorry, guys.
I want to have the genin teams bonded to each other right now, instead of after Sasuke defected like in the series. Whether or not he'll do the same thing here, is a secret…actually I still haven't decided it yet (blush). And yes, there are still 3 weeks until the exam starts.