Notes: Right then. I can't believe that I'm trying this again, but I'm posting yet another fic, after my previous three attracted no readers. First of all, this is a crossover fic, but one that I believe truly has potential. The two worlds in question are Harry Potter of course, and Naruto. I know this has been done already, but stop your groaning. There are so many parallels between the two stories it is astonishing. I'm beginning to wonder if there's this entire society of writers and manga authors that get together and vote on a common theme to sell. But anyway, I'm getting off on a tangent here. I do that alot if I miss my medication...ahem I have read a few of these attempted crossover fics, and to be very brutally honest, except for a few, they sucked. While this is depressing to me as a reader, it is heartening to me as a writer. This means i could possibly break into a whole new, previously unexplored aspect of Harry Potter! I am bound and determined to make this crossover fic realistic and enjoyable. And that means detail and looooonnngg chapters. After all, what's the fun of having these two 'playgrounds' if you can't mess around with them for a bit? I mean tell me honestly, doesn't the idea of Maito Gai and Severus Snape in the same room just send you into convulsions? The good kinds, I mean. And because both Kishimoto and Rowlings have left much of their respective characters' pasts a mystery, there is much fun to be had in tweaking them to suit my twisted sense of 'fun'. Lastly, I hope that more people will review then they did in my last stories. It's hard being a struggling author when you are competing with veritable gods of fanfiction! So please, review! I want to hear all you've got to say.
Disclaimer: Well, I don't own either Harry Potter or good ole Naruto, though I got pretty close to owning Kishimoto. Damn restraining orders...
Heroes of a Different Sort
The Phoenix and The Flame
Even across worlds and oceans, some things never change.
Albus Dumbledore, Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorcerer, Chief Warlock, Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, and Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, was sitting in a purple squashy armchair in front of the modest fireplace that graced his office, reflecting on this depressing truth.
This past week was undoubtedly the worst one of his life. And in a life that had already spanned nearly two centuries, seen two World Wars, and the rise of two Dark Lords, this was quite surprising. In the span of seven days, a Dark Lord had been vanquished at the expense of two of the noblest souls he had ever had the fortune to meet, a small child had been bereft of his parents, singled out as a savior according to a chilling prophecy, and placed in the care of relatives who would hate him merely for his heritage. One Sirius Black, a best friend of the couple killed, had been singled out as their traitor. Another friend of the Potters, poor Peter Pettigrew, had died seeking revenge against Black, but was brutally murdered for his pains, along with a street full of innocent muggles.
The Ministry had had a devil of a time locating all of the eyewitnesses and modifying their memories. Black, surprisingly enough, put up no resistance as Aurors brought him in. As he was then carted off to Azkaban without the benefit of a trial, as was befitting of such a strong supporter of the Dark Lord, it was disturbing to note the man's lack of remorse was so great that he was in throes of hysterical laughter. The Dementor's Kiss would have been too kind for his sort. Lastly, and most tragically, Remus Lupin was the sole remainder of happier times. With his world torn asunder and bereft of his hope and friends, he fell into a black despair, and it seemed that nothing would rouse him from it.
Yes indeed, this last week had been truly hellish for Dumbledore.
While others were out celebrating wildly at the apparent lifting of the shadow that had hung over their heads for decades now, he was sitting in his office, brooding and silent. A great evil had been vanquished, but to what ends? If the prophecy was to be interpreted correctly, Voldemort was merely severely wounded, not utterly destroyed as most desperately wanted to believe. Hope had been absent for so long that what little that was offered the Wizarding World, even if it was a false one, they eagerly grasped it and held it close. He could not blame them for seizing this opportunity for happiness, small though it was.
The dancing flames of the fire reflected dully off of his half-moon spectacles as he sighed deeply.
A Dark Lord had been defeated, but at the ruin of countless lives and futures.
A few years of happiness and peace had been bought at James and Lily Potter's lives, and little Harry's future had been stained with pain and sorrow, as was evidenced by the jagged scar left behind by Voldemort's Killing Curse. To make matters worse, he had left Harry in the care of relatives, in order for Harry to remain under the protection of the Blood magic, who he knew would undoubtedly torment the boy for his connections to his mother and her "kind". Though no one would know, it nearly broke him to condemn Harry to a life bereft of love. He was essentially dooming the Boy Who Lived to an existence of misery and hatred.
In his mind, the defeat of one Dark Lord was hardly worth it.
Involuntarily, his eyes were drawn to one of the many shelves that adorned his walls, which were crammed between portraits of previous Headmasters and Headmistresses, who were now soundly asleep at such a late hour, and bookshelves that held many rare, interesting, and extremely old books of arcane magic and lore. Usually, these shelves were crammed with all sorts of instruments and odd baubles, but such was not the case with this particular shelf. Only one item was resting there, and though it was battered and beat, it was lovingly cared for, as could be seen by the lack of dust on the shelf and the telltale shine of polish was detected on the metal in the faint firelight. The battle-knife, as he had fondly named it, ------what was it called again? Ah yes, a kunai------was proudly displayed on a stand that held it with the handle facing the ceiling and the point of the blade was resting in a small notch at the bottom of the stand.
It was a souvenir from his past travels, when he had journeyed with his father to the Orient, and a reminder that evil and misfortune could strike at innocents, even when they were separated by an ocean.
It had only been one summer, the one between his Fourth and Fifth Years at Hogwarts, but it had been a summer that he had never forgotten. His father was investigating the possibility of exclusive rights of supplying the people of that land with Western wool. If his father managed to wrangle out some decent trade agreements, the Dumbledores would have a firm foothold in the world of trade with the eastern Wizarding powers, an unprecedented first for a Western Wizard, considering the fact that these people were intensely, almost to the point of paranoia, wary of outsiders, or gaijin, as they were labeled contemptuously by some of the members of the trading commission. 1 The country's closed ports policy was still in effect even after it's nearest neighbor, Japan, had been forced to finally abandon that practice in the early 1800s. In essence, outsiders were banned from even setting foot on the continent.
Somehow though, his father managed to wrangle a temporary license to trade with one of the so-called Hidden Villages of the country from the government, something that had been previously thought impossible.
While the agreement itself was already pretty much in the bag, what remained was the tedious haggling between the finer points of who paid whom how much and when. If only his brother had deigned to join him! But Aberfoth could not be persuaded to leave his experiments or part with his precious goats. And there was only so much of that legal mumbo-jumbo a teenage wizard could stand, so he set out to explore. The Hidden Village of the Leaf, as he had come to learn it was called, was huge!
In his older years, Dumbledore would reflect ruefully on his astonishment. To his young mind, it was quite surprising that such a seemingly magically inferior society was capable of building such a fascinating city. To be quite frank with himself, he had naturally assumed that Western Wizards far surpassed that of any other ilk. The inhabitants of the Leaf had certainly proven him wrong.
He was slightly apprehensive of the man in the white hawk mask that had been detailed to discretely shadow him, but foolishly assured himself that he could handle any trouble, should something come up.
He had tentatively made his way towards what appeared to be a training academy for the Village's young, expecting the masked man to stop him. When his shadow made no move to intercept him, he made his way more confidently towards a group of students, most no older than the Second or First Years at Hogwarts and a few younger, who were apparently beginning some sort of gym in the dusty yards in front of the school.
He had been quite mistaken about the nature of this Academy.
Childish games and pastimes had no place there. The Academy's only purpose was to train young children, very nearly from their first steps, to be cold, calculating killers known as ninja, as he had later found them to be called. This realization had very literally struck a blow on young Dumbledore's rather naive view of the world. He was almost physically ill when he saw the children sparring with each other and trading blows that would have crippled a powerful wizard.
Why, the students who were nearly ready to graduate from the Academy, and a good many years below him, could have murdered him, or anyone else for that matter, without the least bit of remorse. His faith of all the goodness and fairness in the world shaken, he had hurriedly made his way back to the Embassy, where he and his father were staying during their tenure as merchants and pseudo-ambassadors for their homeland, Great Britain.
The man in the hawk mask had politely turned his head when Dumbledore stumbled into a small, dank alley, unable to hold the contents of his stomach inside of him any longer. It was never a pretty thing when a person's perceptions of the world were shattered.
With a sharp crackle of the glowing embers, Dumbledore was startled out of his reverie of the past and back to the present.
He sighed heavily as he recalled his days in the Land of the Elements. His time there had shaped him into the man he was today, and without the lessons that his friends and experiences had taught him, he would no doubt be a lesser wizard today. True, the lessons had been harsh, but his previous naive beliefs would never have enabled him to defeat Grindlewald during the Second World War or find the strength to fight his successor, Lord Voldemort, previously known as Tom Marvolo Riddle.
The professor smiled wryly to himself. The numerous scars and small cuts he'd earned during his short stint as a merchant with his father that summer had never let him forget his vow to be as strong for his people, as the ninja of the Hidden Leaf were for theirs.
He glanced at a clock situated on the mantelpiece above the fire, noting the alignment of the many phases of the moon and the sun in the center. He found it to be much simpler than trying to decipher those ridiculously complicated clocks that the muggles had invented to tell time. All of those numbers and hands were quite confusing.
A crescent moon slowly ticked into a notch to the left of the sun, making a perfect horizontal line across the face of the clock. He truly detested all of this cloak and dagger nonsense, but it was a small price to pay in order to pacify his friend's more paranoid tendencies. It was fortunate that their meetings only took place once a month. After all, an old man like himself needed his rest. And pulling all-nighters only served to remind him that he wasn't as young as he used to be.
With a nonchalant wave of his hand, the meek flames in the fireplace roared to life.
Almost immediately afterwards, the flames turned a flamboyant green, and a dark, muddled shape could be seen rapidly growing in its center. Unruffled, Dumbledore sat calmly with his chin cradled in one hand.
The shape was growing larger and its outline was becoming more definite by the moment. It seemed to be wearing large, voluminous robes, and a tricornered hat seemed to be adorning the figure's head. Suddenly, out from the fire stumbled an old man. His beige and red robes were smeared in black soot in some places, and his ceremonial hat has askew on his head, obscuring part of the man's face and hiding only half of the scowl that he wore on his face.
Growling exasperatedly, he tore the hat from his head and flung it onto the floor next to the chair opposite of Dumbledores'.
"Only a wizard would invent an insanely complicated and dangerous form of travel that utilizes the blood of a dragon!" The man snarled. "This damn floo powder of yours is more trouble than it's worth!"
"And only a ninja, my friend, whose grace and agility in battle is unmatched, could fall prey to common chimney soot."
Dumbledore only smiled pleasantly as his friend began muttering curses under his breath as he futilely tried to brush away the aforementioned soot. It would have been amusing to see if the vein on the man's forehead would burst, but he was in no mood to deal with an irate and bleeding ninja. With a flick of his wrist, his wand appeared in his hand.
"If I may," he said softly with eyes twinkling, "offer my assistance?"
The old man scowled, folded his arms, and harrumphed quite loudly. Taking his friend's surly attitude for 'yes', he gave his wand a choppy jabbing motion in the other's direction. The soot instantly fell in clouds from the beige robes and merrily made its way over to the fireplace, where it settled in happily amongst the embers of the fire.
Wand once again tucked in his sleeve, Dumbledore gestured towards the chair opposite his own.
"Please Sarutobi, sit. It has been far too long since your last visit."
The old man squinted suspiciously at Dumbledore. "And no one knows of our meeting this night? You know that if word of this reached ears in high places, nothing short of Kami-sama himself could save us from my countrymen's wrath."
Though it was tiring to hear these words each time they met, Dumbledore knew that his old friend had a point. Even decades later, the Land of the Elements were hardly any closer to throwing open wide the doors to their country. Though Dumbledore himself was welcome, along with an extremely select few, the country was closed off to the world. Most of the uneducated populace wasn't even aware that there was an entire world outside of their borders. Personally, Dumbledore thought that allowing the country to flounder in ignorance was an extremely shortsighted and potentially catastrophic move on the government's part. Participating in an isolationist policy would only result in a general weakening in strength, as Japan had demonstrated, though they had miraculously made great strides in catching up with the world, and was now considered a world power.
A country can only hold out for so long before the rest of the world comes calling at the gates, though the ruling council of warlords were too stubborn to realize this.
When change came, and make no mistake, it would, the land's populace will be ill prepared to deal with it. Until that time, the upper echelons of the government were determined to stave off the inevitable for as long as possible, going to far as to threaten death to anyone who would have any contact with the outside world. Not even the leader of a powerful Hidden Village could defy this decree and live to tell of it.
"Never fear. Wards to stave off eavesdroppers and wayward ears have been installed on top of the original enchantments of this office. As I've explained countless times before, Saru, nothing short of an entire brigade of wizards could even begin to make a crack in my spellwork." The old wizard dearly wished that they didn't have to go through the same routine time after time.
The Third Hokage of the Hidden Village of the Leaf took one last suspicious glance around the office, then stumped over to the chair and collapsed in it with a weary sigh. "This month has been far longer for me than you, Albus." The surly demanor had suddenly vanished from his old friend's face, and Dumbledore noted with some concern that Sarutobi had seemed to age ten years in the space of a month.
A rustling of cloth, and Sarutobi suddenly found, to his immense delight, a small bag of lemon-drops thrust under his nose. "Ah! I'm glad you remembered, Albus! I so dearly love this western candy of yours." He greedily took a handful from the bag and after depositing the hand candies in one of his numerous pockets, unwrapped one and popped it into his mouth with obvious relish.
Dumbledore nodded in satisfaction and popped a lemon-drop of his own into his mouth, whisking away his stash to hide once more amongst his robes.
"It's hahrd to behlieve that this cahndy washn't made by mahgic." The Hokage was so enraptured by the little mound of sugar that he couldn't be bothered to tuck it his cheek when he spoke. "I couhld make ah fohrtune selling these!"
Nodding sagely the headmaster replied, "Throughout my many years, I have never been able to convince the populace of the wonders of a lemon-drop. Perhaps they would have better success in your country."
At the mention of his homeland, the Hokage lost all of his vitality and once again became the defeated old man that had disturbed Dumbledore so. Silence reigned as Sarutobi stared into the fire, and Dumbledore stared at him. The melancholy silence was broken by Dumbledore's soft query.
"How goes the rebuilding, Saru? I trust the village is coming along nicely?"
Resignedly, the old Hokage tore his gaze from the fire and turned to his friend, giving him a wan smile.
"Yes, the rebuilding is coming along rather quickly. I think that in a month or two, all will be well." He rested his hand in his chin, unconciously imitating Dumbldore's earlier pose. "But there's the rub, Albus. Homes and buildings can be rebuilt with a handful of lumber and a few nails, but the human spirit cannot be healed quite so easily."
"A sad, unfortunate truth."
The Third sighed heavily, feeling the weight of every single day of his long years. It was a burdern that was becoming harder to bear each year. "So many of my people died in the battle against Nine Tails. Not one family was spared, not one! Some bodies were so unrecognizable that the family members were forced to search corpse by corpse for a familiar face or a birthmark. Even then, some families didn't even have the comfort of finding their loved ones." The old man's eyes were distant as he relieved the immediate aftermath of the Leaf's battle with the Demon Fox. "Our graveyards were full to the brim, and mass graves had to be dug, for no one had the heart or the stomach to cremate such a large group of bodies. And when we discovered the body of the Fourth Albus, it seemed as if all the hope in our village had fled."
Dumbledore could only nod. He knew all too well what suffering Sarutobi was going through.
Suddenly, Sarutobi's eyes focused on the Headmaster. "Sometimes I wonder if the cost was worth it. Even for all our efforts, that damned demon couldn't be destroyed. It could only be sealed away." Sarutobi chuckled darkly. "The irony of it all, my friend! The strongest of our number, the Fourth Hokage no less, could not defeat the demon, he could only seal it away where it could never harm another living soul again. But the only container strong enough to hold the demon, along with its cage, was a newborn baby."
Dumbledore bowed his head at this statement. Another innnocent's life had been ruined for the greater good.
"And though it was the Fourth's dying wish that the child be viewed as a hero," he continued, "the villagers will never acknowledge him as such. Every time they see the boy, they will only be blinded for their hatred for the demon inside of him." He buried his face in one hand, his finger splayed across its width. "The boy will grow up hated and feared, doomed to live out his life as an outcast. Is it worth it Albus? Will it all be worth it?"
Dumblore could only say what his heart felt, and even then he was not sure if his words could hearten his jaded and world-weary friend. "No one can know that for sure Saru, and trying to answer that question will drive us madness. What's done is done, and the past can be altered no more than the sun can shine during the night. But we must have faith in those we entrust our futures with. I know of another child that has been given a burden that is just as heavy. We'll watch them closely, my friend. If there is anything that my years have taught me, it is that strength comes in the most unlikely of packages." He paused, popping another lemon-drop in his mouth. "And I believe that Destiny has managed to pencil in those two boys on an already busy schedule."
The Third snorted, his gloomy manner lightened somewhat. "Those brats? Hah! They'll need all they help they can get, destiny and fate aside. In our day, we didn't need all these theatrics to get things done."
"Well...perhaps you're right. After all, our generation is made of sterner stuff. Us old fogies had it much harder than the children of nowadays." Dumbledore smiled, his eyes twinkling full force. "Though if I'm not mistaken, I seem to remember a scruffy looking teenager of my own age quite a few summers ago swearing up and down that he would be the next Hokage, whether destiny played a hand in his selection or not."
The Hokage scowled, though there was hardly any true effort behind it. "I also seem to remember a weak gaijin who managed to stab himself in the foot with a kunai. Twice. In the same week. And both feet as well."
Dumbledore winced as the painful memories resurfaced. He hadn't been able to walk right for a month after that. The First Hokage, only a decade or two older than Sarutobi and himself at the time, had always found some way to bring it up around Dumbledore's father and the elite ninja of the village. He was the butt of every joke possible in all of his time there. It was all good natured of course, but a few months of constant teasing was enough to nearly drive Dumbledore to distraction.
And from that remark onwards, the conversation was not between two weary leaders in a war that had yet to be won, but two old friends merely reminiscing of happier times, and instilling in each other a sense of hope for a brighter future for the two boys that had already sacrificed so much at so early an age.
At that precise moment, Harry Potter, better known as the Boy Who Lived, and Uzumaki Naruto, soon to be known as Konohoa's Number One Ninja, two boys who couldn't be any more different, and yet couldn't be more the same, lay sound asleep dreaming dreams filled with deep throated growls and high pitched laughter, flashes of sickly green and murky crimson.
For now, the world was at peace, and dreams were only that-just dreams.
(1) Refers to Japan's closed ports policy, which basically said, "Screw you outsiders! We don't like you and we don't need you!". This policy stayed in effect until an American Commodore by the last name of Perry in the late 1800s asked Japan politely, with a couple of battleships that just happened to be in the same area at the time, to open up or 'else'. Pround to be an American, amen! History's kinda iffy, so correct me if I'm wrong.
Ok boys and girls! I hope that this chapter garnered some interest. I realize that I left some gaping holes in history and explanations, but this is a prologue for goodness sakes! I can't give away everything immediately. More will be forthcoming, I assure you, and the chapters will be longer than this one. As for the explanation why the Naruto universe is completely oblivious to the outside world, well, I even I realize it is tenuous at best. But hey, it was the only semi-believeable thing I could think of at the time. And for those of you who are still confused where the narutoverse is, don't worry, all will be revealed...eventually. Review, flame, whatever it is...or I'll pair Gai and Snape!
PS: If anyone wants to write an omake on how our favorite Headmaster managed to stab himself both feet, I'll feature it in the next chapter I write.