It was one of those rather smudgy mornings. It was neither morning nor night. The sky was a slow-shifting picture of gray. Most of the people in Konoha were still asleep at this time, except for those selected for night watch and other mundane tasks. But the Sandaime Hokage was no ordinary ninja. He was the Hokage.
Now the Hokage's job was to protect the village and make sure the village prospers. Usually, missions would start arriving when the sun's out, but it was also quite unusual for the mission to arrive by owl, with a disgruntled ANBU tailing it. The night-flying bird looked a bit harassed, and though it had an aura of bad temper, it gave the Hokage a small letter, made of parchment and sealed with wax before hooting contentedly and departing from an open window. The ANBU, after making sure everything was all right, returned to his post.
Sarutobi stared at the odd letter for a few moments before turning it over to read the address at the back scrawled in emerald ink.
Sarutobi-san, Sandaime Hokage, The Professor
Hokage's Tower, Konohagakure no Sato
18 August 1993
Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
It was quite an odd letter, but Sandaime was used to letters like this from his eccentric friend from England. They had known each other for a long time now, and it was quite good to hear from Dumbledore, even in these uneasy times of peace in Konoha.
Sarutobi turned the letter over again and carefully opened the sealed envelope. Inside were three pieces of parchment, written in Dumbledore's hand, and as always, with emerald ink.
My dear friend,
It has been a long time since I had last wrote to you, however, something has recently come to my attention. Last year, the security of the Castle had been broken; no matter how much we tried. I am writing to you now, Sarutobi, to help me with my apparent security concerns. It seems that, somewhere in my school, there is a traitor who serves the Dark Lord. We had a near miss last year, and I would appreciate it that, if possible, I would like to hire a team of your finest to aid in the protection of my students and the discovery of said traitor. I am willing to pay whatever price you may demand, and I trust in your wise judgment of such matters. A trip to England will prove difficult for you, so I have taken the liberty of making the arrangements myself. The details of the trip are enclosed in this envelope.
I would appreciate it if you would cooperate, not as business partners, but as old friends.
Headmaster, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Sarutobi reread the letter, and then nodded gravely to himself. Dumbledore was his friend, after all, and it would be impolite to refuse aid.
However, since the recent war, they only had a few ANBU squads left. Most of those ANBU worked alone, however. It would be difficult to send them all, particularly because Konoha was never truly at peace.
He could only spare one or two ANBU, but two was the most he could give. Still, Dumbledore's letter sounded grave. If he could only send one, then he would send the best shinobi Konoha had to offer.
Sarutobi met the ANBU captain right at the roof of the Hokage Tower. It was still that time of morning, but he knew that this particular ANBU would be up and about, no matter what time it was; to give his respects to his dead loved ones.
"This is a rather…delicate mission." Sarutobi began, but he was cut off by a nod from the ANBU.
"Rank?" The ANBU asked, voice muffled by the mask he wore.
"At least S-class, and even then, it's teetering over to Unranked. You may not take it, if you wish, but I would appreciate it if you did accept it." Sarutobi replied. "This mission requires you to travel far, learn a new language, and even then, your present skills may not help you." Sarutobi warned.
"Whatever you ask, I will serve." The ANBU replied dutifully. "I will be leaving when?"
"Today, at the latest. Pack some clothes, and bring only things that you need. You will need what is listed here in the supplies list, and the journey will be dangerous." Sarutobi spoke. He gave a list of supplies, a word list and a mission briefing, both in parchment, to the ANBU. The ANBU Wolf stared at the supplies list, then at the word list, running a finger over the unfamiliar English words. After a few minutes, he nodded. "I will do as you ask."
Sarutobi nodded. "Good luck then."
"Luck? Luck is for fools. What I need…is skill." The ANBU quoted, before giving the standard salute and bringing the list along as he left.
"That was your father's line…I do hope you succeed…Kakashi." Sarutobi spoke. He then brought out his pipe and lit it. He puffed contentedly as he stared thoughtfully up at the face of Yondaime carved on the mountain.
Hatake Kakashi was a good, proper ninja. Nearly perfect, but still, he was a good ninja. Now he had a mission, and he was going to get serious. It appeared, after much reading and rereading of the mission briefing that was in the letter, that he would have to guard one Harry Potter. Also, it was listed in his orders that he had to protect the whole school and weasel out the traitor to boot. ANBUs were not trained to baby-sit one 12 year old boy. Harry Potter wasn't a very strong name. When Kakashi thought of the name, he thought of a scrawny little nerd with thick glasses. The question was, why was this kid, this nerd, so important?
It wasn't in Kakashi's place to know. It was his place to figure out how to get this Dark Lord's ass kicked (and get himself killed in the process, in the worst-case scenario.)
It was all in the life of an ANBU operative. Kakashi mused. He mindlessly reached out to pick out a black ANBU hooded jacket from his closet and put it into a black military issued bag.
This mission may be his last, but Kakashi didn't mind. He was ANBU.
It wasn't in his place to know why.
The kunai looked normal, felt normal and was as sharp as it could be. It looked nothing like what the mission briefing stated. It was supposed to be a 'Portkey'. It would take him to a halfway point, somewhere in Egypt, the mission briefing said, then to London. From there, he had to go to Hogsmeade via 'floo Powder' through a 'fireplace'. Kakashi briefly wondered if the common words were supposed to be a code of sorts, but then, ANBU aren't supposed to know. He checked the position of the sun again, and reread the letter.
…Travel to Scotland via Portkey. First Portkey (Kunai) activates at 4:30 AM, Konoha time. Second Portkey (Clay Pot) activates at 4:32 AM, Konoha time. Route to Hogsmeade via Leaky Cauldron, contact is Tom the innkeeper; password is nitwit, oddment, blubber and tweak, transport via 'floo powder', ETA to Hogsmeade 5:30 AM. Contact in Hogsmeade one 'Rubeus Hagrid'…
Once more, Kakashi wondered if the name Hagrid was another codename. Then he dug out his watch and stared at the time. 4:28. He took hold of the kunai and with the other hand, put his ANBU Wolf mask on and picked up his bag.
Two minutes later, he felt a tug at his navel and he was jerked into a sort of highway filled with blurs of color, snatches of sound and then…nothing.
Kakashi landed rather unceremoniously in a small, gritty hot room. The ANBU scrambled up and quickly took a hold of the clay pot that was supposed to be a 'Portkey', just in case he missed the scheduled transport. His stomach was spinning, and he was slightly glad that he had only four pieces of toast in him; otherwise, if he had eaten something much heavier, he would've puked by now. According to the mission briefing, he had two minutes to rest and put on the jacket that was supposed to keep him from attracting too much attention.
Two minutes later, he felt another tug, and nausea attacked him with the force of a bulldozer as he spun through the highway of swirling colors.
Kakashi, having expected another bruising drop, had realigned himself as he fell down. He landed on his feet rather hard, but he didn't fall. All around him, people were brushing past, arms filled with groceries and things. A car angrily honked its horn at a slow woman with a cart. This horseless carriage surprised the Copy Nin, but he didn't show it. People were about their business, their eyes had registered him in his coat, but they were either too busy, or were ignoring him deliberately.
Kakashi picked his bag up once more and looked up at the building. It was an old thing, with dusty windows and peeling paint. Kakashi approved of this sort of camouflage, as the sheer image of a ramshackle old bar would be perfect to hide a sort of gateway into the 'magical' world.
The ninja put a hand on the doorknob, turned and pushed the door inwards.
The musty bar air and the scent of liquor invaded his nostrils immediately, and Kakashi resisted the urge to sneeze, as his extremely sensitive nose wasn't taking the smell of alcohol too well. There were a lot of people in the bar right now, but Kakashi's keen eyes singled out his contact in the Leaky Cauldron. He walked up to the bar and leant on the wooden countertop. He leaned forward until his ANBU mask was near the man's nose.
"Tom the innkeeper?" Kakashi asked in a low voice, heavy with his Japanese accent. The man looked old, and he had no teeth. Tom turned to face Kakashi as he polished a mug. "Yes?'
"The password is Nitwit, Oddment, Blubber, Tweak." Kakashi replied in his best English. "I believe Dumbledore-san told you of my arrival?"
Tom nodded gravely. "Aye. He told me that you are inexperienced with the manner of traveling that is Floo Powder. I'll teach you the basics." The landlord moved towards the fireplace. Kakashi followed, though he seemed a bit wary of the fireplace. Tom started a fire and took out a handful of what seemed like grave dirt. "Now, you sprinkle a bit of the floo powder into the fire, like so…" The man sprinkled the fire with a bit of the dirt, and Kakashi was surprised to see it roar into a ferocious emerald bonfire. "Now, you get go in and scream out the name of your destination." The landlord finished. Tom returned to his place behind the counter and Kakashi looked at him in disbelief.
"You expect me to step into that?" Kakashi spoke in mild shock. The landlord nodded. With an expression of disbelief, Kakashi followed, and gingerly stepped into the fire. It was tingly, had a slightly pleasant feeling to it and a gentle heat.
"Hogsmeade." Kakashi spoke, trying his best to pronounce the word.
There was a slight feeling of weightlessness, and Kakashi was hurtled down a swirling tunnel of emerald flames. He kept his arms tucked to his sides by instinct, and he wanted the whirling to stop.
ANBU Wolf landed with a loud thump onto a thick woolen carpet. He was in a building, somewhere. It was nighttime outside. The ANBU felt his body for bruises, and when there were none, he took up his bag again and got up.
"Ah. So yer here already? Good." A huge man, for that was what it looked like, helped Kakashi up. "Aren't used ter the floo yet eh?"
It was imprecise English, at best, but Kakashi managed to make it out and nodded. "Yes."
Hagrid smiled. "Good, good. I'll show yer around, then I'll bring yer over ter Hogwarts so you could see Dumbledore."
Kakashi followed him then, as the huge man pointed out shops and other things. But, most of the time, Kakashi wanted the man to get it over with. It was night time right now, and Kakashi wanted to finish his job as soon as possible, and that meant getting to the Castle, giant-man or not.
But finally, after the tour, Hagrid led him up to the Castle. The whole place was simply intriguing, and Kakashi was glad for both the ANBU mask and his own black mask, as he simply gaped at everything in amazement. He would have fun wandering these halls that was for sure. Everything was simply amazing, the way the paintings moved, and the way the suits of armor seemed to have a life of their own. Everything here was simply breathtaking, and Kakashi felt regret that he wouldn't be able to explore most of the time. Hagrid led him to Dumbledore's office and promptly left after speaking the password. Kakashi stared at the moving staircase with curiosity as he rose up a level. The door was made of wood, and it had a brass eagle knocker on it. Kakashi made sure his mouth was closed, his ANBU jacket and mask firmly on, his black bag by his side and then he raised a hand and knocked.
The old man that sat on the chair behind the table with clawed feet reminde him of Sandaime. They were both old after all, and both seemed to emit an aura of ease. However, Kakashi kept his back straight as he examined the room, half an ear listening to what the old man was saying. The large circular room he was in was filled with strange silver contraptions and other things. All of these caught Kakashi's attention, and he spent a few bit of chakra looked at everything with the Sharingan, to see if there was any chakra flowing about.
"…good journey?" The old man was asking, peering at Kakashi with his half-moon spectacles. Kakashi automatically nodded, tilting his head forward a bit before returning to his normal position. It took a while for Kakashi to notice that the old man, with the really long silver beard, was talking in Japanese.
"Good morning. I am Dumbledore-sensei, headmaster of this school and the only one who seems to know your language in this school of mine." The old man smiled, eyes dancing. "You are?"
Kakashi thought it for a bit, then gave the traditional ANBU salute and spoke in a cool voice. "Hatake Kakashi, ANBU captain for the Foxtrot four-man team."
Dumbledore nodded. "And where are your fellow ninjas?"
"Dead or away on a mission, take your pick." Kakashi replied rather rudely, but it was true. "I was sent here solo, so you can't change the contract unless you break it."
Dumbledore seemed to be sad for a moment, and then he smiled again. "It is a minor inconvenience, but are you sure you can patrol the whole school by yourself, Hatake-san?"
Kakashi looked up for a moment, eyes in deep thought, then he gave a casual shrug. "I have my ways. Don't worry about it."
"My dear friend Sandaime Hokage told me whom he was sending," he said, pointing one finger at a letter on his desk. "He gave me permission to tell you of your mission, and for me to see your face, as we don't trust those who cover their faces nowadays."
Kakashi frowned, but he obeyed. He removed the small thin nearly invisible thread that held his mask to his face and removed the Wolf. Mismatched eyes stared at the old man in front of him, a vertical scar crossed over his left eye. The Sharingan seemed to make the old man uneasy, from the look of it. Kakashi put the wolf mask on the arm of a squishy chair and settled into it. "The mission?"
Dumbledore nodded, eyes dancing. He spoke, seemingly decided to just get straight to the point. "As you know, Hogwarts is a school for magic. Magic and chakra are nearly the same, only your usage is different from ours…"
"I'm here for the mission, not a lecture. Get on with it. I don't like to waste my time." Kakashi interrupted. He had deducted that much, as he had his Sharingan open as he had examined every nook and cranny he could see on the way here. Dumbledore didn't seem insulted; an eyebrow came up, the corners of his mouth lifted in an amused smile. "I was getting to that," the old wizard said. He leaned forward, blue eyes solemn over his spectacles. "Thirteen years ago," he began, "a dark wizard by the name of Voldemort..."
As Dumbledore went on with the tale, Kakashi listened carefully, analyzing his charge's personality as the old man told his tale.
"Harry Potter is currently a student," the old wizard informed him, "Over the last two years, he has been the target of numerous attacks carried out by Voldemort. As we are concerned with his safety, and that of the school's, we've decided to hire you."
Kakashi nodded. "So all I have to do is to protect this Potter?" He asked, disbelief evident. One whole year, to be wasted on guarding a little brat….
"Of course, but that and…" Dumbledore paused, eyes dancing, "For undercover purposes, I advise you to take on the position of Assistant Defense against the Dark Arts teacher."
Kakashi frowned at this. He was no Jounin sensei. But if it were for the mission…he'd leap off a cliff, if that were what it took.
Dumbledore smiled and rose from his chair. "Then it's decided. Tomorrow, you may wander about the school. My Deputy Headmistress will lead you to your room, and tomorrow, she will also explain about the Potter boy, as he is of her House, and about the Castle itself."
The whole hall was jam packed with little kids in black cloaks and little pointy hats. Kakashi, for show, had conjured three Bunshins and had them Henge into his ANBU team members. The Bunshins were positioned carefully, so that the whole room could be monitored. Two were up, behind the Head table, and Kakashi and his other Bunshin were positioned at the door to the hall. The little brats' chatter was annoying, but Kakashi forced himself to endure. He had managed to silence a few by simply staring at them, sending the poor first-years into tears.
Most of the students were staring at Kakashi and his Bunshins, trying to see what lay beyond the masks and failing. One table, full of little snobby brats by the look of the majority of them, was glaring at another table across the room. From the look of this other table, Kakashi deducted that the two groups, or Houses, as the stern-faced woman informed him once, were either at war or simply hated each other.
Kakashi looked over the Hall again, then at the Head Table. One particular teacher drew his attention; by the way he looked young, but old in his years. It reminded Kakashi of his own childhood self, as he himself was only 18, and yet he was doing what children or teenagers should've been doing at this age.
The singing hat earlier had intrigued Kakashi even more. He even had a look at it with the Sharingan; he could see the chakra…or was it magic, flow and ripple about the old worn hat. It sang of teamwork, of unity between Houses. It seemed that the hat's only purpose, Kakashi figured, was to sort the little newbies into their proper Houses.
A group of red clad Gryffindors entered the hall and sat down at the table. They too stared at Kakashi briefly, before murmuring and talking to each other. At that moment, the headmaster stood up and cleared his throat.
"Welcome!" Dumbledore said, arms spread wide. "Welcome to another year at Hogwarts! I have a few things to say to you all, and as two of them are very serious, I think it's best to get it out of the way before you become befuddled by our excellent feast…"
Kakashi and his Bunshins stood at attention at this. He and his Bunshins were clad in the uniform of ANBU, those who were undercover anyway. A black hooded jacket covered everything above their waists, and only Kakashi's silver hair and their ANBU masks stood out from the endless black that was their uniform.
Dumbledore cleared his throat and continued. "As you will all be aware after their search of the Hogwarts Express, our school is presently playing host to some of the dementors of Azkaban and a few Aurors, who are here on Ministry of Magic business. Fortunately, they will only be here on occasional visits, such as the days when you will be in Hogsmeade. On those days, they will be stationed at every entrance to the grounds, and while they are with us, I must make it plain that nobody is to leave school without permission."
He paused for a moment.
"Professor Kakashi Hatake has agreed to be a guest professor. He will be joining in with Professor Lupin, who is your new Defense against the Dark Arts teacher. He will take over when Professor Lupin is not feeling well."
Kakashi looked around the hall again, and then the old man continued.
"And of course, I come to those who have caught your attention during dinner." Dumbledore spoke. Kakashi stiffened and his Bunshins snapped to attention. "As the dementors and the aurors will only be visiting occasionally, I have taken it on myself to hire these guards." He gestured to Kakashi and his Bunshins. "They have all the skills that top Aurors have, and they will be patrolling the entire school to ensure your safety. Their leader has notified me," At this Dumbledore paused again. "That his four-man team would rather kill first and ask questions later."
The silence that followed seemed to be a far cry from the bustling, noisy crowd earlier. Only a few people were talking now, and Kakashi quickly found his charge. As he had imagined, the boy had glasses, though the boy's glasses weren't that thick.
Later, after the feast and the mass exodus from the hall, Kakashi and his Bunshins stood with the teachers who had stayed behind. One looked like he was having an eternally bad day, the other was the peculiar man he had seen a while ago. Dumbledore was there, and Professor McGonagall.
"That was a good instruction for the little gakis." Kakashi spoke in his best English. His words had a slight accent, but it was an improvement. The black clad man looked at Kakashi and sneered. Kakashi didn't even need the Sharingan to know that this man hated him from the start.
"Foreigner." The man murmured acidly. Kakashi raised an eyebrow at this. He raised both hands to form the Tiger Seal, and then said. "Kai!"
The Bunshins vanished in a puff of smoke. Some of the teachers looked surprised at this. "Where are your other members? I thought you had three others with you."
"Dead, or on a mission." Kakashi spoke rather calmly. The peculiar teacher made up some excuse to go somewhere else, and soon Kakashi was left with the Deputy headmistress.
"Your food will be in your room." McGonagall spoke. "Will you be patrolling tonight?"
"I will." Kakashi replied. McGonagall nodded and left. When he was alone, he took out a scroll from his belt pouch and unrolled it. He bit his thumb and ran the bleeding finger through all the names listed in the scroll. He then quickly formed several seals, calling their names in turn. "Ousu-buta, Inu, Tori, Saru, O-hitsuji." Boar, Dog, Bird, Monkey, Sheep…
Kakashi rolled the scroll again and slammed it on the floor of the Great Hall. Small chains emerged from the scroll and into the ground.
"Kuchiyose no Jutsu!" Kakashi said. There was a massive cloud of smoke, then silence. When the mist cleared dogs surrounded the cloaked man. The dogs had collars that had metal plates with a carved in leaf symbol. Small jackets adorned the dogs, the jackets had symbols on them and the symbols formed a face. Kakashi at that time had taken off his ANBU jacket. He stood now in the hall, clothed in the ANBU uniform, with the bone white armor and in a black skintight sleeveless shirt. The long gloves of the ANBU also had its own bone white plates, and the black ANBU tattoo rippled as Kakashi stretched and gave a slight yawn. "Yosh. Patrol the entire school tonight, then report back to me in the morning." Kakashi instructed. "Go for stealth. Should an enemy appear, run away and inform me. Any student out of bed, rip off a part of their clothes. " The nin-dogs nodded. Each dog went on a different path, each to his own patrol area.