Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. (But I do own the movie…)A Simple Mistake
By: TFChapter 04: Adjusting
Naruto gave McGonagall a blank look as she held two sticks in front of him and Gaara and ordered them to take the stick and give it a quick swish. Casually he looked over at Gaara to see the other boy wearing an equally blank, yet more menacing, face as the older woman huffed impatiently at their hesitation.
"If even one of you would just take a wand we could get this process over with quicker," Snape said from somewhere behind McGonagall as he lounged against the Slytherin table.
"What's the point of swishing a stick?" Naruto asked, still eyeing the wands warily.
"As we have explained before, to test for any magical potential. We discussed this as a group yesterday before breakfast," McGonagall said.
"But swishing a stick?"
"We're looking for the results of you swishing the stick," Snape snapped.
With a look of disdain Gaara reached in front of Naruto and took one of the test wands from McGonagall's hand. He examined the wand for a moment (whether he was looking for a possible weapon or not, Naruto couldn't tell, he had his sand anyway) before moving the end through the air in a sharp cutting motion. When nothing happened he frowned, dropped the stick, and returned to his former bored look.
"No, no. You have to swish the stick. You can't just slice it through the air and expect anything to happen. You have to give the wand some time to find and pull the magic out of you," McGonagall explained.
"Wait. You mean that this thing is going to pull energy out of us? I don't think that that's such a good idea," Naruto protested, waving his hands vigorously. "We've had experience with that, and it ain't pretty."
"It won't pull the magic out of you as much as show how much you have in a controlled form," Snape said as he approached the table. "There are other ways to do this, but they tend to be messy."
Naruto gulped and looked at Gaara. The red head was giving the elder man a look that clearly read "overstatement." When one of your main attacks is crushing someone to death with sand, messy is never a problem. Drenched, covered, or encrusted were problems, but never messy.
Gaara picked the wand up again and swished it with deliberate slowness, as is mocking the assignment. Red sparks flew out of the end of the wand, hitting and singeing the table instead of fading in the air, making both teachers jump. Naruto was next, muscles tensed with the effort not to swish the wand as quickly as he could just to get the whole assignment over with. Gold sparks flew out of the wand tip and scattered over the table to singe the areas that the red sparks hadn't.
"Well, both of you have a good deal of magical potential," McGonagall said as she watched the Naruto drop his wand in surprise. "That will make it easier for you to fit in a catch up in class."
"Wait, you actually expect us to try to learn this stick waving crap?" Naruto asked. "That's worse than Kakashi taking us on a mission to Snow Country."
When Gaara gave him a look Naruto added, "Before it thawed."
"If you are staying in our school, then you are following our rules and learning," Snape said. "We have things to do other than to cater to your dilemma."
Before Naruto could open his mouth and say something rude McGonagall took over the situation, but not before giving Snape a hard look.
"It will be easier for us to help you if you go to class. Besides, learning new skills shouldn't be frowned upon," she said. "Now, we need to head to Diagon Alley before it starts getting crowded."
She got up and led the way out of the Great Hall. They stopped after a few twists and turns in the teachers' lounge in front of the large fireplace. While each teacher had a fireplace that accessed the floo network in their private rooms they had a larger one in the teachers' lounge for groups of students.
"This is a fireplace. How are we supposed to travel through a fireplace?" Naruto asked loudly.
"There is a thing called the "floo network" that connects the fireplaces together. Through it one can travel almost anywhere in England or Europe by naming their destination," McGonagall explained. "You take a pinch of floo powder, throw it into the fire, then state the name of your destination clearly. In this case you will say "Diagon Alley" as you step into the fire."
Both boys hesitated as they looked between the fire and the professors. Neither was stupid, fire tended to burn when aimed in your direction, even during a jutsu gone wrong. Willingly stepping into a fire tended to not be a good idea in most cases.
"If you two aren't going to move, then let me show you how its done and get this trip over with," Snape said. He took a pinch of powder from the vase, threw it into the fire, waited until the flames turned green, then stepped in while calling "Diagon Alley" clearly as he disappeared.
"See? The floo network is harmless. Now get moving, we have a lot to get done today."
The boys shared a look again before Naruto stepped forward, threw the powder into the fire, and disappeared amidst green flames.
Diagon Alley was bustling. Everyone who had plans for the evening or wanted to get their shopping done earlier had crowded they alley. When Naruto and Gaara had emerged from the fireplace they were not only covered in soot, but on the defensive until they realized that they were in a pub. They quickly acted relaxed, but not before McGonagall caught the flash of light reflecting off of a kunai. She made a mental note to have a talk with both the boys and the headmaster about removing their weapons when they got back to the school.
Snape led the way through the mass of people that crowded alley and stores, the others trailing behind. It was hard for both Naruto and Gaara to resist making a few clones to take point and spread through the crowd to look for threats. They were being hit hard with the knowledge that they didn't know what potential threats would look like.
They needed everything from the First Year list and more. Soon both boys were loaded with secondhand books, writing supplies, caldrons, and potions ingredients. It was only at the robe shop that McGonagall and Snape ran into difficulties.
"I am not wearing a dress," Naruto said stubbornly. He had his arms crossed over his chest and was eyeing the black robes with disdain.
"These are robes, not dresses," McGonagall protested. "They are the standard uniform, everyone wears them."
"I am not wearing a dress," Naruto repeated stubbornly.
McGonagall sighed and looked to Gaara who had a look of distaste on his face as he looked around the store. No one had even tried to get Gaara into a robe. He was giving anyone who neared a look guaranteed to make them skitter away in fear.
"Mr. Uzumaki, we can't just let you run around in that orange monstrosity for weeks on end. Not only would it get dirty, it would start to smell and offend your housemates and the nose of everyone else nearby," McGonagall said.
"Then stop showing me dresses. I am not a girl," Naruto said.
"I assume you feel the same," McGonagall said, looking over her shoulder at Gaara.
McGonagall threw her hands into the air in frustration before going to talk to the shop owner about the boys' request. Snape had refused to help with clothes, claiming that it was a woman's area before going to replenish his own potions supplies.
"You realize that she will make you give up your orange," Gaara said as soon as McGonagall was out of hearing range.
Naruto looked mournfully at his bright outfit before sighing, "I knew that it would come to this sooner or later. Everyone has been trying to do this for years."
"Why not give it up?"
"Why should I? This, actually an earlier version of this, was the first thing that I paid for on my own once every caretaker had abandoned me. It has sentimental value," Naruto said.
Gaara nodded, and the two of them stood in silence until McGonagall came back with pants, shirts, and coats in various colors. They grimaced, but complied when asked to spread their arms and allow cords to be drawn around their arms, shoulders, and waists for measurements. They were each individually drawn aside and asked about undergarments, leaving Gaara even more irritated and Naruto blushing bright red. Normally the blond would have leered and made a joke, but being asked about underwear by an elder woman in a strange place was more embarrassing than anything else.
They soon came away from the robe shop with enough clothes to last two weeks each. When they add that to their other packages they were almost overloaded. By the time they got back to the pub both boys were jittery and jumping when someone got too close. Only when they were back in Hogwarts did they calm somewhat.
Snape and McGonagall separated in order to lead the boys back to their separate dormitories so that they could unpack their individual loads. Afterwards both teachers were going to meet with the headmaster to discuss the day and their individual opinions. Neither had missed the boys' paranoia, or the way they tensed as if ready to spring when approached by someone or something new. Both felt that it was an interesting reaction, one that people so young shouldn't have. The more they knew about these boys the better they would be prepared to deal with anything new that happened.
Gaara glared angrily around the Slytherin common room and its occupants. He was still cold despite the fire roaring merrily away in the fireplace. He came from a place of warmth and overpowering sunlight and waves of heat that shimmered for miles into the distance. He was not equipped to deal with a place of cold, stone, and days of dreary mist and rain. If this had been a mission he would have been prepared, but this wasn't a mission, and he wasn't prepared, and he was fucking cold.
The other Slytherins steered clear of Gaara and the murderous look on his face. Even the normally bold Draco Malfoy and his cronies found better things to do. They sat in a far corner and whispered, but they didn't move any closer than absolutely necessary.
For a while Gaara sat close to the fire and huddled down while wrapped in his new cloak. The material was thick and warm, but not warm enough. It didn't help that the only thing that seemed to seep through the Slytherin common room was cold. It was no wonder all of the Slytherins wore their own cloaks in the common room as well. When he realized that the fire was doing little more than warming his face he silently got up and left the common room in search of warmth.
Grains of sand spread out ahead of him, searching for Naruto amidst the maze of the castle. As he walked Gaara let more and more of the sand go until only a faint outline of the gourd was left. He closed his eyes and concentrated until he picked up the taste of Naruto's aura. He smiled faintly as he called the rest of his sand back to him and followed the trail until it led him to a portrait of a fat woman at the base of a tower.
"You aren't a Gryffindor," the woman stated snobbishly.
"Let me in," Gaara commanded, glaring at the painting until it cringed. He hated pieces of artwork that talked back (there were jutsus that involved ink paintings back home, so this wasn't a big change).
"You need the password," the painting replied fearfully.
Gaara continued to glare as he released some sand and sent it under the portrait and into the area behind. He clasped his hands together and quickly performed the seals for his third eye technique. Behind the portrait was a room decorated in red and gold with a fire blazing in the hearth and cushy chairs and couches strewn out in front. His vision slid forward until he could see Naruto lounging in a chair as he watched a one-sided game of chess between a gangly red head and the black haired boy with glasses.
He manipulated the sand until it swirled up in front of Naruto's face, causing the blond boy to blink in surprise. Gaara sighed as Naruto stared at the eye of sand until it dawned on him that he should open the door and go looking for the other shinobi.
"Gaara! I didn't think that you were supposed to come up here," Naruto said as he pushed the portrait door open and allowed Gaara to step through the threshold.
Warmth instantly sank into Gaara's clothes as he moved into the room. A few cries of protest also went up when Gaara entered the room, but he silenced those with a glare as he followed Naruto back to where the blond had previously been sitting.
"I don't think that you're allowed in here," Ron said when Gaara took a spot near the flames.
Gaara gave him a harsh look before settling himself in. Naruto snickered at the way Ron cringed before turning his attention to the rest of the room.
"He's right. Only Gryffindors are allowed in the Gryffindor common room," Hermione piped up, carefully ignoring Gaara and the annoyed look he was shooting her.
"I would like to see you make him leave," Naruto said, smiling innocently when he received annoyed looks.
"You shouldn't have let him in," Ron snapped.
"Why not?" Naruto asked. "If you were dumped in a new place with only one familiar person you would stay with them as much as possible too."
"But you were sorted into different houses, and he's Slytherin," Ron stressed.
"Ron, drop it," Harry said, moving a chess piece. "He isn't causing problems."
Ron shifted and muttered angrily under his breath, but moved his concentration back to the game at hand. The rest of the common room slowly settled down as well, skirting the area closest to the fire and the red head with darkly ringed eyes.
Naruto blinked when Harry and Ron called it a night and packed up the game. At the base of the spiral staircase that led to the boys' dormitory they paused and looked back at Naruto.
"Are you coming up?" Harry asked.
Naruto looked between them and Gaara and smirked.
"Nah. I'll be staying out here for the night. It's not like I haven't done so before," he called.
Harry shrugged and turned to go up the stairs, "Your choice."
Naruto's smile lagged as soon as Harry was out of sight. He turned back to Gaara with a pensive look on his face. The red head was still sitting on the couch closest to the fire with the air of not moving until morning.
"You do realize that we are going be in major trouble for this."
Gaara blinked and looked at Naruto. His hair was turned a deep burgundy red in the firelight and suddenly Naruto could understand how Gaara's mere appearance could strike fear into people. The boy looked just plain terrifying backlit as he was by the fire.
"Ah, who cares? I've been in worse trouble for some spray paint back home."
I know, short. But it's got the ball rolling. I've also revised previous chapters. Nothing major, just a few things that I thought needed work and a few suggestions that made perfect sense.
Once again, thanks to everyone who has reviewed and waited so long. I appreciate your support and patience.