Harry looked at his desk with something akin to absolute horror. Over the past week he had managed to put it off, but there was no escape now. Hermione had found out that he had been skipping out, and she wasn't happy.
Harry wondered who he had pissed off in a previous life to deserve this.
On his desk was no less than twelve stacks of fifteen foot deep in paperwork. Only magic could have possibly kept the stacks from flooding the desk. He twitched.
He could handle small amounts of this hell, but this? This was pure torture. The twitching got worse.
Then an idea hit him. Who the hell said he was the one who had to do this? Sure, whatever sucker had annoyed him this week would curse his name forever, but he would be free!
And with that in mind, Harry went in search of someone he could throw to the wolves.
That person was his former best friend Ron.
"So let me get this straight. You'll pay me a thousand galleons to do your job while you go on vacation? And I get all of your checks until you get back?" asked Ron. It was too good to be true!
"Yes, and think of it this way. You'll get to enjoy all the perks of my job until I come back. Everyone will be looking at you in awe."
"Great! You start tomorrow! I'm off to pack," said Harry, hiding an evil smirk.
Later, when George heard of the joke, he howled with laughter for hours. Trust Harry Potter to find a way out of doing that much paperwork. It wasn't like he needed the cash anyway.
It took exactly three days for Hermione to find out what Harry had done, and she was annoyed. Even if he had filled out every single paper that would allow Ron to take over for him. What Ron didn't know was that Harry had no intention of going back to work in the Auror department.
One year of that hell was enough.
Which was why Harry could now be found wandering around the Elemental countries, whistling a jaunty tune and actually enjoying his well earned vacation.
It was a well known fact that Apparition, Port Keys and the Floo would not work in the Elemental Countries. And owls had the damnedest time finding a wizard there. The only reliable travel was walking.
Needless to say, Hermione was furious. Ron, more so, once he realized exactly what Harry had dropped on his lap. He had previously been enjoying all the glory that came of being one of the Golden Trio, with none of the work.
Molly Weasly couldn't have been happier that her youngest son was finally making something of himself.
It took a month, but eventually Harry finally became brave enough to enter one of the Hidden Villages he heard rumors about. That village...was Konohagakure. The Village Hidden in the Leaf.
Harry was enjoying some well made ramen, when he heard the shouting. He looked down the street and spotted something that made him scowl.
Five normal people were kicking a five year old kid. A kid who had clearly gotten this treatment before, because he was wisely curled up in a ball. Harry finished his ramen, and got up.
He wasn't going to let this continue any longer than he had to.
The civilians were very surprised when they found themselves lifted up in the air by their ankles. The kid uncurled himself, and looked around. His jaw dropped when he saw the people hanging upside down above him.
The blond nodded, unsure why someone bothered to help him. Generally, the civilians wore out within fifteen minutes, or the ANBU showed up. Either way, it never lasted long.
Harry made a cursory inspection, and didn't see anything broken. Just a large bruise that would take a little while to heal.
Harry looked at the people above him, scowling.
"I don't know what your problem is, but there is absolutely no excuse for harming a child. You're going to stay that way until whatever police force you have here comes by," he said coldly.
The kid gaped. Someone actually defended him?
Harry looked at him, grinning.
"How about a bowl of ramen until someone comes to get them down?"
The kid's grin was as bright as the sun. Clearly he loved ramen. Half an hour later (and twenty bowls of ramen into the small kid, which amused him to no end) the shinobi who policed the village showed up. Apparently the Ichiraku owner told them to take their time.
Naturally, they were rather surprised to see the civilians hanging up in the air, and even more shocked to learn that a wizard actually bothered to come visit their village. They mostly stayed away after the Second Hokage lit into them for their silly Statute of Secrecy. They had more or less been kicked out and asked never to return.
Harry learned that the shinobi weren't too happy about him being there. So he went with the ANBU to see their village leader. Naruto didn't want to deal with the civilians, so he asked if he could come too. Harry immediately made the kid's day by giving him a piggy back ride to the office.
Sarutobi Hiruzen looked at the wizard before him. The boy was nothing like the rather annoying adults that used to show up until he banned them from the village. Apparently word had gotten around that wizards and witches weren't welcome, because they hadn't come back in years.
Harry, however, was very different from the people who used to show up. He could honestly care less about the Statute of Secrecy, had no problem with the ninjas or their abilities, and was rather open about why he was there.
Of course the Hokage gave a sympathetic wince when Harry mentioned the evil demon who threatened to eat him alive in his office.
"The only thing you're here for is a vacation is it?"
"I hate paperwork. And this is one of the few places my fan girls couldn't follow me or hound me with their owls."
"Ah. I see no reason to kick you out, though I would ask that you try to tone down on your magic. I heard from Ichiraku why you used it though, so I'm not going to complain."
"Why were they attacking a kid?" he asked, honestly annoyed by that.
The Hokage winced.
"What I'm about to tell you is a state secret. About eight years ago this village was attacked by a Demon Fox known as the Kyuubi. Our previous Hokage, the Fourth Hokage Yondaime, sealed the demon into a child."
"That kid is Naruto, isn't it."
The Hokage nodded.
"Figures I would rescue someone in the same situation as myself while on vacation. When I was a year and a half a madman attacked my house, killing my parents. I was left with my less than happy relatives, only to learn later that he accidentally sealed a piece of his soul in a curse scar. I finally got rid of him last year."
The Hokage nodded. He had heard rumors of the Wizard's War. So long as it didn't spill out into the Elemental Countries he was content to leave them alone.
"I take it there wouldn't be anyone to object if I hung around Naruto?"
The Hokage shook his head. If anything it would make Naruto rather happy someone bothered to care about him.
Naruto was all too happy to show Harry around the village. The Hokage grinned as he watched the nineteen year old being lead around by a eight year old kid. Harry certainly didn't object.
For the next month, Harry met up with Naruto who loved hanging out with his Harry-nii-san. Naruto absolutely loved Harry's magic, even when the most he ever did was create bubbles or change his hair color.
It was right as he was going to head back that a tragedy occurred. One of the most prominent clans in the village was massacred overnight, and the only one left was an eight year old child named Sasuke.
Rumor had it that his older brother was the one who killed the clan off.
Harry had run into Sasuke a few times, usually rescuing him from a boring day alone with a cousin who clearly didn't care for him at all.
Even if the kid's father didn't like him associating with a wizard and the village pariah. But like Harry innocently mentioned, sometimes a ninja got paired with the most annoying person imaginable, and they had to learn to deal with it.
Harry had seen Itachi over to the side, snickering.
So in the interest of seeing that Sasuke was at least given to a home who would actually care what his opinion was, Harry went to the meeting where he would find out who would take him in.
It was bigger than he had thought, because everyone seemed to want to adopt him because of his clan. The entire thing disgusted him to the point where he had to say something.
"Enough already! Why don't you just ask him who he wants to live with? He just lost his entire family, do you really think he wants someone who would just pity him and never actually see him for his own traits?" said Harry loudly.
The Hokage was somewhat surprised that Harry was there, even more so that he had said something that made more sense than it didn't.
As an Academy student, Sasuke had every right to say where he lived. At this point he was more than willing to let the boy live on his own, if only to keep him from joining Itachi.
Sasuke looked up. Ever since the meeting had started he had been miserable. Everyone wanted to adopt the last loyal Uchiha, and no one had even asked if he wanted to go with them. Everyone, it seemed, but the crazy magic wielder that had helped the dobe fro his class.
He seemed to be the only one who understood what he was going through.
Harry went to Sasuke, getting to eye level with the boy.
"What do you want to do Sasuke-kun?"
"...I don't want to live with any of them. They only see me as a means to further their own ends," he said finally.
Harry looked at the amused Hokage, who seemed to have an idea of what was about to happen next.
Which was why he was going to suggest it and spare Harry the lion's share of the outcry that was most certainly about to happen.
"Why don't you adopt him Harry-san? You seem to be only one here who is genuinely interest in his opinion."
Harry winced at the outcry, but stood his ground.
A week later he finally cared enough to write his friends and informed them that he had moved to the Elemental Countries and was now the guardian of two very powerful boys. Naruto had been very upset when Sasuke informed him of his new guardian...until Iruka called him out of class to inform the blond that the same Harry who took in Sasuke was also adopting him.
Harry still had a bit of a bruise from where Naruto hugged him, to Sasuke's amusement. It seemed choosing a stranger over the clans in Konoha had been the best idea he could have gone with, since Sasuke was clearly starting to open up to someone who had suffered in a similar enough situation.
Harry had felt the pain of betrayal when he learned it was one of his father's close friends who had gotten them killed, he knew what it was like to be famous for something he didn't do and how to keep a level head about it, and best of all he knew how to handle most of what Sasuke could dish out.
Though the repair bills alone for the training ground were starting to get beyond ridiculous, even if it did help Sasuke and Naruto vent their frustrations over the looks the village gave them.
It was with great surprise when, two weeks after adopting Sasuke and Naruto, an owl showed up bearing a red letter. Normally this would signify something entirely different in the shinobi countries (usually a birth or something other to celebrate) but he vaguely remembered red meaning something that was sure to cause him a headache later.
This was proven quite true as his ANBU bolted seconds upon the shrieking and yelling.
He later found out that the younger of the two boys had mistakenly opened what was known as a howler before Harry could warn him. The ANBU were less than amused, and Harry was of the same mind.
He later came in to explain why the howler was sent in the first place, and the Hokage couldn't help but laugh a little.
According to Harry, his friends were less than pleased about his abrupt exit. Particularly Ron, when he learned that Harry had no intention of going back to his job.
Which meant that Ron had more or less been drafted as an Auror without warning. He had gotten used to lazing about the house without actually doing anything, and most of his needs had been taken care of by the fans of the Golden Trio.
His mother had been displeased by his attitude, and it was because Harry had tricked Ron into actually working that had spared the ANBU from her voice.
Hermione had been very unhappy by the fact that he had ditched the paperwork on Ron and run off to the one place they couldn't follow him without causing a diplomatic incident of epic proportions.
Needless to say, Harry quite enjoyed this little prank...or would have, had Naruto not accidentally ruined his hearing for the next hour and put him on the ANBU's list of people they were highly annoyed with. He quickly shifted the blame to Naruto, who usually pranked them anyway.
The Hokage couldn't help but feel relieved that Harry had absolutely no intentions of teaching Naruto the charm to make howlers.
It had been a very strange year for the village. The arrival of the first wizard since they had more or less been banned because they couldn't wrap their heads around shinobi, the massacre of the Uchiha clan...and then the fact that the shinobi messenger bird corps received a gift of new birds suited to night flying.
Harry Potter had more or less settled down in the village, where he found that it was never actually boring. He got his need for adventure out by helping some of the older shinobi on patrols.
He had, during the Horcrux Hunt, improved his stamina during the time he had Hermione and Ron trying to look for clues. He had used the excuse that he would be practicing highly dangerous spells and didn't want them hurt. Though it had taken Hermione a week to believe him.
In truth he had transfigured weights and the like and took up free running. While spell training was important, muscle and stamina took priority.
He had somehow managed to get his body to mid-genin/early chunin levels without realizing it. He could even keep up with the horrifying Maito Gai for a good half an hour with some light weights on, which was more than enough for the Hokage to allow him on patrol once a week.
Every once in a while they had a fight with other shinobi, but to the clear relief of the teams he tagged along with, he held his own better than most newly minted genin.
Harry hated being called dead weight almost as much as he hated pity. He preferred to earn his fame and money, thank you!
He had already earned a reputation among the shinobi ranks as being a hard worker, willing to listen to the more experienced warriors in terms of advice. It was because of that fact that few ever raised a complaint about a wizard living in Konoha and working jobs that normally only genin and above were allowed to do.
Harry was even allowed to buy a nin dog from the Inuzuka clan, once it became clear that he wasn't an overweight, under trained wizard.
Harry had been forced to learn how to kill others from an early age, same as any shinobi child. But unlike the other children, Harry had been forced to face the darker side of human nature before he was ready. The fact he was relatively sane and could function normally was a miracle.
Though he did have some serious issues with the Yamanaka clan. And the one time Ibiki conned Inoichi to look into Harry's mind...
Well, the result hadn't been pretty and Ibiki was turned into a girl for a month straight, to his horror. Inoichi had been placed in intensive care for two months, and he still had trouble looking at Harry in the eye.
He really shouldn't have pushed his luck when he came across those mental barriers in Harry's mind. Especially when it became clear that Harry knew he was in there and was very pissed.
He bought a large, grim like nin dog with deep blue eyes that he named Padfoot in honor of his godfather. He still missed the old hound.
Harry walked into the Hokage's office, mostly because Naruto and Sasuke had pranked the ANBU again. He didn't actually mind coming in to hear someone bitch about the boy's pranking, but he was usually rewarded with the most amusing sight imaginable for someone like him.
The Hokage battling the same demons he had narrowly escaped a year ago. It went without saying that Harry wasn't the only one cackling at the sight of the Hokage buried in paperwork.
Aside from the glare (and Harry helping the old man sort the papers out with a spell he had developed) the Hokage normally to get the demons down to manageable levels.
The sad fact was that most Kages would rather fight a pissed off Bijuu than deal with the paperwork that came from leading a village. But in all honesty who could blame them?
Hermione was furious. Not only had Harry actually managed to ditch his job, he had left it with the worst person to fill his position imaginable!
Ron wasn't made for paperwork, if anything he should have gone on to play professional Quidditch! But no, he was lazier than Harry's cousin (Harry was contacted by said cousin and confirmed that yes, Ron was in fact lazier which had stunned him at the time. Dudley was currently a professional boxer).
Now she had to place a permanent hex on his chair so that he would do the job Harry tricked him into!
Ron, once he realized what Harry did, immediately tried to get back in shape to play for the Cannons.
It was going to be a long time coming, mostly due to the fact that because Harry had filled out all the forms correctly (and in triplicate, to the former hero's disgust) Ron was stuck as the next-in-line to be Head Auror, despite never taking the classes.
Moody, of course, was delighted to whip Ron into shape so he could actually survive the job.