Izuna and Madara sighed. They would be meeting that odious Minister and his pet for a second time. Apparently, too many kiddies had gone crying to their mommies and daddies about last week's assessment. Normally, when someone hired a ninja to teach, they'd pay the ninja, get the fuck out of the way, and not say anything unless it was obvious that the student or students weren't learning. That was obviously not the case in this world.

Seeing as the Minister was in charge of the local government, the best they could do would be to cover their asses, and hope they still had a job when they walked out of the Headmaster's office. They'd dealt with Fudge's like and even killed several of Fudge's like before and had actually dealt with Fudge himself once, so odds were very good that they'd break even and leave without being put on probation or suspended, and even a chance that they'd walk away from the meeting with more than they'd arrived with.

After giving the password, riding the moving staircase which was quite the novelty, entering the office, politely greeting the Headmaster and his guests, and sitting in the offered seats, they braced themselves for what was to come. People like Fudge liked to hear themselves talk, and boy could Fudge talk. They'd learned that the last time they remembered meeting him.

"I'm really sorry about this. Personally, I like you. You're the reason I'm up in the polls. Apparently, people actually like someone who's brave enough to tell the Press to butt out of their business and emphasize the point by mooning them." Fudge started. "But, the Ministry has been receiving numerous letters from concerned parents and my good friend Lucius..."

"Ah, I see. So our Brother-in-law is unhappy with the fact that our assessment had indicated that his son wasn't fit for more specialized lessons. I'm sorry that you were forced into the unpleasant position of being the go-between on this family issue." Izuna said, internally laughing at what was going to happen to his brother's nephew when word got to his father from the Minister himself that he had failed something, and that the reason Draco had been whining to him had been because he'd failed. It was a petty bit of revenge, but...

"Hem. Hem. Excuse me, but assessment?" the pink toadlike Undersecretary said, cutting across the conversation.

Based on the Minister's expression, he wasn't too happy with her for taking the initiative. Excellent. Get her to interrupt some more, and he would be focusing on her rather than on them.

"My brother and I decided to assess the students' progress in Defense Against the Dark Arts as well as their general physical fitness in order to see what we have to work on. It wouldn't do to have your future Ministry employees breaking under the least bit of strain, or your future Law Enforcement be out of shape and unable to counter the criminal element after all." Madara said, laying it on a bit thick.

"And, the number of students who ended up in the Hospital Wing?" the Minister asked.

"Most of them are malingerers looking for attention, hoping to get sympathy for a couple of minor scrapes and bruises. We did test the top students of each year a bit harder to see if any were capable of handling more specialized lessons, but aside from a student who had training prior to Hogwarts and a very distant relative on our, well, both of our parents' sides, nobody had the potential we were looking for." Madara replied.

"Ah, I see." the Minister said. "And the rumor that you were throwing knives at the students?"

"We just threw some kunai at the kids' feet to see if they could run faster or not." Izuna replied. "It's an old family training method which has been handed down for many generations."

"Kunai?" the Minister asked, apparently the translation spell hadn't been able to translate that word since there was no English equivalent, which was quite fortunate in this case.

"A kunai is a multi-purpose tool. It can be used in gardening, masonry, and climbing." Izuna replied with as smile, having told the technical truth, though neglecting to mention its uses in combat.

"Why would you throw these kunai things at the students to make them run faster?!" the Minister exclaimed.

"To make sure they were actually putting all their effort into it. Children will constantly slack off if you let them, and if you let them slack off, they will try to get away with other things such as causing mischief or lying to get attention." Izuna replied, noting the Undersecretary's nod of understanding. "We don't let any of our students slack off, not even the supposedly important ones."

"Oh?" the Minister said, perking up at this before giving Dumbledore a quick and nervous glance as if he were afraid to say something in front of the man.

Apparently, Izuna had hit on the right thing to say without realizing it. It would seem that one of the "Important" students was on the Minister's shitlist. A student who was either a relative of or favored by Dumbledore if the Minister's glance was any indication. Now to go with the flow and pretend that that had entirely been the plan all along as a proper ninja should.

"I see." the Minister replied. "Well, keep up the good work, and I'll try to find something to tell the parents."

"How about that the Ministry understands their concerns, but believes that making sure their children are proficient in Defense is paramount, especially since their prior instruction has been rather lacking." Izuna replied.

He knew that this wasn't going to win him any points with Dumbledore, but their jobs were dependent on the Minister's goodwill at the moment, and the old Headmaster had been so desperate to have them that he'd hired them without a prior interview or references which meant that any options that he might've had aside from him and his brother were that much worse. He was sure that the old man knew how politics were played, and that he'd understand seeing as he had several titles aside from that of Headmaster.

After a few final pleasantries were exchanged and farewells were said, the Minister and his entourage departed, leaving Izuna and Madara in the position they wanted to keep in order to find the item that their ancestor had hidden with free reign over the students as far as the Ministry was concerned. This was good, because they had planned on remaining in the castle for the rest of the year if it was at all possible. The Hogwarts Library was a rather valuable resource in their quest, as several old maps of the surrounding area were located in its archives as well as the journals of past headmasters which might reveal information on how the landscape had changed since the Sage's visit to this world.

"I must admit that I too have some concerns about your teaching methods." Dumbledore said the instant the fire in the grate turned back to a normal color.

"It may seem cruel now, but it'll produce results." Madara said to the old man. "You are at war, and you can't afford to be kind to the potential combatants. If you coddle them as if they are children, they will only become weak."

"They are children." the Headmaster pointed out.

"Children who may be attacked and forced to fight in order to survive the instant they are away from the safety of your castle." Madara reminded the man. "Do you wish for them to remain weak and die, or do you wish for them to be able to defend themselves should they be attacked?"

"I will concede your point." Dumbledore said. "I just wish that they could be children for a while longer. But, with Tom returned, you are right, we cannot afford that."

Dumbledore then dismissed them.

"What's this about a war?" Izuna asked as soon as they were out of the office.

"The wizards are soft and weak, know nothing of true war, and believe that the supremacist organization's terrorist activities which have yet to resume from their decade-long hiatus constitute one." Madara replied. "It got Dumbledore off our backs didn't it?"

"That it did." Izuna replied.

The next morning at breakfast which Izuna was observing more to see what the average student ate and how much in order to figure out what changes needed to be made to their diet plans, Izuna was treated to a rather amusing sight. An Eagle Owl landed in front of the Malfoy boy who paled the instant he'd read the contents of the letter he'd received before turning to the staff table and glaring at him. Guessing at the contents of the missive, he grinned back and gave the child a mocking salute. That would teach the brat to try to mess with those who were his betters in everything, including subterfuge.