Title – Professor Uchiha
Rating – PG-13
Pairings – No real pairings, only hint of pairings.
Summary – Dumbledore had thought he had seen the last of the young ANBU captain when he left the castle at the end of Harry's third year. Apparently, he was wrong.
Author – Mistress DragonFlame
Notes – This story is going to be a shit-load less Harry Potter story-line centric, as my other one was, and have a bunch more angst. What happened in the fourth book will be left to your imagination for the most part. Most of it stayed the same (Quidditch World Cup, Triwizard Tournament, fake Mad Eye Moony, Cedric dying, etc) but with a few key differences—someone other then Peter is helping Voldemort, Sirius didn't hide out in the cave and is properly fed, etc. This will be brought into light in this story, and will affect it as well.
WARNING! This story combines three books, all the way to the Deathly Hallows. So that means there will be NO SEQUEL and there will be SPOILERS!
Update: 14 Jan 2012; With the end of the world approaching, I've decided to make it my goal to finish this story. Also, everyone welcome my beta Aldedron. She was geek enough to go off and beta this work all on her own, just because.
Dumbledore frowned again at the letter as he paced his study absently, a fire burning merrily in the hearth even though it was the middle of July. Apparently, due to the end... event of the last Triwizard test and the lack of 'qualified' (meaning not Lupin, who was supposed to come back this year) people signed up for the job, the ministry will be providing his new Dark Arts teacher—whether he likes it or not. They had been trying their best to stamp out him and his new, budding Order of the Phoenix, the same one trying to warn and prepare people for the rise of the Dark Lord. And they had been doing a damn well good job of it, making the Dark Lord's return all the more serious.
He sighed wearily, letting his hand drop, making the paper flutter slightly in his grip. There was no way around it. He had to let her become his new teacher. Why couldn't the ministry realize this was only harming them? How could he handle their meddling ways, as well as the Dark Lord, not to mention finish grooming Harry to become what was foretold since before his birth? He needed more time, or fewer problems, but neither seemed at hand.
The old wizard glared bitterly at the cackling fire, his office's only light source. Of the two of them, it was by far more cheerful, more then it had a right to be.
The Headmaster weaved past his tall, plush guest seat and his large wooden desk, sitting heavily in his own chair. The many light, and not so light, snores of the past headmasters sleeping in their frames filled the room with a dull, even drone, blurring into the background. He was looking at the paper again, not really reading it, when something dark caught his attention from the corner of his eye.
He jumped violently at the figure that had somehow appeared in the seat across from him, having somehow passed the wards that surrounded the office. Wards that were older then Dumbledore himself, never before failing to notify the current Headmaster when someone approached the room from any and every possible location. He swallowed and breathed deeply to calm down. For one of his kind, it was child's play to break in—and he proved it, because Dumbledore knew him to be no older then fifteen.
He wore his ANBU uniform, but it was dirty, scratched, and dried blood was caked onto one side, staining the usual bone-white vest a dull brown. His usually cared for hair was matted with clumps of dirt, sweat, twigs, and was very oily, hanging limply in front of his face and throwing his eyes in shadows. A gloved hand was fisted and was against the youth's head at his brow, leaning to rest on the armrest while the other arm was draped carelessly over a propped up knee. He was in a carefree pose, but Dumbledore prepared himself for an attack he knew he couldn't defend against. Uchiha Itachi was not supposed to be here, and the old wizard highly doubted the Sandaime would send him here unexpectedly for a friendly check up, barring the state of his clothes. But what did he do to suddenly gain the wrath of the Hokage? ...Or had something gone terribly wrong in Konoha? Thoughts began to rise in the old wizard's head, terrifying thoughts of what Voldemort could—would—do if given access to the other plan of existence.
"Itachi-san? What are you doing here?" He asked, not attempting to hide his alarm from his voice.
"I'm not here to kill you," Itachi replied in his slightly accented speech, not moving an inch any which way, nor giving anything away in the tone of his voice. "Nor am I here to warn you, or seek to gain your battle prowess."
"Then..." Dumbledore frowned slightly, switching to English at Itachi's subtle hint. "What does the Sandaime want?"
"He doesn't know I'm here." The ANBU's voice was dead, but it dulled the fright of his appearance and the confusion of it sharpened. He wasn't going to attack, the Hokage wasn't angered with him, and he wasn't here to warn him. Voldemort surely would have been cause for a warning from the ninja village, so as it was, the connection point remained unknown to the Dark Wizard. He heaved a relieved sigh at the news before turning back to the matter at hand.
"Then..." He trailed off, not knowing how to continue. He was pretty certain that Sarutobi had discussed it with him at one point, that all of the ninja under his control—the more powerful they were, the tighter the control was—never went anywhere outside of Konoha without permission. To do so was treason.
"I'm here for... personal reasons. I want you to do me a favor," The boy seemed to deflate at his admission, giving the impression he was... beaten, in a way. But what would make such a strong, self-assured young man become so defeated?
Still, his worry for the boy aside, it was treacherous ground he was walking and he could not risk angering the Hokage by hiding one of his stray ninja from him—to do so would bring the wrath of the entire village onto him, friend or not. He'd rather face, and have a better chance of surviving, Voldemort head on. Spells meant nothing if they couldn't hit the person they were aimed at, and ninja were designed for battle. As insulting as it was, Itachi himself had summed it up once, 'Wizards are just civilians with chakra.' Take away the 'chakra', the wands, of a wizard, and you'd have a nearly helpless civilian—even the ministry's Aurors would be virtually powerless. "What would happen if I refuse?" He said softly, carefully.
Finally, Itachi raised his head so his eyes could be seen, and pale blue eyes locked with blood red. "Then you and I will both forget this meeting ever occurred," He dropped his gaze back into shadows, and Dumbledore released a breath he didn't know he had been holding. "And I would head elsewhere. The Hokage thinks I'm dead, and I... do not wish to change that."
Well, he at least didn't have to fear the anger of his long time friend for helping a wanted missing-nin. But what happened that would cause Itachi to desire to remain to be thought of as dead? "What happened, Itachi-san?"
Silence, broken only by the small crackling of the fire and the droning snores, stretched on for a while before Itachi finally parted his lips to speak. But it wasn't to reply to his question. "This is the best place for me to disappear to. If I stayed in my own world, I would never be able to stay hidden for long. But this place... This school... Almost no one knows it even exists. I can take up a life here, and no one would even suspect it." At some point, black eyes, almost desperate if anything, even as the face remained perfectly blank, caught Dumbledore's own. "Sir, let me disappear here. I'll work; I'll do anything you want. I know Hagrid took his own class and was slacking a bit on his ground keeping duties—I'd be willing to take over for him, trimming the hedges, maintaining the Quidditch pitch; anything you want."
Dumbledore was silent, and he calmly observed how Itachi suddenly drop his gaze, as if he had given something away he hadn't meant to. The old man was stricken by the sheer similarity the then Tom Riddle and Itachi had at this point—seeking him to grant them a job when they had nothing else but darkness. He then noticed Itachi's hand, hanging slightly off his raised knee, was shaking ever so slightly. The boy retracted the limb, as if sensing the look, and hid it in his lap, but didn't otherwise move, and the quiet raged on. While Riddle thought he deserved the job, Itachi was almost desperate. No matter the similarity, Itachi was not Riddle, and he was not wishing to convert anyone to the dark arts.
And this was a golden opportunity. Dumbledore, while highly disapproving of the manner they were created, always slightly coveted the army his friend Sarutobi had at his beck and call. Most all were loyal to a point, and obeyed without question the orders the Hokage dealt out. Itachi offered the wizened Headmaster a chance for a ninja, a highly powerful ninja, to call his own—admittedly not as blindly loyal as a Konoha Ninja would be to the Hokage, but that could be changed in time. And given the abilities that all ninja possessed, let alone an elite like the one before him, it would mean he could have an invaluable spy, fighter, defender, or even possible trainer at his command. Dumbledore felt his hand twitch, ever so slightly, at the near endless possibilities presented before him in the package of one single fifteen year old.
The elder wizard glanced at the paper still in his hands. The thought of hiring Itachi for the Defense teacher flashed through his mind, and oh, was it tempting, but he knew he couldn't do that. The ministry was... 'insisting,' and if they found out Itachi—a child—had taken the position, all hell would break loose, and Dumbledore was having difficulties handling the rising underground resistance against Voldemort without them waging their own open war on him politically. And while Itachi was very good with magical creatures, the position would only be temporary as Hagrid was to come back when his own mission was complete and they'd be back to square one. A guarding position was also out, as the ministry had recently created new laws regarding those positions, and if he was to suddenly have an armed shadow, or even just one at the school, he'd be taken from his position and he just couldn't risk that; Harry's nurturing was far too important to be left in the hands of anyone else. Perhaps become a student again? No... if he was to be taken in, he would need to be given a position where he'd be able to do tasks without interference—especially if that... woman was to be the new Defense teacher.
He sighed, his mind racing for a logical reason for the ninja to remain at the school, when such a thing fell right into his lap.
"Headmaster!" A new voice gasped, throwing open the door.
Dumbledore was shocked to see Professor Trelawney run in, face flushed behind her large rimmed, abnormally slanted glasses. It was equally surprising that she was in his office, as it was that he completely missed the bell notifier positioned in his office for such unplanned visits. She stumbled up to his desk where she braced herself and frantically gulped down air. She looked like she had run from her tower all the way here. "Headmaster!" She croaked again. "I've just—been reading—my crystal ball!" She managed to gasp out, getting her breath under control with a few more deep breaths.
"Yes...?" His eyebrows brought down into a slight frown, he wondered what she had seen, and if it was a true prediction or not. His eyes flicked ever so slightly towards the shadowed person in the chair before him, and he wondered vaguely if the boy had anything to do with this.
"And... well..." She straightened, a placating smile on her lips as she absently went about correcting her toss hair and crooked glasses, clutching at her half-off shawl. The silence drew on and she looked at her finger nails, picking at them absently. "I'm afraid..." She said in a small voice, her smile still there. "That I have to resign. The Fates That Be say that," She gave a half glance to the dark haired boy who seemingly watched her calmly for all his shadowed face showed, "That I am not needed here anymore. There is someone else meant to take my position, and who am I to go against the forces?"
"But, Sybill—" He began, thoroughly shocked at her resignation. But she just shook her head, her smile still there, but it turned saddened, as if she didn't want to give up her job, but had already come to terms with it.
"I'm not going to have a very good year with that new Defense teacher anyway." She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, finally dropping her hands to wipe them against her robes absently. She didn't see how surprised Dumbledore looked at finding out that she knew about the ministry's interference. He just got the letter today, and had told no one. "As long as he wants a job here, I offer mine. He needs it more then I do. Excuse me... I'll be—I'll be packing my things." She turned and made her way to the door, but not without pausing next to Itachi, and placed a shaking hand on his shoulder.
"I'm sorry, child... If you ever need anything, I will help as much as I can..." She said in her most sincere tone, not looking directly at him. But the boy didn't react one way or another to the touch or voice, eyes still cast in shadows.
Dumbledore probably would have assumed Itachi threatened her for the job—for it was very coincidental that she resigned when he came searching for a position, and she... isn't the best fortune teller—but she was terrible at hiding her fear. He knew he didn't do anything to her by her lack of terror of him. So that meant she predicted something true? She had to, to know about the new teacher, unless she intercepted a Ministry Owl... which is as likely as Voldemort wearing a tutu and proclaiming himself the Heir of Hufflepuff.
Silence again settled over them, the soft footsteps and distant click of the door closing echoing through the room. Dumbledore didn't say anything, as he was trying to come to terms with the elation that a near string-free position was suddenly available, and the worry he had at what he was to do to keep Sybill—and her prediction—safe from the dark forces. His emotions settled upon a muted muddle, and he didn't realize the stretching silence as conversation fell flat.
"I have found that," Itachi, surprisingly, broke the quiet. "When one Seer reads another, the result is far more accurate then if they had tried reading a non-Seer. Synergy, I guess."
"You have the ability?" He asked, brows knitting slightly. Not that he'd need to be to take the position—he only needed to know the art to teach it, not be able to work it as Trelawney showed in most of her lifetime—but True Seers were very, very rare.
"I believe so, yes. Thankfully, however, I can control it. I only see things when I want to see them." He lifted his shoulders in an ever so slight shrug.
"I see..." He said, thoroughly staggered. If Itachi was telling the truth, then he was a very powerful Seer indeed. Few real Seers could control their ability, and it often drove them to insanity. Only the best of the best could turn their ability on and off at will. "Well, Itachi-san," He said, running a hand over his mouth and into his long beard, deciding what should be said now, and what should be said later. "You understand that I'll have to interview you, as well as test your ability. I'll give you a few days to rest before then. You may sleep in your old Gryffindor dorm until this has been properly arranged. I will be testing you on Scrying, Tarot cards, and by the interoperation of dreams. You need only to pass one of them. And then to fit within the laws, you will need to be tested and pass the exams for not only O., but N.E. as well, and you have to take those from a Ministry of Magic personnel. I can arrange one to arrive the week before school starts to test you so you my have time to study and prepare."
"Understood," He nodded slightly, just a single dip of his head.
"Also," Dumbledore paused, and then sighed, suddenly weary from the long night, "I am not sure you realize this, but something has happened since you were last here. Voldemort has come back, and I will ask of you to fight against him. We need every person we can get. There is a group I run, called the Order of the Phoenix—a secret society, made to fight against Voldemort with or without the Ministry's help. You will not leave the castle to do things, as it will be your duty in the Order to protect this school from hostile take-over. I don't require you to fight for me, or join the Order—dearest me, no—but I would like it if you do." He needed to tread carefully with this one, as he was no mere wizarding child, easily lead to his views. Vows of loyalty could be said later, what he needed now was a promise to try.
Itachi raised his eyes and looked at him while he spoke, and it seemed that much of the stress that had been weighing the young man down had vanished. But he is who he is, and did not blindly accept a binding request, even one as vague as it was. "I will think about it, and will reply when I have made my decision. I do not guarantee that I will join, but I will evaluate it completely before I decide and will notify you of when I do." Tread carefully indeed.
Dumbledore nodded before he sighed again, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "I have to ask... Is this really what you want? I know it will be very difficult for you here, as this is not your native home and it is very different. There are no great ninja to challenge you—you will be the only one of your kind here. Voldemort is powerful, and you can't kill him in your normal way, but he is still not a ninja."
"I understand that, and yes, it is what I wish. The life here is simple, even if a war was to break out. I do not need to worry about anything." They lapsed into silence again, and Itachi didn't move from his spot. Maybe he sensed that Dumbledore had something else to ask, maybe he wanted to tell him something. Whatever it was, he just sat there in that relaxed pose, as if he was just a bored teenager.
"What happened, Itachi-san?" Dumbledore asked again, prompting. "Why did you think to come here? Surely you could make your life outside of this school."
The longest pause yet, but Itachi made no motion to move, to avoid the question this time.
"I've told you once... this place has changed me..." He finally spoke, his voice blank and even as he began his tale.
He spoke of his story, and the blood it was soaked with. Dumbledore was careful to keep his face blank, but he knew his eyes revealed the sorrow he felt for the missing-ninja. Itachi's tone had not changed one way or the other the entire explanation. It was if he was merely telling of how to make a simple potion, and yet it spoke of death, defeat, destruction, and dread. He sighed tiredly after he finished and then placed his hands on the armrests and forced himself up. "I will rest, and then I would like to borrow some books from your library until you need to interview me, if that is acceptable?" Smoothly, as though there wasn't a very nasty, newly revealed burn on his back, he walked to the door, bowed towards the old wizard, and left.
The wood shut with an echoing click, and left silence in its wake. Dumbledore stared after the young man—the child who should have never been exposed to such horrors as he was—before he sighed a long-suffering sigh. Lazily, he lifted the mere letter in his hand, not yet bothering to read the words. It seemed so pathetic, now, in comparison to the problems Itachi faced, Itachi caused, but for the situation at hand, the Headmaster could not ignore it. It was just another ball in the juggle he preformed, and he couldn't slip and let it fall to the wayside, regardless of the new, fragile, priceless glass sphere added by the ninja in question.
Quickly, crisply, he scrawled out his "acceptance" of the "applicant" and sealed it with magic and wax, to be sent off in the morning, before bringing out another piece of paper. Hesitantly, carefully, he thought about what to write, as this was a larger problem now. He needed to contact his old friend, and his friend needed to understand the situation. Dumbledore had to make sure to be very, very careful in what he told and asked, otherwise it could bring more harm then good.
His quill touched parchment, and soon emerald green ink Japanese characters bloomed into existence on the paper.