Disclaimer: I do not own either Harry Potter (rightfully owned by J.K Rowling) or Naruto (rightfully owned by Masashi Kishimoto) nor do I make any money out of this fiction.
A/N: I'm new to the whole fanfiction uploading thing but I have been reading fictions for a while now and thought I'd throw in one of my ideas. I hope it is well liked and if so then I might write more.
And please remember: writers need reviews to live; they are like food, so please don't starve me.
Updated 28 December 2013: Owing to my new and wonderful Beta reader, RisingNight, this chapter has been reviewed and improved.
Updated 30 December 2016: Since I originally wrote this is 2010, I thought it was about time to give it another look and change a couple of things. It's still (so very) far from perfect, but I hope you enjoy it all the same.
Sabaku no Gaara had been having a bad day. That in and of itself was not an unusual occurrence, but it had been quite some time since he'd had a day quite as troublesome as this one.
It had been a few months since his fight with the Shitenshonin from the Takumi Village, and Konoha's blond knucklehead had left for his training mission with one of the legendary Sannin. Ever since his fateful encounter with Seimei, Shukaku had been almost completely dormant inside of him except for the occasional headache on a full moon. He hadn't even killed any of his fellow Suna citizens in a while. He had also been sleeping more often, which was a big plus. Overall, things had been going fairly well.
Things had been going well, until his past came back to bite him.
His past, in this instance, was in the form of a low-ranking Jounin from his own village, or to be more precise, that particular ninja's son. Several years prior to the Chunin exam and subsequent war, Gaara had been tormented by his 'inner demons' one night and had struck out at the first person he saw. That person just so happened to be the Gennin son of the man currently attacking him.
As soon as Gaara had seen the Genin boy, he had called his deadly sand and crushed him without hesitation. To this day Gaara regretted taking that boy's life, along with every other victim he had mercilessly and needlessly slaughtered, but that did not mean that when a kunai appeared to fly out of nowhere he didn't block it with his sand. Nor did he allow the exploding tag on the end of the kunai to burn him.
Gaara hated what he had done, but a certain blonde Jinchūriki had taught him to become a better person so that he could protect those precious to him. With that in mind, the tormented red-head parried another kunai strike from the unknown assailant, who appeared to be, from the look of his uniform, from Gaara's very own village.
The sand-user jumped back to put some distance between him and the masked Suna shinobi to plan his next move. He had been under the impression that his village had stopped trying to kill him; then again, this assassin didn't come as much of a surprise given his blood splattered past and the high rate of vendettas placed against him.
"What are you doing?" Gaara demanded in his usual straight-to-the-point way, silently planning his route of escape or plan of attack. Both would have been easier if they weren't currently in a valley, several miles from any possible back-up.
"Avenging my son! I'm gonna kill you... you monster!" This time, the infuriated ninja formed several hand-seals before several loose pebbles and rocks rose into the air in front of him and flew straight for Gaara at bullet-like speeds.
Unconsciously, Gaara's sand protected him just in time, but whilst the wall of sand obscured his view, the Jounin in front of him dove to the side to the valley's wall and jumped off of it, throwing a weapon at the person he had sworn vengeance upon. If it had been anyone weaker than a Jounin, the shuriken that had flown out the man's hand would not have not come within a foot of Gaara, but the multi-bladed weapon came so close to him that he had to use most of his sand as a precaution to stop the blade from reaching his neck.
Unfortunately for the current defender, that was only a distraction for the assailant to finish setting up his seal. Gaara's attention was drawn to the circular array at his feet that he had been lured into standing on when the symbols seemingly carved into the ground started to glow brightly.
"You demon! You took my son from me, now it's payback time!" The hysterical shinobi screamed as he jumped over the top of Gaara's sand and landed in front of the wary teen who was now gathering the sand at his feet to deal with the rogue ninja. "I'm gonna send you straight to hell!" He roared before he slapped his hand on the base of the circular seal, took his kunai, raised it above his flattened hand and with one final scream, plunged the dark steel straight through the waiting appendage.
The Ichibi host was baffled by this show of self harm, to the point of raising one of his invisible eyebrows, but refused to let whatever plan the crazed ninja had concocted happen. The insomniac gathered the rest of his sand and formed a spear in his hand, ready to kill the nuisance in his way; though, he wanted to note, it was out of self-defence and not enjoyment this time.
The former-psychopath was about to throw the lance at the pinned man kneeling only a few feet away from him, but as his arm drew back he actually dropped the sand javelin and his body convulsed with pain unlike any he had felt before as blue bolts of electricity sizzled through the doubled-over teen's body.
"Kin-jutsu: Demon world transport!" The bleeding man on the ground yelled as he used his un-impaled hand, now free of the kunai, to form a single hand sign in front of his face. After he had announced the name of his jutsu he began to laugh maniacally.
The pained teenager could do nothing to stop the forbidden-technique as it was completed and the man, who had tears streaming down his face, howled with laughter, appearing to melt into the glowing circular seal.
The man continued his uproarious cachinnation even as his face started to turn into a flesh coloured liquid and poured into the seal that was still paralyzing the immobilised host, who was now on all fours as the glowing of the markings intensified.
The light was blinding at this point for Gaara, who could hear others approaching over the crackling of the electricity. The helpless warrior could only hope that those shinobi were friendly.
As it turned out, they were about as friendly as he could have hoped for: his siblings.
The pair ran forwards, through the narrow valley, towards their crippled little brother who was struggling to stay conscious in the electrically charged field that was still subduing him.
Temari and Kankuro had both been performing their usual patrols around the village outskirts when they felt an immense burst of chakra coming from the mountains several miles away.
Without so much as requesting assistance they sped there as quickly as their feet would carry them. In any other case the pair probably wouldn't have rushed so desperately to the source of the potentially dangerous disturbance, but they could only think of one source for that magnitude of chakra and their little red-haired brother had gone out on a mission a few hours before in that general direction.
When they arrived, they were shocked to see their supposedly demonic younger brother being electrocuted by blue lightning bolts whilst writhing in a pile of his own sand inside some sort of shining array that neither of them recognised.
Gaara tried to look up at his older siblings but lost consciousness soon after they arrived, from the pain, the seal still holding him down, dragging him into darkness.
Temari gasped as Gaara's head dropped to the ground and was about to approach him to help in any way she could, but she was held back by Kankuro who quickly shouted, "Don't! You'll get caught in whatever that thing is as well!"
As soon as the black-rimmed eyes had shut the glowing of the array had intensified, unnoticed by Kankuro and Temari, until the light was bright enough for them to have to avert their gazes.
Suddenly, in the midst of the crackling of the electricity and the blowing of the wind in the valley, a boom sounded off like nothing either of the two conscious teens had ever heard before. The explosion may have been in sound only, but as soon as it had been sounded, the entire chasm they were standing in went completely silent, except for the soft echoing of the explosion.
Both of the remaining sand siblings looked back up for their teammate and family to see nothing, not even the symbols that had been carved into the rock were there anymore. The entire scene had been wiped clean. Gaara, his sand and any residual chakra was gone.
Temari looked at the scene and then after finally registering that he was gone, searched the surrounding area for any trace of her little brother's or the one-tailed beast's chakra, but found nothing. At this revelation, Temari broke down into fits of hysterical tears at the sudden apparent death of their younger brother. No matter what he had done, they had still loved him, and now he was gone.
Gaara awoke, or at least he assumed he was awake because of the pain, to a blackness. Not a swirling blackness or a flashing one, but an absolute darkness that made the Tanuki-host question his sight. He would have dwelled on this worry of blindness but he was interrupted by what seemed to be lacerations to his torso, then his back, then to his chest and his legs and his arms. From every conceivable angle, Gaara was cut to shreds.
Whilst this excruciating pain was tearing through Gaara's system, he felt a further inexplicable feeling, as if he was being pulled and pushed in every direction and yet still falling. All of these sensations made the battered boy almost slip into a peaceful unconscious slumber once again, but for some unknown reason sleep would not come.
Wherever the injured boy was, time didn't seem to exist, as it felt like he had been falling for hours upon hours or possibly even days or weeks, and yet there had been no change in visibility, and then, all too suddenly, he found himself outside of the darkness, still falling, but now that was the only sensation of movement.
Gaara was glad as he impacted on the relative softness of the grass combined with the sandy remains of his gourd, as the two yielding surfaces had stopped the battered ninja from breaking his neck or back after his considerable fall. Even more so, Gaara was glad because the freezing cold grass was aiding in numbing the wounds that literally covered his body.
It must have been night time wherever he had landed, Gaara surmised, because he couldn't see more than twenty feet away from himself despite the waning moon above him; then again, he was in so much pain, that to think straight enough to focus his eyes would have been a monumental and ultimately impossible task. And he wasn't sure he wanted to see that much, he couldn't have done much even with his sight at that point.
It turned out that the slashing feelings that he had endured for however long he had been in the darkness were in fact cuts littering his body. Most were relatively shallow and harmless but one or two were larger and definitely more serious if left untreated. Adding blood loss to possible hypothermia and the inability to move to help himself, things weren't looking too good for the ex-sociopath.
Sirius Black was by no means a precautious man, or at least he hadn't been so before, but ever since he had managed to escape from Azkaban prison using his animagus abilities he had been more careful than he had previously thought possible. That being said, it did not mean that when he was longingly staring out of the highest window of his current hideaway, the Shrieking Shack, and saw someone suddenly start to fall from the darkened sky, he wasn't going to go and try to help whoever it was.
Black ran from the bedroom he had been sitting in and morphed into his black-dog form as he reached the front of the house before pounding out of one of the small dog-sized cracks and into the cold grassy grounds outside of the most haunted house in Britain.
When the dog-formed man reached his goal it was far from what he expected. The first part of the child that caught his attention was the blazing red hair on the boy's head. Unlike the 'red' hair of the Weasley family that was more akin to, this red-head was the colour of blood. The next thing Sirius noticed was the actual blood coming from the countless wounds on the still form in front of him, even seeping through his clothes.
The sole heir of the Black name couldn't think of any spell that would have this devastating affect on a body, not even Sectumsempra left this kind of damage, nor did he want to think of a person willing to perform such a horrendous type of magic on a child. They'd have had to have spent a considerable amount of time cutting him up.
The third thing he noticed was the volume of sand surrounding the still body. As if he had been cushioned by the small desert beneath him, the boy didn't seem to have any wounds pertaining to the fall itself, only the hundreds of cuts all over his body.
The escapee looked around the surrounding area to check for dementors or worse: tourists. And after he was sure he was alone, he changed back into his raggedy human form and carried the surprisingly light child in his arms back to his hide-out.
On his way back to his temporary home Sirius couldn't help but slow down to relish the chill in the air. That was one of the few luxuries he enjoyed as a dog, a thick fur coat, but that didn't mean he wouldn't savour any rare chances to feel the cold night's chill on his skin now that he was free. When he reached the door-less house he quickly thought on his feet and used his foot to widen the hole he had been using until that point.
Once inside the rotten and run down house, the animagus went to work helping the boy who had fallen from the sky. Firstly, he removed the boy's shirt to get a better look at the wounds that seemed to get worse and worse the more he looked. The man ran into the next room and got a bowl of water to clean some of the blood off before he inspected the wounds properly. For the most part they were superficial cuts that weren't doing much damage on their own. A few may have grazed an organ or two but the only thing the man could do was wrap them tightly in the cleanest material he could find in the decrepit house and hope for the best.
As he was finishing he was at the boy's neck and after an inspection decided to wrap the slash he found there tightly too. Luckily the deep wound on the neck hadn't touched the jugular. Not that a simple wizard like he would have known about human anatomy, but he knew that if neck cut, and lots of red stuff come out, that bad. What was worrying, though, was that the gash had sliced through the boy's larynx. He wrapped up the neck and a few of the larger cuts that were visible on the boy's face before setting him down.
Whilst Black had worked on the boy's porcelain-like face he couldn't help but notice two things, other than the incredibly pale skin. Those were: the ridiculously dark shadows around his eyes that looked as if he had gone ten years without sleep, and the large red tattoo/scar on his forehead that appeared to be some foreign symbol.
As he sat back, Sirius had to admire his handiwork of the last hour and a half. The boy was covered in bandages from head to toe, and still the convict could see the boy was around the same age as his godson, if not a little younger.
The jailbird had wanted to at least see Harry as soon as he broke out of prison, having swum in the North Sea to Scotland and hoping to make it down to Surrey in a fortnight, but now he couldn't leave this boy for at least few weeks, maybe more judging by his wounds. He couldn't just leave the boy to be found either, and he didn't much fancy his chances if he brought the boy to St. Mungos.
'I just found him like this, please don't arrest me.' Probably wouldn't cut it.
He would have to put off seeing his best friend's son until he came to visit Hogsmeade in the fall as a student.
Sirius checked the boy's pocket for a wand or identification but found no sign of either. The only thing he found was some kind of bandanna with a metal plate engraved with a sort of hourglass symbol, which was attached to some kind of leather sash that had run across the boy's chest and up his back.
After a few minutes of watching the shallow breathing of the heavily wounded teenager, Sirius turned back into a dog and took a small sniff of the boy's scent and went outside into the night to see if there was anything of the boy's left out there. Startlingly, the sand that the boy had landed in smelt strongly of the red-head, as if he had been with it for years. Sirius padded up to the patch of sand covered ground and started to dig around in it to see if there was anything buried that could help identify the mysterious youth.
The dog rejoiced when he discovered something: a pouch. The small purple bag was fairly heavy when Sirius picked it up with his jaws and ran back to the makeshift front door of the Shrieking Shack. When he was back in the main room he used, where the boy was still lying, he reverted to his original form and sat down cross-legged on the floor to examine what the boy was carrying. Perhaps he could find some clue in there as to what happened.
Sirius was shocked to find several knives, star-shaped bladed weapons and pads of paper with strange writing on them. The writing was different to what was on the boy's forehead and seemed more like a pattern than actual writing. Maybe it was money? Though it didn't look like the British muggle currency he had seen years ago.
Sirius was about to pick up the stack of papers to inspect them further when he saw something move out of the corner of his eye. He looked over to see…
Gaara had been having the nicest dream he could remember having; it consisted of him sitting down with his mother and father, his aunt and sister and brother, and them eating all meal together. They had all talked and laughed and had a nice time with each other. No mention of shinobi or wars or demons. It was so pleasant he had wished he would never wake up. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.
When the panda-eyed boy woke he was immediately assaulted by the almost overpowering pain from his wounds, but pushed through the agony to look around himself. He surmised he was in an old shabby house and it was still night time. He then noticed another person in the room. In any other situation he would have jumped into a defensive stance or cocooned himself in sand, but he could do neither for lack of strength and sand. He couldn't move a muscle.
It was then that Gaara, out of the corner of his eye, saw the man rummaging through his weapons-pouch about to touch his exploding tags. With all the strength he could muster, Gaara opened his mouth and was about to tell him to stop, but nothing came out. No words, no sound, nothing. Fortunately the movement of his mouth was enough to draw the man's attention.
Sirius immediately stopped going through the other's possessions and turned towards the intensely glaring boy on the floor a few feet from him.
"Hello," Sirius started, trying to ease some of the tension he was feeling because of the gaze on him. "My name is…actually, never mind," He continued. He'd almost revealed he was the murderer wanted by the entire magical and muggle communities, though he wasn't all too sure that the boy was even a wizard. He didn't have a wand, he wasn't dressed in wizarding robes, and he had wounds that looked more like they were from a muggle weapon than a wizard's wand. That and the boy hadn't immediately recognised him from the pictures that were undoubtedly in every bar and on every shop in the wizarding world.
"I found you outside. You, uh... fell from the sky. Do you remember what happened? Could you tell me your name? Where did you come from?" The man asked, hoping for even a slither of information.
Gaara looked at the scruffy man sat across from him and once again with great effort opened his mouth to talk but couldn't utter a syllable. The red haired tanuki-host kept trying to speak but it soon became apparent that he couldn't. One of the cuts had evidently severed his vocal cords. After this, the redhead just closed his mouth and went back to sleep. He needed to conserve his energy.
The fugitive of the dementors watched this display until the boy went back to sleep, and slipped back out of the room as quietly as possible so that he could go and get some food. This had been worrying him whilst he dressed the boy's wounds. Sirius had been turning into a dog and eating in that form, rabbits and small mammals had been enough to sustain him, but now he had a fully human boy who needed to be fed.
It made Sirius laugh at the thought that he wanted to take care of Harry one day. He was fairly sure that neither boy would appreciate a dead rabbit presented to them by a large black dog for dinner.
The man came to his front door and shifted to his 'grim' form and ran off into the woods to hunt, in a manner. First Sirius dealt with his own hunger by finding a cute little bunny rabbit and eating it. After he was done there, he ran to Hogsmeade village to help his new ward.
Sirius had always been a caring person; he had been deprived of the affection he craved as a child until he met his best friend James and their various other comrades and associates. When he had been sent to that detestable prison he had been removed from anyone he cared about, and now that he was out he just wanted someone to talk to. If that person happened to be a random injured child, so be it.
It also didn't hurt that the mysterious boy looked a little like Lily, due to the hair and eye colours, and was about the Harry's age. All of that, added to the fact that for the last few weeks he had had nothing to do except skulk around as a dog or look out of the window longingly at the woods and the borders of Hogsmeade.
His musings were soon interrupted when he came upon the edge of the woods, marking the beginnings of the sole town for miles around. Sirius made his way around the outskirts until he spotted one of the back alleys he recognised.
He recognised this particular back alley because, as man may not live on bread alone, Sirius may not live on rabbit and mole alone. He had found this little gem after four days of living in the Shrieking Shack and eating nothing but woodland creatures.
Padfoot walked up to the darkened alley and sat down, waiting for a prize he was sure would be worth the time.
Sure enough a few hours later the back door opened to reveal a burly man carry out a bucket of waste materials from the bakery inside. As soon as the black dog was spotted a wide smile set itself upon the large man's and he walked back inside in haste whilst leaving the door ajar. Soon enough he returned, carrying with him a large loaf of bread, fresh from the oven.
"Here you go, pooch." The man slurred as he chucked the loaf to the ground as was routine by now. The man had discovered the dog sniffing through his shop's bins a couple of weeks before and had a soft spot for dogs. As such, he had brought it out a loaf whenever he saw it, which wasn't that often, every two or three days.
Sirius wasted no time before snatching up the bread and carrying it back through the woods as quickly as possible. He soon arrived back at the familiar shack and padded in quietly, dropping the loaf and zooming back out to get something else.
Around a quarter of an hour later he was back with a slight toothy grin around a rabbit in his mouth. He dropped that too and changed back swiftly while he carried the rabbit and bread upstairs and into the main bedroom only to see the boy was once again awake.
"I'll make you some food; do you understand what I am saying?" Sirius questioned with a smile whilst he knelt down and started to strip some of the dry wood from his surroundings to make kindling.
Whilst he worked he looked over to the other person in the room who had been looking at him with a face as unreadable as the scruffy-man had thought possible, and nodded slowly, turning his head to the ceiling.
A little while later Sirius Black was just finishing cooking the rabbit he had since skinned, cleaned and so forth, before skewering and suspending over the warm fire. It was a warm and well appreciated change from raw meat and plain bread.
Not long after the wrongly convicted man had finished his amateur cooking, he stripped the meat as best as he could and used the bread to hold it, making a few rabbit sandwiches ready to eat.
The still kneeling man moved over to the prone boy and helped him to sit up. He had been very careful with trying not to reopen any of the wounds that littered the bandaged body, then of course there was the problem of the pain that would certainty have been unbearable for any normal human.
Luckily, Gaara wasn't any normal human being; he was a shinobi who could handle pain, despite what past Chunin exams may have led one to believe.
After he was upright, Gaara attempted to eat the crudely made bunny sandwich. It was a valiant effort but what both of them had forgotten was the large gash in the hungry but injured boy's throat. After the first try, resulting in a bloodied cough and a few reopened wounds, Gaara gave up on the food in front of him; instead he turned his head and hoped the stranger would get the hint and let him back down gently. He did.
Over the next few days Sirius Black continued to take care of the bedridden mystery teen that he had been calling Lily in his head. Just a bit of an ironic joke. Though he didn't dare say that particular thought out loud because the teen was scarier than most of the Death Eaters he had met, put together. It was the eyes, they were so cold.
The falsely accused had been getting bread almost every day and making crude stews as best he could. As far as he could tell, they weren't doing any more damage to Lily's throat; but from what he had seen, Lily appeared to be mute or maybe he was just very quiet.
A week after the boy had arrived, Sirius had been astounded by the fact that he was able to stand and walk without help. Well, he was incredibly shaky and could only take a few steps, but to be able to recover from those extensive injuries in such a short amount of time was unheard of without around the clock care from a medical witch or wizard. When Sirius had redressed the wounds most of them were already healed or healing.
Just over a week after his arrival Gaara was lying where he usually did, looking over at his caretaker cooking more stew. The sand-user didn't know what meat it was but the food itself wasn't that bad. At least he was healing normally (for him). As bad as Jinchūriki had to suffer, there was the upside of super-fast healing. What irked Gaara the most was that his throat didn't seem to be healing at all, other than having closed over. He guessed his vocal chords had been fully severed and were beyond repair.
It really didn't make much difference to his already reticent persona but it would be an inconvenience in the future, he imagined.
Gaara stopped his thoughts when he heard the man speak, "My name, it's Sirius." He said clearly and concisely without any hesitation. Gaara couldn't help but wonder why the man had waited a week before revealing it. "I'm a criminal on the run. I didn't want to tell you my name because I feared you might have heard of me." It was funny how often Gaara's questions were answered without him asking anything out loud.
"I don't suppose you can tell me your name, can you?" Sirius asked rhetorically, "I actually knew someone with hair as red as yours many years ago," He continued absentmindedly. "I guess if I don't know your real name I'll just call you Lily." He said with a chuckle and a smile wide enough to show off his gruesome blackened teeth as he continued with the cooking.
The red-head grimaced. He wasn't quite as happy with the new name as his saviour, who continued with his cooking oblivious to the coldest stare he would ever receive, or more correctly, his back would receive.
It was only a few days later and Gaara was able to walk unaided which was a massive relief to him. He hadn't done anything since he had arrived except the occasional trip to the bathroom and a shaky walk around the room to stave off the worst of the muscular-dystrophy. Both of which had been painful but wholly necessary.
Gaara's first plan was to leave and go back to the Wind country or, failing that, at least get to the Fire country. Unfortunately he didn't know what land he was in or even what continent. Gaara looked over to the man who was sitting at the window, looking out forlornly like he often did when he wasn't preoccupied taking care of Gaara. He gave a little wave to get the dirty man's attention, ever-silently, before gesturing for a pen.
When Sirius looked towards his charge he was shocked to see the gesture the boy was making. He had his fingers positioned in a small grip and was waving it in a downwards movement. For most muggles and even shinobi this would have been a clear sign for a pen or a brush and ink in the latter's case, but to a fully grown wizard that was undoubtedly, and wrongly, identifiable as the gesture for a wand.
"You want a wand, Lily? Are you a wizard?" He asked flabbergasted at his own naivety. "And here I thought you were just a muggle." He laughed as he walked over and sat down.
Gaara was confused, mostly by the words "wand", "wizard" and "muggle"; he was so confused that he forgot to glare when he was called by a girl's name again. He had never come across 'muggle' and could only think of children's fairy tales when he heard the words 'wand' and 'wizard', so he was sure that he had been mistaken. In an attempt to convey his ignorance on the subject to the other he tilted his head to the side.
Sirius would have happily lent his own wand to the young 'wizard', but that was long gone. It had been snapped when he was arrested all those years ago by an angry Auror convinced of his guilt, like everybody else. "Sorry, I don't have a wand anymore."
Gaara shook his head and redid the pen gesture but slower, hoping the kind but utterly oblivious man might get the message.
"Oh a pen!" Sirius exclaimed in a rare bout of realisation and clarity. "I'll see if I can go get you one." He said as he walked to the door "Oh, and Lily," he had opened the door "-forget what I said about wands and wizards, it was all a…umm… joke." The falsely accused hoped the peeved teen might just buy the quick lie.
After a quick trip up to Hogsmeade and back, the dog had managed to craftily swipe a quill from an open window. It was a lucky find by any standards. By the time he got back, 'Lily' had gotten dressed in his very worn clothes and was sitting by the window. The black bandanna with the silver metal plate was now tied around his neck instead of around his large leather sash, probably to cover up the scar on his throat, or so Sirius guessed.
As per usual, Sirius had changed back into human form before re-entering the derelict haunted house. He walked over to the teen and handed the quill to him, curious as to what he was going to say first.
Gaara looked at the strangely ornate instrument, but considered that writing utensils were likely the least of the differences in their two worlds. Luckily, this foreign boy didn't think twice that a quill should have needed ink to be written with, so Sirius didn't have to explain how an 'inkless quill' functioned without divulging magic.
As soon as he got the quill, Gaara moved to the wall and started to write, 'My name is Gaara. Not Lily.' The deadly glare aimed at Sirius was all the punctuation the message needed.
With a nervous chuckle Sirius said "I think I liked 'Lily' better. So, where do you come from?"
'Sunagakure, of the Wind country' He scrawled quickly, but when he saw the questioning look on the other's face as he read it, he continued to write 'of the Elemental Nations'. Still there was no look of recognition on Sirius' face. 'Where am I?'
"You are in the Shrieking Shack, just outside of Hogsmeade village," Predictably this didn't earn any sign of acknowledgement so he added "Very close to Hogwarts." This was sort of a test to see if the boy was in fact a young wizard.
The boy just continued his even look before writing, 'What country?'
"England, part of Great Britain."
The red-head sat still in a considerable pause. Before continuing the partially written conversation, 'What are wizards?'
This stunned the man who was sat across from the mute teen, he hadn't expected that question. Yet, after he thought about it, he realized he should have seen it coming.
The only thing he could do was be honest now. He wasn't closely connected to any muggles so to help the boy he had no choice but to tell Gaara 'the big secret' and help him through wizarding means. Or, those means which Sirius still had access to as a wanted man.
"Okay, but first tell me what happened to you." said Sirius.
'I was attacked by someone from my village who used a jutsu that sent me through a dark place. In the dark place I got the wounds and then I landed here.' Gaara purposefully left out the part about killing the attacker's son.
"What is a jut-su?" Sirius asked, completely mispronouncing the word. The story seemed very odd to him. To be sent through some sort of portal sounded very much like magic. 'Maybe they just don't call them wizards where he comes from.' Sirius thought hopefully.
'A 'ninjutsu', a shinobi technique.' The boy wrote before shuffling over to another wall, he was running out of writing space, which he imagined would be a hindrance for the rest of his life if he was to forever be mute.
"I've never heard of a ninjutsu." The baffled man thought out loud. "And you're one of these 'shinobi'?" Sirius questioned excitedly. This was extraordinary, to find another culture that used magic completely separate from his own was groundbreaking.
"Could you show me one of your jutsus?"
'Not right now. I need sand to use my techniques.' He quickly wrote on the grimy lime green wall.
As the red-head looked back at the man he saw a smile appear on his face before he got to his feet and moved to the door on the other side of the room. "Wait here." The filthy man ran out of the room quickly and, unknown to Gaara, out of the house still in human form until he was the edge of the woods where he had first discovered Lily's' body. Sure enough there was still a pile of old sand lying there on the grass.
It wasn't as pure as when it had first appeared, dirt was mixed in with it and most was damp and unusable, unbeknownst to Sirius who scooped up a large handful and ran back as fast as he could to the fascinating teen.
Sabaku no Gaara was shocked to say the least when he watched the man re-enter the room carrying a handful of sand with him. Granted, the sand was dirtier than Sirius himself and slightly damp which would have usually made manipulation impossible but the amount was so small that it should be possible to work it.
Sirius sat down cross legged just a few feet away from Gaara before turning his hand over and dropping the sand in between them, dusting his hands off to get rid of any residual sand stuck to them.
Another wave of surprise hit Gaara as he felt the familiar presence of his chakra mixed in with the sand. He knew as soon as he saw it that it was his sand, which made it all the easier to move. Gaara outstretched his hand over the sand, palm faced down, and immediately it started to rise off the ground and crumble and reform in mid air, shedding the dirt and grass and any leftover clumps of stuck together sand. Soon it was dry and pure like normal and waving around, though greatly reduced in quantity.
Sirius was astounded by this; regular wand-less magic was different from this. Usually a powerful wizard could perform the basics of spells without a wand and even then it was greatly weakened, but this boy seemed to be performing a floating charm on sand, which was difficult in itself, not only without a wand but also without saying the spell. It was unheard of.
"That's amazing!" Sirius bellowed. "I've never seen a wiza- I mean, anyone do anything like this. With something like this you could probably get into Hogwarts, even though you're over the age for first years."
'Hogwarts?' Gaara had crushed the sand into a small ball and dropped it into his pocket for later use before picking the quill back up. It was the only sand he had at this point and he couldn't even defend himself against an academy trainee with it… well he probably could but he didn't like his chances against anyone worth fighting.
"It's a school for young witches and wizards, and I think you would qualify." Sirius said. "I'll ask an old friend of mine to get you in, if you want."
Gaara was surprised by this proposition but shook his head signalling a clear 'no'. He wrote on the wall 'I have to get back to my people.' As soon as he wrote this, Sirius seemed to deflate a little, inside and out, his previous childlike excitement from the idea of being involved in Hogwarts was gone.
Dejected Sirius replied "Okay." before moving to the window to stare outside, obviously disappointed, though that didn't change Gaara's mind even in the slightest.
Gaara moved the quill back to the mouldy green wall and wrote 'What are wizards, muggles and wands?'
What followed was a lengthy; and, mostly, one-sided explanation of magic, the wizarding world and the war with 'He-who-shall-not-be-named' that still barely scratched the surface of the vast and apparently complicated culture Gaara was in and by the end of it, the silent ninja was sick and tired of magic and this country.
After the conversation Gaara washed his writing off of the wall, to keep what he said a secret. He was still first and foremost a ninja who needed to cover his tracks.
One thing was for sure, he silently bemoaned as he cleaned the detritus from the rounded quill nib. This was not his world. The stars were different and the moon, while bearing a strong resemblance to his own, was smaller and bore different craters. These astronomical signs coupled with Sirius' descriptions of a fully explored world made it clear this was not his home world.
He kept this discovery to himself, though. Sirius seemed to be a kind man but one couldn't account for reactions to such bizarre circumstances as Gaara's.
The next day, Gaara went into Hogsmeade village to get food. Though 'get' might have been the wrong word, 'steal' seemed more appropriate to Gaara.
As the tanuki-host reached the town, he was relieved to be among other people after so long in that one room; which wasn't to say that he didn't like Sirius, not at all, the man had been very good to him and despite his despised nickname he had no real problem with the man. Well… except maybe the smell.
It was uncanny, the way the man smelled almost exactly like a wet-dog.
It was refreshing for Gaara, to be able to walk through a village and not be watched like a monster or even recognised. He did get one or two bewildered looks for the tattered and strange clothes he wore as well as his universally strange appearance, the red spiky hair, black-rimmed scary eyes, and the prominent tattoo on his forehead.
After he had entered the main street of Hogsmeade, Gaara sought out the nearest back alley and crouched down behind a rubbish bin. When he was sure he was hidden he reached into his pocket and pulled out the small sand coloured ball he had dropped in there the day before.
He opened his palm and let it float just above his hand before it dispersed into a small flurry of granules, moving freely like a miniature sandstorm. Almost immediately after, the cloud snaked down to the ground and formed into a loose gaseous drill shape and burrowed in between the cobblestone floor of the alley and out of sight.
Most of the sand outside of the Shrieking Shack was unusable, the only reason he could use the small amount Sirius had brought him was precisely because of its small quantity. He had thus decided to create an all-new gourd out of the rocks in this world. From the small amounts he'd been able to break down outside of the shack, this world's minerals took in his chakra just as well as the ones in his own world. Gaara had needed to come into the local village in order to survey what other types of stone were in the area; the rocks around where he was currently living were all far too hard to break down with the meagre amount of sand at his disposal.
As it would be several hours before he would have enough sand to fill his gourd, which he would also have to make, Gaara left the back alley and went towards the relatively busy high street. There he found a bench situated outside a shop and sat down in order to concentrate on controlling the sand that was now grinding its way around underground. Fortunately, for such a highly trained shinobi, meditation for a few hours was child's play.
Unfortunately for the ex-insomniac, he hadn't quite mastered the practices of sleeping and waking up. As such, when he sat down and closed his eyes to 'meditate' for an hour or two, he didn't expect to wake up twelve hours later, in the dark, with a dog nudging his leg insistently.
Gaara quickly surveyed his surroundings upon waking, like he'd recently been trained, and soon realised his folly. It was late, really late. All of the residents of the small village had since deserted the streets and it was rapidly cooling down outside.
Gaara looked down at Sirius, A.K.A. the dog, and ruffled the fur on the top of its head before chuckling silently at how it moved its head into the touch. The dog was large and smelly and had dark fur; ironically the red-head could only think how similar it was to Sirius.
Gaara walked away from the apparently stray dog and back into the back alley when he decided he'd given the poor mongrel enough attention. He had no more time to spare, seeing as how he had said he'd be back in an hour or two and it had since been half a day. His private nurse-maid would surely be hysterical by this point.
When he was back in the darkened corner of the inner village, he stood straight this time whilst he looked around to see nobody around except the smelly black dog who sat patiently off to the side. Deciding to ignore the non-sentient being, Gaara raised his arm until it was fully outstretched and parallel with the ground before splaying his fingers and bringing his other hand to just a few inches away from his chin and forming the ram seal. Soon, the ground started to rumble lightly, making Sirius-dog whine uncertainly.
Not long after, a stream of sand started to fall upwards out of the hole that he himself had drilled into the cobbled street. The flow continued until the ball of sand floating before him was roughly twice the size of a beach ball, turning slowly above of Gaara's outstretched arm.
Gaara looked intently at the ball of sand before closing his hand, forcing his chakra into the shell of the sand whilst watching it transform into his nostalgic gourd shape, complete with the red markings and cork. The sand-gourd floated around to Gaara's back before being tied on. He felt elated to have the familiar feeling of the giant sand container affixed to his back.
Sirius had gotten worried when his ward hadn't come back after several hours, so he had changed into dog form to find him. He had looked everywhere that the mute teen could've been hiding until he finally got a chance to look around the busier parts of Hogsmeade when most of the wizards and squibs had cleared out.
He found the sleeping teen sitting on one of the numerous benches that littered the busy wizarding village.
Earlier that day, many of the regulars to Hogsmeade village had heard rumours and seen the mysterious red-haired racoon boy asleep on a public bench. At one point, a half-giant from a local school had attempted to get close to the boy to wake him up out of concern, but when he got within five feet, the boy had let out a blood chilling growl without waking up, a growl that could well have been a snore from the usually silent sleeper. From that point on, no one attempted to rouse the beast container, until a large black dog came walking along at night.
With his trusted gourd now back where it belonged, Gaara strode into the high street again and looked around until he found the local bakery, which luckily still had a few loafs out on display in the shop front. Gaara didn't particularly like the idea of stealing, but he didn't have any money, nor did he know what currency these 'wizards' used. Sirius had explained the more generalised information regarding this world he found himself in but there were still massive amounts he didn't know.
As Gaara stood by the bakery's front door, the cork in the gourd turned into sand before the small amount floated into the lock of the old styled wooden door; soon an audible click was heard allowing him access. Gaara didn't enter the bakery himself, he merely had a tendril of sand swoop in and pick up a pair of loaves of before closing the door and relocking it.
The red-head wrapped up the bread, and silently and motionlessly commanded the sand to fly out of his gourd and in front of him. He piled up the sand until it was a foot thick and two feet wide, plenty of room to stand on. Gaara looked down at the old mangy dog that had followed him with a look of awe on its face unlike any dog that had come before it, before floating off on the sand platform.
The mangy dog wasn't too happy about this latest turn of events. As quickly as his doggy legs would take him, the escaped convict sprinted back to the Shrieking Shack. Fortunately, after the lengthy run, he discovered he had in fact arrived first.
That night they both quietly sat and ate the bread without Sirius even attempting to start another conversation or rant. He had been shocked by the Suna-nin's control over the sand, without a wand or any magical artefact. But Sirius was a man with his own secrets, and he wasn't going to pressure his new friend over his.
The next day for Gaara was started by a rather rude awakening by a nervous and sickly looking brunette disturbing his slumber.
Gaara had been woken by the loud knocking that presumably came from the shoes of whoever was approaching. He waited, safe in the knowledge that he could kill whoever it was before they could scream for help, if they meant any harm to himself or his friend. However, when the man had burst into the room he seemed even more startled by the presence other than Sirius, than Gaara had been that an intruder had entered the room so brazenly.
Remus Lupin had been the one to help Sirius get to the Shrieking Shack, being one of the few people who knew the real reason it made the terrible sounds on the nights of the full moon and that it was entirely abandoned. Then he had left, a couple of days before Gaara's arrival, to deal with some problems that had arisen with his application for the Defence Against the Dark Arts post.
When he had arrived back at Hogwarts to drop off his books and most of his other worldly possessions, he had not been given the chance to visit his oldest living friend until the entire teaching staff had been ordered to patrol the surrounding area and warn the villagers that there would be a sweep by the dementors.
In the years to come, Lupin came to wonder exactly how much Dumbledore had really known about his involvement with Sirius' escape during that time. Nonetheless, his unaccountable time patrolling was the perfect opportunity to warn his friend.
"Padfoot, who is this?" Lupin exclaimed as he looked down at the strange teenager who was looking directly back at him with unnerving eyes.
As Sirius groggily sat up, resting back on one elbow, he replied, "His name is Lily." He quickly corrected himself as he saw the terrifying glare that was now being directed towards him, "-at least, that's what I call him. His real name is Gaara."
"I still think Lily suits him better; you see it too, don't you? The resemblance..." Sirius remarked whilst hoisting himself up to standing position.
Lupin was about to laugh at his friend's antics but was too off put by the boy who was now sitting cross-legged under the blankets, glaring intently at the man with the beard.
"I meant, where did he come from?"
"Gaara here is a 'shinobi' from another country," Sirius said before continuing after he saw a blank look on his friends face, "He was badly injured, so I thought I would take care of him until he was back to full health."
"Is he a, um… muggle?" Lupin all but whispered the last part, as if it was curse, although in actuality it was that he didn't want to say a wizarding term in front of a suspected muggle.
"Well, no and yes," Said Black, with a slightly confused look on his face, much like the one on Lupin's own face. "He can use magic, but he's never been schooled in wizardry. Not our kind of wizardry, anyway."
"Excuse my friend here," Lupin had turned to the now calm looking Gaara, "Sirius here has the best intentions but… why don't you tell me about yourself."
After ignoring the pretend offence the man behind him had displayed at his casual insult, Remus waited for the answer that didn't come until Sirius exclaimed, "Oh! Right! I forgot to mention, Gaara can't talk."
"Don't you think it would have been a good idea to tell me that first, Sirius?" Lupin sighed and he apologized to the annoyed mute.
"So, to what do we owe the pleasure of this visit, Moony?" Sirius swiftly changed the subject.
"Well, I was going to tell you that there's going to be a sweep of the area by dementors soon, and the professors were told to go and warn anyone not on the run about it, but I thought it might be nice if I gave you a heads up as well." Lupin said, shortly before turning on his heel and walking to the broken old door out of the bedroom they were currently in. "I suggest you turn into Padfoot and make yourself scarce before the monsters are upon you. Gaara, you may want to find somewhere a little more sheltered until they pass, too."
"Thank you, old friend. I'll see you again soon, I hope."
"Maybe. It was nice meeting you, Gaara."
And with those few words, the short visit was over.
"Will you be okay without me for a few hours?" Sirius asked.
"Okay, good. Just go and wait in Hogsmeade for a while until the all clear is sounded and then come back here." He said as he too turned towards the pale green door, "And if you feel a chill or hear that a dementor is near, run. They are evil creatures that will suck the soul out of you if you cross them."
"I'll see you later; I need to talk to you about something when I get back. I might be going away for a few days."
Soon Gaara was left in the old room all on his own and didn't waste any time before strapping his gourd to his back and walking out of the house, attaching his forehead protector around his neck to hide his most prominent visible scar as he walked.
The streets of Hogsmeade were barren with no more than two or three wizards quickly scuttling around with terrified looks set upon their faces. 'Oh, how nostalgic.' Gaara bitterly thought, 'Just like home; all it needs now is-'
"Monster!" Gaara was surprised when it actually happened.
About twenty feet down the street, stood a man backing away slowly from a floating black hooded… monster. The thought, 'At least he wasn't talking to me...' passed through the shinobi's mind briefly before he started to walk forwards, towards the disturbance.
He couldn't just sit back and watch someone get their soul sucked out; plus, he wanted to use his powers properly for the first time since his arrival in this strange land. Stretch his proverbial legs.
As soon as the red head had come within ten feet of the wraith-like creature, it seemed to spasm into activity and completely ignored the man who was now running for his life, or, rather, his soul.
The dementor seemed to swim through the air towards the tanuki-host who had since removed the cork from his gourd and was readying himself for the dementor's attack. It came close to him, and that was when he felt its terrible effects, except they didn't seem all that terrible to him, in fact, he barely noticed the difference except the temperature drop.
The only other effect that Gaara felt was that he began to relive every bad word said to him and every one of his murders and rampages, but Gaara was not ashamed to admit that he had never forgotten those travesties. He may have been reliving them more vividly than he had in his most daunting nightmares, but he wasn't bothered by the recollection. He was a boy with a sad past, one of the saddest pasts in either of the two worlds, and so the dementors were predictably drawn to him, but he would never forget the bad things that had happened and the bad things he had caused. Like someone had once taught him, he couldn't be distracted by dwelling on the horrors of his past, just move forward and protect those who were precious to him.
In other words, he was depressed even without the help of dementors.
The dementor was so close to Gaara, only now could he really appreciate the size of the reaper, all eight feet of it.
Just as one of its disgusting, deformed and decomposing arms slid towards his neck with every intention of choking him half to death before Kissing the soul out of him, just as the fingers were within grabbing distance of his hitai-ate, a wall of sand seemed to appear out of nowhere next to the prison guard before slamming into it with such force that it was sent into the side of the building over thirty feet away.
Unfortunately for Gaara, because of the almost liquid form of the thing, it was still able to fly away after the savage beating it had just received, without so much as a stumble or twitch.
Shaking off the persistent chill, the Jinchūriki walked away hoping he would get another chance to get some battle practice before he returned to the Shack.
It was about an hour later, an hour of boredom and aimless wandering without seeing a single human or dementor in all of that time, when he spotted another human being. The man was relatively tall, was wearing black robes and had shoulder-length black hair, which was greasier than… anyone or anything he could think of.
The man had a nasty sneer on his face as he strolled through the village with his arms crossed in front of his chest, which made Gaara smile a little at the similarity to his own fighting pose. The similarities seemed to begin and end there as the man approached Gaara and looked straight down his nose at the short, odd looking boy who also had his arms crossed which he immediately disliked.
"Boy," He spoke demanding respect "What are you doing out here? Or are you too simple to understand that dementors are patrolling this area for the mass murderer Sirius Black?" Each syllable of the acidic and rhetorical question was pronounced clearly and concisely making it all the more annoying.
Gaara really wished he could speak because there were a few choice words he might have spoken to the patronising man before him, and most of them would have earned him a lengthy lecture from Temari.
"Who are you, anyway? I would have remembered instructing someone like you. A tourist?" He questioned Gaara, giving a curious and almost disgusted look towards Gaara's tattered and foreign clothes. "You couldn't be a student of Hogwarts. Now tell me who you are and what is that ridiculous thing on your back?" He said fully expecting the small boy before him to break down and tell him anything he wanted to know.
Contrary to his well-founded expectations, no changes could be seen in the boy's expression except a contemptuous glare had formed on his face.
"By the looks of your hair I might even hazard a guess at a Weasley. Now, answer me!" Snape was getting angry by this juncture. Just the defiant look upon the strange boy's face was enough to ignite rage in him and was further fuelled by the boy's continuing silence.
Without as much as an explanatory gesture, Gaara gave the man a quick once-over before turning around and walking away.
This, of course, enraged Snape sufficiently to draw his wand at the boy, hoping to scare the retch, but no sooner had his hand come out of his pocket than the ground around them began to frost over.
Snape immediately regretted being there. As a relatively powerful wizard, Snape could defeat around a dozen dementors or so with relative ease, but swooping down on them were around twenty-five and they seemed intent on the young tattooed boy who had since stopped walking and was standing completely still with his arms crossed and a almost unnoticeable smirk on his face, confirming Snape's suspicion of madness.
'Does the boy not know what is happening here?' Snape backed away, hoping another one of the professors might chance by them and help, otherwise the boy was going to be Kissed by the dementors. Snape might have been able to fight off the dementors present, but by the time he had scared them off, he would have been at the mercy of anything else that deemed fit to do him harm, including other dementors searching the area or even Sirius Black.
The entire multitude swam around Gaara and, for a moment, it looked as if he wasn't even there, just a pile of swirling black capes were visible but then something strange, even for wizards, happened. Out of nowhere, dozens of sand-coloured lances burst from the sphere of dementors, killing many of them. The rest continued circling around the ball of sand covered in the large spikes that had impaled the billowing monsters only moments before.
Snape was at a loss for words. No magic he had ever heard of could do this.
His short-lived musings were interrupted by the transformation of the spikes on the outside of the ball of sand into pointed tentacles that easily outnumbered the remaining prison guards. They soon finished off the last of the remaining monsters, receding into the ball of sand afterwards, before that too dissolved back into the gourd on the small red-head's back. Severus hadn't even noticed his mouth had been left agape until the boy had started to walk away again.
The potions master was unsure whether it would be wise to take the boy back to the castle, but as he watched the red-head walk away from him, he didn't have time to think things through more fully. He ran towards the boy and was about to grab his shoulder so he could drag him back to the castle, however, when his hand was within a few inches of the boy's body, a shield of sand stopped it from progressing any further.
"Boy, come with me!" He commanded, trying once again with the other shoulder only to once again be stopped by the protective layer of sand that had hindered him before.
After the second attempt at grabbing him had failed, Gaara walked slightly faster away from the strange man who had, at first, seemed repulsed by the very sight of him and inclined to insult him. But now this strange man seemed intent on getting Gaara to go with him. It was only when Gaara noticed the man was still following him that he relented. He couldn't risk leading this incredibly irritating man, apparently a teacher, back to Sirius and the Shack.
Gaara turned around on his heel to look the man-of-grease in the eye.
Severus was shocked by this fortunate turn of events, though not for long as he spoke soon after, "Follow me, and quickly."
The shinobi did consider using the body-flicker technique to escape or attacking the man and running, but from what he had heard of magic from Sirius, who was undoubtedly still skulking around the woods, the hook-nosed wizard would probably be able to use some sort of spell to track him. In any case, he realised that his best bet would be to follow the taller man to wherever he needed to follow him to and sneak away later. In the worst case scenario he could simply use his sand and perform a little burial.
It's hard for a corpse to track someone.
Snape had turned around when the other boy had signalled he would follow, and started to walk back to Hogwarts. Whatever this boy had done was remarkable and he guessed it was due to that strange item on his back. No doubt that it was some sort of dark magical artefact, but something like that could be quite useful to them in the future.
The trek was quite difficult for the pale potions expert, as opposed to the trained ninja who often took longer strolls to relax after a mission. By the time they had both reached the castle, the sky was just beginning to dim.
Snape then had to think of how to get the senior teachers attention without owling them or going around to each of their offices one by one. It was times like these that he wished he could use the Dark Mark. That'd get their attentions quickly enough.
What irritated the man more than the thought of having to traipse around the entire castle was the sight of professor Dumbledore standing outside of the entrance, flanked by Lupin, McGonagall and Argus Filch; that Albus had foreseen the boy and he were coming irked him greatly.
The resident caretaker seemed disgruntled to be there, though his unhappiness was closely rivalled by Snape himself who wanted nothing more than a quiet year of teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts, but once again he had been passed over for the job.
"Good evening, Severus," Albus quietly said as he welcomed the incoming pair into the castle.
Gaara wasn't quite sure what to say, he couldn't have said it even if he knew, but nonetheless he wouldn't have known what to say anyway. He had followed the grossly unfit man towards the expansive castle that was bigger than the Kazekage's building and the Daimyo's castle combined. None of this awe, however minor, showed on the mute's face as they approached the open doors of the enormous castle.
"Headmaster," Snape greeted in his usual terse manner before stepping to the side so that the teen following him could walk to the front and the others could deal with him. "I was searching the village for Black, and warning villagers of the dementors, when I saw this boy-" He said, giving the scary child a quick glance, "-kill over twenty dementors, without a wand."
At that statement, most gasped and even Dumbledore lowered his gaze so that he could look directly at the boy. What really scared the old man were the boy's eyes. No matter the feat that Severus had reported the boy to have done; those eyes told so many more chilling and unknowable stories that for the first time in longer than he could recall, a child sent a chill down his spine. None of this showed on his face of course, but it was deeply unsettling.
"What's your name, young man?" He said, managing to avoid concentrating on the eyes of the boy in front of him.
"He won't speak," Snape said with pure malice dripping off his voice.
"Can you speak?" Albus asked slowly and caringly.
Gaara calmly shook his head, confirming the old man's suspicions. Gaara reached back and pulled the cork out of his gourd of sand, which instantly made Severus draw his wand. He had seen the destructive force of this boy's weapon and he wasn't about to risk letting a massacre happen right in front of him.
The sand slowly crept out of the gourd, slowly because Gaara knew he was scaring the man who had been identified as "Severus", and didn't want to be cursed with what he could only assume was one of these 'wands' he had been told about by Sirius.
The sand was hovering in the air now in wavy patterns until it started to form into more discernible shapes, the shapes of letters. The letters spelt out 'Hello, my name is Gaara.'
He had to admit, this way was much easier than writing on the wall, though he imagined it would appear a little more conspicuous.
"Hello Gaara, my name is Professor Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry." Dumbledore replied to the silent teen's greeting. "Would I be correct in assuming that you are a wizard?"
"Oh," This shocked the aging man, "then, are you a squib?"
"A relative of a witch or wizard, perhaps?" Albus Dumbledore was entirely unsure of what else the boy could have been. Maybe a humanoid magical creature? It would explain the eyes and the panda look.
'No', the sand had deformed and reformed each time the same answer was, but the elderly man still looked more confused than a Suna villager told that Gaara wasn't going to kill them.
'I've never been trained in magic.' Gaara formed in front of himself.
"Hmm... well; it's getting cold out here, why don't we retire inside, have something warm to eat and have a little chat." Albus motioned into the castle, while the other teachers started to wander back inside now that the immediate matter had been resolved, until only one person was left. That one was Remus Lupin.
The ill-looking man walked up to Gaara as they followed the procession into the impressive building and whispered into his ear discretely, "Don't worry, I'll tell our mutual friend what's happening." Before he turned off down a different hallway.
The redhead was glad of this assurance. As much as he loathed his nickname, Sirius had been good to him and he did consider him as something at least resembling a friend. He still wasn't all too sure about the whole friendship thing, but he didn't feel the automatic impulse to murder Sirius so he believed that was a good start.
Eventually, after a number of magnificent halls and quite a few staircases, Gaara's thoughts were interrupted when they arrived at a dead end in a corridor. Gaara surveyed his surroundings and saw nothing of great interest. The only thing that was different from any other hallway they had passed was the large gryphon statue set into the wall.
Sparing a quizzical look towards the old man in front of him, Gaara continued to study the statue that was the only item of interest in sight, except perhaps the ancient man himself, but Gaara was sure he would have plenty of time to find out about him later on.
"Jelly bean." The man said out of the blue, making Gaara question the man's sanity, but fortunately the headmaster of the school was not as senile as he seemed by any means as the gargoyle began to turn, magically, making a loud, familiar grinding sound of stone against stone.
"Please, follow me." The old man said as he stepped towards the hole where the statue had once stood, now replaced by the stone staircase that had spiralled upwards after the gryphon statue.
They both ascended up the narrow staircase until they reached a door which was immediately opened and passed through. Into the large office Gaara followed, and who couldn't help but feel a slight envy at the size and magnitude of the room in comparison to the slightly bleak looking Kazekage's office back in Sunagakure.
Dumbledore had moved to the chair on the far side of the grand desk before motioning for the redhead to sit down also.
As he did, Gaara couldn't help but notice the magnificent bird sitting on a pedestal several feet from the desk. The red and orange bird looked to be made of nothing but flames and grace. Gaara was torn away from admiring the bird by the words spoken by the other human in the room.
"His name is Fawkes. He's a phoenix." The wise old man supplied, as he too gazed at the intelligent bird.
"Now, onto more prudent matters. Mister Gaara, as I understand things, you cannot speak and you have magical potential but have never been taught, is that correct?"
"May I ask, where are you parents?"
Gaara thought about this question, for more than one reason. Firstly, he had to think about whether to reveal that he was technically an orphan, and secondly, he had to think of an appropriate gesture to signal that they were dead after deciding to tell the truth, in part. He didn't want to use his sand to communicate every little message.
Gaara raised his hand and clenched his fist whilst his thumb was pointing outwards, then slowly he slid his thumb across his throat.
Dumbledore seemed to understand, as he said "I am sorry to hear that, as, by the looks of your clothes, you don't have anywhere else to stay. Would you care to join Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry?"
Gaara quickly shook his head. He didn't know where, or in what world he was, but he didn't have time to be in school. Additionally, there was Sirius to consider, who could use all the friends he could get.
"Are you sure I can't change your mind? This school is an enjoyable place to learn and a good base for whatever else you plan to do in life..."
At this Gaara paused; this man knew more than he was letting on and it was a little offsetting. He considered for a while but finally nodded his head slowly and thoughtfully. If he attended this strange school, he could help Sirius find his godson and possibly find a way home.
"Ah, splendid, I'll have Professor McGonagall sort out your paperwork. Term starts on the first of September so I'll arrange for one of the teachers to escort you to Diagon Alley; it's the best place to purchase your school supplies."
One might ask why the great and powerful Albus Dumbledore was so intent on acquiring the unfamiliar young boy and to have him attend Hogwarts that year and the answer would simply be fear. Everything about this boy scared him, more than young Tom had, and more than Gellert when they were lads. He needed to know more about whatever this boy was and what his intentions were. As an added bonus, he could position him to protect Harry this year from Sirius Black. Better safe than sorry.
"Until you go to get your supplies tomorrow, you'll be staying in one of the houses of Hogwarts." Dumbledore pressed the tip of his wand to his desk and spoke clearly "Advoco Snape. Oh, and would you like to visit your home to collect your things, Gaara?"
The Jinchūriki shook his head, wondering idly if he'd forgotten any of his personal affects in the shack; not that he could risk going back there any time soon, anyway.
Several minutes later the door opened to reveal a clearly annoyed Snape.
"You summoned me, headmaster?"
"Yes, Severus. Please show young Gaara here to the Slytherin chambers. He will be attending Hogwarts this year. So I can begin your enrolment, how old are you Gaara?"
Gaara held up his hands and flashed his splayed hand once each signifying ten plus three fingers on one hand. Thirteen overall.
"Perfect, you will be a third year. And could I have your surname?" Albus had to ask since Gaara had failed to offer a proper introduction in the outset.
Gaara understood the concept of second or family names, even if they weren't commonly used in Suna; although, Gaara was in no doubt his father would have denied him any family name that might have humanised him. The headmaster didn't look convinced when Gaara explained briefly that he didn't have one, but didn't press the issue.
Snape, not bothering with any pleasantries led his unlucky-find to the cellars of the large building before he muttered a password quietly and proceeded inside, not bothering to wait for his charge.
The room inside the portal in the wall of the grimy cellar was much more lavish than one would have expected, but Gaara didn't show anything on his face as he continued walking after the gloomy Potions master.
They arrived at a dark oak door at the end of one of the twin hallways and Snape inspected the name plate on the door before opening it to reveal several royal-looking black-wood beds with green and silver sheets matching the various other curtains and tapestries around the room. In all, the place looked quite liveable but for the coldness, but Gaara was all too used to sleeping in cold conditions. Quite a few windows got broken in his house and the desert was as cold during the night as it was hot in the day, with the added bonus of their country's namesake wind.
"Goodnight." Snape said scathingly before closing the door and storming back to his own quarters to brood over the ridiculous treatment of his time by the headmaster as well as the fact that an unsorted, uneducated and possibly unhinged teenager had been admitted to the noble and sacred quarters of Slytherin. Worse yet, he was going to be joining the school because of Dumbledore's latest whim.
Said unhinged-teenager was tired enough that he didn't even consider exploring the castle, so he decided to undress and climb into the surprisingly warm and comfortable bed. He set his gourd down next to the bed in case someone decided that he would be vulnerable in his sleep and attacked him, as had been known to happen.
Usually the minor trek from the earlier excursion he had been on would not have fazed him but after several weeks of inactivity he seemed to have lost some muscle mass despite his small efforts.
The sand-nin went to sleep that night with one thought that quite often occurred to him as he was drifting off, how good it feels to be able to sleep.
Gaara wasn't a sound sleeper, possibly because of the many years he had gone without sleep, possibly the stark ninja training he had endured as a child, possibly the multiple attempts against his life over the years, or possibly because of the screeching demon still trying to consume Gaara's mind and conquer his soul. But whatever was the cause, Gaara was now awake.
He could hear someone trying to be stealthy and sneak up on him but they obviously had not undergone training. The heavy footed man, judging from the volume of the footfalls, had entered the room and was slowly making his way over to the left side of his bed. Gaara didn't even bother opening his eyes. It didn't matter who they were, the sand would protect him without fail.
The man walked up to within a metre of the bed and with a fluttering of a cloak the quiet sound of "Stupefy" was spoken. As soon as the red light had started out of the wand, the cork of the gourd had popped out and the entire bed Gaara was lying in was encased in a shield of sand at least an inch thick.
Soon enough the intruder left understanding that any further attempts would be futile.
Gaara recalled his sand back into its storing place before turning over on the bed and going back to sleep.
So used to assassination attempts during the night, it hadn't occurred to the off-worlder to pursue his unknown attacker, assuming with his sleep-addled mind that it was just another angry villager.
Gaara awoke in the morning without prompting and rose to sit on the king-size bed.
The perpetually-tired teenager didn't take long to exit the warmth of the bed and make his way out of the room to look for the closest shower. Luckily it appeared that after every few bedroom doors there was a clearly marked bathroom door. It seemed as if the communal showers were each for the different year groups, if the plaques on the doors were to be believed.
After a quick shower, Gaara dried himself off and redressed in his clothes before strapping the giant gourd on his back and walking towards the exit of the dormitories that led back into the dingy dungeons. He was silently thankful that he didn't need to know the password to exit it again, otherwise he would have had to wait for that bat impersonator to let him out, and he didn't like his chances living by the mercies of the clearly scornful man.
He kept walking until he came upon the stairs that would lead back up to the main body of the castle. By the trip it took to get up, he guessed that the bowels of the school he had stayed in for the night were quite far underground, and from the decay on the roof, he used his keen ninja prowess to deduce that the entire House had been situated under the lake… his keen ninja prowess and that the windows in his room had showed darkened water in the morning.
But mostly the prowess thing.
He finally came into a part of the vast castle that he recognised, which wasn't overly helpful as it might have just looked similar. All of the hallways looked more or less the same to the foreign teenager.
Gaara was hoping he could make it out of the castle to see Sirius again, to tell him that he would be staying at the school for the time being. Unfortunately, he couldn't find the exit, nor could he find the headmaster's office. He only found the first of the hundreds of identical corridors lined with paintings, suits of armour and the occasional wooden door.
By the time he had been insulted by the fiftieth or so moving painting, he was beginning to get angry. He was really lost.
Tired of aimlessly wandering, he trudged over to the nearest door and opened it to reveal… a broom closet... Sighing, he went to the next one along and opened it to reveal a large classroom with many ancient looking desks and benches. At the end of the room there was a set of stair leading to an office at the back.
Gaara walked forwards, hoping that the room beyond might hold someone capable of steering him towards the exit.
He walked up the small set of steps and knocked on the backdoor lightly. The answer came in the form of a soft voice calling through the door, "Come in," in a curious manner, justifiable by the fact that the only people supposed to be in Hogwarts that week were a few teachers and support staff, and none of which were usually up that early or had any business with him.
The red-head opened the creaking door and practically stumbled into the cluttered office to find a very haggard-looking man sitting behind a small desk littered with papers, trying desperately to finish all of his preparatory work before the first of September. Unbeknownst to most, for two reasons: the incoming students and another, celestial deadline.
Lupin looked up from his desk and smiled wearily at the apparently forever angry-looking teen standing in the doorway with his giant gourd on his back and bandanna covering his neck.
"Good morning Lily, how may I help you?" Lupin couldn't resist joining in on his friend's joke, plus the look on the indignant red-head's face was more amusing than an upside down Severus.
Gaara reached behind himself to remove the cork from his storage device, debating whether to answer him or give him a desert funeral. He chose the former as the sand floated out and formed the words 'Need to see Sirius,' before it dissolved and reformed as 'Tell him what's happening.' The tanuki host was seriously glad that he could use his sand like this; it would have been far too bothersome writing everything out all of the time.
"I'm afraid you can't go to see him at the moment, Gaara," Remus said with a sigh at the look of confusion on the younger's face. "I've been asked to escort you to Diagon Alley to buy your supplies for the school year. Then you'll be staying in an inn on the Alley until you come back here," He explained. "By that time, the rest of the dementors will be guarding the grounds of Hogwarts and it will be impossible to sneak out to the Shack, especially for a student like you."
'I need to tell him about what has happened.'
"How about this; before we go to buy your supplies, I'll go and meet with Sirius and tell him. I'll say I'm picking up some ingredients for a potion." Lupin smiled at his own ingenuity and the look of relief on the boy's face despite his efforts to remain stoic.
'Ok,' He was about to call his sand back when a couple of thoughts crossed his mind. 'Food?'
"'Food'?" Lupin questioned the mute teen, "Oh! Breakfast! You're hungry." He exclaimed realising the boy probably hadn't eaten anything since the morning before, and from what he remembered, Sirius was never a great cook. "Just go out the door, turn left and walk to the end of the hallway, turn right and then walk until you reach the stairs. Go down two floors and then walk to the third hallway on your left and that should lead you to the Great Hall where you can get some food."
It made Lupin smile when he realised how complicated the directions were. He had not been in the school for so long and yet he instinctively knew his way around better here than he did his own home.
Gaara replied with a curt nod as he set off. Luckily for him, he had a great memory, being a ninja and all, so finding the Great Hall shouldn't be too difficult.
As the sand shinobi was about to walk out of the office's door, he turned back and let his sand change into words that made Remus laugh uproariously. 'Call me Lily again and I'll make you eat all of the sand in this gourd.'
Gaara didn't dawdle on his way to the so-called 'Great Hall', being too hungry to take time to glare at the rude paintings. That being said, when he arrived he did take a moment to admire the splendour of the hall itself. He had to admit the name fit it quite aptly.
Inside of the expansive room were several long dining tables that ran side by side, and a shorter one that ran horizontally at the other end of the hall. The roof, the little that could be seen, showed many elaborate crossbeams that were, for the most part, hidden by what looked like the sky. It was, for lack of a better term, enchanting.
On the walls on either side of him, Gaara looked at the banners that were hung from the ceiling to a few metres above the floor, that displayed what he guessed were symbols that represented the four houses of Hogwarts.
The only other people in the hall looked almost surprised to see him enter. There was an aged, stern-looking woman in green robes and a stereotypical witch hat, who he recognised from the night before; a giant, messy looking man with a black bushy beard and hair that seemed to encompass most of his head and face, who seemed to recognise him from somewhere; finally in the centre of the table, in the fanciest chair, sat the headmaster of the school.
Unlike the other two, Dumbledore seemed to awaken from his surprise within seconds as he gestured for the smallish teen to come towards them. Gaara came forwards until he was standing only a few meters in front the dark wood table.
"Good morning, Gaara." Dumbledore chimed as he looked at the boy before him with his ever calculating blue eyes.
Gaara nodded in return, not bothering to use his sand to reply.
"This is the boy I was telling you about earlier, Minerva," Albus said to the stern woman. "Gaara, this is the deputy-headmistress and head of Transfiguration and Gryffindor House, Professor McGonagall." Gesturing to his right, and to his left, "This is Rubeus Hagrid, keeper of keys and grounds at Hogwarts and, starting this year, will be teaching Care of Magical Creatures." The large man smiled warmly at Gaara.
"I imagine you must be hungry," The elderly wizard commented, as he raised his hands and clapped them together, causing a variety of breakfast foods to appear on the nearest table, close to the front.
Gaara happily sat and ate the delicious food, being cautious when he first tried pumpkin juice to check for poisons. Although the food was good, so very good compared to the 'food' Sirius prepared for him, it couldn't hold a candle to his sister, Temari's cooking back in Sunagakure.
The entire meal was eaten in silence, after which the sickly Professor Lupin walked in through the back entrance with a nervous smile on his face and sweat on his brow. Gaara assumed Lupin had gone as quickly as he could to explain Gaara's situation to Sirius and had, just as quickly, rushed back.
After Gaara had waited for the man to finish his breakfast, he was asked to follow him to the headmaster's office along with the current owner of the office.
When they had stepped into the office, the two professors walked to the unlit fire place and looked expectantly at Gaara. Gaara in turn, walked towards them apprehensively, prompting an explanation from Lupin.
"Today we will be travelling by floo. I assume you haven't used floo before, Gaara?" He said "All you need to do is pick up some of the floo-powder in the pot and clearly say-" that was when Lupin stopped dead in his tracks, realising that the boy lacked the ability to speak, thus couldn't use floo-powder.
"Oh; headmaster, Gaara here can't speak, so what should we do? He can't just write the address," Lupin said, hoping for a quicker solution than taking the Hogwarts express to London.
"It's perfectly simple, Gaara here can just take your hand and he will be transported along with you."
Lupin took the look on Gaara's already-sullen face to mean that he shouldn't expect any cooperation. Clearly Gaara wasn't sold on the idea of walking into a fireplace, much less while holding someone's hand. The nervous professor looked to his employer for more guidance.
"Don't worry, Remus; just walk to the outskirts of the grounds and Apparate the both of you straight to London, but be careful of the Dementors."
"Thank you, headmaster."
After a few parting words between the professor and the headmaster, the pair exited the office and walked to the Slytherin dormitory area, where Gaara deposited his sand after much coercion and reassurance from the teacher. The next stop was a grassy clearing quite a ways away from the castle; where, upon arrival, (a pitifully winded) Lupin took a hold of the Jinchūriki's shoulder.
Gaara didn't know what to expect, or what 'Apparating' was, but nothing anyone could have said could have quite prepared him for the disagreeable sensation of travelling by Apparition. It was in no way even close to as bad as the technique that had brought him to this world, but it still wasn't pleasant. The feeling of being pulled in every direction whilst simultaneously being squeezed in all of the same directions. Needless to say, Gaara barely landed on his feet.
"Very impressive, most don't land so elegantly after their first time," Lupin chuckled as he led the peeved teen into a grotty pub called 'The Leaky Cauldron'.
Inside of the dingy bar were a multitude of robed men and women that the trained teen immediately identified as wizards and witches by their attire and the sensation they emitted, like chakra but more focussed and controlled, though unknowingly it would appear.
He hadn't noticed the sensation in just Sirius' presence, Gaara wasn't a sensor after all, but where there were so many magical people crowded together it was difficult to miss. Similarly, when he had been in Hogwarts he had first been made aware of this uncanny feeling. It had been very informative when he had sensed the headmaster's power, clearly the most powerful of the wizards he had met thus far. Although where this magical power ranked against any chakra level Gaara could mention, he couldn't say.
Lupin didn't stop for pleasantries as he walked straight through the crowded pub, not earning so much as a second glance, which was more than could be said for the red-haired, tattooed, ninja garb wearing, scowling, scary teenager following him. Gaara was well versed in the art of ignoring the judging masses, but it was refreshing to be judged for what he looked like and not for what he had inside of him.
Or who he had killed in the last week.
Just outside the back door was a narrow area with a tall, red brick wall that seemed to be about the most interesting thing there.
Remus removed his wand from his robes and tapped one of the bricks, causing them to make a grinding noise. Gaara wasn't expecting a large gateway to form as the bricks moved and turned out, revealing a bustling high-street that put Hogsmeade to shame in most ways.
"Please, follow me and stick close. Can't have you getting lost here, can we? I hear there's a mass murderer on the loose." The scarred man laughed as he proceeded onwards into the crowd; every few moments he would look back to check if his charge was still following him. Diagon Alley always got busy in the last few days before the start of the school term. It just so happened that that very day was the busiest day of the year.
'Luck shines on us all.' Gaara thought after Remus had shared that fun fact.
Lupin waded through the crowd until he reached a conspicuous marble building, covered in pillars that seemed to bulge outwards in the middle from the weight of the roof. The inside of the bank was quieter than outside but that didn't make it any less interesting for Gaara as he first saw the strange creatures walking across the floor with scowls almost as prominent as his own. The pink skinned, pointy eared, squat creatures all wore a kind of surreal banker's uniform.
Remus, after waiting in line with Gaara, led him towards the towering desk manned by one of the odd midgets. Lupin, like any learned wizard, usually would have warned the boy about the Goblin's viscous temperaments but as the chance of the boy saying something insulting was fairly low, he didn't bother. He just wanted to get the money and leave as soon as possible.
They removed some funds from one of Hogwarts' many vaults with a signed letter from Dumbledore, to pay for Gaara's various expenses. By the looks of sack of gold that had been removed, Gaara surmised that it wasn't going to be cheap.
The first stop on their tour of Diagon Alley was Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions, which, as the name suggested, was where the ninja was going to purchase his new clothes. If he was honest, Gaara didn't really want to give up his normal attire, but as he had been told by Lupin that the uniform was absolutely mandatory, if he didn't wear it he couldn't attend the school.
They both entered into the shop but Lupin hung back by the entrance and let Gaara get on with it, knowing that the cold boy wouldn't appreciate someone looking over his shoulder or holding his hand.
Gaara walked through the cluttered shop whilst he tried to gain a worker's attention. It wasn't easy as they seemed preoccupied with cutting the various fabrics and cloths around the store or walking into the back of the shop for whatever reason.
Eventually, due to his attempts at waving and tapping gently on the desks, one of the older workers looked around and saw him standing there. It was then he realised the fault in his plan, the fact that he couldn't talk. It seemed he had underestimated how troublesome the 'mute' thing would be. As she looked and waited for Gaara to ask for something, the woman started to look annoyed, judging by the glower forming on her face.
"Yes? What do you want?" She was getting steadily more annoyed by Gaara's impudent silence. "Look, if you're just going to waste-"
"I'm very sorry, my young friend here can't speak," Lupin interjected, feeling terribly guilty that he'd forgotten to help the disabled Gaara. "He's here to purchase a full set of third year robes for school."
"Oh, I'm so sorry, I didn't know." The woman flustered whilst trying to change the subject, "Hogwarts?"
"Please step this way," She gestured to behind a curtain that led to the back of the store, presumably where they would do the measuring and/or fittings. He was right, by the looks of the podiums standing in the middle of the room and the few workers who buzzed around, one or two of them attending to the boy currently standing on one of the podiums.
He looked even more displeased with his current situation than Gaara did. Every few moments he would snap at one of the workers for the most miniscule infraction or mistake. Gaara couldn't help but agree, he hated clothes shopping as well.
The woman moved over to another podium and gestured for Gaara to step onto it so his measurements could be taken. The mute wasn't too thrilled but he did not make much of a fuss. When he was at the proper height the woman walked over to one of the various tables and picked up a measuring tape. She moved in front of Gaara and dropped one end of the measuring device so that it was fully stretched out before she removed her wand and flicked it at the tape. Soon after, the instrument flew in the air and began to slither and wave like a snake, before it started to measure the peeved teen.
As the tape measure worked and the woman walked around the store searching for the materials needed, Gaara looked over to the only other current customer. The (other) moody teen was about Gaara's height, a little taller, with slicked back platinum-blonde hair.
The upper-class teen looked over to the even stranger red-head and was duty-bound to introduce himself, in case the boy was someone important or someone-important's son.
"Hello, my name is Draco Malfoy. And you are?" He said, trying to look down his nose at someone his own height.
Gaara immediately understood the key difference between him and the other: he wasn't a brat… anymore.
Malfoy continued to look over at the newcomer expectantly, waiting for a reply, hoping for someone with powerful connections and not another mudblood, half-blood or blood-traitor. Soon after the question was posed, Draco was becoming agitated by the other's silence.
"I asked what your name was," He said trying his best not to shout or lose his composure.
Gaara looked just as annoyed as him but didn't shout or even talk; he just reached up to the strange bandanna thing around his neck and pulled it down to reveal a large recently-healed scar over his throat.
"Oh, I apologise," Draco said graciously, for him, "Are you from a pure-blooded family?" He needed to know whether it was even worth his time talking to someone who might be as worthless as Granger (the only muggle-born's name he'd bothered to learn) or the Weasleys, and by the looks of his clothes, he might not be far off the mark.
Gaara had to think for a minute about the question. Pure blood? Could he be referring to his class? In which case he would definitely be pure-blooded, coming from a long line of prominent shinobi and a Kage for a father. After he had taken his time thinking about his non-verbal answer he nodded his head slowly.
If Draco was honest with himself he would have had to admit that he wouldn't have guessed the other teenager's status but was glad nonetheless. The resting expression on the stranger's face was scarier than his father's had ever been, and looked like it could get much worse, so the chances were good that he wouldn't be as annoying as some of the supposed pure-bloods he knew.
"You're all done, Mr. Malfoy; you can go now. We'll send your robes to your home address. Thank you again." The seamstress said as she helped him down from the podium and went to one of the tables and started writing notes of some description.
"Well, I guess I'll see you later," Malfoy said before exiting the shop, completely ignoring Lupin who was more than happy to continue to wait and daydream.
"What House are you, dear?" The woman, who had since returned and removed the measuring tape, asked.
The woman wrote something down in her notebook before asking "Is there any particular type of robe you need or would you like a full set?" As she went back to her little notepad she seemed to remember something before raising her head again, "I'm so sorry!"
She seemed flustered, "Do you need a full set?"
Gaara nodded, thankful she realised he was limited to yes or no questions.
"Okay, I have all of your measurements. Please come back in about-" At this, the woman looked over at a clock in the corner of the room, "four hours."
Gaara once again nodded before he walked towards the door and waited for Remus to realise that he was about to leave, the man meanwhile dreaming idly of steak. It wasn't too long before Lupin finished his inner musings and stood up, "Thank you very much. We'll come back at four." He said, giving the robe makers ample time.
"Shall we continue?" He asked rhetorically as they walked on, into the crowds with Gaara walking besides him.
Instead of the comfortable silence that Gaara had enjoyed before, this time Lupin insisted on making one-sided conversation about his past at the disinterested teenager. He kept talking about his group of friends, the 'Marauders' and how one of them got married to a girl called Lily, from which Gaara got his despised nickname.
He went on, how only one had had a son and he had become famous for killing a dark wizard, a boy named Harry who Sirius had been trying to meet with. Over the course of the walk, Lupin had even revealed his and his friend's nicknames. From what Sirius had told Lupin, he could definitely trust Gaara and it felt so great to relive and retell some of the adventures he and his friends had in their youth.
By the time the pair had reached their next destination, Gaara wished he could reply to some of the tales that had been woven along the way. His reply would be "Shut up."
They visited Pottage's Cauldrons before they stopped off at Slug & Jiggers Apothecary for Gaara's Potions supplies. What made that leg of the journey unbearable was the smell in the potion supply shop. It was comparable to rotting eggs and some other mystery smells that made Gaara wish he'd eaten a bigger breakfast to throw up in order to stronger make the point that the shop was unbearably pungent.
Luckily for Gaara, it seemed as if Lupin was having an even more difficult time in the shop as he quickly zoomed around the smelly store before purchasing the correct ingredients and zooming back out. Gaara was happy enough to zoom out along with him.
The next stop was a book shop by the name of Florish & Blotts, which had been a more enjoyable trip as the shop keeper's assistant had looked close to tears when Lupin had read out the last book on the list, 'The Monster Book of Monsters.'
The stop that both Gaara and Lupin had been anticipating the most was upon them as Gaara looked up at the sign above the door saying 'Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C.'
They stepped into the empty shop; the only things in there that Gaara could see were the endless boxes that seemed to comprise the walls. Before either had time to inspect the boxes more closely, an old man peered from behind the counter and said, "Remus Lupin, it has been some time since I last saw you here. And…" At this the old white haired man flattered, "I'm sorry; may I ask what your name is?"
Lupin also looked confused. It was a well known and accepted fact that Ollivander always knew peoples' names and never forgot any wand he made or sold, but the fact that the boy in front of him had the man stumped was odd.
"His name is Lil-Gaara," Remus managed to catch himself before he called Gaara a girl's name again, however funny his reactions were.
"If you would, please raise you wand arm." It didn't take a genius to realise Ollivander meant his dominant arm, so Gaara did and for the second time that day a tape measure took his measurements without anyone holding it.
The old man known went into the back of the shop and came back out carrying a small purple box. He pulled away the measuring tape and opened the box and presented the wand inside to the redhead. The foreigner took the long slender stick and gave it a wave. Absolutely nothing happened. The old man took the wand back with a frown on his face before going back into the many stacks of wand boxes and came back with four more boxes. Gaara tried each of the wands inside of the boxes and the same happened each time, nothing.
"Mr. Lupin, are you sure this boy isn't a squib?" The perplexed shop owner asked.
With a "Hmm," he went back and brought a massive range of different coloured boxes, most of which were different shapes and or sizes. Gaara tried each of the wands he was presented with, not sure what to expect, if anything.
"Very strange, it's exceedingly rare that I encounter such a difficult young wizard." The old man was honestly stumped.
"Really? I could've sworn I tried twice as many wands before I got the right one." Lupin said, remembering the number of broken windows and singed eyebrows he had produced.
"Very true, I specifically remember a number of destroyed chairs that day," The man seemed to reminisce, "but in almost every one of the wands you tried, you produced a reaction, even if it was a little adverse. With young mister Gaara here, there hasn't been a single reaction."
Ollivander sighed and walked back into the piles and came back with as many wands he could carry, not long after. Gaara gave each of the little sticks a wave before more were presented to him.
"I just don't know what to say, I'm afraid. The only thing I could suggest would be for Mister Gaara to come into the back and try to find one himself. The wand chooses the wizard, so with any luck he might be able to find the one that has chosen him, and if not… well, if not then he'll have to look somewhere else for a wand because I don't know what else to suggest." Ollivander sighed as he sat down on the chair in the corner of the room and gestured for Gaara to go ahead and look around.
The racoon-monster host walked past the dusty counter and among the endless boxes. He tried to guess, taking down a few random boxes, but still nothing worked. An idea then popped into the ninja's head. He closed his eyes and tried, using his chakra, to search for anything that would correspond. But sadly even this did nothing to aid in his search.
Gaara walked to the very furthest wall of wand boxes in the back of the store and started to remove them without any real aim in mind. He dug through them until he reached the last layer of boxes before the crumbling bricks of the wall, that seemed to be made of old and rotten wood instead of the cardboard the newer ones were made of.
Gaara reached in and picked out one of those ancient boxes. He didn't open it immediately, instead he walked back to the front of the shop to find both the adults were in silence and obviously interested to see how the search turned out.
Gaara wasn't going to spend the next week trying each of these wooden sticks for some magical effect, so if this wand didn't produce some sort of result he would have to try elsewhere, or else question those that said he was magical.
Gaara walked into the customer section of the shop and laid the old box on the counter before carefully opening the fragile lid. Inside was a simple black wand. The boy picked up the wand and the first thing he noticed was the compatibility he felt. The shape of the wand seemed perfect for his hand. Gaara gave the wand a flick like he had been told to before, and to the two adult's surprise, this time something happened. When the wand had been flicked a sudden burst of wind flew through the wand shop like a hurricane, throwing everything into disarray.
After the old man had righted himself and managed to order his thoughts he said, "Well, this is a surprise. That was a powerful reaction, and to that wand no less." He walked around to the back of the counter and picked up his own wand. He then started to use his wand to make the hundreds of boxes and papers fly back into place all around him.
"What is so special about that wand?" The ever-sickly looking professor asked as he also righted his tie and jacket.
"I have no idea. I honestly don't know what is in that wand. The wands in the back of the shop were made a long time before me. Though, from the looks of where young Gaara found that particular wand, it looks like it could be from one of the earlier generations of my family's collections. Back when they first settled in this area in the 1680s." He said as he continued the massive clean-up.
"How much will that be then?" Lupin asked as he reached into the bag ready to pay for the apparently antique wand.
Ollivander raised his hand to steady Lupin, "10 Galleons, please. I have only once sold one of the wands from the very back of the store. To be able to sell one of those is a rare treat indeed, so I'll let you have it for the regular price."
Gaara hadn't been listening to any of the conversation that was going on, as he was fixated on the black wand in his hand. The way it seemed to fit perfectly into the contours of his hand and the way his chakra and the chakra supplied by Shukaku was absorbed into the wood was almost as comforting as his trusted gourd full of sand.
"Thank you very much." Lupin said as he walked towards the door.
Gaara bowed in respect to the strange man before exiting the shop with his new wand safely stored in one of his pockets. On the way to the next stop Lupin continued his endless talk about his past and friends, but for some reason he seemed to leave a few key facts out. Like the reason he was discriminated against and why they were called Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs, other than as stupid nicknames.
The rest of the shopping expedition went without incident, for the most part, after which they picked up Gaara's robes. When they arrived back at the Leaky Cauldron, Sabaku no Gaara was more than just a little happy that he didn't have to go school shopping again for a very long time. Ninja shopping was so much simpler, all he had to do was find a single supply shop and pick out things to kill people with.
Although, recently, he had been assigned to more varied missions than the usual assassinations his father had sent him on. A dozen exploding tags to guard someone was not the best use of his money, according to Temari.
"Remus! Could I interest you in a drink?" Tom the bartender and landlord asked while pouring another customer a pint.
Lupin seemed to consider the offer before looking down at the bags in his hands and then at Gaara before turning back to the barman and politely refusing the offer and asking for a room for a few days. The key was given to Lupin before it was passed on to Gaara.
Lupin then took Gaara off to one side and said quietly, "I'm going to leave you here for a few days while I finish preparations for the year. I'll talk to Padfoot for you until you get the chance to see him. I'll be back on the first of September and ride the Hogwarts Express with you."
With a curt nod from Gaara, Lupin said his last good byes and departed out the door and left Gaara to take all of his luggage to his room.
Lupin wouldn't have left any regular student on their own in a pub for the better part of a week, he was far too responsible for that sort of behaviour, but Gaara was far from normal and Lupin was sure that he could take care of himself for a few days.
After Gaara had dumped all of his baggage onto the floor, he decided to start reading some of the easier course books he had been given. He was going to wait to read the Monster Book of Monsters; it had given the shop owner enough trouble to dissuade Gaara from trying to open it without help, or at least without his sand.
It was a little known fact that Gaara liked to read. Many wouldn't believe that the psychopath would have liked to crack open a book, but over the years he had a lot of free time. When he was very young, his father had trained him to be a ninja but after Yashamaru died and the Kazekage sent numerous assassins to kill him, he was left with the limited time he spent doing missions and the miniscule time he spent training, occupied, leaving him with so much free time to fill. He didn't even sleep, so he was left with massive amounts of time. He had taken up reading early on and could easily read a book within a few hours.
The rest of that day was spent reading, until Gaara was feeling hungry, at which point he decided to go down and get some dinner. Fortunately, Lupin had the foresight to ask for meals included with the room; otherwise Gaara might have had to go without eating for the week. He'd done it before and it wasn't fun; like the time Temari had gone on a solo mission and Kankuro had been left to cook.
There were some things that even Shukaku's exalted ultimate defence couldn't protect him from.
Downstairs was predictably and irritatingly noisier than his room, Gaara concluded, as he entered the crowded eating area. The black-eye-rimmed boy walked up to the bar and asked for something simple to eat with a pad of paper and a pencil (considerably less conspicuous than his sand). Tom, the barkeep, said it would be done in a few minutes and just to wait by one of the tables. Easier said than done when the only space available was next to a very rowdy family of gingers, laughing, shouting and joking making the teen shudder in disdain.
The redhead sat down on one of the benches and tried to relax, which wasn't an easy task when the girl next to him kept raving about a newspaper and some boy. It was unbearable. At least, he thought, he didn't have to acknowledge them.
That luxury didn't last long.
"Hello, I'm Ginny Weasley." The younger girl beside him had turned to face him and seemed to be studying him and his odd appearance.
A minute or so passed before the girl started to look unsure of herself and then another minute of Gaara looking back at her with his ever calm face before she blurted out "S-sorry, I didn't mean to b-bother you." The emotional girl seemed to be close to tears by this point.
Before Gaara could do anything to calm the cry-baby girl down, a pair of similarly flame-haired twins walked up to where Gaara and Ginny were sitting and leaned down with dark frowns on their faces.
"Oy! What-" One of the identical boys started aggressively.
"-did you say-" The second boy continued the sentence with just as much aggression in his tone.
"-to our little-"
"You jerk." The first one finished the tirade.
Gaara realised that he couldn't always use his sand or write down his words, so he would have to repeat this one gesture very often. He raised his hand towards his neck, covered still by his forehead protector, and pulled down the neckwear slightly to reveal the visible scar that stretched across his throat.
"Oh." The three said as they caught up, before they all apologised sheepishly to the mute boy.
Said mute boy had hoped that when the episode was over, he could go back to thinking quietly but it seemed that the event had drawn the attention of the others at the table. They all appeared to be of the same family and there were quite a few of them. Now that he looked closely, he noticed that at least one person wasn't of the same clan, by the looks of the brown bushy-haired girl.
"Ginny, Fred, George, stop bothering the poor boy." The woman, who Gaara assumed to be their mother, scolded.
"I'm sorry, dear," She said as she smiled at him from her seat on the opposite side of the table.
Quickly, Gaara waved off any worries she might have had and then turned back and started to stare into the blank space in front of him. At that point, he was trying to think of any possible clues he had seen or heard to help him get him home, but as of yet he hadn't thought of any that could be of use.
Gaara thoughts were again interrupted when his dinner arrived, which he ate without any deeper thoughts. It was good, but he just wanted to get back to reading. It was a nice distraction from the world and his problems, he supposed.
After he had finished the meal, he deposited the plate on the counter he had been told to and walked back upstairs, dodging a rat and the evil looking cat chasing after it. When he arrived upstairs he could already hear the indignant yelling of a boy and the reply, equally if not louder than the initial shout, from a girl. Not the young girl he had been talking to, or to put it correctly, the one that had been talking to him.
The rest of the night continued much the same as the day had, with him reading through the books he had been given and wishing he had brought some of his sand to the Alley. He managed to get a few hours sleep that first night before resuming his reading the second day; he became so engrossed in it that he skipped breakfast and lunch without realising.
When he finally emerged from his room and went to dinner, he spotted the family of red heads plus the brown haired girl, sitting at the largest table, except this time there was also a black haired boy wearing glasses sitting next to the brown haired girl and the youngest looking red-headed male.
Gaara tried to skirt around the table to avoid the noisy irritants, no matter how well-meaning they may have been. Gaara had been trying to become a warmer and kinder person since his fateful encounter with the blonde Hokage-wannabe in his world but he had already made a friend in Sirius and maybe even Lupin so he didn't see why he needed to socialize with these loud people too. Two friends were plenty.
As he was about to sit down at one of the smaller tables in the corner of the room, he was spotted by the mother, who shouted over to ask him to join them for dinner. He tried for a weak smile and a polite silent refusal but she wouldn't hear of it and insisted for him to sit with her family.
He immediately regretted not disappearing when he was assaulted by the woman's questions about his eating habits and how skinny he looked. He suffered through it for ten minutes before she moved on to the even skinnier black haired boy sitting directly across from him.
"Mum, who's he?" The young ginger boy asked with a little food still in his mouth.
"Ronald, don't speak with your mouth full!" She scolded; she seemed to do that a lot.
"So, what's your name? I'm Ron Weasley." He said after swallowing his food and offering his hand out to Gaara to shake. He reluctantly did so, but did not verbally reply. Fortunately, before a repeat of yesterday happened, the bushy brown haired girl spoke up.
"He can't speak Ron. We met him yesterday, remember?" She pointed out. Ron had indeed been there but had apparently been too engrossed in his conversation to notice the small altercation that had occurred.
Whilst he silently ate his food, Gaara couldn't help but take notice the glasses-wearing boy across from him. Something seemed to claw at his memory, other than Shukaku, something important that he should remember. He couldn't have met the boy before so why did he seem to ring a bell? His head snapped up in realisation. The glasses, the black hair, the slightly nerdy look and the almost hidden scar on the forehead. Sirius and Lupin had told him all about Sirius' godson, and their good friend James' son, Harry Potter, called the-boy-who-lived.
That night, Gaara's thoughts were drawn back to Sirius again; worry was at the forefront, closely followed by curiosity regarding the convict's recent activities, and the smallest was the constant resentment for the nickname that he had created for Gaara. The last thing he needed was people patronising him. It was almost as bad as Temari's behaviour towards him, doting on him and hugging him all the time (to 'belatedly socialise' him, apparently). It somehow made him reminisce fondly about his serial killer days when even she wouldn't hug him or pat him on the head and laugh about how short and cute her baby brother was. It had been a simpler time.
The next day was August 31st and the last day he would spend in the Leaky Cauldron. It went much the same as the days that had passed before, except at about six in the evening, there came a tapping, as if someone was gently rapping, rapping at his chamber door. The red-head stood and opened the door, hoping beyond hope it wasn't one of the Weasley party… or a raven. The Weasleys were nice enough, just kind of annoying in their informal and rambunctious ways.
To his relief, there stood Remus Lupin, looking much the same as he had when Gaara had last seen him, if a little paler and more sickly.
"Good morning Lily," He greeted cheerily, walking into the room, currently littered with open books and other items strewn out across the floor. Gaara wasn't a very tidy little ninja. "It's a bit messy in here," He stated, trying his best not to look the mute boy in the eyes for fear of his death glare.
"I thought I would stay here for tonight and then we'd go to the train station early tomorrow." He smiled. "So, have you been reading all of this time?" Lupin asked as he looked over some of the books scattered around the room.
Gaara nodded as he sat back down on the floor and picked up the book he had previously been reading, called 'History of Hogwarts' or something like that.
That night, the pair went down to eat later than usual as Lupin had been filling the tanuki boy in on Sirius' activities. Which had included and were pretty much limited to: eating, hunting, running, sleeping and the one oddity was his trip to see Harry, Sirius' godson, which had ultimately been unsuccessful as he had only gotten a glimpse of the boy before he was taken by the Knight Bus to where they were now. As they went down later, they managed to avoid the loud people that would undoubtedly have been eating there earlier.
That night, Gaara had been kicked out of his bed and had to sleep on the floor. He didn't complain; he couldn't, but he wouldn't have, as he could see how sick the man was, but he still pouted as he turned restlessly on the hard wooden floor. Fortunately he was used to worse but still, he pouted.
In the morning, the sleepy man was awoken by a shake of his shoulder and opened his eyes to see the blazing red of one of his best friend's wife's hair; still not fully awake he said, "Morning Lily, where's James?" It was a few seconds later that his eyes fully focussed and he saw the incredibly peeved teen standing above him. It was an unsettling sight. "Sorry, thought you were someone else," He laughed nervously as he sat up and started getting ready for the long day ahead and the even longer night that it promised.
Little did Lupin know, Gaara also hated full moons, as it was the night when Shukaku was at his strongest. He was able to fend off the demon and keep control of his mind these days but it still promised to be a long night.
After breakfast they left the Leaky Cauldron, Gaara carrying his trunk and other school supplies. They took a taxi to King's Cross Station. Gaara had ventured out into the crowded muggle streets of London just once in his time at the Leaky Cauldron and hadn't been tempted back out by the strange culture and advanced technology afterwards. There were far too many people out there.
The station was packed as always and Gaara even spotted some of the more obvious wizards and witches walking around, trying to board the train earlier so they could get a seat.
They walked to one of the barriers, dividing the platforms nine and ten. Lupin bent down and whispered into Gaara's ear, to avoid someone overhearing, "Follow me, and walk fast." As soon as he had finished speaking he had walked briskly towards the barrier and without even blinking he walked straight through it. No matter how much magic he saw, Gaara still wasn't used to it. Ninjutsu seemed so much more sensical. Gaara also didn't flinch as he passed through the barrier, through the proverbial Looking-Glass, and onto the hidden platform 9¾.
They secured an empty compartment on the train and sat opposite each other, next to the windows. Soon after sitting down Remus had fallen asleep, and Gaara wasn't far away. He tried to stay awake by watching the influx of students walking by his window but soon he too pulled a blanket out of his trunk and over himself and went to the peaceful realm of dreams (and demon screams).
Unbeknownst Professor Lupin or him, about half an hour after they started to slumber, three third year students entered into the compartment and sat down. They conversed quietly for a few hours under the onslaught of the heavy winds and rain until the train came to an abrupt halt. The chatty trio looked outside to see only the darkness and the rain, and the frost slowly covering their window.
Ghostly shadows drifted in the corridor of the train and one of them stopped by one of the dozens of compartment doors, sensing the delectable soul that lay within. It unlocked the door, sliding it out of the way. No matter what orders the dementor of Azkaban had been given, the feast within the compartment would be worth it. It floated into the cabin and reached out its hand towards, not Harry Potter, but the sleeping Sabaku no Gaara.
It reached forwards and just as its hand grazed the light covering the blanket provided…
A/N: There you are: Chapter One. I won't promise to update often or even to finish the story as I have a short attention span, but I will try to write more and maybe finish it one day.