A/N: I did a meme over on my regular LJ (as compared to my fanfic LJ, which is ExcessiveKallie if you're interested) asking for fics I'd never write, and somebody requested painfully fluffy Harry Potter/Naruto. It's been a few years since I read Harry Potter, but that doesn't mean I've stopped loving it. Forgive any slight canon fails.
When Naruto looks at his students, all he can see are his friends. He slips up and calls Draco "Neji" on Wednesday and the entire class looks at him like he's grown an extra head. In fact, Naruto checks to make sure he hasn't grown an extra head, because anything seems possible in this place.
It's good for him to be here, teaching chakra manipulation for two years, and he knows it. Tsunade is absolutely right, it's important to promote cultural exchange between chakra-using communities throughout the world. And whatever Hogwarts' exchange sensei is teaching the kids in Konoha is bound to be useful, even if they do use a lot of funny words and wave those stupid wooden sticks around way too much.
He's the ninja world's ambassador to the wizarding community because, in Shikaku Nara's eloquent words, "Everyone fuckin' likes him, ship him over." He likes the work, too. Naruto's always been a people person, and the wizards he meets are friendly in a way that only civilians manage. The other senseis are nice, close-knit from being stuck in this castle all the time. His students are great, for all their teenage bitchiness, and he loves each and every one of them as only Naruto can. But dammit, he's homesick. He tries again and again to explain the concept of ramen to the house elves, and he combs Hogsmead through and through looking for some honest sake, to no avail.
They're uptight here, too. He only winks at that seventh-year Hufflepuff girl, and Sprout-sensei comes after him with garden shears. Imagine what they'd do if Kakashi had been sent over! How old had Sakura been when they first hooked up? Younger than that Hufflepuff, that's for damn certain.
What's-his-name-Kabuto-Itachi-Severus, who's Naruto's friend because everyone is Naruto's friend if he wants them to be, tells him that it's okay to harass students as long as he leaves Potter alone 'cause he's Dumbledore's pet. But Naruto can't deal with English names and he forgets the name almost the minute it passes his eardrums, so he tries not to harass anyone... whatever 'harass' means... Naruto's English is still in the works.
He thinks his students like him pretty well. His class is tough, but he's really generous with the grades to make up for it. Naruto knows what it's like to fail a class you tried your best at. And it's hard to re-learn how you use your chakra, which all his students have to do. He would be apprehensive about the tree-climbing lesson, but he knows for a fact that Tsunade-Minerva-sensei put three kids in the hospital last month, so he's not too concerned about getting in trouble.
"So we are going to climb trees today," he explains, handing out butter knives pilfered from the kitchens. He'd prefer kunais, but he doesn't trust any of these kids with his precious small weapons supply. "This involves adjusting chakra in your feet, which is very important and very difficult."
He leads them outside, where the air is getting a little more chilly than it ever gets in Konoha. After the demonstration, which elicits its typical gasps from the students, he stands back and lets them at it. He pumps chakra into his numb fingers and reminds himself to pick up a warmer cloak next weekend. The castle is almost as cold as the outside these days. He's wondering if it would attract stares if he wore his cloak to meals when the first kid gets up the tree and subsequently falls three feet flat on his back.
"Sasuke?" Naruto calls out. The entire class winces. None of them have quite accepted that when Professor Uzumaki says something in Japanese he isn't about to set a curse on one of them. "Are you hurt?"
The kid- who's name isn't Sasuke- picks himself up gingerly. Sakura- who's name isn't Sakura- and Ron- who's name is Ron and who is Naruto's favorite student even though he shouldn't play favorites- dust twigs off Sasuke's back. Sakura glares disapprovingly at Naruto, as she does quite a lot, just like the friend Naruto has nicknamed her after.
Sasuke adjusts his glasses and gives Naruto a shaky smile. "I'm fine, Professor."
Naruto smiles. He likes British Sasuke. He likes all his students. "How far up did you get the wood?" One of the students giggles, and Sakura's cheeks turn pink. "Another grammar fail?" Naruto asks, not particularly perturbed.
"How far did you get up the trunk, Professor," Sakura corrects. Naruto smiles at her, too. Naruto likes British Sakura even though she thinks he's incompetent.
"Right, what Sakura said," Naruto says. Languages aren't his forte, although he suspects British Sakura would respect him a little more if he made an effort. He inspects the tree trunk, looking for the mark British Sasuke must have made with his kitchen knife.
"About three feet, Professor."
"I do not see your cut?" Naruto asks.
British Sasuke stares at him. "I was falling off a tree," he says, "You didn't seriously want us to mark our place?"
"Yes," Naruto says simply. The students all look down at their knives, suddenly terrified.
"That doesn't seem particularly safe, Professor," Kiba-Seamus says. "Running up a tree with a sharp knife..."
Naruto looks at his students, holding their knives awkwardly. Civilians. He needs to remember that these are civilian children. "Forget the knives. That was stupid of me." The relieved students chuck their knives to the ground, some of them very quickly indeed. "Right. Sasuke's gotten off the ground. Any tips for the others, Sasuke?"
There's a pause while everyone looks around. Naruto slaps his palm to his forehead. He's done it again. Neji-Draco all over. The nicknames make everything easier when he's writing in his journal, but they make class hard. "You," he points at Sasuke.
"Right, Harry. Sorry," Naruto rolls the name over on his tongue a couple of times, trying to remember it. Sooner or later he'll get all their names down. The year isn't even half-over yet. He has time.
Harry likes the visiting professor... Hell, everybody does. Professor Uzumaki is just so approachable. For everyone. Wood has been keeping tabs on him (in his Oliver-Wood-competitive way) and reports that Uzumaki awards an equal number of points each class, and never writes anyone up for anything. It's almost like- and Harry can hear the awe and disbelief in Wood's voice when he says it- almost like Uzumaki doesn't care which house you're in.
He's super-young, too. The girls spend a lot of time giggling about him. Harry guesses that he's pretty handsome, when he thinks about it. All muscles and smiles and mussed blond hair. Very handsome, actually. He's barely old enough to have graduated (although the rumor is that he graduated when he was twelve), and somehow that makes it ok that he flirts with the students sometimes. He has been very careful about only doing it in class ever since Sprout got him with the pruners, though.
But Harry likes Uzumaki so much because Uzumaki has no idea who he is. The man can't even remember his name. It's nice to have a professor who doesn't stare, or blatantly not stare, or make snide remarks about your father over his cauldron because he can't let anything the fuck go the slimy git. For the first time in his short, trauma-filled life, Harry Potter has a teacher who treats him like a forgettable student, and he loves it.
"When I teach DADA, I'm going to try and be like Professor Uzumaki," Harry tells Lindi one day when Hermione is in one of her studying fits and he has to avoid the Common Room or share Ron's fate. Lindi is a tiny garden snake that Hedwig had dropped in his porridge one morning. He lives behind the Quidditch locker room, and as far as Harry can tell he isn't poisonous, so what was the harm in letting him stay?
"Only with more points for Gryffindor and more writing-up Slytherins," Lindi says. Lindi has the grave misfortune of being the emblem for the least popular house and of living at the epicenter of house pride- the sports field. He has the least school spirit of any animal ever.
"Yeah, of course."
"I think you're missing why Uzumaki is so popular."
"I am going through seven years with Draco and I am going to torture his offspring in retaliation. It's only fair."
"So you want to be a Snape-Uzumaki hybrid."
Harry taps the little snake's head with his thumbnail. "Why do I even talk to you, Lindi?" Lindi's tongue flicks out suddenly, and he darts into a crack in the wall. "Hey, I was just teasing."
Then he hears someone exclaim something in a language he doesn't know. He grabs his wand reflexively, but it's only Professor Uzumaki, stunned into using a language he can swear effectively in.
"Were you talking with the... Uh..." The man waves his hand to indicate a snake or possibly a fish.
"Snake! No!" Harry shouts quickly, suddenly sweating. Maybe Uzumaki will think he's seeing things, and nobody will ever be any the wiser. "I was... uh... just... What are you doing, Professor?"
Uzumaki has dropped to his knees and poked his finger into Lindi's home, clucking something that must translate to 'here, snakey-snakey!"
"Hey, he's gonna bite you," Harry says nervously. "It's gonna bite you," he corrects himself automatically. Ron and Hermione have made it abundantly clear that if they ever hear of Harry communicating with any reptiles ever again that they are going to have to beat him up for his own good. Lindi savaging the hot visiting professor will not go over well, even if Lindi is about the size of a pencil and as pacifistic as snakes get.
"You like snakes?" Uzumaki asks, smiling, not judging. Much to Harry's relief, he stops poking Lindi's home and turns to face Harry, leaning his back against the wall.
"Not really," Harry says. Lindi hisses, loudly, a very rude word for which there is no human translation. "Ok, yeah, they're pretty cool."
Uzumaki's smile grows even wider, and it's different from his classroom smile, somehow... sadder? "I am sorry I call you Sasuke," he apologizes, "but you remind me of my friend Sasuke very much sometimes. You are nicer," he adds, "but you both like snakes. Not many people do, I think."
"You don't know the half of it," Harry mutters, slouching down next to his professor. He can't help it, he likes animals and that includes the less fuzzy varieties. Most of them have never done any harm. They don't eat more mice than an owl or a cat, they don't bite unless you scare them first. He's never had a snake lock him under the stairs or beat him up after class. He's never heard a snake call anyone a mudblood. Snakes don't care who your parents are or what your grades are like or how much money you have, they just want to know if you're going to step on them or not. Try telling Ron that.
"We get such bad press," Lindi pouts, poking his head out of his hole. "Tell him that. Tell him that it's not our fault that you parseltongues are all dicks."
Harry is not going to tell Professor Uzumaki that. He doubts Uzumaki even knows what a parseltongue is, and he wants to be normal to just this one person for just a little while longer.
"He likes you," Uzumaki points out, nodding to Lindi, who is giving Harry a tiny garden-snake death glare for ignoring him. "He's talking to you.
"Yeah. We're friends," Harry smiles a little, relaxing. "Does your friend Sasuke... talk to snakes?"
"Only snakes that speak Japanese. I think. He may speak a little snake."
Harry grinned. That was a joke. That had to be a joke.
"I speak toad," Uzumaki volunteers, and Harry laughs. "Almost as good as English." Uzumaki makes a series of gulping frog-noises, and Harry keeps laughing.
"That's pretty good!" he exclaims, and then a frog toad hops up to them. Harry stares, but Uzumaki makes more of the noises. The toad makes toad-noises back, then hops off.
"He corrected my grammar," Uzumaki sighs.
"As he should have," Lindi pipes up, "That was atrocious. Even I noticed."
"Lindi says your toad sucks," Harry translates.
"Ah, even the snake knows it! Ow!" Uzumaki laughs. Harry isn't entirely sure if Uzumaki knows he's serious or not. He isn't going to ask.
Harry laughs with him, and Lindi flicks his tongue across Harry's hand, pleased to see his repressed little human friend happy. The snake-kiss calls Harry back to the situation, though. "Hey, Professor..."
"Could you... not mention the snakes to anyone? They aren't a very popular animal here."
Uzumaki looks puzzled. "Because you are from the cat house?"
He means Gryffindor. The entire student body knows that Uzumaki gave up on house names one week into the start of semester, and the entire student body minus Gryffindor thinks "the Cat House" is a great nickname. "No, it's not that."
"The houses at this school, they are... stupid," Uzumaki says. "They... start fights."
"Nah, it's all in good fun," Harry says.
"Except when it isn't," Lindi tacks on bitterly.
Naruto feels the language barrier at moments like these. Watching poor little British Sasuke and thinking of all the things he wants to say to him but can't... not without a few hours alone with a dictionary. How badly he wants to pass on all his hard-learned life lessons to British Sasuke, but it takes him hours just to work out his lectures on simple things, like chakra points. How could he ever explain all the things this boy needs to know?
These houses just create division, they turn you against people who should be your friends. It looks like a game but it runs deeper. It teaches you to fight, to hate, and that just makes things worse. I wish someone had told me that when I was your age.
Maybe the nicknames were a bad idea. He doesn't know that British Sasuke is anything but a normal kid, but in his mind he's Sasuke all over again and this time Naruto knows what to say and he can't say it.
A/N: I might continue this... if I do, it'll be as drabbles about Naruto's Study Abroad Adventures, but I have a lot on my fandom plate, so we'll see.