Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or Harry Potter.
Ron breathes in, breathes out. He is calm. Uzumaki is calm. They are all calm. Right. He breathes in, breathes out. In, out. In, out.
In out in out in out in out god he's nearly on the point of hysteria. Who is he kidding? He's a ball of nerves. He's a giant, nervous ball of nervy nerves. This – this reminds him of the morning of his first Quidditch game. All panic and terror and screaming (though… he's probably imagining that. Probably) and, through it all, Harry trying to get Ron to eat his toast. Of course he'd be panicked – he threw the ball wrong, he never had complete control of his broom (he remembers floating upsidedown at one point), not the way Oliver Wood did, and he had the terrible sinking feeling that he'd only been chosen as Keeper because Charlie and Fred and George had been on it. Only because he was a Weasley, not because he was Ron. If he was the main character of – of a book, or something stupid like that, that would have been the point where he was supposed to have been proven wrong, where he was supposed to have the most amazing game ever.
But that…. that was a horrible Quidditch match. He had the pleasure of saying that was one of the worst Quidditch matches he'd ever seen in his entire life (Weasley, he was born in a bin, he always lets the Quaffle in - ). Ever. Even with the Cannons (nothing wrong with the Cannons, not really, they weren't the best, but -) and that was saying something. The only way – only way – that match could have possibly been worse was if they replaced the brooms with flying spiders.
Did they have those in this world? Did they have giant spiders? Did they –
Best not to think about that. Ever.
The proper way to hold a kunai. He thinks he's gotten it figured out. There are lots of holds, and lots of ways to mess it up, but what you're supposed to do is grab the kunai the same way every time, for consistency. And throw it the same way every time. For consistency. He's not too good at that. And there are blisters and calluses on his hands, but according to Tenten, his aim is still… haphazard.
Near the orphanage, there are a few trees the matron painted with bright red target circles specifically meant for Academy students. Uzumaki nods to himself and reaches down for his foraged kunai.
Thunk. Thunk. Thunk.
He winces. One kunai is just outside of an outer ring. Another is in the inner. The last misses the tree entirely and sticks in the ground.
Tenten tsks, crosses her arms. "No good. Again." She flicks a kunai absentmindedly at one of the trees. To add insult to injury, it hits dead center.
He groans. He doesn't really think it's actually his aim that's wrong anymore. He thinks it's more the fact that he's been doing this for about five hours straight and his arm feels like it's going to fall off, which can't possibly be beneficial. "Why're you drilling me like this now?" he complains. Thunk. Outer ring. He scowls. "What's wrong with the drill from last week?"
She flicks another kunai. Dead center again. "We're trying to get you ready for the test, y'see," she explains, her tone of voice patient and ever-so-slightly patronizing.
Most everyone gets tested before they enter the Academy. The test itself is optional, since a lot of it can be avoided if your guardians fill out and submit an evaluation file. But everyone takes it (at least all the orphans do, since the matron can only fill so many of those forms and she's not a ninja anyway, so her evaluation doesn't mean much), since you do get a sheet of paper telling you how well you did, what you should work on. Things you should really know if you want to be a shinobi. It's not about really passing or failing, since no matter how they do on it, they still get admitted. It's only a measure of skill. Only for teaching purposes and for your Academy file. It's not the end of the world if you do badly. Though it might as well be, since it's the big difference on whether your teacher looks at you and thinks 'you're a clever kid, you have potential' or 'I remember you, you're the idiot who missed your kunai target from one foot away.'
Ron fidgets. He has no idea how well he did.
It's a written test (evaluation, they call it, as if a longer word makes it any better), first, a long one, though interspersed with short breaks. It doesn't look hard at first. In large italics at the top is answer what you can, leave blank what you don't, and the first sheet of paper are simple yes and no questions with checkboxes – are you civilian-born, have you any prior experience with weapons, would you say you know a lot about shinobi, are you physically fit. Things like that. The next part is slightly more personal – how much do you exercise per week, what kind of exercise, what is your body type, what kind of experience do you have with medicine. But very much doable.
And then Uzumaki looks over the rest of the test and he panics. He panics because he doesn't know half the material on there. He's not entirely sure what a jutsu is, or what sticking a leaf to your forehead is supposed to do. He doesn't know who started the First Shinobi War or what exactly was the founding of Konohagakure no Sato. He knows a little bit of first aid, but anything beyond that is far, far beyond him. He thinks he answers a few of the plant questions correctly (is this poisonous or not, medical or not), and he's almost entirely sure reading comprehension and math is all good. But at least half of that test, when he finishes, is completely and utterly blank.
Next is the practical examination – basic pushups and situps and running, and then an individual showing of skills. He knows he outran a lot of the other students (he knew he'd be great at that running thing when he was older), and his weapon handling was all right (thank you, Tenten). But his taijutsu is rough.
At the orphanage, Inaka Shun is the best at taijutsu.
The surname 'Inaka' marks Shun as orphan and maybe even bastard to the village, since it's the generic one that the orphanage gives to all of its nameless, to all of those that are either unknown or dropped off as a result of an affair. The matron always offers to change it before any official schooling begins, so that there's no real record of it, but he remembers that Inaka Shun refused it – he wears his status proudly like a badge.
"I grew up being Inaka, and Inaka I'll stay. So what if Inaka means bastard? If I'm a bastard, I'm a bastard. I'm Inaka. That's that."
(He's not the only one, either.)
Ron – Uzumaki – respects that. He's not sure he could do the same, and inwardly, he thinks he's very lucky that he came with a surname at all.
Though he's willing to teach, Shun shakes his head at Uzumaki and admits he's no good at it. He gives Uzumaki a few tips, but Ron knows he fights more like a brawler than anything like a trained ninja. He has no ninjutsu, either, since a lot of jutsu is sealed away from civilians (though he's sure the clan-born have been taught by their families. It almost reminds him of that rule Hermione always fumed about – how none of the muggleborn could practice over summer break because of the Trace, but halfbloods and purebloods were given almost completely free reign as long as they had a magical parent around), and has no idea what the examiner means when he is asked to demonstrate some sort of chakra control.
Finally, it's over and Examiner 6C gives Uzumaki a fake, pasted on smile that says he's tired and he just wants all of it to be over. "Civilian-born?" he asks, and when Uzumaki nods (everyone in the orphanage is assumed to be civilian-born), he presses a thick pamphlet in his hands and waves him off. "You're free to go," he says wearily, and Uzumaki nods and grins and scurries out and tells the confident-looking blonde girl next in line 6C to come in.
On the cover of the pamphlet -
Congratulations! You are a student of the Academy!
There's a small pencil sketch – a rooftop view sketch of the Academy. Inside cover, brief Academy history, sketch of the Hokage monument, sketch of the current Hokage. We thank you for your service to the village and sincerely hope you prosper in our institution of –
Ron stares at the page for a while, then stuffs the entire thing in his pocket. He'll read it later.
Three years ago, he was a pre-Academy examiner and teacher's assistant. Two years ago, he was a pre-Academy examiner and teacher's assistant. Last year, he was a pre-Academy examiner and teacher's assistant.
But now – now they've decided to trust him with his own class. He has a partner, of course, all chunin instructors. But this! His own class! Class 3B this year, which was a pretty nice classroom, if he did say so himself. He knows that it's not really his own class. After all, his teaching partner has three more years of experience and would probably dominate the way the children are being taught. But still – still! Officially, on paper, it is his class, his first class, and he's going to teach people and they will be amazing. He flicks through the list of students. Some names stand out sharply on the list. Aburame… Akamichi…Hyuuga… Inu… shit, does he have all the clan kids in this class? He looks over at Akamine Rin's list – Class 3A. Civilian, civilian, civilian… He groans. It's true, isn't it? He spots a few civilian clan names on his list, and there are some orphans, too, but in the end, he's stuck with all the big-name clans. No, it's accurate to say that he's stuck with all the clans – he sees a small one known for its medics, and a few genjutsu type as wall. Sighing, he scrolls down the list again. Ooh, the Uchiha, too, and…
…Ah. He'd almost forgotten.
He had Uzumaki Naruto. That was…
He refused to think it. The brat. No. The Brat. Yes, that seemed better. He already knew that, of course, since he did get sent to the orphanages to talk about who would be signing up. It was the… which orphanage was it… Hinansho. Right, that one. He had been ever so slightly horrified when he knew that the Brat was going to sign up – no, that he already signed up. The matron – what was her name? Ta… Tachibana-san, yes. She had said that the Brat actually was very well behaved, oddly enough. Very obedient child, if a bit of a loner.
Of course the Brat would be a loner. Maybe the other kids could sense the – He puts down his clipboard. The container is not the same as the demon. Not the same. Hokage-sama had said so. It could be true, however, that the demon could have… influenced the child. The Brat. He'd have to keep a close watch on him. Until then, be fair, impartial. Friendly, since a complete lack of friendliness will not be taken well by civilians, but not so much so that it looks like brownnosing for the clan members. Neutral. Like a chunin instructor should be.
He really hopes he won't screw this up.
Please do not buy any supplies until a week into term, as your chunin instructor may have specific requirements. He or she will provide a syllabus.
For first years, we ask that our students carry a standard beginner set of kunai, which is approximately fifteen pieces, depending on the store you purchase them from. We do hope these are wooden. Yes, we do allow our students to carry metal kunai, but your child will most likely not be using them until later in the year. You may buy these now, but your chunin instructor will inform you when it is time to make the switch. Until then, it is the Academy beginner's set of kunai, which is wooden with a core of iron. Please buy a whetstone for your kunai, and keep them in good condition. If you do not know how to use a whetstone, please ask your chunin instructor – he will most likely know the time and class where we hold civilian-born sessions, which you may want to attend for additional information that is not included in this pamphlet.
We recommend Nakami-ken for standard supplies. Nakami-ken is familiar with us and our requirements, and has fairly inexpensive stock of good quality – very good for under-year students. For upper-year students, the Sealed Kunai is more expensive, but also more specialized, with a greater variety of goods of very fine quality. Under-year students – please do not buy from the Sealed Kunai unless your skill has been approved by your chunin instructor. And remember to bring your Academy ID.
To be honest, Ron never really liked cameras. Photographs were all well and good, but actually taking the photo was… somewhat painful. Especially if you weren't expecting it and got a nice eyeful of blinding, flashing light. That was sort of the reason why he never really liked Colin Creevey (pictures, pictures, always more pictures in second year… and then he joined the DA, and then he ended up dying in the Battle of Hogwarts and Ron writes his name on the list of people he needs to honor).
Flash. The photographer, a woman with bushy hair and a pair of thin glasses, tsks. "No. Don't slouch like that. Stand up straight, open your eyes. Just don't have them shut. Yes – there, that's it. Make your most serious face."
Now, cameras are nostalgic. He hasn't seen any of them in such a long time (he hasn't seen much of anything, to be honest).
"There we go, was that so hard?" smiles the photographer. "Here's your ID, please don't touch the picture for the next minute or you'll smudge the ink, replacements will not be offered until the start of the autumn cycle this year. Now, next!"
Ron stares at Uzumaki's ID. The first thing that occurs to him is that it doesn't look anything like him. It looks nothing like Ron Weasley (of course it wouldn't, he hasn't looked like himself in a while). It doesn't look like Uzumaki either – it's so expressionless it looks wrong.
He smiles harder today to make up for it.
Please wear clothes that you would not mind getting damaged. While you will not suffer any major injuries, you will have a certain amount of wear and tear on your clothing, as a shinobi-in-training should. We have an extensive amount of physical activity, so please keep that in mind when you pick out your clothes – something that you will not mind sweating in or having a large amount of movement in. If you must, ask your nearest clothing store if they have shinobi-friendly clothing. They will most likely have it.
Mesh clothing – clothing made out of ninja wire and woven along with clothing to form armor. We recommend that you have at least one set. Not sold in civilian stores.
Ninja sandals – not to be confused with civilian sandals, which are far less practical. Not required, but helpful, as they wick away sweat and have a harder sole than most shoes do, preventing quite a lot of injury. They also tend to be more durable, and strap securely around the ankles. Boots can be used. However, they are both less comfortable and more heavy, which hampers movement. Please keep this in mind.
Today, the matron wakes them an hour earlier than usual with a scowl on her face and faint shadows under her eyes. She tells them that today is the Opening Ceremony (he hears her grumble that she's responsible for dragging all of the brats there) and shoves clothes in their faces and tells them to get dressed. Uzumaki quickly pulls them on (they're really nice – a shirt that's only a size larger than him and a pair of shorts that are only slightly baggy, and both of them look almost new). At least it's better than a few weeks ago. A few weeks ago had been testing. Testing was not fun.
The matron mutters under her breath and organizes the rest of the orphanage staff together before marching out, a trail of children behind her (Uzumaki included), to the Academy. They're quickly ushered off, to stand in a long row of children as the Hokage walks by and smile genially. He talks about protecting the Will of Fire and the village and Uzumaki listens intently. At least he seems to be. Ron thinks it sounds a lot like Dumbledore's opening speeches at Hogwarts and that it's missing something important.
But then the Hokage, with a solemn look, calls out each of the children and asks if they will accept the Shinobi's Oath.
"I dunno. I kinda remember that ceremony… yeah, I sorta zoned out for a lot of it, y'know? But… then that last part… yeah, Hokage-sama got all serious there…"
Ron supposes that, if he really wanted to, he could make a scene out of himself and quit. He could, really, he could. Does he really want to do this? Does he really want to tempt fate and try and see what'll happen? Does he really want to see if the dream really can come true?
Pfft. Of course he does. Why does he bother asking?
He raises his hands, twists them into a strange form of salute that is theirs. He's a Gryffindor. Of course he will. Of course he won't back down. Of course he'll tempt fate. Of course he'll do anything in his power to fuck himself over. Because maybe the dream will collapse on him, and maybe the test will fail, but Gryffindors are brave, reckless, and don't have a survival instinct worth a damn. Exactly like him. And he's too full of pride and memories to change that.
Besides, it's not like he was actually considering quitting. Just stupid thoughts passing through his head at the oddest of times. He's no coward.
Just Gryffindor through and through.
Ron debates it carefully, before he decides that keeping it private is not worth the price of it being forgotten. There's a little girl, a few years younger than Uzumaki that almost always ends up sitting next to him during mealtimes. They barely know each other's names, but they get along well enough. One thing he does know is that she likes plants and growing things.
He asks her to take care of his small garden in the woods when he can't. Since he won't be able to run around all day anymore.
She looks at him questioningly, but agrees.
The day before he goes to the Academy, he gets a sheet of paper. It tells him he's horrible and he really needs more practice and that his skill really isn't very adequate and is full of little tips and things he needs to do. He expects that – against the clan-born standards and practices, he really doesn't have much. But at the very bottom:
Ranking for Uzumaki Naruto – 37 of 60.
When you really thought about it, it really wasn't that bad. His lips curve in a half-smile and break into a grin.
Not bad. Not bad at all.
He still does the flowers for the Memorial Stone by himself. He'll just have to come there less often. Once a month instead of every few weeks. He won't forget.
Uzumaki gets up and eats a good breakfast, and puts a lunch in his bag. He joins a long line of the orphanage students who all troop to the Academy. He makes his way into Classroom 3B. It's big and airy, and as the seats get farther back, they get higher. He doesn't really get the point of that, but he climbs the stairs to the back of the class anyway and settles in.
("That's where you wanna sit, y'know. It's really high, so you can see everything, and nothing's behind you. You don't want anything behind you. That's bad. You'll understand when you get there.")
He pulls out an old copy of an Academy textbook that the matron always provides and looks over the room. Children screech and laugh and spit out little wads of paper, and there, Uzumaki doesn't stick out at all. He is normal. And as Uzumaki excitedly talks to the boy with the hair sticking up in the back, gesturing wildly, Ron closes his eyes. If he filters through the babble, it's almost like English. It's almost something familiar and nostalgic. Almost like Hogwarts, almost like the boy listening intently to him is curious little Harry, almost like the pair of girls giggling to each other a few rows down is Parvati and Lavender before the war. Almost like he never left. Almost like first year.
It's almost like home.
Remember how I said this chapter was supposed to be the Academy? Yeah, I lied. Bummer.
At least I got to it at all - couldn't find a good place to end it, but I think it's not bad.
So, annabelle - yeah, I totally got it in a month. Technically, I mean, if I really wanted it to be an actual month, it would've been on the 19th, but I'm not that good, so I'm just happy I at least got it in July. Whoo! Something vaguely resembling a time-schedule, yeah!
Anyway - this is a very common question I've gotten, so! Yes, I will have other characters reincarnated here. It's just a too interesting concept for me to just leave it as one person.
So, yuusuke, there's a chance of that happening. Not sure if I'll actually do it, but it's possible. Sounds pretty awesome, though.
Sorry, mayyz1, but I... really don't have much self-control when it comes to things like these. I promise to not make them take over the story. I'll make a decent effort, anyway.
1. 'Cycles' – I don't remember which fanfiction I got the idea from (please tell me if you recognize it, because this certainly isn't my idea), but here, there are two different groups of children, one who start school in the spring, and the other who start school in fall. This is to effectively pump out more new genin each year.
2. I don't speak Japanese. The closest I have to Japanese is the honorific system, which I've kinda gotten worked out, and the Google translator, and I know that's shit if you actually wanted a proper translation. I assume it works for single words, which is why you still see Japanese words here. But Nakami-ken is not proper Japanese at all. At least, I don't think it is. I just needed a good name. If it really bugs you, feel free to suggest another name, but that store most likely won't be mentioned past this chapter.