Sabaku no Potter
Pain screamed through her body as her husband applied seal after torturous seal to her round stomach, four elite ANBU holding her down to keep her thrashes to a minimum, so as not to distrupt the careful process. A fifth was standing slightly further away, a large iron kettle covered with ancient wards... slowly but obviously failing to the trained eye.
"Why?" She whimpered, tears streaming heavily down her face. "Why... are you doing this?"
The Kazekage formed a handseal and burned another seal into her stomach before he stepped back, panting from effort, to inspect his work. His mask easily disguised whatever small traces of emotion he may have felt as he looked down at his wife.
"This... is necessary. We have a longstanding alliance with Konohagakure of Fire country, but that alliance is slowly killing our village. The Daimyo of Wind has cut our funding, and sends the most profitable jobs to Konoha, leaving us with more dangerous missions while we are paid less. More and more of our Shinobi die every year... its true that the ones who survive generally grow to become much more powerful than average, but our forces are currently at less than half any other of the greater villages. When war breaks out again, sheer numbers would overthrow us. Also, while Konoha has recently lost a great deal of their forces in the Kyuubi's assault, they still recieve all of the best missions that should go to us! People are abandoning the village because of our lack of funding, and that makes us look even weaker... and as the finale of the Leaf's battle with the demon fox, they sealed it away in a human. They have created a weapon beyond measure by doing so... To save our village, we need money. For money, we take missions. To convince the Daimyo to send the missions we need to us, we must prove, beyond a doubt, that we are stronger than the leaf. What better way than war, to crush their village? As of now, our ranks can easily match theirs, but the battles would be long and difficult. Their Jinchuuriki also, would be a deadly trump card. We aren't ready yet... Not without a weapon of our own to match theirs."
He motioned the Shinobi holding the kettle over and began forming handseals as he continued the process, paying no heed to the agonizing screams. The pain made it extremely difficult to even think, but the pain lulled for a moment, as the Kazekage turned to take the kettle from the heavily sweating man beside him. In that instant, though her voice was raw and barely usable from screaming, and it choked off into a nearly unrecognizable gurgle, she managed to give voice to a coherent thought. A plea to the heavens, that her child be watched over after she died... for she knew full well that this process was killing her, and she didn't trust her husband to raise the child on his own. Her dearest wish, at that moment, was for her child to be protected.
Somewhere, something was listening closely.
"Albus... are you sure about this? I've spent the day watching them... these people are Muggles of the worst kind! The father is a fat, grumpy old man, the mother is henpecked and overworked, and the child is spoiled beyond belief! Just this morning, I saw him kicking his mother and wailing for sweets as they walked outside, and..."
"And they are also his only family, Minerva. I have faith that they will raise him properly, without spoiling him the way a magical family would. Also, once they take him in powerful blood magic defences will be erected against... those elements in our world that would seek to do him harm. This is what must be done, for the boy's sake."
After his impassioned speech, Mcgonagall couldn't help but pause and nod with a sigh. She may not like it, but this did seem to be the only reasonable course of action. She had seen the list of people who wanted to adopt the boy... perhaps a third of them were not affiliated to the Death Eaters in any way. She would hate to see what would happen should he be raised in such a household... if indeed they saw fit to raise him and not to implement a 'tragic accident'. Dumbledore set the sleeping bundle on the doorstep and they left, pausing only momentarily to withdraw a small, shiny object from his voluminous robes and use it to return light to the street's lampposts. Then he left.
After a moment, there was a small scuffling noise as a rather large dog scuffled over the small fence surrounding Number 4, Privet Drive. It was hungry... every so often it would find scraps left behind, half-eaten sandwiches and the like, but as it wandered into this area the pickings had slimmed down considerably. It had eventually given up begging for its food and resorted to hunting things... rodents, cats, and smaller dogs. Unfortunately, there weren't many of those to go aroune either... soon, it would move on... either towards a bigger city, where discarded food was more plentiful, or into the wilderness where the hunting was. But first, it wanted to find a meal to tide it over the long trip.
It stepped forward and gave the bundle on the porch a light sniff... then its mouth opened and its tongue lolled out, eyes glinting with its hunger.
This might have ended very badly for the child, except that as the feral dog lunged for the kill, a soft glow settled around the child and lashed out at it, opening a large gash on the dog's side that spurted blood. The dog yelped in pain and darted away, leaping over the fence. It would begin its trek tonight, on an empty stomach, something in the back of its limited brain telling it to leave the area immediately.
The glow gathered itself together around the infant, seeming to condense into a tiny fogbank... then it and the child dissappeared, leaving only a crumpled, slighly torn letter to drop next to the small dribbles of blood leading away.
In the morning, two screams rang out. One when Petunia curiously picked the letter off her front porch, and one later when she took the absence of the child, the trail of blood, and the huge stray that had been spotted lurking around recently, and added the facts together to their logical conclusion. The freaks would be very upset if they found out something like this had happened... there was a hurried, whispered conversation between her and Vernon, and at work he requested a transfer to America. Within a week, there was a For Sale sign on Number 4's lawn... within another, a new family had moved in... strangely enough, they were very similar to the Dursleys. The father was overweight, and worked for a company that sold lawn tools. The mother was thin, and dealt with all the housework. Their son took after the father and was rather plump... and the second son had messy black hair and green eyes that were only a few shades off from Harry's. From a distance, it would appear to the average observer that the Dursleys had only left the house for a few days... This was helped in the fact that the family was somewhat antisocial, just like the Dursleys, and didn't go out of their way to meet the new neighbors.
It was a little over a month later that one Arabella Figg moved into an empty house down the street, at the special request of Dumbledore...
At this point, the Kazekage had finally begun to question whether this had been the wisest course of action after all. For the most part, things had gone according to plan. They had managed to seal the demon into the unborn child, and the shock and pain running through the mother's body had triggered a somewhat premature birth... as he had expected. The dying mother managing to muster the strength to name her son and curse them all with painful, premature, bloody deaths was unexpected, but easily ignorable.
Then the infant had begun to scream, and the very sands of the desert had burst into the room, creating a miniature sandstorm in the room as, one by one, the abrasive sands tore the flesh from his five assisstant's bones. He had managed to escape with only minor wounds, and was now staring in awe as the localized sandstorm tore the building to shreds, hurling large chunks away. Very little of the framework of the first floor remained... everything else was gone... and as he peered closely into the raging sands he could almost see it. The outline of the demon Tanuki, Shukaku. He shivered, wondering if he had made a mistake... if perhaps he should have practiced his sealing by transferring the demon into another kettle with fresh wards before attempting something like this... no, he would not second guess himself now. It was far too late for that... and if the demon had been released then it didn't matter anyway, because he was a dead man.
He squinted as he looked back into the sandstorm, at the vague, indistinct shape within. It was... staring at something? Yes, it was definitely focusing all its attention on something... directly above? Unable to stop his curiosity, he angled his head to look up as well... nothing. Just the starry night sky...
His eyes narrowed. The sky... that star... he'd never seen it before, and all Suna-nin were required to be able to navigate by the stars, because the face of the desert was constantly changing. This star was new... and odd. As he stared at it, it seemed to get larger... he turned away for a few moments and then looked back to compare... yes, definitely larger... or closer. The image of the Shukaku seemed to be snarling now, and the sands whipped about ever more violently... he frowned under his mask, recalling that the mother had murmured indistinct things under her breath throughout the operation... was this her doing, perhaps? He mentally shook himself at the thought. Ridiculous. What jutsu could possibly have an effect like this? But he could think of nothing else to explain it...
The star had swollen to the size of a small boulder by now, and he was idly debating whether or not to run... he'd had the privilenge, in his youth, to see the extremely rare phenomena of a stone falling from the sky at tremendous speeds. The stone itself had not been very large, perhaps the size of a small melon, but it had created a very impressive crater in the desert sands. Had it struck in the village, there would have been hundreds of deaths, at least. He had spent several years trying to replicate the effect with a jutsu, before giving up. While he had eventually found it possible to duplicate the natural disaster, the strain on his chakra was enormous for far too little effect. The strain would have killed him, had he not had multiple soldier pills on hand. He'd swallowed half a dozen, and he was still bedridden for months afterwards. Now, if he had to guess, he could perform the jutsu with only a single soldier pill, but it would leave him weak and incabable of motion for several hours... a sitting duck. He'd added it to the village's scroll of forbidden jutsu, as was his obligation as Kage, and made a sidenote that the time it took for the technique to take effect, almost a full minute... an eternity in fast paced ninja battles, made it all but useless except for perhaps causing widespread destruction in an enemy village, or singlehandedly destroying a boss summon that wasn't particularly agile. Hmm... now that he thought about it, that might work almost as well as the jinchuuriki plan... why hadn't he thought about that before? He shook himself out of thought as the sands doubled in fury.
This did not seem at all like that event. Rather than falling swiftly, the glowing object was drifting gently downwards. All thought processes stopped, however, when the image of Shukaku directed his deadly sands at the sphere of light... and they fell limply away, collapsing to the ground. Silently roaring in fury, an odd sight, it directed more and more sand at the sphere... but the best it could do was to slow it down as it continued to drift to earth. It was fascinating to watch. Mere moments later, it had reached the false-Shukaku itself... and forcing it to slowly melt back into inanimate sand. The sphere settled in the buildings remains, glow fading swiftly... and the Kazekage heard the unmistakeable sound of a baby crying... joined swiftly by a second.
He darted into the ruined building and stared in shock. Right next to the redheaded infant he'd sealed a demon into, lay a slightly older child with black hair and piercing green eyes... and a small, jagged scar on his brow. The sand around them was still swirling ominously, but no more than a light wind might blow them. The cries had slowly come to a stop as the elder child cuddled into the younger and fell asleep... the younger was just staring curiously around, dark circles around his eyes giving him a look similar to a baby raccoon.
"... Gaara it is then... and who might you be?"
Carefully, so as not to wake the sleeping infant, he worked the tattered blanket out of his grip and frowned at the name stitched into the fabric. It was in a tongue from outside world, and a name he recognized well. His uncle had managed to leave the continent of the hidden countries, and had, after a few years of wandering, married and ceased all contact soon thereafter. All that they had managed to find out was that he'd apparently had a son, and was alive and well but refused to answer any mail from them. Naturally they'd placed him in the Bingo book as a Nukenin, but it didn't matter because nobody would go through the strenuous experience of leaving the continent to just track down one person. This child would logically be his uncle's son's son then... and judging by the spatters of drying blood on the blanket whatever had brought him here may well have whisked him away from a murder in progress. If he was contacted by family seeking help finding the boy, he'd naturally hand him over... though the odds were extremely low of them even knowing that there were relatives here. He smirked as he noted that the odds were lower still that they would know of a way to pass through the veil that kept the hidden countries hidden. The odds of both together were so low as to be negligible.
Now he wasn't typically a religious man... religion in general tended to be frowned on by Shinobi, except those few blood and demon cults that were frowned upon by almost everyone. Even so, he had to say that this... Harry Potter... was a gift from the heavens, a sure sign that his plans were blessed, and that the ends did indeed justify his means. He was a way to control their weapon. Grinning widely behind his mask, he brought up a finger to his lips, shushing the loud approach of a small wave of ninja, all armed to the teeth.
A weapon, and a means to keep that weapon in check... it was perfect. Though raining burning rocks from the heavens upon Konoha also had its appeal... he'd keep that as a backup plan.
Time passed, and the boys grew up, raised by 'uncle Yashamaru'. Some things were foreordained by destiny, and so their uncle's sinister plot took place just the same way it would have had Harry never existed. Harry was simply led away with an accomplice, and returned to find Gaara staring at the stars in the midst of a ruined apartment with a brand new tatto on his forehead... the kanji 'ai', in approximately the same place that his own scar was. Harry had never asked just what had happened that night, and Gaara never volunteered the information, but he became decidedly colder after that night... not quite to the point of killing everyone who crossed his path, but the assassins that his father began sending against him to keep his skills sharp all died swiftly and bloodily. None of them were shinobi, or even from the village... after all it would make no sense to weaken the villages forces, simply to hone a single weapon.
It was over a year after the Yashamaru incident that the two discovered that Gaara had siblings... an older brother and sister. Their father had taken great pains to keep them seperate, leaving only Harry as the control for his precious weapon. The sister, Temari, was apparently thrilled to discover she had more family, and had dragged the brother, Kankurou, along with her after class to spring a game of twenty questions on Gaara.
Gaara had encased them both up to their necks in his sand and was threatening to crush them to death when Harry showed up and somehow convinced him to release them and invite them over for dinner. As Harry was the only person in the entire village he had not thought even once about killing, his normal methods of persuasion were unavailable. The dinner was a terse, quiet affair, punctuated by quick, nervous glances at Gaara. Harry seemed not to notice, but Gaara would leer menacingly back at them when he wasn't looking. Aside from that, the Kazekage was not at all pleased that his elder children had met the younger, but resigned himself to the fact that, as there was only one class for prospective ninja, their meeting was inevitable... and doubled the rate of thugs he sent after Gaara. It wasn't like he had to pay them anyway... just get them agree to be paid after the job was done and they were happy to charge the deathtrap that was Gaara. More time passed, and the children became Genin, warriors of the village. Gaara and Harry were partnered with an anxious Temari under the Jounin Baki, and Kankurou was apprenticed directly to learn from Suna's best puppeteer. They were sent on many missions, mainly to kill groups of bandits or low-level Nukenin, simple things where Gaara did most of the killing. The Kazekage's plans were swiftly bearing fruit.
Then the letter came.
The entire team, Baki included, stared in shock at the bird that had just appeared in a burst of flame before snapping into defensive stances. Temari whipped her fan open to show all three moons and Harry hopped back from the odd summon, pulling out a handfull of kunai and shuriken. Gaara crossed his arms and glared, while Baki stepped forward, hands carefully away from his weapons, to see if he could defuse this situation.
"Why are you here?"
The bird's response was to trill in song. The song... it was warm... gentle... soothing... it made the listeners want to relax while, unheard in the depths of Gaara's mind, Shukaku's screams of insanity changed slightly in their inflection to become screams of agony.
"A Genjutsu?" Baki muttered under his breath. "... Kai!"
He froze, and the Genin followed his example only to be just as surprised as he was when the soft melody issuing from the birds beak failed to lose any of its surprising potency. Harry was struggling to keep his thoughts rational. He had to stop the music. He had to... had to... the music... so... beautiful... His head began to slowly slump as his muscles began relaxing against his will. He would just sit down here for a while, and enjoy the beautiful music... no. His head snapped up, eyes narrowed dangerously as he hurled the weapons in his hands at the red bird. Its music cut off in a surprised, high pitched note as it dissappeared again in a burst of flame. The group analyzed the area, waiting for the next attack... even small summons could be dangerous, and as this one appeared to both have fire skills and a hefty Genjutsu at its command they couldn't afford to let down their guard. Within a few minutes their patience was rewarded... as the bird came out of another fireburst, dropped a large envelope at Harry's feet, and firebursted away again. They waited several more minutes to ensure that it wasn't coming back again before they let their guard down and Harry picked up the envelope and opened it, ignoring the odd seal in favor of the contents.
"Hmm... I can't read it. Not a word... some kind of code maybe?"
Temari stuck her head right next to Harry's... Gaara and Baki were a great deal more inconspicuous about catching a peek... and Baki's eyes narrowed as he caught a glimpse of the markings on the parchment. It was slightly different, but he'd seen similar forms of writing in...
"Actually, I believe that is an entirely different language."
Harry and Temari's heads turned to him, while Gaara snorted and glanced away, pretending to ignore everything they were saying. Image was important, and he'd spent too long cultivating his image to let it fall for the sake of a piece of paper.
"I'm not sure if it's a language used by whoever lived in the ruins you see here and there, or if it's something from another country... or even from outside the veil... but I've seen writings similar to that in the Kazekage's private library on occasion. We're only a few more minutes away from town... I'll see about bringing the subject up after I file a mission report."
Not long later, Baki was breaking out in a nervous sweat as the Kazekage idly flipped through the pieces of folded, pressed parchment. The mask covering most of his face made it difficult to read his emotions... so Baki couldn't tell whether that odd crease was because he was smirking or frowning. Either was bad... The Kazekage had a reputation of bloodthirstyness similar, but to a much lesser degree than Gaara's. Smiling or frowning typically meant someone was about to die. As did any other show of emotion, really. If what was written in the letter happened to upset him... Baki was fully prepared to leap out the window and take his chances on hitting the ground before he could perform the seals for a body flicker.
The Kazekage was giving no notice to Baki's discomfort as he read the letter. How... interesting. He had wondered why there was no noticable evidence of shinobi outside the veil, but this little letter and invitation... already, his mind was drawing parallels, taking the word 'magic' and correlating it to jutsu, and taking note of the apparent similaritys between these magic users... 'wizards' and 'witches'... and his own ranks of shinobi and kunoichi. From what he inferred from the extra explanatory letter, magic-users were actually more secretive and secluded than the shinobi were, concealing every aspect of their existence from their villagers... he couldn't help but feel slightly wistful at that, imagining a ninja village made up of only ninja... all the villages had a ninja leader, their Kage, and the civilian leaders that made up their council of elders... occasionally there were retired nin on the council, but not often. It was seemingly inevitable that the council and Kage would clash, and often... simply banning everyone but ninja and ninja trainees from the village would alleviate a great deal of headaches. Also, rather than hand signs, these magic-users used something called a wand to channel and focus chakra for their jutsu... Interesting differences, but they were not truly so different. Perhaps with a great deal of research he would be able to find a common ground in their respective paths, before the veil shrouded the hidden countries from view... after the invasion of Konoha.
He paused... the invasion. This would be a useful opportunity, the boy was a tool, a hilt, making it safe for him to grasp the blade of Suna's greatest weapon, his son... The boy would no doubt be grateful for this opportunity, learning jutsu that no other in the hidden countries, to his knowledge, would be able to learn or use. The tool would be much more useful... but the invasion was more important. This... blemished pig place would want him to remain for an entire nine months of every year, for the next seven years. This could be a problem. He reached into his desk, still ignoring the fidgeting Baki, who would glance at the window or turn his head slightly to glance at the door every so often, and withdrew... a calendar. Hmm... from there to there leaves... okay... ahah! After the first nine months of schooling, there was a Chunnin exam scheduled in Konoha. That would be the perfect time to strike, and allow the boy to study new, useful jutsu at the magic-users school.
Now... how to do this. Gaara would become dangerously unstable if seperated from his adoptive brother for too long... at most, they would have a week before he was ranting alongside the Shukaku's voice and killing indiscriminately... he knew this well, as he had once sent the two on seperate month long missions. There were dozens of civilian casualties before they'd managed to hunt Harry down and drag him to Gaara... apparently something about his presence complemented and reinforced the seal to the point that the demon within was in full control... though his prolonged absence swiftly degraded those reinforcements, leaving Gaara's fragile psyche open to the demons attacks. If he sent the boy away for so long, alone, there may well not be anything left of Suna by the time he got back.
No, if Harry went, Gaara would have to go as well. But how to arrange things...? Hmm. A plan... that could work... but that would be even better, and he could classify it as a mission... a long term mission like that would pay off very well in the long run, justifying it to the stupid civilian councilors... as long as he could convince this Dumbledore fellow to pay. Hmm...
At the single word, the Jounin snapped to full attention. Hanging on his every word, and only slightly less prepared to throw himself out of harm's way. The Kazekage smirked, unseen under his mask... he still had it.
"You have a summoning contract with the... ravens, I believe? Or was it crows?"
"Hmm... just checking. Wait a moment, would you?"
He nodded and withdrew an empty scroll case and very small brush from his desk... it had taken him months to master the trick to getting all the lines of this alphabet so thin, but he had mastered it. He also withdrew a piece of the paper that he had been intending to make into a special, custom explosive note... it was about the same size as the paper in the letter, so it would do. He paused for a moment, assembling his thoughts as he considered the wording of the letter before he wrote.
To the Honorable Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Headmaster of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I give my most cordial greetings.
Your interesting bird and the letter it bore caused quite a stir to its recipient and a group of his friends... moreso in that I had not yet seen or felt the need to teach my adoptive son the English language that is spoken outside the Veil. He was quite confused, and had his tutor (that word is correct, is it not?) bring it to me immediately.
Having read the letter, I have come to the conclusion that my son would do well to attend your school... although there are matters that must be discussed in person before any agreements are finalized. I request that you meet with me in person, as soon as possible, that we may have these discussions.
I am most anxiously awaiting your reply.
From the office of the Kazekage
of the Village Hidden in the Sands
in the Land of Winds
He set his brush aside and glanced over the note again. Short, but not too short as to be impolite, and he believed that the proper tone had been set. Now the trick would be giving this Dumbledore the information he wanted him to have, while keeping from him the information that he didn't. He would have to steer their conversations carefully, and make sure that only the questions he wanted to answer were asked. He checked to ensure the ink was dry before rolling the paper and placing it in the scroll case and waving it in Baki's direction. Baki immediately deduced his silent command and bit his thumb open before making several hand seals.
A puff of smoke signalled the arrival of the raven, to which the Kazekage easily handed the scroll case.
"I need you to take this past the veil, and deliver it. His name is Dumbledore, and he resides in a school in Scotland. Can you find him?"
The raven closed its eyes, focusing on the ability most summoned birds had, the one that made them so useful as messengers. Within a few minutes it had located the person with the given name and his general area. The ravens eyes opened again.
"Found... but a long way from here. For a nonstop flight, I'll get there by morning and be exhausted for the next few days. You owe me for this, Baki."
Baki nodded... carrion birds were usually notoriously easy to bribe. A few fresh corpses and they'd fall all over themselves to please you forever... the smarter ones were of a much more mercenary nature though. They might do little stuff for free, but for something like this he would have to pay later. Shouldn't be hard... he'd just purloin the remains of the next thug or two that was set on Gaara.
Shock and chaos was paramount among the teachers that had already gathered at the school the next morning as a monstrous bird, three times the size it could have possibly attained naturally, flapped down to the Headmaster's plate and dropped a cylindrical object before flapping out the window and disappearing. When Hagrid rushed to the window to watch the 'nice little bird' fly away, it was gone... leaving only a faint scent of smoke behind. Dumbledore quickly brushed off the queries and expressions of shock at the odd event as he tucked the cylinder inside his robes and finished his breakfast before he headed to his office.
As he entered, he paused just long enough to change the password... and not to a form of candy either. While he was a barmy old man, he wasn't quite that barmy yet... if he didn't want to be interrupted, he was perfectly capable of changing his eccentric habits. Speaking of eccentric habits, he lifted a few lemon drops from their place in the bowl and popped them in his mouth, savoring the sweet yet sour flavor as he sat at his desk and withdrew the cylinder.
It was very interesting... images were engraved on it, of four pointed stars, and it was beautifully laquered. It was formed almost fully of silver, with gold edging... and the catch and hinges were so well hidden that it took Dumbledore the better part of an hour to figure out how to open it, and by that time he was frustrated enough that he had very nearly thrown it out the window several times. Childish, but he had been running into all sorts of problems lately, mostly pertaining to young Mr. Potter. To start off with, Ms Figg had been reporting once a month like clockwork that Harry was flourishing... but when they sent the Hogwarts acceptance letter, it had returned unopened. Several times. Eventually Dumbledore had decided that someone should deliver the letter personally, because it appeared that the wards around Privet Drive were interfering with the owl post... but when he and Hagrid arrived, they had been shocked to discover that the family at number four... were not the Dursleys, and Harry was nowhere to be found.
After a quick meeting with several of the school professors, they had sent out one of the more expensive international post owls with a tracking charm... to find the Dursleys. The second it stopped moving, they were already apparating to the location, and they arrived in a panicking household. They were fortunately able to stun the Dursleys and question them... with the aid of a little bit of slightly illegal Veritaserum. Their answers sent everyone into a panic... except Snape, who didn't care what fate may have befallen Potter's spawn. Dumbledore had immediately led the party back to his office, where he removed one of the paintings from the wall and opened a safe, uncaring of the fact that he was revealing a secret that had been kept for some time with that act, and withdrew a stone that he hadn't looked at for the past decade... he had keyed it into the life of Harry Potter, and that link would transcend all forms of barriers to give him some small information about the boy. If it was white, the boy was alive and healthy... if it was black, the boy was dead. The varying shades of grey in between signified all manner of illnesses and injuries.
The stone was glowing a fierce white. Dumbledore breathed a huge sigh of relief before explaining exactly what that meant to the rest. Their own expressions of relief were abundant and sincere... except for Snapes. Then again, he was so out of practice with showing any form of positive emotion that it would be very difficult to look sincere... He was mentally given a pass.
After the thankful discovery that Harry yet lived, they had begun searching for him in earnest... but the boy was nowhere to be found. Nothing could find him... normal owls, ravens, post owls, international post owls, post owls enchanted to be able to make it through anything but the most powerful of wards... they had even tried more unorthodox methods, such as requesting a house elf to deliver the letter, and contacting the goblins for the use of their excellent information services... eventually they had almost given up, until the Headmaster had the brilliant idea of asking Fawkes to carry the letter. It was an uncommon request to give a phoenix, and he was half afraid his old friend would become insulted that he was being asked to... frankly serve a role similar to a messenger pigeon. At first it had seemed like the bird had been insulted and left... but then he had reappeared to snatch the letter before disappearing and reappearing again at his perch.
The letter was conspicuously absent.
After finally opening the odd case, Dumbledore quickly scanned the letter inside... then paused and reread it again, slower. Veil? Hidden Village? Kazekage? He'd never heard these terms before... and adoptive son? Harry of course... Had he been kidnapped? Dumbledore shook his head, banishing the ridiculous thought. Likely someone from beyond this 'veil' had been passing by, and rescued Harry from the large dog Petunia had mentioned as absent, perhaps being bitten in the process. That would explain the blood... and they may well have simply assumed the letter with Harry was the typical 'this is my child, please take care of it' that was left with abandoned children. Under those conditions, this unnamed person would be rescuing an infant, with the best of intentions. Yes... that was a much more palatable thought for the Headmaster. He called Fawkes to his side and they fire-ported away, most interested to meet the person who had rescued an innocent child from a feral beast... and apparently adopted him.
Okay, this little exercise came about as the result of a discussion of the many HP/Naruto crossovers where there are several major common plotlines. Harry is raised in Konoha, or he summons the ninja gang from across dimensions to guard him or something like that. There are good HP/Naruto crosses, but most of them look almost exactly alike, and Harry is almost exactly the same... just a little more dangerous, and constantly armed.
Anyway, after a while the conversation shifted to a what if question. What if Harry was raised in one of the other major villages aside from Konoha? I couldn't get the question out of my mind, and eventually this fic came to be. Hey... if James can be related to the Yondaime Hokage, why can't he be related to the Kazekage?
Stay tuned next chapter, as the Kazekage's devious plot unfolds!
Please review... (Puppy dog eyes).