Hyuuga Hiashi noticed that the Branch house members were becoming more and more reticent as he prepared everything for the meal that was calculated to intimidate the little bratling that had recently decided to latch onto young Ko, likely due to his recent upswing in popularity. The way the Branch members were acting, it was almost as if they were trying not to be the first to deliver a bit of bad news.

As he was trying to divine what his clan was attempting to keep from him, his twin brother sauntered into the room with a bearing that bordered on insubordination. It wasn't exactly that his brother disrespected him but, being his twin, it had been Hizashi's sworn duty to puncture his ego before it grew too large. That meant that his brother often adopted an attitude that bordered on disrespectful at times, if only to make sure his head didn't become too swelled from all of the bowing and the scraping that he received.

"I don't think you'll be able to intimidate this one into leaving and not coming back." Hizashi said, examining the table settings and giving a slight wince at what he'd chosen. All of it meant to showcase the wealth and accompanying power of the Hyuuga and press home how small and unimportant Ko's friend was in comparison.

"Why?" he asked. "Has Ko done the impossible considering the current crop at the Academy, and befriended someone more important than he is?"

"You could say that." Hizashi said as he removed anything that might be breakable from the immediate vicinity of where the guest would be sitting.

"The only person at the Academy who might even be considered to be above Ko is Uchiha Itachi, and no self-respecting Hyuuga would ever..." he started, hoping to all that was holy that he would not be hosting Fugaku's offspring for the evening. The Uchiha clan Head would never let him hear the end of it if he did.

"It's not Itachi." his brother replied in a placating tone. "Though you have overlooked someone who would be very important even if his parentage weren't taken into consideration."

"His parentage?" he asked, wondering how he didn't know about anyone whose parents were "more important" than the Uchiha being anywhere near the Academy.

"Let's just say that it isn't something to be bandied about casually." his brother replied. "I think that the only reason that the entire village doesn't know is because they don't want to get close enough to see it, and when they do, they refuse to believe it. I'm sure you'll agree with my assessment. Don't worry, I've already sworn Ko to secrecy."

Nearly two hours later, two hours which he had spent trying to figure out who this mystery child of such important parentage was while Hizashi was making arrangements for the settings at the guest's place at the table behind his back, he nearly felt like strangling someone when young Ko walked in carrying the Kyuubi Jinchuriki. A second later, he found himself staring at the small boy who was completely unaccustomed to formal dining and wondering why the hell he hadn't seen it before. Looking at the child, really looking, rather than glancing and turning away to whisper about it like most villagers did, it was patently obvious whose child it was.

Fortunately for the continued survival of his tableware, Hizashi had moved everything breakable out of the Uzumaki child's potential reach, and the boy's meal was brought out on the near-indestructible plates that were normally reserved for Hinata. He honestly didn't know what he would do if he didn't have Hizashi around to check him before he did something incredibly stupid.

The Academy Instructor who had offered to serve Naruto his lunch in order to gain favor with Uchiha Fugaku, which he could turn into potentially useful capital amongst those to whom the Uchiha still mattered, was having a frustrating afternoon. After Fugaku had refused to reveal who the Uzumaki's apparently famous mother that he'd never heard a whisper about was, he'd gone out asking every one of his acquaintances that he could find. More often than not, he either got blank looks or dark glares because he'd brought up the Demon. Despite the fact that Fugaku seemed to be convinced that everybody knew the Uzumaki brat's mother, nobody seemed to know who she was.

Finally, after an entirely fruitless afternoon, he'd turned up at the home of a friend of his whom he'd heard had just returned from a mission. After the usual pleasantries were dealt with, he turned the topic of the conversation towards the Uzumaki's mother. The man's eyes had lit up in recognition when he had mentioned this woman who could've been a myth for all that he'd learned about her.

"Naruto's mother was a goddess! Long flowing hair, legs that wouldn't quit, a figure to die for...It's a pity she was taken though." his friend who had apparently actually known her said, waxing lyrical over the Uzumaki's mother's beauty.

"But, who was she?!" he asked.

His friend's expression became guarded. There was something almost dangerous lurking in his friend's eyes as the other man studied him as if he were a potential threat rather than the man he'd known off and on since he'd graduated the Academy at the end of the Second War.

"If you don't know, I can't tell you." his friend eventually said before trying to turn the conversation to something else.

After a few more rounds of this during which he learned nothing more than that the Demon's mother was incredibly beautiful and that many men would've killed for a chance to be with her, he finally became too frustrated to think straight and stormed out of his friend's home.

He said she was a goddess... he thought when he was half-way home after a day of fruitless questioning that he was trying to push away since turning it over in his mind made him even more upset.

Nah, couldn't be...


He turned the corner and saw Uchiha Mikoto coming out of a shrine dedicated to Inari with a sad and wistful look on her face. Another member of the Uchiha clan who had been nearby joined Mikoto.

"I don't see why you visit this shrine when there's a better one in the compound." the woman said.

"It reminds me of my wilder days. We would occasionally meet here back when my parents were trying to impress Fugaku." Mikoto replied.

"You're not going to meet her here now, so why should you come all the way out here where everyone's just going to stare at you and..." the other Uchiha woman countered.

Inari who was male and/or female and/or androgynous depending on whom you asked was a common Kami to be a follower of, this shrine was at an out of the way location that would make it a perfect place for a somewhat surreptitious meeting, and the Uchiha could've been talking about someone else, anyone else. It didn't mean that...that...

It wasn't like something that was wholly human could contain something as powerful as the Kyuubi anyway.

The ANBU currently assigned to make sure Naruto's apartment was free of dangers before he returned sighed when he saw what had been left on the boy's doorstep recently. Ever since certain statues had started to disappear from shrines dedicated to Inari after some aspects of the Kami - who was Kami of foxes as well as rice and prosperity - had fallen out of favor in Konoha, offerings had started turning up on the Uzumaki's doorstep.

Today, someone had left a small fox plushie for "Inari's son" as well as the usual offerings of rice, sake, and Inarizushi that usually had to be cleared up before the infant Naruto, who was soon going to become old enough to remember things, could see them. Hopefully, this behaviour would taper off in the future. But, none of the ANBU who had to carefully clear the offerings away, as well as items that were a great deal more unpleasant, truly held out hope that it would.

"Take these to the nearest shrine, and inform Hokage-sama that we've got another one." he said as he carefully stepped around the offerings, and unlocked and made his way into the apartment, pulling the tag and the hand-written note off the fox plushie and dumping it with Naruto's other toys as he did so.

There were some people who refused to believe that something human could contain something as powerful as the Kyuubi. On one end of the spectrum were the lot who called the boy a demon and really meant it. On the other end of the spectrum however...

Edited 7-18-15. Edited 9-5-16.