A/N: So, I figured I should mention this right away: I hold contests on DA. If you draw me fanart and enter it, you could possibly win a one-shot from me (ranging from 500 word drabbles to 5k monstrosities). Seeing as most of that art is currently GC focused, I figured it would be a good idea to advertise these contests on what appears to be my most popular story. A new contest will start every month, and last for two months. So there are a lot of chances to win.
Also, since I had a few notifications of confusion regarding this: no, the seals did not fail accidentally. No, it wasn't Diamond's fault. Sanka took the seals down because he was tired of living in a basement, bored out of his mind, and he wanted to be found out.
All the Weasley children had grown up with the knowledge that their mother was the dominant one when it came to handing out punishments and all other forms of child-rearing. Their parents each had their own roles to take care of and both were satisfied as they were.
That meant that seeing their father like this was rare.
"Ron. Ginny. Why did I find a living puppet playing an organ out under my workshop?"
Seeing their little brother actually look panicked about something, though… that was like having their cake and eating it too.
This was the first sign of something wrong to Molly and Arthur. This was the first sign that something was truly strange about their son.
Sure, he'd always been a little odd, a little peculiar. Ravenclaw and Slytherin seemed to fit him far better than Gryffindor most of the time, though he never showed any true fears to conquer in the first place. Ron spoke strangely, almost stilted, as if he knew what he wanted to say and how to say it, but couldn't convey the social aspect at all… or simply didn't want to. Even as a very small child, he had always been playing around with marionettes and puppets.
And with Ginny… he almost never left her side, at first. It had been as though he had thought she would be taken away from him if he didn't try to protect her at every turn. Even after almost a decade, he still tried to stay near her as often as possible.
They'd been so happy when he'd befriended little Luna Lovegood. The girl was possibly stranger than him, and seemed to be immutably attached to her gloves for some reason, and she was enamored with fire and explosions and the like, and so airy and dreamy all the time… but she brought Ron out of the hard shell he had around him. It was not a shell that connoted shyness (they could have dealt with that), but the air of a true loner, someone who thrived in silence and isolation. Luna had smashed into his life and then refused to leave, particularly as she decided that the two youngest Weasleys were apparently her two new best friends.
And now this.
Yes, Ron had always been strange. But he had also been quiet, he had been good. That he had hid the fact that there was something living in the workshop, human or not, was a blow to them, as they had always been able to trust the boy before.
(Neither was aware of the irony of that belief until years later.)
Molly had tried to scold him, she had, but Ron had just nodded along and either agreed or disagreed with every point, citing examples when he could, and just treated it as a debate of some sort rather than being scolded by his mother. It made it impossible to berate him when he treated it so distantly.
It didn't help matters that the… puppet they had found admitted that he had been around for far longer than they realized, and had apparently been dropped in with a large amount of woodworking tools, presumably to fix himself if something broke. He claimed he was rubbish at it and that even Ron was better at it, and had been for years.
(They realized just how the violin must have been created later that night, alone as they discussed things away from the children.)
Ron had been playing around in that strange basement for years, now, and was nearly an expert in all matter of carving, despite his young age. The instruments down there, all, were a result of him.
The clay sculptures in the back were creations of Luna's.
The printed sheet music was a gift to Ginny from the "demon girl" that the puppet had first spoken of.
Sanka was so polite, though. He apologized for things so soon, and he was so terribly nice about it all. When they offered for him to stay for dinner so they could come to a decision about him, he even offered to do the dishes, despite not having eaten a thing (and not knowing how waterproof his body was and whether it would warp from the dishwater). There was one thing, though, that proved he wasn't quite the perfect houseguest… he seemed to find a great amount of amusement in teasing Ron.
Molly decided to let it go for the time being, as a punishment for keeping it all secret for so long.
And then things just got stranger.
The summer after the twins came back from Hogwarts was a little… odd, to say the least. They had come back with stories, yes, and many of them were quite a bit like the ones that Bill and Charlie, and even Percy, had occasionally come back with, but they had also come back with things that the others hadn't gotten until their Hogsmeade trips in third year.
"I'm telling you, we didn't get them illegally, mum!"
"Then where did you get them?"
"The creepy twins."
There were several seconds of silence as Molly just stared at them. "What?"
Fred started. "There are two pairs of twins in our year."
George took over. "There's the funny twins, that's us, and—"
Fred continued. "There's the creepy twins. Byelobog and Chernobog."
"You can't just call them creepy, Fred. That's rude." Molly admonished them.
"Anyway, all you really need to know is that while we play pranks, they do other stuff, like get things that no one else can. They get stuff from Hogsmeade for everyone in the younger years, and no one's sure how they do it." Fred explained, ignoring Molly's scolding.
"Even we can't figure it out." George seemed to be rather excited. "It's also kind of funny, 'cause they're really close, even if Byelobog is in Gryffindor and Chernobog's in Slytherin. And they both seem to be pretty good friends with this weird Hufflepuff called Cedric Diggory."
"I think they're just trying to buddy up to Professor Sprout, since she's head of Hufflepuff, and the Herbology teacher. And they're Herbology geniuses, or something. Seriously, they can even get close to the Whomping Willow." Fred mused.
"No one gets close to the Whomping Willow." George exclaimed.
"Except for them, Professor Sprout, and Diggory." Fred nodded.
"But Diggory's weird. Even the unicorns like him." George waved that away.
"George! Don't call the boy weird. His father works and the ministry, and is a close friend of your father's." Molly had her hands on her hips as she scolded her sons, frowning.
"So we didn't steal it." Fred seemed to finish up.
"Or get it illegally."
Fred nodded. "We just pooled our allowances,"
"And got the creepy twins to do it!" George finished.
"Go to your rooms, boys." Molly sighed and sent them off.
Ron and Luna were sitting on the steps during the whole conversation, and squeezed to the sides as the twins thundered past. After the twins were gone and Mrs. Weasley had gone to the kitchen, Deidara spoke up.
"Creepy twins, yeah?"
"What are you thinking?"
"Creepy twins, different personalities but still close, and really good at Herbology, yeah?" Deidara shrugged. "Call me crazy, but that sounds a lot like Zetsu, yeah."
"You can't just make a decision based off of that." Sasori pointed out.
Deidara shrugged. "Maybe, but I still think it's likely, yeah."
Sanka didn't need sleep. He didn't need much, anyway; he was almost always awake. This meant that, even though he was known to the family now, he still had spare time at night. Yes, he could practice the piano and organ that had occupied the workshop basement for nearly a year now, but even that got boring after a while. He occasionally hinted at Sasori that he'd like something else to learn, to try, but nothing came of it.
At one point, he just cast a henge on himself and started going down to town, visiting here and there and just talking to people. Small stores and cafés, even occasional tourist shops as well. He met men and women, children and the elderly, all muggle. It became a nightly trip, one that he enjoyed. Yet even that got a little boring, and he began to find little trinkets, here and there, that he wanted as his own.
He couldn't borrow money from the Weasleys; they were stretched thin enough as it was. But…
His eye caught a sign one night, by the bank. It would be easy, really. Easy and he'd be better at it than anyone else…
And so Sanka became the new night guard for the Bank of the UK in Ottery St. Catchpole.
"You got a job?" Sasori stared at him in surprise. "Why?"
Sanka shrugged. "I get bored at night. There's no one to talk to, and I don't exactly have a lot to do. So I started walking around the town down there at night, and I saw some interesting things that I wanted to buy, but I have no money, so… I don't know. I guess I just figured it would be a good idea to have a source of income. Plus, I'm kind of freeloading at the moment and that makes me feel sort of guilty, so…"
Sasori shook his head. "Alright, I guess. What did you want to buy, anyway?"
"A laptop. They're pretty cool, and they look useful." Sanka explained. "Since I don't eat or really have any constant expenses since I'm dead, I'll have plenty of money soon. I'll be giving a bunch to your parents as rent, though. It should only take me a few weeks to get enough to buy what I want… though it'll take a LOT longer to get enough to hire someone to wire this place, so I'll only really be able to use the computer down in this one internet café."
Sasori raised an eyebrow. "Tell me more about these computers. How good are they compared to the ones back home?" Oh, he'd heard of laptops before, but he hadn't ever thought them to be anything beyond a slightly useless eccentricity.
So Sanka did.
Now Sasori wanted one too.
It looked like there would be a rise in the production of Scorpion Statuettes in the next few months.
Ron was ten, and the girls were nine, when Sanka managed to finally get enough money to buy all the supplies to get the workshop wired, and to install a wireless system. Of course, Sasori was really the one doing the wiring, but it wasn't like anyone really knew that.
This was the event that produced the first Weasley movie night.
What movie was it?
And the line that caught Deidara's eye, and Sanka's as well?
Sasori glared at the wide puppy eyes that Deidara was giving him. He ignored Sanka entirely.
"But it would be amazing, un!"
"I don't care."
"We could look awesome when we kick a**!"
"We're not villains."
He was not going to just randomly build an entire orchestra.
"Hey, Saso-chan…" Sanka started, completely ignoring Sasori's instantly and incessantly twitching eye at the nickname. "Do you know what a Vocaloid is?"
"Take a look, and thentell me if you're still not willing to make more instruments. And puppets to play them and sing."
Several hours later…
"Sandaime, see if you can find me a manual on programming."
Deidara and Sanka grinned at each other and high-fived behind Sasori's back as the boy himself worked on the schematics for a new puppet.
The title referred to the new puppet as a prototype for something called "SF-A2 Miki."
One strange aspect of this new life was that Deidara had far better control over herself. It wasn't as though many people knew, of course, but she did. She even had enough to hide her arguments with Sasori most of the time.
'Most of the time' was the key phrase there.
Seven years, they had hid their hushed arguments. They had even managed to avoid having one entirely in the past four months. And then, they just… snapped.
"IT'S EPHEMERAL! IT'S FLEETING, TRANSIENT, MOMENTARY! ART ISN'T MEANT TO LAST FOREVER, UN!"
It was a bit of a wake-up call.
Ginny stared at them as they argued. Yes, she had heard these arguments before, but never had they gotten quite this loud or angry about it.
"Hey, Ginny-chan. C'mon, let's get you away from these two." Sanka put a hand on her shoulder and led her out of the workshop, which was slowly growing in tension. The two of them ended up in the kitchen, where Sanka just gave a cheery salute to Mrs. Weasley's back, and left whistling, with his hands in his pockets, to go back to the workshop.
He entered to see a pair of young children that weren't children. Sure, they held the forms of children, but their stances, their expressions… they weren't children.
It would have been so much more poignant if it weren't for the fact that they were just arguing over art, of all things. Sure, it was kind of important, but it wasn't that big of a deal.
The Sandaime Kazekage had been young when he had been put into office, and had been young when he had been… forcibly retired. Contrary to the bad luck that plagued Konoha and Iwa, the Shodai and Nidaime Kazekage had both had rather long terms of service. So the Sandaime Kazekage was a fair bit younger than any of his counterparts in the other villages. He had taken office at the young age of twenty-three (though he heard that the Godaime had taken office at fifteen, which he applauded), and left it six years later when Sasori killed him.
He'd known Chiyo, and had actually been frequently roped into caring for chibi-Sasori back when he was a young yet well-established Jounin, not yet Kazekage. He wasn't doing it as a D-rank or for any official reason; it was just that Chiyo had a habit of twisting his arm to get him to do the work for her whenever she was too busy for it. The fact that he was prone to teasing Sasori as a child may have been the start of Sasori's dislike for him, though the fact that the teasing had continued well into Sasori's career was probably why Sasori absolutely hated him as an adult. Really, the ban on the human puppets was just the straw that broke the camel's back. Sasori hadn't like him at all before then, and in hindsight, Sanka really shouldn't have been as surprised as he was when Sasori decided to assassinate him. H***, he actually kind of brought it on himself.
Though giving Sasori noogies for years on end was kind of worth it.
Sanka knocked on the doorframe, leaning against it, and sighed when he was completely and utterly ignored by the two arguing artists.
They didn't even blink.
Sanka sighed again and walked over to them. He put his hands out to the side and then…
He clunked their heads together. Then he was forced to dodge several weapons of varying shapes and sizes as they came flying towards him in retaliation.
After several seconds of that, Sasori seemed to come to a realization. "Where's Ginny?" He demanded.
Sanka shrugged, his shoulders clicking. "She's in the kitchen."
The puppet grinned and leaned forward, propping up his chin with one hand. "Well, that's a rather funny story. Remember those movies with little kids hiding because their parents were always shouting at one another?"
On the one hand, Sasori and Deidara were intelligent enough to understand what he was implying. On the other hand, they cared a lot more about Ginny than they did about protesting Sanka's insinuations of romance.
Their eyes widened.
"Oh no." Sasori was gone in less than a second, shunshin-ing out into the open and then running the rest of the way. Deidara was barely half a second behind him, worry clouding her eyes.
Sanka shook his head and leaned back against a wall. "I wonder how long they'll stay in denial about this?"
"…I give them until the hormones kick in."
Luna was a strange child, to be sure, but there were also a few things she did that were surprisingly normal.
Like sing. Strange songs, usually, but she liked to sing.
Definitely not in public, though.
It was a natural step, really. Her best friend played the violin. Sanka, who was more like an eccentric uncle than anything else by this point, played the organ and piano, and had spread out to look at more percussive instruments (which organs and pianos counted as) in recent years. And Ron, or Sasori, really, created an almost disturbing number of musical puppets these days, mostly urged on by Ginny, all of which were quite reminiscent of the robots that starred in those online videos that they'd only recently gotten access to.
Those musical puppets, however, didn't have… soul. They were heartless, mindless. They were… well, they were puppets.
Any song they sang, it was lacking in emotion. It sounded flat. Sure, there were some songs where that method was fine, but there were also songs where the droid-like singing of the computer program just wasn't good enough.
Plus, she just felt a little left out. Sure, she could do special effects on occasion (a controlled explosion did wonders on the stage), but that wasn't really enough.
So she began to sing. Not in public, oh no, but she started to practice with her voice, in the shower, in her room. Alone, she practiced, just so she could 'get in on the action,' as it were.
"Oh, momma~, life had just begun~, and now I've gone and thrown it all~ away~…" Luna sang in the shower. It was a song that hit home, what with her past life as Deidara, but was also popular enough that her father wouldn't question her choice in singing it if he heard her.
Luna froze, and then slowly, ever-so-slowly, peeked around the curtain.
The bathroom was empty.
A wind-based ninjutsu to transfer the sound from the other side? Maybe a two-way one, where they just meant to listen, at first…
Luna shook her head. "Who are you, un?" She demanded.
"Uh… can't you tell by the voice?"
"…Well, yes, but I'd rather have you tell me anyway, un." She admitted.
"Sanka. As in, crazy puppet with creepy iron sand powers and too much time on his rickety old hands."
Lune frowned at the door, and slowly shifted her weight into a defensive stance, becoming Deidara in a moment. "Why are you here, un?"
"Actually," The voice came again. "'Little Ron' got into a chess match with his brothers. Well, three chess matches, actually, one each against the twins and Percy, all at the same time. Apparently, they practiced while they were at Hogwarts, and wanted to test their skills against him again. I think Percy's getting a little depressed by the fact that he's being beaten by an eleven-year-old. Ginny's watching. I got bored so I came to visit you. I'll go downstairs and talk to your dad until you're done, though. Sorry."
Then there was whistling, and footsteps, both of which grew slowly quieter as the owner left.
Well… that was one way of letting them know.
Sasori paced back and forth around the workshop nervously, arms behind his back. He chewed his lip, and Deidara just looked on. It was less than a month before he was due to leave for Hogwarts.
"I don't want to tell her."
"You are seriously worrying way too much about this, yeah." Deidara rolled her eyes, pushing away from the table she'd been leaning against. They were speaking English at the moment, but not for any real reason anymore. "Ginny idolizes you. She's not going to care that you were Akatsuki."
"But what if she does? What if she feels like I betrayed her or something? We've always portrayed ourselves as the bad guys, I always told her that no matter how cool Akatsuki seemed in the stories, they were still, we were, still the bad guys, always the bad guys." Sasori kept walking around, fingers twitching as though he was itching to work on a puppet in his anxiety.
Deidara walked up to his back and spun him around, reaching up to plant her hands on his shoulders and keep him rooted to the spot. "Danna. Sasori. Ron. Look at me. Ginny is your sister, yeah. She will not care. You are her brother and she loves you, and if you keep freaking out, I will slap you, yeah."
"Gaki, you don't understand, I—"
Sasori stood there, stunned, as a red handprint blossomed on his check. His head was facing to the side from the force of the blow, and Deidara had already gone back to standing with her hands crossed over her chest. He slowly turned back around to look at her.
"You hit me."
"You wouldn't stop panicking. It was annoying me, yeah." She frowned at him. "Just calm down. She'll still love you, yeah."
"Sasori-no-danna. Trust me, yeah?" She pulled him into a tight hug, trying to convey as much confidence as she could through to him.
Deidara pulled away and smiled up at him, and received a weak smile in return.
"Nii-tan?" Ginny, even after she'd learned the correct way to say it, continued to use the modified, "cutesy" honorific when she spoke to her brother.
Sasori turned to smile at her, but it was closer to a grimace. "Hello, imouto. Remember when we told you we were shinobi?"
Ginny nodded, frowning slightly. "And then you wouldn't tell me when you'd had time to learn it, or where Sanka came from."
Sasori took a deep breath to steady himself. "Ginny, you know all those stories I've told you about Akatsuki and the great nations?"
"Do you believe in reincarnation?"
An hour later, the explanation was finished, and Ginny didn't love her brother any less than before. In fact, she was just glad that he trusted her enough to tell her all of this.
Deidara was right about a lot of things, far more than Sasori gave her credit for, in this life or the last one.
Ron sighed as his mother, once again, fussed over him on the station. King's Cross was an interesting place, and it always had been, but honestly? He was too used to it all. Luna, though, who was standing right next to him, was here for the first time, not having been close enough to his brothers to come along when they had left. However, she had managed to convince Molly, Arthur, and her own father that she wanted to come see Ron off.
He blinked in slight confusion as his mother asked what the number was, as though she didn't know already. Then he noticed Ginny excitedly volunteering the answer out of the corner of his eye, and smiled slightly as he realized that his mother had asked the question for Ginny's benefit, not her own knowledge. (1)
Luna stared at the barrier, head tilted just enough for her left eye to peek out. It narrowed as she grinned, and then glanced over at Ron and winked.
So Deidara's genjutsu-trained eye could see through the barrier, then. That was interesting, if not very useful knowledge.
"You have all your socks, Ron?" Molly fussed over him as they finally made their way onto the platform.
"Yes, mum." It had taken Molly ages to get him to call her that instead of the more formal "Mother," but she had done it.
"All your books?"
"Yes, mum." Ron resisted the urge to sigh.
"That… that paper that Mr. Sanka gave you?"
"Yes, mum, I have the scroll." At least that question was one that she hadn't had to ask every last one of the boys before. That gave her a point or two for originality, he supposed.
"Alright…" Molly sounded unsure, but pushed her hesitance away in favor of gathering her youngest son up in a tight hug and telling him to make sure he wrote.
Ron could swear that he heard Luna snickering at him.
He finally made it onto the train several minutes later, and slowly looked through the carriages, trying to find one that was free.
Well, this one only had a single person in it. And, judging by the lack of indicative color in his clothing, the boy was a first year as well. Ron had learned to expect such actions after living with his brothers for as long as he had. If a person was in a given house, they could be expected to wear a reference to their house at all times for as long as they went to Hogwarts, and in some rare and particularly immature cases, for years afterwards as well. This boy was wearing rather practical clothing, some of which had a slight air of hand-me-downs to it. Despite that, the boy looked polished, and his hair was in a style that Ron hadn't seen in quite some time… not since Akatsuki, in fact.
(Though Bill seemed to be keen on growing his hair out now that he no longer lived in the UK, no longer close enough for Molly to demand that he cut it whenever it started growing out by more than a few inches.)
Hm… he supposed this room was as good as any. As Hogwarts students seemed to traditionally find their best friends during their first train ride, according to his older brothers (not that he could honestly take them at their word for… anything, really, particularly when it came to Fred and George), finding a fellow first year was probably a good idea.
Ron knocked on the door and, without waiting for an answer, slid the door open and poked his head in, trying not to convey any disdain in his emotion.
(1) I doubt that Molly actually forgot the platform number in canon, but I also doubt that she asked just to get Harry's attention. This, though, I feel is a reasonable explanation. Ginny is ten years old and excitable, and still a little depressed about all her brothers leaving to go to school. Molly's just trying to cheer her up.
A/N: Just the twins and leaders left, and then the introduction arc (which will have taken me six months to post, sadly enough) will be over. But you got the Sandaime Kazekage like this instead of a bland series of chapters for Sasori and Deidara, and we all know that's worth it.
Don't forget to go check out the dA page, okay?
Regarding Selena's death:
Canonically, the death happened when Luna was nine; Mrs. Lovegood (her real name is unknown) died due to performing an experimental charm which backfired. But here's the thing: this Luna is Deidara, and has all the explosive chakra to go with that little quirk. For those first few years, the chakra leaks, because she doesn't have sufficient control over it. It clings to her surroundings, and, indeed, to the people around her as well. As a result, the effects of a backfiring charm (and the one that killed her can't have been the only one that ever didn't work out) are larger and more lethal due to the combustible chakra in the air. That's why Mrs. Lovegood died three years earlier than in canon.
(It amuses me that the only person to point this out was Ttran2323, who has never even read the Harry Potter series.)