Well, not everyone on the alert list posted a review (about half who fav'd this reviewed, and a little less the half of who alterted); but I still got well over twice the amount on any other chapter previous (nearly three times as much)! So yeah, that made me very happy, so I'm posting this. Here is a (short) thank you to everyone who's read, reviewed, and enjoyed my story. Some people loved it and read it multiple times (which is really flattering to me, as I do that only to the best of the best stories), and some people didn't much care for it as they read just a chapter or two, reviewed explaining why they didn't like it and left. I got surprising reactions to parts of this story, and no reactions to things I thought would get noticed before others.
I personally would like to thank Kerwin and Beboots for the longest, in depth reviews I've gotten, Juuaichi, for the most... 'surprising' review for chapter five I got for the entire story, Tainted-reflection-126, Beta the Second, Shadow Fox777, Limit, Hiira, soccergirl13, THE Hyuuga Neji, and Karin Kinomoto, for being loyal reviewers for many chapters. I know there's probably some of you I've accidentally missed over, but come on—there was 632 reviews to filter through!
This story turned out to be my most popular by every count—favorite, reviews, reviews per chapter, hits, C2s, alerts—everything. It's at the top of my story statistics in everything but title name. And I have you to thank for it, so here's the final conclusion to 'Itachi and the Prisoner of Azkaban.'
Itachi walked through his hall, the warm natural light of Konoha filtering through his windows. As a ninja was wont to be, he made not a sound as he went on. He was assigned to a new mission next week, the first after the months he spent away from his homeland at a strange school, in a strange land, with strange altered chakra called magic. This one wouldn't be too long, just a small retrieval in the land of Wind spawning from a land feud. He'd be done by, at most, a week.
He made his way into his sitting room, and went to a trunk placed next to the couch. It was a simple trunk, containing simple things... To people on another plain of existence. He opened it, eyes scanning over the drawn picture of him on the lid. It was still the best drawn picture of him he ever came across, even though it was just a sketch. It, unlike other images common in Hogwarts and surrounding wizard areas, did not move at all—whether it was because Itachi didn't move in the time Fudge, the Prime Minister of Magic, was observing him thus described him as, or because it wasn't an actual photograph was anyone's guess. Itachi personally thought it was the latter. 'No, it moves,' Ronald Weasly's messy scrawl said next to the image, 'We can't see it's blinking behind the mask, but Itachi's a stiff bugger normally, and so it wants us to think it doesn't yawn or pick it's nose when we're not looking.'
Itachi shook his head lightly at Ron's antics, even written ones, before looking into the recess of the wooden compartment. He pushed away the books, and accidentally brushed against a simple brown bag, causing the items within it to shift slightly in their confinement. Itachi swallowed, looking at the enclosed cloth. In it was simple things, and all would be a perfect prank on any unsuspecting ninja, but he would do well if he never saw the items again. They reminded him of better times, before the Uchiha incident occurred when he slaughtered his best friend in cold blood, reminded him of Shisui. They were to be a gift, but instead they serve as an impromptu grave maker for the traitor who'd never be honored in the walls of Konoha for his death. Itachi trailed a hand lightly over the bag, just the barest of touches, but he quickly redirected his attentions before his thoughts turned too dark; it was still too soon to do any deep thinking on once best friend.
He reached over in the trunk, fingers enclosing finally over a plain looking piece of wood. As always, warmth bloomed at his fingertips from the touch, and even now it seemed weird to him. No other wand—for that was what it was, a magical item used to cast a form of chakra to do almost anything one could think of—he ever touched reacted that way to him, and he hadn't the slightest clue why. Magic was strange to him as a ninja, and even now he felt better using his hands themselves then the instrument they now held.
But, as he had said and reasoned out before, spells were for comfort and jutsu were for killing. So he sat down on his couch next to Kneazle-Sasuke—who was taking the opportunity and sleeping while her name-sake and playmate was at school—and pointed his wand, heating the kettle of water he had resting on his coffee table for some green tea (no tea leaves for him, thank you) with little effort before swishing and flicking to make himself a cup. He was getting lazy, he knew, but didn't really care.
He was just sipping his tea in the silence when tapping caught his attention. His eyes were drawn to a snow white owl, sitting on his window ledge, trying to get in. Standing effortlessly, he went over and opened the latch, allowing Hedwig to fly in and settle on the arm rest of the seat he just left. She was carrying a package, and his eyebrow rose slightly at the sight of it.
Itachi went to the bird and carefully untied the string, letting her nip him slightly. "You're thirsty, I take it. One moment, please." He quickly swallowed his own drink before pouring clean water in the cup from the kettle and tapped it with his wand, cooling it for her. Yup, he was definitely getting lazy.
She hooted in thanks and gulped some down when he placed it before her, but before she could fly off again, he asked her to wait. "I wish to send a letter back," He said calmly, getting out a piece of parchment and quill—he couldn't use the items for his ninja profession as they were out of place, but he didn't wish to waste them.
But he first addressed the package. It was a book, he noted, of many spells, half of which he did not know (most of the ones he did were because of Hermione). On the inside of the cover was Harry's curvy writing, 'I don't remember when your birthday was, so here's your gift anyway. This is also a thank you for all you've done for me. There's a few things in here I know you'll like.' He flipped through a few pages, and came upon a few, like the Bubble head charm (he could spend a lot of time under water with that one) that did interest him.
He set it down for later reading, and turned to the letter. It told of how Team Six was, how Harry had moved in with Sirius and that they were still in the process of cleaning it up, how he was going to spend a week at Ron's for the Quidditch World Cup, and how he wished he could see Itachi there (Itachi snorted at that. He would not get the time off, get the proper papers, travel two days, and pay the costs, just for Quidditch).
'Harry,' He wrote back in English, listening to the scratches fill the quiet of the room as his quill wrote on the parchment. 'I first would like to let you know that Hedwig is not native to Konoha—sending her here was very risky, and not just for your letter to be intercepted, but for her own life. This is a ninja village, remember, and things that are out of place are usually taken out before harm can be done. Use Ron's owl for future letters, as it is not uncommon to see a Barn Owl here.
'But, I enjoyed your letter, and am glad to know that you are happy. Sasuke and I have settled down in a new place, a distance from the old Uchiha District, now abandoned. Sasuke has returned to his proper schooling, and I am to go on a mission soon—sorry, but it's classified, I can't tell you about it.
'My birthday is June the 9th. I thank you for my gift, and I have found a few interesting spells in there. Some of those can even help in a mission. I wonder, however, can you tell me the incantation to the killing curse? Sometimes a mission requires the target to appear untouched, and it will be a bother to use my Mangekyou Sharingan each time and then there's the chance that they'd live. Sirius and Lupin would probably know, as that was what they attempted to do with Peter.
'Speaking of Lupin, I wonder, how is he? Given the fact that the knowledge he was a Werewolf came out roughly the same time as Sirius's due to an irate Snape, I would like to know if he was still employed in Hogwarts. He did not mention leaving at all when we talked with him before we left on the train.
'I am glad you will be going to the Quidditch World Cup with Ron and Hermione as I know you will enjoy it, but I am afraid I have to decline the offer as I cannot get the leave and then the passports that are required for me to travel cross-country. I do, however, invite you and the others to come to Konoha sometime during your summer break. It most likely will not be this one as the first of September is only a few weeks away, and we will have to exchange a few letters still to get everything set up. I will pay for the tickets and your stay as the currency is different from here to your country and there is no conversion rate.
'I know you and everyone would enjoy coming to Konoha, but before we even think of planning for your trip, you all must understand that you are to tell no one—not even Sirius—of where and how you get to Konoha. Very, very few people know of the connection point and what it is, and only a handful of those know of its location. There is a very good reason why this is, and very good reasons why it should remain as such. I shutter to think what one of our rogue ninja would do if they stumbled upon Hogwarts, or if one of your Ministry wizards came upon ninja territory.
'But, besides that, I wish to show all of you my home. You all will stand out as foreigners here, and will be treated as such by everyone but Kakashi, Sasuke (well, maybe he would as well) and myself, but it will not be necessarily a bad thing. It will let us get away with some things without reproof—such as your strange wizard habits and... clothing styles. But it will limit us in the way of showing you some things that I know you'd like—such as the ninja academy or Hokage tower. But we will deal with that as it comes. Maybe, even, we can schedule your arrival during a festival and you can see how our celebrations are, like how I discovered Halloween and Christmas. But first things first, and we need to make sure we do not put the cart before the horse.
'I will enclose some gifts for you, Ronald, and Hermione for your own respective birthdays as I do not know when they are either.' Itachi thought for a moment about what he should give them. Nodding as he decided, he began writing again, planning to get the items later. 'For you, the set of kunai. Remember to avoid the spot where the blade meets the handle, it's dulled, but still able to cut flesh as Sirius found out when he handled my stolen one. Practice throwing them at a target, so you can learn their ways. For Ronald, the standard issued jounin gloves. He seemed interested in them when we discussed ninja items, and I will get a blank one so he may add a personal alliance crest to them rather then having a Konoha one. For Hermione, I will give a scroll on basic chakra manipulation and functions. I don't think she, or anyone, will be able to do them, but I know she will love learning how the process works after she translates it.
'I would like for you to keep at least one kunai with you at all times, under your pillow as you sleep even, as my senses tell me there will be trouble for you. You may be yet unskilled in its use, but it is a good option if your wand is away from you as most will not expect it.
'Remember the prediction, Harry; you have yet to fulfill all of it.
He set the papers down on the table to allow the ink to dry before he would roll it up and attached it to the owl's leg. He turned to Hedwig, reaching out to stroke her snow white feathers as her large yellow eyes watched him with almost startlingly intelligence. "You might as well get comfortable, Hedwig. I have to go pick up a few items to send back with the letter, and I will escort you outside the village once night has fallen for your own safety."
She hooted and flapped up, landing on a high perch on his displayed Katana before her eyes closed and she settled down to sleep for the rest of the day.
"Meow," Kneazle-Sasuke complained to him sleepily when he got up from the couch, causing her to shift as she had rolled over to lie against his side while he sat there.
He glanced at her to see her roll partially over onto her back, her lion's tail twitching slightly as she went back to sleep. He shook his head at her—exactly like Sasuke, he thought—before putting on his shoes, preparing to stop by the nearby ninja store to pick up the items he said he would.
He thought about the prediction he over heard, not for the first time, as he idly worked. The servant that was to rise was obviously Peter, the rat, but Itachi made sure he was unable to go to his dark master. But... Voldemort, he recalled the name of the snake-villain from the culture book—had not been found or killed, presumably. But if his follower hadn't made it to him, how could he 'rise again'? And about the 'Blood killer' and all that riff raff—Itachi had a strong guess that it was referring to himself, singularly. "Last hope" could refer to the fact that Itachi that very night saved everyone's sorry asses from not only a mad werewolf formally known as Lupin, but from Peter escaping and thus letting ol' Orochimaru-wanna-be spring back and got Harry to performing his Patrons when everyone needed it most. But "Fear not" means that Harry's—for that was to whom the prediction was told to—opinion regarding Itachi swayed that effect, but Itachi would have done everything the same whether Harry liked him or not at the moment. However, if the "living weapon" was not referring to himself, rather it to Sirius or eve Lupin, then that meant they'd have to train up to the requirements, while maintaining Harry's trust, before the entire thing came to play. And for the last, and most confusing part of, the prediction, it was also fairly simple—Harry'd have to escape from a situation with Sirius, he'd have to run to a situation with Lupin, and—if Itachi was correct in assuming the dragon was representation of himself if based off his own prediction regarding his family's slaughter—fight with Itachi at his side, which meant the ninja had to return to the wizard world sometime in the (probable near) future. But, it could very well tell of that night it was told—Harry fled with Sirius when Lupin went all furry and insane, he ran with said Professor during the exam (Lupin followed him through it), and he and Itachi were the only ones awake and aware enough to fend off the Dementors. As long as no one mentioned the order of events—which Itachi knew played some part in a prediction—then it fit logically well when in regards to the very beginning of the prediction, "It will happen tonight".
However, what made things even more complex—as Itachi came to find out from reading a book on predictions during the time he and the team had off before grades were announced—was that double references equaled very tricky business. If indeed Itachi was both the "Trained Murderer" and the "Dragon", then that spawned seemingly countless different things to happen to achieve the circumstances about the prophecy. It could very well refer to Harry coming to Konoha and helping to kill off Orochimaru for all Itachi knew. The whole thing gave him a large headache, and firmly reminded him why he hated Divination to begin with. All he knew was that he was not going to be leaving Konoha for Hogwarts or its surrounding wizard area for quite some time even if he was requested back for another mission, if the Hokage's heavy hints were any indication. He was a powerful Konoha ninja, and he spent far too much time as it stood over in an alternate world as an alternate person with an alternate life, and it already affected his ninja self quite a bit as it was.
He finished tightening the straps on his sandals and sat up, sighing slightly as he looked at the door for a moment, contemplating on that last thought and pushing the aggravating prediction once again out of his thoughts. He really had changed since going to Hogwarts. He still was cold and calculating most of the time, and he was far more inclined to silence then before the death of Shisui, but he had some instances where he would smile—that he could smile. One such example was when he tricked his ANBU squad into eating some Every Flavor beans shortly after arriving. Hawk had a toilet flavor, Dragon got a bark flavor, Cat got a (ironically) cat food flavor. They retaliated by ganging up on him on a later date, so he wouldn't suspect it, and forced him into a dress. He, after destroying the dress (and bindings, for they were not fool enough to think that he would willingly submit to wearing such things), made them run three hundred laps around all of Konoha. Grumbling and calling him a heartless bastard, they did so, with him chasing behind them to make sure they did it without slacking off.
But once they had finished the last lap, and he was berating them for their prank and their lack of stamina and endurance, Dragon (the girl of the group) gave him a tired, one armed hug, Cat—panting heavily—gave him an affectionate noogy while Hawk (the oldest, and Hyuuga of the group) nodded, catching his breath while leaning against a tree, and said they were glad he had his soul back, that they had been worried about him. Itachi blinked at them for saying the same thing Kakashi had, but just nodded and had them resume training—to their groans of protest.
But... did he like being changed? Having a... soul?
He sighed again and stood up, walking over to the entrance door. He slid it open and went out, closing it and locking it behind him before turning to walk down the crowded street. He moved among them almost without notice as he was just another ninja in a village full of them.
Yes, he decided. I do.
If you want to read a newer story of mine, and have the desire to venture out of FFnet, I have posted a Itachi/Sakura lemon on AFFnet. I have the same name here as there, and the story is called 'Snow Cabin.'
If I get the same amount of reviews as last chapter, I really will work on the sequel and try to get it done by October. For inspiration as to what to write, try to point out all the references to what the sequel would be about from all the chapters of this story. I've made it so that this story can both end here, and continue with little difficulties.
Oh, and for those who care, it's going to be called, 'Professor Uchiha.'