Disclaimer: I do not, in any way, own Harry Potter or Naruto. They belong to J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros., and Kishimoto-sensei respectively. I borrow for my own amusement. Anything unfamiliar to you in this story probably belongs to me.
Summary: At 23 years old, ex-ANBU Captain Naruto is nothing like his former self. Can a year-long sojourn at Hogwarts, protecting a certain Harry Potter, restore him?
IN UNLIKELIEST PLACES
PROLOGUE – SEVEN YEARS
I looked for the fair-fringed gentian
In the haunts where once it grew,
But I found no trace in the likeliest place,
Though I searched till the falling dew.
So back I turned to the city,
And was nearing the busy throng,
When the waning light revealed to my sight
The flower I had sought so long.
Henry Hildreth Piper
Seven years ago, if someone had told Hatake Kakashi that he would be taking up semipermanent residence up at the Hokage Tower, serving as the sixth Hokage of Konoha, he would have tied them up and would have had them sent to Ibiki, no questions asked. That was seven years ago. Now, he quietly surveyed the curved office, which was steadily darkening against the setting sun, inwardly relieved that the way he rearranged the office left many memories undisturbed. The scrolls the Sandaime had inscribed in his lifetime, his pipe, and his crystal ball were long since squirreled away in one of the rooms only Hokage were privy too. He had placed the unimportant file cabinets in the unobtrusive corner where Minato-sensei once took great delight in napping when he thought no one was looking. That was also where Tsunade-sama kept her not-so-secret hoard of sake, in a box, under a haphazard pile of paperwork. There was a six-foot long poster of the Icha Icha Violence movie plastered over the recently-repaired wall. It gave the illusion that the Rokudaime Hokage was still an easy-going man, and still had his quirks. In fact, it had been a long time since Kakashi read any Icha Icha novels.
Seven years ago, in Kakashi's mind, the Rokudaime would be Naruto, determined, vibrant and passionate Naruto. It would be with great pomp and ceremony that Tsunade would relinquish her seat to her pseudo-younger brother, telling the general populace that she was tired of "damn paperwork and sake-less afternoons, and this brat can get all of that and more for all I care." It was with less ceremony that Tsunade had told Kakashi, "I'm tired. I don't think I can do this anymore." Kakashi nodded. He understood. He didn't need Obito's eye to see the woman Tsunade had become: exhausted and even more jaded than she had been before she became Hokage.
A gentle swirl of leaves alerted him to the arrival of ANBU Captain Fox, arguably one of Konoha's best ANBU operative. Listed as the second-most wanted ninja in enemy bingo books--second only to him, the famed Copy-nin--, he was vaguely described as blond. His mask had crescent slits as eyeholes, and an elongated canine mouth curved up in a menacing leer. It was unanimously regarded by all as creepy. Not much was known about him; few faced him in battle and lived to tell the tale. No one had seen his face for years. Only a few remembered who he was anymore--Tsunade, Jiraiya, the former ANBU Captain Tenzou, and him. Others speculated about the disappearance of the village's number one prankster and the subsequent appearance of ANBU Fox, but they remembered Jiraiya had taken the boy out of their hair to train him and supposed that he had no reason to come back.
"What is the meaning of this, Hokage-sama?" The seemingly-innocent question was practically spat out, and the 'Hokage-sama' laced with enough venom to make Kakashi flinch internally. He noticed his blond ANBU's fingers tightening around a black scroll. Every ANBU was given one of these eventually: honored dismissals from their positions. One could easily go crazy in ANBU; in fact, it was a widely held opinion that you were already crazy if you chose to join ANBU. It was a thankless, gruesome but necessary job.
Kakashi was suddenly struck by the odd familiarity of their positions. It felt like a lifetime ago that the Sandaime sat in this seat, trying to do the same thing Kakashi was doing now, and Kakashi in ANBU Fox's position, angry and convinced he was doing it for the good of Konoha. He felt so old, felt the weight of several lifetimes come crashing down simultaneously on him. How many wars had he fought? How many Hokages had he served? Weren't Hokages supposed to outlast regular shinobi lifetimes? And yet, Minato-sensei died a decade younger than he was, the Sandaime had died in a battle he was not supposed to fight, and Tsunade had seen too many horrors, most of them she had signed and legalized, and the atrocity of what she had committed drove her to leave.
He steepled his fingers, an act which shocked him with its frequency especially since he became Rokudaime. He frowned thoughtfully at the silent figure before him. In his mind, he could picture an orange-loving, ramen-eating genin who enjoyed shouting his name from every rooftop, and his heart suddenly felt heavy. How did it come to this? "Naruto," he began, wondering about the best way to go about this. "When did you join ANBU?"
This was a rhetorical question. They both knew the answer. Kakashi remembered Naruto's face, partly hidden by shadows, lift up and saw the desperate determination and grim pride swimming in his eyes, his trembling hands as he accepted the kitsune mask like a lifeline. He watched his student's face and identity fade into blood, bone-white and sharp teeth. He remembered sitting at the Memorial Stone, for once ignoring the names that haunted his thoughts and thinking instead of how he regretted not stopping his idiot student when he should have been proud.
"Seven years ago, Hokage-sama."
"And are you aware that ANBU members usually stay on duty for only two to three years before getting discharged?"
"I'm sure you are aware that there were extenuating circumstances, sir," Naruto replied curtly.
"There was a small matter of a fox." His reply to the same question the Sandaime had posed him.
"Yes, extenuating circumstances indeed." His one eye flicked briefly over to the Icha Icha-covered wall and the quiet village below them before zeroing on his student again. Kakashi could have brought up several different arguments; he wasn't called a genius for nothing. Howevere, calling up legal issues and talks of psychological imbalance would do nothing to help Naruto in his current condition. Better do it like the Sandaime did: make Naruto angry and confused and think Kakashi an absolute bastard, than have Naruto go insane from continuing with his sham of a life.
"Why did you join ANBU, Naruto?"
"Why did you join ANBU, Kakashi?"
The answer was immediate, said in a tone that suggested it had been repeated over and over like a mantra. "To protect Konoha."
"Until the day you can say that to my face with absolute honesty, Uzumaki Naruto, you are hereby banned from rejoining ANBU. Burn that mask, Captain. You will assume jounin duties starting tomorrow."
There was a pause, pregnant with anger and familiar tendrils of red chakra. Then Naruto disappeared in another swirl of leaves, the scroll crumpling in his grip.
Kakashi sighed in the darkening night.
NOTE: Believe it or not, this was supposed to be a simple, run-of-the-mill Naruto-goes-to-Hogwarts-and-wreaks-havoc story. That is, until I wondered what happened to make Naruto change into the man he is in the story. Once I somehow figured it out, the story just wouldn't move. I kept writing different versions of the first chapter, some with Naruto having a team or going solo... Gah, it was maddening. I left it. Then suddenly, after quite a number of weeks, my brain stopped functioning properly and said, "Hey, what if Kakashi became Rokudaime? :D"
Everything came so easily after that particular brainfart and I even ended up creating an incredibly complex backstory just to make Naruto's change believable and to make Kakashi's promotion to Hokage a logical choice. (And the thing is, I probably won't even write that story. Hahaha.) This story is, after all, just a Harry Potter and Naruto friendship fic, although there will probably be a lot of foreshadowing for the sequel, which I do hope to write. I still have to finish this. -_- The backstory will be elaborated as we go along, and the next chapter already offers you really vague hints as to what must have happened during the seven year gap in this story.