Title: Sabaku no Harry (Harry of the Sand Waterfall)
Rating: T+ for future war/violence
Summary: Voldemort learns the entire prophecy and turns it in his favor: if no one can kill him except Harry and vice versa, what better path to immortality than to send the boy away? Five-year-old Harry awakens in a vast desert. How will he survive?
Disclaimer: I don't own any recognizable characters or settings from either the HP-verse or Naruto-verse.
A/N #1: I'm not abandoning my Harry Potter/Bleach story, "Reign Over the Frosted Heavens," but I have been writing it to the exclusion of all other fanfics for over two years. This HP/Naruto Shippuden x-over will allow me to continue writing and posting even when a chapter of RotFH gives me problems. And vice versa.
A/N #2: Gaara is my favorite character after Naruto, though Minato runs a very close third. I've read many, many fics where chibi-Harry meets Naruto, chibi-Naruto meets Harry, shinobi go to Hogwarts, Harry goes to Konoha, and dozens of similar combinations. For the most part, they're all Harry interacting with various members of the Leaf Village, past and present. I've never seen one where Gaara and Harry are the primary focus. Hopefully, you'll enjoy this less trodden crossover path. I'll still bring in Naruto, Kakashi, etc., but it will be primarily a Gaara-and-Harry-centric story.
A/N #3: As was the case when I began my HP/Bleach fic, I'm posting the first chapter when I am only a few months into the Naruto fandom, so there are bound to be errors and inconsistencies. Constructive corrections and recommendations are welcome. Flames will warm my apartment instead of a space heater.
Such a little thing to cause such chaos. The lightest brush-stroke, no longer than a fingernail and created with human blood, angled ten degrees too far to the left. Unnoticeable to any but an expert in ancient runes, which the Dark Lord was not. It was enough to change the entire sequence in ways no one could have predicted.
In both truth and fiction, the small details spoilt a megalomaniac's otherwise carefully crafted plan.
Finding the Potters took no effort whatsoever, given their secret keeper was a Death Eater. Peter Pettigrew wasn't exactly loyal, but he was a useful spy, particularly after his enemies made the colossal mistake of entrusting the hidden traitor with their most precious secret. Voldemort had learned the Potters' location within 24 hours and kept a careful eye on the place ever since. The cottage in Godric's Hollow was quaint, rustic, bucolic, pastoral—any of a dozen adjectives to describe a sickeningly sweet setting. He could strike at any time. Instead, he waited.
Voldemort had a plan. The precise timetable of events could not be rushed. And to think: one meeting with his loyal follower from the Department of Mysteries had changed everything.
Felton Garreth knelt on the plush griffin-fur rug at his master's feet and bowed his head almost to the ground. "I have the information you requested, my lord."
Silhouetted by sunlight, his angular features cast in dramatic shadow, black robes billowing in the Autumn breeze through the open window, the dark wizard turned away from the view that overlooked the rolling, manicured lawns of Hydak Manor. The unplottable and heavily warded property belonged to Jacob Hydak—a pureblood member of the Wizengamot who was vulnerable to blackmail due to his disgusting perversions toward Muggle children.
It made the perfect base of operations. After all, who would expect to find a dark lord living large in a home belonging to a senior member of the British wizarding world's legislative body?
Never let it be said that Voldemort didn't know how to set a stage, or take advantage of every opportunity.
Darkly handsome. Compelling. Hypnotic. Charismatic. All terms that often described the man once known as Tom Marvolo Riddle. That name, however, was long forgotten, even by himself. Today, all knew and feared him as Voldemort, the Dark Lord.
"My lord," the squat, balding man in brown robes replied, "what you ask is theoretically possible, but it would require more combined magical power than we have in our entire ranks...even...please forgive me...including yourself."
Voldemort's hand drew his wand from its forearm holster and aimed it at the man. His voice was a lethal whisper. "Then what possible use is your research to me?"
Garreth trembled, both body and voice, and hurried to the one piece of news that might save his life. "Lord, there is a way."
The wand remained poised, but Voldemort held off casting the curse. "I'm listening."
"For hundreds of years, the Department has been researching the source of magical power. I've sworn an Unbreakable Vow to not reveal specific information to anyone. However, that doesn't stop me from performing my own experiments into ways to harness that power. If my lord will allow me, I will make all of the arrangements."
"How long will it take?"
"There is a place...from...the records...ung..." Garreth grimaced, his back bowed in pain, evidence of how close he skated to the edge of his vow. "The...the power fluctuates and is currently at its lowest ebb. It's projected to peak again in August of 1985. This will be the best time for you to strike."
Voldemort scowled. "I must wait five years to banish one small child?"
"Performing the ritual at that time will ensure success, my lord Voldemort. It could be done sooner, but the odds of success would be...less predictable."
Voldemort kept the man waiting until sweat puddled beneath Garreth and the man's entire body shuddered from the strain of both fear and his kneeling position. Once Voldemort was certain he'd instilled the proper respect into his agent, he slid his wand back into its holster and straightened his sleeves.
"Very well. Do whatever is necessary. In the meantime, I will decide how best to use the time between."
James Potter sat on a bench in a vine-draped gazebo near the back entrance to Potter Cottage in Godric's Hollow, his wife Lily beside him. In a padded, high-backed chair created by magic to match his own personal comfort, Albus Dumbledore met their gaze with that damnable twinkle in his eyes. The arbor ceiling provided a welcome shade against the warmth of the August afternoon.
"Albus, we've been locked in this place for over four years," James said, finger-combing his unruly black hair in agitation. "Harry turned five years old two weeks ago."
Lily added, "If the Dark Lord meant to come after us, he'd have done so by now."
"Possibly," the elder wizard ceded the point, "but we can't guarantee that. He and his followers killed the entire Longbottom family before they could go under the Fidelius as you did. This was before his raid on the Hall of Prophecy. There can be no doubt, he knows that Harry is destined to defeat him. He has made no serious bids to assume power over all wizarding Britain, but he hasn't been idle, either, striking somewhere at least once or twice a week. If he were to learn your location, that all might change. We cannot risk you returning to the wizarding world before Harry is ready."
"This life is killing us, Albus," James persisted. "The same thing, day after day. The monotony never ends. We can't visit friends. They can't visit us. We can't work or shop because no one can see us unless Peter reveals the truth to them. And the more people who know, the greater the risk. We've tried taking walks through the village just to escape these four walls for a little while, but it's the strangest feeling when no one sees or hears you. Or when you accidentally bump into someone, they look around like they've been hit by a ghost."
He pointed to the trio of greenhouses and four segregated food and herb gardens scattered around the back of the property. "Except what we can grow or transfigure for ourselves, we're dependent upon you and the Hogwarts house elves for food, clothing, entertainment, everything. If this is living, we might as well be ghosts!"
Lily turned her eyes to her five-year-old son. Harry, a chibi version of his father, played and laughed quite happily with the crup pup he'd received for his birthday. "Harry can't have playmates, either wizarding or muggle. All he knows is us—his parents and you, his teacher—and a few random faces that show up from time to time. Sirius can't visit often without leading the Dark Lord's spies to the town. Neither can Peter and Remus."
"He has his pet—"
"A pet alone will only satisfy him for so long," Lily cut him off, "and he can only train so many hours in a day. He needs human interaction if he's to learn the social skills that are vital to dealing with other people. You can't expect him to become the hero you need to save the wizarding world if he has no connections or feelings for that world."
"I do see your points, truly I do, and every one of them is quite valid," Dumbledore said, eye-twinkle lost in a shadow of irritation and unease. The elderly wizard rose from his chair and paced from one side of the gazebo to the other. Shoulders slumped under a tremendous weight of responsibility, he rubbed his wrinkled forehead and sighed. "In the beginning, I thought I knew precisely what he wanted and how he would go about getting it. He's always been impatient, wanting power handed to him with no effort on his part. He doesn't wait for things to happen—he prefers to act rather than react, and he never fails to strike at anything he sees as an annoyance or a threat. That makes the last few years even more confusing. I can't understand why he hasn't torn the world apart looking for Harry. He and his Death Eaters are active, certainly, picking off Light-sided wizards and witches, and attacking defenseless muggleborn families in random raids. These terroristic activities successfully sow fear, but very few give him the power and control he craves above all else. What can he be waiting for?"
"Knowing the answer to that would be all well and good. It doesn't, however, change how we feel. This isn't living," James completed their argument. "It's barely even existing. It's not an way of life that I want for my family. Lily and I want to have more children, but we've held off. It wouldn't be fair to bring them into this...this Merlin-be-damned, time-frozen hell."
A child's carefree giggle cut through the serious atmosphere. "Ooooh, Da used bad words!"
Harry and his crup puppy bounded into the gazebo, pants grass-stained, cheeks flushed and breathing hard. James smiled back and ruffled his son's untamed black hair. Brilliant emerald green eyes shone in a cherubic face. A dragon-hide wand holster bounced like a sword sheath on his left hip—proof to any wizard or witch that Harry received training, permissions and privileges not offered to most folk.
"Yes I did," James admitted, "but I'm grown up and allowed to. You're not."
Harry stabbed his chest with a stiffened thumb. "I'm five years old now! I got my own wand and everything! Am too grown!"
"Not enough to use naughty words," Lily replied.
Lily blinked. "When what?"
"When will I be old enough to use naughty words?"
James said, "Thirty," even as Lily replied, "Fifty." James looked at his wife's face and quickly changed his decision to, "Fifty. Definitely fifty. At the earliest."
Harry harrumphed and hopped back out into the yard, calling to the crup, "C'mon, Cork. It's boring here. Let's play."
The boy trotted back to the wider yards between the cultivated gardens, his pup close on his heels. His departure allowed the dark atmosphere from before to creep back in.
"I'll see what I can do," Albus compromised, "but I make no promises. James, Lily, I'm sorry, but it has to be this way. Neville Longbottom was the only other child who fit the context of the prophecy. With him dead, young Harry is our only hope."
"It's here. Finally. After five long, annoying years. It's time."
Peter Pettigrew, otherwise known as Wormtail, stared fearfully up at the man who held his cowardly allegiance. "My lord?"
The taller wizard stared down the street at the quaint little cottage, at the lovely gardens and lush greenhouses in the back, the well-tended flower beds in the front. The traditional white picket fence. A string of reed and shell wind chimes hanging from a low tree limb. A swing, near which lay an abandoned toy hippogriff. Yes. His enemies had grown comfortable. Complacent. Careless.
"I've waited years for this day," Voldemort mused aloud. "For the entire time, that damnable prophecy hung over my head like an executioner's ax and gave them hope." The Dark Lord scoffed. "False hope. They look at the words through filters of their own making. They give the prediction only one possible outcome. They never see that it has a second side, one in my favor."
The balding, ratty little man sidled a half-step closer. "My lord, I...I don't understand. What is this second side?"
Rather than answer directly, Voldemort replied with a question of his own. "You've heard Trelawney's prophecy, Wormtail. What do you think it means?"
Peter hesitated, stuttered, and shuddered. When Voldemort glared at him to answer, he stammered, "It means...you're the one who will kill the child."
Voldemort backhanded the cowardly sycophant into a nearby fence. "Idiot. No one can kill me except that boy, and no one can kill the boy except me. What do you think would happen if I sent the brat so far away, he'd never get back? We're only vulnerable to each other. By keeping him alive in another world, I will live forever!"
Voldemort returned his gaze to the cottage at the end of the lane. "My agent inside the Department of Mysteries has located a dimension separate from our own—a trackless, empty void cut out of time. Trapped within this realm, he will never age, never grow, and most important of all...never escape. I intend to send Harry Potter there."
The smile on what would have otherwise been a handsome, chiseled face was demonic.