I would like to thank all of the readers and reviewers for taking time out of their busy day to read this story! I honestly did not expect this particular piece to be very popular, much less be submitted into 10 C2 communities! As for the voting of the poll on my profile, I am afraid that the results may be considered invalid because there were not many votes submitted. But that doesn't mean the KakashiHarry request will be placed on the proverbial backburner; I will just have to spend more time drafting ideas for the project. If you have any suggestions please send them along with the feedback for this story; I do not check my email very often.
The asterisk in this chapter is a direct quote from Jim Bishop, an American writer. In addition, the author makes absolutely no profit off of this work of fan fiction, and no copyright infringement is intended on the franchise of Naruto and Harry Potter. Enjoy!
When he returned home that night, the raven-haired wizard was not the least bit surprised to find a certain someone wide awake and reading a scroll on the couch. Albeit the shinobi was the revered Yondaime and feared Yellow Flash, Minato was still a man; someone who still had a lot to learn as both a leader to his people and a father to his child. Shortly after Harry shed his jacket and his dragon-skin boots, the emerald-eyed shopkeeper received a tired smile from the village leader.
"Welcome back, Harri. How was your day today?"
Although the memory of his deceased godfather had haunted his thoughts since he left Padfoot's Den, the simple greeting from Minato made the wizard's heart a little lighter. Harry knew that his adoration for the shinobi was unrequited; the raven-haired man was content with the fact that Minato cared for him as a friend and a that night, Harry did not expect himself to be coaxed into the arms of the blue-eyed shinobi before the man asked him a simple question.
"Why are you isolating yourself from Teddy, from me?"
When those words were whispered into the shell of his ear, Harry's knees nearly buckled from the emotional strain he had been trying to harbor for the past week. The emerald-eyed man did not want appear weak in front of Minato. He was not fragile; Harry had fought and defeated the crusade of a nationally feared murderer when he was seventeen-years-old. Albeit he had been plagued with recurring dreams of the battle, the raven-haired wizard was able raise two children on his own. But that night, Harry succumbed to the anxiety he had bottled inside of him surfaced and cried in the crook of Minato's neck. And the emerald-eyed man was grateful that the shinobi did not say anything else; he just held him.
But after the malestrom inside of the raven-haired wizard had subsided, the grip that the blue-eyed man had on Harry's middle tightened when the shinobi whispered softly into the shopkeeper's ear."I understand now why you withdraw yourself from everyone when the anniversary of this particular event is close; Kakashi acted the same way you did when he was haunted by the death of his father. But please do not try to hide anything from me anymore, Harri. I do not want to lose another precious person."
Before the shell-shocked sorcerer could say anything else, Konoha's Yellow Flash hooked a sun-kissed finger underneath an alabaster chin and pressed his lips against the mouth of the raven-haired man.
"The life of a shinobi is unexpected; we are followed by the possibility that we will never return to their loved ones from a mission. And since I am the Yondaime, it will be my duty to nurture and protect the budding leaves of this village with all of the strength I have. But until that time comes," A hand ran through untidy black hair as Minato smiled softly at the wizard. "Will you please stay by my side and love Naruto as if he was your own?"
The emerald irises that were dark with melancholy brightened with happiness before Harry drew the village leader into another kiss.
Ten years later...
Through the slits of their bone white masks, the revered and feared warriors known as Hound and Cardinal stood in front of a large willow tree. While it was commonplace for shinobi to take time from their duties to the village and mourn the departure of their brothers-in-arms, the tree that stood before Obito and Kakashi was not the memorial of a fallen comrade. It was the final resting place of their surrogate parent.
Although the shinobi were aware of the curse that the raven-haired man had carried, neither of them had been prepared for the tragedy that fell upon their small family. On this day, a year ago, Teddy saw the emerald-eyed shopkeeper collapse in front of Padfoot's Den. Albeit he was taken to the hospital by the worried teenager, it had been three hours before a doctor could see Harry. But try as they might to keep the temperature of the wizard's body neutral, the doctors were unable to break Harry's fever. Nor were they able to persuade the Yondaime from leaving the patient's side.
Two days later, Harry James Potter succumbed to pneumonia.
Because of the unexpected departure of his beloved, Minato was nearly driven mad with hopeless longing and almost took his life so that he could join Harry. But his plan was thwarted; Obito and Kakashi reminded their distraught mentor that his thoughts of suicide were against the wishes of the late raven-haired man. If anything, the emerald-eyed shopkeeper wanted Naruto to have the family he never had.
A wise man once said that time heals all wounds.
Without the creativity of the raven-haired man, it appeared that the confectionary store would go out of business. But twenty-one-year-old Teddy became the proprietor of Padfoot's Den. With an extensive knowledge of culinary cuisine and his network of economical connections, the teal-eyed Metamorphmagus was confident that he will be able to preserve the legacy of Harry's sweet shop. And while it had been difficult in the beginning to raise Naruto and tend to his duties to the village, Minato was now able to look back on the memories he shared with the raven-haired man with a small smile.
As for the child of Namikaze Minato and Uzumaki Kushina, the death of 'Harri-Kaasan' devastated him. However, since Harri had told Naruto the tale of the Peverell brothers for as long as he could remember, the eleven-year-old child knew that life was unexpected. He only hoped that the raven-haired man was still watching over him and the rest of the family.
Death is as casual and often as unexpected as birth. It is as difficult to define to grief as joy. Each is finite. Each will fade.* With that thought in mind, the Cardinal and Hound departed from the willow tree in a whirlwind of leaves.
Although the animal itself is commonplace during the Christmas season, the red cardinal symbolizes friendliness and brilliance; it also known to be an aggresive creature when it defends its territory from attackers. And since the masks of the ANBU represent a characteristic of the shinobi, that is why the good-natured Obito is known to the Yondaime and the rest of the village as 'Cardinal'.