Practically the minute after she arrived back in Konoha, Kushina started on her plan to find her new "one true love" (Minato having been relegated to the dustbin of memory thanks to how cruelly he'd treated her on the way home). Much like her son after her, when she got an idea into her head, even a wrong one, it would take an act of God to shake it. Right now, the idea that had her all fired up and determined was that she and the mysterious masked man were meant to be, Minato's unwanted interference which had prevented their joyous joining notwithstanding.

One of the consequences of the decided lack of a proper mother figure in Kushina's life during her teen years was that she got a great deal of her views on the way love and marriage worked from Mito's old "romance novels". As a result, her views on these things were rather oddly skewed. But then again, such things happen when one bases their life's philosophy on mismarked porn. Some would argue that there would have been little to no difference if the books in the box marked "Romance Novels" had actually contained such, considering the fact that many such novels are thinly masked smut that has been marketed to a different audience.

Either way, Kushina's ideas on what a working relationship entailed had been heavily influenced by Icha Icha's predecessors. Those who knew this about Kushina had often looked on Minato in jealousy, and Minato - who'd had no other experience in matters of love than Kushina as he'd gotten it right the first time as far as he was concerned - looked back at them in confusion wondering what all the fuss was about, never suspecting that he usually got more in a week than most men got from their girlfriends in a year.

While Kushina was drawing her tracking seal, and sighing about how it was fate that she'd need to use her beloved's hairs to find him, Minato was just shaking his head and sighing at his currently ex-girlfriend's antics, convinced that they'd be back on again in a couple of days after Kushina had gotten over whatever the hell she was pissed about now. It wasn't as if she hadn't had to march in the rain before. Why she thought she could make him jealous by pretending to be in love with the latest jackass to kidnap her, he didn't know.

At least that's what he thought she was doing. He hoped...

While Kushina was preparing to scour the continent in search of him, Madara was standing in his hideout trying to ignore his creepy tree root clone which had somehow been made out of some unholy combination of his blood and one of the damnable Senju's jutsu. He would've gotten rid of the thing long ago if it hadn't been actively helping to forward his plans believing itself to be him. Besides, having someone around to take reports and hand out some of the more mundane orders while he was out was useful at times. That, and he could rest confidently at night knowing there was someone reliable running things while he was asleep.

Standing in front of Madara awaiting orders were his two Uchiha assistants. One of them was his third cousin twice removed and the other was his second cousin three times removed, and he could never remember which was which. As far as he was concerned, all of his Uchiha assistants were named Tobi after that brain-damaged Kite that kept coming back with tennis balls no matter what he had sent it after. Where the hell the creature had managed to find all of those tennis balls, even when they were in the middle of nowhere, he didn't know. He suspected that the Senju had had something to do with it, but then again, he'd suspected the Senju of just about anything and everything over his lifetime, including filching the house key from under the mat and stuffing it in his brother's pocket when he'd wanted back in after a three-day bender.

Never would the sainted Izuna have locked his own brother out of the house, especially considering how little time they got to spend there between missions.

"I want you two to go fetch Uzumaki Kushina, bring her back here, and make sure she is securely imprisoned." Madara, who'd convinced himself he had been imagining things when he'd made the connection between the girl and Izuna because there was no way in hell he could be related to that...that...that, ordered.

Silently, and efficiently, the two moved to comply with his orders. Orders he would severely regret giving very soon, as there are few things more determined, creative, and resourceful than an Uzumaki woman who is convinced she is in love.


Nobody payed all that much attention when the hawk-like bird vanished into a swirling dimensional vortex. There was a Quiddich game on, and besides, it wasn't like the bird didn't do it like every other hour when it popped by to steal random objects that had been left unattended on the grounds. Well almost nobody...

"Brother, isn't that one of yours?" one of that year's Defence Against the Dark Arts professors asked the other who had been sitting beside him half-asleep with boredom, having spotted the snitch seventeen times, eighteen if he counted the last time he'd spotted it as it was winging its way out of this world in the talons of one of his birds.

"Well, I'll be damned." Madara said, a moment later when the vortex closed behind the bird. "I'd always wondered where the hell all those telescopes kept coming from."