Note: This story is complete at two ficlits. Thank you.
"Ow! Ron, that was my heel!"
"Well it's not like I can see where I'm going under this bloody thing…"
"Be quiet! I don't want to be caught."
"Don't worry, the map said there's no one on this level, right Harry?... Harry?"
"Hold on." At that point, Harry had quite enough. He brought himself to a sharp stop, causing both Hermione and Ron to crash into his back, and Ron in particular to fall briefly outside the confines of the invisibility cloak.
While his friend cursed and ducked again under the cloak, Harry brought out his Marauder's Map and tapped it. A brief look assured him that Professor Snape was prowling the hallways, but a few levels down from their current position. McGonagall and Umino appeared to be in their own offices, respectively, and Dumbledore… nowhere on the grounds at all.
"It's safe," he said and reached up to tug the invisibility clock off.
Ron breathed a sigh of relief. "Good. I'm telling you, Harry, you have got to stop growing so much over the summer. Another year and we won't all fit under there at all."
Hermione craned her neck to get a glimpse of the map. "Is the way clear to the library. I don't—"
"WHAT ARE YOU THREE DOING OUT OF BED?"
All three wizards nearly jumped out of their skin. They spun on their heels, wands drawn –
Professor Umino stood there, arms crossed over his chest, that one vein left of his temple throbbing ominously. He had apparently snuck up behind them with no notice and no sound, with not even a wand to light his way.
iThen again,/i Harry thought with a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, iThat was a ninja for you./i
"P-professor!" Ron gasped. "We were… ah…"
Umino scowled at the lot of them. "It's two hours past your curfew. Where do you think you were going?" But then his eyes fell to the Marauder's map, still clutched in Harry's fingers. Before Harry could wipe it clean again, it was snatched out of his hands. Umino's brown eyes raked over the map, taking in the details of Hogwarts, and the location of its occupants. "I see," he said, at last looking up.
Harry's heart felt like it had dropped to his knees. "We were just heading to the library, to get some reading done."
"In the restricted section, no doubt." Then, to Harry's complete surprise, Professor Umino folded the map back up and handed it to them. "All three of you have earned detention with me, next Saturday. And a foot-long essay on the basics of stealth." He glared around at the three of them, and Harry wondered briefly if they were in bigger trouble because they had sneaked out… or because they had been caught.
"Yes, Professor," they murmured, and, chastised, turned around to head back to Gryffindor Tower.
"I thought you said that there was no one around!" Ron hissed, once they were safely back in their common room.
"There wasn't," Harry insisted. "He was in his office when I checked, so he must have, I dunno, apparated."
"You can't apparate or disapparate inside Hogwarts!" Hermione snapped. "Besides, we would have heard the noise."
Harry scowled at her and reopened the map. There, again was a little image of a scroll and the name I. Umino, safely in his office.
Harry, Ron and Hermione all exchanged a look.
"This map is never wrong," Harry said.
Hermione shook her head. "But… he couldn't have apparated… could he?"
"Maybe he's just fast," Ron said at last, his tone ominous.
The professor silently stalked the three students, staying to the shadows, until they disappeared behind the painting of the fat lady. He probably should have trusted them… then again having lived through the separate terrors of teaching Naruto and Konohamaru separately had given him a certain amount of cynicism along with hair-trigger reflexes.
Then again, these weren't exactly genin-level students.
Smiling to himself, he held up his fingers and whispered "Kai!" before disappearing in a puff of smoke.
In his office, several floors down, Iruka paused from grading essays and blinked to himself as his chakra rippled and a wave of memories flowed to him. Then he smiled. Good. He would have assistance setting up targets for practice this coming Saturday.
The Marauder's map was never wrong… but it was never meant to track shadow clones, either.
~ Fin ~