[Disclaimer Goes Here.]
Chapter One : Ward Specialist
Bright green eyes stared fixedly at the blue sky. Sprawled out on the bright grass, Harry lazily picked out shapes in the clouds, smiling almost dreamily. A gentle breeze rustled the plant life around him and played with his hair.
He had always felt at home in the burrow; the falling-over house held most of his fondest vacation memories. The front yard, littered with old boots and chickens. The orchard that hid his and the Weasleys' Quidditch games. The garden where he lay now, with no chores or homework to do. Ron had fallen into a light doze under a bush nearby, and a lawn gnome attempted to wake him, giving up when it caught Harry glancing at it.
A faint voice coming from the house drew Harry's attention away from a fluffy Hogwarts (or it may have just been a bunny) to where Mrs. Weasley was waving a wooden spoon in his direction. He waved back and she disappeared.
"Ron," he said lightly. "Wake up."
The redhead mumbled a bit and flopped onto his side.
"Ron I think it's lunchtime."
Harry couldn't remember Ron moving so quickly, even when faced with death eaters. With a grin forming on his face Harry followed him through the back porch and to the kitchen.
"Mu~um," he heard one of the twins bellowing from the stairs, "what's for lunch-"
"Sorry Bill!" Two voices said in unison.
The kitchen could only seat eight, but with Mr. Weasley and Percy at work and Ginny on a girl's day out with Hermione and Mrs. Granger in Muggle London, the kitchen was far less cramped than usual. Everyone quickly took their seats at the table, mouths watering at the sight and scents of rolls, lasagna, meat pies, and several types of juice.
"What's the occasion, mum?" Bill inquired, as the red-haired matron absently hit Ron's hand with the spoon when he reached for a roll. "Company?"
"Indeed," she answered, putting dessert in the large refrigerator. "Professor Dumbledore is coming, should be here any minute now..."
Harry and Ron shared looks of surprise. This was unexpected...
Yukina set two Japanese-style cups of cold (was that frost on the rim?) koucha, bitter black tea that was just the thing for the stifling summer weather.
"Thank you, Yukina-san," Kurama said pleasantly, taking one of the cups. She bowed, gave him a smile, and bustled away.
It was a hot, humid July in Tokyo. While Kurama was accustomed to it, often taking refuge at the temple for the refreshing coolness the ice maiden could offer, his guest seemed to be taking it a bit worse. Kurama gave him a polite smile.
Remus smiled back, discretely trying to fan himself a bit with his napkin.
"I was rather surprised to find a temple so large here," he admitted. "This seems almost too calm for its surroundings."
"It is a big larger than many people expect, but this sort of thing is common here." Kurama almost considered setting the cup against his forehead- with the wizard here, the stranger-shy Yukina refused to allow even a bit of cold into the room, and they relied on the outside breeze and a small fan in the corner of the room to keep the edge off.
Remus drank most of his tea and sighed. "I am no diplomat," he said. "I cannot negotiate very much either. But I am here to ask if you have considered the request from the Ministry about the wards."
Kurama looked thoughtful. "No offense intended, Professor, but why yourself, and not Ministry personnel?" He asked pointedly. "You told me you are a teacher in a school, and not a government employee."
"Ah, yes." Remus almost fidgeted. "The Minister of Magic often seeks advice from the headmaster of Hogwarts, my school," he admitted. "Professor Dumbledore, the headmaster, asked me personally, and the Minister agreed."
"Mm." The redhead set his sights outside, a breeze partly cooling his skin. He laced his fingers. "I have thought about this request, and have met with my usual employer to talk about this. It is, after all, rather far from here, and I do have other pressing matters to deal with."
Remus was silent, patient. Green eyes turned to meet his briefly.
"I will look at the land, and the existing wards. I will draw up a list of needed materials and subcontractors and present the landowners with a quote. I have taken all of the details into consideration and am willing to negotiate. However, I am not promising to do any of the work at this time."
Remus looked relieved. "That is all the headmaster asks," he said.
Kurama smiled pleasantly and stood. "I will be arriving at the Leaky Cauldron in a day's time, as requested. I hope you will be there to greet me, as it will be quite reassuring to see a familiar face."
"Of course," the older man agreed quickly. He took this as a dismissal and drained his tea, then stood and bid Kurama farewell.
As a cool breeze filled the room, Kurama drank his tea and began to make plans.
"Lunch was wonderful as always, Molly," Dumbledore said pleasantly as she set tea on the table.
Mrs. Weasley gave him a smile. "It's always nice to have you." She took her seat.
"And now, on to business." The headmaster turned to Harry. "As I'm sure you are well aware, the Ministry has been concerned about placing you here at the Burrow during the summers."
Harry shifted uncomfortably. He really, truly didn't want to be taken back to the Dursleys', only to spend the rest of the month in solitary confinement.
"Yeah," he mumbled. Ron frowned.
"So what, they're gonna make him go back?" He demanded.
Mrs. Weasley shushed him. Bill and the twins, however, seemed to share his thoughts, and none looked very happy. Dumbledore sipped his tea.
"After speaking with the Minister and his advisors and of course Arthur as well, the ministry has agreed to let Harry stay here, now and on future occasions- as long as some precautions are put into place," he added quickly as the family's faces brightened.
"Precautions, professor?" Harry asked anxiously. Mrs. Weasley seemed just as put off as he did, as similar thoughts ran through all of their heads- Ministry officials visiting the house, monitoring charms on the Weasleys; someone as awful as Umbridge coming to stay with them.
"After some research, we have found a warding specialist in Japan. If he will add some wards to the house and property, then the Ministry will allow Harry to stay."
Inside, Harry felt a hot surge of anger. It was as though he were a prisoner. He should be able to pick where he spent his summers, his guardians the Dursleys hardly caring as long as he was away from them.
The fireplace in the kitchen flared green and Remus's head popped in.
"Professor Lupin!" Harry and Ron chorused.
"Hullo Weasleys, Harry, headmaster." The face looked far less exhausted than Harry remembered. "I have the young man here, if you would like to see him now."
Dumbledore turned to Mrs. Weasley, whose face was guarded. Warding would be expensive, Harry realized with a dawning chill in his stomach, especially the type the Ministry would find acceptable. He squirmed miserably. The woman patted his hand absently.
"Yes, of course," she said calmly. "I'll make some more tea, shall I?"
Remus murmured something to someone out of sight; the twins moved out of the way to allow for more space as Remus stepped through.
Behind him stepped in a teenager, who brushed some dirt from his clothes as the fire behind him vanished. He straightened and looked at the occupants of the room.
Even with bright red hair that rivaled the Weasleys', though it was much darker, his features didn't match the room at all. A small nose and unblemished, pale skin; green eyes, surprisingly large for an Asian and lighter in color than Harry's. He stood almost as tall as Bill and didn't slouch. His clothes- a soft yellow tunic and white pants- were untouched by the fireplace and looked expensive. He carried a leather messenger bag.
"This is Shuichi Minamino," Remus introduced quickly. "Minamino-san, this is headmaster Albus Dumbledore, Molly Weasley, and her children Bill, Ron, Fred and George. And this is Harry Potter."
Mrs. Weasley set down an extra cup and walked around the table. "Pleased to meet you, er... Minamino… san?" She attempted, copying what Remus used in his introduction.
"Just Minamino is fine," Shuichi said pleasantly, shaking her hand. "Please, do not worry about Japanese customs for now, they are far too confusing." He gave her a dazzling smile and she seemed to relax.
"My husband will be here soon," she said. "There is a table outside, where it will be more comfortable. I made tea."
And that is where Mr. Weasley found them- sitting outside in the garden, several silent wizards, a witch, and the foreigner, making small talk.
Kurama watched the group before him. They seemed honestly curious about him, and he was perfectly fine with telling them all about his life in Japan- everything that fit his public image and government records, that is. And learning about Harry potter had been interesting, to say the least. It certainly explained why the British government seemed to want to keep the boy all but locked up. He practicallyattracted trouble!
When they began discussing the wards, the husband and wife became visibly on edge. It was apparent from the home that they were not a family with a large amount of disposable income. And Kurama's work, rare and more reliable than most, was very expensive- not that the family knew this yet.
The eldest of the children- Bill, a few years older than Kurama's human years- worked as a cursebreaker for a wizard bank and asked him good questions about his work. Kurama chose his words carefully.
"I do not usually agree to do wards," he admitted. "In Japan... well, I suppose you attempted, and failed, to contact the Japanese magic community?"
At Dumbledore's nod, Remus admitted, "our letters were all returned. Nobody's been able to find any leaders in the government concerning magic of any type, either."
"That is because there are none."
A stunned silence. Kurama drank his tea and continued.
"In Japan, magic is linked closely to religious beliefs. As such, there is almost no need for ward specialists- the temples and shrines in Japan are capable of warding their areas. And if not, then the general population is unaware of any reason for doing so."
"Er... sorry," Harry piped up, having been mostly silent until now, "but why did you become one, then?"
"Because of demons."
"Demons!" The group reflexively shuddered.
"Yes. As you may not have been aware, the demon world is separated from this one by thin barriers. In Japan the barriers are very weak, and liable to leak. It happens often enough that mixed in with the Japanese people are a number of demons."
He brought his bag up onto the table, rifled through it, and took out a map of mainland Japan.
"This area is Tokyo." He pointed on the map. "Because of its dense population, many demons are drawn here- both to feed," a pause as the children shuddered, "and as better cover. It is also an area prone to leaks. I am employed to ward the larger of the leaks and keep an eye out for trouble in Tokyo."
"Employed? But there is no magic government," Mr. Weasley pointed out.
Kurama smiled ruefully. "I'm afraid my employer's details are classified," he said. He turned back to the map to forestall any other arguments of that nature. "I am not the only one- others in my group protect the rest of Japan. Although admittedly we are a bit lacking in the smaller island areas," he murmured the last bit more to himself, and made a mental note to ask Koenma about that later.
"And so, I do not often to wards for others. And I have never done one outside of Japan." Unless one counted the Makai...
The couple shared a look, and Mr. Weasley sighed. "How much will this cost us?"
The children glanced at each other. Bill frowned. Usually the adults wouldn't discuss money in front of their sons (or daughter), but they knew the group would listen in anyway.
"Taking everything into consideration- average measurements of the property, types of wards, Mister Potter's background (for safety measures, understand), and the fact that I may want to pay for college in the next few years-" this caused surprised looks- "I'd say that it would cost, at the very lowest end, upwards of fifteen thousand galleons. Not including the extras that the Ministry will no doubt require for this to pass their inspections."
It was indeed expensive- Harry did the math quickly, and it was a whopping 75,000 pounds.
"Mister Minamino, that's-"
"Surely you aren't serious-"
"I might be able to afford that," Harry interrupted. The Weasleys made to argue.
"As it is the Weasleys' home, I can only accept payment through them."
As the family fell silent as stone, Kurama added pleasantly, "Which is why I am willing to do this for free."
"For free?" Bill and the twins' jaws had dropped.
"Provided, that is, if it's no trouble that I stay here until the work is completed? I'm afraid there are no hotels nearby and Floo doesn't quite agree with me..."
Mrs. Weasley was on her feet and ushering the foreigner into her home almost before he had finished his sentence.
Ron gave an almost strangled laugh.
"...and the bathroom is on the third floor," Mrs. Weasley ('Oh goodness just call me Molly, dear,') finished. "Percy- he's the third oldest, he's rather busy lately- recently got an apartment so you can stay in his room, it's on the second floor next to the twins'." She bustled about, an amused Kurama's gaze following her about the house as she gathered up linens and made Ron and Bill clear out the room a bit and move things to the attic.
"-always open," the twins chimed in.
"I hope I will not be in your way," Kurama called up the stairs as Mrs- as Molly appeared again. "This shouldn't take more than a week or two at most."
While Harry and the twins distracted him with idle chatter about the house and questions about the wards, Kurama tuned an ear into the kitchen, where Arthur, Remus, and Dumbledore were talking in hushed tones that would usually be unheard from the living room.
"-sure he can be trusted?"
"Doing this for free, he's giving up a lot of money-"
"Employer's confidential, who knows what-"
"-excellent sources, and he knows master Genkai personally-"
"He looks so young-"
Satisfied, Kurama drew his entire attention back as Molly handed him a sandwich.
"Oh, thank you very much, Mrs We- erm, Molly," he said politely. "I'm terribly sorry for the trouble, I haven't had lunch yet you see, with the time differences between here and Tokyo."
"Nonsense," Molly insisted, drawing up a few chairs with a wave of her wand for the rest of the group. "It's a very big help you're doing for us, the least we can do is offer up our hospitality."
"You mentioned needing some supplies?" Bill asked. "I have to get to Diagon Alley myself, tomorrow, if you would like."
"That would be very gracious of you." Kurama finished his sandwich and stood as Arthur poked his head out of the kitchen, checking up on them. "I'll spend the rest of the day seeing what I'll need, if M- Arthur wouldn't mind coming with me?"
"I'm free from work from now until Monday," he agreed, and led him out the doors.
Molly beamed at Harry, who smiled hesitantly back. As long as his wanting to stay at the Burrow didn't cost the Weasleys money, then he could ignore his guilt.
"I'll start on dinner."
A/N: I used the Galleon Converter on the Harry Potter Lexicon to figure out the price Kurama would charge for his services; the Lexicon also tells how the Burrow is set up, which was a real help for knowing what rooms are where. :]
Note: Fixed an earlier misunderstanding, thank you Darkdranzer :]
I haven't written in months, busy with school in Japan. Speaking of Japan- I am a big fan of translating everything into English. However, there are some things that sound better in Japanese- traditional phrases, for example, as well as name suffixes, such as -san and others. I will leave those in Japanese, since the English counterparts are usually somewhat lacking.
Drop me a review and tell me what you think!