He knew that his name was Uzumaki Naruto, and anyone who knew him would say he had been Naruto for his entire life.
But, lately, Naruto had become aware of once having been Harry Potter; Boy-Who-Lived, Man-Who-Won, Head Auror and most importantly, the father to three amazing children and one baby grandchild, all cut down before their time.
It was a gradual process; first, he was a confused three-year-old, then a smarter than usual four-year-old, but by five, he felt more like Harry than Naruto.
Having been an adult and come to terms with his childhood demons, Harry knew that the way Konoha, his city (or, rather, Hidden Village; it was too populous and large to be anything but a city in his mind, though) treated him in general was wrong. He couldn’t find out why, though; maybe his parents were turncoats, or something like that. Still, it was like living with the Dursleys again.
Harry was having lunch with the city leader, though from what he understood, he was more of a general or a Minister for Magic than a mayor. The man treated him to barbecue this time. While the boy(?) preferred the atmosphere at the nearby Ramen stand, he knew that Ramen wasn’t nutritious enough or healthy enough to eat very often.
The atmosphere was pretty light; nobody dared even glare at Harry when he was with the -Hokage, he believed the position was called-, or Old Man (Harry had figured he was physically young enough to get away with the term of endearment). Harry was almost sorry to break the atmosphere. He said, “Old Man, I was wondering about something.”
“What is it, Naruto?” The man asked in turn, his face going serious.
‘I’ll give him that - he’s far better at reading social cues than any parent or mentor figure I had in my past life. Or maybe it was that Dumbledore and McGonagall simply didn’t give a fuck; Sirius can be excused, considering the circumstances,’ Harry thought. After all, Sarutobi picked up on his annoyance at being called ‘boy’ or ‘my boy’, or most variations thereof immediately. All those thoughts passed through Harry’s mind in less than a second. Out loud, he said, “were my parents traitors? Is that why people spread false rumors about me and glare with hatred?”
Old Man Sarutobi went through several emotions, but the surprise and horrible, glacial fury Harry had gleaned using passive Legilimency and plain-old observation told him that he had completely missed his guess. The very fact that emotions slipped through Sarutobi’s poker face as well as shielding, or whatever they called Occlumency here, showed that Sarutobi had never even considered such a possibility.
“Naruto,” Sarutobi said, looking deceptively calm, “is this something you heard from somewhere? If so, then where?”
Unsaid went the fact that the Old Man would have words with them, which, knowing the ninja culture, might or might not involve torture. Harry wouldn’t bet one way or another. The ‘youngster’ said, “it was just a conclusion of mine. You have to admit that it’s a logical conclusion to arrive to.”
Sarutobi sighed out loud, though Harry could detect an undercurrent of worry and… fear? The man said, “you are being far too cavalier with that subject, Naruto. Promise me that you’ll always protect Konoha,” he finished with, looking Harry in the eye.
Harry looked away. He said, “I promise I won’t attack anyone from Konoha unprovoked. And yes, I know that glaring at me isn’t enough provocation.”
Sarutobi shook his head. He said, “that’s not what I asked for-”
“Hokage-sama,” Harry said, “I never said I would become a shinobi,” and it was technically the truth. What Harry wasn’t saying was that he had no intention of being anyone’s sacrificial lamb ever again, whether it was the Wizarding World or Konoha or any other place or person. He would become a ninja, but it would be on his terms, until he gained enough power and skill to strike out on his own and maybe become a wanderer who cut all ties like Jiraiya of the Sannin, or a missing-nin no one dared touch like Orochimaru.
Sarutobi said, “I hope you get to have that option, Naruto,” looking very old and tired, but fortunately, he dropped the issue.
For the entire year, Harry had been trying to recreate the effects of a spell wandlessly. The furthest he had gotten thus far was summoning a piece of paper from a meter away. ‘I know I was never nearly as talented as Dumbledore and Tom Riddle, but this is ridiculous!’ He thought, worried that his talent for magic might be nonexistent in his new life.
Of course, last he remembers as Harry, he was in his fifties, which was practically his prime; the issue might be that his young body couldn’t handle magic nearly as well as an adult. ‘I hope I have some talent for ninjutsu, at least,’ Harry thought, ‘because I won’t be able to make a wand anytime soon, if ever.’
He was supposed to be the Master of Death, but he didn’t even get the wand that went with the title, or increased wandless capabilities, or (as far as he could tell) slowed aging (beyond what a wizard of his lifestyle and level of magical power already got). No Cloak or invisibility skill, either, unless he managed the Disillusionment spell wandlessly well enough to fool a ninja. ‘Yeah, NO,’ the reborn wizard thought, knowing exactly what his chances were for that. Hopefully, he’d find a ninjutsu equivalent.
The only thing being the owner of the Hallows got him was a fresh start, which was a mixed blessing at best. He had been reincarnated into a hellish world, far worse than his original one, where child soldiers were trained and conditioned to die for their country. ‘Well,’ he thought, ‘this isn’t that different to what Dumbledore inadvertently did to me. And, at least, this time I’m much less susceptible to conditioning.’
He truly hoped that the worlds had a shared afterlife, and that he would be allowed to pass on, but wasn’t anywhere near certain his hopes would prove true. THAT was the main reason why he didn’t appreciate the new life nearly as much as one might expect.
Harry wondered what kind of parents he had had in this life (he had little doubt that they were dead; he was still Harry Potter and possessed the same sort of luck, after all, he mused with no little bitterness). He also wondered if he would have had this sort of athleticism in his first life if he had the twenty-twenty eyesight of this one. Probably not.
‘I might want to narrow down the list of my possible parents to Jounin and above,’ he thought. Harry was definitely behind most of the clan children, but he was catching up at an almost unnatural pace. After he saw what the taijutsu forms and stances were like when done by a chuunin, he was able to copy them to a frightening degree. Weapons throwing? Piece of cake. Academics? With no Dursleys or Ron to keep him from studying (though Ron did have a point about enjoying their youth- oops, bad word) and an adult perspective, they were quite easy, though definitely not his best point.
It remained that way, until everyone got their Chakra unlocked. Harry’s was yellow-colored, unlike the others’ blue, which showed that, once again, he was different in some way. The moment someone called him a freak, though, would be the moment he used his mastery of Legilimency to learn their greatest secrets and use them to humiliate said person. It was also very plentiful; Harry didn’t miss the fact that it took a lot for him to run out.
The positives ended there, though: he couldn’t manipulate his Chakra to save his life. It took him over three weeks to reach a point of mastery of the Leaf Concentration Exercise even the worst of the other stragglers reached in less than two, with Sasuke being able to manage it within five days and Hinata in two.
“So, there is something you aren’t good at,” Sasuke commented, “before you know it, you might end up as the dead last.”
Several girls laughed at that maliciously, and Harry eventually learned to hate the moniker ‘dead last’ almost as much as he did ‘boy’ and ‘freak’. He didn’t dislike Sasuke, though. The boy might be a bit of a brat, but he was good-hearted and competitive in a friendly way.
Harry’s relationship with his teacher, Daikoku-sensei, had deteriorated more and more over the past two years. While at first, the man was professional enough, the more Harry progressed in skill, the more the man glared at him and tried to send him out of the classroom with the flimsiest of excuses. Harry had no choice but to tell the Hokage, who assigned the classes of the new academic year differently.
Sasuke followed Naruto to the new class, as did Hinata. There were also even more clan heirs in the new class, such as Inuzuka Kiba (who was pretty brash, but not a bad person), Aburame Shino (who creeped out even Harry), Yamanaka Ino (whose bright and confident personality made him smile in amusement sometimes), Akimichi Chouji (who had the same kind of killer instincts as Hinata, which is to say, probably inexistent) and Nara Shikamaru, who was lazier than Ron as a teenager, but possessed a glint in his eyes that told Harry that there was a mind that surpassed both Ron’s and Hermione’s as adults hidden there.
Another classmate of note was Haruno Sakura, who reminded him of Hermione a bit. He tried to speak to her a few times, but was instantly rebuffed. She got the impression he was crushing on her, most likely. It didn’t help that he referred to her as ‘Sakura-chan’, though he saw her as a child, not an object of affection. The fire he saw when she got angry reminded him of a teenage Lily Luna- ‘stop. Don’t go there,’ Harry thought, trying to control his tears.
“Did Sakura reject you again?” Chouji asked, a bit insensitively, which earned him an elbow from Shikamaru.
“It’s not that,” Harry said, “she reminds me of someone; someone I probably won’t see ever again. I’m not interested in Sakura in that way.”
Shikamaru nodded sagely. He said, “yeah, I figured. I did see how you looked at Chouji’s aunt, after all. You only like older-,” stopping when he was elbowed by both Chouji and Harry.
Harry liked Chouji and Shikamaru and even hung out with them, but he wasn’t especially attached to the two. He avoided Ino and Kiba’s company, mainly because he could tell their loyalty to Konohagakure was ironclad, almost fanatical; Shikamaru and Chouji weren't much better in that regard, but at least they were easy-going. Shino… was Shino.
As for Sasuke, he had become more antisocial than Harry and Shino both, which was a great feat. That continued until a particular day.
“The first pair to spar will be Uchiha Sasuke and Uzumaki Naruto,” Iruka, their instructor this year, announced.
Sasuke was looking at Harry with hatred- no, he was looking beyond Harry, seeing someone else who was far away. ‘Who’s the one you are looking at from afar with so much hatred? Is it Itachi?’ Harry mused, saddened, ‘he’s way too young to have a look like that on his face….’
The two of them sparred using taijutsu, and Harry managed to push Sasuke out of the sparring circle, winning a match with the latter for the first time. Everyone looked at the two of them in confusion; even Harry himself was bemused. But Sasuke glared at Harry.
Harry snapped out of his confusion and scoffed. He said, “at least you’re looking at me this time, not somewhere over the horizon. If you keep on having that kind of focus during spars, you’ll end up the dead last,” looking Sasuke in the eye.
Sasuke’s look turned angrier, but he soon turned away.
Sasuke’s groupies shouted at Harry for being insensitive, but he simply used a kawarimi (substitution) with a log before they could swarm him.
Harry followed Sasuke to a small dock. The two of them looked at one another, but Sasuke broke eye contact first. He said, “have you come here to gloat?”
Harry shook his head. He said, “I just want a rematch. You weren’t focused during our last spar.”
Sasuke threw a rock into the water and said, “what do you know?! I have my goal, I’m focused on killing my- killing that man. Anything else is unimportant,” snapping at him.
“So, you will be focusing on something else even while a sensei is showing you a jutsu? Even when you’re on a mission? That is a surefire way to get yourself killed,” Harry told Sasuke. “Or is that what you want?” Harry asked, being as blunt as he could.
“Fuck you, Naruto. Fuck you and the horse you rode in on,” Sasuke said in reply, but the anger was gone; in its place was resignation.
“What did you expect?” Harry asked, “did you expect me to try to ‘fix you with love’, like those princesses say? Or did you expect pity? Do you really think so low of me?”
Sasuke shook his head. He said, “no, I never expected you to pity me. I did expect you’d walk on eggshells, though, like Shikamaru and Chouji.”
“I’ve given you space for the past six months,” Harry replied, “that was enough antisocial behavior out of you.”
Sasuke sighed. He said, “you don’t get it. Bonds would distract me from training; they would weaken me. I need to hate enough. Only then can I achieve my goals.”
“Really? Who told you that?” Harry asked.
Sasuke said, “it doesn’t matter. It’s still true. After all-”
“After all, that man seemingly lived that way, he got insane- I mean, insanely strong that way. And he still never dared to challenge the Hokage,” Harry said.
Sasuke was about to protest, but he stopped himself. He said, “I’ll give you that point about his insanity, but how are you so sure he wouldn’t be able to beat the Hokage now? Not to mention that the Hokage wasn’t able to stop the bastard.”
Harry said, “nobody can be everywhere at once,” quietly. Then, he said, “not to mention that you can’t be certain that man didn’t have help.”
“Help?” Sasuke asked, “but such a thing was never mentioned in any of the reports.”
“Any of the public reports,” Harry corrected, “not to mention that the person helping him might have been killed by Itachi afterwards, or faked his death.”
“But wouldn’t- you think a second Uchiha helped him?!” Sasuke exclaimed.
“It’s a possibility. After all, someone would have had to make sure nobody realized what was happening, or maybe that person killed the targets He preferred not to attack,” Harry concluded.
“But, in the genjutsu, He showed me- of course!” Sasuke said, obviously reaching some kind of conclusion too.
“What?” Harry asked, curious about what Sasuke meant.
“Itachi showed me a genjutsu of killing everyone in the clan,” Sasuke said, not realizing he name-dropped his brother, “but why would he do that? Unless he wanted to cover up something else. Additionally, he said he had been ‘testing his capacity’ when he killed the clan, but he wouldn’t have killed the- the babies to test himself,” he continued, looking nauseous.
“So, someone else killed the soft targets and provided help against higher-level threats. Your brother most likely only killed the middle-tier threats on his own, and, well, those he was personally connected to,” Harry said, getting more of the picture than before.
“Yeah,” Sasuke said, full of grief, “so he still killed my parents himself, even if he wasn’t alone?”
“That’s what I believe, from what I’ve gotten of the man’s Bingo Book profile,” Harry said, and he wasn’t lying. He was very good at getting into the heads of criminals. That said, something was off with Itachi’s profile, and he didn’t mean anything about insanity or sociopathy.
“I’ve got two targets to hunt down now,” Sasuke said, “now the genjutsu makes even more sense: He showed me exactly what weaknesses to exploit and to eliminate in oneself when fighting other Uchiha with that thing. It wouldn’t make sense if we were the only ones alive. So he might be planning to- what? Use me as a weapon against the other remaining Uchiha?” Blanching. “Just how strong is the other traitor?” He finished, shivering a bit.
“Should we warn the Hokage?” Harry asked. “After all, it sounds like the second Uchiha traitor is even stronger, and was the one who persuaded Him to do the deed.”
Sasuke thought it over a bit, then nodded.
Hiruzen had a lot to think over. Naruto’s gut instinct was very potent and usually spot-on; the boy was also very smart and intuitive, as was Sasuke. His hypothesis also fit the facts: Biwako (here, Hiruzen bit his pipe hard) and the ANBU had been found with weapon-caused wounds in the aftermath of the Kyuubi attack.
If Naruto was right (and he usually was), the one who helped Itachi with the massacre was most likely the same person who extracted and summoned the Kyuubi. Hiruzen covered his face with his hands. ‘What a mess,’ he thought, ‘I should have never tolerated Danzo spreading rumors of the Sharingan being able to control the Bijuu; he only played into the enemy’s hands. Maybe I should have killed him when he tried to have me assassinated, old friend or not….’
He also tried to think of a way not to allow the Hyuuga clan to get him into their sphere of influence; hopefully, Naruto wouldn’t ever get the Byakugan, like Minato never did. Maybe writing up a law that didn’t allow bastard children with outsiders and their descendants to be inducted into a Branch House? He seriously doubted they would make Naruto a Main House member, and that would also save him and Konoha from the risks of a Jinchuuriki being branded.
Hiashi shouldn’t be hard to get on board, since he would also be afraid of what would happen to a container if branded with such a seal, or how far Naruto would go to avoid it. Hopefully the clan elders -Hiashi’s parents and his late wife’s mother- wouldn’t be as much of an obstacle as usual. (Probably a vain hope, unfortunately.)
Sasuke and Naruto had become closer since that day. They hung out during the day, and sparred in the evenings. Naruto, while he always lost, was catching up slowly but steadily, learning better by doing rather than reading. Of course, Sasuke didn’t stand still, so Naruto couldn’t catch up completely.
Before Naruto got the chance to reach Sasuke’s level in taijutsu, the following year, Sasuke awakened the Sharingan, putting him ahead again. He managed it after he beat Iruka in a sparring match, possibly due to the man underestimating him.
Sasuke said he was confused by the way his Sharingan awoke. He admitted he had thought it could only happen due to negative emotions, but he felt nothing of the sort at the time; he was only elated that he was advancing so quickly. Harry was very inventive with his training exercises, thanks to decades of training Aurors and candidates, so it was similar to having a higher-level ninja training the both of them.
Some Auror exercises weren’t well-suited to a shinobi’s style of fighting, but Harry was perfectly capable of adapting, so he modified existing exercises or made up new ones. Harry also urged Sasuke to keep the activation of his bloodline secret. Fortunately, only Iruka had been present, and he didn’t see Sasuke’s eyes after the spar (nor did Naruto himself, for that matter).
The way Sasuke’s Sharingan had awoken defied everything he had been told by That Man, and later read in the tablet. It was true that he awoke the Sharingan after beating Iruka and that positive emotions caused it, but he managed to sneak the truth of it past Naruto.
What truly happened was that he overheard Mizuki afterwards, talking to himself about ambushing and killing Naruto and stealing the Scroll of Seals, and his Sharingan activated before he even ambushed the man himself - not because he wanted to kill, but because he wanted to protect. Nobody could find out about him killing Mizuki to protect Naruto, except the Hokage, who helped cover it up (though even he wasn’t told of the Sharingan).
The man also gave him payment equivalent to two B-ranks and had a successful mission of the same rank added to his secret files after he had a Yamanaka look into Mizuki’s brain. Sasuke didn’t want to ask just what the Yamanaka had found, but Mizuki was branded a traitor posthumously.
Either way, said Yamanaka (the head of the clan), asked Sasuke that he be examined as well, because of possible lingering effects of the genjutsu That Man had used. Sasuke didn’t refuse outright, unlike the previous time; he just said he’d think about it.
Naruto’s troubles with Chakra Control (and when had he started thinking of himself as Naruto?) continued. It might have something to do with Naruto being used to manipulating another kind of energy, it could be a matter of it being his weak point natural talent-wise; most likely, though, it was the fault of those 'bursts' of Chakra he produced for some unknown reason.
He never stopped working on it, though. Or on wandless magic, for that matter. Still, he was getting distracted by his friendship with Sasuke; he was getting too attached- ‘Wait,’ Naruto thought, ‘when did I start thinking like Sasuke did last year?’
He thought it over a bit, and realized that the crux of the problem was that anyone who was loyal to Konoha wasn’t one he should be getting attached to; there was a decent chance he would abandon the village eventually. ‘Then again, knowing Sasuke, he would have nothing against turning his back on Konoha,’ Naruto thought. He had seen the looks Sasuke gave to those who kissed up to him, and also knew that the boy craved power more than anything else.
“Naruto,” Sasuke said, a more serious look on his face than usual.
“What is it, Sasuke?” Naruto asked, worrying a bit.
“I want to try for early graduation next year,” Sasuke replied.
Naruto bit his lip. He said, “if that’s what you want,” worried that he would be parted from his friend.
“So,” Sasuke said, “we’ve got to get you up to par in your Bunshin no jutsu so that we can graduate together and find someone, preferably a competent kunoichi, who will be the third member. Are you in?”
Naruto felt warm inside; he hadn’t expected he’d get a close friend his physical age, but Sasuke had become his best friend without him realizing. He said, “Yeah!” And fist bumped the other boy.
After a lot of searching in the Uchiha Clan’s scrolls for Chakra theory and the Bunshin no jutsu, Sasuke pinpointed the problem, or so he said.
“You see,” Sasuke told Naruto, “the problem isn’t that you’re putting in too much Chakra; you’ve already gotten the correct amount. The problem is that your Chakra is way too potent and dense naturally for that jutsu. While you can’t control the potency, you can make it less dense.”
Naruto nodded and asked for tips. He was told that first, he had to learn how to compact more Chakra into less space and only then would he be able to learn how to do the opposite.
Unfortunately, when he overdid it with that training, he got Chakra burns on his body, mainly the hands. The pain wasn’t at Cruciatus level, but it was by far the closest he had gotten in this life, especially considering they took two days to fully heal - which was still much faster than most ninjas got. Harry wondered if being a mix of wizard and Chakra user was at fault for the increased healing rate.
At least one of his classmates, Hinata, gave him a bit of salve for such injuries, which he thanked her for. ‘I wonder, though,’ he thought, ‘is she naturally that shy or does she have a crush on me?’
Naruto was normally more observant; that girl would do well as a spy, she naturally suppressed her presence. Or maybe he was getting complacent.
A few days later, Naruto managed to detect Hinata stalking him, prompting him to give her a lecture on what constitutes harassment and perverse behavior. She stopped doing so, but apparently, her crush on him died - Naruto couldn’t help thinking that it was better that way, even if she temporarily became the epitome of a cold Hyuuga whenever he spoke to her.
Naruto was walking home from the Academy, when he saw an old friend (and also the only kid who dared get anywhere near him when he was in the orphanage), Tenten. He moved to catch up.
“Hey, Tenten,” the boy said, waving at her.
After scrutinizing him a bit, she said, “Naruto? Is that you? You’ve changed a lot!”
“So have you,” Naruto said, smiling, “so how’s it going?”
Tenten told Naruto of how she’d been adopted by Takashi, who was a blacksmith, and his wife Shina, who was a retired kunoichi. She said, “I went back to the orphanage to visit you, but you were nowhere to be found, and the matron was tight-lipped. So what happened?”
“Well, you see,” Naruto said, “the caretakers couldn’t take the stress of raising me, so I asked the Old Man for an apartment of my own, before the matron had a conniption.”
“Oh yes, how could I forget about that? You were always the slightly creepy kid who could supposedly read the caretakers’ minds by looking them in the eye,” Tenten said, laughing slightly.
Naruto nodded, faking a smile. He said, “yeah, well, at least it got them to answer my questions, right?” Spoken or gotten through Legilimency, the caretakers always gave him answers, whether they wanted to or not.
He had learned from his first childhood that suppressing one’s curiosity led to consequences such as a reduced observation skill, which caused him no end of problems because of the hazards he faced as a Hogwarts student and a Junior Auror, and low academics, which got him in trouble with Hermione and weakened his skill as a wizard.
Fortunately, Legilimency was easy enough for him to perform completely wandlessly; it was the only field of magic, other than the Patronus, in which he rivaled Dumbledore. On a side note, he never managed to become a master of Occlumency, though he was adept at it.
‘All those years of serving the law, and my morals have gotten very skewed,’ Harry mused. Not that he regretted it. Had he been the same as when he was originally young in this life, he would have probably perpetuated the system and signed up his future children for becoming child soldiers. A feeling of regret and pain went through Harry, remembering the children he had already had-
“Hello? Earth to Naruto!” A voice said, which the man -or boy- recognized as Tenten’s.
“Sorry, Tenten, I got lost in memories,” Naruto said, apologizing.
“Yeah, happens to the best of us,” Tenten said, nodding sagely. She said, “so, what have you been doing? Are you in the Academy too?”
Naruto nodded. He said, “yeah, I’m going to try for graduation at the end of this year.”
“Graduating early? Are you sure? Do you have teammates already picked out?” Tenten said, fussing over Naruto. They both knew that early graduates could only be put on teams a member or two short (usually due to death or resigning) or with one another.
“Actually, there’s only two of us- wait,” Naruto said, an idea coming to him. “Why don’t you try graduating with us? You’re only a year older than me, so if you graduate this year, you’ll be put on my team, right?”
Tenten bit her lip. She said, “I don’t know. I hoped I would graduate with- with my year mates next year.”
Naruto said, “well, you can always spend time with the boy you like outside of a team. This might propel your career as a kunoichi to great heights, you know?”
Tenten looked at him askance, then chuckled a bit. She said, “I take back what I said. You haven’t changed a bit. You’re just as insightful as ever.”
“Hehe, thanks. So, are you in?” Naruto said.
“I’ll have to talk it over with my parents,” Tenten said, “but you’ve convinced me.”
They talked a bit more, Naruto telling Tenten about Sasuke and how he had managed to get him out of his shell.
“Wait,” Tenten said, “you got someone else to become more social? Will wonders ever cease? It’s that cute but grumpy Uchiha from your class, too!”
“Cute but grumpy? Seriously?” Naruto said, his eyebrows raised. (He never could get only one eyebrow to move. That was the only skill he envied Snape for. Harry had gotten his skill at Potions to unexpected heights after he got a competent tutor, and his Occlumency was decent.)
“Well, he is!” Tenten said, full of cheer and with only a little embarrassment.
Naruto shook off the information with practiced ease and made plans with Tenten to meet again.
Sasuke handed Naruto a book. He said, “you should read this.”
It was on the Uzumaki Clan. Naruto gave it a go, even though he wasn’t sure if his family name came from there. What he found changed his mind.
Larger Chakra reserves, especially the physical part (he had slightly more spiritual energy, but that was probably because of his memories and true age); yellow-colored Chakra; a healing factor - they were even able to temporarily speed up the healing of others by letting them bite them or drink their bodily fluids, injecting physical energy. The red hair part didn’t deter him.
After Naruto was finished with the book, Sasuke said, “so, what do you think? You’ve got everything but the red hair, though I don’t know if you’ve got a knack for Fuuinjutsu.”
Harry shook his head. He said, “my mother was a redhead.”
“How do you know?” Sasuke asked.
“Call it latent memories, call it intuition. Whichever it is, I’m certain,” Naruto said with confidence.
Sasuke nodded, knowing that his friend’s instincts hadn’t failed him yet.
Searching the archives for red-haired females, they found seven, and three males. They narrowed down the list by looking up their ancestry, and two of the women and one of the men were of Uzumaki descent. A civilian man by the name of Chichi (he died a year before the Kyuubi attack), Senju Mito, nee Uzumaki (wife of the First Hokage and S-rank kunoichi) and a woman by the name of Uzumaki Kushina (an A-rank kunoichi).
“Could these two be your parents?” Sasuke asked, obviously referring to the two who lived at the right time.
“No,” Naruto said, “this Chichi does look a bit familiar, but not to the point of being my father. Besides, my father must have been blond and blue-eyed or green-eyed. But Kushina….”
Sasuke let him be while he was staring at his apparent mother’s picture, but he spoke afterwards. He said, “do you think that the Yamanaka clan head might be your father? He does have green eyes and blond hair.”
“It fits,” Naruto said cautiously, “he’s a high-level Jounin and has the looks. But I seriously doubt my parents are alive, and if he is and abandoned me, there’s no point in approaching him. He doesn't seem familiar, either, and you know how good my intuition is.”
“If you say so,” Sasuke commented.
Naruto could tell that what he really wanted to say was ‘hn’, but fortunately, he had mostly trained that out of Sasuke.
Sasuke gave his answer to Yamanaka Inoichi: he would succumb to a mind probe, as long as the man did nothing but look for traces of genjutsu and eliminate them.
“I’m glad you decided to go through with this Sasuke. Might I ask, though, what your ulterior motive is? Did you want to ask me something about Ino?” Inoichi said.
“Ino?” Sasuke asked, puzzled, “oh, she’s your daughter, right. Honestly, I’m not exactly fond of her, nor do I want to know anything about her.”
“I see,” the man said. He didn’t seem angry; Sasuke had to admit that the blunt way Inoichi talked to him pushed him to respond the same way; the man was really good at getting answers.
“I do have a few questions for you, though,” Sasuke said, “are you Naruto’s father?”
“Wait, what?” the man asked. He looked genuinely surprised, and Sasuke didn’t want to use the Sharingan to make sure; Naruto would already be angry enough when he found out about this.
“From what we’ve been able to unearth, Uzumaki Kushina was Naruto’s mother, and you are among her associates. You also have the correct hair and eye color, since Naruto is blond and has blue-green eyes. The shades aren’t quite correct, and Naruto said he doubted you are his father, but it’s my duty as his friend to investigate,” Sasuke said, completely serious in his inquiry.
“I have never cheated on my wife. Besides, Kushina was involved with- oh shit,” Inoichi said, losing his composure immediately.
“Really? All other blonds you associated with were from your clan or the Yon- oh shit indeed. Can we pretend this conversation never happened?” Sasuke said.
“It’s probably highly classified information. You shouldn’t tell anyone,” Inoichi said, obviously trying to impress upon him the seriousness of the situation.
“Okay,” Sasuke said, considering how to give a hint to Naruto in such a way that he’d get it.
“I’m serious. Don’t even hint about it to Naruto himself until the Hokage has cleared it,” Inoichi said.
Sasuke doubted the Hokage would allow it, but he was certain Naruto would eventually discover it himself. Only then would he confirm it. He said, “I refuse to actively keep him from discovering the information, but I won’t give him a hint. He doesn’t need it anyway.”
Inoichi nodded. He said, “yes, confirming what he already seriously suspects shouldn’t be a problem if he brings it up first. After this session, though, we should ask the Hokage anyway.”
Sasuke nodded. After Inoichi did his work, he said that there were a few lingering memories from the genjutsu, and a few other traces. Sasuke asked that the memories be left there, only ‘faded’; the other traces were promptly eradicated.
Inoichi didn’t ask why he wanted to keep the foreign memories, and Sasuke didn’t volunteer the information.
“This year, we had a few early graduates,” Iruka said, “will they be all right?”
Hiruzen said, “don’t worry, they are in good hands. I chose Kakashi as their sensei,” smiling benevolently, but preparing to screw with Iruka’s mind.
“Oh. Hatake Kakashi. They will be his first team, right?” Iruka said.
“If they pass,” Hiruzen said, “he has been given Genin teams a few times before, but they failed,” and gave Iruka a paper.
“A few times- he has failed five teams!?” Iruka said, looking at Kakashi’s past record as a (potential) Jounin sensei.
Hiruzen gave him a bit of time to stew on the information, laughing on the inside. Then, he told the young man, “have faith in them, Iruka. This next generation is going to surpass us all. I can feel it in my bones,” dismissing him afterwards.
He sobered up when he thought of this team’s loyalty to Konoha or, rather, lack thereof. The kunoichi seemed loyal enough, but the boys - well, he had his doubts. He had even toyed with the thought of giving at least one to Danzo, but he trusted Danzo even less than he trusted those two nowadays.
He did see Naruto as another grandson, but he also needed assurance as the Hokage that the Jinchuuriki of Konoha wouldn’t go rogue. Regarding Sasuke, Itachi made Hiruzen stay his hand for at least a bit. The question was, how would he ensure their loyalty?
As for Danzo, should he move against him or not? The man had become dangerous; after a bit of looking into things, he realized that it couldn’t have been anyone else who spurred the Uchiha on, and not just with rumors, even if there was no proof.
‘Wait,’ Hiruzen thought, ‘should I… that might work. And telling him. Yes, that sounds good. And maybe look into- yes, knowing him, he’s done something stupid. I’ll also have to enlist Homura and Koharu - they may have been unable to adjust to peaceful times, but their help would be invaluable; maybe Shikaku and Hiashi, too.’
Hiruzen’s secretary bringing him more papers to sign interrupted his musings. Something about a new village, Otogakure, requesting a treaty. According to his only actively loyal student, the rogue Sannin might be connected with that village.
Naruto, Sasuke and Tenten were in a classroom, waiting for their new sensei.
“I wonder where our sensei is,” Tenten said, looking bored.
Naruto unleashed a wandless Homenum Revelio, just to be sure. Four presences. Crap. He nudged the others, signaling that someone was there, hidden. Unfortunately, he wasn’t good enough with the spell to pinpoint the location and recognize who it was - that was Dumbledore-level competence.
The three of them were looking for the extra presence, when someone materialized in front of them, making them jump.
“Slow,” the silver-haired man said, “you three didn’t draw weapons, either. There’s a lot of room for improvement. Still, Naruto’s sensor talent was something I hadn’t accounted for.”
“Are you our sensei?” Tenten asked.
“That remains to be seen,” the man said, “I’m Hatake Kakashi, and was assigned to your team -Team Seven-, but a prospective Jounin-sensei has the right to test a Genin cell, which they might fail and be sent back to the Academy. Usually, one third or fewer of the Genin pass,” he finished with, dropping his bomb with a straight face - or so it seemed, with that mask in the way.
‘Wasn’t Kakashi the name one of my biological father’s students? Is he that Kakashi?’ Naruto thought. He hadn’t been very surprised by his parentage, more by the fact that the Third actually told him, mainly because he had suspected that his parents were above Jounin level.
The fox he also took in stride; it was certainly far better than carrying a piece of Voldemort’s soul; likely infinitely more useful, as well, and he hadn’t been influenced by the creature thus far, so he doubted it was anything like a Dementor (to make sure, he had cast a wandless Patronus near himself, and didn’t feel different than the norm for that spell, except a bit more energized than usual. The Kyuubi was supposedly malice personified, but the stories were obviously rubbish).
The knowledge that he had a godfather who was kept from him was significantly harder to swallow. Apparently, the man had cut all ties with Konoha after he was forbidden to take care of Naruto, become a drunkard and was sleeping around with various women (more than before). It didn’t help that he was actually popular with them, despite his age.
“So, he’s a missing-nin in all but name?” Naruto asked the Sandaime. Then, he said, “just what did Orochimaru do that he was declared an S-ranked criminal?” Shuddering.
The Sandaime closed up. He said, “that is not for the ears of a Genin. Worry not; I intend to send you to retrieve your godfather. Whenever Tsunade is back in the village from her assignment, I will send her with you to get Jiraiya.”
“Understood, Hokage-sama,” Naruto said, not giving heed to the hurt look on the Sandaime’s face. He needed time to come to terms with what the man had done; this wasn’t to the level of sending him to the Dursleys, but he was a lot less quick to forgive than he had been when he was in his preteens and teens the first time around.
Sasuke shook Naruto; apparently, he had zoned out. Kakashi looked a bit put out at that, but he left three sheets of paper, told them they shouldn’t eat breakfast and took his leave.
Training Ground Three
Naruto was cursing at their teacher out loud; the presence detection spell hadn’t yielded a number above three for the last two hours, so he was rather incensed.
Sasuke was also at least annoyed, though most who didn’t know him wouldn’t be able to tell. Then, he said, “shut up, Naruto. You could at least do something productive, like Tenten, or remain silent like me.”
Tenten stopped her stretches and said, “ouch. Someone is extra grumpy today,” grinning at Sasuke.
“I hate teachers who don’t care,” Sasuke said, which made Naruto wonder where that had come from.
‘This is new,’ Naruto thought, ‘is he angry at Daikoku because he didn’t teach me well? That’s before we even became friends!’
There was something else behind that, and-
“Hello my cute students!” Kakashi said, having appeared in a whirlwind of leaves, probably through the Shunshin no jutsu (Body Flicker technique).
Three identical glares greeted the man. Kakashi said, “oh, don’t be like that. Don’t you want to know why I’m late? Well, you see, I got lost on the road of life.”
Naruto could tell that the others’ glares had intensified, but he simply couldn’t believe what had just come out of his new teacher’s mouth.
Kakashi was unfazed. He said, “well, you three should be rather hungry right now-”
As if on cue, two stomachs growled, one after the other. Everyone turned to look at Tenten, who didn’t seem hungry. She said, “what? I just ate something light to make sure I could work at my best.”
Kakashi nodded, though Naruto could tell the man was impressed. He said, “I’ll let that slide, since it wasn’t an actual order. Always be able to distinguish between orders from a superior and suggestions and, most importantly, think for yourselves! As my old sensei said, look underneath the underneath.”
Naruto said, “so that’s why you were so late! It’s because you wanted to make sure hunger would set in!” In realization.
“Moving on,” Kakashi said, “here’s the objective,” showing them a pair of bells. “Whoever gets them passes, anyone who doesn’t, well, they return to the Academy.”
“Is there a particular reason there are only two bells?” Naruto asked, gears turning in his mind.
Kakashi said, “at most, two of you will be able to pass. Don’t hold back; I’m your opponent, and I’m perfectly willing to fight back.”
Naruto mulled that over for a bit, but his musings were interrupted by Kakashi saying ‘go’. Everyone scattered to go hide, except Naruto himself. He was still thinking about the mystery of the bells.
“You know, you’re a little strange,” Kakashi’s voice said, pulling Naruto out of his musings.
The boy said, “just thinking, sensei.”
“Okay,” the man said, “was it fruitful, at least? Was it about a pretty girl?”
“Say, sensei,” Naruto said, ignoring the man’s jibes, “if I get a bell on my own, do I pass? Without my teammates?”
Naruto caught the slightest hint of anxiety in Kakashi using a spell that heightened hearing enough to register heartbeats with his already great senses. He felt his respect for the man increase; aside from complete sociopaths, he hadn’t met anyone with subtler tells. Even the Hokage was less guarded.
“I see,” Naruto said, “see you later, Kakashi-sensei.”
He wasn’t at all obvious about it, but Kakashi was dumbfounded. A fresh Genin, of all people, had managed to see through his lie. The Sandaime and Jiraiya always could, Danzo and Orochimaru could only read him on occasion and Tsunade could only read him when she was touching him, but nobody else except maybe the Tsuchikage.
That reminded him of the Sandaime’s tale of giving the bell test to the Sannin. Jiraiya had found him hiding using a device called an ‘Extendable Ear’, though Jiraiya never taught the way to make those to anyone. Did Naruto possess Jiraiya’s unique set of abilities (he hesitated to call it a bloodline without knowing more)? Were they related beyond being godfather and godson?
Tsunade had never truly bonded with her teammates. Jiraiya never gave her the time of day, and Orochimaru followed Jiraiya's example. Their teamwork might be exemplary, but that was all it was. Teamwork. With her brother's and lover's death, she was all alone.
Which was why Tsunade accepted Danzo's offer to help him in Root, something Orochimaru had rejected, as she found out later. Eventually, under Danzo, she came to be obsessed with her grandfather's bloodline, and grafted it onto sixty babies, only half of which survived; only one of which actually got the Wood Release.
After the Kyuubi's attack, Tsunade opposed Danzo's proposed isolation of the Uchiha... only for him to reveal Tsunade's experiments out of spite - at least, she thought it was him. She got the last laugh, though. That gem in the rough, Kabuto, that Danzo was about to dispose of a few years earlier became a magnificent lab assistant and apprentice.
Not really. If you read between the lines of the actual chapter earlier, you'll see that Jiraiya is also a reborn wizard, so the lack of his support (due to not having a crush on her, and that's because of ages and such) drove Tsunade into Root.
An idea for an alternate history of the Naruto world:
Hashirama doesn't die mysteriously. As a result, Tobirama and even Hiruzen never become Hokage (he doesn't think either of them is charismatic enough). He outlives Mito and, when he is close to death or retirement, he picks the Second Hokage. The twenty-three-year-old Namikaze Minato.