"What do you mean, you're not allowed out of the village because you're the clan heir?" Harry frowned as he rubbed his left arm. "Can they do that?"
"Baa-ch... the Hokage looked super serious when we were told I couldn't go out of Konoha for any mission," Naruto said.
Harry frowned. "She wasn't the one to tell you?"
"There paperwork that I need to fill out to sort this out," Naruto said in a pained tone."A thick stack of paperwork."
"So why do you need Jiraiya?"
"Cos he was my teacher," Naruto said, like that explained everything. When he noticed Harry's questioning look, he shrugged. "They said something about how I could only go on the mission if my teacher was there, cos I'm still a genin."
Nothing made sense. Harry was about to ask another question but a knock at the door stopped him. Naruto ripped the door open only to pause at the sight of his pink-haired teammate in the morning light.
"I talked to Shizune," Sakura said as she pushed past Naruto and closed the apartment door. "When clan heirs become genin, they're put under their Jōnin-sensei's protection."
"Obviously," Naruto bit out in impatience.
"No, Naruto, I mean literally," Sakura frowned at his tone. "Jōnin sensei make an agreement with the clan head. If the clan heir dies or gets permanently disabled, it's the Jōnin-sensei, not Konoha, that has to compensate the clan."
They all took a moment to process that information.
"But, Sasuke was..." Naruto paused with uncertainty, his blue eyes clouded with caution.
"He was only Uchiha left in Konoha, so I'm not sure what his official status was," Sakura said, trying and failing to sound unaffected by their old teammate's name. "But forget about that, what I wanted to say before is, Jiraiya can't help. He's not your Jōnin-sensei," Sakura said.
"He taught me for almost three years!" Naruto objected, the ire back in his voice.
"Kakashi-sensei is still listed as your Jōnin-sensei," Sakura said with a shake of his head. "He filled paperwork that allowed you to apprentice with Jiraiya. He did the same thing for me. Kakashi-sensei is still in charge of Team 7. More specifically, he's in charge of you because you're still a genin. "
Naruto grimaced. "It's not my fault I'm still a genin!"
"I know," Sakura said, with an understanding look on her face. "But this is an issue because you're still a genin."
"So I need to become a Chūnin," Naruto said, determination shining in his eyes. Then he frowned. "I don't know when the next exams are. Or where they are." He shot Sakura a questioning look.
"Konoha has internal exams that don't get as much public attention," Sakura said, her forehead furrowed with a thoughtful look. "We didn't participate in that because it doesn't get as much attention. The inter-village ones are the ones where you get seen and get more missions for the village. I had to go for that as Tsunade-shishou's student. It was good publicity."
"I don't care who sees me," Naruto groused. "I just want to become a Chūnin, so that I can leave the village."
"The next village exam is in March," Sakura said. "I'm not sure of the details for the inter-village one, but it will definitely be after March."
"That's ages away," Naruto said. "Do I need an exam? I'll just complete tons of missions and show them it's a waste for me to remain a genin."
Sakura snorted. "You can do as many D-ranks as you want, but becoming a Chūnin is not that straightforward outside of the Chūnin exams."
"So there is a way to become Chūnin without those exams?" Naruto asked.
"Obviously," Sakura said. "Just like there's a way to become Special-Jōnin or Jōnin. But outside of war promotions, rising up the ranks take time and tests. Unless you have relatives in high places who can help, you have to jump through hoops to get acknowledged by the right people."
Naruto pursed his lips and looked away with narrowed eyes, the lines on his cheek emphasizing his emotions. "I don't have any relatives in high places!" After a moment of awkward silence, he turned to Harry with wide eyes. "You should talk to the Daimyo."
Harry blinked at his cousin. "What?"
Naruto turned to Sakura like she would approve of whatever he was thinking. "The Daimyo has a say in who becomes a Chunin, right?"
"The Hokage has most, if not the final say," Sakura said.
"But, the Daimyo is powerful, right? We have to listen to him," Naruto said. "The Hokage has to listen to him."
"The Daimyo is the reason we're in this situation in the first place," Harry reminded Naruto.
Naruto grimaced. "Oh, right."
"What's wrong with Kakashi-san?" Harry asked. When both of them looked at him, Harry clarified, "Neither of you are talking about him dealing with this issue."
"He's in Suna," Naruto said.
"Okay, so if Kakashi gets a message to come back," Harry said. "Then we can sort this out without a problem."
Naruto waved his hand, dismissing the idea. "He's on a mission. He can't leave it and come back for me. That would look bad for the village."
"So what?" Harry said. "You want to go out of Konoha to search for Sasuke, right?"
Naruto pursed his lips.
"It's a diplomatic mission," Sakura explained. "Diplomatic missions take a long time."
"Maybe this one will be different?" Harry said with a hopeful voice.
Sakura shook her head. "My parents have been going on diplomatic missions for years. Sometimes a mission takes them away from Konoha for months on end. Even in places that have good diplomatic relations with Konoha."
Naruto's blue eyes widened in surprise. "I didn't know your parents were in the diplomatic branch, Sakura-chan."
Sakura shrugged. "They were away for months on end. When I was younger, I never really thought of them as doing anything cool that I could boast about to others."
"You're older and wiser now," Harry said. "So you can boast about them all you want."
Sakura grinned at him. "If I start, I probably won't stop. So I'll leave it for another time."
"Where are they now?" Harry asked in curiosity.
"Waterfall," Sakura said.
"We're already allied with Shibuki, aren't we?" Naruto said, brows furrowed in confusion.
"We are for now, but it takes work to maintain and improve relations," Sakura pointed out. "Especially since there's still people in Waterfall who dislike Konoha." She frowned in thought, "Now that I think about it, my parents were talking about the recent changes for diplomatic missions. The minimum time that they need to spend in the target country is two months," Sakura ended with a grimace.
"Two months?" Naruto gaped.
"How long has Kakashi been away for so far?" Harry asked.
"Since September 23nd," Sakura said.
"It hasn't even been a month yet," Naruto answered at the same time.
"So we have to wait at least a month for him to return before we can sort this out?" Harry asked in dismay for Naruto.
"That's a hopeful time-line," Sakura said with an apologetic look at Naruto. "Diplomatic missions have a way of taking much longer."
Naruto groaned. "I'm better off waiting to take the Chūnin exams."
"It's too bad we couldn't use Jiraiya as the teacher you needed," Harry said and held up the paperwork Jiraiya had left. "Considering he left us complete access to his bank account."
Naruto sputtered. "He did what?" He grabbed the paperwork and scanned through them, the lines on his cheek thinning. "I knew the old fart was rich, but this is ridiculous. What was he saving all this money for?"
"For a gold-plated room," Harry said with a wry tone.
"Is he the one who put that seal on your arm?" Sakura asked with a raised brow.
"Who else," Harry said with a shake of his head, rubbing the seal to soothe his skin. "What if I remove your name as clan heir?" Harry said. "Leave that section blank."
Naruto frowned. "Didn't that office guy say that putting the property under my name was important?"
"Because you're a citizen," Harry countered. "Not because you're the clan heir."
Naruto shook his head.
Harry said, "What if we switch places? You become clan head and I take the heir position."
"That's weird," Naruto said immediately. "And then you'd probably be the one stuck in Konoha."
"I'm not a ninja trying to go on a mission outside Konoha."
Naruto shook his head. "They'll come up with a dumb reason and then you'll be stuck here, unable to go out to find the others. Wait," Naruto lit up with a new energy, the lines on his cheek back to their original size, "if you find another Uzumaki, you can make them the clan heir."
"Finding other Uzumaki to take the clan heir place could be the best solution," Sakura agreed.
"I doubt I'd find another Uzumaki in less than a month or before Kakashi comes back," Harry pointed out with an exasperated look at both of them. Instead, he settled for a different plan of action. "Hedwig can carry messages. She could go to Kakashi-san in Suna..."
Naruto interrupted him with a huff. "Nii-san, you can't travel by yourself."
Harry gaped at him for a moment but said, "Maybe there's another solution that we just don't know about, yet. We need to ask around, find other options."
"Are you going to talk to Shikamaru's dad? I guess there's no other choice since Izumo isn't here to give us some ideas," Naruto paused and then blinked with realization. "Wait, Shikamaru is clan heir, right?"
"Shikamaru, Ino and Chouji are all clan heirs," Sakura said with a wry look at him.
Naruto's blue widened. "How did Asuma-sensei deal with that?"
"Asuma-sensei was the third Hokage's son. Maybe that helped him with the clan heads." She tilted her head in consideration. "I wonder what it was like for Kurenai-sensei though. The Hyūga wouldn't have just..." she paused with a frown, "Then again, I don't know what's happening with their clan heir position."
Naruto tilted his head. "Isn't Neji's cousin the clan heir?"
"Is that how you categorize Hinata in your mind?" Sakura muttered with a shake of her head and sighed at him. "Neji has two cousins in running for the clan heir position. Hinata and her younger sister, Hanabi. Neither of them have the, their foreheads are still bare."
Naruto's eyes narrowed in distaste as he turned to Harry. "We won't do anything like that, right?"
"Like what?" Harry asked.
"Separate the clan into a main house and branch house with seals."
"What does any of that mean?" Harry asked in genuine confusion. "Even if we end up getting other Uzumaki, why would I want to separate them?"
Naruto nodded, as though Harry had said something wise. "It's a good idea to talk to old man Nara."
"I don't know if I'll be able to find anything but I'll talk to Ino," Sakura offered. "She knows things even if she doesn't show it."
Straightening, and revitalized with a new positive Naruto said, "Then I'll go talk to Chouji. We'll all meet up back here after lunchtime with our findings!"
Harry watched the two of them leave the apartment and slumped back into the sofa with a muttered curse at the situation. If he had known how many problems getting a property would bring, then he wouldn't have gotten it.
Unable to ignore the itch of the emptied storage seal on his left arm any longer, Harry frowned at the seal. For all of his gruff exterior, Jiraiya's artistic flare flowed in the delicate thin lines and detailed but unreadable characters that formed the circular storage seal on Harry's arm.
"Any seal on your body will feel like it doesn't belong. When you empty a storage, they stay open until you store something back in. An open seal on your skin is one of the most annoying sensations to deal with," Jiraiya's warning from last night replayed in Harry's mind.
Now that Harry was alone and had nothing to distract him, the empty seal's persistent itch was definitely annoying.
Relying on more memories from last night, Harry held Jiraiya's documents in his left hand and moved his chakra to enclose his target. The delicate inked characters around the empty circle thickened, twisted and fused together at the centre of the circle with a blaze of blue light.
Jiraiya's documents disappeared.
Harry's chakra sank down into the seal's new shape.
An Uzumaki spiral.
The annoying itch calmed to a tingling the foreign sensation of having a seal on his skin didn't disappear, Harry stood, cleaned up and left for the Nara property.
After needing permission and seals to enter the Uchiha property, Harry marvelled at entering the Nara property so easily. Instead of being stopped and questioned, various Nara nodded a greeting to him as he passed.
Seated on the porch area of the house, Yoshino Nara closed the book that she had been reading and straightened. After greeting him, she said, "If you're looking for Shikaku, he's at work."
"I forgot he actually has a job," Harry said, unable to mask his surprise. "He's always around when I visit."
Yoshino chuckled. "With his erratic work hours, it's lucky you found him home as often as you did. Do you need his help with something urgently?"
"I," Harry frowned. "Sort of. There's something I need to know but I'm not sure how much he can help me."
"I'll send him to you after he's back from work," Yoshino said with a serious tone.
"No, that's," Harry paused, hit with a sudden realization. "You're Shikamaru's mother."
Yoshino blinked at him, her lips twitching.
"I mean," Harry blustered on, in mortification. "You'd know about the clan heir compensation because of Shikamaru."
"Ah, the compensation," Yoshino said with sudden understanding and motioned for him to sit beside her on the porch. "What do you want to know about it?"
"Everything you can tell me, please," Harry said and sighed. "It's taken us by surprise."
Yoshino nodded. "Unless you were born into an already established clan, there's a lot that can surprise you."
"You weren't from a clan?" Harry asked.
"I was a regular second-generation ninja. Entering a clan is already a big learning curve. Becoming the clan head's spouse was another mountain to climb." Yoshino sighed. "I'm guessing you want to know the process of the clan heir compensation."
"First, I'd like to know if we genuinely need it. Can we skip it or postpone it?"
"Money is involved so it's a necessity," Yoshino said. "Konoha doesn't want to pay compensation for losing heirs during peacetime, so there's no escaping the Compensation Agreement."
"Is that what it's officially called?" Harry asked.
"The shortened form," Yoshino said with a shake of her head. "Clan heirs need to have a valid Compensation Agreement if they want to be active ninja outside of Konoha."
"That's how we heard about it," Harry said. "Naruto can't leave Konoha."
Yoshino's eyes softened with sympathy. "As clan head, you can only make the agreement with your clan heir's Jōnin-sensei."
Harry wondered if everyone knew he was the clan head or just assumed it. "So for Naruto, it would only be Kakashi-san? We can't use Jiraiya as his teacher?"
"Naruto's studies under Jiraiya-sama would be labelled an apprenticeship."
It felt odd to hear the respectful honorific on Jiraiya's name. A week of the man's ridiculous conversations, drinking competitions, and overall character didn't really inspire the need to use an honorific.
"If Kakashi had given up his position as Team 7's teacher, the whole village would have known about it," Yoshino said. "A jōnin-sensei can send their students out for temporary apprenticeships, but they'll still have the position of team teacher."
"Why is it just the team teacher who's needed in the Compensation Agreement?" Harry asked.
"The First and Second Hokage began the system of teaching mixed teams of children from different clans. But to get those children, they had to prove their dedication to the clans. Over the years, that meant being able to compensate the clans for the potential loss of those children," Yoshino said. "Becoming the teacher of a team is not just a duty to the village. You have a duty to those children. To teach them, protect them and help them grow. They're your legacy."
Harry blinked. "That sounds like a parent."
"Yes," Yoshino agreed with a smile. "Who else would you be willing to entrust your child to?"
Harry considered the words for a moment before he said, "Kakashi-san doesn't give off a parent vibe."
"Maybe protective would be a better word to use. My sensei was like that too," Yoshino said as she fiddled with book in her hands. "But when our team was on the verge of death, he went all out to ensure our survival. None of us were clan kids. He didn't really need to go so far for us." A soft fondness filled her tone. "But he had his pride as an Uchiha."
Harry glanced away from her. The teacher she spoke so fondly of, was definitely dead.
"That reminds me. Sasuke," Yoshino said. When Harry glanced at her, she added, "Uchiha Sasuke."
"Naruto's teammate," Harry said.
Yoshino nodded. "After what happened to his clan, he was the only Uchiha recognized by Konoha. He became the Uchiha clan head. A similar situation to Kakashi-san, actually. So they didn't have to go through with the Compensation Agreement."
Harry's mind buzzed but he couldn't think of anything to say.
"You need to decide how much compensation your clan gets for losing your heir," she said. "And unlike most clans that have other people to take the place of a lost heir, you only have two people in your clan. So you need to settle on a respectable sum."
"Two people shouldn't be considered a clan," Harry said, annoyance leaking into his voice. "If it wasn't for..." he paused and sighed. "Does the amount matter?"
"The amount would be on record, so you can't settle for less. People might assume there's something wrong with the heir or the clan or worse."
"How can I decide something like that?" Harry said. "No amount of money would be equal to his life."
Her eyes softened. "No, there's no compensation. But you need to do the paperwork to spare yourself future headaches."
"And this is only a clan thing?" Harry asked.
"Clan have the power to make certain laws a reality," Yoshino said. "And most of those laws benefit the clans first."
Yoshino shot him an understanding smile. "Becoming part of a clan really opens your eyes to just how much more clans have."
Harry was silent for a moment. "Were you very surprised by it all?"
"I knew clan ninja had a better position than civilian ninja," Yoshino said. "Even a second generation ninja like me has more than a first generation ninja. But nothing can prepare you to learn all the hidden advantages a clan has, things that have been there all along but you didn't know about because you weren't part of a clan."
"How long did it take you to learn everything?" Harry asked with a curious look at the older woman.
"I'm still learning," Yoshino said with a shake of her head. "As the clan head's wife, I will always be learning."
"Do you," Harry hesitated for a moment before he continued, "Do you regret becoming part of a clan?"
Yoshino was silent for a long moment. "There is a part of me that despises all the expectation that comes with holding a clan name."
"How do you deal with that?" Harry asked.
"If it was just me, I don't think I could deal with it. Thankfully, I had support and now I have people I need to support. For them, I'm willing to put up with a lot." Yoshino smiled. "Even the clan superstitions."
"Clan superstitions?" Harry repeated in wonder.
Yoshino nodded. "From their naming to their team formation, the Ino-shika-chou heirs under a Sarutobi teacher has been an auspicious formation since the founding. No heir died as Genin or Chūnin."
"But with three heirs on a team, wouldn't their teacher have to promise a lot of compensation?" Harry asked.
"Because of their belief in the team formation and in-clan training, the three clans don't demand as much compensation as they could," Yoshino said. "Of course, Asuma-kun didn't really know all that when he visited us the first time." Her eyes softened and her smile dimmed with sadness. "His time away from Konoha made him just what the team needed." She blinked and looked up. "Oh, Shikaku's home."
Shikaku's familiar form headed towards them, his expression somewhat surprised at seeing them together.
From the left an unfamiliar yelled out, "Yoshino-san!" A dishevelled Nara with stained fingertips, ran up to them, waving a handful of papers covered with numbers and diagrams. "I've solved it."
The man paused a few steps away, his excitement fading into disbelief. "No, don't tell me. You already..."
Yoshino grinned and stood up, her eyes delighted. "Come on. Let's compare numbers and see what took you so long to calculate." With a kind smile at Harry and a pointed look at Shikaku, Yoshino motioned for the other Nara to follow her. They disappeared into the house, voices lowered but animated.
"They're going to be insensible for hours now," Shikaku said as he grabbed a large bucket filled with pellets and headed away from the house, towards the property's forest. "Better escape before they drag us in."
"I don't think Yoshino-san is like you," Harry said as he walked the familiar path between the tall trees of the Nara property towards the depths of the forest that housed their deer herd.
Opening the wooden fence, Shikaku huffed. "She has her moments. So what's made you visit today?"
"How long is Kakashi-san going to be in Suna?" Harry asked as he followed, deciding to be direct.
"He's the Hokage's representative in Suna," Shikaku said, unsurprised by the question. He probably knew why Harry had come here.
"That sounds a lot more important than a diplomat," Harry said as they kept walking. At Shikaku's pointed glance, Harry sighed. "So our estimate of him returning in a month is unlikely to happen."
Shikaku hesitated for a moment before he said, "A month from now, is definitely too soon for what Hokage-sama sent him to Suna for." When Harry stayed silent for a long stretch of time, Shikaku asked, "What is it?"
"Is he there because of what I did?"
"You think the world revolves around you?" Shikaku countered when they finally stopped in an empty patch of the forest.
Harry shot him a wry smile. "Not the world, but the current politics with Suna might. If I hadn't done what I did in Suna, then Kakashi-san probably wouldn't be there right now."
Shikaku scattered the pellets from the bucket. "You have no way of knowing that for sure."
"Do you know why Naruto wants to go out of the village?" Harry said.
"Everyone knows about his quest to bring Uchiha Sasuke back," Shikaku said, leaning against the tree behind him. "But it's a volatile situation. Even if Naruto could leave the village for that, I doubt he'll succeed."
"Do you not like Sasuke?" Harry asked. "Jiraiya wasn't fond of him either. But Naruto and Sakura..."
Shikaku pressed the bridge of his nose. "Their judgement is clouded by memories."
"He's important to them," Harry muttered.
"Legally, there's nothing they can do to go out as a team," Shikaku said. "Especially Naruto. His paperwork needs to be sorted out with Kakashi."
"Were you there when the Hokage told Naruto that he couldn't leave Konoha on missions?" Harry asked.
"He wasn't as open with Hokage-sama as usual," Shikaku's pointed tone asked for an answer.
"He's entered his teenage rebellious phase," Harry said with a shrug. When Shikaku didn't look appeased, Harry said, "Getting the property allowed us to learn some clan history... about the Senju."
"That's not good." Seeing Harry's unconcerned look, Shikaku added. "Having a rocky relationship with the Hokage won't look good."
"Naruto is allowed to be upset," Harry countered.
"I'm not saying he's not allowed," Shikaku replied. "But maybe he should..."
"Naruto shouldn't have to pretend he's okay," Harry interrupted. "I'm not going to tell him to do that."
Shikaku sighed. "So what do you plan to do?"
"Can I move Naruto off the clan heir position?"
"Do you have a child due in the next few months?" Shikaku snorted at Harry's surprised sputter and continued, "That's the quickest way to change who holds the title of clan heir. Every other method includes paperwork and takes months to change."
Harry sighed, "If only we had another Uzumaki."
Shikaku stared straight at him and his voice was serious as he asked, "Is there another Uzumaki you can bring to Konoha?"
Harry stared at him in exasperation.
"Right, forget I said that," Shikaku said, glancing away with a tired grimace. "The best thing you can do now is start construction on your property." Reading something in Harry's silence, Shikaku said, "You are starting construction on the property, right? You have to, after the Daimyo's actions. If you don't, people might cause problems."
"People need to find better hobbies," Harry bit back with annoyance.
"Until they do, don't give them the slightest opportunity to get their way," Shikaku warned him.
"We talked about going to Wave," Harry admitted. "There's a builder that Naruto knows there."
Shikaku nodded in approval. "Prioritize getting work started on the property. Even just filling out paperwork for the property will look like you're doing something."
"I have a lot of things that are priorities," Harry grumbled.
Shikaku snorted. "Welcome to the life of a clan head. Everything is important, and it all needed to be done yesterday."
Harry grimaced. "The Daimyo really complicated things."
"The Daimyo can be eccentric with his decisions." Shikaku's voice turned thoughtful as he said, "He's currently reforming the Twelve Guardian Ninja."
Harry looked at him blankly. "And that's important because?"
"Getting an invitation to be the Daimyo's bodyguard is a high honour."
"Did you get an invite?" Harry wondered.
"Shikamaru did," Shikaku said in an even tone, though his eyes gleamed with pride. While Harry mentally gaped at that, he added, "He's going to refuse but he can suggest another ninja to take his place."
"Sending Naruto to the Daimyo is dangerous," Harry said. With the Akatsuki targeting Naruto, it wouldn't make sense to send Naruto to guard Fire Country's leader. At Shikaku's sharp look, Harry scrambled for a proper reason. "Aren't nobles just," Harry trailed off with a grimace, mind pulling up images of pureblood wizards, "high cheekbones, expensive clothes and snooty expressions at everyone around them even though they're... idiotic?"
"That's the case for most noble families in the Capital," Shikaku nodded. "Unfortunately, some of them are adept at hiding their true nature behind an idiotic facade."
Harry blinked. "You've spent time with the nobles."
"Not as much as others. Considering my position in the clan, I didn't spend too long at the court. I wouldn't have been welcome to stay there either way. The Nara clan has no connection to nobility. Plus, we don't match certain refined tastes." Shikaku looked at Harry with a questioning look.
Harry twitched at the unspoken question. "I haven't been to the Capital."
"Of Fire Country," Shikaku said.
"Of any country," Harry retorted.
Shikaku was silent for a long drawn out moment before he said, "Unlike us deer herders, the Uzumaki would be better received."
"I'm not going to the Capital," Harry said with a grimace. He paused. "Unless it helps Naruto take missions outside Konoha."
"The Daimyo doesn't interfere in the inner workings of the ninja force," Shikaku said. "But, it's still good for you to meet him face-to-face. For your clan."
Harry pursed his lips in annoyance. "The Daimyo got us into this situation."
"The Daimyo isn't your average noble. He's different."
"A good different?" Harry asked with a cautious tone.
"He wouldn't be the Daimyo if he wasn't good."
"But good in what way?"
"The Daimyo's family has ruled unbroken for centuries, even before the Warring Clan Era," Shikaku said. "His family's ability to survive over the centuries should tell you something."
"How do you know that his family has ruled unbroken for centuries?" Harry asked.
"The Akimichi have something that dates back before the Warring Era," Shikaku said. "It has the Daiymo's family crest. But more than that, the Daimyo's court houses many scholars, who are focused on recording history. There are rumours of vaults of records."
Harry scoffed. "Not all recorded history is accurate."
"It's not just scrolls of recorded history. There are buildings and old murals in the capital that's ancient according to the chakra readouts. Redecorating and renovating it can't hide the real age of that place."
"You're a history buff now?" Harry asked with amusement.
"It's humbling to be in ancient places," Shikaku said. "Man-made or not."
Harry tilted his head as he thought about Hogwarts. "Ancient places just hide a lot of secrets." Before Shikaku could respond Harry asked, "Why did the Nara settle in Konoha?"
Shikaku scratched his beard and looked into the forest. "There were several factors that led to us choosing to join with Konoha during the Warring Era. I think the biggest reason was safety for us and our allies."
"The Uzumaki… do you think they would have survived if they joined Konoha right from the start?"
"I cannot say," Shikaku replied with a cautious tone, after a while. "They must have had their reasons for staying away."
"They've taken their secrets with them," Harry said with a sigh. Akira hadn't mentioned anything about those scattered properties. There was a lot Akira hadn't mentioned. "And I don't know if I'm doing the right thing. But this... this makes Naruto happy."
"And you?" Shikaku asked.
Harry sighed. "It makes me angry that I don't have the answers. Answers I probably should have had long before I left those ruins and came here."
"You think the ruins would have given you the answers you wanted?" Shikaku asked a deer peeked out from behind a tree in the distance.
Harry shrugged. "I just feel very unprepared."
"No one has all the answers. Sometimes you never get answers. That's life."
"I can't accept that," Harry said. "Not when I have the ability to get those answers."
"It's a good thing you're still a teenager," Shikaku said. "You have enough energy to spare."
"You sounded older than Jiraiya right then."
"Jiraiya-san must have been an experience to live with."
"My liver will never be the same," Harry grinned. "Oh, it's Hokage-sama, but not Jiraiya-sama for you. Did you beat him at shogi or something?"
"He's not the type to sit quietly and play board games much."
"No, he played Go seriously."
"He did?" Shikaku asked in surprise.
"We were drinking while we played," Harry said. "So I don't remember the specifics but the game lasted hours."
"That man," Shikaku muttered.
"The next morning, he reset the board stones back to my incomplete game with Sakura ," Harry said.
"Why is everyone so fascinated with Go?" Shikaku asked with a shake of his head.
"Probably because you Nara don't play it," Harry retorted.
"Are you sure it has nothing to do with having a fancy and expensive board?"
"It's not the expensive board." Harry grinned. "It's the shiny opal stones that makes everyone want to play. Oh wait, you don't know about the stones because you haven't played on the board yet."
"Do you want my help?" Shikaku asked.
Harry rolled his eyes at the mock threat. "Actually, I'm wondering if I should get any help from you. All you give me is bad news."
Shikaku's lips twitched up.
Glancing at the deer coming towards them, Harry huffed but said, "The grass on your property is so short."
"That's what happens when you keep a deer herd," Shikaku said. "If it wasn't for deer feed, we wouldn't have any grass left."
"But you keep them in a fenced off location, away from the rest of the property," Harry said.
"When the grass near the houses grows big enough, we take the deer out of this forested area to enjoy the grass. Why are you suddenly interested in deer herding?"
"How would you like access to a nearby grass covered area for your deer to graze in?" Harry asked. "For an affordable fee."
Shikaku glanced at him. "Are you offering for us to graze our herd on Uzumaki property?"
"If I set up a fence for a grazing area, then the Uzumaki are showing initiative with settling and working on the property, right?"
Shikaku stared at him, "Did you just think of that?"
Harry shrugged. "Didn't you think along those lines when you showed me the vacant property right next to the Nara property?"
"No, none of the other clans allow our deer to graze on their property."
"Not a single clan?" Harry asked.
"They know better than to underestimate a deer's appetite."
"The Uzumaki property is large and empty right now. Even if we make a closed off area for the deer to graze, it'll be more grass than what you've got here," Harry said.
Shikaku glanced at the deer, a thoughtful crease on his brow. "It would cut down on us having to take the herd outside Konoha to graze freely every so often."
Harry could see the man contemplating his idea seriously and said, "Some of the grass on the Uzumaki property is waist high." With a few of the easier herbology spells, keeping the grass healthy and quick growing wouldn't be a problem. "I don't think we'll run out of grass for them to graze."
"I'll have to talk with some of the others about your offer. It would be nice to have a safe grazing ground inside Konoha," Shikaku said. "Can't believe you're giving me extra work."
"I have to share the suffering with everyone," Harry said with a bland tone.
"What even made you think of this?"
"The Nara are rich," Harry said. "Who wouldn't want that infamous Nara money? But seriously, it'll be nice to clear some of the grass. Don't the people in charge carry out any maintenance?"
"Other than periodic checks for squatters, no one bothers with the properties reserved for clan purchase. It's only of interest when a new clan wants to buy it or an existing clan wants to expand."
Harry frowned. "Do clans buy a lot of property to expand?"
"Most get properties outside Konoha in Fire country. Like farmland in certain terrain to grow certain crops. It gives our non-ninja clan members options for places to live and different work to do."
"You have labs," Harry said.
"And property for our other deer herds."
Harry couldn't help but wonder. "Do all clans have property outside Konoha?"
Shikaku nodded. "Most do. The extra space is better for clan business. Some flowers the Yamanaka grow, need specific environments that can only be found outside Konoha. Same with the Akimichi's food ingredients."
"What about the other clans? Like the uh," Harry scoured his mind for clan names he had heard. "Hyūga?"
"Most of their properties deal with different kinds of thread making. Their speciality is silk," Shikaku said. "And given how long they've been making it, they've got customers in high places."
"The nobles?" Harry asked, for the sake of clarification.
Shikaku nodded and said, "The Inuzuka have hunting properties that provide Konoha with fresh wild meat all year round."
"Shikamaru showed me their veterinary clinic," Harry narrowed his eyes at the memory. He had wanted to know if there was a reliable veterinary clinic for Hedwig, after his first and only disastrous experimenting with seals. He'd memorized the location even though he hadn't needed to take Hedwig there.
"They know animals, whether it's treating them or hunting them."
"The Nara don't?" Harry asked.
"There's a lot we still need to learn from our deer," Shikaku said.
Harry hummed in thought. "Anything else I need to know and prepare for as Clan Head?"
"Even if we agree to have the deer graze on your property and you build a pen for them, you still need a proper builder to build a house."
"A house for two people?" Harry asked with a sour note in his voice.
"Save yourself future headaches by getting it done," Shikaku warned him. "Other than that, there's the matter of medical records."
"Medical records?" Harry asked with a weak voice.
"Clans value their privacy, and sometimes for good reason. The price of getting that privacy is a lot of legal paperwork." Shikaku rubbed his chin in thought, "Maybe the Uzumaki already have some protections in place."
Deciding to re-examine the Uzumaki papers more thoroughly, Harry left the Nara property an hour later, mentally cursing his position of Uzumaki clan head. It had been a relatively simple decision to get the paperwork for the property started, but that decision was bringing up a ton of problems that Harry hadn't expected.
Harry had barely entered his apartment before Naruto barrelled in, eyes narrowed and lips pursed in angry annoyance as he slumped face down on the sofa. "Didn't hear anything good either?"
Naruto groaned in response and pressed his face deeper into the sofa cushion.
"Yeah," Harry said as though Naruto had spoken clear words. "I don't want any lunch after my talks."
Naruto raised his head slightly, "I ate. Had to, to talk with Chouji."
"The leftover cake is all mine then," Harry said, halfway to the kitchen as Naruto slumped back down and buried his head under a cushion, but a knock at the door made Harry turn back. Sakura stood on the other side of the door, a plastic tub in her hand and a worried expression on her face. She stepped in as he held the door open, a blonde girl hurrying in after her.
Harry got a cursory look of long blonde hair and a pale blue eye before he turned back to Sakura. "What's wrong?"
"I need your help," Sakura said, glancing at the door. When he closed it, she continued, "with a snake that your owl gave me."
Harry blinked and frowned at her. "I don't have a refund policy for the dead snakes she gives you."
"It's alive," Sakura said.
"I don't have a refund policy for living snakes either," Harry said.
The blonde snorted.
Sakura's eyes stayed fixed on Harry. "Ino was showing me a technique she's working on and she found out that it's gravid."
Harry stared at her in confusion.
"The snake is pregnant," Sakura stated.
"Who's pregnant?" Naruto asked in a startled high-pitch, as he shot up from the sofa, the cushion dropping to the floor.
"Sakura's snake," Harry replied.
"Sakura's what?" Naruto said, his voice rising even higher as he moved closer to them, peering at the tub in Sakura's hand with narrowed eyes.
Harry pressed his lips together, to stop himself from laughing.
But a chuckle rang through the apartment.
The blonde girl waved her hand when everyone turned to look at her. "Sorry, sorry, this wasn't what I expected to see when I came here. But I'm glad I didn't miss it."
"Ino," Naruto yelped, "What are you doing here?"
Even though she was clad in ordinary clothes, Ino had the intimidating posture of a ninja as she said, "Is that any way to greet someone who's here to help?"
Naruto rolled his eyes in disbelief and glanced at Harry. "She's Shikamaru's teammate. The annoying one."
"What kind of introduction was that? If anything, you're the most annoying one in Konoha," Ino said.
As the two of them devolved into bickering, Harry asked Sakura, "So what's wrong with your snake being pregnant?"
"She's a Suna saw-scaled viper," Sakura replied.
"So," Harry said after a moment of thought. "You don't have space for the new snakes?"
"This isn't a space problem, it's a legal problem." Noticing his confusion, Sakura explained, "After the invasion, animals from Suna only have two options if they're found. Either they're killed or they're sent over to the hospital's research labs."
Harry frowned. "Sounds like terrible choices."
Sakura nodded. "Suna's infamous for both its lethal synthesized poisons and its wildlife's naturally occurring venom. You can't get samples of either outside of battle. And even if we are allies now, Konoha has long-standing protocols to prepare in case things change."
"Gaara won't break our alliance," Naruto interjected in annoyance.
Sakura shot him a warning look. "We can't predict what might happen."
Before they could get into an argument, Harry said, "Are they collecting Suna animals to prepare anti-venom?"
Sakura nodded. "Venom caused a lot of casualties during the invasion. Without Tsunade-sama here, it was a mess."
"Knowing all that, you still don't want to hand the snake over to the lab?" Harry said.
Sakura slumped. "It stupidly selfish, right? I should go and..."
"If you want to keep the snake, I'll help," Harry said. "But how can I help?"
When Sakura still hesitated, Ino said, "You're a civilian. Technically, there are no laws saying you can't keep a Suna snake. Civilians rarely catch them alive, and if they did, they'd turn it in for the money."
"Are there laws for ninja not keeping Suna animals?" Harry asked in curiosity.
"Only certain approved ninja are allowed to... handle animals from Suna," Sakura said. "But it's not like there's many to handle. Even if there are more unaccounted Suna animals still hidden around Konoha, only a handful have been captured. So research is the highest priority for now."
"How many Suna saw-scaled vipers does the lab have?" Harry asked.
"Two, last I heard," Sakura admitted. "No one from outside the lab is allowed to handle them without clearance and supervision."
"So I need to do paperwork?" Harry asked, his lips curling with a grimace.
"It's not like you'll be able to keep a snake hidden," Ino said. "Especially when it lays eggs."
"This species gives birth to live young," Sakura corrected.
Ino sighed. "Look, neither of you can keep a snake hidden for long. Word will get out that you've got a snake from Suna. Either the snake will escape or a visitor will see it, so you need to be preemptive with this."
"How?" Harry asked.
"Sakura can't register the snake as hers," Ino said. "As a medic, and as the Hokage's student, she knows the current protocol for Suna animals. Even though it would be dumb to get her in trouble, the hospital has characters willing to be difficult." Sakura curled around the tub in her hands, as Ino continued, "You're a foreign-born civilian, so you have some leeway. We can spin the story as you having the snake, Sakura telling you to hand it in, but you got attached and don't want to."
"Who gets attached to a snake?" Naruto interrupted.
"Sakura," Ino pointed out. "That's why we're having this conversation."
"She's a nice snake," Sakura defended the snake.
"Are you okay with snakes?" Ino asked, staring straight at Harry.
Harry shrugged. "Depends on the snake."
Ino turned to Sakura, "Maybe you can sedate the snake enough for him to hold when he goes to register her. Show that they've bonded enough to trust each other."
"They'd find my chakra or any other sedative if they scan her. And anyway, I don't think we need any of that. I've milked her venom recently, so she isn't dangerous to hold." Sakura placed the tub on the floor and pried the lid open with a snap.
Sitting on a stone half buried in fine sand, a light brown-coloured coil shifted, its dark tongue flicking out as though tasting the air. Sakura didn't hesitate to reach in and pick the snake up with both hands.
The snake slithered around and it coiled itself comfortably in Sakura's hold.
Don't look at the snake, Harry reminded himself. Don't look at the snake and talk.
"See," Sakura said. "She's had experience being handled by people but she's always gentle."
"Maybe she'd be better off going back to the desert," Harry said.
The snake raised its head and stared right at him.
Harry grimaced. He had used his parseltongue ability.
"Are you talking about me?" the snake hissed back at Harry.
"Did you hiss at the snake?" Ino asked in disbelief. "And it hissed back?"
"You can talk to snakes?" Naruto asked, stunned excitement brightening his previously dull and unhappy voice. "Teach me."
"It's not something you can learn," Harry said, his eyes turned away from the snake.
"A Bloodline Limit?" Sakura whispered as she looked between Harry and the viper.
"Call it whatever you want, it's not something I," Harry paused for a second, not wanting to reveal his dislike of the ability and its origins. "use that often. I forget about it until I see a snake."
The blonde, Ino's stare was intense like she had just found a puzzle to solve.
"What did you tell her?" Sakura asked.
"I was actually trying to tell you she might be better off back in the desert."
"And she said?"
"She asked if I was talking about her," Harry replied with a sigh. How had things turned out this way?
Sakura swallowed, hesitant as she looked between Harry and the snake in her hands. "Can you ask her what she wants?"
Harry hesitated, ready to decline, but the serious and interested expression on everyone's faces prompted him to look at the snake and hiss, "We're trying to figure out what to do with you. The person holding you, doesn't want you to end up in a lab, or having to fight. If you want to go back to the Suna desert..."
"I want to stay with her," the snake interrupted.
When Harry relayed the snake's intent, Sakura gaped. "Why would she want to stay with me?"
After relaying the question, Harry translated the snake's hissed answer for everyone, "Your chakra is gentle. And it's nice to be around you."
Sakura's green eyes widened as she looked down at the snake. "Oh," she said in a soft tone of wonder, pulling the snake closer. "But for an ordinary snake like her to sense chakra, I wonder..." Whatever she wondered, she didn't share. "Can you tell her that I can't actually keep her?"
Harry sighed, resigning himself to the role of translator. After a long explanation to the snake, Harry looked up at the eager teens, "She definitely doesn't want to go back to the desert. She wants to stay with you."
"Who would have known that you'd grow into such a charmer, Sakura?" Ino pretended to wipe a tear from her eye.
While Sakura sputtered and smacked Ino's arm, Naruto asked, "Can't she understand us when we speak like this?"
"Snakes can't hear all airborne sounds," Sakura interrupted. "They rely on vibrations most of the time."
Naruto pointed between Harry and the snake. "They're hissing at each other."
"Could have something to do with the frequency, it's such a low sound and easy to miss," Sakura glanced at Harry with a questioning look.
Harry would have liked to say 'magic' but he shrugged. "I don't know how this works."
"First generation Bloodline Limit users rarely know the whys and hows of their abilities," Ino said, as though consoling him.
"Orochimaru's purple snake could talk to people with actual words," Naruto said with distaste.
"Summons are different," Sakura said. "Their physiology changes over time because of their summoners. The more summoners and chakra an animal has had contact with, the more they change. Something similar happens to nin-animals."
"Really?" Naruto asked in surprise.
Ino snorted. "I don't have a summons and even I know that."
"Don't you talk to your summons about these things?" Sakura asked.
Naruto shrugged and shook his head.
"Anyway, is she alone here in Konoha? Did she have contact with other snakes from Suna?" Sakura asked, with a look at Harry.
The snake replied to the query with a patient hiss, "Didn't meet anyone from the desert when I was on my own."
Sakura gaped at the answer. "Does that mean she mated with a Konoha snake species? Is that even possible?" She murmured to herself but turned sheepish at everyone's gaze on her. "There's not a lot of literature about these snakes. About most snakes actually."
"You still want to keep her?" Harry asked.
"Of course I want to," Sakura paused, her cheeks flushing pink with embarrassment, as she looked down at the snake in her hands.
Ino snorted. "Finally, you admitted it! What's wrong with saying what you want?"
"I can't just, it's not up to me," Sakura said.
Ino turned to Harry, lips twitching for an instant before she spoke. "You okay with getting a snake and it's possible mutant offspring?"
"What's a mutant offspring?" Naruto asked, with genuine confusion.
"Ino!" Sakura protested.
"Will they allow me to keep her if she's such a rare snake?" Harry asked.
Ino's amusement turned into a concerned frown. "Not if you go to the hospital. They wouldn't care if you raised the snake from the time it was an egg."
"Suna pit vipers don't lay eggs," Sakura protested with annoyance.
"You need to go to the Inuzuka's clinic," Ino said. "They're suckers for animals and people who like animals. They'll help you keep her."
"Ino, that's..." Sakura said.
"Do you want to keep your snake or not?" Ino asked with a raised brow.
"Will they really help?" Naruto asked. "A snake isn't cute enough for them to help."
"The Inuzuka aren't like that," Ino said. "If an animal is important to someone, that's enough for them."
Naruto stared at Ino for a long moment.
"What?" Ino asked with a caustic tone, annoyance dripping from her words.
Recognizing the dangerous tone, Naruto said, "I'm just glad you're helping out. That's all."
Ino narrowed her eye at him. "I owe you guys for helping our team."
Naruto frowned in confusion for a moment before he said, "That's not something you have to..."
"Anyway," Ino interrupted and turned to Harry. "I'm guessing you want to hide your Bloodline Limit."
Harry blinked at the abrupt shift in conversation topic.
"Ino, you won't tell anyone, right?" Sakura asked.
Ino huffed and flicked her long ponytail back, "No. Who do you think I am?" She glanced at Harry, "You need to do a better job hiding your ability."
"Yeah," Harry agreed with a sigh.
"But at least your ability make you the best choice to house Sakura's snake now," Ino said.
"She's not my snake," Sakura protested.
"Anyway," Ino said, ignoring Sakura's protests. "The plan to go to the Inuzuka vet clinic and convince them you've bonded with the snake should be much easier now that you can explain things to the snake."
At Sakura's hopeful look, Harry hissed at the snake, explaining their plan.
"If that's the only way I can stay near her," the snake hissed at Harry. "I'll do it."
"Sakura wants to keep you around."
"Sakura," the snake hissed, a confused tone.
"Her name," Harry hissed, motioning at Sakura before he realized what he was doing.
"Sakura," the snake hissed again, much slower than before.
"She's just learnt your name. That's what she's saying now," Harry pulled up his sleeve and held his hand close to Sakura's even as he glanced at Naruto. "You okay with having a house-mate?"
"I don't mind Sakura-chan's snake living with us," Naruto grinned as Harry moved his hand close to Sakura and her viper. "Is this one of the new plans you were thinking of using for Sasuke?"
Sakura blinked at him. "What?"
Ino looked between the two with worry.
"Because he has snake summons and," Naruto paused with a frown. "It's not?"
"How can I use an ordinary Suna snake against his summons? I wasn't thinking of keeping her because of Sasuke," Sakura ended with a low voice.
"Oh," Naruto said, eyes softening as he looked at Sakura. "I still don't mind her living with us. We should get her a bed... err, whatever snakes like to sleep on."
Sakura smiled and turned to Harry, "You're really okay with this?"
"You came all the way here to ask," Harry said as rough scales rubbed against his skin as the snake coiled around his left arm, covering his entire arm. "Why would I say no?"
Sakura's shoulders slumped with relief. "Thank you. I'll pay for whatever she needs. Food or anything else that comes up, I promise."
"You two better get to the clinic," Ino said. "Might be empty enough now. I'm going to stay here and give Naruto the clan heir talk."
"The what?" Naruto asked, surprised at her words.
Ino sighed. "It's the talk you get from the previous clan heir when you officially become the clan heir. I got this talk from my uncle Inosuke."
"Uncle?" Sakura asked with a confused frown.
"Dad's a cousin," Ino said. "He was the heir before I was born."
"And now he's a nobody?" Naruto asked.
Ino twitched. "He's third in the clan's line of succession."
Naruto frowned. "Okay?"
"This talk needs to happen," Ino said, shooting Harry a look, daring him to argue.
"I'll leave it to you." Harry adjusted his sleeve to hide the viper and followed Sakura out of the apartment.
"Wait," Naruto yelped, even as they closed the apartment door behind them.
"She was pretty mad when she heard about Naruto's situation," Sakura said when they reached the streets. "The timing of everything and, she takes clan matters seriously. Naruto is in for a big lecture."
"I should have waited longer before starting all the clan work," Harry said as they navigated the streets full of people.
"You couldn't have known any of this would happen so quickly," Sakura consoled him.
"Naruto is," Harry narrowed his eyes in irritation. "I never wanted to make problems for Naruto."
"You haven't!" Sakura said.
Harry glanced at her with an incredulous expression.
"You haven't," Sakura repeated with certainty. "You're trying to solve the problems that other people are making. Naruto knows you're on his side. So, don't put yourself down." She shot him a look as she said, "Our friendship can only have one sad pessimist. And I've already claimed that title."
Harry snorted. "We can take turns being the sad pessimist."
Sakura shook her head with a mock serious expression as they approached a low wooden gate. "This prestigious title can't be shared." A cacophony of howls and whines rang out from various corners of the property as they opened the creaking gate. "This place is as lively as ever."
Harry had only seen the outside of the Inuzuka vet clinic in passing once before. A short but wide building sat in the middle of a large open property that was surrounded by tall apartment buildings on three sides. In one of the property's fenced off areas, a person clad in white coaxed a small limping dog to walk alongside a much larger wolf-like dog.
Sakura's snake coiled tighter around Harry's arm, hissing something too low for him to hear.
"Sakura-chan?" a woman called out as they entered the building. Clad in a white coat, the woman hastily retied her long brown hair at the base of her neck as she stood behind the reception desk. Tattooed red fangs curved down her cheeks, identifying her as an Inuzuka clan member. "You need help?"
"He needs a consultation about a," Sakura lowered her voice even though the reception area was empty, "snake."
The woman's brown-eyed gaze honed in on Harry's left sleeve. "I thought I smelt a snake. Wasn't sure since you don't have any containers."
"This one doesn't need a container," Sakura said. "That's partly why we're here, Hana-san."
Taller than them by two heads, Hana motioned for them to follow her past empty examination rooms to an office at the back. When she closed the door, she said, "Now, what's this about a snake?"
Harry pulled up his sleeve as he sat on one of the empty chairs.
"That colouring." From the other side of her desk, Hana leaned forward in interest. "How did you end up with a Suna viper around your arm?"
"Luck," Harry said with a shrug. "Sakura mentioned sending her to the labs but I want to keep her."
"Is it a venomoid?"
Thankfully, Sakura understood the term and answered for Harry, "No, she still has her glands and produces venom. I've milked her recently."
"That's a problem," Hana said with a thoughtful look. "The poison research on Suna is still?" she trailed off with a questioning look at Sakura.
Taking a seat next to Harry, Sakura nodded.
Hana stared at the snake. "Is the snake always this calm?"
Head flat against the top of Harry's arm, the snake didn't move even as Hana moved her finger around within the snake's striking range. "Yeah," Harry said. "She's very docile."
"That's different," Hana said, grabbing a pair of plastic gloves from a box on her desk. "Every snake that's been brought in, even the non-venomous ones, get irritable as they're handled."
"She must have gotten used to people before I got her," Harry offered.
"She doesn't act like a wild snake or one trained to fight. Let's see how she handles being examined with chakra," She leaned forward with cautious hands.
Harry hesitated for a moment before holding his hand up.
With slow and gentle movements, faint green energy flickered over Hana's gloved hands as she placed her hands over the snake still coiled around Harry's arm. "Used to chakra," Hana mumbled. The chakra tingled against Harry's skin as she moved over the length of the snake. "Old scar that's healed nicely and," Hana paused and looked up at them with wide brown eyes.
"That's another reason we've come here," Sakura said.
"It's amazing that she's still docile, especially in her condition." Hana turned to Harry, "You still want to keep her, knowing that you'll have more dangerous snakes in a few months? She might not take care of her young. Then you'll have to deal with multiple young snakes that probably haven't inherited their mother's saintly temperament."
Hana stared at him as though surprised by his easy acceptance. "Do you have any experience with rare animal species?"
"I've looked after my owl for six years now," Harry said. "She's not exactly a common species."
Hana tilted her head in consideration. "The large white owl?"
"You know her?" Harry asked in surprise.
"Outside of the aviary, no one in Konoha keeps an owl," Hana said as she leaned back in her chair. "That owl of yours catches and eats snakes."
Both Harry and Sakura stilled. They hadn't planned for line of conversation. As the owner of an owl that ate snakes, would Harry be allowed to keep a rare viper?
"She caught a banded krait that had entered our puppy pen," Hana said. "Saved a puppy from a messy end. It looked large when she was eating it."
"My owl won't eat this snake," Harry hastened to say. "She listens when I ask her for something."
"Do you have any knowledge of snakes?" Hana asked.
"I can learn," Harry said. "I knew nothing when I first got my owl."
Hana frowned at the viper, but stood and opened the window behind her. After a short series of whistles outside, a large grey dog with a white underside jumped into the office with an excited bark. "I only called you in, because it's time to work," she warned the dog that reached her waist.
The dog sat, eyes and ears attentive for an order.
"We're going to do some tests with a snake," Hana said, pointing at Harry's arm. "Don't touch the snake. Just go as close as possible and sniff."
The dog's large muzzle stopped inches away from Harry's arm and sniffed.
The snake coiled tighter around Harry's arm and hissed, "What's happening?"
Unable to reassure her with words, Harry bypassed Hana's green glowing hands and rubbed the top of the snake's head. Though unhappy at the strange situation, the snake didn't move.
"Teeth," Hana ordered.
The dog snapped its mouth open in an instant, large teeth inches away from the unmoving snake's body. Before Harry could make sense of the situation or react, Hana motioned her dog to stop and move away.
"She trusts you even in the face of danger," Hana said, the green glow around her hands disappearing. "Now, I'm going to hold her."
"What?" Harry blurted out, his heart still hammering in his chest.
Hana smiled, her sharp canine teeth gleaming, as she said, "I'm going to hold the snake now." With a firm grasp of the snake's head, Hana uncoiled it off of Harry's arm. "A good length and weight."
The snake hissed in displeasure, her body writhing erratically to escape.
"She's already unhappy?" Hana said with a curious tone, stepping away from Harry. "This is the typical snake behaviour we're used to." She turned to her silent dog. "Any sedatives on him? Anything else?"
The dog stepped forward and sniffed, concentrating on Harry's arm where the snake had been, and barked.
"Had to be sure," Hana said, handing the unhappy snake back to Harry. The moment she touched Harry's skin, the snake stilled but hissed unhappy curses at him.
"Konoha doesn't know much about these vipers. You'll have to learn as you go," Hana said.
Harry looked up from the viper with a cautious surprise.
"Regardless of how useful she'd be for research, anyone can see that her quality of life would be much better with you," Hana said, a pleased look on her face. "Without constant sedation like the ones in the lab, she's more likely to give birth successfully."
Sakura interrupted. "One of the lab snakes was gravid?"
"One of the earlier ones that died," Hana said with an unhappy frown. "I think you just started your medical studies back then."
"I can keep her?" Harry asked.
"On a trial basis, yes. If you can prove that she has a better life with you then you can keep her out of the lab for good."
Harry glanced at Sakura but asked, "How do I prove that?"
"She needs to give birth to her young successfully. Succeed where the labs failed, and you'll make an unmistakable point that she's better off with you."
"What about her venom?" Harry asked. "Isn't it important for research?"
"Voluntarily donating her venom would look good for you," Hana said.
"I can milk her and hand in her venom," Sakura offered. "It'll be good practice."
Hana nodded in approval. "As her owner, I'll give you copies of her blood work and a chemical analysis of her venom, just in case."
"In case of what?" Harry asked with a wary look.
"People can be strange about snakes," Hana said with a shrug as she opened a drawer and pulled out a fresh stack of papers. "What name should I put down for her?"
Harry glanced between the unhappy snake and an equally unhelpful Sakura. "Opal."
"A Suna gem," Hana said with an amused and indulgent smile. "I wish I had put as much thought as you did into naming my three partners. You need to fill out some forms..."
After two hours of filling out forms and a more thorough checkup of the newly named Opal, they stepped out into the cool evening air with twin sighs of relief.
"Sorry," Sakura said, when they were well away from the clinic. "I didn't know it would take that long."
"The important thing is it all worked out," Harry said, adjusting his sleeve as Opal shifted on his arm. "Did you have a name for her?"
"I didn't think I'd get to keep her, so," Sakura said with a shake of her head. "Opal is a good name. I wonder if Ino is done talking to Naruto."
"Do we need to go out again because the lecture is still ongoing?" Harry asked, as he followed Sakura into the apartment.
From his seated position on the sofa, Naruto whined, "Don't leave me again. She already scared away Iruka-sensei."
Standing in front of Naruto, Ino huffed as she smoothed down her bangs. "Iruka-sensei only stopped by to tell Naruto what we already know."
"Nothing changes until Kakashi-san comes back from Suna?" Harry asked.
Ino nodded. "Anyway, I've given Naruto enough knowledge for now." Ino narrowed her eyes at Naruto "And if he knows what's good for him, he'll start looking into the rest." She turned to them. "What happened with the vet?"
"I'm allowed to keep her for now. If we prove that she's better off living here than in a lab, we can keep her permanently," Harry said with a shrug.
"I need to buy the things that Hana-san recommended," Sakura turned to Ino. "If you're done with the lecture, want to help me with the shopping?"
"I'm always ready to shop," Ino said. "You know where to go?"
Sakura nodded as they left the apartment in a flurry of excited whispers.
Naruto bounded off the sofa towards Harry. "We're keeping a snake."
Harry uncoiled Opal from his arm and placed her in the sand-filled container that Sakura had brought her in. Slithering around until she found the upturned box with a hole, she went in with a relieved hiss. "She's tired from the vet," Harry said as Naruto watched eagerly. "How was the lecture?"
Naruto's eager grin melted into a grimace. "I don't know why anyone wants to be clan heir."
"I don't think most of them have a choice," Harry pointed out.
Naruto slumped. "Yeah. There's tons to do even if I never become clan head."
"Why won't you become clan head?" Harry asked in confusion.
"Nii-san, when you have a kid, they become the clan heir," Naruto said, in a tone that suggested Harry should have already known that. Before Harry could even think of a reply, Naruto continued, "Being clan heir means thinking and working like I will be clan head. That's what Ino said."
"Are you really okay with not going after Sasuke?"
Naruto frowned. "I'm not."
"What if you can leave the village on clan business? Like going to Wave to talk with the builder about our property," Harry asked. "You wouldn't be leaving as a ninja, you'd be leaving as clan heir."
"Nii-san, you'd get in trouble," Naruto said. "And there's no way I can't be a ninja. I'm both a ninja and a clan heir."
"It doesn't matter if I get in trouble," Harry replied with a firm tone.
"The clan will get in trouble," Naruto said.
"The two of us are the clan," Harry pointed out.
"Not forever. You'll find others like you found me."
Harry stared at the blond. "Naruto, I might not find another Uzumaki. It might just be the two of us."
Naruto shook his head, like he'd heard something unpleasant. "Nii-san, you're not like me. You've already done so much that I'd never be able to do. If it's you, you'll find more Uzumaki."
Harry wasn't willing to concede defeat, "Even if I find more Uzumaki later, that's not important now. What's important is what you want right now. What do you want, more than anything, Naruto?"
"I want to bring Sasuke back." Naruto looked down. "But I also want the clan. I can't make problems when we've just started."
"Nii-san, please," Naruto said, with a soft voice that Harry had never heard before. "I can't ruin this. I don't want to be the one that ruins it."
"I can find a way," Harry reassured him. "It might take a while."
"It'll take too long to search for loopholes in the laws," Naruto said. "Kakashi-sensei will probably be back by then, anyway."
"I wasn't talking about looking for loopholes," Harry said with a pointed tone. "There are other things I could try."
Naruto stared at Harry's right hand for a long moment. "Really?"
"There are many branches of magic," Harry revealed. "I may not be that good with most, but I have options."
"You can do more than repair things and make birds with your magic?" Naruto asked with a teasing tone, obviously trying to change the topic.
"That's the simpler magic. Someone more skilled with transfiguration," Harry frowned at the incomplete translation, but continued, "can make larger and more dangerous animals that fight." Remembering Dumbledore's battle with Voldemort at the Ministry atrium. "I'm nowhere near as fast or skilled to use it in battle."
"I like the birds," Naruto said and frowned. "You've been in a magic fight?"
"Sometimes I had to fight." Noticing the worry creeping across Naruto's face, Harry hurried to add, "They were nothing compared to the temple."
Naruto flinched. "Right, you survived that Akatsuki asshole."
"I don't think that's his name," Harry tried for humour but couldn't hide his grimace. "It fits, though."
"Kakuzu," Naruto said after a moment. "That old fossil's name was Kakuzu."
"Fossil?" Harry asked, curious despite himself.
"He fought the first Hokage, so he was alive for ages before we finally got him. What... " Naruto cleared his throat. "What did you do to him?"
Images of unmoving bodies and the phantom smell of blood overtook Harry's senses until the soothing memory of Sentoki's voice guided Harry back to the present. "I used magic to irritate his eyes shut, blinding him. Don't know what happened after that though."
"You can use magic on a person's eyes?" Naruto asked with a low voice, his eyes fixed on Harry with an attentive light.
"I've read spells that could change a person's eyes into glass marbles, melt them and… there's a lot of dangerous magic that can be used on a living person."
"No healing magic?" Naruto said.
"Healing magic isn't easy. I only know a few basic healing spells."
"Can you give a person wings, to fly?"
"There's no need for wings. We use spelled brooms for that, some people use carpets," Harry said. "And certain animals if they're willing to give you a ride. Brooms are the best though, it's a smooth and fast flight that you control."
Naruto frowned, eyes torn between wonder and disbelief. "Can you use magic to go back in time?"
"Only if you have a time-turner," Harry said. "They're rare and it's hard to get approval to use one."
Naruto narrowed his eyes and asked in uncertainty, "You went back in time?"
"Only a few hours." Naruto's face shifted from narrow-eyed disbelief to an awed gape before falling into a contemplating frown. Understanding Naruto's expression, Harry said, "You can't change or fix anything in those few hours."
"Going back one hour would be enough to..." Naruto hesitated, searching Harry's face as though he was deciding to ask what past event Harry had failed to fix.
"There's no point thinking about it. I don't have a time-turner now, so no time-travelling for either of us," Harry said. "Better not to think of could haves. Sometimes, things go wrong no matter what you do. You can't just stop because of that."
"Never give up," Naruto said, as though repeating a mantra, but his voice lacked conviction.
"Maybe it would be better to say, there's nothing wrong with failing."
Naruto didn't look like he believed that.
"It might take time to believe it, but it's something we need to hear more often," Harry decided. "We can make that the official Uzumaki motto. Failure is not a big deal."
Naruto snorted. "Can you do that?"
Harry shrugged in nonchalance. "There has to be some benefit to being the clan head."
"Then," Naruto's face shifted into a serious expression. "Can you also make orange our official clan colour?"
Harry pretended to think about it. "No. As Sai pointed out, orange is not my colour."
"I wonder what made him tell me that."
"He goes crazy with the paints since his ink techniques all use black ink," Naruto said knowingly.
"He doesn't use other coloured inks?" At Naruto's nod, Harry asked, "Why not?"
Naruto opened his mouth to reply, paused and tilted his head. "I'm not sure. We've never talked about his techniques. Maybe it's easier to put use his chakra through black ink to do his sealing stuff. His ink animals can grab and seal things in a scroll."
"Or he just likes black as a colour," Harry said.
"How can black be his favourite colour if he hasn't used any other colours?" Naruto countered with a serious expression. "Maybe a multicoloured ink technique will help him K.O. someone in one move. He knows tons of water techniques, I'm sure he could come up with a multicoloured ink technique."
"I've always preferred the way scarlet ink looked on paper," Harry said absently. "I think I still have a bottle of colour-change ink."
Naruto blinked at him.
"It's ink that changes colour as you write," Harry explained. "Looks nice but making study notes with it is a bad idea."
"Colour changing ink. That sounds super fun." Naruto's smile turned soft. "Your magic can do a lot of things. That's why, I want you to use it to protect yourself and the other Uzumaki you find."
"Naruto," Harry protested.
"Nii-san, please. This is what I want."
Harry wasn't happy. "Going to Wave would have been a perfect reason for us to leave Konoha on clan business."
"Nii-san," Naruto shot him a look.
Harry sighed. "Okay, I won't bring it up again. But I am going to meet that builder in Wave."
"You'll still go to Tazuna?"
"You said he was a good builder," Harry said. "What more do we need?"
A knock on the door stopped Naruto from replying.
A clone-Naruto popped into existence beside the main door before Harry could move, and let Sakura and Sai in. Arms laden with flat boxes, Sai headed to the kitchen while Sakura unrolled a scroll and unsealed its contents.
"I brought takeout for dinner," Sakura said as she pushed large boxes off the scroll. "Ino had to go home, but I found Sai to help me."
"I only came to study the viper," Sai said, returning from the kitchen.
"He means, to draw Opal," Sakura corrected as she unsealed another box from her scroll.
As Harry watched, the three teens and clone-Naruto, worked in silent harmony to build a cabinet base against a wall and place a large glass case on top. With a deep layer of sand at the bottom, Sakura arranged various rocks and a few scraggly plants with precise care.
"Can you tell Opal that her new home is ready?" Sakura asked as she stuck two seals on the inside of the glass case.
Harry looked down into Opal's plastic tub. "Sakura wants you to see your new home."
A scaled head poked up out of the sand.
"You can pick her up," Harry said and turned to Sai, ready to answer his questions about Parseltongue, but Sai sat in front of the glass tank, a notebook and pencil in hand.
Without hesitation, Sakura picked Opal, carried her over to her new tank and placed her in. "Does she like it?"
After asking Opal, Harry replied, "It feels more comfortable than before."
Sakura nodded, eyes crinkling in delight, "The seals should help keep the inside of the case much closer to the desert environment she's used to. It took a while to make them but they wouldn't have worked in the plastic container I was using before."
"You made these?" Naruto asked, glancing up from where he had been squinting at the seals.
Sakura shrugged. "It's a variation of one used in the NICU."
Naruto gaped at her, "How come you've learnt so many cool things?"
"Jiraiya-sama didn't teach you seals?" Sakura asked with a frown. "He must have since you bypassed the Uchiha property seals."
"He didn't teach me a lot of seals," Naruto griped. "It sounds like you learnt more than me."
"Probably," Sakura said. "Most medics learn some basic sealing. How much you learn after that is up to you."
"So you learnt more than needed," Naruto said, with a knowing look.
Embarrassment flickered in Sakura's eyes as she said, "I had to be prepared for Tsunade-shishou's lessons."
Eyes still on his sketch, Sai finally spoke up, "Doesn't the hospital have strict seal regulations?"
"Those are mostly for seal use inside the hospital," Sakura said. "Because of the Hyūga."
"No removing their shitty seal?" Naruto asked with a surprising amount of venom in his voice.
"No tampering or studying any ninja's seals," Sakura corrected with an unhappy curl of her lips. "Especially clan seals."
Naruto scoffed. "What if the seal is the reason they're in the hospital in the first place?"
Sakura sighed and looked away.
"This is the second time I've heard you two mention the Hyūga today with that tone," Harry said, "What's wrong with them?"
"There's nothing wrong with them," Sakura said.
"They use a shitty seal on half their family and control them," Naruto said at the same time.
"Control them?" Harry repeated. "That sounds... illegal."
"It's not, that's the problem," Sakura explained. "Their seal gets classified as a clan secret, so outsiders can't interfere."
"Not even the Hokage?" Harry asked in stunned surprise.
"The Hokage can't interfere in a clan's internal matters," Sai piped up again, eyes still on his sketching. "Especially not family techniques. Seals fall under that category."
"There's a lot of clan things I need to learn about before I become the Hokage," Naruto said with a firm voice.
"Even if you learn all that, you'll still have to survive the elders. They're always ready to oppose any new ideas the Hokage has, no matter how good or beneficial," Sakura said. "They've made Tsunade-sama's work difficult, especially with her recent success with Suna."
Naruto's face twisted with displeasure. "I hope they die before I become Hokage."
Sakura snorted. "You might have to kill them yourself."
"Watch out for the hairpin and glasses," Harry said. "I've heard they're quite dangerous."
Naruto looked at them with an unreadable expression. "I wish they were dead now so they wouldn't stop me from leaving Konoha."
"That's treasonous talk," Sai said, finally looking up from his sketch, hand paused over his paper.
"It's not treason until you make a real plan and get your weapons ready," Sakura said.
Sai thought it over for a while before he turned back to his sketch, "I'm just here to study the viper."
"Since we're not making a plan for them now," Naruto said with a dramatic air of disappointment, "We should help nii-san plan his route to Wave Country."
"You're going to Wave?" Sakura asked in surprise.
Harry nodded. "To meet the builder you all know, for the clan property."
"I don't know this builder," Sai pointed out.
"We'll introduce you when he comes here," Naruto said with a fond look in his eyes. "It's going to be hilarious when you two meet up."
The clone-Naruto rolled out a map on the living-room table. "If nii-san leaves tomorrow, he can return with Tazuna much sooner."
"Travelling on his own will take longer." Sakura reminded him, "We took a boat route from the coast to avoid detection."
Naruto glanced at Harry. "And you came to Konoha with a caravan, didn't you? So you probably only know their weird route that stops everywhere. You shouldn't do that."
"I won't, because I don't remember the route they took," Harry said, his eyes sketching possible routes on the map. "My first trip to Konoha feels like it happened years ago. So I wouldn't mind knowing a quicker route that I can travel safely by myself."
Sai finally put away his sketching materials and sat beside them to look at the map with a serious expression. "Civilians like to travel by riverboat."
"That's the scenic route," Sakura countered. "We need a quick route. Minimum stops and easy terrain to travel through."
"Otafuku Gai is a safe stop," Sai said, his pale finger tapping a spot east of Konoha, on the edge of Fire Country's central forest. "It would take less than a day, even at the slowest civilian speed."
"Safe?" Naruto exclaimed with a shrill voice. "That place is a criminal paradise. Nii-san would be everyone's target!"
The three ninja debated Harry's route to Wave into the late hours of the night.
The next morning, with his bag packed and his maps marked, Harry stood at the Konoha gates and watched as Hedwig flew lazy circles above his head.
"How did she know you were leaving even though she didn't come home last night?" Naruto asked in wonder.
"She's smart like that," Harry said, his breath misting in front of him as he spoke. He glanced to the side. "I could stay and wait for Kakashi."
Naruto shook his head as he took Harry's papers from the ninja at the gate. "We all know Kakashi-sensei is going to be in Suna for a while. It's better to bring Tazuna here." Before Harry could argue, Naruto handed him his papers and pulled him into a hug. "See you in a few days." Naruto jumped up to one of the guard towers and waved down at Harry with a grin.
Sighing at his cousin's stubbornness, Harry walked out of the Konoha gates. Hedwig followed and swooped down to land on Harry's shoulder, after a loud hoot to Naruto.
From the conversation last night, Harry knew he needed to head east to reach Wave Country. Taking another look at his map, Harry turned south-east.
With no real paths marked on his map, Harry used his compass as his guide. For hours, he walked through waist-high reed like grass, passed tall trees that covered in leaves of all colours until he reached a slow-moving river.
Realizing that he had gone a lot more east than he had wanted, he followed the river. On his shoulder, Hedwig shifted and peered at the river every time a fish jumped up with a plop. For most of the day, Harry navigated the river's uneven banks with careful but aching steps, until the river ended in a tranquil pool surrounded by thick trees. Consulting his map once more, Harry looked around with narrowed eyes, searching for anything that wasn't forest and trees.
After watching him stand in the same spot for a few minutes, Hedwig hooted in impatience and flew forward.
Knowing better than to ignore her, Harry followed her deeper into the woods. Past the initial wall of thick trees, Harry struggled to navigate around the scraggly bushes that snagged his clothes every few steps.
As he tugged yet another snagged portion of his sleeve free with frustration, Harry's momentum made him fall forward.
A wave of energy laced with a judging intent, a sensation he now associated with certain seals, washed over him. His knees landed on paved stone while his elbow smacked against something at his side. As he cradled his elbow and stumbled to stand, he found an elaborate carved stone lantern on a pedestal beside him.
Harry looked around.
The large red spiral on the building in the distance told Harry that he had reached his destination.
He was on Uzumaki property.
If Jiraiya hadn't mentioned his visit to this property with the Hokage years ago, Harry wouldn't have known that the dilapidated structure on the verge of collapse was actually a temple.
Hedwig hooted from her perch on top of the stone lantern beside him.
Steeling himself, Harry stepped forward. With each step forward, a new aspect of damage was clearer to see.
Large holes dotted the blue-green gabled roof, and the entire left side had caved in, leaving a gaping hole. Nothing could remain intact under that.
After a few minutes of walking, Harry stopped within feet of the temple.
Elevated from the paved stone ground, the wooden temple looked like a strong wind could turn it into rubble. Even the stone stairs leading up to the temple had a large hole in one side.
The temple's main roof extended down in the front to shade the stairs, creating a portico like area, it's ends supported by two stone columns. The roof sagged precariously on Harry's right, the column underneath it, missing chunks and bent in three different places.
Beyond the stairs, the front screen doors were broken open and leaning against debris, which prevented Harry from seeing inside the elevated temple from his position.
Not that Harry was planning to go in at the moment.
He could not chance getting injured.
Which only left one option. He had to fix the temple.
Though he could fix broken items with a single spell, Harry wasn't sure if he could fix an entire building with a single Reparo.
Even with the protective seal around the Uzumaki property, Harry cast Homenum Revelio. When the spell showed no living person around, Harry pulled out his wand. "Reparo," he said out loud, his hand going through the wand movements with familiar ease.
Small specks of grey stone and dust rose from the ground and filled in the cracks of the stairs and columns.
The rest of the damage remained.
"This is going to take a while, go explore," Harry told Hedwig as he shrugged off his backpack. Rolling up his sleeves, Harry moved closer to the stone column. The back, which he couldn't see before, had a lot more of it missing.
Harry focused on the column, wand hovering close to it, and moved his arm. "Reparo."
Stones, varying in size from a small knut to as big as his fist, flew into the column's many empty holes and melded into one smooth surface. The column straightened, pushing the sagging roof up.
From there. he fixed the stone stairs that led up to the temple, the splintered and fallen red railings that ran along the right side of the temple, and even ventured under the temple's crawlspace to repair whatever he could. Harry worked his way around the temple, fixing the roofed corridors that connected the temple to other smaller buildings in equal need of repair.
When he returned to the front of the temple and slumped down beside his backpack, Harry downed two of his packed meals.
Though improved from its earlier condition, there was still a lot that Harry needed to repair from the inside.
Dusting himself off, Harry grabbed his backpack and with his wand still in hand, he took a deep breath and climbed up the seven stone stairs.
At the landing, Harry waved his wand with another Reparo.
The broken screen doors straightened, it's ripped translucent paper fusing back into flat unblemished sheets to fill the square latticework, and snapped back into place on either side of the entrance.
Still standing outside, Harry cast the Lumos spell. A floating light orb materialized inside the temple, illuminating the thick dust particles floating over the mounds of rubble. The first Bubble-head Charm that Harry cast, covered his entire head and dampened his hearing. Though the bubble's thin film didn't affect his vision, Harry recast the charm to only cover his nose and mouth before he stepped inside.
With each step forward, Harry fixed and cleaned everything around him- screen doors, columns, and even sections of floor- opening the temple's interior up for exploration.
Though curious about what he could find, Harry detoured to the left where the roof had caved in. Under the influence of the Reparo spell, the large chunks of roof rose and slotted back into place with a metallic clang.
As the dust in the air reduced, Harry popped the Bubble-head charm but one inhale of the musty smell made him cast the air-freshening spell that was fond of using. However, instead of the herbal scent he'd expected, a woody scent filled the air.
Satisfied with his work for the day, Harry returned to the main entrance. From his experience at the Temple of Fire, Harry knew that walking straight from the main entrance would lead to the most important part of the temple.
True to his expectation, he walked through two different screen doors and into a large room, that he hadn't entered during his fixing spree.
Except for the dust, the room and its contents were in pristine condition, untouched by the damage that had devastated the rest of this temple.
In the fenced off section at the back of the room, where a statue should have been, three long lines of different masks adorned the wall. Each mask had a different expression, some with narrowed eyes and menacing smiles, others with unimpressed expressions of judgement, and still others with looks of murderous anger.
Harry didn't know what the masks were, what they represented, or what they were doing lined up under the large Uzumaki emblem on the wall.
One mask at the top-most corner caught Harry's eyes. Under layers of dust, silver glinted in the light of the Lumos spell.
Hedwig swooped forward out of nowhere, grabbed the mask off the wall, and let it fall from her claws.
"Immobulus," Harry froze the mask mid-air but still raced forward to catch it. With the mask safe in his hand, he turned to his owl. "Hedwig! You can't do that. What if you broke it?" he admonished his owl as he cradled the dusty mask close to his chest.
Hedwig hooted at him, unconcerned as she landed on one of the wooden beams above.
Harry wiped away the thick film of dust and grime that had accumulated on the mask over the years.
The painted face had stunning workmanship but Harry faltered as he cleaned the hair.
Soft and pristine under his fingers, the hair glinted silver and had a faint sensation of serenity, that Harry recognized from Hogwarts.
There could be no mistaking it.
The mask was decorated with the hair of a unicorn.
A/N: Surprise, it's an update with even less canon than before!