AN: 2018 edit: The last of the edited chapters. I have added on quite a bit to this chapter and a bit to the last one, including a fairly comprehensive description of the Hufflepuff Basement as many people will not know about it unless they read supplementary material to the actual series. Also a lot has changed about this chapter in general as I was not happy with it at all.
Normal writing-English, with the exception of honorifics
Italics-Letters or Japanese
Hinata had entered her new home with a lump in her stomach that had nothing to do with the food at dinner. She didn't really know what to expect; the whole day had been full of surprises and strange events. She found it interesting that you had to tap a barrel in a specific rhythm to gain entry; it was a security measure she hadn't expected to find here. It showed there might be a higher level of distrust in the school than previously thought.
The room she entered was warmly lit and decorated in bright yellow and black. There were plants dotted around the room. There were little round windows set into the walls, although they didn't reveal what lay outside with the storm still raging outside.
As she entered some of the students who had already arrived turned around to stare at her.
She felt her cheeks redden a bit and knew her face would look like a tomato soon enough.
One of the students, a girl with blond pigtails and a kind-looking face approached her.
"Hi, I'm Hannah Abbott. You're Hinata right?" she said with a broad smile on her face.
"Ehh… y-yes?" Replied Hinata hesitantly. She'd had some experience now with people being very forward in this country, but it was still startling compared to her own very formal experiences.
Hannah started talking some more, telling her stories about their shared House and asking her many questions about Shinobi and her home.
She answered as best she could and asked her own questions, gradually drawing in more and more of their housemates into the fray. Hinata found herself unexpectedly enjoying the lively discussions that erupted around her (they seemed shocked that she had already graduated their version of school). There were many offers from them on the subject of tutoring her in information that she lacked for their lessons, which as the discussions went on she learned was plenty.
The fire had burned itself into pile of softly glowing embers by the time her housemates trickling to their dormitories. When Hannah also got up to go to bed Hinata followed her lead.
Their dormitory was lit by lamps casting a warm glow over the beds. The beds themselves had patchwork quilts that were more homely than shabby (in Hinata's opinion). She was a bit puzzled about the copper frying pans hanging on the walls, but she figured she'd ask about those in the morning.
She slept soundly and dreamt of sunshine.
The first two weeks of school was one long adjustment period for Hinata. She didn't share all that many classes with her teammate, but the ones they did share at least they could compare notes on. Some classes they even were together for the lessons, such as Herbology and Divination. The former was fairly interesting to a budding gardener, while both of them had been less than enthused by the latter. She supposed Divination could have been interesting had it not been run by a complete lunatic, who seemed to want to invite bad luck into everyone's lives. She'd never heard of anyone making such inauspicious comments, it was nearly a taboo in the village. Yes death and disfigurement and illness, both physical and mental happened in the wake of missions, but that didn't mean you had to comment on them as if they were definitely going to come true.
Also the teacher seemed to have some special expectation of her due to the colour of her eyes. This was not that unexpected, people who didn't know about her family and found out she was not in fact blind seemed to follow similar patterns of expectation. Just not so dramatically.
Transfiguration and Charms on the other hand were a delight. Charms was especially easy for her, and making little objects dance and fly and simply move was incredibly fun. There were also charms that could change your mood and all sorts of wonderful little things. It helped that their teacher took their joy in stride and encouraged it.
In fact anything that involved practical spellwork turned out to be a breeze for her. Her extensive training in controlling the energies that made up her chakra and just generally her control over her chakra pathways helped a lot. It did make the more theoretical classes, or the ones with minimal spellwork a little more tricky. Alongside the language barrier (which had been a terrible hindrance in Potions and History of Magic), there was the simple fact that some of the classes had concepts that she'd never encountered in her life and probably wouldn't, as they were of little use on a battlefield. Arithmancy and Astrology counted as those, and Arithmancy was one of the hardest things she'd ever had to do. She had some mathematical knowledge, but nothing to this extent. It didn't help that this was the second year most students had been doing it and thus she had missed out on them being taught the basics.
Muggle Studies and Defence against the Dark Arts were both interesting in different ways. Hinata had been shocked to find out that many wizards did not know how to use electricity. Even with all the traditional ways in her household she had known how to use electrical items. How it had been taught had also made her a little uncomfortable – she'd included a comment on it in one of her reports for her sensei. The lessons had made clear to her just how isolated wizards were from non-wizards, in spite of the fact that many wizards came from non-wizarding backgrounds. It felt uncomfortably like an extreme version of clan politics, of excluding people based on their blood and branding them somehow.
Defence against the Dark Arts was another matter altogether; in the very first lesson she had been presented with the wizarding equivalent of kinjutsu. It hadn't frightened her all that much, except for the torture one, as with her Byakugan she had managed to get a detailed look at what was happening during each jutsu.
The killing curse instantly snuffed out both your physical and spiritual energies, but what was interesting was that there was a slight backlash towards the caster of the spell, as if the victim was trying to hurt their murderer beyond death. In this case, of course, it had merely been a spider that had been killed; Hinata could not imagine what the backlash might be like with an actual human. At first it seemed to be the worst spell, but she wondered how it would fare against the combination of both energies, against chakra, and if it was defeatable that way. In any case it was definitely dodgeable.
The torture curse was the worst by far; it resembled a genjutsu in its construction, using the caster's own magic to influence the body of another, but unlike a genjutsu there seemed to be fewer flaws to make use of. It would be one spell shinobi would really have to watch out for, especially if it caught them unawares.
The control spell seemed to be, at first, the worst. However while its construction also seemed to be similar to that of a genjutsu, Moody had told them, and taught them, in subsequent lessons that the Imperio curse could be broken by the strong-willed. Hinata had been quite proud of herself when she had not obeyed that voice in her head that had told her to do such stupid things; it had been one of her first and best achievements at the school.
There was something else she'd noticed though, in that lesson where she'd discreetly activated the Byakugan. She'd had to spend quite some time thinking about it before being able to make sense of where and why something had seemed off as there had been quite a big distraction in the form of the three forbidden spells. There was something strange about their teacher, something… off about his magic and the way it shaped itself, as if it weren't used to the body it was in. It could have something to do with his peg-leg of course, nevertheless an injury like that was something his body and his magic should have got used to long ago. There hadn't been anything else forthcoming about the strange man though, therefore Hinata had decided to simply watch and wait, to see what the future would bring.
One of the other biggest adjustments she'd had to make, one that had nothing to do with anything of wizarding nature, was her training. Because of their schedules and the amount of homework she'd had to cut down on training drastically. Then there were the mandatory twice a week "training" sessions for the wizards held by Kakashi-sensei. The seven age groups were spread across those four sessions in a two week pattern (with all four houses attending in a session), and Hinata and Sasuke had to attend each one. For the first ones this had proven particularly pointless as all their sensei had covered had been first year Academy theory, something Hinata was pretty sure she could have recited in her sleep. It pretty much meant the only training time they got was on weekends and some weekday evenings if there wasn't too much homework. As there was so little time the training was both dense and intense; they trained from dawn to dusk, occasionally longer. Sometimes Kakashi-sensei gave them little mini-missions as a "break", which usually turned out to be more strenuous than the training itself. One such mission had been mapping Hogwarts and Hinata had had to go to the school nurse for headache and eyeache remedies after that.
She had been noticing improvements though. Against Sasuke she trained in both standard taijutsu and Gentle Fist and she had nearly managed a neat little uppercut against him in the last session, although he had avoided it at the last second. He also didn't believe in holding back against her, so more often than not she did feel his full strength and speed used against her. The resulting bruises only heightened her determination to get stronger. They also practised ninjutsu, stamina training and some mild genjutsu avoidance training.
None of the students had been allowed to watch their private training. In part this was due to the potential risk posed by large-scale ninjutsu (Sasuke seemed to be fond of them…), but also due to many of their techniques needing to be kept secret. Their third week though… Kakashi-sensei had said that some basic exercises and taijutsu would need to be taught as well as some team building exercises run.
She really couldn't wait to show them what she could do.
Sasuke hated his life right now.
Right now was sitting in a stuffy room filled with pungent odours, waiting for for the worst teacher he'd ever met to yet again predict something unfortunate to befall him. It was taking all his patience to just sit there and try and ignore her. Luckily he'd feigned his English to be worse than it actually was in the very first lesson, meaning the crazy bat usually didn't expect him to answer.
That didn't mean he didn't resent having to be a captive audience.
On the other hand this was the worst one of four classes that were an absolute waste of time, and he only had to endure it once a week. The others were Care of Magical Creatures (the next worst), Astronomy and History of Magic. The strange creatures they were talking care of in the former had to be among the biggest wastes of time he'd ever had. They did serve to demonstrate the complete incompetence of his classmates though. He'd thought his teammates, current and previous were bad and then he'd come across these weaklings. All of them had ended up with minor burns from the Skrewts (what kind of name was that anyway?), having minor explosions from their rear ends and none of them had been able to avoid them. It was utterly embarrassing.
He was tempted to spend his lessons trying to find things to poison the Skrewts with. He was fairly sure that he could steal something from the Potions Professor without too much difficulty that might be toxic enough to end them.
It was a bit galling to admit he might even miss the original blond idiot in place of the current one from the snake house. There had been an incident in this morning's session of looking after the Skrewts that had started out with him trying to make himself look important to Sasuke (there was something about his father being a well respected figure or something with blood, he hadn't really been listening). Sasuke had ignored him, because there was nothing about most of his fellow students that could make them less worthless than they currently were.
And then the idiot had made a comment about Sasuke's family, as if they were dirty or dishonoured. He hadn't heard all the words, and probably wouldn't have fully understood it, but the insult was clear. The blond had been so, so lucky that they'd been in a lesson and not somewhere Sasuke could have beaten him into a pulp without him knowing. As it had stood he'd shut up the moment he'd been pinned with a murderous glare, although the two big buffoons on either side of him hadn't stopped with their own laughter. The blond had collected himself and then sneered back, opening his mouth for some further unwise commentary when the teacher had interrupted.
Thinking about it now, in the smog of the Divination classroom Sasuke felt his stomach tense up again and his expression slipped from impassive to scowling. The black rage building up inside him felt heavy but familiar. At the edge of his senses he noticed his partner looking up from her chart at him. She didn't ask him about it though and in the next moment went back to minding her own business. He supposed that was one thing to be grateful for.
How best to get revenge on the remark without the other boy running off to the teachers, or at least having evidence that Sasuke had done anything?
Looking at his chart of the heavens and at least giving the impression with his quill that he was doing the work he contemplated what he'd learned so far in the month he'd been in these new surroundings. If he used any of the jinxes and spells he'd learned so far, which weren't many, he was sure they would be traceable somehow. Same with ninjutsu; not only were most of his too destructive and large in scale, but they would immediately blame one of the shinobi for it. And Kakashi would not stick up for him in that. None of the ninjutsu or spells (or melds of the two) he was in the planning stages of creating would do either; being combat based they'd probably kill the idiot. He didn't know any genjutsu and falling to the level of using physical pranks the likes of Naruto would use wouldn't do either. It needed to be something humiliating, physical and lasting, but not obvious and not beneath his level.
"Sasuke-san the t-teacher will be collecting the charts soon, the lessons a-are nearly over."
He glanced up at her from his chart to acknowledge her and looked back down at it to set himself to work. He set aside the problem of revenge for later.
After lessons and dinner had ended he met up with her and Kakashi again for their weekly briefing. They gave their reports to him, Sasuke had little to report on his lessons that hadn't already been said before. He didn't mention the incident with the blond, lest Kakashi decided to interfere.
It was during the briefing that a flash of inspiration had hit him. The jounin had just mentioned what he had planned for the teaching sessions for the next two weeks. He looked surprised when Sasuke asked for one particular house to be assigned to him, but agreed to the assignment, although he cautioned both of them not to go all out on the students.
Sasuke smirked; revenge would be sweet.
Thursday dawned bright and still relatively warm for late September.
There was cloud of excitement among the third and fourth years in all four houses. Harry felt it too. All the first and second years had reported excitedly about their physical lesson with the shinobi on Tuesday and just how cool it had been. Various muggle-born students had been the centre of attention after that, talking about what little muggles knew of shinobi, or ninja as they were actually known in English (Ron had been amazed and a bit alarmed that their housemate could be an assassin, before Hermione shot the idea down as being too absurd).
Hushed conversations of dreams of one day being able to do the same kind of martial arts and acrobatics the shinobi could had spread across the school and teachers had tried and, for the most part, failed to keep their attention.
Various students had tried to pester their recluse of a housemate about the lessons as well, with no answers forthcoming. The Hufflepuff girl, Hinata was a bit more forthcoming, although she did put a damper on many people's dreams by talking about the physical routines needed to be at her level of skill. She also did mention that the teambuilding exercises would probably change to make sure they didn't know how to solve them in advance. As she hadn't been a student of this teacher before she also did not know what ones he might use. There had been more pestering of Sasuke after that, but disturbingly his only reaction to each questioner had been to smirk at them.
The day trickled by agonisingly slowly, with even Hermione getting distracted towards the end of DADA (at which Moody had barked "Constant Vigilance!" at the lot of them and made them jump).
They made their way to the Quidditch pitch after dinner, to be greeted by Professor Kakashi sitting on a tall wooden pole that had been hammered deeply into the ground. He was reading a little orange book that he tended to carry around with him (no answers from any of the shinobi had come forth about it and no one had got close enough to see the pictures on the cover) There were a number of other poles on the pitch, of varying heights and widths, Harry didn't count them. Sasuke and Hinata stood in front of the one with Kakashi on it.
Once the last few stragglers had arrived the book was snapped shut and he stood up to address them.
"Hello my cute little students." Disturbingly he seemed to be smiling under his weird mask thing.
"Now many of you might have heard some information about this week's exercises from the first and second years. I want you to forget that information. As you are older than they are the expectations I have for you all are much higher."
Harry felt his excitement drop. He'd never been very good at sports apart from Quidditch and while the exercises that had been described to them the past two days had seemed exciting, this sounded more terrifying. He found himself regretting having had dessert after dinner as it seemed to sit in a lump at the bottom of his stomach now.
"My two adorable assistants will demonstrate the exercises correctly and you will need to follow them exactly for the amount of sets they do."
With that he sat back down and said some Japanese words, while taking out his book to read again. Sasuke and Hinata dropped down to complete the exercises and with many groans the young witches and wizards followed suit.
What came afterwards were some of the most gruelling forty-five minutes of Harry's school life. They did sit-ups, push-ups, squats, and other exercises he couldn't name at a relentless pace set by their classmates in front of them. All the while Professor Kakashi sat there like a scarecrow, reading his stupid book and giving instructions.
Once the instructions finally ceased he was shaking and covered in sweat. Luckily he and many others had left taken off their robes beforehand – on advice from the first and second years who had done this before them, so only the clothes underneath were sweaty. His mouth felt dry and he was desperately thirsty. He turned around to Ron and Hermione who looked just as shattered. They couldn't even talk to each other, they were so out of breath.
They still had another forty-five minutes to go.
Professor Kakashi let them catch their breaths for five minutes before he stood up to address them again. Neither Sasuke nor Hinata seemed even the slightest out of breath
"You have tasted some of the hard work it takes to become a shinobi. We generally start from much younger than your current age and the standard age to reach my assistant's levels, that of genin. Our next exercise will be a team-based exercise and a variation on one I used on my own students to allow them to be promoted to the level of genin."
Harry looked at Sasuke's face, which had that same smirk on it that he'd had since people had started asking about the team exercises. He, Ron and Hermione shared a look of shared dread.
"I have let the kitchens know to have some ice-cold pumpkin juice available for after this session."
Hermione briefly looked indignant at this, but couldn't hold the expression for long as it turned to horror again at their Professor's next words.
"Each of us three has two bells attached to our trousers. Your objective will be to take those bells from us. If you get both bells you will be allowed to drink that pumpkin juice. You will work together in your Houses versus one of us. Two Houses will be trying to get two bells each from me as I will be more difficult to get them from. To make things a little easier we will be restricted to moving on the poles only, we are not allowed to touch the grass."
Harry felt a little hopeful again, there were at least twenty Gryffindor students there, between them they should be able to cast a spell that would allow them to steal the bells from at least one of them. He hoped to get the Professor now, with forty of them they couldn't possibly miss him.
Professor Kakashi started smiling again. "Aa, I nearly forgot, you will not be allowed to use wands. We will also be restricting ourselves from using some of our more destructive techniques – I am afraid they are rather lethal. Gryffindors you will need to get the bells from Hinata-chan, Slytherins from Sasuke and Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs from myself. You have thirty minutes. Begin."
With that each of the three shinobi started jumping from pole to pole. Sasuke and Kakashi had moved so fast that they had blurred out of sight. Harry only had a brief moment to form the thought that they might have got an easier person before they started running after Hinata.
For the next half hour they chased the Hufflepuff up and down the pitch and Harry found himself regretting the thought that she might be easier to catch than the other two because she wasn't quite as fast as them. She was incredibly nimble and quite flexible, it was like trying to catch flowing water. Once Ginny managed to get the bells nearly in her grasp by anticipating where Hinata would go to next only to have Hinata do a strange almost-handstand from the pole that somehow had her flipping to the next one.
They collided with the other houses too as each of them focussed on their target alone and they didn't see the person running straight at them. Everyone was too anxious to do much more than hurl a sorry over their shoulder as they sprinted after the fleeing target, not even checking if that someone was hurt or even who they were.
The end finally came when Kakashi disappeared in a puff of smoke and reappeared on his original pole. Harry was too tired to question how he'd apparated in the Hogwarts grounds.
He beckoned for them to gather around him and they all wearily plodded over to him. If Harry had thought he was tired before that was nothing compared to how he felt now. He barely registered Ron poking at him before there was a hissed whisper in his ear "Look at Malfoy!"
Harry looked for the Slythering among his housemates. He wasn't hard to spot, his entire face had gone pink and there was a bruise forming on one side of his face. The bruising looked defined, like something with a shape had hit him. Malfoy himself looked furious, with Pansy Parkinson standing next to him and trying to comfort him with a simpering voice.
As everyone finished making their way to the Professor more and more people started staring at Malfoy. By this time the genin had also made their way back to posts on either side of Kakashi.
Professor Kakashi started talking again without addressing the bruise in the slightest, "Well none of you managed to..."
"HE KICKED ME IN THE FACE!" Malfoy shouted furiously.
Ron badly stifled a snigger next to Harry. The bruise was an imprint from one of Sasuke's weird sandals that he always wore.
It didn't seem to faze the Professor at all. "Yes I can see that. In any case none of you managed to get ..."
"You're not going to punish him?" spat Malfoy.
Kakashi didn't even spare him a look "No."
"I'm going to let my father know about this! He'll bring it up to the board of governors and have you dealt with! You barbarians shouldn't even be here anyway."
This time there was a long stare directed at Malfoy. It was hard to tell what his expression was since most of his face was covered up, but Harry thought he looked bored.
"Maa...I did not restrict my assistants from using physical attacks against you; it was at their and my discretion whether we did or not. The only things I restricted were attacks and techniques that might cause more serious damage than a bruise to the face. Oh and if you want to make any complaints please complain to my boss, she's the one who sent us here. I'm sure she'll enjoy it."
Even Hinata started smiling after Kakashi mentioned the last part. Some of the Hufflepuffs were looking curiously at her and Harry guessed they'd be asking her about it later.
"No more interruptions? None of you managed to get the bells so we will continue this exercise next time. You might use the time to come up with some strategies. Now off you go."
Harry started the long walk back up to the castle with Ron and Hermione. Dean, Neville and Seamus were right behind them. They didn't talk much, they were too tired and too thirsty. In the common room, once they'd all had a glass or two of water discussion of their evening started. The fifth years and up wanted to know how things were gone and were appalled to find out that they might have even more gruelling trials ahead of them. Harry still had Transfiguration homework to do so he sat with Ron to do it together (Ron hadn't done it yet either). Ron in a state of utter glee about Malfoy's kick to the face, it having been the second public humiliation of Malfoy this year. He even tried to convince Dean Thomas to draw a sketch of how the bruise had looked, just to remember it exactly.
Hermione soon joined them, she was a little less pleased about the kick as she told them that it could get Sasuke into trouble and points taken from their house. Harry rather thought the shinobi Professor might have a thing or two to say about that, but he didn't voice that thought as just then Sasuke had entered the dorm. There was a sudden silence before a storm of questions erupted all at once.
Usually he just ignored questioners or gave curt yes or no answers, but today he did the unexpected as if to demonstrate that Hinata wasn't the only one capable of acrobatics. He jumped up, flipped in midair to have his hand land on George Weasley's head, pushed himself off and landed on his feet in front of the boys' dorm entrance. Sasuke quickly dashed up before anyone tried to stop him.
There was another silence as the students who had not yet been able to see him in action gaped at the display. Harry honestly hadn't paid enough attention during the team exercise to see what Sasuke was doing – he'd only paid attention to Hinata, so he was just as surprised as everyone else.
He and Ron unanimously decided to put off their homework for tomorrow. Like the rest of the house they stayed up late discussing how – in Ron's words – wicked cool that had been.
It filtered into his dreams that night, moving fast like a shadow through a sea of wooden poles following the sounds of tinkling bells that moved like Snitches, glinting in the dark.
He managed to catch one before he woke up.
Here's a little bonus scene.
Kakashi stood looking at the somewhat innocuous-looking picture of a green, oddly-shaped fruit. It didn't move. Or stare back at him like some other portraits tended to do before they rudely asked whether he was simply ugly or whether he had some horrible flaw.
Slowly he reached out towards it. His finger made a scritch-scritch sound when he moved it up and down the fruit's flank.
Suddenly, it giggled and sprang open to reveal a huge room full of little wrinkled creatures rushing back and forth.
One of the little creatures –House Elves as he'd been told- came up to him saying "Sir, is there anythings we could make for you?"
Kakashi asked for a biscuit and the little thing scurried away into another corner, where the bustle rapidly doubled.
Behind his mask the shinobi sniggered a little. Hogwarts was full of such lovely surprises sometimes.
AN: And up next an all new chapter! After 5 years we finally get to the Triwizard Tournament.