"With all due respect, Dumbledore-dono, this is a very... unusual arrangement you are proposing." Hiruzen Sarutobi, third Hokage of he Hidden Leaf Village told his guest.
The two (visible) men meeting in the Hokage's office looked aged but in entirely different ways. Albus Dumbledore was a man in his late nineties and as such had no shortage of wrinkles, his hair had whitened long ago and his movements were cautious and deliberate. The kind of movement one has when any ill-thought adjustment can lead to a week of aches and pains. He was an old man but one who bore it with dignity.
Hiruzen Sarutobi on the other hand, was not an old man, despite how often he would claim such. He could be considered on the back half of middle age, having turned fifty-one recently. However, he looked far older. He had spent ten of those years on the front lines of two wars, the periods between only considered peaceful by comparison. In truth they were periods of a tenuous armistice, much like the current time. Since the end of the second war, he had been the leader of the Hidden Leaf, doing everything he could to make the fragile peace last as long as he could. He had lived a hard life and it showed. Despite being half the visitor's age, one wouldn't think it to look at them.
It had been a difficult year for Konoha and the immediate future did not look much better. Rumblings of a coming war could be felt throughout the elemental nations. And while Konoha stood proud as one of the five great ninja villages, at the least an equal against their strongest adversaries of Hidden Rock and Hidden Cloud, Hiruzen knew from experience nothing was gained from war. Youthful ninja seeking recognition on the battlefield would find it accompanied by hardship, misery and the loss of their most precious people. These were the thoughts drawing him ever closer to his fated retirement one way or the other.
The strange and cheerful visitor knew nothing of this though. His thoughts remained on the boy of only one year old that he had brought to the hidden leaf. In truth, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore was unusually proud of himself for his current scheme. His young temporary ward was fated for great things as well as, sadly, a tragic end. This is what brought him to the elemental nations and these 'ninja', these men and women raised on the principles of duty and self-sacrifice. They would teach young Harry that sacrifices must be made. So when the day came for Harry to realise his destiny, he would walk toward it and embrace it with dignity.
"I understand your unease, Hokage-sama," Dumbledore conceded, using the local customs. "However, there is much to be gained for both our nations with this exchange. For the next ten years, your village will be responsible for Harry's well being and tutelage, perhaps in the methods of your 'ninja' though that will be at your discretion. Then once he reaches his eleventh year approximately ten years from now, he will return to his home country to be educated through our methods. In doing so, he will be considered to be on one of your long-term S-rank missions and thus your village will receive payment in goods equalling the payment of such."
There were a great many things the foreigner was not saying. That much was patently obvious. However, hiding things from ninja was not a wise move; a fact that Dumbledore would learn in time. "This seems to benefit you far more than it does the Leaf, based solely on what you are not saying, Dumbledore-dono." the Hokage observed.
"Oh, of course there will be a down-payment for your services in raising the lad." Dumbledore agreed, only mildly disappointed that they wouldn't agree immediately. Perhaps he had gotten too used to his peers worshipping the ground he walked upon. Setting the thought aside for another day, he withdrew several books from a bag clearly too small to carry them. "Tomes of knowledge from my personal library", he lied. They were second hand from Flourish and Blotts but these xenophobes weren't likely to double check. "Harry would likely have the best chance of making use of them after his time at our school is complete but your people are of course welcome to their use as well. I translated them into your language myself." With a translation charm that took about four seconds. It was possible there were a few translation errors, and even more of a chance of some words not even having a proper translation, but that wasn't the older of the men's problem.
The third Hokage started leafing through one of the volumes placed on his desk. It seemed legitimate. Though its usefulness would take time to determine. "Upon completion of your mission he will return to the leaf." Sarutobi stated. It was not a request.
"I would rather not force the lad to do so." Dumbledore hedged. "However, should he wish to return to this place I will not stop him. He will also have the option of returning for the months of June through August every year, if that is agreeable."
"... It is." Sarutobi reluctantly agreed. They would have the chance to reaffirm the boy's loyalty to Konoha every year. That opportunity would be invaluable if he brought all of the knowledge of these foreigners back with him. "The council and myself shall deliberate on your offer. Accommodations shall be provided for you in the meantime."
"That is... most kind of you." Dumbledore said slowly. "Unfortunately I do have prior commitments and therefore require an answer by the end of the day. I apologise for the inconvenience."
The Konoha council chambers was a simple room in the shape of a semicircle. Along the one flat wall was a wooden podium. Behind which stood the third Hokage, Hiruzen Sarutobi. On his left and right seated at tables of their own were his advisers Koharu and Homura. Surrounding them around the edge of the room stood the rest of the council behind a low wall matching the shape of the room. On the left side were civilian advisors numbering five – merchants and bankers that held together the village's economy. On the right were the military side of the council; the heads of each significant clan in Konoha. From the ocularly blessed Uchiha to the canine training Inuzuka.
"With all due respect, Hokage-sama, this does not seem a significant issue." the head of the Uchiha clan argued.
"Hate to say it, but I have to agree." the head of the Inuzuka said. "One kid won't have much of an impact. We either take him or we don't. Either way, we don't really stand to lose anything."
"Oh?" began the head of the white-eyed Hyuuga clan. "And if we were to train the boy only for this 'Dumbledore' to take him to Hidden Rock afterwards?"
"You can't honestly be suggesting a child could destabilise the village based on what he learned by age eleven?" the Yamanaka head asked incredulously.
"Whether that is what Hyuuga-san meant or not is irrelevant." Sarutobi interrupted. "We know well where his loyalties lie and they belong to none on the elemental nations. Whatever he wants, he wants it for his own country, this 'Britain'. And whatever that is, it involves the boy somehow."
"Is he significant in some way? What did the sensors say?" asked Homura.
"Of Dumbledore they said his chakra capacity was remarkable for a non-ninja. Jonin level at least. Of the baby... They said the boy had well above average chakra levels for a child his age. However, they also claim that he carries a second distinct chakra signature."
At this the seemingly uninterested Nara clan head suddenly paid full attention. "A jinchuriki?" he asked.
Sarutobi shook his head. "They specifically ruled that out. The signature is human if... corrupted somehow. They couldn't describe it well beyond calling it 'wrong'."
"Were our medics able to determine anything?" Koharu asked.
"We weren't able to get them a look. Dumbledore is being very protective of him until we make a decision. Won't let the boy out of his sight."
There was a brief silence.
"Very well." The Hokage said. "Does anyone have reason to refuse this offer?" As the Uchiha head opened his mouth Sarutobi added "Aside from 'it's a waste of resources'." The Uchiha's mouth closed again.
No one spoke. Thus that issue was solved.
"Very well. Where shall he be placed? Is any clan willing to take him in?" Sarutobi asked the ninja clan heads.
The bloodline limit clans, the Uchiha, Hyuuga and Kurama were obviously out. The boy would be an outcast in those clans for not possessing the special abilities of the clan. If Konoha wanted the boy to return, they needed him to feel welcome. To call the village 'home'.
The Yamanaka, though willing, were also out due to their distinctive features that the boy did not share. That left the Akimichi, the Aburame, the Nara and the Inuzuka.
"We cannot take him. Because? He would learn nothing from us." The head of the bug-using Aburame stated flatly.
Looking at the two other remaining heads who continued to look uncomfortable with the idea of adopting someone into their clan, Shikatsu Nara, head of the Nara clan spoke up. "We'll take him then. We have someone who will take him in." It wouldn't hurt to have someone with decent chakra capacity in the clan for once, he added in his own mind. It wasn't too far-fetched to request the boy donate a few samples to add to the clan's gene pool in return for raising him. "What is his name?"
"Harry Potter." The third Hokage answered, struggling with the foreign pronunciation.
"Strange. We'll have to change it."
Ayami Nara was a ninja. As a citizen of a hidden village and member of a prominent clan, that shouldn't come as a surprise. She was a mildly talented chunin in her mid-twenties with tan skin and the untidy dark hair common in her clan secured in a ponytail. As a ninja, she was not particularly special. She had the low chakra capacity that was common for a Nara but was unfortunately not gifted with the near genius level intellect the more prominent members of the clan were famous for. Thus, her career as a ninja was at something of a dead end. Her capabilities were not such that she could be trusted to protect her own genin cell as a jonin so promotion was out of the question. She could join ANBU and become one of the anonymous protectors of the village but...
Ayami wanted children.
As a ninja, life expectancy is greatly shortened but as a somewhat mediocre ninja she wouldn't be expected to carry out the more dangerous and deadly missions. Border patrol and simple escort missions were the norm with occasional simple bandit eradications thrown in to keep things interesting and keep her skills sharp. But even so, she had had enough close calls to know at some point her luck would run out. In a sense, it already had. As an attempt to start a family of her own she had married another chunin she had served on some missions with and got along with well enough. They weren't exactly in love but they both understood with their high-risk occupation, waiting for 'perfect' is ill advised.
They had been married for six months when her husband Akito was killed by a missing nin while on a border patrol mission.
They might not have been in love. But that did not mean Ayami didn't care for Akito deeply. To lose him so suddenly left her in a state of despair and hopelessness. She did not want to remarry for fear of suffering another such loss. Thus, her hope for having children, of leaving a legacy behind, was lost.
This was the situation Shikotsu Nara walked in to, carrying a small boy with messy black hair and vivid green eyes.
Almost nine years passed. In those nine years many things had happened. The old man seeking sanctuary for his mysterious ward returned home. A matter of weeks later, war broke out in the elemental nations. The Third Great Ninja War. It lasted for a long and bloody three years. Ayami had no choice but to do her duty as a ninja of the Leaf and fight to protect her village and young son. Two years into the war she came closer than ever before to the end of her days. While fighting a Hidden Rock nin when she was caught unawares by a wind technique that robbed her of her left leg. She was saved at the last minute but her ninja career was effectively over. It would be two years before she learned what a stroke of luck this was. Only a single year after the end of the third great ninja war, the Leaf was struck with another calamity.
The greatest of the tailed chakra beasts, the Kyuubi no Yoko, the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox attacked. Had she not been crippled in the war, she would have been mobilised like every other Leaf nin, and more than likely would have been killed. She was sorely tempted to send that Rock nin a fruit basket when that realisation struck.
Many ninja were lost that day. Their numbers thinned, the Leaf was once again vulnerable to attack. As such, the age restriction for entrance into the ninja academy was lowered from eight to six in an attempt to rebuild their forces as quickly as possible. Naturally Ayami's young son, raised on tales of his clan's exploits in the war and the new legend of the fourth Hokage, Minato Namikaze, enrolled as soon as he was able. Four years of training both at the academy and at home learning his clan's techniques brought him to this day. The day he would become a ninja!
"Hari Toukou-Nara!" the academy teacher called.
A young boy with vivid green eyes, dark hair in an unusual – for those not of the Nara clan at least – pineapple style and wearing circular-framed glasses walked forward and accepted his official Konoha nin headband.
A/N (updated May 2016): Okay. I've gone through this chapter and tidied it up some. In the original version I was inconsistent with the language terms so I fixed that to be (mostly) in English. Techniques will probably be in both since some of them sound silly with literal translations. Names will be western style (given names first). I've also added some descriptive stuff here and there where it felt lacking. I plan to update the other chapters the same way.
The Fandom Flux youtube channel is a thing. We have some cool stuff on there. Kenchi618 is on it. So is Serpentguy. And KingofZeroX. And Slicerness. And (sometimes) Arrixam. We do podcasts about fandom stuff and also writing. It's cool.
Thanks for reading.