I am no longer writing for most character accents. Sorry. Use your imagination.
Chapter 32: Swimming Lessons
"HOW THE HELL DID THAT HAPPEN?!"
Harry jerked out of bed to see Naruto sitting up in bed with Hinata standing next to him with a slightly upset look on her face. Harry didn't say anything for a moment, sitting up with a dazed expression on his face.
'Why was Hinata in the boy's dorm so early in the morning anyway...?' he wondered to himself.
"What is it...?" Kiba asked groggily from across the room as he, like the others woken up by the shouting, looked sleepily at Naruto, who looked wide awake as if he had been given some sort of an electric jolt.
"We've got a huge emergency!" Ino cried, barging through the door into the dorms without bothering to keep it quiet. Suddenly, with the addition of yet another girl in the dorms, all of the boys began to realize, with a sick feeling of dread, that there were girls in the room.
Many dove to cover themselves with their sheets. Ordinarily, Ino probably would have rolled her eyes and made a comment about how they had nothing new to hide from her, but now was not the time.
"Shikamaru wants us up and meeting at the usual place," she said stiffly, without a single trace of her usual lighthearted attitude or humor in her voice.
"Okay, so what happened, exactly?" Kiba said, a bit confused. He glanced at everyone nervously at the group, which was still somewhat incomplete, missing a few members.
"Neji was attacked," Tenten said, looking as if she was having a hard time holding back her irritation. "Nick found him this morning at the foot of a stairway."
"Sir Nicholas Thomas Mimsy Porpington, or something like that," she muttered. "Nearly Headless Nick. He found Neji unconscious at the bottom of the stairs."
"How did Neji of all people end up like that?" Naruto said, shaking his head in disbelief.
"He'd never fall down the stairs over his own feet and knock himself out. And it feels just as unbelievable that someone would beat him up," Sakura said. "First of all, no one beats a Hyuuga in the middle of the night without someone hearing something. Second, no one in their right mind would just leave a body in the middle of the hallway. If Neji got into a fight with someone, he's a major threat to them. I mean, it's Hyuuga Neji. Why didn't they kill him if they had the chance?"
Tenten shrugged. "Beats me... Anyway, Neji was taken to the infirmary, but they're thinking of sending him to Saint Mamba's or something—"
"Not at the moment," Hinata said, arriving on the scene. As family, she had been allowed entry inside of the infirmary. "He's woken up."
"So?" Tenten said, looking more alert. "What happened? What'd they say about him?"
"Not much. He's being tested by medi-wizards for physical, mental, and magical damage right now," she said. "There are reporters swarming all over this situation... Speaking of which..."
"Where's Shino?" Shikamaru asked. Hinata tilted her head up slightly.
Shino jumped down from the tree branch and landed lightly on his feet. Bugs that had lightly littered the forest floor slowly made their way back to the Aburame, who pulled his hood back slightly so that they would reenter through his skin and any other entry they were allowed, including his ears and various self-inflicted orifices gaping in his skin.
None of the shinobi so much as blinked an eye at the sound of a strangers voice.
"Come on out, you three," Temari said loudly. "We've known you were hiding behind that tree from the very beginning."
"Come out or I'll make you come out," Gaara and Sasuke said at the same time. They looked at each other expressionlessly, neither sure what exactly to say. They both looked away simultaneously as Harry, Hermione, and Ron pulled off the invisibility cloak and stepped forward dejectedly.
"The day people acknowledge you as a great six-legged spy, I'll cut my hair off," Ino said, shaking her head. "Honestly, if you want to spy, you three can not walk around as if you're joined at the hips, Invisible cloak or no. Plus, that thing doesn't always cover your feet."
The three of them looked down at their feet suddenly, realizing that, with how much they've grown those past years, Ino was probably right.
"And since the three of you lack spy tactics, sufficient equipment, and alternative techniques, you should probably go for the direct approach," Shikamaru said.
They didn't say anything.
"...Well? Aren't you going to ask us what's going on this morning?" he said.
"What happened this morning?!" Ron said, as if on cue.
"First," Kankurou said, "Neji is found unconscious at the bottom of the stairs between the second and third floor in the east corridor. Harry, he was following you to the bathroom. Wait, that sounds funny... It would also be strange to tell you guys that he was spying on you in there... Well, Neji was making sure that you stayed out of trouble. But, since Neji isn't exactly here at the moment, that makes you, Harry, the sole witness as to what happened last night."
"So?" Tenten said with a hint of impatience. "What happened?"
"I'm... not sure, really," Harry said honestly. "I went into the Prefect's bathroom to work out the egg clue and then I left. I had to get back to the Gryffindor tower without getting caught by the teachers since it was way past curfew, but I ended up getting caught on the trip step in the staircase. I dropped the Golden Egg and it fell open and down the staircase. I nearly dropped everything I had with me, but I managed to get my Invisibility Cloak back on without getting caught. My map..."
Harry's eyes widened slightly, as he silently hoped that Neji hadn't lost it, and he felt slightly guilty for worrying over something like a map when someone could have been seriously injured that very moment.
"Filch came by first, but he thought Peeves stole the egg and threw it down the hallway just for the heck of it."
"Thank god he's an idiot," Tenten said, though she still looked rather tense, with her boyfriend in the hospital.
"Yeah, well, apparently, Snape isn't," Harry said. "Because he and Anko came by next. Apparently, someone had been going through his potion cabinet stealing things. The torches of his office were just lit, or something, and the cupboard door was ajar. There are wards on the cabinet door that only a wizard could break."
"Wait, that means that you, Filch, Anko, and Snape weren't the only ones down there," Sakura said. "The potions cabinet is close to the stairwell where Neji was found and where you were. When you dropped the egg, it fell into the hallway and started wailing. You interrupted the person inside right after or in the middle of whatever it was that he or she was doing."
"Which means that last night, the intruder was still here," Sasuke said. "And the chances of him still being here are rather high, since there have been no records of people entering or leaving Hogwarts as of last night."
"What else happened?" Shikamaru asked Harry.
"Moody came," he said. "Anko started making a distraction and, and they were just looking at her funny. While she distracted them, Neji pulled me out of the trick step. We were about to run, but I remembered that my map fell down near the bottom of the stairwell. Neji was ahead of me, but I guess he somehow knew that I was going to try and go back for it. Snape saw the map too, near the bottom, and he almost pieced everything together, with my egg and the map."
"What happened next?" Ino asked him.
"Well... Neji ran back towards the stairwell and threw himself down the stairs..." Harry said slowly.
"Hm... it's possible that he knocked himself out when he fell," Shikamaru said slowly, "but not likely. We know how to fall without hurting ourselves, and we're a lot more durable than that. Still, if he landed wrong, he might have hit his head."
"That probably wasn't it," the Boy-Who-Lived said. "Because Neji got right back up, acted a bit... crazy, and made a bit of a tantrum about how he's been chasing after Peeves because he took the egg. Then, when the teachers saw my map and were about to figure out it was me, he went down a little bit further on the stairs, stepped on the my map, and slipped on it, falling a bit further. After that, he said it was his map and covered up for me."
"What happened next?" Tenten asked.
"Well, nothing much," Harry said. "Neji motioned for me to go back to the common room, so I left. I thought he was going to follow me and give back the egg and the map, but he never came up, so I assumed that he would give it back later, instead of following me and possibly causing the other teachers to become suspicious as to why a Ravenclaw was heading towards the Gryffindor dorm..."
"Well, that pretty much sounds like a logical explanation," Naruto muttered.
"You were going to do your best to blame me for it, weren't you?" he asked knowingly.
"Of course," the blond said with a grin. "We've got a lot of pent-up rage, with all sorts of junk happening to all of us."
"Like what?" Ron asked. "What else happened?"
"This." Naruto pulled something out of his pocket and thrust a wrinkled newspaper towards them. Straightening the surface and reading the headlines, the three read the bold print title of the article and gasped.
Drug Dealer Found in Hogwarts!
"What the heck? Who's the deal—oh... That's not... that's not good."
Hogwarts, School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, is home to hundreds of students and, apparently, a possible drug dealer.
Rumors have been circulating among students that a privately owned story called 'Onaji Ana No Mujina', to produce eccentric 'powders'—what the two Makoto sisters call 'magic dust', which seem to often result in paralysis, severe burns, explosions, poison, unconsciousness, nausea, dangerous hallucinations, and/or death...
"They were just joking!" Harry said.
"Not really," Gaara said quickly, looking rather annoyed. "But keep reading."
...And while Onaji Ana no Mujina produces the drugs, Aburame Shino makes a large bit of the profit, selling the products to other students...
Harry stopped reading there.
"That's not good..." Ron said.
"Understatement of the century," Sakura said, frowning and skimming through the rest of the article. "Not to mention, if they start digging around even further, they might realize that the Makotos aren't here legally."
"They aren't?" Hermione said. "So they're, like, illegal immigrants?"
"Doesn't matter," Shikamaru said suddenly. "There is an easy solution to all of it. We go directly to the Ministry of Magic and make an appeal."
"An appeal?" Ron said.
"Translated from politician talk to normal colloquial language, we make demands," he said, shrugging.
"Do you really have enough political power to overcome the Minister of Magic?" Hermione asked them.
"You've forgotten one thing, Granger," Temari said with a grin. "This is Sabaku Gaara we're talking about here—the Kazekage of the Village Hidden Among Sand."
"The what?" Ron asked.
"Leader of our village."
"I don't think I forgot..." Hermione said slowly. "Did you guys ever even tell us that?"
The Japanese students all exchanged glances. "We didn't?"
"Well..." Naruto said, scratching his head. "Now you know! Gaara is the leader of the Sand Village."
"...Can a mayor really overpower a minister?" Hermione asked skeptically.
"The Sand is not just any ordinary village. The entire country, the Land of Wind, is one of the five most powerful countries in our domain. That is because, to achieve power, one needs a great military. We don't have a large amount of citizens in our village, but we make up for the small quantity of soldiers, we increase the quality," Temari said.
"So... the title 'Village Hidden in the Sand' is just another name for the military?"
"In a way. The Wind Country has it's own military, of course, but you could say... we're special," Kankurou said with a grin. "Where we come from, what we call 'Hidden Villages' are more like extensions of the military. A special branches, I guess."
"We're getting off topic again," Shikamaru announced. "The point is that Gaara can challenge Rita Skeeter's claim and label it as libel."
"Libel?" Ron said.
"Written defamation," he said.
"And why are you just outright telling us all of this?" Hermione asked.
"Because we're getting sick of it when you guys try to spy on us and can't," the genius said to the now sheepish wizards. He looked up at the trees above them. "Shino. Come back out, we're not done here yet."
The silent student returned from out of nowhere a second time.
"Wait, when'd you leave?" Ron asked, remembering Shino jumping out of hiding into the meeting right before he, Harry, and Hermione had been uncovered.
"Why'd you leave?" Harry said.
"...Where you come from?" Hermione asked, puzzled as to how Shino had seemed to have come out of nowhere.
"What did they do with the Makotos?" he asked the Aburame.
"They've been detained. They are probably at the Ministry at this moment, but they haven't come to me for questioning."
Shikamaru frowned. "...Gaara, Ino, and I will go to the Ministry of Magic today through Dumbledore's Floo network. Gaara will threaten military action towards Britain because of this libel and the fact that because the Makotos are certified alchemists in your country and that the Ministry had just arrested one of the Sand's top producers of military gear and supplies."
"Why can't I go?" Temari asked, further irritated by the fact that Ino and Shikamaru worked together than the couple themselves.
"Your talents lie elsewhere," he said vaguely. She glared. In other words, she was useless in situation like this.
"What about the fact that the Makotos don't have special permits to make things here, let alone even be here?" Kiba asked.
"That's where Ino comes in," Shikamaru said. Ino nodded, understanding the mission Shikamaru assigned to her. "She's going to make up the documents, possess a record keeper at the Ministry, and give the Makotos licenses."
"You can possess people?" Ron said, looking shocked.
Ino rolled her eyes. "Close enough. 'Possess' is the simpler and much shorter way of putting it," she said.
"And why are you going?" Naruto asked Shikamaru.
"I can think flexibly," he said, shrugging. "If something comes up, I'll be there with an excuse. Plus, I already have a bit of influence at the ministry. Not enough to sway a minister's word, perhaps, but enough so that people know and respect me."
"How'd you manage that?" Ron asked.
"I'm a genius. I know how to make good impressions."
Shino silently sat in the tree nearby the Forbidden Forest, skipping class for the third day in the row, just thinking. He was no longer able to write, with his reputation tarnished. Towards the end of Rita Skeeter's recent and most devastating article, the witch had boldly declared his identity as the free-lance anonymous writer who had been contradicting every word she said with 'misleading evidence'.
Shino was fuming.
Contrary to her own, which was not evidence at all, but misleading all the same?
She was able to write. She was able to get rid of all competition. She was able to sneak around without being detected.
And the vile woman had decided to get him out of the way by tarnishing his Aburame name.
Drug dealers, indeed!
His reputation just won't be the same after this event, unless he found himself with a wonderful opportunity to knock her out of the way and find a way to send an equally or more so devastating piece, whether it was in response to her article about him or about something much larger.
But he would settle for a simpler revenge of just ruining her life.
All gloves were coming off.
It was much faster to send forth his personal army with his articles of clothing off, revealing the 'pores' in his body—gaping wounds, resulting from the ceremony knighting him a 'host' for insects at a young age, that had long since healed over. Like body piercings to an extreme.
After sending a decent few thousand, half of his personal reserve of tracker bugs, Shino pulled his coats back over his shoulders and pulled the hood over his head. Eventually, they would find her if she was still lingering on the school grounds.
'There is no way I am letting this woman get away without at least a little bit of payback,' he thought grimly, roughly poking several stray insects up his sleeve and into the pores of his arm.
'I am going to get this woman...'
And whether he knew it or not, he did.
He so totally did.
Neji returned back to the rest of Hogwarts from the infirmary two week after his attack, dazed and disgruntled, but nevertheless perfectly fine, thanks to the expert care of Poppy Pomfrey.
Of course, he returned only to be immediately swept up in an Tenten's fury as she whopped him across the head and then proceeded to hugging him until he was unconscious from the lack of oxygen. It was meant to be a lesson for Neji, teaching him not to let himself be attacked by a wizard and not to ever scare her like that ever again.
Once free of Tenten's octopus-like grip, he was next subjected to a meeting between himself and the rest of those involved with the Triwizard Tournament, except for Gaara, who was still at the Ministry of Magic, no doubt clawing for the return of his assistant as his paperwork slowly piled up and the orders for more equipment from Sunagakure began to slowly grow in size.
"This is outrageous!" Madame Maxime exclaimed. "This is obviously a sign of a greater scheme! The one assisting my champion had been attacked. Someone of Hogwarts is deliberately fixing the results so that they would come out victorious!"
She gave Harry a particularly scathing look.
"In addition, my champion's partner has gone missing for a week now!" Karkaroff exclaimed.
"Actually," Sasuke said, "you might not know where your champion is, but he is perfectly fine."
"And just how would you know about this?" the Durmstrang headmaster said scathingly.
"If you're thinking I ambushed him, I didn't. There would be much greater signs of damage to the environment in general if I had. Believe me. I'll have you know that my girlfriend's best friend's boyfriend is your champion's partner. Plus, my girlfriend, your champion, and a third companion are currently at the Ministry of Magic as witnesses supporting two women who were recently falsely accused of providing students with substances of hallucinogenic qualities."
"And if you were blaming Harry for Neji's attack, well, it wasn't him," Naruto said to the huge woman.
"And you would know this how?" she asked. "Were you present at the event?"
"I was there when I was attacked," Neji said. "Though I don't remember the event at all, I'm positive that Naruto had little to do with my attack or Gaara's sudden departure. Naruto, though he is my rival in this tournament, is one of my closest friends. And none of us care so much for the tournament that we are willing to fight each other to the death."
Though it was true that several of those in the group had all attempted to fight each other to the death for smaller, less financially beneficial reasons...
"A fight to the death? You weren't found dead, you were unconscious," the headmistress said.
"Yes, true. I'd also like to bring up another topic. I was unconscious. Unconscious without a single physical mark on my body. Naruto has no such subtlety, as everybody within a mile's radius of this school knows," he said. "Anyway, my cousin can vouch for all Gryffindors within the Gryffindor Tower. She just happens to know of everything going on in the Gryffindor rooms, and I am not overestimating her. Plus, my condition resulting from the attack provides me with personal evidence that the attacker's purpose was not to prevent me from participating in the tournament. I was defeated, and while unconscious, I could have been easily disposed of. But I wasn't killed. I was rendered unconscious. Unconscious with a spell what will in no way harm my chances of participating, in fact."
"What spell is this?" Fleur asked immediately.
"Though one may have the right to ask certain questions in a situation similar to this, this is personal medical information that may only be discussed among family, close friends, and perhaps medical consultants," he said.
"Nevertheless!" Karkaroff said angrily. "Because of the recent obstacles that Hogwarts' rival schools are facing, I demand some compensation: voice in the decisions to come—"
"No," Crouch said immediately.
"But you didn't even hear me out—"
"Did I say 'no' too quietly? No," the man said.. "Are you, a headmaster, questioning the authority of that of a judge in the tournament, with the status as a high Ministry official?"
Karkaroff didn't say anything.
"Perhaps he cannot question a higher authority," Jiraiya said, "but I think you and I share relatively equal authority, both of us being judges in this tournament and politically powerful people in our homelands. It wouldn't hurt you to listen to the man's request..."
"Thank you, sir," Karkaroff said, with a large, crooked grin on his face.
"...and then refuse."
"...I would like to change the dates of the upcoming events of the Triwizard Tournament," he grumbled, pretending not to hear the last part of Jiraiya's comment.
"As perfect as that blunt refusal was," Jiraiya said with a grin, "I have to say that that was a perfectly fine idea. Dates are easy things to reschedule in events like this."
"Mr. Jiraiya, you may be a judge, but you lack the authority to change the dates of the second and third task," Mr. Crouch insisted.
"We'll just be moving it one week ahead," the man insisted. "The sooner all of these are over with, the sooner I'll be able to go back home and relax."
"Your personal comfort is of no importance to them," he said.
"Hm..." Jiraiya looked around the room. "May I speak in private with Mr. Crouch for a moment? It will be a short one, I promise," he said. "Though the champion's may have no real need to return for the rest of the meeting. They will be told what concerns them. Everything else will just be old people talk."
"Wait, but—" Naruto protested as Jiraiya started nudging him out of the room.
"But what are you going to d—"
"I said no buts!"
The next thing he knew, Naruto, as well as the rest of the shinobi and the champions, were outside of the door, with several of the headmasters aside them as well.
"What was that about?" Sasuke asked Naruto, since the blond knew his former teacher the best.
"Jiraiya's probably going to try to bribe the judge into moving the dates for the tournament up a bit," Naruto explained.
"Why?" Neji asked.
"You know how he is," Naruto said, giving his friends a certain look to make sure they knew what he meant. "He misses the sights back at home."
They all understood now. It made sense after all.
Jiraiya had been trying to get out of his position as a judge the moment he found out that the bathrooms of nearly all magical facilities had passwords to them.
"Are you sure you didn't see anything?" Neji asked his cousin for the umpteenth time.
"I'm sorry," Hinata said, looking rather disappointed in herself. "Whatever happened that day, you were out of range."
He sighed, rubbing his forehead.
"So do you remember anything that happened that night?" Sakura asked. "Anything at all?"
"The only thing I remember from that entire day was falling down the stairs, and I have no idea why the hell I was falling down the stairs because shinobi do not roll down stairs!" he said, looking even more so annoyed than usual.
"Well, according to Harry and from what we pieced together from his account of what happened, you threw yourself down the stairs as a distraction," Naruto said. "Smart move, by the way."
It was hard to tell whether Naruto was serious, being sarcastic, or just plain joking around.
"By the way, how do you think Jiraiya convinced Mr. Crouch to change the dates for the tournament? I mean, if was only for a few days ahead of schedule, but he was pretty adamant about keeping the dates the same," Kankurou said.
Naruto snorted. "You haven't figured it out?"
":If I had, I wouldn't have asked."
Naruto grinned. "I spotted Mr. Crouch leaving the castle with one of the first editions of Icha Icha Violence. Get it now?"
:"Why is it that, like, three out of four old guys we all meet are nasty perverts?" Tenten muttered, shaking her head.
"The Sand is lucky then," Kankurou joked. "Most guys in Sunagakure don't live to grow old."
"Yep," Temari said sarcastically. "So now, instead of nasty, perverted old men who peep in the hotsprings, we have nasty, perverted young shinobi peeping."
"Well, at least since they're younger, you technically have cute guys checking you out."
"Not cute," Temari insisted, shaking her head. "Not when half of them have faces like Kankurou's and half of the remaining have his kind of nose."
"I like my nose..."
"Even Gaara has the wide nose, but it's less noticeable..." Sakura said thoughtfully.
"The eyes cancel it out," Tenten said. "I love his eyes. They're kinda scary, but the pretty green cancels it out!"
"Kind of like you with Neji, right?" Temari interjected.
"...Excuse me, ladies, but can we get back on topic here?" Kiba said.
"You're just jealous because out of everyone here, your eyes are the plainest," Temari joked.
"Hey, nobody disses my eyes. Kankurou has the plain eyes. I have the cool slitted eyes. Besides! I don't care about how cool my eyes are. If I had cool eyes, I'd have too many strange girls leaning over in front of me just to get a look at them like with Neji and sometimes Sasuke. I—wait... Damn."
"Okay, since we seem to always be going off topic," Naruto said quickly, "then I have a quick question!"
"What is it?" Sakura asked.
"Does Harry know about the clue for the Second Task of the Triwizard Tournament?"
No one said anything.
"Well," the blond said in an upbeat voice. "...Shit."
Harry was just... freaking... out.
He had found out from Naruto only about two days ago that, apparently, that Jiraiya had moved the Second Task up about two weeks ahead of schedule. At first, Harry was immediately suspicious of this man's motives, but when he told Naruto of his suspicions, the blond just laughed and brushed it off, explaining the reasons behind Jiraiya's actions to him.
"Maybe the man usually did have something a person out to be suspicious of," Naruto had told him, "but only if you're a girl. Otherwise, you're completely safe!"
From that information, Harry mentally noted himself to warn Hermione and the girls at Hogwarts that there was a pervert amongst them.
Nevertheless, with the second task moved two weeks ahead of schedule, he only had a few hours less than six days to figure out what the tournament clue was. Informing Naruto of the increasing need to find out more about the clue, his partner grinned and agreed, telling him to bring the egg and meet him by the lake after dinner so they could study and to their best to 'crack' it (and they both had to admit, it was a pretty bad pun on Naruto's part).
At the designated meeting spot, Harry sat down with the egg. He gave it an experimental poke, only to have it snap open and scream in his face.
Deciding not to try that trick again, Harry shut the lid tightly and waited for Naruto to make his appearance. He leaned back, closing his eyes in an attempt to relax. Anyway, knowing Naruto, Harry would probably hear him coming a mile away. Not literally though.
After that disastrous attempt to 'unclog' Harry's "chakra pores", he had been able to hear better, see a bit further (though not enough to be able to toss aside his glasses), smell a bit more keenly, taste things more strongly, and feel the most subtle things.
And now... he could hear faint voices in the air all around him.
Harry's eyes opened as he shot up, looking glancing at his surroundings for the source of the voices. There was no one in sight. It was loudest near the short of the lake, near the trees, the docks, and where the lake was deepest.
He was hearing snakes. As a parseltongue with slightly enhanced hearing, it made sense that he would hear these voices outside near the woods.
Calming himself and trying to figure out what the egg was a clue for, Harry didn't notice a figure dressed in black until he was directly behind him.
He spun around, seeing a shadow looming over him, with someone dressed as if they were a mugger.
Or, as if stranger was just going to plain attack him.
Which he did, by the way.
"Hey—umph!" Harry said, attempting to shout out when his face was covered, muffling his cries.
There was a brief struggle and Harry kicked the side of the attacker's leg and instantly regretted it, as it seemed to have hurt himself more than the attacker. However it did, at least, put the person off balance.
On the other hand, the man stumbled on Harry's golden egg, falling backward, and ended up with the egg screaming in both their faces...
...until it rolled down the slightly inclined shore and into the water, where it bubbled and sunk into the dark waters.
Neither Harry nor the attacker made another move.
"You!" Harry shouted, pulling out his wand, only to have it snatched out of his hands and tossed to the side.
The next thing he knew, the man had picked him up and tossed him bodily into the lake.
Come seek us where our voices sound.
We cannot sing above the ground.
You may open doors if you find these:
Golden metals that serve as keys.
An hour long you'll have to look,
And to recover what we took.
One clue we give you help you seek:
To each this one is all unique.
There's little time, so tarry not,
Let what you seek stays here to rot.
But past the hour the prospects black.
Too late, it's gone, it won't come back.
It was from this near-death experience that Harry learned three things...
One, there was something that was singing under the water, and it probably had something to do with the tournament.
Two, if he didn't come up for air, he would die.
And three, he probably should have learned to hold his breath underwater when he was younger.
Realizing that he was drowning, Harry's arms flailed underwater as he tried to swim up. ...He probably should have learned how to swim as well.
Luckily, though, someone was down there in the water with him.
There must have been, because even though he couldn't see anything through the dark waters, he felt hands grab him and pull him up until he saw the surface of the water above him. The sun illuminated the waters, helping him see. It must have been by some miracle that he didn't lose his glasses.
Either way, with the sound of the egg's song fading away in the water, Harry clawed for the surface when, with his arm reached out, he felt fingers grasping his hand.
He almost began to feel as if there was someone looking out for him when the person on the other side of the arm pulling him, well, pulled him. Really pulled him.
The person pulled him so hard, in fact, that even though Harry was now safe out of the water, he was beginning to regret his sudden emergence from the lake, with his arm dislocated, his body shivering, and his lungs feeling as if they were on fire.
"Harry, are you okay?" Naruto said, hitting Harry on the back after several moments hitting his back as he coughed up water. "You better be, because I refuse to use any CPR..."
"Yeah..." Harry croaked. "...Pulled my arm out of its socket...but...otherwise...fine."
He looked around frantically for the attacker, suddenly aware that they were possibly in danger, but Naruto shook his head.
"You were the only person when I got here," he said.
"You sure...?" Harry asked.
"Yeah. I'm sure."
"We need to tell... Dumbledore," he said, still breathing hard.
"Already sent a Kage Bunshin," Naruto replied. "Dumbledore knows."
After several moments of breathing heavily (after drying himself off with his wand, of course), Harry suddenly remembered the message he had heard underwater.
"Naruto!" he said. "I just remembered. When I was thrown into the water, the egg's screeching wasn't screeching anymore! It become some sort of song or poem."
"Really?" he said brightly, seeming to encourage the shift in subjects. "What did it say?"
"...Um... 'come seek us where our voices sound, we cannot sing above the ground'... something about an hour..." Harry wracked his brain for more of the clue but found himself coming up with nothing.
"...That's all?" Naruto asked.
"I was a bit busy drowning," Harry said defensively "Excuse me if I wasn't paying too much attention to the song!"
"You're forgiven," the blond said with a grin. "Those two lines are enough to figure out the basics of the next task anyway."
"Easy," he said. "You hear the voices under water. You need to look for something under water. The 'above the ground' clue just supports the first line. And 'an hour long you'll have to look' means that you have to find something within the hour."
While Harry probably could have figured out the clues given a moment to think, he was surprised and impressed by Naruto's quick thinking and mental abilities. Maybe, all this time, he had underestimated the blond.
Naruto seemed downright casual about the whole ordeal, even though Harry felt rather guilty, considering the fact that he had just lost their clue to the next task. Still, there was now one last thing he would have to tell Naruto.
"For the next task, there's still one problem."
"Naw, we could probably handle it," he said. "I'm good underwater too."
"Well, I don't think you'll get attacked under there any time soon. Not by anything that I can't handle, anyway."
"It's not that," Harry said.
"Then what is it?"
"I don't know how to swim."
"What are you doing?" Sakura screamed, staring at Naruto and Harry.
"Teaching," he said simply. "He can't swim."
"Don't teach people like that!"
It was the morning after Harry was attacked and Naruto found out Harry couldn't swim. The two were both in the shallow area of the lake where the water didn't even reach past Naruto's knees. Sakura had been walking by, reading a letter from Gaara, a response after she informed him of the change of dates (which included a promise to return to Hogwarts earlier), when she spotted Naruto repeatedly dunking Harry's head in the lake as the wizard's arms flailed wildly.
Picking Harry's head out of the water and shoving Naruto to the side, she glared at them both.
"What the hell do you two think you're doing?" she demanded again as Harry spat out several gallons of water.
"I told you, I'm trying to teach him how to swim!" he said.
"By drowning him?" she said incredulously, wondering just who taught Naruto how to swim.
"He wasn't going to die. A little lack of oxygen never killed anyone," Naruto said, waving a hand dismissively. "Besides, I wasn't keeping his head under the water. I was just doing it for only a few seconds or minutes at a time. Repeatedly."
"And you agreed to this torture?" Sakura asked Harry with obvious disbelief. The wizard nodded, and she hit them both hard enough to send them both splashing in the lake, skirting across the surface like human skipping stones.
"Idiots!" Sakura muttered.
Moments later, Naruto and Harry found themselves greeted by the beautiful sight of Sakura in a bathing suit, after having transfigured her robes.
"Quit drooling, Naruto. Hinata wouldn't kill you, but I might," she said to him, and then she turned to face Harry. "And how on earth can you not swim?"
"It's not that I completely can't swim," Harry admitted. "I'm just not too great at it. ...and I can't hold my breath under water for more than a few seconds."
His aunt and uncle never gave him swimming lessons. They probably were hoping that he would drown one day, anyway.
Sakura smiled at his slight embarrassment. "Well that's a start," she said.
A week later, most of the shinobi were in the water, splashing each other as Sakura properly taught Harry how to swim.
"What are you all doing?" someone asked incredulously. Sakura perked up at the familiar voice.
"Gaara! Hi!" she said cheerfully. "You going to join in?"
"...You do realize it's close to freezing temperature, right?" Shikamaru asked, standing behind the shinobi of the Sand.
"And you're wearing a bikini," Gaara added.
"Yeah. You like?"
"That's besides the point."
"It's called a heating charm!" Sakura said with amused laughter. "We end up renewing it every few minutes, but it's worth it. Sort of."
"Come on in and join us. If you aren't going to join in, you could sit on the side with Neji. He's too perfect to swim in the water with us."
"I never claimed to be perfect," Neji commented on the side.
"But you think so anyway, don't you?" Tenten asked.
"You better not deny it. I'm don't date any shinobi who's less than perfect," she said warningly. Neji smirked.
"Well then I guess I should admit I'm as flawless as you all believe I am to be."
"Yeah," Kiba said. "Especially with your three hundred and fifty-nine degree vision."
"And the fact that you got your ass whooped by some wizard and a memory charm, and you don't even know who it is," Naruto added.
"Not to mention," Gaara said, "how you're still messed up in the head by it."
"You too?" Kiba said to Gaara as Naruto forced the redhead into a high-five.
"...You guys are just jealous," the Hyuuga muttered, starting to sulk, mainly for Tenten's amusement.
"Jealous my ass," Kiba said, grinning mischievously with Naruto as their arms suddenly grabbed Neji by the ankles and pulled him into the water.
The next thing everyone knew, Neji had dragged himself back onto the docks, resembling a soaking cat with a glare to match. "I'm going to get you for this," he said in response to everyone's laughter. "All of you."
Gaara stared at the dark waters, after casting a warming charm and discarding his heavier clothing. He experimentally poked the water as bits of sand rose to the surface. He pressed his hand on the surface of the thin layer as more grains of sand from the sand rose and thickened the thin surface.
"What are you doing?" Naruto asked him.
"Experimenting," he said simply, lifting his hand and forming a hollow dome with the sand. Harry watched with interested, having never seen Gaara use his techniques in plain sight for him to be able to see.
Suddenly, Gaara pushed his sand dome deep down in the water.
He looked up. "Yeah," he said simply. "I know what I'm doing for the tournament."
"That was fast," Harry said.
"Man, Harry and I still have to practice on our swimming, and you don't have to get in the water at all?" Naruto asked, climbing onto the docks to sit next to Gaara.
"I'll probably have to go under anyway," the redhead shrugged. "I don't want to be the spotlight, being the only one who doesn't swim in the wat—"
Naruto laughed, shoving Gaara into the Black Lake.
All of the shinobi were silent with shock, awe, and an immense fear as they all waited for some sort of sandy retribution.
When the sand gourd, which was left behind Gaara, didn't completely obliterate the blond, everyone began laughing. Even Sakura, who was concerned for both Naruto's life and Gaara's pride, giggled.
And then paused.
"...Any time now," she said slowly, waiting for her boyfriend to surface as a feeling of apprehension began to grow in her chest.
"Um..." Harry looked around nervously. "Guys?" They all turned around to face him.
"Didn't you all mention that... Gaara lived in the desert once?" he asked.
"There... probably isn't a lot of water in the desert... right? No... seas. Oceans. Beaches. Pools."
"So... do you think Gaara knows how to swim?"
"OH MY GOD!"
Despite their initial fear at Gaara's submergence, the day ended with a rather exciting end, when all of the sand in the entire Black Lake rose to the surface to bring almost everyone down with him. The only two survivors of Gaara's violent but far from fatal attack were Sakura, whom he had thoughtfully neglected in his underwater assault, and Harry, who just happened to be with Sakura at the time when all of the sand reached up around everyone's ankles and dragged them under.
Shikamaru could probably be considered a survivor as well, considering the fact that the sand didn't manage to drag him underwater like the others. Of course, he felt it was too troublesome to get into the water and instead chose to stay out of the lake, so he didn't really count.
After that, it was utter chaos. Gaara's actions started a free-for-all war, with water splashing everywhere on everyone. A war that ended Sasuke's usual overreaction to everything, nearly frying everyone in the lake with his Chidori until Ino 'distracted' him, saving everyone's life at the expense of Sasuke's now injured ego.
Let's just say, Sasuke suffered a severe amount of blood loss during that swimming session and the next time they went to swimming, he'd have to have her wearing a bikini with a harder-to-remove top. Not that he minded Ino's method of distraction, but Sasuke wasn't accustomed to suffering a bloody nose.
"Well..." Naruto said slowly to Harry. "Now that you know how to swim... we have two days left to figure out how to get us both to swim underwater for an hour."
"...Yeah," Harry said, starting to feel sick to his stomach. Not only did they have to figure out how to swim underwater for at least an hour, but they had to figure out the puzzle to the second task.
He paused when he heard Naruto mumbling something, and then realized that he was reciting some poem under his breath.
"You may open doors if you find these:
Golden metals that serve as keys.
An hour long you'll have to look,
And to recover what we took.
One clue we give you help you seek:
To each this one is all unique.
There's little time, so tarry not,
Let what you seek stays here to rot.
But past the hour the prospects black.
Too late, it's gone, it won't come back."
Harry stared at Naruto with a feeling of realization and shock that sickened him to his stomach.
"You... memorized it," he said, amazed. "The entire thing."
"Hehe, yeah, I did," Naruto said, scratching his head with a fake look of modesty, though he was definitely feeling very proud of himself.
"...I lost the egg," he said. "You never got a chance to borrow it or figure the egg out..."
Naruto paused, something flickering in the back of his eye. "I borrowed Neji's, actually," he said. "Special favor. Going out with Hinata helped a lot more than I expected. The perks of going out with Hinata—I can technically boss Neji around, so long as he doesn't try and kill me."
It sounded like a plausible excuse.
Heck, it was a plausible excuse.
But the entire world knew that Naruto couldn't lie for his life.
"You... knew the puzzle all along," Harry said thoughtfully, listing all of his 'evidence' out loud for Naruto to hear. "Before all of this. But you didn't tell me. You let me lose the egg—no, you made me lose the egg..."
One thing led to another in his mind, and Harry finally came up with the final piece of the puzzle.
"You tried to drown me!"
"I didn't know you didn't know how to swim...!"
"IT DOESN'T MATTER WHETHER OR NOT I KNOW HOW TO SWIM IF YOU HOLD MY HEAD UNDERWATER!"
"I think," Naruto muttered, rubbing the figurative lump on his head, "that I pissed Harry off."
"So?" Sasuke shrugged.
"...Well, I pissed him off. I made him angry. He's annoyed with me now."
"Grudges don't usually last too long," the Uchiha said.
"Oh you're one to talk," the blond snorted.
Just who was it who held a childhood grudge on his brother for killing his family, again? Who still had that grudge over the years?
Of course, Naruto didn't voice his thoughts out loud, in fear that saying the dreaded I-word—the taboo name—would send Sasuke off on another tangent, raving about his brother and such.
"Still," he said loudly, changing the subject, "I haven't figured out how we're going to get Harry to swim now. He's decent and knows out to hold his breath and push himself through the water, but an hour? None of us could probably hold our heads under water for that long."
"You're a wizard. Well... sort of. Figure it out."
"What are you going to do?" Naruto asked him.
"Bubble head charm," Sasuke said easily. "Cedric and I, as well as Neji and Fleur, are going to use it."
"You're not going to use it, are you?" That was more of a statement than a question.
"And if you don't find any other way to hold your breath for an hour?" Sasuke inquired.
"Well... then only as a last resort," he said. "If you guys are doing the same thing, then you don't get points for creativity. Eh, hopefully I'll figure something out on my own then..."
Sasuke shrugged. "I kind of figured you'd say something like that," he said, not really caring to even look up from his book. "That's why I didn't bother to avoid telling you what Cedric and I are doing for the tournament."
"Ah, you guys are talking about the tournament?" Kiba said enthusiastically, practically coming out of nowhere to wrap an arm around Naruto's neck in a brotherly fashion. "What a coincidence! I was just thinking about something. Come on, Naruto."
"Wha—hey!" Naruto protested as Kiba pulled him away from Sasuke, backward.
They left the library where Naruto had been latching himself onto Sasuke as Kiba and Akamaru strolled down the hallway until they reached the Hogwarts grounds.
"What are we doing?"
"Reminiscing," Kiba said, heading for the lake with Akamaru by his side, carrying an incredibly huge loaf of bread behind him.
They sat by a tree next to the lake, relaxed in the grass as Kiba began tearing the bread into smaller pieces.
"Doesn't this seem a bit, um, ...too close for comfort even figuratively and as friends?" Naruto asked as Kiba tossed the bread chunks into the water.
"Oh look, the giant squid. Doesn't this bring back memories?" Kiba said conversationally, ignoring the blond's words.
"Oh." Kiba frowned suddenly, his chipper 'let's-reminisce-a-memory' mood instantly dead. "Oh yeah... you weren't there."
"I wasn't where?"
"While you were at the chuunin exams, I had a bad Herbology lesson," Kiba said, scratching his head.
"Hm..." Kiba mumbled unintelligible words to himself as the gears in his head began to grind once again. "This isn't going to work..."
"What's not going to work? Kiba, what on earth are you talking about?"
"I've had it with English," Kiba said, removing his headband. "You too. Take that off," he said in Japanese. Naruto took his own hitai-ate off as well. "Too keep things brief, we still haven't figured out how Rita Skeeter is getting in Hogwarts to spy on us, so I can't give you and clues that she could pick up. I don't think she knows Japanese, but I didn't want to risk it. Anyway, you have a short amount of time left before the second task, and I have a newer way for you to go underwater without doing the same thing as Neji and Sasuke."
"How did you manage it?" Naruto asked.
"I don't know the name of it in Japanese, actually," Kiba said. "And if I say it in English, anyone hearing will realize later that I'm helping you, and you'll be disqualified."
"Well then I'll just figure it out by myself," Naruto said.
Kiba snorted. "It'll take you forever to figure something out. You only work well at the last minute, so just listen to me. Go to Professor Sprout and ask about a plant that helps you breath underwater."
"They have things like that here?" Naruto asked.
"If they have plants that scream and knock you out, then there's got to be one that turns you into the human fish, right?" Kiba said with a grin. "When you were gone for the Chuunin exams, I ate a bit of gillyweed and ended up growing gills and nearly suffocating on air."
"Smart, Kiba," Naruto said with a grin. "Just smart."
"I know," the Inuzuka said. "I'm a genius."
"Yep. Because all geniuses must eat some sort of questionable plant at least once in their lifetime."
The green house suddenly shook with a horrified cry of unadulterated horror.
"YOU GAVE IT TO WHO?"
"I gave them all to Professor Snape," Professor Sprout repeated with an irritated look, tending to the shrieking dandelions. "Now please leave. You're disturbing my plants."
"Crap," Kiba muttered angrily as the two left the greenhouse. "There's no way in hell that Snape is going to let us just walk away with his Gillyweed."
"And he cast a spell over his cabinet so that whenever we open the cabinet for his private ingredients, he would know," Naruto said.
"And how would you know that?" the Inuzuka asked him.
Naruto grinned. "Well, you remember the time when all the Slytherins found tiny eyeballs in their porridge...?"
Kiba coughed and couldn't hold back his laughter. "I knew it!" he exclaimed. "That it was either you or the Fred and George!" He bowed jokingly to the blond. "Brilliance, Naruto. You reek of brilliance."
"Thank you, thank you..." Naruto said, puffing up his chest proudly. "But still, he doesn't allow students to just get up and take things without permission, so we—"
Naruto stopped dead in his tracks.
"I'm brilliant!" he exclaimed suddenly, running off and leaving Naruto and Akamaru in the dust.
"...?" Kiba and Akamaru looked at the blond's retreating back. Kiba shook his head and the two chased after him. "H-hey! Wait up, you idiot! At least tell me what you're planning...!"
Moments later, Kiba was tailing Naruto down the halls as they descended staircases, going deeper and deeper into the castle until they were sprinting in the dungeons.
"Naruto..." Kiba whined, covering his nose from the foul scent that came both from the filthy, uncleaned hallways and the ingredients from the potions classrooms. The musty odor flooded the noses of even those without the sensitive senses. Kiba, with his sensitive smell, never when down to the dungeons outside of classes, and sometimes not even then. "What the heck are we doing down here? Snape hates everyone, and us in particular. There's no way in hell that he's going go, 'Oh hello there! Top of the morning to you! Would you like some Gillyweed? I have some spares that I haven't smoked up yet!'"
Naruto snorted. "We don't need his permission to go through his potions cabinet."
"Uh, earth to Naruto: yes, we do."
"Ever heard of the world-famous quote: 'what's yours is mine and what's mine is mine'...?" a lilting voice said, echoing into the halls of the dungeon.
Worse than any other being in existence... Before the two stood the very woman who lived to push people to their limits.
"Anko!" Naruto said cheerfully. "You know, that's a quote for couples, right?"
"Ah, well Sevvie-poo and I are couple enough," she said with a shrug. "No matter where he goes, he can't get rid of me. That automatically gives us some sort of relationship at least."
"Why would you want a relationship with that guy?" Kiba asked incredulously.
"Connections, kid. It's all about the connections," she said, grinning and patting Kiba on the head condescendingly. "Which it why you wanted to see me, isn't it?" she asked. "Now tell me, Naruto, what do you want today?"
"You know me well," Naruto said with a grin.
"You're still the same brat from chuunin exams," Anko asid. "You always underestimate me, dontcha? Doesn't take much to figure out why you of all people would come running down to the dungeons, of all places, knocking down all the students who got in your way. Mister Zabini was knocked down the staircase by some sort of 'mysterious figure running at an inhuman speed'."
"Ah, just some nonexistent kid. No one ever notices the poor guy... in fact, I didn't even know he existed until I found him half-dead at the bottom of the staircases, no thanks to you two little brats. Anyway, no one comes down to the dungeons without a goal in mind, and I think I know what it is you want," she said to Naruto. She squinted at Kiba and Akamaru. "But why are you here...?"
"...Good question," Kiba muttered, still holding a hand over his nose.
"Anko, I need you to do me a huge favor!" Naruto said, pressing his hands together and putting on the most 'adorable' face that he could muster.
"I believe we already established that," she said. "What is it?"
"There's something I need for the second task in the Triwizard tournament thing," Naruto said. "A potions ingredient, actually. Professor Sprout gave some to Snape just a few weeks ago after she finished growing them. It's called gillyweed."
"And you want me to grab some for you?" she asked.
"Just maybe two handfuls," Naruto said.
Anko grinned. "And I thought you had something interesting and new for me to do."
"Are you going to do it?" Kiba asked.
Anko shrugged. "I have a soft spot for demonic little brats with a talent for creating havoc. Reminds me of a time when I was just an innocent young girl," she said, ignoring Kiba's muffled snort, finding it hard that a fiend like her was ever innocent. "Actually, I was fixing to mess around in his potions cabinet before you asked me to grab some gillyweed anyway."
"Somehow, I'm not surprised..." Naruto said.
"Watch it, blondie," Anko said with a smirk. "I might refuse to break into his potions cabinet if you give me an attitude about it."
"You wouldn't refuse. You were going to do it without me asking anyway."
"Well, if you're going to be messing with Snape's ingredients, don't eat the gillyweed," Kiba warned lightheartedly as a joke.
"Aw... I really did want to sample some of the stuff. It'd drive Sevvie-poo up the wall if I did..." Anko pouted as she turned to walk away. She turned around but paused, craning her neck over her shoulder to look a bit more closely.
"Wait a minute, are you serious?" Kiba said.
Anko turned around, looking over her shoulder with a bewildered look on her face. "Weren't you?"
Confused, both parties decided to drop the subject and parted ways, Naruto, Kiba, and Akamaru to get out of the dungeons, and Anko to find out where Severus had decided to stash his potions and ingredients from her this week.
Jade: "Why aren't there any fucking girls int he tournament!"
Personally? I had an excuse. I don't remember. It's been a while since I've written, but I do remember reading this review and going, "oh, because this and that". ...It might have been because I wasn't exactly sure how the girls would be able to use their own techniques in the second task. Maybe it's that, because I do remembering being extremely frustrated about the second task at one point. Are you mad at me...? ;-;
iopiuss: "Uh... someone stole your story again... w w w . f i c w a d . c o m / s t o r y / 9 3 6 7 8 "
...AGAIN?! Thank you for the warning and, possibly, for reporting the story.
KakashiPwnsAllUNoobs: "OMG at first when I saw your (awsome) story I was all like "WTF?! 30 LONG chapters!" and then it looked like you finished it or gave up on it since u haven't updated for a long time and then you suddenly post chapter 31 and then I'm like "WTF! another chapter!" but I'm glad your continuing the story cuz it rocks but then again i'm still on chapter 24 ((I'm on 24?! I thought i was on 16 or something Oo)) so I'm like "F! I gotta read more to catch up. I didn't read this chapter yet but I'm gonna read 10X faster so i can read this chap! Keep reviewing (faster! super Gaara death glare)"
Man, and the gap between that last chapter and this new one... even bigger. Anyway, thank you for the review! The next chapter should be coming up soon, and sorry about the wait.
celtic-pride: "sweet chapter. I love how Ino kept failing to imitate the people, it was funny. AS for the gymnast thing thats ok i couldn't if it was weird it would be cool. I'm not really a gymnast guy anyway, although i do take karate so maybe in the future i could probably pull off a triple backflip. Funny thing, i had to go to the reviews to see what i wrote to see what you were talking about. Man i can remember so much other stuff in like math and history yet i can't remember what i wrote for a review. Well can't wait for either the next chapter for this story or for Stranded, which ever one you get out first. Well good writing."
Thanks! The next chapter should be coming up soon, and sorry about the wait.
Er, you'll know. Hopefully.: I thought you were gonna use my idea with Neji falling into the step to prevent dodging...or did I miss it...Or did you just fall asleep for another 4 hour nap and forget? Rawr...
Honestly...? I can't remember you. Or anything. ;-; It even took my a while to remember what Neji was dodging and why. I'm SO sorry! It's been a over year now, and I barely remember anything about this story...! Please forgive me! Seriously! ;-;
randomgirl: "You are a crossover god/goddess. There are very few crossovers I'm willing to read for this long, mainly because they tend to peter our around chpater 5 or 6. But not yours. I will admit that i am hoked on this story and will not stop reading it until the final chapter! Ja ne!"
Heh, wait til you see my other project...
dangerousanddemonicdevil: "I loved Neji's scence!! u had meh rolling on the floor with laughter...damn mad-eye..wait its crouch..keep mixing them up..and im adoring Anko in your fic alot she's sorta like meh wit her hyperly happy mood and love to tease others..yay!!hehe hickey..if it really was a hickey then it would make orochi-chan the phedophile...o.0
sry going off topic...the ShikaTem was great it matches them perfectly and im sure any girl would be acting the same if their man was spending more time with another woman...anyways ill shut up now with my last words..UPDATE UR GR8 FIC!!with more GaaSaku!!XD"
Anko is one of the greatest minor characters in Naruto, I think.
anon: "You really have the ages screwed up and I'm not talking about kankuro you've already cleared that up. Im talking about the authors note at the end. Kurenai and Asuma are the same age (26) and so is kakashi remember kurenai has not been a jounin for long. Shizune's age is undetermined as of now but I would assume she is below 30. You had the rest about right"
Personally, I don't know what you're talking about. Not only have I not read or written in about a year, but I haven't read past chapters since the day I posted them. Sorry. Anyway, I just looked it up. Kurenai and Asuma are 30, and Kakashi is twenty-nine. Don't forget that the first series was at least a year long, and then there's the 2 and a half year gap between the first series and Shippuuden (or however you spell it, I'm a bit tired right now).
aznelemants: "nicee. an update! Hm..no real critique here, so im gonna attempt to see the future! woo
Spell sent at Neji: memory charm, to avoid any suspicion bout dead/missing students and whatnot
bright flas of light: Neji used kaiten, which did something to the spell, but not deflect. Hence, Neji's brain is really messed up (amnesia?)
Future: Ninja try to get Neji to remember stuffz, and possibly figure out whats going on from Harry's clues"
Mostly right ;D
darkflame: "...neither do I. I can't remember what the "gayness" was all about. ... Yes, I am insane. Or just sleep deprived. So we shall chuck the subject into the pits of spam and forget about it! chucks and hears a explosion ... runs At any rate, another chapter in which I may ROFL. Yay! :D I await the next chapter! :D"
And I can't remember what the heck was going on in this conversation. Consider it chucked. -it, apparently, explodes- ...What the hell did we put in that conversation?
Yes, it is Kumoriha Sama now: ...Are you back yet? Have you started at all with the next chapter? And what of Stranded? Can I have a cookie? (Actually I don't really like cookies...I'll take chocolate instead)
...I'm baaack! Sorry about the long wait. And I keep seeing you online but haven't had the opportunity to make an IM (lame excuse, but kinda true, sorry).
fantasy dreamer: "that a great story you have going their my favorite part is the ones with Gaara and when Naruto asked Hinata to the dance, Oh and the training sessions.Plus the times Gaara loses his temper. and that their going to make Malfoy's life a living hell. Well anyway i hope you write the next Chapter soon."
Thanks! Sorry about the wait! Really!
Moi: "I think he was hitting on me." hahahaha hilarous XD
By the way, if you feel like editing your chapter...
"Qu'avez-vous dit? Cela était espagnol..." should be "Qu'avez-vous dit? C'était de l'espagnol, là...", and "Nn...Le quel est? Qu'est-il arrivé?" should be something like "Nn... Que-quoi...? Que s'est-il passé?"
Bon chapitre, comme d'habitude ;)
(good chapter, as always)"
One year ago, I would have edited that mistake. Now, I'm too tired. ;-; Sorry. But thanks for the suggestion! I really really really appreciate it! Seriously! (("sorry" and "seriously" ...I seem to be saying that a lot, much to my dismay...)) Love you! SO much! Thanks for the review and the help!
set jerro: "good chappy took to long clings and shakes where did you go? tears this is the only fic im reading any more i thought u left me all alone. never do it again..."
Ooh, I can only imagine what you're going to say now. x.x
IdontWannaLogInRightNow: "His head his the table with a loud 'thunk'.
"Praise the lord!" Theodore Nott exclaimed, throwing his arms up in the air. "The gods have shut him up!"
0.0 I started laughing all evil like, and I think now my brother believe I am insane ("
You might be insane. You enjoy this story. ...Then again, I enjoyed that part and stuff too.
Too lazy to get an account...: "O...M...G. You updated!! actually, i saw this thing on Sunday while finally starting your fic Stranded(which is pretty good btw), bt didn't have time to review. Today, I started spazzing because I had a snow day and I can read fanfics! I actually also want to make an account and make some fics that I have ideas on, but I decided not to. Prepare for a super long review!
The fic you mentioned that plagiarized yours actually sounds a bit interesting(cause it has Kakashi XD)but you should just report Akatsuki and let the administration do what they think is best.
It's interesting how...severe a reaction the shinobi had to Hagrid's birth thingie, but at least they just had a potion, tho I wonder why Hagrid's mom would want to do that. and poor Kiba-kun! all of Ino's screw-ups were hilarious. Oh, and Sevvie-poo got 2 presents for Anko! how caring. Their relationship's really weird. Sevvie-poo, Gred,and Forge are my fav characters in HP. Cedric's hitting on Harry and Madoka meets Malfoy. Interesting. but I wonder what Kuro-kun is planning.The Hagrid and Naruto scene is funny, not to mention the Rita and Shino scene. The Shikatame scene is a bit random tho. and Neji seems slightly...crazy.
Then there's the cliffe! how can such an evil thing exsist! and I thought all that extra space in the bottom was some more of the fic...but at least you know you have a lot of fans, including me ;)
Ah, I love this fic! but seriously, please don't go on another hiatus like that again. Happy Valentines's day!"
...Way to make me feel bad. ;-; And I can't believe they did that to our favorite characters... It's been months, and I'm still distraught.
Theworldisendingsoshutupandeat: "Whoa. Is Neji dead? TTTT I hope not."
Absolutely not. This is the wrong story for character deaths. And thank god for that.
GirlLoki: "I was gonna tell you that he was a pethetic loser who couldn't write so much as a decent ficlet let alone finde his own arse with both hands and a flashlight! This sorry exuse for a person shouldn't bitch about somthing he has no talent in! Sure, there are some pairings that I don't agree with (like Gaa/Sak) but it dosn't mean that I should totally hate any fic that has it. Gaa/Sak is not only hard to write, but also harder to visualise, given the cercomstances of some fics. (Like when she's an abassitor or when he's a reangade...PLEASE!) But there are some (like you) that can totally pull it off and these people should be congratulated for their meraculus work.
He should totally suck dick.
Also good work on this chapter too. I hope you don't give this fic up because you like like 'Stranded' better. All your hard work shouldn't go to waist because you lost interest. This story is totally kickass and we love it to bits. (We being me, Amberfox and Lyell. Go see thier fics! AmberfoxandLyell!)
Well, that's off MY cheast. I hope that bastare dosn't flame you ever again. "
:D Love you!
imafraididonthaveanaccount: "i'll have you know that its gonna take me forever to read your story. while i may be reviewing on the last chapter, i have only read chapter 1. you see, im not actually allowed to read fanfiction all day, so i copy and paste it to word, then read it in my room. XD so when i do finish, maybe i'll review again, maybe not. but the first chapter rocked so much i had to drop in a note. NGTH is also highly recommended by several of my friends. so you rock. don't get too stuck, kk?"
Haah, same here. But I don't print it out or anything. Thanks for the review! And sorry about the wait!
Aly: "...Hurry up a friggin' update! D:"
rita: "Aa that's not fair! Bad cliffie, bad cliffie! please update! I beg you dear author! it's too good to leave on that note!"
Sorry, sorry, sorry! ;-;
Shinobi Soul Reaper: "This story is awesome and I can't wait until you update. I discovered this like 3 weeks ago and couldn't stop reading it and didn't read any of my other stories because how good this was. Long chapters are the way to go. I know I should've reviewed for the other chapters but I didn't want to take the time to write them out. I WANTED TO READ MORE!I can't wait till stranded is updated too"
Meh, I don't mind delayed reviews. I'll update Stranded soon.
nightDREAMERms a.k.a Anime-Fan: "YEAH! I finally got an account on here! And can't wait for chpt.34 (PS. Im not that good at battle scenes so whatever you make will no doubt put me in awe -.)Nice chappie, update as soon as you can!"
Oh god... I can't remember what was supposed to happen in chapter thirty-four. Please tell me you remember! It's been a year! Oh god! (falls down and cries)
Kumoriha – SAMA: "Stop being EMO and come of of your hidey hole.
Emo, antisocial, same thing.
Rawr. By the way, update, talk to me, whatever.
Sob sob sob... (cuts) I'm sorry...! Lol. Whenever I have time to talk, I think you're already sleeping. It's usually pretty late when I finish my work (it always takes me a long time to work since I'm always fooling around, playing minesweeper or solitaire or whatever).
Disgusted: "I am never taking a video recommendation from you again. That worthless drivel wasted a precious minute and a half of my life, and I cannot believe that anyone can consider BIRDS DYING as a tragedy, unless your income depends on said birds."
Oh shit. I am SO sorry. Really really sorry! Every time I see this review, I cringe. I didn't think someone would take me seriously! I mentioned that BECAUSE it was an IQ-point-killing video. It's SUPPOSED to be stupid (for us; that girl was honestly seriously taking it seriously...)! I am SO sorry! Did anyone else take this seriously?-! I'm sorry if anyone else did! Really sorry!
Too lazy to get an account...: "It's me again! :D Happy (17th) Birthday Yarochisai lol I actually saw it on your account and remembered. I hope you had a good one (and that you remembered it too. Do well on finals) ...I feel kinda akward being a stranger and saying happy birthday, but that how much I love you and your writing ;D
Now, I said that my last review was gonna be really long. But it wasn't. So the next time you update, I PROMISE to leave a longer one! Isn't that a good incentive? And...I might actually get an account! Which means I can actually review you like...I have an account! :D I make no snese"
I feel so loved. (heart) ...Yet kind of sad that I am now responding to a "Happy Seventeenth Birthday" only a few days before my eighteenth. Sorry if I made you feel awkward for the past year. ;-; And I could've sworn I responded to a review from you... Probably just another one. My brian is mush right now.
Vividly Mesmerized: "Hello there, just finished reading the whole fanfic, and I enjoyed it.
I like your pairings, specially GaaraxSakura. You pull it off well, I may become a fan of the pairing just because of this fic. XD
If Neji is hitted by a memory charm (predictable, kinda), maybe he can go back to his old self, you know, where he becomes a fate-decided-for-us-we-can't-change-it type of person, that'll be kinda interesting...
Update soon, please!"
Hm... I never really considered that possibility... :)
thing: "it is so cool.:) great story"
Hina-Hime: "Ok,I've read this story a hundred times and I love it!I just had to give a long review!!Ok!
First i love all your parings!Even the Ino/Sasuke one!So updates are most welcome to all your fans!i shower you with update cakes and update cookies,because this story is the best!
Second,the humor is good,REALLY GOOD!I love all the funny bits with Madoka and Voldemort/Lucius/Wormtail.I also love all the parts with Anko annoying Snape to the end of his wits!
The chunnin exams are good the more times you read them.I wonder for the second task,who will be taken from the shinobi champions?
What spell did Moody/Crouch use on Neji? Neji yelling at Filch was funny!
From your fathful reader
P.S.You don't have to answer these questions if you don't want to and it would probably give away parts in future chapters!"
The memory spell, though I'm sure you've found that out by now. Thank you for the review!
random nerd: "The plural of octopus is octopodes, because it comes from a Greek root. It would only be 'octopi' if it had come from a Latin root."
Niiice! XD Smart, too!
yaoi plz: "let harry fuck neji and tenten fuck sakura and then they'll all fuck dumbledore and snape in the ass. Then voldemort and orochimaru will come and fuck sasuke in his sleep and kakashi and jiraiya will make a novel about it. Then they will get gay on eachother and suck eachoters cum. sweet idea huh? yay for yaoi!"
Had this been less crude, I would have considered this for a different story. As you seem to expect this sort of work in a non-M rated, het fanfiction and spell like a fangirl who's not even close to being of a legal age (what are you, eight?), I'd like to say: screw you. Go read porn somewhere else. I don't do story suggestions or prompts anymore, and I certainly wouldn't take on M-rated prompts of the sexual nature, especially when posted on the review board for a T-rated story. Go. Away.
As I have mentioned to a few of you in your review responses, I have been taking some time off writing, mainly as this is my last year in high school and I wished to get back in touch with my social life (may have even explained to a few of you that in those exact words, in fact).
So, after ending my usual lunch activities (sneaking food into the library to I can keep writing; pathetic, I know, but I really was into writing at the time), I started eating outside again in the breezeway. So fun. Especially the Megazord fights in which the lighter people would climb onto the shoulders of the taller/heavier people and wrestle with each other. Then there were the posterboard sword-fights where we just roll up the thin poster boards and whack each other with them. And then they took the breezeway from us—with the construction work, they blocked it off with huge wooden boards. So we found a new outside lunch area near the gym and were forced to cram some 12-odd people at a circular table only designed for an average of 8. It became a bit of a race to get outside and claim a chair, actually.
I took AP exams, nearly failed the Calculus class, took my Biology and Calculus finals just two days ago on Friday. The Cal final exam was, I found, so much easier than the class. I must've nearly failed the class, but the test itself? Easy! To think I nearly killed myself over studying that! Biology, on the other hand... I hadn't slept much that night, and got, like a 55 on it or something. Thank god for Dr. K. I think he messed with my essay part and gave me 15 out of 20 points for that, so I got exactly a 70. Or it might've just been luck. I hated that guy before, but now, I adore him, his receding hairline (which goes to the back of his head and shows evidence of an attempt of a combover), his bad jokes, and his on-and-off bad temper.
Anyway, this year, I've had some fun, went to the movies, started dating the person I liked.
That kinda ended a bit recently, though. Broke up with me a few days ago and then after an hour of moping around, I figured I might as well start writing again. Ironic. Your loss, my gain, eh? Wait, other way around. My loss, your gain. ...It just doesn't sound the same. So I started writing. ...Okay, actually I didn't. Just skimmed through the chapter, decided not to send any more NGTH chapters to Betas, and started responding to reviews.
Anyway, it took me three days to respond to all of those reviews, did you know that? MAN, that was tiring. I usually started around seven or nine and, at one point, stayed up until a little past 3:30. Two and a half hours of sleep—not fun. Of course, I do that pretty regularly. I've a zombie at school recently. Just the mornings though. My zombification is cured with a bag of Skittles, which the school has finally decided to add to the vending machines. Right next to the pre-made popcorn and the pickles. Yum.
So, when I finished doing the review stuff, I figured I'd wait two more days. (emo moment) Five days since I got dumped (/emo moment).
And I should probably mention that I'm getting tired of this story. Seriously tired. Plans for a sequel have been canceled, as have many of my plans for side-stories and mini-missions and all that stuff. I'm going by the book now. Oh yeah! Before I forget, the reason I waited two more days is that I might as well have posted on my birthday anyway. Happy birthday, me! I'm not really able to celebrate it this year anyway, since my brother (a freshman at my school) is studying for finals and I figured now isn't the best time to have a party).
So anyway, happy birthday to me! Oh, and I'll be graduating from high school on the 31st! Four years of hell! FINISHED!
Once again, I am really sorry about my unexpected hiatus. And I really do mean it. I've said 'sorry' a total of one hundred and sixty-seven times in all my reviews, not including the very first one where I gave up on character accents.
Anyway, it's been so long since I've last updated that, believe it or not, I've forgotten a lot of the details and promises I had for this story and to many of you. I am extremely sorry about that. Times three. And now, I don't plan on putting any more effort than necessary into this story. For that, I apologize one last time.
And yes, I do know this chapter is shorter than many of you probably expected. By nine pages, in fact. I found I couldn't even make it near forty this time and had to stop at exactly thirty (thirty, now including the review responses). It's even shorter (24 pages) without the reviews. Sorry.
I ran out of steam.