Disclaimer: I neither own nor make a profit from Naruto or Harry Potter
Rating: T-the rating may go up to M.
Summary: After Fifth Year ends, Hermione agrees to go on family vacation with Luna. Although how it changed from searching for imaginary creatures to attending some strange tournament Hermione doesn't know. Or, Kakashi and a foreign civilian do something very stupid while inebriated.
Author's Note: I honestly had no intention of putting this up anytime soon. However, thanks to Hurricane Irene I've decided why not? As the Hurricane may or may not strike Long Island with its full power and I've been called for Grand Jury duty in mid-September, I think it'll be a while before I manage to get anything out. Admittedly, I'm more worried about the hurricane than about Jury Duty-hey, I have no objection to doing my civic duty and getting paid for it. And yes, Jury Duty deserves capitol letters, if only because of how many people try to avoid it. I'm more concerned about this whole Grand Jury thing and whether I'll be stuck doing it for a month or more or if I'll get out of it in one day even though I'm not actually trying to get out of it.
"I've never seen runes used like that," said Hermione as she stared at the scroll Xenophilius Lovegood held.
"Most don't," said Xenophilius. "It's nearly a lost art to use runes for anything other than wards among the Wizarding. I could teach you how to do it if you want."
"I-yes. Please. Thank you, Mr. Lovegood."
"It's no problem. You're one of my little pumpkin's friends after all."
Hermione smiled at the man sitting across from her at the table. The Hogwarts Express had delivered the students back to London the day before. At first the sixteen year old had been slightly hesitant to take Luna's offer, but after all that had happened at the Department of Mysteries, Hermione had decided to agree to go on the Lovegood family vacation with them.
Even though Hermione thought Luna incredibly strange at times and Luna might think Hermione far too logical, they'd gotten along relatively well since they'd first met. Hermione had been searching desperately for information on what could be in the Chamber of Secrets and Luna had been hiding in the library searching for evidence of the magical creatures which often appeared in the Quibbler. An argument later the duo had been a bit more than acquaintances and a bit less than friends. Their relationship had not changed all that much in the three and a half years since.
"This is a storage rune array," explained Mr. Lovegood. He drew several symbols on a piece of paper. "Luna said you just took your OWLs in Ancient Runes and Arithmancy. Take a look and analyze it."
Hermione did as ordered, muttering the entire time. Nearly ten minutes later, she pulled a blank piece of paper over and began to do frantic arithmantic equations while Mr. Lovegood looked on approvingly. Luna even looked up from whatever she was painting to watch, a reaction not even Hermione and Mr. Lovgood's epic game of Uno earlier that evening could not elicit.
"It's a spell in rune form," announced Hermione.
Mr. Lovegood smiled. "Very good, Hermione. Runic magic is essentially written magic. It was the main form of using magic until the Ollivander family discovered how to scale staves down into wands twenty five hundred years ago. Staves were really just too large, heavy, obviously magical, and expensive for most witches and wizards to consider using. Runes, on the other hand, can be drawn with just about any substance on any relatively stable surface."
"It is amazing, isn't it? Many of the spells we use today started out as rune arrays. And it's a good thing to know, should you ever be in a situation where you have to defend yourself without a wand."
"Why don't they teach us this sort of thing in class?"
"Honestly?" asked Mr. Lovegood. "Because while it's a useful skill to have, it's also very dangerous if even the slightest mistake or miscalculation is made. It's one of the first things many people learn during apprenticeships-once they're old enough to use runes responsibly. Curse Breakers and Ward Crafters in particular."
"Oh." Hermione looked down. "I don't suppose… Mr. Lovegood, would you be willing to teach me how to use runes?"
"Of course. In this political climate, every witch and wizard should know how to defend themselves without wands. I'm not sure how much I'll be able to teach you during the summer, but I'll try to ensure you know the basics by the time you head back to school. Luna could continue your lessons back at school if you're both willing."
"Thank you so much."
"Alright, go get your trunk. I'll show you how to pack everything into storage scrolls before you go to bed tonight. Don't forget, we have an early morning."
Hermione bit her lip, and then looked at the mirror. She was unsure about her clothing. She had little in the way of informal Wizarding clothing-most of her clothing was either more formal robes or "hippie chic" clothing which could pass for either normal Wizarding or Muggle clothing-but since Luna was dressed in such, Hermione could only assume she should do the same. At the moment she wore only a full, long sleeved chemise, gathered at the elbows. She loosened the laces at the wrists so that they became bell sleeved.
"Are we going directly to Sweden?" asked Hermione.
"No." Luna passed some clothing to Hermione. "We're not going to Sweden at all. I only said that to ensure that should anybody find out that we're going on vacation, they won't have the first idea of where to look for us. This is more appropriate for the weather and culture."
Hermione could only think she should have expected something like this. She pulled the soft gray sleeveless dress on over her chemise. "So where are we going?"
"Daddy is going to go do some jobs-he works as a Ward Crafter. So we'll be sending the summer with my cousin. And there's going to be some sort of tournament which Daddy got us tickets for. And a festival or two. It should be quite fun."
"What sort of tournament is it?" asked Hermione.
She fastened the pale cream vest about her, pulling the laces tight. She folded a large sky blue scarf with yellow flowers in half into a triangle and tied the long side about her and knotted it so that it hung at her hips. The long tip of the triangle was on her right side, its length reaching just past her knee.
"It's some sort of military thing. I'm not really sure about the specifics, other than only ninja enter."
"Oh yes. Ninja."
"I-" Hermione fought the urge to say something perhaps unwise. "Alright."
She pulled on a pair of hiking boots and the put the clothing she'd chosen not to wear into her backpack, effectively hiding the storage scrolls containing the rest of her possessions. Hermione slipped her wand into the wand holster hidden under the vest on the left side. Then she grabbed the backpack.
"I'm ready whenever you and your father are."
"Good. We should head downstairs. Daddy should have the portkeys ready by now."
"Portkeys?" Hermione followed Luna down the stairs.
"We're going to take a portkey to Kyoto, Japan," Mr. Lovegood called out from the kitchen. "From there we take a train into the mountains. Then we have to take a very specific mountain pass to get to what would loosely be translated as the elemental countries. From there, we'll take another portkey which will take us to a nice little cave about a half mile from our destination."
"I'll explain if further once we're on the path through the pass."
Hermione had taken careful note of which stop they'd gotten off the train at and each road they'd taken. She might not have an eidetic memory, but once she chose to memorize something, it was rarely, if ever forgotten. It was not that Hermione did not trust Luna and her father, but rather that she preferred to be prepared for worst case scenarios.
Next they took a bus up into a small little grouping of houses which could not quite be called a town halfway up a mountain. Once there, the trio walked went to lunch at what seemed to be the only restaurant in the village.
After lunch, the trio set out up the mountain. They walked along paths and then trails and then what could only be game trails, until Hermione began to wonder if Mr. Lovegood really knew where he was going. And then they came upon a narrow road-no more than two meters in diameter-carved out of the mountain.
"This is it," announced Mr. Lovegood. "I first found this trail in 1967, when I decided to tour the world after graduating from Hogwarts. Come along girls. If we move at a good pace, we can reach the end before nightfall."
Less than ten minutes later, the curiosity got the better of Hermione. "What are the elemental countries?"
"They're the five main countries on the continent this trail leads to." Mr. Lovegood paused, as if considering what to say. "There are many worlds other than our own. This trail leads to one of them. Most of our kind, however, are just not open enough to possibilities to find these paths."
Mr. Lovegood pulled two small wood pendants from a pocket. "One for each of you. These are just in case you run into any danger you can't get yourself out of without revealing you're a witch. The back-the large flat side is an emergency portkey which will take you to one of three places-the end of this trail, the hospital in the village we're going to, and if you've no other choice, one of the main guard houses. The samurai tend to congregate there, I suppose you could say. If you need help, you can always find it there. Press a little blood to it and either think of which you want, or allow the pendant to pick the most appropriate. The bottom front is a combined disillusionment-silencer and the top front is a very strong notice-me-not. The middle front is a distress signal which will alert me and allow me to track you down. Only use it if you're in true danger. To activate any of them, once again, use a drop of blood."
"Thank you Daddy."
"I-thank you," Hermione took the offered pendant.
It was like an oval had been cut in half. Obviously the flat back covered in runes was the portkey. The front was divided into thirds with rune arrays on each section. She hung it about her neck by the leather cord and slipped it under her chemise and undershirt.
The path had to be nearly ten miles long. This distance was not helped by the sheer drop on one side or Luna's enthusiastic skipping.
"So why," Hermione asked, once the end of the trail was in sight. "Did you give us these pendants, if you don't mind me asking?"
"Japan is relatively safe whether you're among the Muggle or Wizarding sectors. The elemental countries are very dangerous, and in the areas between countries and around trade routes they're full of criminals, bandits and the like. Not to mention rouge ninja and samurai. It just wouldn't be safe me to take you girls through these countries without an armed escort. Not to mention that this particular path leads into a country which has been going through a civil war for the better part of the past two decades. So instead we'll head directly to just outside the castle you two will be spending the summer at. My nephew is one of the Daimyo's guards."
"Daimyo?" said Hermione. "You mean a local lord."
"More like emperor of Hi no Kuni, or the Land of Fire. You two should avoid the nobility and the samurai-there is protection in being the daughter or the kinswoman of a master of runes, or a fuinjutsu master as they call me, and in being kin to an accomplished shinobi such as my nephew, but there are some who will ignore that."
"Oh." It was still, Hermione supposed, safer than Hogwarts. There were generally only two or three Muggleborn girls per year and there were some pureblood students who purposefully sought them out to harm them. She could take care of herself, but others were not so capable.
"Ah, that reminds me. Now girls, I'm going to teach you a seal. Why don't we sit down and take a break while I show you."
The small group sat down, dangling their legs over the edge of the path, Mr. Lovegood between Hermione and Luna. He pulled out a piece of parchment and a pencil. Carefully, he drew a circle within a circle. Mr. Lovegood drew seven symbols within the inner circle. Then he drew a scrawling, repeating pattern of three symbols in the space between the inner and outer circle. Outside of the circles, Mr. Lovegood sketched one symbol five times, each an equal distance from the other.
"Can either of you identify what this is meant to do?"
"The outer two rows are a glamour," Hermione announced after several minutes of thought and mental calculations. "An illusion to cover something up."
"Correct, Hermione. It's a glamour to hide the seal by making it indistinguishable from whatever it is applied to. Luna, do you know what's in the inner circle?"
"I'm not sure. I know those symbols put together mean language, but I don't know what the other five would mean. Something to do with the mind-other people's minds…"
"Very good. Most wouldn't even understand that much. Legilimency is not that well know. It's a legilimency based translation charm. It does not truly translate, but rather allows the person it is applied to to learn a foreign language including grammar at an astronomical speed just by listening to people speak it and to read the language in a similar manner. By adding this rune," Mr. Lovegood wrote a single symbol in the center of the array. "I have attuned the array to one specific language: Japanese." He erased the symbol for Japanese. "Personally, I would suggest not specifying which language so that you can learn any language you're exposed to. It could be useful later on in life.
"Within about two days of application of the seal, you should be as fluent as a ten year old child. Within seven days of application of the seal, you should be almost as fluent as native speakers of a similar age to you. I'd suggest spending time in busy places-like markets until relatively fluent. It will expose you to a wider vocabulary."
"How long does the seal last?" asked Hermione. "And I'll go with the non-specific."
"This one? Until somebody removes it or until death. As it is meant to be applied directly to a person's skin, it recharges itself with a minute amount of the person's energy about once a year."
"You know how much it takes to activate a broom's charms? About an eighth of that." Mr. Lovegood put away the pencil and handed the parchment to Luna before pulling out a small brush and an inkwell. "Roll up your sleeve, Luna. Now, I'm going to apply the seal to both of you."
Less than ten minutes later, the seal had been applied to both Hermione and Luna. Once the seals were completed, Mr. Lovegood began to speak to them in Japanese only, teaching the girls as many new words as possible before their arrival. Apparently Mr. Lovegood was more than passingly familiar with Japanese, which, Hermione supposed made sense. After all, they were going to visit his nephew. Although she could not help but wonder how Luna did not know the language. Perhaps she had not visited the elemental countries before.
By the time they reached the end of the trail, Hermione and Luna had been exposed to enough Japanese that they would be able to hold a basic conversation if need be. From what Hermione managed to gather, the seal worked by analyzing and translating the words when used in proper context.
The only major unanswered question Hermione had about the seal was precisely how the rune attuning it to Japanese worked. Languages were ever changing and evolving things. Surely it would be impossible to categorize a language with a single rune. But Hermione decided to hold her silence and concentrate on learning Japanese. Surely she would have the time to ask Mr. Lovegood about it later.
Once they reached the end of the trail, Mr. Lovegood took them to the spot the emergency portkey would drop them off at, so that they would know where the trail was in relation to the landing point. That done, he portkeyed them across the continent and into a rather large cave system.
Though Hermione felt the urge to explore, she chose to follow Luna and Mr. Lovegood out of the cave system, making a mental note to return at a later time if possible. She loved nature in all its forms. She and her mother had often gone on walks in local parks together.
There was no path that Mr. Lovegood followed. Rather, he looked at the setting sun to get his bearings before leading them though the thick forest.
A little less than ten minutes later they left the forest and stepped into a clearing. Hermione could not help but blink in surprise at the sight of what had to be six or seven story walls. Walls which she had not even known were there until after she'd left the forest. They were about twenty feet from a small gate. Perhaps a side gate. Just above the walls she could see the upper stories of what seemed to be a traditional Japanese castle-at least from what she could remember of her Muggle history class.
Two men in armor stood before the small gate. Not samurai-the armor didn't look right-but perhaps foot soldiers of some sort. Her clothing and Luna's was, Hermione noted, of far, far better quality than the foot soldiers'.
Hermione and Luna hung back slightly as Mr. Lovegood approached the guards. He gave a short bow which was little more than an inclination of his head. "Good evening," said Mr. Lovegood. "I am fuinjutsu master Xenophilius Lovegood, this is my daughter, Luna Lovegood and our cousin, Hermione Granger. We are here to visit with my sister's son, Chiriku, of the Guardian Shinobi Twelve for the summer."
"Your pass please," said the guard to the left with a sword by his side and a spear in hand.
"Our pass," said Mr. Lovegood, handing over a scroll.
The guard looked the pass over, in detail, judging by how long he spent looking at it. The guard pulled a clip board out of the guardhouse and flipped through it. He then handed the scroll back to Mr. Lovegood. "You may enter, Lovegood-sama."
The gate opened to reveal a hall leading to a bustling courtyard. The guard flagged down an elderly woman what Hermione assumed was a relatively simple kimono. The guard quickly explained who they were to the woman, who led them through the hall and the courtyard and into one of the buildings connected to the castle. Once they entered the building, another woman greeted them. Yuki, according to their first guide, was in charge of the servants of the samurai and shinobi barracks. It seemed that the normal soldiers were housed on the other side of the castle.
"The shinobi and their families are housed in the south wing of the barracks, the samurai and their families in the north wing. Visiting shinobi and samurai are housed between," explained Yuki. She led them up an outer staircase and up to the second floor where a railed platform wrapped around the building. "As a member of the Guardian Shinobi Twelve, Chiriku-sama is afforded a family suite. Unless there is an objection, he has arranged for the young ladies to stay in his guest room and you to share a room with him."
"Of course not. I've no problem sharing with the boy."
"Dinner ended half an hour ago. Chiriku-sama anticipated your late arrival and requested dinner to be served when he returns from his duties this evening," continued Yuki, seemingly satisfied by his words. "Chiriku-sama is on duty for another hour. It will be served in the sitting room. Here we are."
Yuki slid open the rice paper door and showed them into a simple room which could double as a sitting room or a dining room with a low table in the center with pillows scattered about. There were several bookcases which held books and scrolls. On one wall, there was a colorful wall hanging depicting a mountain scene. Another held a hanging depicting beautiful calligraphy.
"To the left is the guest room," said Yuki. "Ahead is Chiriku-sama's room. The toilet is behind the building. There is an onsen open to the shinobi and their families. If you wish, you may be shown to it tonight, or tomorrow morning."
"Ma'am," said Hermione. She didn't want to say it in front of Mr. Lovegood, but felt there was no other choice. "I was injured two weeks ago. I'm only permitted to take sponge baths until my stitches are removed."
"I was told you were a civilian, not a kunoichi."
"I am a civilian." Thinking quickly, she explained, "There was an ambush. Several friends and I were set upon by brigands. It was just awful. I don't want to think what would have happened if the army had not rescued us."
"Oh, you poor dear," said the obviously sympathetic woman. "I can have a tub of water sent up daily for your use. We do the same for injured shinobi."
"Thank you," said Hermione. She actually was very grateful. She'd feared it would have been a very unpleasant couple of weeks until that offer had been made.
The two girls retreated to their bedroom for the summer after Yuki left. With a wave of her wand, Luna brushed the dirt of the road off both of them. Only the knowledge that nobody around here cared about underage magic stopped her from saying something. Mr. Lovegood had only insisted that they avoid using magic in front of those who were unaware of it.
"Here, let me show you how to unseal everything," said Luna.
The scrolls were taken out of the backpack and Luna unsealed Hermione's trunk as an example. With a nod to show she'd understood, Hermione unsealed the rest. It wasn't all that much more, only Crookshanks's toys and basket-the cat had walked next to them or been carried in Hermione's arms-and several hard black leather instrument cases. (1)
Hermione had intended to become good enough to join the professional orchestra when she was younger. Even then, she'd been too smart to fool herself into believing she might make it as a professional musician in any other way. She didn't play the modern instruments so often used in rock or metal bands and her voice, while a pleasant alto, simply wasn't good enough or strong enough for her to be the lead singer in a band. It was not attending Hogwarts, but the many misadventures she'd gotten into while at Hogwarts which had put an end to that dream. Assuming she survived the war, she supposed she'd end up working at the Ministry. It was what everybody expected of her.
"I didn't know you were training as a bard."
"I-no-bard?" In that instant, Hermione thought back to everything she knew of bards. "When I was younger, I wanted to join an orchestra, but these days I just play for fun. Most of the songs I know are either folk songs or classical music. Although I did learn a lot of Celestina Warbeck's songs and I've done my best to learn the songs in the books in the library." She'd found it interesting and had taken to studying music from the library during what little free time she had. Though Harry and Ron knew of her interest in music, neither particularly cared and she often practiced while they were busy with Quidditch or chess or some other activity.
"What's an orchestra?"
Hermione spent several minutes explaining as she carefully arranged the instruments where they would be out of the way. She and Luna unpacked their clothing-both had chosen to leave most of their school books and supplies in Luna's home-talking about the various sorts of Muggle music.
"Do you mind if I ask what you play? You have so many instruments."
"Not so many, really," shrugged Hermione. "The violin, of course. It's a very popular instrument and it seems that everybody and their brother learn how to play it." She motioned to the appropriate case. "The cittern-Mum was in a folk band when she attended university and she thought it would be fun to teach me. The recorder-everybody in the school I attended learned how to play a recorder. And the Appalachian dulcimer and the banjo-one of Mum's old band mates left them to me in his will and I just can't let them lay there unplayed. It would be disrespectful to the dead."
"I was under the impression that five instruments was more than most could play," Luna said in her absent way that was just a mask for how curious she truly was.
Hermione shook her head with a laugh. "I know people who can play any of a dozen instruments better than I can play my dulcimer or cittern. And those are my main instruments. Do you think anybody would mind if I practiced? If I go too long without playing I'll loose my skills and start to forget songs."
"I don't think so," pondered Luna. "If nothing else, you can practice in here. And I'm sure there's someplace where the wives and daughters of the shinobi gather. There's no radio so I can't see them objecting to entertainment of some sort." She shrugged. "I was going to draw until supper. I'm sure neither Daddy nor Chiriku-niisan would mind if you practiced."
"Thanks. I'd like that."
After a moment's thought she picked the violin. She hadn't practiced it as much as her other instruments since her orchestral dreams had come crashing down around her, but she did enjoy playing it. And in all fairness, those women Luna had mentioned might expect her to sing as well as play, so she might as well practice the instrument she wasn't skilled enough to play and sing with at the same time without it being awkward.
They went back into the main room where Hermione found a pillow to sit on and opened her violin case. Luna had just set up a leather portfolio and pulled out a clean sheet of paper by the time Hermione finished tuning the violin. Hermione warmed up with a couple scales before moving on to a sonata and then a jazz piece. While they entertained themselves, Xenophilius reviewed the details of the first of several jobs he was to do over the summer. Apparently he was tuning up the wards in the castle before going to someplace called Konohagakure no Sato to check that their wards-which were limited to detecting when and where a trespasser entered due to its size and population-before going to build a complete set of wards for some minor nobleman.
She'd moved on to a jig and then a reel by the time the door to the room opened. Hermione removed the bow from the strings and put the violin down as she examined the men in the doorway. There was a tall bald man who actually looked rather like Xenophilius. Next to him was an even taller, imposing man with long dark hair and a beard. She hung back as Luna ran to hug the bald man with a cry of "Chiriku-niisan."
"Hey Lulu-chan," said Chiriku, gently hugging the girl. He released the girl and turned to face Xenophilius. "It's good to see you again, uncle." He motioned toward his companion. "This is Sarutobi Asuma, one of my fellow members of the Guardians. Asuma-kun, this is my uncle, Xenophilius Lovegood. He's a fuinjutsu master. And this is his daughter, Luna Lovegood." He glanced at Hermione significantly.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Sarutobi-san. This is Hermione Granger. She's a cousin, on your mother's side and one of Luna's friends."
"It's a pleasure to meet you both," Hermione said softly.
This was a pre-industrial revolution society and had likely never even heard of feminism. It would be best not to make waves. At least if she didn't want a samurai or a shinobi angry with her. Not to mention what the nobles might do. Among the Wizarding, women had always been afforded rights which were unheard of among Muggles until the twentieth century, but magic was in many ways the great equalizer. Admittedly, most witches viewed the domestic sphere as their proper place, but that was more cultural than legal. While Chiriku was a wizard and would treat both her and Luna properly, who knew how these people here would act.
"You're a musician?" asked Asuma.
"Yes, I am," she agreed. She wouldn't, she admitted, if only to herself, mind becoming a bard when she finished school, but she doubted she'd be able to support herself in that way. Then again, the U.K.'s Wizarding musical society consisted only of the Weird Sisters and Celestina Warbeck. The WWN was rather international, playing music from Wizarding enclaves all over the world. There was room for another professional musician or two. "I'm considering becoming a bard."
"A musician and poet. Some are patronized by a noble or community and others are wanderers-although female bards are usually supported by their husbands," supplied Xenophilius. He was manipulating the truth a little bit, but Hermione had no intention of correcting the man. "It's a traditional occupation among our people, although historically men have mostly been employed as such."
"I suppose I should put my violin away anyway," said Hermione, loosening the bow before packing it and the violin away in its case.
"What other instruments do you play?" asked Chiriku, kneeling at the table.
"The recorder, the Appalachian dulcimer-which is in the zither family, like the koto, except smaller and with fewer strings-the banjo, and the cittern-the dulcimer and the cittern are my main instruments," she said. She glanced at Luna, desperately asking for help. The last thing Hermione wanted to do was be put on the spot and accidentally reveal something that would cause these people to ostracize her-or worse.
"I'm sure Hermione would be willing to play you something after supper. Daddy says he acquired tickets for Hermione and I to attend the upcoming Chunin Exams," said Luna. "Please, forgive my ignorance, but I'm unfamiliar with the tournament."
Hermione breathed a sigh of relief and flashed the blonde a smile as Chiriku and Asuma began to explain. And then she found herself blinking. They were going to some sort of tournament where they were supposed to watch teenagers duel. Huh. A little strange, but then again, they'd probably think the Wizarding's professional dueling or Quidditch were just as strange.
(1) Before anybody says anything, Hermione, like many middle class children learned to play an instrument or two. Unlike most, she actually kept up with her instruments and learned several more than her parents had initially intended. Admittedly, the violin is the only one on the list which regularly appears in orchestras, but the others are just as wonderful. I spent ten years playing the piano and the violin and just about everybody I ever went to school with played an instrument for a year or two, although many still play today, most have dropped their instruments almost entirely. I know a woman who plays close to ten instruments magnificently. Why an Appalachian dulcimer? They're wonderful instruments. As for the banjo? Who doesn't love a banjo? Alright, so I listen to too much Country and I couldn't let Hermione play the guitar, so I gave her the banjo.
I decided to make Hermione a musician because we always see her as either a genius or somebody who's only good at memorizing facts. This time I decided to make her more intelligent than most, but certainly not in the genius range and to give her a hoby that is not shared by Harry and Ron.