Mission Hogwarts III
Grimmauld Place, London
Nix groaned as she heard banging on her door.
"PHOENIX POTTER! WAKE UP! You have been so lazy for the last few days! The least you could do is get out of bed before lunch!"
Nix rolled over, taking her pillow with her and using it to cover her ears. She buried her head into the mattress further, not even bothering to raise her voice to answer.
"PHOENIX! GET OUT OF BED NOW!"
"What is it with you and pulling me out of my sweet, sweet bed?" The teenager grumbled at the voice that was sounding quite threatening at that moment.
There was the sound of a scuffle in the hallway, and Nix settled back down with the hope that Ron would drag Hermione away.
Of course, she had no such luck.
"Alohomora" was her answer, along with the distinctive sound of her brilliant lock traitorously sliding open.
She heard footsteps and was forced to wrestle for her pillow. "Give that back 'Mione."
"Oh don't whine Nix, it's unbecoming." Hermione rebuked, throwing her beautiful pillow across the room so that she could only stare wistfully after it.
"I don't wanna."
"Get up Nix, now! You know Mrs Weasley said the shinobi will be here sometime after nine – and it's a quarter to now."
"I don't care."
"Well I don't care that you don't care – and you are getting up now!" Hermione proceeded to steal Nix's beautiful blanket.
"You suck." Nix grumbled, rubbed her eyes and blearily looked around the bare room.
Hermione scoffed, "And I'm sure I care so much. Now Get UP! They'll be here soon, and it's always a good idea to make a good first impression – we are going to be seeing them for the next year after all."
"Brownnoser" Nix muttered at her back with mock resentfulness. She knew Hermione heard because she gave Nix the finger as she shut the door.
Nix sighed once again to stall before reluctantly pulling herself off the bed. She'd had to suck up to Mrs Weasley and cook lunch for the Order to get herself a single room so that she could sleep in, but she may as well not have bothered with how Hermione persisted in ruining her beauty sleep.
She pulled out the ripped jeans she'd bought and a t-shirt, toeing into her sneakers (there was no way she'd walk around the Black House barefoot) and cheated hygiene with a few quick spells that got rid of any lingering smell, cleaned her teeth and made her raven black hair somewhat presentable (it was always a cross between shaggy and wavy, and it only reached a few centimetres past her shoulders with a side-fringe) and trudged out of the room after zipping her bag back up.
She'd learnt the spells out of necessity – travelling around as much as she did and not knowing if you'd be camping out or have access to proper facilities to take care of hygiene properly ensured that when she had discovered exactly what 'magic' did and the society behind it, those had been the very first things she'd looked into. Her bag was covered in patches that she'd bought on her travels and stitched on herself, and looked pretty normal – if you didn't open the zip that ran along the bottom, in which case you could access the part she'd enchanted with an undetectable expansion charm; making it as good as bottomless and perfect for holding all her worldly possessions.
There was no one on the stairs other than the spiders, and she smirked upon making the landing that held the front door, admiring the hot-pink lead paint that had weird muffled sounds coming from it. Nix thought it was a great colour for the old bitch… that it shut her up at the same time was only a bonus.
"Coffee" She announced upon entering the kitchen. She ignored the additions and half-stalked over to the coffee pot, glaring at Remus when he tried to talk to her. She snatched up the jug that had been covered in heating charms and poured the liquid into a mug that was not far from it. She threw in a sugar and picked it up, completely ignoring whatever Remus was droning on about.
She was vaguely aware of people moving out of her way as she walked over to a corner of the table, not even blinking upon seeing a dog that was half the size of a horse, and ungracefully dropped herself into an empty chair, leaning it back on two legs and kicking her feet up on the table (hey, it was a crappy table anyway…).
A hand pushed her feet off the table and she threw a disgruntled look at Ron who just so happened to be sitting in the chair next to her. Git.
She let the sound of voices lull into the background as she focused on steadily draining her coffee. It was almost finished when she caught the tail end of Remus' conversation; "…and she'll be joining us any second now. Sorry, it's just she insists that she can't operate before noon unless she has a cup of coffee and it's much safer to just agree and let her do it than steal the coffee and encounter her idea of revenge."
Nix scoffed and put the empty cup on the table very deliberately creating a loud noise before turning eerily green eyes on her honorary godfather and grumbling, "Shut up, I am right here ya know."
Nix didn't miss the incredibly amused expressions that everyone in the room sported (including the eight additions, one of which had pink hair) along with the few raised eyebrows. She rolled her eyes, leaning back in the chair and taking the time to properly scan the people.
The majority of them were around her age, seventeen, and she knew they were as aware as she was of the environment at all times. It was something you learned in the Hidden Countries and around ninja.
Two, a boy and girl, had white eyes that were the trademark of the Hyuuga's dojutsu, Byakugan. There were two boys with black hair and eyes but they obviously weren't related. Another two had spiky, wild hair and slightly animalistic features although once again they did not seem related – one had bright blonde hair, the other brown and she deduced from the tattoos that he was an Inuzuka which meant the dog was his. The last one that looked to be in her age group was the pink-haired girl, and the last of the whole group was an older man with silver hair, a mask and his Konoha headband covering his left eye – she had heard of him; Hatake Kakashi.
Nix raised an eyebrow at the Konoha shinobi – Albus had hired the best, at least going on what she had heard the last time she was around Hi no Kuni about the 'Copycat-nin'.
Remus coughed, "Would you introduce yourself to the shinobi, Nix?"
Nix smiled innocently and waved her hand once, "Heya! Name's Phoenix Potter, but you can call me Nix. It's nice to meet you and all that crap."
…Hey, Hermione shouldn't have dragged her out of bed if she wanted her to 'play nice' which, judging by her current expression, was exactly what she'd expected. Nix stuck her tongue out at the bushy-haired teen before falling back on the expression of innocence.
Remus also looked distinctly unimpressed, and she tossed him a cheeky wink. The silver-haired one stepped forward and said, "Yo. I'm Kakashi Hatake, blondie's Naruto Uzumaki, then Kiba Inuzuka and his companion Akamaru, Sakura Haruno, Hinata and Neji Hyuuga, Shikamaru Nara and Sasuke Uchiha." As he talked he pointed to each of them in turn. "We were hired by Dumbledore-san primarily to protect Hogwarts and Potter-san."
When he said that last bit everyone not a shinobi in the room froze. Nix swore that they all stopped breathing in that moment as their wide-eyes swung to her – they all had that 'deer-caught-in-headlights' thing down pat. Once the moment passed and they had all started breathing again (the shinobi just seemed confused) they all started backing away from her person, and quickly.
Nix snickered. "What? It's like you expect me to blow up or something."
At 'blow up', everyone not a shinobi in the room cringed. Nix bit the inside of her lip to restrain full-out laughter.
"Phoenix" Remus said carefully, "Are you ok with Dumbledore hiring… guards for you?" He said 'guards' in a small voice, as if by saying it quietly he could hold off whatever anger may have been incited by this revelation. It was probably very fortunate for them that this wasn't the way she had found out about Albie's other motive for hiring shinobi.
Nix, on her part, immensely enjoyed their complete terror at the idea of inciting her wrath. She leaned back and picked at her nails casually, "I wouldn't worry, Moony. I have a feeling that Albie has had an… explosive morning."
For some reason, this just seemed to make her friends more nervous.
Nix raised an eyebrow, "What? It's not like it wasn't something hard to work out. Honestly (eye role) you people always think the worst of me." She shook her head for affect, and just managed not to break into evil cackles of glee.
Of course, her use of the word 'explosive' seemed to have made an impact on the shinobi in the room (they were really way too tense) but at this point Hermione broke in with her extremely disapproving voice – the one she used when she felt Nix was crossing a line (which admittedly happened more often than one would think), "Phoenix Lily Potter! Just what did you do to Professor Dumbledore? He better be ok!"
It was at this point that a walking… something entered the room. It took everyone a moment to blink and adjust to actually connect this man with Albus Dumbledore. It looked like a paint shop had exploded on him – his skin was a tie-dyed mixture of purples and pinks, his normally pristine white hair was now zigzagged with neon orange and bottle green, and his clothes seemed to be emulating a rainbow. Some of the people in the room literally had to shade their eyes from the colour glare coming off the quite annoyed looking man.
The blonde and brown haired shinobi burst into fits of laughter, and Nix decided that she liked them. Ron, Bill and Tonks were doubled over in laughter, and Nix was overjoyed to see that even Hermione seemed to find amusement from her revenge.
"Morning Albie!" Nix called cajolingly at the old man.
Albus Dumbledore, renown for his rather eccentric taste in fashion sense, pursed his lips at the young woman that he knew was somehow responsible for his current predicament. "Good Morning, Phoenix. I don't suppose you would have any idea how I managed to trigger some kind of explosion in my office today, would you?"
"Moi? Je n'ai aucune idée!"1
Dumbledore pinned his student with a flat stare. Most of the others were still laughing, although quietly enough that they could hear the conversation.
Nix huffed and affected a hurt look and bringing her hands up to cover her heart, "You wound me deeply with your astounding lack of faith, Prof. D! I haven't even left Grimmauld – after all, your people would surely know if they misplaced one of the people they are supposed to keep an eye on, right?" And if that bit was oozing sarcasm, who could really blame her (not that she didn't use that to her favour however) "As such, I can state in complete and utter innocence that I have no idea why you are a walking rainbow today." She nodded at her own statement, affecting her perfected 'I-didn't-do-anything-why-do-you-think-I-did-something' look.
This, of course, had no impact on her esteemed and brightly coloured headmaster. "How do I get rid of it?"
"O-ho-ho asking a student for their help, hey old man? Feeling a little blue? How am I supposed to know how to fix," she flourished her arms at the explosion of colour, "that?"
Dumbledore favoured her with a frown. "Miss Potter, I do believe that hiring a guard for the coming school year is in your best interest, but with the event that we will be holding, the school is at the same priority level for me – I only assigned you guards because you have a rather bad habit of being in the thick of things."
Nix raised an eyebrow, leaning forward and pinning Albus with a stare of her own; "What does that have to do with anything, Headmaster?"
Albus wasn't about to voice his belief that he was the target for this prank because of the guards that he had posted upon her, and he knew that she would not admit being behind anything – just as clearly as he knew she would never confront him about the additional guards because she saw the need for them… or at least he hoped she did.
Albus turned to the shinobi present, which looked distinctly unsure of what they should be doing in this situation. Albus smiled at them, "I am very grateful you have decided to accept this mission. I invite you all to get settled in, and do not hesitate to ask any questions about our world – I am sure that anyone in this house would be gracious enough to give you the answer." He eyed Nix subtly, just a little wary of some other kind of retaliation and half-wondering how she had managed to discover the guarding mission to get a trap set up prior to their arrival.
Albus nodded to everyone and said, "Well, I am afraid I must leave you here – I have much work ahead of me."
Albus turned to walk out of the room, but just as he crossed the door, he was forced to pause as Phoenix shouted after him, "I may not know who did it and how, but you can bet that'll probably last a month or so!"
Albus Dumbledore sighed, shaking his green and orange hair and continuing his rather ruined exit. Just why did Phoenix have to inherit the knack for pranking from her father?
In the kitchen, everyone was giving Nix a flat stare that oozed 'you-are-fooling-no-one', but she just offered up a sunny smile and stood up, stretching her back and arms; "Well, I don't know 'bout you guys, but someone" here she stared reproachfully at Hermione, "woke me up at an ungodly hour, so I'm gonna catch some more sleep. Disturb me on pain of intense embarrassment!" She gave them a wave and slunk out of the room, studiously ignoring the stares of the shinobi and her fellow wizards on her back.
She was beginning to think her animagus transformation was more trouble than it was worth, with how long it was taking to assimilate.
12 Grimmauld place- shinobi gathering, noon
The Konoha shinobi were gathering an hour later in one of the bedrooms that had been assigned to them to discuss their thoughts and observations
"Well, these people seem to be about as sane as the average Konoha shinobi."
"Is that supposed to be reassuring, Sakura?" Naruto asked, a little confused.
Sakura rolled her eyes and was about to retort when Shikamaru's voice cut in, "Did you notice it?"
There were a few confused expressions at the Nara's out of the blue question, but Neji seemed to understand what he was hinting at as he nodded, "Hai. I found it strange as well."
"Ok, I talk for all the confused people in this room when I ask – what the hell?"
"Naruto, Shikamaru is referring to Potter-san." Kakashi drawled, reading his porn as always.
Naruto rolled his eyes, "So what, she's hot? I really don't get what you're talking about…"
Sakura slapped the back of his head and growled, "Baka! This is a mission, you can't check out the clients!"
Naruto and Kiba traded smirks behind the pinkette's head.
Shikamaru rolled his eyes and leant back on the wall, "Tch, what I was referring to was how aware she was of the environment."
That pulled up the few still confused shinobi, and they became more focused on the lazy genius. Shikamaru sighed again and elaborated, "She was too aware for a regular civilian, especially when compared to the others – it almost reminds me of a trained shinobi."
Neji deemed it fit to add his observations, "She was far more relaxed than the others, and showed no surprise or curiosity at our comparatively strange appearance – she was also the only one not wearing robes as I gather is the norm in their society… even the males in the room wore robes."
Naruto rolled his eyes, "That was easy to see – but did you see their reactions to when Kashi' mentioned the guarding part of our mission? They all expected her to blow up, which indicates a formidable temper, not to mention that they did not inform her of the decision prior to our arrival… even if she apparently pulled off that (awesome) prank on Albus-san." Naruto smirked in remembrance, his blue eyes gaining a dreamy look as he muttered, "I really gotta find out what she used to do that…"
The other shinobi groaned. As far as they were concerned, it would be much better if their charge and Naruto were not given time to trade pranking tips… they liked Konoha as it was, and they weren't so sure their eyes could survive if it got coloured the same way Albus had.
"Ano… there was another thing that may be important. Her movements were most similar to a trained fighter – her gait was almost like the slinking of a cat's, even when she was focused on getting coffee." Hinata had gotten over the bulk of her shyness, really, but when a group of people focused their attention on her she seemed to revert a little.
This brought silence as their minds went over her graceful lope and they compared it to a cat, and then a trained fighter; "It is possible that she has had some training in martial arts – which would make sense if she has been targeted her whole life." Shikamaru drawled, his mind gathering all their observations and compiling them, building a picture up of the one they had been hired to protect.
Naruto leant back and smirked, "Did you guys notice the last strange thing about her?"
This time Kiba and Kakashi seemed the only two to know the answer to that question, and Naruto seemed smug, "She didn't just walk like a cat – her scent was similar to a cat, although a big one… I'm not sure what that means exactly, but I do know the only other one that smelt like an animal was Lupin, and it was a wolf."
Neji raised an eyebrow at this, but he knew better than to question their enhanced sense of smell – especially that of an Inuzuka.
Kakashi deemed it necessary to look up from his book as he said, "She was also the only one that was disguising her magic – it felt like high jounin level, but there were fluctuations consistent with consciously suppressing it. The others – Lupin, Granger, and the Weasley's levels ranged from low to mid jounin, and they definitely weren't blocking anything. The other thing was her magic seemed… closer to the surface than the others."
Neji, who had activated his Byakugan, was silent for a moment as he examined their host's chakra pathways. His jaw dropped a little and a slight chocking sound ensured that his fellow shinobi were focused on him. "Neji-niisan, what is it?" Hinata asked, activating her Byakugan in turn to see what it was that had surprised him.
"Her… chakra network… it's incredibly strange." He managed to get out, searching for a way to put what he was seeing into words.
"Well, come on! What is it?" Naruto asked impatiently.
Neji nodded, the veins around his eyes still activated, "First of all, she almost has larger coils than Naruto."
This of course merited absolutely disbelieving stares. It seemed out of the realm of possibility – a chakra network as large as Naruto, the vessel for Kyuubi no Kitsune?
"Fukanou" Hinata breathed, apparently seeing what Neji had.2
"That's not the most surprising thing, however." Neji continued, not acknowledging their gobsmacked expressions at that declaration, "When compared to the networks of the other wizards, that she has much of a chakra network at all becomes even more impossible to believe. The others only have the chakra points on their chests activated, and the coils on their arms are extremely thin, which is why they use those 'wands' as conductors for magic. The only one that comes close to having a working network is Lupin-san, and his is barely passable for a genin. The points that are open, however, do allow for the use and building of their magic… it's just more that their magic stays in one place while hers could be mistaken for chakra if not for the speed and pattern at which it runs through her body."
It took a moment for the shinobi to process this, and Sasuke finally spoke up from his silent spot behind Sakura, "It seems as though there is more to Phoenix-san than Dumbledore-san hinted at. Perhaps he does not know, but you would think that he would keep a close eye on her."
"If she is more competent than he knew, then it can only work in our favour" Naruto pointed out loudly "after all, it should mean we won't have to babysit her and worry that she will get herself killed straight away in confrontations." It would only benefit them if the one they were tasked to guard was a bit more durable than average.
"We'll sit on it – no need to inform Dumbledore-san of our suspicions, especially since the one they depend upon to destroy their enemies has a better fighting chance. If he doesn't know, no where in our contract does it state we are spying on her for him… don't let on to Phoenix-san for now, it would benefit us to gain her trust." Kakashi said in a voice that brooked no argument… not that they were particularly inclined to do so, considering all options.
"Well at least we won't be bored." Naruto put in, feeling somewhat curious as to getting to know the subject of their mission.
1. "Moi? Je n'ai aucune idée!" = Me? I have no clue! (French)
2. "Fukanou" = Impossible (Japanese)
And that's it. Juvenile, I'm aware.