Disclaimer: Naruto is the work of mangaka Masashi Kishimoto, Harry Potter is the work of author J.K. Rowling. The author makes no claim to ownership of the aforementioned works and no profit from this fanfiction.
Of Funerals, Nightmares and Muzzled Dogs
The funeral was held on a warm summer's day, the air carried strains of birdsong and reed grass seedlings floated overhead. It was a quiet affair, held by the clans involved. The only outsiders in attendance were the Hokage and Chun Chu now fully retired and working at her family's smithy. There was no memorial for a battle that didn't officially happen. Mist still needed time to stabilize so secrecy was the status quo even though the other great villages; Suna, Kumo and Iwa most definitely knew that something had happened.
If anyone believed the Aburame to be unexpressive, they would be wrong as nothing could be further from the truth. The same could be said of the Yamanaka. Informing the parents of his former teammates that their children were dead was mentally taxing to put things lightly. In both cases the stoic forms paying their respects next to him had unabashedly broken down in tears at the news.
Unfortunately his men had only been able to recover Shigure's remains of the two, what little there was left, and that was only due to Fukurou himself returning to the battlefield to personally assist them, having gained assistants of his own.
The remnants of Shigure's colony had sought him out and for a moment he had dared hope that against all odds...
The clay pot bearing her ashes and another container crawling with a pair of young, badly stressed queens and a handful of survivors of the Aburame kunoichi's hive were presented to the family. His knowledge of their customs paid off in that while Shigure's parents had been hit just as hard as Hiko's by their loss, theirs was also a bittersweet moment. The special breed of camouflaged assassin Kikai Mushi that Shigure nurtured was adopted by the girl's parents, thus allowing them to keep some last part of their daughter alive.
The time for grieving had come and gone. The shinobi now paid their respects to the fallen, the acknowledged fallen that is…
There were a few more names on the Hero's Memorial and a handful of quiet but public funerals. In utter secrecy Ne members gathered. It wasn't a full accounting but enough for the task at hand. A line of coffins for a funeral attended by only those faceless shadows who would one day take the place of the deceased that lay before them. The count was thirty-one dead, including the one platoon on the ship that had been destroyed by the Sanbi. The rest had perished in either that same battle or in the preceding acts of guerrilla warfare. He'd need to designate another Sharingan-Bearer soon but that could all wait.
Finally, Chun Chu turned to him, after the others had left. She smiled softly and kissed his cheek like he was a kid again. By this point she was the only one other than his kids or their mothers who could get away with doing that. He met her eyes as she sized him up.
"Looks like it's just us then…" She said. The word 'Remaining' went unsaid but settled heavily about them.
More quietly now, she whispered her question, "Will you be all right?"
His sharp eyes picked out their names on the memorial stone even as the days shadows grew long and the air heavy with the promise of summer. "I kept hoping that this was all a bad dream." He told her, "That I'm in an illusion that's going to break any second." Ridiculous of course, the Sanbi's mist had only affected him due to the biochemical aspect to it, and he'd defeated even that.
He watched how the evening light filtered through the trees, the motion of the leaves, the pattern on a slowly fluttering of a butterfly's wings… a kilometer and a half away… And he started at the realization that the surge of emotion within him had activated his sharingan against his will. Reigning himself in he closed his eyes and from a distant memory found his answer.
"It does one no good to dwell on dreams and forget to live." He told her, his green eyes staring into her own. He let her take his measure and once again he received that peculiar smile she first gave him as a gennin. It seemed that they still thought alike. With a promise to keep in touch, they parted.
This meeting could have been better scheduled but it was important. The fact that Baku or, Hyuuga Hizashi had been a double agent for the Hokage was expected, as was the Honorable Advisors' current ploy.
"I command Ne." He spoke in a tone that brooked no opposition and held not even a hint of hesitation or weakness.
"You answer to the Hokage!" Koharu replied evenly in a tone that held a hint of... accusation.
He ignored her and the other one, Homura, choosing only to acknowledge the man directly across from him and the one to the left, "What you request of me is impossible as currently worded."
Well, there was little wonder as to why they were trying this or who had put this farce in motion given its execution. They wanted to replace him as commander of Ne. Originally perhaps the advisors had hoped for another rendition of the old status quo. The Uchiha runs the white elephant that was the Konoha Police Force and their opponents in the regime neuter them politically behind the scenes. Honored but not trusted. Held closely but watched equally as closely.
Then he went and built himself an army.
He panned his eyes over the two in the corner. He did it so quickly that to another it would have seemed an involuntary twitch. The brief look was more than enough for his eyes. They were hiding it well but he could tell the Advisors were nervous. Unfortunately neither of the two had enough in common with him for even the briefest of legilimency probes and using the sharingan in this office under the current conditions was asking for a fight. So he was left with the impression that there was something about this situation that had them extremely nervous in his presence but no idea as to why.
Returning his attention to the Hokage he shoved the puzzle into the back of his mind. "I can," He stressed, "Transfer the requested personnel to Jounin Nara Shikaku's command. I can make available the relevant files relating to these individuals and their mission histories."
That added up to a little less than three hundred shinobi of chunin to jounin level ability minus the Jūninriki. It was the entirety of the force that Baku had compromised to the Hokage.
On Fukurou's own command…
"I can offer the training and materials to make up for the apparent gap in skill between the current crop of ANBU and my own operators. As a loyal shinobi of Konoha I can do this and more…"
The hag interrupted him but he talked over her. "I can do this because I command Ne."
The jounin, Shikaku seemed to get what he was saying and the Hokage too. The Advisers seemed bent on mulishly continuing the argument but that was all right as anything further from them was inconsequential. Fukurou's personal goal concerning the Koharu and Homura had been to defang them, muzzle them as quietly and securely as they'd muzzled the Uchiha over the years. Seeking blood would have been foolish, killing Danzo had been necessary but anything further than that would have only backfired on Fukurou and his kin.
So instead he and Mikoto had chosen the slow poison as it were. Diversifying the family in civilian business and land ownership as a way to gain political power, taking command of Ne and turning it into a vital commodity that Konoha couldn't afford to alienate, all so that the Uchiha could weather the type of backroom backstabbing maneuvers that had laid them low in the past.
And if they threatened his children… well, putting down a rabid dog was just a matter of course.
The meeting ended with the Hokage quite happy to leave him in charge of Root 'farming' a crop of adept agents for Konoha's service. The three hundred or so operators involved in the trade wouldn't be adversely affected. They were Danzo's second to last crop of brainwashed kids, ones like Kana and Kensei; and the diehard fanatics like Fuu and Torune. Of course he was holding onto those and the Jūninriki. Fanatics were useful after all. The rest of the mal-adjusted child soldiers were now the Hokage's problem, their conditioning had already been tested against the best interrogators the Yamanaka had to offer. He could confidently say that they would die before betraying any secret that he didn't specifically order them to.
That left him with a force of about nine hundred strong, not counting the training cadre. As he left the building Fukurou idly wondered what the Advisors' faces would look like if they knew…
"My father and grandfather died in battle as ninja. Self-sacrifice is a ninja's duty."
He remembers faintly the tail end of an era of never-ending war. Family and friends lost to internecine warfare between rival clans in a conflict spanning all the known lands. Alliances were fleeting, not worth the paper they set down upon, lasting only as long as the next advantage and ending inevitably in betrayal…
"Emotions lead one to hate… and hate leads one to conflict and war…"
He remembers tales of family lost, of the bitter desire for revenge held tightly to one's chest. The pure hopelessness of a life where peace seems but a myth, a pleasant lie or daydream made up so as lend comfort to the ill and the dying. To be a shinobi, he then is taught, is to divest oneself of petty hatreds and grievances. One's allies might have at one time been a deeply loathed enemy. The past must remain the past while the present belongs to the living. Countless were the alliances ruined by the inability of just one vengeful person being unable to grasp this simple truth.
"To be a shinobi is to sacrifice one-self, closing your eyes to the sunlight, distinguishing yourself in the shadows. That is the true form of ninja."
In this way is Shimura Danzō molded. The meaning of his very name revealed the deeply held beliefs of his forebears, For the Village, indeed.
That there might be peace, he believes, one must let go of their emotions. Love is held for the village, future generations being the duty of every shinobi to provide for the sake of continued strength. Base lusts must be tempered or shorn away. It is for this reason he so disdains Jiraiya and Tsunade, even going so far as to use them as cautionary tales.
"Look at them, for all that they were and could have been, laid low by their innate weaknesses. Lust of the Fool, Love of the Drunkard."
It is reason that Danzo champions, logic. To attain true peace there must be order. The maintenance of order is best accomplished by a unified military and political rule. The vehicle chosen to accomplish this goal is Konoha, the means by which his forebears grasped peace from the chaos of war. Thus it follows that by spreading and establishing the influence of Konoha as a military and political entity, peace and true lasting order can be maintained.
The current system of government is unstable. A foolish Daimyo or master of even the merest country or ninja village could quite easily trigger a chain of escalating conflicts as the Shinobi Secret World Wars proved. The system as it exists is at best a means of limiting the spread of chaos while the countries all selfishly jostle for power. He believes that it can only end in one of two ways logic dictates. The state of chaos and unending conflict that existed before, an outcome that he would sacrifice himself and his followers a thousand times over to prevent. Or it could end in the other outcome, with one of the vying nations attaining compete military dominance over the others. Logically, this would be a progression of the idea of creating Konoha and the goal of Root is to ensure that such a situation ends in Konoha's favor.
No matter how many corpses and fallen nations pave that path.
This is Danzo's past. It is the world that molded him into what he became, the Darkness of Shinobi.
Through another night of tortured sleep for Fukurou, in the world that was a womb and the womb that was a world…
A King sat in Judgment, examining his chosen instrument.
The Sword must be tempered.
AN: I've been rather too busy to write or post hence the hiatus. I do have more planned for this story though. You should really thank the people who PM'd me asking about it for this chapter.