Iruka's eyebrows furrowed. "A teaching assistant?"
The Sandaime nodded. "Yes, she just transferred from the Hidden Waterfall Village. I need you to help her with her transition from Taki to Konoha and help her settle. The Academy is larger than she's used to, Taki not having many active Shinobi, and she will no doubt be a little nervous while teaching all the rowdy students. She only just passed her teaching exam, and will need help to get the gist of things around here.
"But why are you assigning her to me Hokage-sama? Wouldn't there be a better someone better?"
Sarutobi tapped his pipe and emptied the ash from it into the ashtray on his desk. "You underestimate yourself Iruka. I have absolute faith in you that you'll make her feel welcome. Besides, out of all the teachers, you hold more kindness, compassion, and understanding than most. I'm positive that you'll help her adjust."
Iruka's tan cheeks tinted red and he smiled, bowing his head. "Thank you Hokage-sama."
Sarutobi smiled. "I only speak the truth Iruka. Buts she also specializes in teaching basic techniques and about battle strategies and situations, along with Taijutsu."
Iruka nodded. "When does she arrive?"
"Tomorrow. You will meet her outside the Academy at 7:00 and give her a tour to show her where everything is. Then you can introduce her to your class and let her observe your teaching until you think she's ready for a teaching trial, and then you can decide when you think she'll be ready for her own class."
Iruka nodded. "I will do my best to help her Hokage-sama."
"I know you will Iruka." Sarutobi held out a folder tohim. "Here is her file. It might help you learn a little about her before she arrives."
Iruka took the folder and opened it, the picture of a pretty young woman smiling with blonde hair and green eyes catching his gaze. His eyes trailed up to the name above the picture.
"Umino Iruka…" Nervous emerald green eyes scanned the paper in her hands again, reading the name of the man she was meeting and letting it roll off her tongue.
She cleared her throat and put the paper back into the bag she was carrying. She stared in front of her and straightened, imagining that this Iruka person was in front of her.
"Iruka-sensei, it's such a pleasure to meet you….no, no."
She cleared her throat and bowed to no one.
"Iruka-sensei, it's such an honor meet you. Thank for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me."
She shook her head. "No, too formal."
She smiled brightly and bowed. "I have looked forward to working with you Iruka-sempai Thank you so much for agreeing to let me assist you."
"It's no trouble at all Harumi-san."
Harumi gasped and spun around, causing her long blond hair to whip out around her. She looked up to the man she came face to face with. With tan skin and ebony colored hair held up in a high ponytail, his jet black eyes held their own expression of amusement, his lips upturned in a kind smile.
He raised an eyebrow. "Amaagari Harumi I presume?"
"H-Hai!" Harumi hastily bowed. "I look forward to working with you Iruka-sensei! Thank you so much for agreeing to let me assist you!"
Iruka's lip twitched and he laughed.
Harumi blushed, but smiled at her own expense. "Yes, quite the funny picture to see the new teaching assistant talking to herself."
Iruka stopped laughing, but his smile remained. "Yes, quite, but I'll wave it off as nervousness, unless this is how you introduce yourself, if so." Iruka turned his back to Harumi and bowed. "I am Umino Iruka, and I look forward to working with you as well."
Harumi giggled and some of her nervousness subsided. She turned away and bowed again. "I am Amaagari Harumi, thank you for meeting me and agreeing to show me around."
Both stood up straight and looked over their shoulders at one another and laughed.
Iruka held out his arm to Harumi. "Shall I show you around now Harumi-san?"
Harumi smiled and looped her arm through his. "Hai, Iruka-sempai."
"You don't have to call me Iruka-sempai when we're not in the presence of the students." Iruka said as he led her through the entrance of the school.
Harumi nodded as she looked around. "Hai, Iruka-sempai."
Iruka smiled and began to point out classrooms and hallways, glancing at the woman who continued to look around curiously and with attentiveness.
They were nearing the end of the tour when their eyes caught and Harumi smiled brightly at Iruka. His heart skipped a beat and he smiled back just as brightly.
Iruka was shook out of the pleasant memory by a paper wad hitting him right between the eyes.
He stood and glared at his class sternly. "Who threw that?"
Most sent glances at the blond haired blue-eyed boy sitting in the second row, while others just giggled and laughed.
"Just making sure you're still with us Iruka-sensei!" The eight-year-old ball of energy exclaimed laughing.
Iruka placed his hands on his hips. "Naruto, do your work, this is not target practice!"
"Yeah, cause if it was it would be a lot more fun with Harumi-sensei teaching." Naruto grumbled.
"Do your work Naruto!"
Naruto pouted, but continued with his work, and soon the rest of the class settled down as well.
Iruka sighed and leaned against his desk, staring out the window thoughtfully. It was only a year ago that Harumi had arrived in Konoha and became his teaching assistant.
And what a year it was.
He would see her every school day, sitting quietly beside his desk, observing his teaching. Just knowing that she was watching him caused him to teach even better. Being greeted with her smiles made even the worst of days seem all the more brighter. Her laughter made a warmth rise within him. Her overall presence made his heart fly.
By the time the school year had ended Iruka knew how wonderful life was with Harumi in it and he knew that he was in love with the pretty teacher.
Now she was no longer his assistant and had a class of her very own. He had disappointed when she no longer needed him to teach her how to be a teacher, but he also felt pride that she became such a great one.
Harumi specialized in teaching Taijutsu and Weaponry as well as Ninjutsu. All her students loved her for her kind nature and because she never picked favorites. She always greeted her class with a smile and always had words of encouragement whenever a student became discouraged.
Sometimes Iruka wondered how she ever became a ninja. Killing and hurting others was not something he could picture her doing, she was too kind, too sweet, too pure. But then again, it was probably his love a protectiveness of her that made him think this way. He just wanted to keep her safe so that she'd never stop smiling and always have a light in her eyes.
Sparkling emerald green eyes surveyed her nine-year-old students as they each practiced the Bunshin no Jutsu. Harumi and her class were in the courtyard outside the Academy practicing their jutsu.
The kids were all standing side by side in a line, each performing the cloning jutsu as Harumi paused in front of each of them to give them positive criticism
"Wonderful Hana-chan. Close Ranmaru-kun, focus more on molding your Chakra than the quickness of yourhands. Good Tenten-chan. Excellent Jungo-kun. Watch your stance Ami-chan, too wide you'll fall over, too close and you'll trip once you try to take a step. Neji-kun, don't be so stiff with your stance." She smiled and encouraged as she continued down the line of students, until she reached the last student in line.
His thick eyebrows were drawn together in frustrated concentration and he bit his lip.
"I can do it!"
Harumi nodded. "Okay."
Lee clenched his hands together into the final hand seal and closed his eyes tightly. "Bunshin no Jutsu!"
Harumi opened her mouth.
"I can do it sensei!"
She closed her mouth and nodded again, although her eyes were sad. "Go ahead Lee-kun."
"Bunshin no Jutsu!"
"BUNSHIN NO JUTSU!"
There was a puff of smoke, but no clone appeared. Lee panted and bowed his head in defeat.
Harumi placed a hand on his shoulder. "It's okay Lee-kun. The important thing is that you're not giving up. You keep working hard and you'll achieve great things."
Lee looked up and smiled at her. He opened his mouth, but was cut off before he could speak.
"Why are you encouraging him Harumi-sensei?!" Jungo asked loudly. "You know that he can't become a shinobi if he can't do Ninjutsu or Genjutsu."
Lee bowed his head again and Harumi stood up straight, staring down at Jungo sternly.
"Jungo-kun, you are not the one who will decide who will graduate and who will not. Now I see potential in all of you, no matter your strengths or weaknesses. However, I think all of your stamina may need a little boost, so I want twenty laps from each of you."
There were a multiple number of groaning, but they all reluctantly began to run.
"Not you Lee-kun, I want to talk to you."
Harumi waited until the rest of the kids were a distance away before she looked down at Lee, but before she could say anything Lee burst out.
"I'm sorry Harumi-sensei! I promise I'll try harder and I'll practice my Ninjutsu more! Your teaching won't be wasted."
Harumi smiled. "Lee-kun, I don't think you should focus on Ninjutsu and Genjutsu anymore."
Lee's eyes widened. "Are you saying I shouldn't be a ninja? Are you agreeing with everyone else?"
Harumi shook her head. "No Lee-kun, but I think you should work on strengthening your body and your mind. Focus on your Taijutsu."
Lee looked conflicted. "B-But how am I going to graduate if I can't pass with the required Genjutsu?"
Harumi smiled and placed a hand on both of Lee's shoulders. "Leave that to me Lee-kun. All you have to do is keep training and just getting stronger. You have just as much chance as everyone else to become a great shinobi. And if you ever need help with your Taijutsu or anything else, just come to me okay?"
Lee nodded. "Hai, Harumi-sensei!"
Harumi smiled widely and patted his head. Suddenly a thoughtful look overcame her features as she looked at Lee's long braided hair. She looked into his eyes and smiled again.
"You know what helps me whenever I feel sad Lee-kun?"
Harumi stood up straight. "I get a haircut."
Lee's grasped his braid in his hands and looked at his teacher confused. "A haircut?"
Harumi nodded enthusiastically. "Yep, cause a simple haircut can change your whole outlook on life without changing you. It makes you feel like you can have a fresh start and renew yourself. I think a haircut will be the first step on the road of improvement for you Lee-kun. Now go and join your classmates and show them how a real ninja runs."
Lee smiled widely and his whole demeanor changed. There was a skip in his step and brightness in his eyes as he called back to Harumi.
"Thank you Harumi-sensei!"
Harumi's soft green eyes watched as Lee caught up with his classmates and ran faster than all of them.
"I love my job."