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Light in the Darkness

Chapter Text

The train was huge. Iruka was speechless when he stepped through the large gateway. The old man that had accompanied him had smiled cheerily at him as he gestured for him to take his trolley and ram it through the wall between platforms nine and ten at the train station. He’d been wary about it, but figured that there was no way that it could be any stranger than how he’d gone shopping for his school supplies. This entire world was so strange that it felt as though his mind was short circuiting every time that something new came up.

Once the intense shock wore off, he was able to hear all of the noise that echoed around on the platform. It was full of people in robes and in normal ‘muggle clothes’ as Professor Sarutobi had called them. They were hugging each other and talking animatedly. There were a few others like him, who were all gazing at the train in wonder. His heart was beating sporadically in his chest as pure, unadulterated excitement overtook him. He smiled as he realized that he had a calling in life. He didn’t know what that calling was, but he was a wizard. How could he not be able to do something with his life now?

One moment, he was on top of the world, and then the next moment he was on the ground, face first with the breath knocked out of his lungs forcefully. “Watch where you’re going, pathetic shrimp.”

He looked up and saw a guy with a nearly sickly grey complexion. He was huge, but his face was gaunt, as though didn’t eat enough. Iruka might have felt bad for him if he wasn’t scowling down at him as though Iruka was the one that had somehow managed to bump into him.

“I…” Iruka said, but trailed off immediately. He didn’t want to get into a fight before he even got to his new school. He’d been bad enough about picking fights and causing trouble at the orphanage that all of the adults there had the same look on their faces whenever he was around. He couldn’t stand the thought of having the same thing happen when he had the chance for a fresh start.

“Oi, Momochi,” a bored voice called out from behind Iruka, who scrambled back to his feet and turned around to look. A handsome boy with messy silver hair stood behind him. He was dressed in normal black clothes with his hands shoved in his pockets. He seemed unassuming enough, but Iruka had a feeling that it was all an illusion. It was confirmed by the way that Momochi subtly stiffened.

“What do you want, Hatake?” Momochi asked. His voice was hardened, as though he wasn’t scared at all. It would have been totally believable if Iruka hadn’t seen him tense.

“Why don’t you stop being a prick and quit bullying the newbies?” Hatake drawled. His face, which had previously been as apathetic as his voice sharpened and his eyes glinted with promise of trouble if he didn’t take his suggestion.

“I wish you’d keep your nose out of other people’s businesses,” Momochi snarled at Hatake, even as he took a step away from Iruka. “It’s going to get you into some serious trouble one of these days.”

Hatake gave him a bored look and rolled his eyes, clearly unimpressed. Momochi shrugged his shoulders and said, “Don’t say that I didn’t warn you.” Hatake didn’t reply and the large boy walked off without another word.

The silver boy walked up, closer to Iruka and gave him a quick glance over. “You okay? I know that he’s a total ass, but you should have stood up for yourself. A lot of the guys around here are like that, and you’re not going to last very long unless you speak up and make them quit picking on you.”

The critique stung a bit and Iruka scowled at Hatake. “I know that,” he snapped. “I can take care of myself just fine.”

Hatake raised an eyebrow. “I can tell,” he said dryly.

Iruka felt his face flush in shame as he looked down at the ground. Great, he’d only been on his own in the wizarding world for a few minutes and he’d already made a complete fool out of himself. It had to be some sort of record.

“Don’t worry about it,” Hatake said quickly. He stuck his hand out toward Iruka with a bright smile and said, “I’m Kakashi Hatake. It’s nice to meet you.”

“I…Iruka,” he stammered, unsure of where it was going. He grasped Kakashi’s hand and shook it. “I’m Iruka Umino. It’s nice to meet you too.”

Kakashi let go of his hand and looked around. Iruka followed suit and saw that the station was emptying. “We should get on the train,” he told Iruka and gestured for him to follow. Iruka quickly turned around to grab his things, but realized that they were gone. “Don’t worry about the luggage,” he dismissed. “It’s been taken care of. Let’s just get on.”

He quickly followed Kakashi to the door and climbed onto the train with him. Everything started feeling more and more surreal the further it all went. Iruka made an awkward move to split off from Kakashi and go and find a seat, but the boy grabbed his arm. “Everywhere is bound to be full,” Kakashi told him. “My friends went ahead to get a spot. You can join me if you want.”

Iruka looked at Kakashi with wide, unsure eyes. The other must have taken his silence for an answer, so he turned around and started walking, dragging Iruka with him by the wrist in his hand.


Iruka snapped himself out of his daydream of five years ago as he pushed his cart through the platform. He was excited to be going back to his true home for his sixth year. He moved out of the way of the traffic and paused to admire the view of the Hogwarts Express. His heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come in the following year.

“I was wondering when you were going to get here!”

Iruka spun around and saw a girl with brown hair pulled up into a ponytail and a fringe of bangs hanging down and hiding her forehead. Her brown eyes were alight in glee so intense that it was almost scary. Anko Mitarashi was a very eccentric individual that sometimes made Iruka uncomfortable with her enthusiasm and her genuine attraction to trouble. Despite all of that, she was one of his closest friends.

He liked to think that he’d matured a lot in these past few years and had gained more of a level head. With these new tendencies that he’d developed over the years, he was able to keep her more outlandish tendencies on a leash and calmed her down considerably.

He grinned at her and pulled her into a large hug, squeezing her tightly. “Hello, Anko,” Iruka greeted happily. “I’ve missed you.”

“Come on,” Anko told him cheerily. She latched on to his wrist and dragged him and his trolley closer to the train. Iruka stumbled along behind her, a soft smile on his face as he watched her enthusiasm happily. He saw a group of people standing a few feet away from the express. They were all huddled into a group, talking amongst themselves.

Iruka couldn’t help that his smile got larger as he saw that it was his group of misfit friends. Asuma, Kurenai, Kotetsu, Izumo, Genma, Raidou, and Kakashi. “You didn’t have any trouble getting here this time?” Asuma asked him as he joined their little huddle.

“No,” Iruka said with a smirk. He shrugged and said, “I bitched at them for a week straight about bringing me out here on time, and I think that they were just so ready to get rid of me that they were overjoyed to ship me out here.”

“I don’t blame them,” Genma said. “When you start bitching, it doesn’t stop when you do. The feeling and that tone of voice follows you into sleep and stays.”

The rest of them chuckled and Iruka felt himself having to fight back one of his own. He guessed he had really gotten a bit overbearing with his friends in some of their more insane plans. Sure, he hadn’t gotten them out of detention every time, but he had gotten them out of a lot of them by smooth talking the teachers and bitching at them once they were safely out of hearing range.

He felt a hand on top of his head, and Iruka quickly turned around and saw that Kakashi was standing next to him, looking at him with a smile on his face. “You’ve gotten taller,” he told Iruka.

Iruka felt his lips curl up in the corner as he looked up at his best friend. Kakashi’s insanely messy silver hair hadn’t changed much in the five years that Iruka had known him. Sure, he’d gotten taller and less scrawny, but that was nearly it. He still had expressive grey eyes, a dry sense of humor, and a warm smile that made Iruka feel as though everything was alright, even when things might not be. Sure, he had his moments when he was totally insufferable and arrogant, but Iruka wouldn’t want him any other way. He was Kakashi, and that was all Iruka ever wanted him to be.

“So have you,” Iruka informed him. He still had to look up to see Kakashi. He had filled out a bit more than Kakashi had, but that really didn’t mean anything. Kakashi still had that quiet aura of power that surrounded him. He was easily the most powerful graduating student at Hogwarts and Iruka could never come close to matching his strength.

“Come on,” Raidou said. “We’re all here now. Let’s find a compartment before they all get full.”

 

The ride on the train was looking to be uneventful. Kakashi wasn’t there on the first leg of the journey because he had to walk around and make sure that all of the students weren’t too rowdy and that the first years weren’t having panic attacks. He rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. “I have to go and get dressed,” he muttered. Iruka blinked at him almost uncomprehendingly. He knew that he wasn’t going to be there at the beginning of it anyway. He had been named a prefect when Iruka was in his fourth year, but this behavior was almost embarrassed.

He reached into his jean pocket and pulled out a golden badge. It had HB embroidered on it. Iruka felt his jaw drop and the rest of the people in the compartment all whistled and cheered. “Good going, Kakashi!” Raidou called.

“Way to be a goodie-two-shoes,” Genma teased as he pushed Kakashi’s shoulder.

“Why didn’t you mention it before,” Iruka demanded. “This is a pretty big deal, you know.”

“It’s not that much of a big deal,” Kakashi insisted bashfully. He lowered his eyes and quickly grabbed the bag that he’d carried with him. “I’ll see you guys later.” He turned around and rushed out of the door before anyone could say anything else. Iruka sat down on a booth near the door and reclined against it, relaxing against the cushions.

“How can someone be such an arrogant asshole and still manage to be embarrassed about something like this,” Asuma wondered aloud as he took a seat next to Kurenai. He casually slung his arm around her shoulders as Iruka grabbed the water bottle that he’d brought with him and took a sip out of it. He nearly spat it out when she didn’t immediately move it off and instead leaned into him.

He controlled the impulse, but did choke a little. His eyes teared up from the discomfort. Dead silence consumed the area as everyone stared at both of them before the jeers and cheers came. It was so loud that it nearly hurt Iruka’s ears, but he joined in anyway. This had been a long time coming, and Iruka had almost despaired that it never would.

“What?” Kotetsu gasped dramatically, clutching a hand to his chest. “I’m so wounded right now! Why didn’t you guys say anything?”

Asuma’s and Kurenai’s cheeks were both steadily getting redder and redder. Iruka might have had some pity on them if he would have been informed. Instead, he nodded his head in agreement with Kotetsu while Anko reached around and thumped Asuma in the back. It was a deep thunk, signaling that she’d actually put some force into the hit.

“Look,” Asuma said quickly. He held his hands out in front of him and said, “we were going to wait until everyone was here to say something. We figured that waiting would be more convenient and—”

“Do you actually expect us to believe that bullshit?” Izumo challenged, crossing his arms over his chest. He looked genuinely hurt. Iruka believed it; he was always the most sensitive out of the group.

Kurenai laughed lightly, most likely at the looks on their faces and said, “Come on, guys. It’s not the end of the world. Why don’t we all just forget about it right now. Asuma wants to spare your feelings, but we weren’t going to tell any of you yet. We just started dating a couple of weeks ago, and wanted to try it out for a bit longer before we mentioned anything to anyone.”

“Then why did you….” Genma trailed off uncertainly. He looked between them with a raised eyebrow.

“I’ve waited six years for this woman,” Asuma told them with a shrug. “Now that I have her, I’m taking full advantage of it.” He looked down at Kurenai. His eyes held a bit of remorse, but Iruka could tell that he was mostly unapologetic.

“Let’s save the mushy shit for later, please?” Anko groaned, making gagging noises as she looked over at the pair in disgust. Everyone else muttered in agreement. They really did make a cute couple, but that lovey-dovey stuff wasn’t anything that he wanted a front row seat to, friend or not.

 

Silence consumed the cabin after about an hour of talking about their summers and Iruka felt the pull of sleep that was visible on everyone’s faces. It wasn’t much of a shock when he finally nodded off, and he definitely didn’t fight it.

It felt like almost no time later when his eyes shot back open. The door slammed shut and Kakashi was rushing inside.

“You guys,” he hissed frantically. Iruka pulled himself out of his bleary state quickly, knowing that the silver haired wizard was rarely anything other than totally calm. If something had happened to pull him out of his apathetic mood, then it was major.

“What’s up?” Iruka asked.

“Get up,” Kakashi said. “Something’s not right outside. The train’s stopped and there’s shouting at the front. A few adults have gone out, but no one’s come back in.”

“Do you think that we’ve broken down?” Genma yawned. He seemed completely unconcerned, stretching like a cat after a midmorning nap.

Raidou scowled at him and cuffed the ash brown wizard over the back of the head. “Don’t be stupid,” he snapped at Genma. “The train can’t break down. It’s run by magic.”

Genma flinched at the blow and scowled at Raidou as he got to his feet. “Alright, then, if it’s not a breakdown, what could it be?”

“The only thing I can think of is that we’re being attacked,” Kakashi replied.

“Who the hell would attack us?”  Kotetsu demanded.

“I dunno,” Iruka said, “but I’d like to find out.” He moved to go out the door, but Kakashi blocked him immediately.

“Don’t be stupid,” Kakashi advised him. “You’re not going out there.”

Iruka bristled at the command in Kakashi’s tone, not appreciating it at all. “Excuse me? I’ll do what I want, Hatake.”

“You’ll have to get through me, Umino,” Kakashi informed him heatedly.

“This isn’t the time for this right now,” Kurenai told them both sternly. “We need to get along and focus. We could all be in danger, and we need to be ready just in case.”

Before anyone could respond, there was a loud noise, like a cannon being fired, and the train rocked. Iruka cursed as he was flung to the side, into the glass next to Kakashi. He hissed as his head slammed into the unforgiving surface and immediately started to throb. He pushed himself into a standing position just as a bright light lit up the darkened train. Not a moment later, the crash of something metal hitting meatal sounded and then the screaming began. Heavy footsteps clunked quickly through the hallway, and spells started firing, looking a lot like fireworks shooting through the air.

Kakashi inhaled sharply as he pushed Iruka further into the compartment, turning around and whipping his wand out. He ducked under a spell of green light that crashed into the wall next to him.

Petrificus Totalus!” he shouted, pointing his wand at the dark wizard that he was facing. Iruka couldn’t see anything from his angle, but he heard the muffled blocking curse and knew that this fight was going to last too long and someone else was going to end up coming along and Kakashi would be subdued.

Asuma and Genma seemed to get the same idea, because they quickly made their way to Iruka and without discussing it, a true testament to their bond, they all grabbed a fistful of Kakashi’s robe and snatched him backward, causing him to tumble into the cabin and allowed them to flood out into the hallway.

It was pure, unadulterated chaos outside. Spells were flying, and people were screaming in either fear or anger. Iruka almost started panicking himself but forced it back after a moment. His friends needed him and he would not be a burden. The wizard that had been fighting Kakashi was marching forward intently. Before he could make it any closer, however, Genma, Asuma, and Iruka sent hexes at him. He attempted to block, but the combination of the three hit him dead on, and it was too powerful to avoid. He went crashing further back into the chaos.

“What the hell are you guys doing?” Kakashi demanded angrily. He stalked out of the compartment with the others in tow.

“It’s not safe in here,” Asuma said. He reached over and grabbed Kurenai’s hand and pulled her to him. “We need to get off this train and find some place safe to lay low for a while.”

“I don’t want to run away,” Iruka said stubbornly.

“We don’t have a choice,” Kakashi told him. “This isn’t a fight that we can win. If these guys are strong enough to stop the Hogwarts express in its tracks, there’s something wrong. The headmaster himself places the charms on her that keeps her going.”

Iruka finally nodded. He understood that whoever these guys were, they were bad news and totally out of his league. That didn’t mean that he had to like the thought of leaving and hiding.

“Come on,” Kakashi said. He started running down the hallway. It was a narrow pathway, and could hold maybe three people standing shoulder to shoulder. It was a fairly good thing, because it meant that the enemy could only attack in groups of threes. It was also a bad thing because the nine of them weren’t the only ones that were trying to get out.

The door was backed up with people trying to escape and their group was at the very back. The dark wizards were gaining on them. Iruka had given up on trying to push through and had turned around. Only a few people were further back than he was and he could see the wizards coming. They weren’t bothering to use spells anymore, obviously certain that the fear that each student had was enough to paralyze them.

Iruka might have agreed with them if he wasn’t a stubborn little shit. No one was going to make him that scared, not when he had the means to protect himself. “Confringo!” he cried out. The spell rocketed from the end of his wand. It missed the heads of the dark wizards, but hit the window beside them. The glass shattered, and the flames spread, hitting a few of them and fanning them back a bit. It wouldn’t be enough to cause any harm, sadly.

Kakashi was next to him. He raised his arms and sent out a charm that caused a few of the wizards to fly backward, crashing into others. Iruka spared a quick glance behind him and saw that the students were slowly getting out while others had gotten the same idea and were turning around and preparing to fight back.

“Where the hell are the others?” Iruka demanded.

“Protego!” Kakashi’s wand flicked and a magical shield covered both of them and blocked a spell that was aimed directly for his chest.

He dropped the shield immediately and sent back a counter attack before snapping at Iruka. “Your concern over them is touching. Right now, however, I’d be more worried about you. They’re all capable, and they’ll be fine.”

Iruka nodded and brought his mind back to the fight. He wanted to be alive, after all, to find them and make sure that they were truly okay. He and Kakashi both spent so much time together, that they fell into an almost seamless rhythm whilst fighting. They ducked and dodged at the same times and casted out charms, hexes, and curses without tripping over each other, managing to take down their enemies (or hold them back, at the very least) while watching each other’s backs.

The doors were finally clearing out. Anytime, and they would be able to make their escape. Iruka knew that students were down on the ground, and a few of them might never get back up, but there was nothing that they could do. They were managing to barely get by with their own lives. If they were to stay behind and try to help someone out, then they’d both be goners. Iruka just finished sending a rather powerful Confundus charm at one of their opponents, who hadn’t even seen it coming, when Kakashi abruptly grabbed him by the arm and flung him backward. He felt himself falling and tumbled straight on to the ground, outside of the train.

The pain was sharp and he knew that he would be bruised and battered in the morning, but the adrenaline that was pumping through his body made the discomfort minimal at best. He quickly got to his feet just in time to block a curse sent to him by a nearby wizard. It was too dark to really split hairs on the details of appearance, but he could make out pale hair and large, round glasses. To be honest, Iruka really didn’t care what he looked like as he sent back a disarming spell.

The wizard dodged it and Iruka had to jump to the side. “Defodio!” Iruka was almost certain that he had managed to move far enough away until he felt an excruciating pain at the bottom of his leg. He cried out and fell to the ground as his knee buckled from underneath him, obviously unable to hold his weight anymore.

Expelliarmus!” Kakashi’s voice hit Iruka’s ears and he saw red light shoot across the field and hit his attacker straight in the chest. The man shot backward quite a few feet, and his wand went in the opposite direction. Kakashi jumped to the ground quickly and crouched down. Without a single word, he snatched Iruka up. When Iruka cried out in agony again, he simply slung one of Iruka’s arms over his shoulder and quickly began to rush toward the forest. More wizards were shooting spells and curses after them, but they were so far away, that the incantations went wide, narrowly shooting over their heads. Iruka flinched at each and every one of them, but Kakashi seemed totally unfazed as they entered the sanctuary of the tree line.

Kakashi didn’t stop once they were covered. He didn’t even stop when Iruka could no longer hear the fighting and screaming. They passed by two clearings and a stream, and they made it to the third opening before Kakashi slowed. By this time, Iruka was halfway delirious from pain and was holding on to consciousness by willpower alone. His breathing was harsh, and his limbs were shaking from exertion when Kakashi set him on the ground so that his back was leaning against a tree.

The silver haired boy immediately knelt in front of him and grabbed his injured leg gently, moving it so that it was stretched out in front of him. Iruka inhaled deeply, feeling a bit more coherent now that the pain had went from unbearable to agonizing. “What the hell happened?” Kakashi asked. It was too dark to see much of anything, but Iruka figured that he was able to feel the blood just fine.

Lumos!” Iruka muttered. His wand tip lit up and casted a dim light over the two of them. Kakashi looked up at him, his grey eyes lit up in concern.

“I’ll be fine,” Iruka promised him. “I was just too slow, is all.”

“It gouged your flesh,” Kakashi told him sternly. “You’re not okay. What if you wouldn’t have dodged it? What if that would have hit you full on? That could have killed you Iruka!”

He could see the blame in his eyes. Kakashi was berating himself for this, and Iruka knew it. “There’s no way that you could have known,” Iruka informed him. “We were desperate to get out, and you were trying your best to get me out of immediate danger. How was anyone supposed to know what was outside?”

“They were inside of the train,” Kakashi snapped at him. “Of course, they were going to be out there. I threw you out there, disoriented, and left you at the mercy of the assholes outside.”

“Look,” Iruka told him. “We’re both okay. We both made it out. I dodged out of the way of most of the spell, and you took down the guy that casted it. We’re both safe for right now, and we need to keep it that way.”

Kakashi nodded slowly as he pushed himself to his feet and looked around the clearing. “Let me put up some wards real quick and then I’ll fix your leg.”

Iruka nodded and leaned back, watching as Kakashi brought his wan up in the air. He muttered several incantations under his breath. The only sign that it even worked was the brief flashes of light that came off. After a few minutes, he walked back to Iruka and sat down in front of him again, looking down at his leg.

He frowned as he stared down at the wound uncertainly. “It’s still bleeding,” he muttered to Iruka, as though he wasn’t able to feel the blood still dripping from the wound. “I…I don’t know any spells for this. Madame Tsunade taught me a few, but I don’t know any for this.”

“It’s fine,” Iruka told him placatingly. “We can wrap it the muggle way.”

Kakashi looked up at him with a raised eyebrow. “The muggle way?”

“Yeah,” Iruka nodded. He stretched the bottom of his shirt out in front of him and grabbed his wand. “Diffindo!” he muttered. A small slit tore in the bottom of his shirt and he was able to tear a generous piece of it off. He handed it toward Kakashi, who took it uncertainly.

“The hell am I supposed to do with this?” Kakashi demanded.

Before Iruka could explain, he heard a voice. “Get away from me, you assholes!” The voice was a boy’s, but very high pitched.

Iruka’s head turned in the direction immediately, his mind already set on the noise. Someone very young was in trouble. He moved to get up, but Kakashi grabbed him by his shoulder and forced him back down again.

“Kakashi—”

“I’ll get it,” Kakashi said.

He got to his feet and crept toward the edge of the clearing, probably where the edge of the barrier charms was. Iruka wanted to get up and help, but sat still, knowing that he would only be in the way in his condition.

STUPEFY!” he heard Kakashi shout. He had a feeling that if the spell hit its intended target, they’d be out for a while. There were more quick footsteps and a moment later, Kakashi was back inside, pulling a struggling blond behind him. The boy was yelping and struggling, clearly not appreciating the way that the older was manhandling him.

“It’s okay,” Iruka said to the boy quickly, though that didn’t seem to stop him. Once Kakashi was safely inside of the clearing again, he unceremoniously dropped the boy and walked away from him, back toward Iruka.

The blond was maybe eleven with messy blond hair and a bright orange t-shirt. His blue eyes were wide with obvious fear as he got back to his feet. He was shaking as he brought up his wand and pointed it at Kakashi. “Cool it, kid,” Kakashi said, raising his hands up. He’d apparently stowed his wand back into his pants, because he didn’t have it in hand.

“Stay back,” the boy snapped at them.

“I just saved you from those assholes that were chasing you,” Kakashi reasoned with him. His voice was calm and collected as he took a step toward the blond. “Why would I want to hurt you when I could have just let them do it?”

“I…I don’t know. You look mean. Maybe you wanted to hurt me yourself?” the boy challenged.

“Look at his robes,” Iruka urged the boy. “Do you see that. It means that he’s from Gryffindor. He’s a seventh year at Hogwarts. I’m guessing that you’re a first year there?”

The boy slowly nodded as he looked Kakashi over for what was probably the first time. His eyes seemed to immediately calm and he relaxed considerably. His wand weakly dropped from his hand to the ground as he fell to his knees and shook, obviously from pure fear.

“Thank you,” he muttered. “Thank you so much. You saved my life.”

“Don’t worry too much about it,” Kakashi said uncomfortably. Iruka couldn’t help but smile at his bashfulness. “Are you hurt?”

“I think I twisted my ankle,” the boy replied. “I’m fine, though.”

Iruka frowned lightly as he looked at the kid. He looked familiar for some reason. His blond hair and blue eyes bore a strong resemblance to something, but he couldn’t pinpoint it for the life of him.

“That’s good,” Kakashi said. “I want you to just stay over here for right now, okay? I have to take care of him.” He pointed back at Iruka and the kid nodded.

“What’s wrong with him?” he asked.

“I just hurt my leg,” Iruka assured him with a smile, doing his best to ignore the horrible throbbing in his calf. “It’s nothing serious.”

The boy nodded and Kakashi walked back over to Iruka and knelt down in front of him for the third time. He grabbed the fabric from Iruka and looked up at him questioningly. “I feel as though I might understand where this is going, but I’m going to need you to spell it out for me anyway. I don’t want to hurt you.”

“You’re going to take this and wrap it around the wound tightly, but not so bad that you cut off circulation,” Iruka told him. “The pressure should at least slow down the bleeding.”

Look on Kakashi’s face as Iruka explained said very clearly that he didn’t think very much of the muggle way of doing things. Iruka would freely admit that he wasn’t too wild about it himself. The magical way hurt a lot less. Kakashi looked down at Iruka’s leg before looking back up at him, as though asking for permission. Iruka rolled his eyes and gestured for him to continue.

Kakashi gingerly lifted Iruka’s leg up, and the younger one had to fight back a curse from the pain that came with the motion. He settled Iruka’s foot on his knee and placed the cloth underneath it. His lip was brought in between his teeth as he chewed on it nervously. He delicately moved to loosely tie the cloth. “No, Kakashi,” Iruka told him. “It’s going to have to be tighter than that.”

“It’s going to hurt you if I do that,” Kakashi argued stubbornly.

“If you don’t do it, I’m going to end up losing too much blood,” Iruka countered calmly. “I know that it’s going to hurt. I’ll be okay, though.”

Kakashi still looked unsure. Iruka reached out and put a hand on his forearm. “Just calm down, Kakashi,” Iruka told him gently. “Everything’s going to alright. Please just do it.”

Kakashi took a deep breath and nodded. He tensed up and moved to tie the improvised bandage. Iruka clenched his teeth together as agony burned through his entire leg. He rested his head back against the tree bark and looked up, so that Kakashi wouldn’t be able to see his expression. “I knew it,” Kakashi said accusingly. “If it hurts that bad, how is it helping you?”

“Why are you hurting him?” the child’s voice asked accusingly from behind Kakashi, who winced at the accusation as though the blond had blasted him with a stinging jinx.

“He’s helping me,” Iruka told the kid gently. He patted the ground next to him, and the boy looked at him uncertainly for a few heartbeats before he walked over and plopped down next to him. “What’s your name?”

“Naruto,” the boy replied. “Naruto Namikaze.”

Iruka smiled as Kakashi took a closer look at the boy before sighing and shaking his head. “That’s what it is. You look just like your dad.”

“I think he has more of his mother’s personality,” Iruka confessed with a laugh. Both of his parents were professors at Hogwarts. Professor Minato was the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and Professor Kushina, the Ancient Runes teacher. They were very eccentric in their own ways, but some of the friendliest people that Iruka had ever had the pleasure of meeting.

“You’re not kidding,” Kakashi sighed. He had a slight grimace on his face, probably thinking of a few times that he’d slipped up in Ancient Runes and had gotten smacked over the back of the head for it.

“Who were those people out there?” Naruto questioned uncertainly. He had a gleam in his eye. It was curious more than anything else, which worried Iruka quite a bit. The boy was clearly a troublemaker.

“I don’t know,” Kakashi said. “They’re bad news, though. The best thing that we can do is wait for the professionals to get here and clear things up.” There was worry in his eyes, and Iruka knew why. Kakashi came from a pureblood family, and his father, Sakumo Hatake was one of the head Aurors for the Ministry of Magic. He would be on the scene soon, if he wasn’t already. His father was more than capable of his job, but it was still nerve wracking nevertheless. Iruka knew how he felt. His own parents had been police officers that had died in the line of duty. He would hate for Kakashi’s father to share the same fate.

Kakashi looked up at the sky and Iruka followed his line of sight. “It’s getting dark out. Why don’t you and Naruto get some rest, Iruka? I’ll stay up and take watch. I’ll be able to alert any officials if I see them.”

“Why don’t you let me do that?” Iruka questioned. “I slept today, and you haven’t. I’m probably a lot better off than you right now.”

“I’m not the one suffering with blood-loss,” Kakashi shot back with a frown. “Don’t worry about me.”

“I’m serious, Kakashi,” Iruka told him sternly. “Get some rest. You look horrible.”

The poor guy really did. He’d fired off a lot of spells, and there’s no telling how long he’d been awake. He was obviously drained and needed to get some rest before he collapsed from pure exhaustion.

“I’m fine,” Kakashi insisted.

“So am I,” Iruka shot back.

They both glared at each other, neither willing to back down. A yawn caught Iruka’s attention and he looked down at the young blond. He looked between both of them with heavy-lidded eyes before he swayed to the side and rested against Iruka’s arm heavily. He blinked hard, trying to fight sleep, but ultimately failed a moment later when his eyes shut and stayed that way.

“How do you do that?” Kakashi demanded. “Kids just immediately love you.”

Iruka smiled smugly at him. “Talent, I guess. Let’s face it, Kakashi, you’re not nearly as likable as I am.”

His inquisitive expression quickly turned into a glare as Iruka snickered. He sobered quickly, however, and said, “Practice. There’re a lot of children at my orphanage that are around his age. I guess that it comes naturally after a while of helping out, and taking care of younger ones so often.”

If he didn’t know any better, he could have sworn that he saw Kakashi’s eyes soften as he looked at the scene in front of him. That was impossible, however. Kakashi was too much of a hard ass to soften at something so cozy.

Chapter Text

Hashirama sighed and reclined against the chair in his office. He placed his hands behind his head as he closed his eyes. His entire study was a disaster as he rushed through paperwork. He knew that he could sign off on what the students were doing with magic, but he loved them all so much that he didn’t want to make something like this so impersonal. He smiled in anticipation of what would be coming that night: a huge feast and the return of his beloved students.

A bright flash of light exploded behind his eyelids and he cracked them open. Past his large, overflowing desk sat the source of the light.

“The Hogwarts Express has been compromised,” the Patronus, in the form of a deer, said without preamble. Shikaku’s voice was still calm, but he could detect a hint of worry in there. Hashirama found it completely understandable. His own son was starting Hogwarts this year, along with quite a few other children that Hashirama knew.

His heart clenched in his chest as he immediately got to his feet. This was no time to panic or dawdle. “Understood. Let me get a few of the professors, and I’ll be on the scene immediately. How far out are they?”

“An hour away from Hogsmeade,” Shikaku reported. “Please hurry.” Hashirama said no more as he abruptly left the headmaster’s office and quickly lifted the anti-apparition charm. He snatched his wand out of his robe and flashed into his brother’s study.

Tobirama, a grumpy man with wild white hair was leaning over a book on his desk, which was a great deal more organized than his own, when Hashirama poofed in. “Get up,” he told him. “We have to go save our students. Tell Minato, Kushina, Madara, and Jiraiya.”

Tobirama nodded and was gone from sight before Hashirama could even blink. Hashirama quickly apparated to the great hall and moments later, the other four teachers were there with him. “What’s going on?” Kushina demanded. She was a fiery redhead with violet eyes and a temper that went beyond the stereotype.

“The Hogwarts Express has been compromised,” Hashirama reported. He remained calm, hoping to emanate it to Kushina. Of course, that didn’t work. Her son was on that train, after all. “They’re an hour from Hogsmeade. I wish that I could tell you more, but that’s all I know. Let’s go.”

Without another word, Hashirama spun out of the room and found himself in a forest in the next heartbeat. The brush was thick, but he could hear frightened screaming. He ran toward the noise without a second thought. He would be damned if anything was going to harm the ones that he cared so deeply about. He ducked underneath tree limbs and skipped over roots, probably looking drunk as he dodged and weaved the natural barriers.

He quickly made it out of the line of trees and stumbled upon the railroad. A few hundred meters off, he saw the express. Small fires were in the tree line, sending up smoke into the steadily darkening sky as silhouettes of people running around were highlighted. He saw flashes of red, yellow and blue lights.

He ran, sprinting as hard as he could, raising his wand as soon as he was close enough. “Protego!” he screamed, shooting a shield in front of a younger child that had fallen on her hands and knees while a dark figure walked toward her with his wand raised. The curse flew backward, and the wizard had to jump to avoid it. “Stupefy!” The curse hit the wizard in the chest and blew him backward. He landed on the ground and didn’t get back up.

The girl looked over at him with wide, watery blue eyes. She was a cute little blond with long hair. This was obviously Ino of the Yamanaka family. He quickly grabbed her hand and pulled her to his feet. He didn’t let it go as he rushed further into the fray. Spells went flying, and people were rushing around. It was total chaos. He could hear a few of the more familiar aurors shooting restraining hexes and curses at the dark wizards.

He saw a chunky boy trying his best to outrun a couple of other wizards, who were laughing darkly at him and calling out taunts. “Choji!” Ino called out to him, sounding helpless and hopeless.

“It’s okay,” Hashirama assured her as he pulled his wand up and took aim.

Before he could send out a spell, however, he heard someone yell, “Flippendo!”

The wizard that was hit, knocked sideways into his partner, and they both went tumbling down. Hashirama quickly sent out a paralyzing spell and rushed toward Choji.

“I’ll take them, headmaster.” He turned around and saw Inoichi Yamanaka, Ino’s father, standing next to him. He’d been the one to defend Choji. The blond man grabbed both his daughter and Choji and disappeared with a low pop that was almost completely drowned out by the sound of fighting.

He turned around and rushed away from the spot, toward the noise of children crying out in fear.

 

It took entirely too long in Hashirama’s opinion to clear out the dark wizards. They’d been extremely powerful and had known it. Quite a few of them had been taken down, but even more had gotten away. His brother was standing next to him as they both peered in the train. Several bodies were strewn across the floors. Some were moving while others were still. He saw broken glass from shattered windows and burn marks along the walls.

He felt a surge of pride despite himself. His students had fought. That feeling was quickly swallowed by anger. His students shouldn’t ever have to fight. They were children. They deserved to laugh, play and grow into adults before they were subjected to the violent horrors of the world.

“Tobirama,” Hashirama said quietly. “We’re going to find out who did this, and we’re going to stop them.”

“I know, brother,” Tobirama nodded. His voice was tight and controlled, but you had to be a fool not to hear the concentrated rage in his words. “I know.” Tobirama loved kids, though his constant scowl made most people believe that he was a cold-blooded hothead that loved nothing more than causing people pain.

Hashirama turned and looked at him with a small frown. His white hair was dirty, and he had a few scrapes and bruises on his exposed skin, as though he had been receiving end of one too many explosive hexes. His red eyes, however practically glowed with energy. He wasn’t ready to give up quite yet. They moved out of the way as medical wizards rushed through the doors of the train to get to the fallen children.

“There was only one of the dark wizards left alive that didn’t escape,” Tobirama reported. “Apparently he’d been knocked out by a first year and his arms were broken in the process.”

Hashirama turned around and walked away from the train. There were a group of aurors standing around, talking amongst themselves. “What’s wrong?” Hashirama inquired.

“We’ve managed to locate all of the students except for three,” Jiraiya said quietly. His voice was quiet and solemn. He was hugging Kushina, who was crying harder than he had ever seen.

“What three?” Hashirama asked as he looked around, as though he was going to see them pop up out of nowhere.

“Iruka Umino, Kakashi Hatake, and Naruto Namikaze,” Hiruzen Sarutobi told him quietly.

That explained why Minato wasn’t there. He turned and looked and saw that Sakumo Hatake wasn’t around either. “Tobirama!” Hashirama called to his brother. He had been talking to an auror a few feet away. She was shaking her head and looked troubled. He turned around and looked at his elder brother was a raised eyebrow. Hashirama made a gesturing motion, and he nodded and excused himself.

“What is it?” Tobirama inquired.

“We need your expertise,” Hashirama told him. “Three children are missing.” His brother had a way with tracking and sensing magic that he’d never seen before. He was simply magnificent at it, and knew that he would be able to find them if they were anywhere nearby.

He nodded and pulled his wand out. He muttered a few words under his breath before his eyes widened and he took off into the forest. “Madara!” he called to his best friend.

The man in question looked over at Hashirama with a raised eyebrow.

“Please follow Tobirama, with me.”

Madara nodded curtly and they both took off after Tobirama. “Have you seen Izuna?” Madara question.

Hashirama shook his head. “I saw him maybe twenty minutes before. He was dueling a wizard. I saw his opponent on the ground somewhere, though, so he’s still okay as far as I know.”

Madara nodded and they both rushed quickly. They tried to catch up with Tobirama, but his brother was so fast that it was impossible to catch up with him. “Avada kedavra!”

He saw a faint green light flash ahead, and his heart dropped to his throat as he heard a loud crack and a thud. He and Madara both looked at each other before they apparated at the same time. He appeared beside a tree and Madara was a few feet next to him. They landed in the middle of a battle. It was Tobirama, Izuna, Minato, and Sakumo against maybe six dark wizards. They all had on black robes with their hoods drawn, so he had no idea what they looked like.

“Petrificus totalus!” Hashirama cried as Madara shot the killing curse at the man that was dueling his brother. Hashirama caught one of the two men that were ganging up on Minato and Madara’s curse had hit home and the wizard crumpled to the ground.

The other men turned toward Hashirama and Madara and all of them sent different spells in their direction. “Protego!” he and Madara cried at the same time. A large shield went up over both of them, melding together seamlessly at the middle and protected them from all of the flying spells.

The others took advantage of the wizards’ distraction and shot spells at them, bring them down. “What the hell?” Madara questioned. “Why are you all out here fighting these goons? I thought you were looking for the kids….” He trailed off as he realized that the others were looking away from them and toward the forest.

“They’re maybe a hundred feet ahead,” Tobirama said. “I’m pretty sure that they’re under some sort of barrier charm, so we can’t see them.”

“Probably Kakashi’s work,” Sakumo said, sounding approving. “He’s always been good at those.”

Minato didn’t wait for anything else. He took off, running toward the place that Tobirama pointed out. Hashirama ran after him too. He tore through the forest and made it to a clearing a few seconds after Minato. He looked around, and still didn’t see anything.

“Kakashi!” Sakumo called.

“Naruto!” Minato yelled out.

“Iruka!” Hashirama shouted.

There was no answer at first, but after a moment they both appeared out of nowhere on the far side of the clearing against the trees. Hashirama saw Kakashi seated, looking up at them tiredly, his wand raised in the air, while Iruka and Naruto were still fast asleep. He gave them a weak smile before he yawned and gestured toward the other two. “Iruka’s hurt.”

Hashirama quickly walked over to the brunette and knelt down in front of him. His pant leg was already pulled up, displaying a crudely tied off wound. He quickly untied it and went to work.

 

Kakashi was so damn tired. He’d never had to fight for his life before; it took a lot out of him, and all he wanted to do was sleep. He’d been fighting the pull of it for hours, but he’d apparently lost the battle, though it hadn’t been that long ago.

His father looked just as tired as he did, though he was smiling widely as he snatched him up and crushed him against his chest. “I was so worried,” Sakumo whispered to him. He sounded so worn out. “When I couldn’t find you, I assumed the worst.”

Kakashi felt guilt swarm him. His father had already lost his wife, and Kakashi didn’t want to think of how badly his death would hit the older man. He heard a sniffling noise, and felt his heart drop. The only other time he’d ever seen his father cry was when his mom had passed away. “I’m fine, dad,” Kakashi muttered to him. He wrapped his arms around him and hugged him tightly.

“I know,” Sakumo murmured back. “I’m sorry I doubted you. You’re my son, after all.”

Kakashi felt himself flushing from the pride in his father’s voice.

“I’m very proud of you, son,” he told Kakashi as he released him. “You protected these two.”

“Ouch!”

Kakashi flinched and turned around to see Iruka cringing as Professor Hashirama wove his wand over his wound. The skin was knitting itself back together slowly and the boy looked positively green as he watched. “Don’t look,” he advised his friend with a smile. Iruka looked up at him, still looking as though he was about to be sick and weakly smiled back.

Professor Madara, the potions master at Hogwarts was standing close to Professor Tobirama. They were muttering to each other, but Kakashi was able to hear them just fine. “What could these guys have wanted with a bunch of kids?” Professor Madara questioned.

“I have a feeling I know,” the white-haired teacher responded quietly. “This sounds like the work of Orochimaru, but I’ll have to ask Jiraiya and Tsunade to be certain of it. They were the closest to that snake, so they would know for sure.”

Madara nodded slowly in agreement as Professor Izuna walked up to them and clapped Professor Madara on the back. They were brothers from the Uchiha family, and shared the dark hair and eyes of the rest of the clan. Their faces were perpetually grim, but they had both managed to twist their expressions into even more grave looks for the occasion. “Thank you for the assist back there,” Professor Izuna said to his brother, “I wish you would hesitate more before using that curse, though.”

The old man shook his head at his brother and replied. “When it comes to your safety, I will not.”

“Okay,” Professor Hashirama called out. “Iruka is safe for travel now. Why don’t we get these students to where they belong? We have all of that food in the great hall, and it would be a shame for all of the work that the house elves put in to go to waste like that, don’t you think?”

“Food?” Naruto’s voice sounded so hopeful. “I want some food.”

Professor Minato smiled down at his son, and Kakashi couldn’t believe the strong resemblance between the two. It was greater than Kakashi’s was with his father. “Then let’s go.”

He looked up at the headmaster and said, “I’ll take Naruto. We’re going to go by and see his mother first before we come to Hogwarts.”

“Completely understandable,” Professor Hashirama said. He smiled down at Naruto and said, “Thank you for being so brave. Will you forgive me for my spells not keeping you safe?”

“That wasn’t your fault, headmaster,” Professor Minato told him quickly. Sakumo tensed beside him and Kakashi sighed. He knew where this was about to go.

“But it was!” Professor Hashirama wailed. A large tear slid down his cheek as he looked around at the people in the clearing hopelessly. “This is all my fault! I should have taken more time and did more spells! I should step down from my position! It’s clear that I’m not strong enough to do it. Tobirama…Madara…I think one of you should—”

“Shut up, you fool!” Professor Tobirama snapped at him. “You’re the headmaster of one of the most famous schools of witchcraft and wizardry in the world! Act with some type of dignity and self-respect!”

Professor Hashirama cringed slightly and Professor Madara sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, as if he was trying to ward of a headache. “Why is my best friend a blithering idiot?”

“I don’t blame you, Professor,” Iruka spoke up. His voice was still masked by discomfort, but he seemed almost completely healed. He smiled up at the headmaster and said, “You’re the most powerful person I know, and one of the most respectable. I don’t want any other headmaster.”

As suddenly as the depression came on, it disappeared and Professor Hashirama started beaming as he helped Iruka get to his feet. “Thank you so much, Iruka,” he said before he pulled him into a large hug. “You’ve always been a kind and understanding boy. I know you’ll go far!”

Kakashi had to stop himself from snickering. Iruka got himself into a situation like this at least once a month. Professor Hashirama would have a sudden mental breakdown, start moaning about how he wasn’t worthy to be headmaster, and Iruka would say something to cheer him up. It always ended with him being engulfed in one of his hugs until his brother ultimately intervened. Kakashi would have sworn that Iruka had a crush on the headmaster and said things to get a hug if it weren’t for the alarmed look on his face that happened every time that Professor Hashirama did so.

“At least you got to choose him,” Professor Tobirama muttered resignedly to Professor Madara. At this Kakashi did snicker. Both professors turned around and looked at Kakashi, but their eyes had slight humor shining in them, and he knew that he wasn’t in trouble. Professor Tobirama turned away first and walked over to his brother and pulled him away from Iruka, scolding him yet again.

Kakashi stepped away from his dad and walked over to his friend, who was leaning against the tree. He seemed reluctant to put any weight on his leg, which worried him slightly. “It’s okay,” Iruka told him, as though he was reading his mind. “Professor Hashirama told me that he wasn’t going to be able to fix it all. I’m going to have to go and see Madame Tsunade when I get to Hogwarts to get the rest of it figured out.”

“Here,” Kakashi said. He wrapped Iruka’s arm around his shoulders and supported him fully. “I’ve got you.”

Iruka grinned over at him appreciatively and Kakashi returned the look for a moment before turning to look at his dad. “I’ll take him to Hogwarts. I’m guessing the anti-apparition spell had been lifted for the time being.”

Sakumo nodded at him. Kakashi smiled back and said, “I’ll see you later, dad,” before he tightened his hold on Iruka and felt the world spin around him.

They appeared inside of the great hall seconds later. Kakashi looked around the large room, taking in the four huge tables that sat parallel to each other, and a last, smaller one at the front of the hall that was perpendicular to the rest. The tapestries that hung over the tables on the ceilings depicted the Hogwarts crest and felt more inviting than they ever had before. He felt secure and safe, more so than he had in a while.

“What’s wrong with him?” Kakashi looked up and saw Madame Shizune walking briskly toward him. Her high-heels clacked against the floor rapidly, getting louder as she got closer. Kakashi sighed; the woman made him more than a little nervous sometimes. Whenever she was around with that look on her face, he’d managed to do something to completely screw up.

“He was hit by a spell,” Kakashi told her. “His leg was pretty banged up. Professor Hashirama managed to fix the worst of it, but he wanted a professional to look it over and make sure that everything was in working order.”

Shizune nodded. “Come with me,” she said. She briskly walked out of the great hall, and into the entrance hall. They walked up the staircase and entered the hallway that led to the hospital wing. By the time that they had made it to the beds, Iruka was breathing heavily again. Sweat was pouring down his face as he winced with each step that Kakashi took.

He felt guilty, but knew that Iruka’s pride would not take very kindly to Kakashi carrying him. Part of him knew that if he would have looked any worse, he wouldn’t have given a damn about his pride and would have picked him up anyway.

He dumped him off at the nearest unoccupied bed and stepped back for Shizune to get close to his injured leg. Kakashi left her to the more intricate healing spells and looked around the room. Over half of the beds were taken up. Some of the students were awake, looking shaken, while others were completely still, as though they were dead.

“I’m fine mom!” Kakashi snickered slightly as he turned around and saw Naruto and Professor Kushina marching through the door. Well, the redhead was marching, Naruto was being dragged behind her, protesting adamantly the entire way.

“I don’t care what you say,” she snarled at her son. “Quit arguing with me! You’re getting yourself checked out and that’s final!”

Naruto scowled at her, but he didn’t say anything else as he stopped dragging his feet. Obviously, Professor Kushina was as temperamental with her son as she was with her students and husband. He spotted Kakashi and his scowl quickly turned into a smile. “Mom!” he said as he raised his arm and pointed his finger toward him. “That’s the guy that saved me! It’s Kakashi!”

Professor Kushina turned quickly and positively beamed as soon as she saw Kakashi. She darted toward him, with Naruto’s wrist still in hand, causing the shorter boy to bound along behind her. She let Naruto go at the last minute and crushed Kakashi to her so tightly that it was hard to breathe. What an amazing way to go out…you just finish dueling dangerous wizards and a hug kills you. “Can’t…breathe!” he managed to wheeze out.

“Oh,” Professor Kushina gasped, quickly releasing him and stepping back. “I’m sorry about that, Kakashi; I’m just so grateful. You saved my baby.”

“Mom!” Naruto groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose tightly, as red flared darkly on his face. “I’m eleven now! I’m not your baby.”

“You’ll always be my baby,” his mother gushed. She looked as though she wanted to pull Kakashi in for another hug, but she thankfully looked behind him and saw Iruka.

“I heard that he was there too,” Professor Kushina said quietly. “How is he?”

“Better,” Kakashi said. “He’s the reason why Naruto was so calm out there. He has a way with kids that is just unreal.”

Kushina smiled behind Kakashi’s head and he figured that Iruka was staring at her. “Thank you, Iruka.” She turned and looked down at her son. “Come on, you’re going to get an examination done too. You can go and see your friends later.”

As soon as they walked off, Shizune walked back up to Kakashi. “I hate to ask you, but we’re about to get a large load of the more minor cases of injuries from the train. We can’t keep Iruka in here for something like this. Is there any way that you can take him to his dorm? He needs sleep, and I’ve given him a draught to put him under. He’s already getting drowsy, so he’s going to need some help.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Kakashi replied. He smiled at her as she walked away, toward a new patient that had just arrived with an auror, who’d been in long enough to set her on a bed before poofing back out again. He walked up to Iruka, who was staring at him through heavy-lidded eyes.

“How are you feeling?” Kakashi asked him.

“Like I could sleep for years,” Iruka confessed through a yawn. “I guess a few hours are going to have to suffice, though.”

“You’re damn right,” Kakashi told him firmly. “You’re going to be better by tomorrow morning so that we can sit down and eat breakfast together.”

Iruka laughed slightly and shook his head. “You make it sound like a date when you say it like that.”

Kakashi grinned at him and said, “I think that potion is messing with your brain.” He grabbed Iruka’s shoulders and hauled him into a sitting position. “Let’s get you up, and into bed, alright?”

“Sounds good to me,” Iruka replied.

 

“You’re in no state to talk to the parents right now,” Tobirama told his brother sternly. Hashirama, Tobirama, Izuna and Madara were all standing in his office. It had been about five hours since the attack on the train, and all of the parents were showing up, demanding to know what had happened. Tobirama knew his brother too well, and knew exactly what would happened if he would step out into the crowded great hall and start answering questions. It would start off with him declaring that it was all his fault, and that he was incapable of keeping their children safe and end with an offered resignation that would then turned into a forced one.

“I will take care of the parents,” Tobirama told him. “Don’t worry about anything.”

“They need to talk to the headmaster,” Madara said quietly. “As much as I agree that your brother is in no state to talk to enraged parents, it’s the truth. They’re not going to be appeased by this unless Hashirama himself reassures them.”

“That’s the problem,” Tobirama snapped at him impatiently. “That idiot isn’t going to appease him. You both know what he’s going to do when he gets out there!”

“I’m standing right here, you know, brother,” Hashirama reminded him, sounding genuinely offended.

“I’m aware,” Tobirama informed him. He pinched the bridge of his nose, trying his best to ward off a headache that simply wasn’t going away. “I just don’t like where I see this going.”

“We’ll be out there to make sure that your brother doesn’t act like too much of an idiot,” Izuna said as he placed his hand on Tobirama’s arm, as though in support.

“I’m still here,” Hashirama protested.

“We know,” the three of them said at the same time. Hashirama cowered slightly, slumping over in his desk as he lowered his eyes.

“Come on,” Tobirama sighed, gesturing to his brother. “We have some people to talk to.”

 

The meeting went just as Tobirama expected. Horribly.

It started off bad, and just might have ended worse. His headache had turned into a full-fledged migraine. As soon as they walked into the great hall, parents started shouting. He wasn’t able to make out any of the words, it all just sounded like a massive roar assaulting his ears.

“Would everyone please just shut up!” Madara snapped at the crowd. He was short tempered at the best of times, but right now it was probably one of the worst moments in Hogwarts history, and his temperament showed it.

It took under half a minute for all of the noise in the room to completely die out. The four of them stood at the front of the room with their heads held high as the rest of the teachers came out and made themselves known as well. Minato came and stood next to him with his wife, while Mito, Hashirama’s wife, came up and stood between him and his brother.

“Let’s remain civil, everyone,” Minato said. He was smiling, but it was strained. “It’s the only way that we’re going to be able to get through this as quickly as possible.”

There were a few murmurs in the crowd. It was a mixture between anger and agreement. “I thought that my child was supposed to be safe here!”

“He is completely safe here, along with all of the other children,” Tobirama replied. “I understand your concerns Mrs. Shiranui, but they are unfounded.”

“Unfounded? Our children could have died!” another shouted out.

“We know,” Izuna said, putting his hands out in front of them, an obvious gesture for them to calm down before they got too riled up again. “We know that the children were put into harm’s way. There is no excuse for that, but we had no reason to believe that there was anything to put them in danger. If we would have known that, we would have made sure that there would have been stronger wards put on the train.”

“Shut up, Uchiha!” a voice cried out from the middle of the crowd. It was an angry man. “I don’t want to hear it from you. Your entire family is deep into dark magic. For all we know, it was you and your brother that weakened the wards on the train for the wizards!”

There was no calming down the crowd after that. Everyone started talking again, getting progressively louder as they tried to shout accusations over other people’s shouted accusations.

“That’s quite enough!” Hashirama had his wand stuck to his throat, using a voice-amplifying charm to be heard over all of the shouting. “I will not tolerate such things being said under this roof! There is no need to be pointing fingers at two men that not only had nothing to do with this incident, but also saved quite a few of the students that were attacked. You seem to forget that they have relatives that are taking courses at the school right now.”

Silence rang through the room once again. Tobirama spared a quick glance over at the two Uchiha brothers, and saw that they were glaring angrily at the crowd. Tobirama couldn’t really say that he blamed them. The parents had been wrong to so readily point fingers at them, but fear would do that to nearly anyone.

“I deeply apologize for the events that happened tonight. I am solely responsible for it all. I was the one that placed the wards on the train, as I do every year,” Hashirama said. His eyes looked sad. For a moment, Tobirama thought that he was going to wallow in a depressed state yet again, but he stood firm. “I do not blame you for your anger, nor am I going to try to persuade you into forgiving me. You will not insult my teachers again.”

Tobirama felt a bit of pride swelling in his chest at the firm and strong stance his brother was taking. It was very unlike him.

“Now, I am not going to tell you not to take your children out of the school, if that is what you decide is the best route to take,” Hashirama continued. “However, I will tell you that the teachers at Hogwarts and the staff of the ministry are looking into this matter very seriously. We are going to double the defenses in the school and have more of the staff watching the grounds until we find the people behind this. They will be in no danger here; you are looking at some of the most powerful and influential witches and wizards in the world.” He looked around at the rest of his staff and they all nodded in agreement, standing a bit straighter at the praise. “That is all for right now. If any of you have any concerns, I’ll be in my office. Please feel free to come by and talk to me in person; I would be happy to discuss them with you individually.”

Without another word, Hashirama turned around and walked out of the room. The rest of the staff followed behind quickly. As soon as his brother was out of sight, he slumped slightly and leaned against the wall. His arms were shaking, and he had the saddest look on his face. Mito walked over to him and wrapped her arms around him, pulling Hashirama into a comforting hug.

“I’ll start assigning the patrolling schedule,” Tobirama murmured to the teachers as he kept walking. This was going to be one hell of a long night for everyone involved.

Chapter Text

Iruka woke up the next morning feeling groggy. It reminded him of the time that one of the woman at the orphanage had given him a double dose of cold medicine by accident. His brain was fuzzy, and his mind was so disoriented that he was having trouble remembering exactly how he’d made it to his dorm the night before.

He groaned as he pushed himself into a sitting position. A few other boys from his year were still sound asleep on their beds, obviously still exhausted from the ordeal of the day before. He was too, but he knew that there was no way he was going to be able to fall back into blissful sleep. His brain just simply didn’t work that way.

He stifled a yawn as he slowly pushed himself to his feet and padded toward the bathroom. He’d get dressed and then go down to breakfast. Hopefully he was the only person up. He didn’t really feel like speaking to anyone at the moment, and knew that he always got roped into conversation whenever someone saw him, no matter what vibes he gave off.

When he stumbled down the stairs, rubbing his eyes and yawning, he saw that the Gryffindor common room was basically empty, save for a couple of second years in the corner and one specific seventh year sitting in one of the red arm chairs next to the fireplace. Kakashi smiled at him as he walked down. He still had bags underneath his eyes, as though he hadn’t slept a wink.

“Are you okay?” Iruka questioned.

“’m fine,” he mumbled. He sounded drowsy, and Iruka felt a flicker of irritation.

“You know good and well that if the others were here they’d be calling you out on your bullshit too,” Iruka snapped at him. That sentence made a section in his brain click with some previously unthought of information.

He inhaled sharply and looked at Kakashi’s exhausted form pleadingly. “How are the others? Have you seen them? Are they okay? Were they sent to the hospital wing?”

“One question at a time,” Kakashi commanded quietly. “I’m a bit tired, and my brain isn’t quite up to speed with everything. The others are all fine. They managed to stick together and battled a few of the dark wizards before hiding out in the forest. You were the only one that was really hurt, thanks to my brilliance.”

“It’s not your fault,” Iruka told him sternly. He reached down and grabbed his forearm and yanked him up to his feet. “You need sleep, mister. There’s no point in arguing with me. You’re going to bed now.”

“You sound like my mother,” Kakashi informed him, snickering quietly. That was all the resistance that he was met with, however. That, more than anything else, told Iruka exactly how bad off his friend was.

“Thanks,” Iruka muttered quietly as he turned back around and started walking up the staircase again to the boy’s dormitories.

“You convinced that asshole to finally go to bed?” Iruka turned around and saw that Asuma was walking through the portrait of the fat lady, munching on something that was in his hand. “I tried for over a half hour! That’s not even fair!”

Iruka smiled over at him and said, “Let me make sure he actually makes it to his bed. I’ll be down in a few minutes.”

“Quit being such a smart ass,” Kakashi mumbled to him as they ascended the stairs. He looked up at Iruka with a small frown. “I was going to go to sleep, you know.”

“Really?” Iruka asked him as they made it to the door. They both walked inside, and he turned a sharp right to get to the door that led to the seventh years’ dorms. “When? It looked like you were going to doze off on that chair, and then you would have hurt your back.”

“I would have been fine,” Kakashi grumbled. “I don’t need you to take care of me.”

Iruka felt a small pang of hurt in his chest from the words as he let go of Kakashi’s wrist. “You should get to bed,” he told Kakashi weakly. He tried not to be too hurt over what he said, because he knew that it was just the exhaustion talking. He couldn’t help it, though. There was something about the thought of Kakashi no longer needing him that made him angry and upset. He turned around and began to walk back from the dormitories.

“Damn,” Kakashi sighed just before Iruka felt his cool hand latch onto his elbow. Iruka froze and slowly turned around. He raised an eyebrow at him, and Kakashi gave him a weak, exhausted smile. “I’m an asshole. I shouldn’t have said that. I’m happy that you care enough about me to scold me when I’m doing something wrong. You know that, right?”

Iruka lowered his eyes to the ground and nodded.

He felt arms wrapped around him suddenly, caging his form against a deceptively muscular chest. “I’m so happy that you’re okay,” Kakashi mumbled to him as Iruka wrapped his arms around Kakashi also. “I’m happy that you’re okay, and I’m happy that you’re here.”

Iruka couldn’t help the smile that came to his face at the silver-haired man’s admission. Kakashi never spoke of feelings. It was a taboo concept whenever he was around, so the fact that he was trying, in his own awkward way, to assure Iruka said more than any of the words themselves did.

“I’m happy that you’re okay, too,” Iruka told him as Kakashi finally released him. “I’d be even more happy if you didn’t have more bags under your eyes than Professor Madara.”

“I’ll work on that, then,” Kakashi told him. He waggled his eyebrows at Iruka and asked, “Are you going to tuck me in?”

Before Iruka had even started understanding the joke, his face had already taken on a hot, red complexion. He knew it without even being able to see it. He turned Kakashi around and pushed him toward his bed. “Get some rest, Hatake,” he snapped at him before he turned around and walked out of the dorm. Not before he heard Kakashi howling from laughter. The prick.

Asuma was waiting on him in the common room. He’d taken Kakashi’s seat and was looking up at the staircase expectantly when Iruka opened the door. “Took you long enough,” Asuma observed gruffly. “Was he still fighting when you guys got up there?”

Iruka opened his mouth to reply, but closed it a moment later. His face was still red, he could feel it. Asuma must have thought that it had come from a shouting match in between the two of them. It was almost a safe bet to make. It happened so often that his friends no longer tried to intervene. Of course, that might have been because Genma had stepped in between them once and had—thanks to Iruka—stepped back out with an enlarged head. In Iruka’s defense, the curse had been meant for Kakashi and his overinflated ego.

“He’s laying down now,” Iruka muttered as he walked down the stairs, taking his time in hopes of most of his flush being gone. “That’s all that matters.”

“I guess it’s better than risking your wrath,” Asuma nodded sagely, causing Iruka’s eye to twitch. He wasn’t that bad when he was angry. His indignant reply was interrupted by his own growling stomach. The traitor.

“We should probably get something to eat,” Asuma said quickly. He got to his feet and hurriedly walked over to the portrait of the Fat Lady and pushed it open.

“Oh, yeah,” Iruka said as soon as they’d climbed out. “What’s the password?”

“Balderdash,” Asuma yawned as Iruka shook his head. They really did come up with the most outlandish entry words that Iruka had ever seen.

“Don’t be saying the passwords around so loudly!” The Fat Lady yelled after them angrily. “Wait until I get ahold of a prefect about this horrible conduct!”

Iruka winced slightly. It was still far too early to hear her yelling about stupid things. He fought back the impulse to flip her off as they got to the staircases and began to walk down. “So, what happened to you guys?” Asuma asked Iruka conversationally. “We were pushed out of the train and realized that you two were the only ones that weren’t with us.”

“We were stuck toward the back of the line and started fighting back,” Iruka told him. “You guys must have gotten farther along when Kakashi and I turned around.”

“I feel horrible about it,” Asuma admitted as they made it to a landing and turned to keep going down. “We were all worried sick about you last night. We went searching for a few minutes, but we had to stop when Raidou was nearly hit with the Crutciatus curse.”

“I’m glad that you did,” Iruka told him. “Those guys weren’t messing around, and I’d hate the thought of something happening to you guys because you were out searching for me and Kakashi.”

“Kakashi said the same thing,” Asuma said, shaking his head.

“He told me that no one was hurt,” Iruka informed him. “That’s true, right?”

Asuma was silent for a few moments as they made it to the entrance hall. “That depends on what you mean by hurt,” Asuma informed him. “Izumo was incapacitated by a volley of stinging jinxes, and Genma was burned as he went to save him. We’re all fine now, but I know that you’d rather know this than be kept in the dark.”

Iruka scowled as he thought of Kakashi. What was his angle? Why would he keep something like that away from him? Iruka had the right to know if his friends had been harmed. He felt his gut clench up slightly, however. Guilt started to gnaw at his stomach with the emotional equivalent of bleeding ulcers. If he and Kakashi would have been with them, there’s a good chance that Izumo and Genma would be just fine.

“They’re all okay,” Asuma told Iruka quickly. “They were sent to the hospital wing and Shizune and Tsunade both took looks at them. They were healed up and set off to bed to finish their recovery.”

Iruka nodded. The explanation had assuaged his guilt, but the uneasiness that came with knowing that he could have protected them if he would have been there stayed with him, even as they made it to the great hall.

There were quite a few students sitting down and chattering away. Their voices were so cheerful that it was almost like all of the day before hadn’t ever happened. It was an uplifting atmosphere, and Iruka suddenly didn’t feel so weighed down. A smile twitched at the corner of his lips and the gloomy feeling that he had when he’d woken disappeared and he didn’t even feel tired.

“I’m hungry,” Iruka told Asuma animatedly, “let’s get something to eat.”

 

Hashirama sighed as he sat down at the head table in the great hall, cutting into a piece of sausage. It wasn’t an unhappy sigh, per say, but it wasn’t exactly an excited one either.

Mito reached over and grabbed his free hand in hers and squeezed it gently. “What’s wrong, dear?”

“Nothing really,” Hashirama sighed.

He heard the sound of skin smacking against skin a few seats down and saw Madara facepalming. “He’s worrying over things that he cannot change, Mito,” Madara informed her. “The rest of us have already tried to reassure him that there’s nothing that we can do and that worrying over everything is only going to accomplish a visit to the hospital wing.”

“For once, I have to agree with Madara,” Tobirama said as Madara made a sound of protest, which the white-haired man promptly ignored. “None of the students were killed. I know that it’s a miracle on its own, but it’s still true. Parents are going to pull their children out of Hogwarts, that’s a given. That doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the world. We put a stop to the situation as soon as we could, and we’ve guaranteed the children’s safety while they’re within our walls. There’s really nothing else that we can do.”

“Your brother and Madara are both right,” Mito informed Hashirama, who gave her a tense smile. She squeezed Hashirama’s hand and said, “Why don’t you finish breakfast and go to your office. It looks like you could use some time to meditate. It might help you clear your head.”

Hashirama nodded. “That sounds like a good idea, sweetheart,” he told her, “I think that I will.” He gave her one last smile; it was less forced than the one before it. He turned his head around and spotted two boys entering the great hall. Both were wearing Gryffindor robes and speaking quietly among each other. He immediately recognized them as Iruka Umino and Asuma Sarutobi. His smile widened as he remembered Iruka’s words from the night before. Sure, the approval of the parents was extremely important to him, but there was something about having the approval of his students that warmed him to his very core.

Iruka looked up at the head table, locked eyes with Hashirama and sent him a cheery smile. He waved at him before turning and following Asuma to the Gryffindor table and sitting down toward the middle. They both immediately dug into the nearby foods and poured themselves generous helpings of orange juice.

“The first years should be getting up and coming down soon,” Hashirama told the rest of his staff. “We should set a table up for them since they haven’t been sorted into different houses yet.”

Tobirama sighed as he pushed himself to his feet. “I’ll take care of that.” He turned and looked over at Izuna, who was just finishing up his own breakfast. “Would you mind sending out word to the prefects that the welcoming feast will happen tonight, and we’ll have the sorting tonight as well?”

“Not at all, professor,” Izuna told him, getting up as well. He smiled down at Madara and said, “I think you can handle helping the first years find their place at their table.”

Madara scowled up at Izuna. Hashirama couldn’t help the snicker that snuck out. It didn’t take a genius to tell that the poor man wasn’t too wild about the younger students, and they were terrified of him as a general rule.

“I’ll take care of that, Izuna,” Minato told him lightly, pushing himself to his feet. The first years had all been placed in two guest chambers on the fourth floor of the school. They had all be terrified, but had calmed down immensely when Minato had reassured them the night before. He was probably the best to be talking to them.

Madara was so relieved that he hadn’t even thought to be indignant at what the statement had obviously implied.

Tobirama walked off to the wall next to the Slytherin table and pulled his wand out. The few students that were at the table turned and looked at him with a bored interest. Hashirama turned away after a moment and looked over at his wife again, who was still staring at him.

“Eat,” she commanded, pointing at his plate. “There’s no point in worrying about everything else. Just eat and relax.”

“I’m so lucky to have you,” Hashirama blurted out, feeling a strong warmth envelope his chest.

Mito flushed so darkly that her skin nearly matched the shade of her hair.

“Can you save that for when people aren’t around to see that stupid expression on your face?” Madara asked him weakly.

“What’s wrong?” Kushina teased with a laugh. “Sounds like your feeling jealous, Madara.”

Hashirama had never seen anyone beat Madara out for dirty looks, and this one had to be one of his most poisonous.

Jiraiya whistled and looked at Madara with a laugh. “Jeez, Uchiha. Is there trouble in paradise?”

Madara gave him a confused look and Hashirama couldn’t help but laugh as he looked in between the two men. “What are you talking about, sage?”

“You and Tobirama, of course,” Jiraiya informed him, crossing his arms over his chest. “I figured that would be obvious.”

Madara opened his mouth, but only spluttering noises made it out. His face reddened considerably and Hashirama was unable to control the loud laugh that he belted. It had been an ongoing joke between the members of the staff for years. It was pretty obvious that the two men had some unresolved feelings for one another, and released the pent-up emotions by arguing constantly. Whenever someone brought it up, Madara would blush and splutter like a fool, and Tobirama would calmly deny it, and avoid eye contact while a faint red dusted his cheeks. It was refreshing to know that some things never changed, no matter how bad the outlook seemed to be.

“What’s going on?” Tobirama asked as he made his way back up to the table. He was looking at all of the staff inquisitively, and his cluelessness only made Hashirama laugh even harder as Madara’s spluttering became worse. After another few seconds, the elder Uchiha slammed his hands against the table and pushed himself to his feet, muttering under his breath while he walked around the barrier and stalked off through the great hall doors.

Tobirama blinked and turned to watch him go before he shrugged and walked around to take his seat again.

“Someone looks to be in a wonderful mood this morning,” Kushina observed mildly.

“It’s alright,” Hashirama assured her. “I’m sure that he’ll be fine. One of these days, he’ll acknowledge that we’re right and we can all say that we told them so.”

Tobirama sighed and shook his head. “Not this again, brother. It really is getting out of hand. Uchiha and I will never be a thing.”

“That’s what you think,” Kushina told him.

Jiraiya nodded animatedly and said, “I’m certain that you’ve thought about it.”

Tobirama’s eyes lowered slightly to the table while his cheeks reddened ever so slightly. “I’m sure that you’ve thought about you and Tsunade. We’re not the only ridiculous scenario in the rumor mill around here.”

“Jiraiya and Tsunade are not ridiculous rumors,” Mito said immediately. “It’s a real thing, and I’m sure that it’ll happen one day, just as surely that you and Madara will as well.”

Hashirama noticed that Jiraiya was being exceptionally quiet. He turned around and saw that the great toad sage was very diligently tearing into his bacon. Interesting, so maybe there was a way to shut the eccentric wizard up after all. He couldn’t help the smile that stretched across his face. Even with everything that had happened, he could feel positive vibes around the school and coming from his faculty. Things would start to level themselves out, and everything was going to turn out just fine. He could feel it.

 

Kakashi felt like crap when he woke up. It was as though he hadn’t gotten any sleep, but from the way that the sun was shining into the window of his room, he would say that he’d been out for quite a while. It had to have been the rounds that he’d done last night as head boy. It had been a total pain, but it wasn’t as though he would have been able to sleep anyway. The only thing that was running through his head was what if Iruka had been pushed out of that train and the wizard that had attacked him would have used the killing curse.

Even after all of that rest, his chest still constricted with the pain of just the thought. He slowly pushed himself out of bed and stumbled to the bathroom. Maybe a nice, hot shower would make him feel better. It would definitely work out the tight muscles in his back, and hopefully take some of the stress that he was feeling in his neck and shoulders. After the shower, he would go and seek out one of the teachers, and see if there was anything that he could do. There was probably lots to be done, and he hadn’t really been able to accomplish much of anything while napping the day away.

He quickly walked to the great hall after he finished his morning routine and saw that quite a few people were inside. It was around lunch time, and everyone seemed almost cheery. They were talking to their friends and laughing with each other jovially. He slowly moved to the Gryffindor table and took an empty seat next to Genma. The person in question was chewing almost thoughtfully on a straw as he listened to Kotetsu.

“I’m serious, man,” Kotetsu exclaimed.

“What?” Kakashi asked as he grabbed a plate and began reached for the food around him.

“Kotetsu likes to gossip too much,” Genma informed him as he casually glanced across the room, toward the Slytherin table. “He said that Izumo told him that he saw Ibiki and Anko getting a bit friendly in an alcove on the fifth floor.”

Kakashi, who had been pouring himself some tea, almost dropped the pot in shock. “Anko?” he asked incredulously. “Our psychotic Anko?”

“The one and only,” Kotetsu confirmed with wide eyes.

“Meh,” Kakashi said, waving off the idea. “How do you know that she didn’t just piss him off again, and he was trying to get back at her?”

“Izumo wouldn’t lie to me,” Kotetsu said woundedly, as though the very thought offended him. “If he said that he saw it, then he saw it!”

“Who saw what?” Raidou asked as he walked up behind Kotetsu and took a seat next to him, grabbing a glass and pouring himself some tea as well.

Kotetsu’s dark eyes lit up in excitement as he turned and looked at his newest audience. He grinned as he began weaving a story about Anko, Ibiki and lip-locking on the fifth floor. Kakashi was somewhat glad that he hadn’t been subject to the details of it all when Kotetsu was speaking to him, and was able to tune it out without seeming too impolite. For some reason, the thought of Anko or Ibiki making out with anyone—especially each other—made him nauseous.

“Just the man that I was looking for!” Kakashi spun around and saw Professor Izuna standing behind him. He had his arms crossed over his chest, his robes swaying lightly with the movement. His face was twisted into a friendly smile as he nodded toward the others sitting around Kakashi. “How are you all doing today?”

“Good, sir,” they all chorused.

“That’s fantastic,” Professor Izuna said earnestly. “Mr. Hatake, could I catch your attention for just a few moments?”

“Of course, sir,” Kakashi replied.

“Excellent,” Professor Izuna remarked. “I was wondering if there was any way that you would be able to pass around the news to the others that the welcoming feast is tonight, along with the sorting ceremony. I haven’t been able to track down all of the prefects, and would appreciate it if you could help me out.”

“Of course,” Kakashi said.

He began to push himself up, but Professor Izuna quickly shook his head. “Please, finish your lunch first,” Professor Izuna told him. “You look a bit pale, and could probably do with some food.”

“I’m not really all that hungry,” Kakashi said truthfully. The mental image of Anko and Ibiki was enough to completely ruin his appetite.

“Are you certain?” Professor Izuna asked. It was clear that the older man didn’t believe him, but Kakashi nodded anyway.

“I’ll probably be hungry a bit later and come by and pick something up,” Kakashi assured him. It seemed to be enough to put the History of Magic teacher at ease.

He smiled at him and nodded, “Be sure to. Thank you, Kakashi.” He turned and walked toward the head table and took his seat next to his older brother, who was stabbing at whatever was on his plate with decided aggression.

“What’s wrong with Professor Madara?” Kakashi asked. Kotetsu and Izumo were both so deep in the rumor mill around the school that if anyone would know, it would be them.

“Heard from a second year that he’s pissy with all of the staff right now, but I’m guessing that something happened between him and Professor Tobirama. When he walked in a few minutes before you showed up, Professor Madara got this large scowl on his face and his cheeks turned red, like he wasn’t able to hold back his anger.”

“Huh?” Kakashi said in wonder.

“You never know,” Genma drawled, “maybe we’ll end up witnessing a duel from the two of them.”

“That would be wicked,” Kotetsu declared animatedly, pumping his fist at the thought.

Kakashi rolled his eyes at his friend’s antics and waved at them. “I’ll see you guys later, then.”

They all waved before Kakashi departed, walking away from the great hall and back to the front of the castle. He stretched and yawned as he looked at the large door in the entrance hall thoughtfully. Maybe he would look outside first. It had looked positively beautiful outside from his windows. It was bound to be nice enough for most people to want to be walking around.

“Kakashi!” He spun around and saw Iruka rushing down the steps and walking toward him with a large grin on his face. Kakashi smiled back, pleased with the way that he wasn’t even limping. Madame Tsunade really had worked miracles. Iruka skidded to a stop in front of him and immediately looked him over. Kakashi felt uneasy under his scrutiny. The look on the other’s face told him that he had every right to be that way. “Did you sleep at all?”

“Yeah,” Kakashi assured him with a lazy smile. “I’m about to head outside and take a walk. Would you care to join me?”

Iruka looked as though he was about to protest, but eventually he just sighed and nodded. “Sure, why not? The sun would probably do you some good anyway.”

He grinned at one of his best friends and Iruka smiled back just as brightly as they walked to the door. They were all safe and sound, and the dark wizards hadn’t permanently damaged anything at all. Things would be okay from here on out. It might not be a permanent ok, but it was for at least a little while, and Kakashi could deal with that until the darkness came again.

Chapter Text

Iruka groaned as he sat up in his bed and looked out the window. The sun was starting to rise, and it was time to get up and get ready for class. It had been two weeks since he had gotten there, and he was already swamped with work. The teachers had been a bit delicate toward them for the first couple of days, and Iruka saw that a few of their classmates were no longer there, but after a few days of it, he became used to their absence, and the teachers went right back to cracking down on them.

 Being in sixth year sucked. Of course, when he had complained to the others, who were mostly older than him, he’d gotten a fair share of dirty looks. Apparently, all of the teachers were bearing down heavily on seventh years, getting them ready for the Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests, otherwise known as NEWTs.

He stumbled down to the great hall and rubbed his eyes as he stifled a yawn. A few of his friends were already there, sitting down at the table. He groggily slid in next to Kotetsu. He and Izumo were both sixth years like him. The spikey haired wizard gave him a look of tired understanding as he wordlessly offered him a cup of coffee.

“What does our schedule look like today?” Iruka asked.

Kotetsu silently handed him a piece of paper.

“Transfiguration and potions back to back,” Iruka mused, looking down. Neither subject was his favorite, but they were passable. Professors Tobirama and Madara had both been acting strangely as of late, and Iruka would love to find out why. He wasn’t above being a bit nosey to gather some much-wanted information. Of course, he would have to be smooth about it. Being too obvious would earn him a cozy spot in detention.

“Defense Against the Dark Arts and Care of Magical Creatures after that,” Kotetsu said. His voice was hopeful, and Iruka knew why. Professor Minato, who taught Defense Against the Dark Arts was one of the coolest teachers in the entire school. He was nice, calm and level-headed. Iruka had only seen him give detentions out a handful of times, and each occasion had probably warranted a much heavier punishment. Professor Jiraiya was probably the funniest. He was quirky and weird, but he had a big heart and seemed to genuinely care about all of the students in his own strange way. The man was a bit of a showoff, but it always resulted in them seeing some interesting animals before everything was said and done.

“What’s up?” Kakashi asked as he slid in beside Iruka. Too lazy to grab his own cup, he snatched Iruka’s up from the spot on the table in front of Iruka and took a gulp of it. He grimaced and shuddered. “You like yours too sweet.”

“Not all of us can drink it straight out of the pot,” Iruka said defensively as he snatched his glass out of Kakashi’s hands. “If you have a problem with it, then get your own!”

“You guys bicker too much,” Kotetsu informed them, scratching the back of his head and rolling his eyes. “It’s too early for all of this. Seriously, you’re starting to sound more and more like an old married couple every day! Go ahead and sign the papers and make it official already!”

Iruka felt his cheeks heat up as he dropped his gaze to the table and studiously took another large gulp of his coffee. His eyes teared up as the liquid scalded his tongue and his throat on the way down.

“Iruka wishes that he could marry someone as great as me,” Kakashi said cockily.

“Are you sure it isn’t the other way around?” Iruka challenged, raising an eyebrow as his embarrassment quickly melted.

Kakashi snickered and Iruka felt a smirk twitching on the corners of his lips.

“What is wrong with you guys?” Kotetsu groused, looking down at his own plate. “I can’t even embarrass you into silence anymore.”

“What’s got you in such a foul mood?” Iruka inquired.

“Anko turned all of his book covers frilly pink and they explode into glitter whenever he opens them,” Raidou reported as he sat across the table from them. “As far as I can tell, it was because he was sticking his nose where it didn’t belong.”

“Shut up,” Kotetsu snapped. “She didn’t have to take it that far! I was just asking her about Ibiki!”

He heard Kakashi laughing beside him, and he couldn’t help the laughter that burst past his lips. He started chuckling as he looked over at his saddened friend.

“Laugh it up, Umino,” Kotetsu told him mournfully. “You’re not the one that’s going to be given detention for disrupting Professor Madara’s class again! It’s so early on in the school year. I have so many other things that I could be doing! Instead he’s going to be making me clean putrid leftovers out of the cauldron pots, and wipe of slime left behind by the ghouls!”

“Don’t be so dramatic,” Iruka told him. “Why don’t you let Kakashi look at it? I’m sure that he can probably counter whatever curse she has on it.”

“And be caught in the middle of this?” Kakashi asked incredulously. “I don’t think so. You did this to yourself, and you can sleep in the bed that you made.”

Kotetsu slumped forward, taking a long drink from his cup, looking as though he wanted it to be filled with something a lot stronger than coffee before he stood up, grabbed his bag and walked away. “You all suck,” he informed them before he was out of hearing range. “I hope your day goes to hell too!”

“You think it’s going to be that bad?” Raidou mused.

“I won’t know for sure until we get there,” Iruka replied with a shrug. “We do have potions first thing, and Madara was never really a morning person from what I can remember. I’m pretty sure that he’ll have a mental breakdown before the day is halfway over.”

“I guess I’ll go and talk to Anko,” Kakashi sighed. “I’ll see if she can be just a bit more lenient.”

“What?” Iruka asked. “Are you going to pull rank on her, or something, Mr. Head Boy?”

“You never know,” Kakashi replied. He looked down at the paper that was in Iruka’s hands and said, “Wait here for me. I’ll walk with you to class when this is over. That way I can tell Kotetsu the good or bad news myself.”

 

Kakashi was gone for maybe ten minutes. It was long enough for Iruka to eat a couple of slices of bacon and rifle through his bag to make sure that he hadn’t left anything in his dorm. When the silver-haired wizard walked back up, he looked a mixture of tired and amused.

Iruka pushed himself up and grabbed his bag. He and Kakashi quickly began walking out of the great hall with one last wave to Raidou, who seemed more interested in his breakfast than anything else. “So, what did she say?” Iruka prompted.

“He’s not getting out of it,” Kakashi confirmed. “Whatever he asked must have been brutal. Anko blushed when we were talking about it.”

“Really?” Iruka asked incredulously. “Anko…our Anko blushed?” The fact that this had happened really wasn’t computing in his mind. It was impossible, really. The girl had absolutely no shame…at least none that Iruka had ever seen. “Are you sure it wasn’t a trick of the light?”

Kakashi shook his head and laughed. “Come on, man. Let’s go and break this wonderful news to Kotetsu.”

 

Madara was having a wonderful morning. His alarm had gone off over an hour early. He had a massive headache pounding away between his eyes, though he chalked that up to hunger and lack of caffeine, something easily remedied. He had no oil for the lamps in his quarters, so he’d had to get ready in the dark, and hadn’t thought to use his wand to search until after he’d tripped over a stray shoe and landed face-first in the floor.

He snarled to himself at the thought as he viciously tore into the eggs on his plate. Hashirama was seated next to him, positively glowing as he drank some tea. It made Madara sick to see how much of a morning person that his friend was.

“What’s the matter, Madara?” Hashirama inquired as he sat his tea down and scooped some porridge into a bowl.

“Nothing,” Madara snapped. He turned away from the headmaster and continued to stab at his eggs.

“I don’t know what that food did to you, but it must have been awful,” Hashirama informed him.

“I’d say it had more to do with the crash that I heard earlier,” Tobirama informed his brother as he took his seat at the table. He leaned over so that he could look at Madara with a raised eyebrow. “It sounded like quite the collision. Did someone try to kill you this morning, Uchiha?”

“I can’t imagine anyone breaking into Hogwarts and trying to kill Madara,” Hashirama exclaimed immediately, obviously not hearing that taunt that Tobirama’s voice was ringing with. “Oh no,” he said quickly, spinning around to look concernedly at Madara. “Were they the same dark wizards that we fought at the train? What did they look like? I’m sure that we can catch the culprits if you just give us a good enough description!”

Madara just sat there silently, looking at his friend defeatedly. Sometimes there was no helping Hashirama’s idiocy. His friend was a great person with even better intentions, but he was just so stupid at times. “I wasn’t attacked by anything,” Madara told him curtly once he finished his ramblings. He looked pointedly at Tobirama and said, “What happens in my chambers, noises and all, are of no concern to anyone but myself. Everyone else can keep their noses out of my business.”

“Somebody sounds downright miserable this morning,” Jiraiya commented as he walked in and sat down. “What was that about noises coming out of your room, Madara? I certainly hope that a teacher of your high standing isn’t—”

“Can it, you lecherous sage,” Madara snapped at him. He stood up, suddenly not hungry anymore. He tried and failed to hide the wince that came from the sharp pain that lanced up his leg.

“You’re hopeless,” Tobirama deadpanned. He sounded almost bored as he stood up as well. “Come with me, Uchiha.”

“Where?” Madara asked, immediately on guard. In front of the students, he and Tobirama tried very hard to keep their actions professional, but that was as far as it went. The animosity that they felt was just too ingrained to be civil for much longer than that.

“To one of the conference rooms,” Tobirama informed him. “I’m not going to hurt you, if that’s what you’re afraid of.”

Madara immediately bristled at the insinuation. “You couldn’t hurt me if you tried, Senju.”

“I’m sure that’s the case,” Tobirama said, though his tone made it very clear that he didn’t believe him. Madara knew what the other man was doing, but he couldn’t stop himself from answering the challenge anyway.

“What conference room do you want to go to?” Madara asked.

Tobirama pointed to the door behind him and said, “The one down that hallway will suffice just fine, unless you have one that you prefer.”

“Just go,” Madara snapped, already getting fed up with the conversation in the first place. The day had already gone to hell in less than an hour, and Tobirama was obviously looking to make it even worse, a feat the he hadn’t thought possible until then.

Tobirama silently nodded and led the way back into the hall. The conference room was the first door on the right. Tobirama opened it and gestured for Madara to enter. He quickly did so and sat down, his ankle hurting far too much to stand for too long.

“What did you need, Professor?” Madara asked. Hopefully it wouldn’t take too long. He had classes soon.

“Let me see your ankle,” Tobirama told him.

“Excuse me?” Madara automatically flinched and moved backward, only to be greeted with the back of the chair that he’d sat down in a few moments earlier.

“Your foot,” Tobirama told him calmly. “Let me see it.”

“Why do you want to see my foot?” Madara demanded.

“I want to dissect it and figure out if the Uchihas really do have superior genes to the rest of the wizarding world,” Tobirama told him dryly.

Madara just glared, not moving. He wouldn’t comply until he got a serious answer. He and Tobirama didn’t really get along all that well, and he didn’t trust the white-haired man enough to do as he asked without at least a little bit of an explanation.

“You hurt it, didn’t you?” Tobirama inquired after a moment of silence. “I was simply going to fix it since I know that you’re too stubborn to go to Madame Tsunade and Hashirama would make too much of a fuss over it for you to go to him.”

“You…” Madara trailed off, uncertain of what he was going to say. He didn’t understand what was going on. Tobirama was offering to fix his foot. He was offering to fix his twisted ankle. “You are so lying,” Madara decided after a moment. “What’s your real angle?” he demanded. “I know that you’re after something. What is it, Senju?”

“You’re a larger idiot than my brother,” Tobirama informed him calmly, leaning against the closed door with his arms crossed over his chest. “Please inform me of what exactly my angle could be for helping you fix your ankle?”

“I don’t know,” Madara admitted after a few moments of contemplation. “I know that there’s one hidden in there somewhere. You’ve always been like that. Deceptive and analytical.”

“And you’ve always been a spluttering moron,” Tobirama informed him coolly. “I don’t see how any of that has to do with your hurt ankle and me offering to fix it.” He pushed himself away from the door and shrugged. “I’m rather proficient with healing magic, though not as talented as Hashirama. I’m not going to force you to let me help you. If you want to hobble around all day like a fool, I’m certainly not going to stop you.”

Without another word, Tobirama turned around and walked out of the room, leaving Madara alone with his hurting ankle. That, mixed with the pure confusion of what had just happened made his mood spiral down into depths that he hadn’t seen in many years.

 

His first period consisted of sixth year Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs. They were all idiots. All of them were way too damn happy, other than one particularly gloomy man, Kotetsu Hagane. He looked as though he wanted the ground to open up and swallow him. Madara found that he rather enjoyed the look on his face, and liked it even more the way that he flinched when Madara walked around.

“Alright, class,” Madara said, gritting his teeth against the pain as he turned around and walked back to the front of the room. He tapped the chalk board with his wand. Words began to appear, spelling out the directions for that day’s lesson. “Get to work. There will be no partners for this lesson. You are to work alone and make sure that everything is done correctly.”

Everyone obediently grabbed their textbooks and began to move around, collecting supplies and getting to work. Madara sat down at his desk and looked down at the wood. Maybe things would start to look up soon enough.

BANG!

Why would he dare to even think such a thought? He slowly looked up, unsure of whether or not he even wanted to know what happened. Sparkling glitter. Why the hell was sparkling glitter flying around his classroom? People were snickering and outright laughing while one person looked as though he wanted to just cry as he slumped over and slammed his head against the desk. Kotetsu. He was a troublemaker, and Madara was certain that he was the one at fault.

“Mr. Hagane,” Madara said in a dangerously calm voice. “I would like for you to explain for me why glitter in floating around, disrupting my class.”

“I…it wasn’t….”

“Do you think that this is funny?” Madara inquired. He got to his feet and strode toward the desk that he sat at with Izumo and Iruka. He crossed his arms over his chest and glared down at the man in question. “Do you think that this is a laughing matter? Does it look like anyone else finds this humorous?” By this time the entire class was completely silent, everyone looking directly at their desks, as though they were too afraid to make eye contact with him. “There is no time for your foolish little pranks. Detention every Friday and Saturday for the next three weeks. Get out of my sight and report to Professor Minato’s office at once.”

He heard a muffled snort and immediately looked down. It was the one with the ponytail. “Umino,” Madara drawled. “Why don’t you join him in Professor Minato’s office and in detention if you find this so funny?”

Iruka opened his mouth, looking as though he was going to argue. He abruptly shut it, however, as though he had finally picked up on Madara’s murderous intent. He quickly packed his bag and followed Kotetsu out of the room.

“What are the rest of you waiting for?” Madara snapped at them all angrily. “Get to work!”

Immediately the movement started back up. People were shuffling around as though they were trying their best not to be too loud. They grabbed their needed ingredients off the shelves quickly and returned to their seats. All he could hear afterward was silence, and he sighed in contentment as he went to sit back down.

This day needed to be over already.

 

Kakashi sighed in contentment as he sat down in Defense Against the Dark Arts class. Professor Minato was smiling cheerily at them all, gesturing for them to settle down. “Sounds like we’re all in a great mood today. That’s wonderful news, class!”

There were murmurs of agreement before silence rang through the room.

“Alright,” Professor Minato said. “Now that we’ve all calmed down a bit, why don’t we get to work. Take out your books, please, and turned to page twenty-four.”

Kakashi did as he was asked and saw that the lesson was on silent spells. “I know that we covered this last year,” Minato said, “but I feel as though this is a very important subject. While dueling dark wizards, getting any sort of advantage over them is crucial, and this one might be one of the largest of all.

“At first, I want you all to partner up with someone that makes you comfortable,” Minato ordered. “Try not to play around too much. We didn’t spend enough time on this last year for you to truly master it, so I want you to get some practice in and see if we can get you all proficient enough today. Sound good?”

There were some murmurs of agreement in the room while everyone got up. Genma and Raidou were already partnered up, and Kakashi and Asuma immediately gravitated toward each other. The four of them took their places in the back of the classroom, each group separated by several feet.

“Let’s not have a spell go too wide,” Raidou suggested. “I don’t feel like being hit by one of Kakashi’s spells. They’re always a bitch.”

Kakashi smirked and said, “Mine always land where they’re intended. Tell me, have you managed to piss me off any in the past week?”

Raidou scowled at him for a few moments before he rolled his eyes. “You’re so moody sometimes that I have no idea if I’ve pissed you off or if you’re in one of your regular brooding moods.”

“I do not have brooding moods,” Kakashi protested.

The other three were silent, avoiding eye contact for the most part. Genma’s snort was what broke it. “You already know that you brood far more than the average teenage boy. I don’t know why you’re trying to lie to yourself, and I sure as hell don’t know why you’re trying to lie to us.”

“I’ll be very sure to ensure that my spells hit their intended target,” Kakashi promised. His smile might have come out as a bit sharper than normal, but that was fine. From the way that both Genma and Raidou looked as though they were sweating, he would say that his point came across well enough, making it totally worth it.

“Alright, guys!” Professor Minato called. “I don’t want you guys getting fancy with the spell work right now!” He was walking up and down the rows of students with his hands clasped behind his back. “Please just use a disarming spell and a protection spell. I don’t want to see anyone going flying. No hospital wing trips this early on in the year. I don’t feel like being yelled at by Madame Tsunade.”

All of them nodded in understanding. Everyone knew what it felt like to be scolded by the busty blond. She was not a fun person to be around when ranting. She made you feel inferior and like a total idiot maybe two sentences into her lecture, and it only got worse the longer she spoke.

“Alright,” Professor Minato called. “You guys can start!”

 

The class had been an interesting one. Despite Kakashi’s threatening promise, he hadn’t actually aimed at anyone other than Asuma. There had been a surprising amount of people to actually manage to get the spell to work, though the reaction time was a bit slower than usual, causing wands to fly in all directions in the room, becoming potentially dangerous projectiles. He’d seen a fair number of students ducking and sidestepping out of the way of a wand’s pathway, only to be blasted by a wayward spell.

“I don’t think Professor Minato has ever went back and retaught a technique,” Asuma said as they walked out of the room. “Do you think it means anything?”

“It could,” Kakashi replied as they descended the stairs. “It might have something to do with the train incident. A lot of students were hit down. It probably made the professors realize how vulnerable the majority of the student body is. None of us have really seen combat before, and fighting for our lives made it obvious that a lot of us aren’t ready.”

“When you say it like that,” Genma said, “it makes it seem like you think that we’re going to have to do it again.”

“I’m saying that the concept isn’t exactly that far off,” Kakashi informed him. “Think about it. That attack didn’t just come out of nowhere for no reason. Someone has to be behind it, and it’s obvious that the wizard hasn’t been apprehended yet. We would have read about it in the Daily Prophet.”

“He has a point,” Raidou agreed. “I’m sure that it’s not that serious, though. They’ll probably have it all sorted out in no time, and the teachers are just taking precautions just in case.”

“You’re probably right,” Genma said. “It’s not like we’re going to be looking at another war or anything. The ministry is probably close to hunting down the perpetrator and imprisoning him.”

Kakashi wondered how they could be so optimistic about it all. He figured it was because none of their parents were aurors. His father hadn’t said much about his jobs, but Kakashi had heard enough to know that the people that they went after were no joke. Someone that could pull off a major attack like the one that happened a few weeks ago was an unreasonably powerful enemy that would be hard to deal with.

 

Lunch came by quickly and Kakashi found himself sitting at the table yet again. Iruka slumped down beside him, looking unhappier than he had seen in a while. He had a feeling that he knew why.

“Who did you get detention for this time?” Kakashi questioned as Iruka was grabbing a sandwich from the center of the table.

The brunet’s hand froze in midair and he groaned, retracting his arm and slamming his head down against the table. “I hate that stupid potions master!”

“Shut up,” Kakashi hissed at him. “If you’re any louder, I’m sure the people on the other side of Hogwarts might be able to hear you?”

“I don’t even care,” Iruka groused. “He’s already given me detention. What’s he going to do? Add more on because I said what half the student body thinks?”

“Professor Madara really isn’t that bad,” Kakashi tried, only to be cut down again.

“He’s a total jackass, and you know it!” Iruka snapped viciously. “Don’t even lie!”

“Come on,” Kakashi sighed. He got to his feet and waited patiently for Iruka to do the same. It only took a few moments of the younger looking up at him questioningly before he slowly got to his feet. He grabbed his bag and raised an eyebrow at Kakashi.

He slung an arm around Iruka’s shoulder and steered him out of the hall. He noticed that quite a few students were looking, some with knowing grins and others with raised eyebrows. Iruka seemed to notice too, because his face reddened and he tried to squirm out of Kakashi’s hold. It was in vain, however, because he just tightened his grip around the younger’s shoulder, refusing to let him go.

“What happened?” he asked as he led them outside. He slowly let him go and turned around to look at him.

The sun was shining, brightly. It was almost too bright to see, but the temperature wasn’t very hot. It was actually quite nice out, and with the flowers blooming and the birds singing, he figured that it would be a good place to bring the troubled man.

“He’s pissy about something,” Iruka grumbled. His arms were crossed over his chest and his face was twisted into a very charming frown. It would have been more amusing if Iruka wasn’t in such a foul mood. “I don’t know what happened to him! Kotetsu’s book exploded and he just flipped out. Madara sent him to Professor Minato’s office and then sent me with him because I was laughing!”

“It probably wasn’t the brightest idea to laugh,” Kakashi said. He knew that it probably wasn’t the best idea to point out that an angry person was wrong, but it was the truth.

Iruka glared at him, but he didn’t say anything about his comment. Instead he started pacing. “Now I’m going to be stuck down in the dungeon with Madara and Kotetsu for company every Friday and Saturday for the next three weeks! Do you know how hellish that’s going to be?”

“I know,” Kakashi nodded. “That really does suck.” He gestured toward the grounds. A few others were walking around, basking in the beautiful weather while it was still there. “We have a little under an hour before we have to be back inside. Why don’t we take a walk? I’m sure that the fresh air and nice scenery will do you good.”

“That sounds like a plan,” Iruka nodded. He and Kakashi walked away from the castle, out toward the large lawn. He could see Professor Jiraiya’s set up from where he was if he looked hard enough, and was surprised to see something that resembled a large toad nearby.

They were silent for a good while, just taking in the bright green lawn and the beautiful trees. Even the Whomping Willow looking beautiful in all of its deadly glory.

“What do you think is wrong with Professor Madara?” Iruka suddenly asked. His tone wasn’t angry anymore; it almost sounded worried. When Kakashi looked over, he saw that the younger boy looked a bit concerned as well. Leave it to Iruka, of all people, to be concerned about the guy that put him in detention.

“I don’t know,” Kakashi said. “He and Professor Tobirama have always had a rivalry, even when they attempted to hide it. It’s just seemed a bit worse this year, for some reason.”

“You had Transfiguration today, didn’t you?” Iruka questioned.

Kakashi nodded; it had been his second class of the day.

“How was he?” he asked. “Was he acting any differently?”

It was hard to gage Professor Tobirama at the best of times. The man was the most professional and strict teacher at the school. He rarely showed any emotion, and gave off and aura of pure authority that made students sit down and stay quiet for his classes. It wasn’t as malicious as Professor Madara’s, but it was just as effective.

“A bit, actually, now that you mention it,” Kakashi said after a moment of thought. “He seemed to be a bit distracted. He didn’t even scold Gai for his over-enthusiastic entrance this morning.”

They passed into a small trail that led to some benches that were shaded by tall oak trees and covered by holly berry bushes. Iruka walked over and sat down. He looked up at Kakashi, who went and sat beside him, settling back and relaxing. “Just forget about them for a little while,” Kakashi urged him. “I brought you out here to get your mind off your troubles. They’re both mature adults. I’m sure that they can solve all of their problems just fine on their own.”

 

“What’s going on?” Tobirama asked. He had been walking toward the Great Hall when he’d heard shouting coming from one of the conference rooms in the hallway that led to the back of the Great Hall. More than a little curious, he’d stuck his head inside and saw Minato, Hashirama and Madara inside. Minato and Hashirama were standing, looking at Madara, who was sitting down with his arms crossed over his chest.

All three men went silent and turned to look at him. “Ah,” Minato said, “Professor Tobirama. You’re actually just the man that I wanted to see!”

Tobirama cocked his head to the side questioningly for a moment before he just shrugged and stepped inside. Just as he was about to shut the door behind him, Madara spoke. “There’s really nothing going on,” he said quickly. “We don’t need you here.”

“But Minato just said—” Tobirama started to protest, only to be cut off by Madara again.

“Just ignore him. I’m sure that Kushina has hit him over the head one time too many.”

“Madara,” Hashirama admonished. “Please just shut up for a moment.” Minato, who had every right to be offended, was just laughing. It was the kind of laugh that people made when a horrible joke was made about them that was actually true. That poor man.

“You guys remember how you promised us that you two would behave professionally while you’re on the job, correct?” Hashirama recalled.

Tobirama frowned, confused. “We’ve been nothing but professional to each other,” he told them. “I figured that we were actually getting along better than normal. Don’t you think so, Professor Madara?”

Madara lowered his eyes for a moment, but shook slightly, as though he had only then realized what he was doing. He looked up and stared at Tobirama before nodding. “I already told you that there was nothing to this! The children were just angry that I put them into detention for disrupting the class!”

“I’m just saying that I’ve never really heard Iruka speak the way he had,” Minato said. “I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t the truth that was making him act so out of character.”

“What did Umino say?” Tobirama inquired. He crossed his arms over his chest as he leaned against the wall. This he had to hear.

“Well, um,” Minato looked a bit uncomfortable at first but then he just shrugged and sighed. “He said that Professor Madara had a ‘stick shoved firmly up his ass’ and that he was fairly sure that ‘Professor Tobirama was the one that put it there.’”

Tobirama raised a disbelieving eyebrow, feeling a twinge of embarrassment from the obvious innuendo that the words were sprinkled with. He refused to allow any redness on his cheeks as he stood there. He’d be damned before a sixteen-year-old kid got the better of him like that. He quickly glanced over at Madara and saw that his face was stoic as well.

“That was very crude,” Professor Tobirama observed. “I’m surprised that it came from him.” Tobirama looked over at Madara and asked, “Do we have a problem, Professor?”

Madara jumped, obviously startled. He looked up at Tobirama with wide, dark eyes for a moment before he composed himself again. “No, Professor,” he replied. “I don’t think that we do.”

Maybe Tobirama was stretching the truth a bit where he was concerned, but he wouldn’t really call it a problem. Madara was beginning to confuse him, for lack of a better word. Hashirama had been pestering him all summer about their apparent love for each other. The thought was still ridiculous, but Tobirama couldn’t help that the words that his brother had continuously spouted echoed in his head every time he saw the elder Uchiha. It made some of the things that pissed him off so badly before seem a little less assholish and a bit more endearing.

He was stuck with these stupid thoughts running through his head without any sort of outlet for them. It wasn’t as though he would go to his bumbling brother or the rest of the staff. They would be starting preparations for a wedding if he mentioned that he might think of Madara as more of a comrade than he had before. He would be damned before he went to Madara himself for it either. At least not yet. He wanted to get his mind settled a bit more and maybe get a better idea of his feelings before they sat down and talked it over. Of course, that would be if Madara was willing to talk about it at all. He hadn’t exactly made it a secret that he didn’t trust Tobirama at all, and earlier that morning had confirmed that he wasn’t willing to accept a helping hand from him either.

“Look,” Madara said. “I appreciate the concern and all, but the next time you corner me and drag me into a conference room for an ‘intervention,’ I’m killing whoever is involved.”

Minato and Hashirama both looked a bit guilty as they nodded in agreement. “Sorry to accuse you of it, Madara,” Minato said to him with a guilty smile. “I guess you’re right about Kushina, after all.”

“I wouldn’t let your fiery wife hear you saying that,” Hashirama told him with a laugh. He clapped his friend on the shoulder and said, “I’m really sorry too. I was just concerned, you know? So was Minato.”

“Yeah,” Madara said. Both men were still staring at him expectantly, and Tobirama wondered how they couldn’t tell that he was uncomfortable. The poor guy seemed to be waiting for the ground to open up and swallow up. He rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly for a moment, avoiding eye contact as he said, “Do you think that there’s any way that Professor Tobirama and I could speak to each other for a moment?”

Hashirama clapped his hands together. “Yes, yes, of course! It pleases me to see that you’re so willing to try to be nice. It warms my heart to see it!”

Minato shook his head, most likely at Hashirama’s antics before he gestured toward the door and both he and Hashirama took their leave, though not before his brother casted him one of his most dazzling smiles.

Once the room was empty and the door was shut, Tobirama looked over at Madara expectantly. It wasn’t every day that the Uchiha asked to speak personally to him. This should be good.

“Yes, Professor?” Tobirama questioned.

“I…um….” Madara trailed off uncertainly. His face was quickly becoming as red as the highlights of his robes. “Uh….”

“You what?” Tobirama asked. He was confused now. What could Madara be so flustered about. He did splutter a lot, and he was very emotional most of the time, but this was bad even for him.

“My foot,” he said quietly, his eyes fixated firmly on the ground. “Do you think that you could fix it for me?”

Tobirama had to fight back the smile that was trying to form on his face. Maybe Madara was coming around after all. “Of course, Uchiha. It’s no problem at all.”

Chapter Text

Detention sucked. He knew that he wasn’t going to like it; who would with Madara being the one that had assigned it to him? Cleaning out cauldrons was horrible and stomach turning. Somehow, Kotetsu, the lucky bastard, had been stuck filing papers while he was in the storage rooms working his ass off. Hadn’t Kotetsu’s offense been worse than his? Of course, he didn’t have enough of a death wish to turn around and ask the potions master why he was stuck there instead of Kotetsu. That question alone would be enough to earn him another month’s worth of detentions.

“You missed a spot in this one, Umino,” Madara drawled from the small desk at the back of the room. He was sitting down, inspecting the cauldrons that Iruka had cleaned, and, so far, none of them have passed inspection. Iruka was starting to feel his anger rise farther than it had in years. “Honestly, if you don’t put your back into it, you’re going to be in here all night, and I’m going to add more days onto your punishment.”

Iruka opened his mouth to respond, though he had no idea if what he was going to say would have been just a reply about doing better, or a snappish remark about how unfair this entire situation was. Neither came out because there was a loud knock on the door.

“Sir, Kotetsu told me that you were in here.”

Iruka frowned and spun around. What the hell was Kakashi doing down here? He refused to think about the fact that he could pinpoint his voice so easily, even when it was muffled behind a thick, wooden door.

“Come in,” Madara grunted. The door swung open, showing a particularly tired looking Kakashi. Dust exploded as he stepped inside and Iruka coughed violently as a good amount of it swept down his throat. Ignoring his choking student, Madara looked at Kakashi and asked, “What do you need, Hatake?”

There was a small envelope in his hand that he promptly handed to Madara. He quickly moved over to Iruka, who was still coughing. He spoke as he moved, “Professor Tobirama said that you needed to look this over. He didn’t tell me what was in it though.” A moment later, Kakashi was next to him and there was a throbbing pain in his back, just below the center of his shoulders. He felt his lungs clear as all of his breath left him, and his eyes involuntarily teared up.

“You okay?” Kakashi asked him quietly.

“Yeah,” Iruka managed to wheeze. “Thanks for that.” He had a feeling that Madara would have sat, happily insulting his cleaning capabilities as he keeled over from suffocation.

“That will be all, Hatake,” Madara told him. “Don’t talk to him while he’s being punished.”

“Of course, sir,” Kakashi replied, stepping away from Iruka. He turned his back to Madara for a moment and gave him a grin and a wink. I’ll see you in the common room he mouthed before he spun around and exited the room.

Madara looked down at the envelope with a small frown and got to his feet. “Keep working, Umino. I’ll be back soon. You’d better have at least five cleaned before I get back.”

As soon as Madara made it out of the room and shut the door, Iruka snatched the next cauldron off the shelf and grinned to himself as he grabbed his wand out of his pants. What Madara didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him. ”Scourgify!” The contents of the cauldron immediately evaporated, leaving an immaculate pot behind.

 

Kakashi had just made it to the end of the potions classroom, and was about to exit when Madara called out to him again. “Hatake!”

Kakashi froze, his hand on the doorknob and slowly turned around. Madara was walking briskly toward him, his arms moving quickly as he rushed. “Sir?” Kakashi asked.

“Go back into the supply room,” Madara ordered him. “I want you to watch over Umino and make sure that he doesn’t do anything stupid. Don’t baby him either. I want to make sure that he gets his punishment in. I’ll know if you do, and it’ll be more detention for both of you.”

Kakashi nodded, trying his best not to grin. “Of course, sir. I’d never dream of babying a rulebreaker.”

He happily walked back into the classroom. He waved cheerily at Kotetsu, who smiled back as he flipped him off. “Don’t rub it in, asshole,” Kotetsu advised him.

Kakashi just waved off the suggestion with a small laugh as he swung the door of the storage room as hard as he could. It flew open quickly and crashed against the back wall. He heard a loud yelp and a loud clang. He rushed inside with wide eyes. Iruka was on the ground with some substance all over him.

“Oh, shit,” Kakashi muttered as he kneeled next to his friend. The brunet in question was flailing around like a fish out of water. He was shaking his head at Kakashi, his eyes wide, but he said no words. It was as if the air had been knocked out of him.

He didn’t know what was going on, but that didn’t really matter. He had to get him cleaned off. There was no telling what was in that cauldron. “Come on,” Kakashi told Iruka. He reached out to grab him, and Iruka twitched, as though he was trying to cringe away from him.

“Come on,” Kakashi insisted impatiently. He reached over, and snatched the younger man to his feet, not caring in the least about Iruka’s obvious discomfort. He would just have to get angry at him later for being so insensitive.

Iruka had tried to snatch away from his reach at the last second and Kakashi grabbed his elbows instead of his shoulders. He looked down at his hands, which had started to tingle slightly before he looked back up at Iruka. Dread overwhelmed him as he realized that some of the potion had transferred to him as well.

“What was in there?” Kakashi asked him weakly.

“I don’t know,” Iruka told him quietly. He was breathing heavily, and his voice was shaking. “Why don’t you ever listen to me?” he snapped at Kakashi a moment later.

“The hell are you talking about?” Kakashi demanded.

“I know you understood that I was telling you not to touch me!”

“Excuse me for ignoring that!” Kakashi snapped right back. “I was more concerned for the fact that you were covered in some sort of potion than I was that you were twitching! Next time, I promise that I’ll just listen and let you stew in whatever it is that falls on you!”

“Guys?” Kotetsu’s uncertain voice broke past their arguments.

Both Iruka and Kakashi turned toward him with angry scowls. “What?” they both demanded.

Kotetsu shrunk slightly but shakily pointed at both of them. His eyes were wide as he opened his mouth to say something, but only incomprehensive noises came out. “Spit it out, already!” Iruka snapped at him.

“What on earth is going on?” Madara’s voice angrily called. Kakashi looked over at Iruka saw that he had visibly paled from the voice alone.

“You don’t have to sound so menacing, Professor,” Tobirama’s voice entered the equation as well.

“Do not question my methods when we are in front of students,” Madara snapped as he moved forward and pushed past Kotetsu. He only made it another step into the room when he stopped. His eyes were wide in visible surprise before he took an involuntary step back.

“What’s happening?” Professor Tobirama moved into the room after him. He paused a foot behind Madara and looked at the pair of students with almost calculating red eyes. “I see,” he murmured. “This is not good.”

He heard Iruka inhale sharply, not that Kakashi really blamed him. “Not good,” Iruka nearly screeched. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Shut up,” Kakashi chastised him. “That’s why you always get into trouble! Your big mouth!”

Neither of the professors seemed to be worried about the younger’s use of profanity. “Get out of here, quick,” Madara snarled at him, finally snapping out of his apparent shock. He moved out of the way and gestured for them to get a move on. Both did as they were asked and stepped into the classroom. Madara led them out of the room, and they followed silently. Kakashi felt nervousness starting to sink in with the subtlety of being kicked in the gut.

Iruka looked terrified and Kakashi felt the breath leave his throat as he reached over, about to touch his shoulder for comfort, but Tobirama snapped at him to just keep going and to keep his hands to himself.

“It’s already too late for that, Professor,” Kotetsu chirped from the back of the group.

“What are you all talking about?” Kakashi snapped at him. “What’s going on? What spilled on us?”

“Love potion,” Madara snapped at them as he flung a door open and ushered them inside. They were in a spacious bathroom. “Get undressed and wash your entire bodies.” Kakashi looked around. He was about to ask a couple of questions about the sketchiness of the entire situation alone, but before he could even open his mouth, Madara snarled, “NOW!”

Both boys took off at a near sprint toward the shower stalls. Kakashi was pulling at ties and buttons on his robes as he rushed. He managed to get all of his fabric off as soon as the door was shut, and he threw the clothes over the door of the stall before starting up the water. He heard the water start in the stall next to his moments later.

He dunked his head under the showerhead and closed his eyes, allowing the water to completely run itself over his body. He made sure to thoroughly let the water run its course, sighing in relief when a bottle of soap was thrown over the door, clattering to the floor at his feet.

“I have a question!” Iruka called out, above the sound of roaring water.

It took a few moments before there was a reply, but it was Professor Tobirama that spoke. “What is it, Umino?”

“If it was a love potion, then why am I not feeling any of the side effects?”

“You will eventually,” Tobirama assured him. “It’s a slow acting potion, but once it’s in your system, there’s nothing that anyone can do to get it out. It has to run its course.”

“What exactly is the course?” Kakashi asked uncertainly. He felt more than a little nervous about this entire thing. Sure, Iruka was a nice guy and all, but he was Kakashi’s best friend. He couldn’t stand the thought of losing him over something this stupid.

“It’s almost like obsession,” Professor Madara finally spoke up. He sounded uneasy, and very uncomfortable. “You slowly start becoming more and more infatuated with the object of your…affections, until you can’t stand the thought of being away from them. Contact will become important, and it will feel like physical pain when you are more than a few feet away from each other.”

“What kind of love potion is that?” Iruka demanded. “Why would you have it in storage?”

Kakashi turned off his water and a towel appeared on the door of the stall. He reached up and snatched it off. He wiped himself dry and saw that his pajamas were laying on the top of the door as well. He snatched them down and quickly dressed himself before stepping out.

Madara was scowling at the door that Iruka was behind, while Tobirama was looking at him with an almost apologetic stare.

“Aurors use it as a way to weaken the enemy,” Madara told Iruka finally, just as his own stall opened. The brunet’s hair was down, and water droplets were still dripping down. Had on a white t-shirt and baggy pants, much like his own choice in clothing. For some reason, even though he had seen Iruka dressed this way hundreds of times before, his heart started stuttering slightly. Iruka stared back at him, and a small flush spread rapidly across his face.

“I need to go and tell the headmaster about this turn in events,” Tobirama sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose.

“Wait a moment,” Madara told him. “We still need to discuss what was in that letter, do we not?”

“I’m sure that can wait for a little while,” Tobirama assured him. “I’ll be back down to speak with you in half an hour. I’m guessing that you can get the mess in that storage room cleaned up in that time. I’ll escort the boys up as far as the second floor….” He trailed off and gave Madara the driest look that Kakashi had ever seen. “That is, unless you’d prefer Umino finish up his punishment here?”

“Get those two idiots out of my sight,” Madara sighed, covering his eyes with one hand and making a shooing gesture with the others. Not one to shake his head at a free pass, Iruka rushed out of the bathroom before Madara could change his mind. Kakashi quickly followed after him, though he didn’t know if it was because he was subconsciously afraid of the somber man giving him detention as well, or if it was because Iruka was getting farther away.

 

Tobirama bade them a goodnight and urged them to get straight to their common room before he parted ways with them. Kakashi and Iruka looked at each other silently for a few moments as the Transfiguration teacher’s footsteps became continuously fainter. “It’s going to be inevitable,” Kakashi finally sighed, figuring that looking at the situation from a practical, non-emotional point of view would probably be the most effective way to handle it.

“Neither of us are going to be able to control what’s going to happen, so let’s just agree not to let things get awkward between us afterward,” Kakashi said, fighting to keep his voice emotionless.

“That sounds like a great idea,” Iruka breathed. He sounded so relieved that Kakashi couldn’t help the smile that came to his mouth. “S…so you’re saying that there’s no point in fighting the impulses?” Kakashi had never seen Iruka’s face so red as it was then. It made his smile turn into a smirk.

“What impulses are you having right now?” Kakashi asked.

“I…I….” Iruka trailed off helplessly. He looked so lost, like he wanted to either scream or cry, but was too prideful to even think about doing either.

Guilt consumed him after a moment and he reached out and put his hand on Iruka’s shoulder. “That was wrong of me,” he murmured. “Are you having any impulses right now? If so, don’t worry about it. You don’t need to fight them; I promise that I won’t get mad.”

Iruka didn’t say a word as he dove forward and wrapped his arms tightly around Kakashi’s middle and buried his face into his chest. Kakashi looked down at Iruka and couldn’t help the smile that came to his lips. He wrapped his arms around Iruka as well and squeezed back. This felt really nice, and Kakashi had a feeling that it wasn’t the potion that made him like holding Iruka so much.

They stood there for what felt like well over an hour, but it was likely only a few minutes. Iruka slowly released the pressure of the hug and backed away at an even slower pace. He looked up at Kakashi with wide eyes, but there was a blissful smile on his face that made Kakashi’s heart beat even more harshly in his chest.

“Come on,” Kakashi said. “We need to get to the common room.”

Iruka nodded. A smile was still shining brightly on his face as he grabbed Kakashi’s hand and turned away from him. He quickly led them up the staircases. He followed along, feeling certain that Iruka was going to be the death of him.

They made it to the Fat Lady’s portrait in good time. “Balderdash,” Iruka called out. The Fat Lady gave them both dirty looks before opening up. Clearly, she didn’t approve of their timing.

“You’re back early, Iruka!” Genma called from one of the overstuffed armchairs by the fire. He was chewing on a toothpick and a quill was dangling from his right hand. There was a scroll in his lap, probably homework for one of the teachers. He paused as he looked at both of them, frowning. “Why the hell is Kakashi with you? Why are you guys in pajamas? Why are you holding hands…?” He trailed off, as though he had more questions but was too overwhelmed by the confusing situation to ask.

“It’s a long story,” Kakashi assured him. “One that I really don’t want to get into.”

“Oh, no,” Genma said, “You’re not getting out of this one!” He tossed the scroll off his lap, as though it was completely unimportant, and stood. He marched right over to them and put his face right in front of Kakashi’s. His eyes were squinted, as though he was trying to physically see what has caused such bizarre circumstances.

Kakashi moved to shove the idiot out of his way, but Iruka moved before he did. He felt a shoulder dig into his ribs as Iruka wedged himself between Genma and him and felt pressure as Iruka shoved Genma away. “Back off,” Iruka hissed at him.

Genma looked between Iruka and Kakashi as his jaw dropped. Kakashi could understand why. Iruka might have had a big mouth that got him in trouble more than not, but he was a gentle person by nature. For him to put his hands on someone….

“Okay,” Genma said, sounding as though he was moments away from laughing. “You’ve really got some explaining to do!”

Kakashi sighed as he walked over to the loveseat that was directed toward the flickering fireplace. He sat down and Iruka immediately followed. He felt so tired all of a sudden, though the younger man’s close proximity made everything just a little more bearable.

“I startled Iruka,” Kakashi told him. “He was reaching up toward the top shelves of the storage room in the dungeon, and fell when I slammed the door open. A potion got all over him, and I went to go and help him up. Turns out, it was a love potion that depends on physical contact and close proximity.”

“Looks like that’s not all it is,” Genma observed. There was laughter in his eyes, but his voice was steady and serious. It was obvious that he was attempting to employ his ‘expert’ detective skills to figure everything out. “Looks like there might be some protectiveness in there somewhere…” a small smirk twitched onto his lips for a few heartbeats before he waggled his eyebrows and said, “Or maybe it’s possessiveness.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Iruka snapped at him. “I’m not possessive of Kakashi, and he’s not possessive of me. Quit trying to psyche us out. Professor Madara explained the symptoms to us when we rushed to get the potion washed off.”

“Iruka,” Kakashi said quietly, not really wanting to give him any bad news, but not seeing any other way around it. “He was fairly uncomfortable. It’s possible that he didn’t mention everything when he was talking to us.”

Iruka looked up at him. His eyebrows were pinched together in worry as he bit his lower lip. Kakashi felt his breath catch in his throat at the look, and fought back the urge to take the lip from between the younger man’s teeth with his own. Quit, Hatake, he snapped at himself, it’s the love potion talking! Kissing him would really be a great way to make things too awkward for us to remain friends! The thought alone was enough of a mood killer to banish the want from him completely.

“I never wanted to see that look on your face, Kakashi,” Genma groaned, sounding more than just a little nauseous. “Damn you! Now I’m going to have to use a memory erasing charm on myself.”

“Don’t be so dramatic,” Iruka scolded him almost immediately. He turned away from Kakashi to frown at their friend.

“I heard that the two of you are in loooove!

Kakashi flinched. He knew that voice all too well. A yellow-haired demon came bounding toward them and stopped right in front of them, blocking their view of Genma as he stared at them with wide blue eyes.

“So, is it true?” Naruto pestered them with an excited grin. He was practically bouncing in place. “Are you in love?”

“No,” Kakashi told him flatly as his eyes narrowed at the younger boy. “Why don’t you buzz off, you little brat?”

“Quit being so mean,” Iruka scolded him, sounding completely normal, sharp voice and all. “If you keep it up, the poor boy is going to think that you really do hate him!”

“Yeah, Kakashi,” Naruto stuck his tongue out at him teasingly, and Kakashi felt the very mature urge to reciprocate the gesture in kind. “Quit being so mean to me! You’re going to end up hurting my feelings!”

“N-Naruto,” a small girl walked up to him. She was in a large jacket despite the warm temperatures outside. Her pale eyes were lowered to the ground, and she was positively shaking from nervousness. “I-I don’t think that Kakashi and Iruka want to be bothered about this.” Her voice was so quiet that Kakashi could barely hear her. She seemed to be the exact opposite of Naruto.

The blond in question spun around to look at her with a small frown. “Come on, Hinata! I know that you have to be curious too!”

“We should leave them alone,” she squeaked. She jumped, as though startled that she had managed to get the sentence out without so much as a stammer.

“She’s uncomfortable, Naruto,” Iruka told the younger boy gently. He leaned forward and rested his elbows on his lower thighs as he looked at the pair of them fondly. “Why don’t you go with her and see if you can make her feel a little less uneasy?”

The blond looked over at Hinata thoughtfully, and the boy’s scrutiny caused a dark blush to appear on her face. Kakashi only just managed to hide his smile. She was obviously besotted with him, and the idiot had no idea. Kakashi felt a pang of pity for the young child, and resolved to ask Professor Minato if he had talked to his son about girls yet.

“Fine,” Naruto said. He turned fully toward Hinata and grabbed her hand, ignoring the shocked squeak that she emitted as a result. “This isn’t over,” Naruto promised them as he began to walk off, dragging Hinata with him. “Come on, Hinata. Let’s go and play Exploding Snap!”

Kakashi waited until they were out of earshot before he started chuckling. “I can tell that he’s a total lady’s man.”

“What?” Iruka asked with a snicker. “Do you mean like you are?”

Kakashi scowled at him, though his face felt almost as though it was stuck in a pout. It was true. Despite the common belief, he was horrible with people, and when girls hit on him, he really didn’t pay it any attention. It wasn’t because he was trying to be a total ass, it was because he didn’t know that they were. He was horrible with picking up hints and everything just went completely over his head.

“Let’s face it,” Iruka said with a small laugh, “Genma is probably the best one at picking up partners out of our group of misfits.”

“That’s because he’s a total whore,” Kakashi informed him.

“I’m right here, you know!” Genma protested, raising his arms up into the air in exasperation. “Please, don’t spare my feelings or anything!”

“Don’t worry,” Kakashi told him cheekily. “We won’t.”

“Whatever, assholes,” Genma muttered, glaring over at them darkly. “I’m going to bed. I’ll see you two pricks in the morning.” He got out of his seat and his expression quickly changed to a smirk. “Don’t get too frisky in front of the children!”

Kakashi felt his cheeks heat up slightly and he snatched his wand out, about to hit him with a curse, but Iruka reached out without skipping a beat and snatched his arm back down. “Don’t be stupid,” Iruka chided him. “He’s going to tease. It’s Genma, after all.”

Kakashi swallowed nervously as he turned and looked at Iruka. The close proximity was bad enough, but the contact was making his heart race like he’d never felt before. He looked over at brunet and saw that he was looking up at Kakashi with wide, unsure eyes.

Kakashi just smiled back at him. “It’s okay with me if it’s okay with you,” he murmured to him quietly. He wanted Iruka to feel comfortable around him, especially in a situation like this. He reached around and slung an arm around his shoulders and snatched him into his side. He hit with a small thump and immediately relaxed beside him, leaning in with a very comfortable weight, warming his side.

“I’m okay,” Iruka assured him. He hesitantly reached his arm around and settled it on Kakashi’s stomach and Kakashi couldn’t stop the smile that came to life on his face. He knew that the rumor mill would be filled with the gossip of them being together, but Kakashi found that he really didn’t care. Let them think what they wanted to.

It was probably the love potion talking, but he couldn’t really see a problem with them being together. Iruka was a great person and handsome as well. Anyone would be very lucky to have him. He tensed at that last thought. Anyone would be lucky to have him, but Kakashi would be damned before he let just anyone grab him up.

“Iruka,” Kakashi said quietly, unable to help himself.

“Hmm?” Iruka questioned tiredly. “What is it?”

“Do you have anyone special?” he asked. “You know…someone that you like?”

He and Iruka never really spoke about things like this. Of course, Iruka knew about the small crush that Kakashi had once had on their Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher all the way from their first to third year, and Kakashi knew about Iruka’s crush on Professor Tobirama for the first few years of their school career. That probably died off when rumors went around the school about Madara being infatuated with the white-haired man.

Iruka was silent. His breathing was steady, and Kakashi almost though that he’d fallen asleep. After what felt like an eternity, Iruka shifted slightly and Kakashi felt his head turn. When he looked down at him, he saw that Iruka was staring up. His expression was thoughtful, but carefully guarded of any other emotion. “I don’t know,” Iruka finally said. “I haven’t really thought about anything like that in a few years, actually. Do you?”

Kakashi slowly shook his head. “I don’t think I do either.”

“What brought this up?” Iruka questioned.

“Nothing really,” Kakashi informed him. “I guess I was just thinking.”

The smile on Iruka’s face was a gentle one as he pressed farther into his side. “You shouldn’t think unnecessarily, Kakashi,” Iruka told him in mock seriousness. “You know that it puts too much of a strain on that brain of yours.”

“Hey,” Kakashi said straight back, pushing at him playfully. “I’ll have you know that I’m a genius, and that people love that about me.”

“Really?” Iruka mused. “I always loved the fact that you’re a complete idiot. I guess that means that I don’t like you anymore.”

“Shut up,” Kakashi grumbled as he tightened his hold around Iruka. “You know that you’re always going to like me. You can’t get out of this friendship that easily. You’re stuck with me whether you like it or not.”

“Goodness,” Iruka muttered. “It sounds like you’re going to end up turning into one of those terrifying stalkers that you only read about in manga. Help us all!”

“What’s a manga?” Kakashi inquired.

Iruka laughed and reached up, patting him on the head. “You poor, deprived pureblood. I’ll have to teach you about that a bit later. Right now, let’s just relax.”

 

Madara looked up as Tobirama unceremoniously pushed the door open to his study and walked inside. “Did you read the paper?” Tobirama asked, looking at him with emotionless red eyes.

“Yes,” Madara replied. “I did. Why are we doing this, and not the Ministry?”

“Hashirama insisted that we do it,” Tobirama replied. “Actually, he insisted that he be the one to go in and do it, but the Ministry of Magic put its food down. Shikaku himself told Hashirama to stay behind and protect the students at all times.”

Madara sighed and pushed himself to his feet. “Who’s going to be taking over for me while I’m gone?”

“Tsunade,” Tobirama told him. “At least you got someone serious. My brother’s going to be taking over Transfiguration. I’ll be lucky if my entire room isn’t converted to some sort of shrine for kittens or some other ridiculously cute animal by the time I get back.”

Madara snorted at the thought of the younger man walking into an adorable disaster that his brother created. Tobirama managed a small smile as well. It was clear that the man didn’t really hate his brother’s eccentric antics as much as he claimed to. Tobirama really did have such a nice smile. It was a shame that he never used it.

He shook his head at that thought, and cleared his throat. “Back to business,” he said briskly. “The one thing that you didn’t mention in your letter was who we were going after. Is it who I think it is?”

Tobirama raised an eyebrow at him.

Madara stared right back, waiting for a reply.

“If you’re thinking Orochimaru,” Tobirama finally relented, “then, yes, it is who you’re thinking of.”

Chapter Text

Jiraiya groaned as someone pounded harshly on his door. He looked at the door with bleary eyes as he contemplated ignoring the knocking and going back to sleep.

“Jiraiya!” Tsunade’s angry voice came from behind the barrier. “I know that you hear me. If you don’t open up, I’m going to break inside!”

Jiraiya huffed. He would just ignore it, but he knew that Tsunade was serious and very capable of carrying out her threat. “Don’t break my damn door again!” Jiraiya called out. “I’ll be right there!”

He heard a muffled noise of satisfaction from behind the door and just rolled his eyes as he got to his feet. He tiredly got to his feet and shuffled toward the door. He slowly opened it up and peered outside. Tsunade crossed her arms over her chest and looked at him expectantly.

“It’s Saturday,” Jiraiya said slowly. “It’s still dark outside, and I have made no promises to do anything today at all, let alone at this time!”

“Quit complaining,” Tsunade snapped at him. “I’m tired too.”

“Then why are you here?” Jiraiya demanded.

“Madara and Tobirama want to speak with us,” Tsunade told him. “Get dressed and then come out. They’re waiting for us near the Forbidden Forest.”

“Fine,” Jiraiya grumbled. He shut the door and turned around, searching for a clean set of robes.

He was ready in maybe ten minutes and walked outside. He felt a bit more awake, and a lot better when he looked at Tsunade for the second time. He smiled at her and said, “What did they want?”

“They’re about to head out,” Tsunade told him. “They wanted to speak with us about Orochimaru before they left.”

That woke him up even more than before. He’d heard that they were leaving, but the information had been very sensitive, so most of the staff had been kept in the dark about the reasons. Jiraiya had a feeling that it was about this, but he’d been hoping that it was something else. Orochimaru was a psychotic wizard, and not very many people would be able to stand up to him. Tobirama and Madara were both so powerful that it wouldn’t be a problem.

“Well,” Jiraiya sighed. “I guess it makes sense. Alright, come on.”

They walked in silence out of the entrance hall and onto the grounds. It was quite the walk from the castle to the outer edges of the forbidden forest where the two other professors were waiting. The air was still warm with that annoying feeling of drowning in the humid air. Summer wasn’t over quite yet, and you could tell.

The grass was still dewy as they walked across it. Jiraiya grimaced at the uncomfortable feeling for a few moments before he got used to it and him and Tsunade picked up their pace. They made it to Madara and Tobirama in a few minutes. The duo was standing around with small bags on their backs. Their expressions were neutral as they watched them walk up.

“You wanted to see us?” Jiraiya asked.

“Hashirama is right,” Tobirama mused as they came to a stop. He looked over at Madara with a raised eyebrow. “They look good together, don’t they?”

“It’s too early for this,” was all Madara said as both Jiraiya and Tsunade flushed and dutifully looked away from each other.

“Is there something else that you wanted, other than poking fun?” Jiraiya asked. “I was sleeping very well before I was woken up.”

“Yes,” Tobirama said, immediately falling back into his formal façade. “My apologies for the early waking, but Madara and I thought that it would be a good idea to tell you both this.” He breathed in deeply and exhaled before he began. “We both know that you guys are aware of Orochimaru’s status in the wizarding world. He was labeled as a dark wizard right out of Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic has been hunting him down. They never really took it too seriously, and never really sought him out because everything seems to be so peaceful.”

“What he’s trying to break to you guys so gently,” Madara said, taking over, “is that when we find him, there’s a good chance that we won’t have much of a choice but to kill him.” Madara’s voice went a bit quiet at the end as he looked away from them. The regret was clear in his voice and both of their expressions. Jiraiya had a feeling that they weren’t sorry for the thought killing him so much as they were for the sadness that it would bring them, Orochimaru’s old friends.

“Do what you have to do,” Jiraiya said with a sad smile as he reached over and clapped Tobirama on the shoulder. “Tsunade and I both understand that he’s a bad guy. We have both tried to convince him that this wasn’t the route that he wanted to take. He didn’t listen, and many people have suffered for it. We took a vow to protect these students, something that Tsunade and I both take very seriously. If he poses a threat to them, which he does, then he has to be dealt with.” He hated speaking so unemotionally about a subject that was so sensitive to him, even ten years after the fact, but it was the only way that he was going to put on a believable act.

Tsunade was standing next to him. Her face was hardened into a frown as she crossed her arms over her chest. She nodded curtly, apparently of the same opinion. “Some people just can’t be swayed,” she said after a few beats of silence. “It’s sad that he was one of them, but it has nothing to do with you guys. Be sure that you make it back safe and sound. That’s all that matters now.”

“You don’t have to worry about that,” Madara assured her with a faint smile. “Just be sure that you don’t let those hellions get away with too much. I don’t want to come back to unruly classes.”

“Her?” Jiraiya scoffed. “Tsunade excels at sucking the fun out of everything. Don’t worry; she’ll manage to keep them all in line.”

“We might not have been in the same house,” Tobirama informed Jiraiya with a faint smile, “but if my memory serves me correctly, I remember that she managed to save your hide from quite a few detentions.”

Jiraiya scratched the back of his head sheepishly. “Hahaha, yeah. I guess she did keep me out of trouble quite a bit back then, didn’t she?”

“Back then?” Tsunade demanded, raising a pale eyebrow. “Don’t act as if I haven’t continued to do it up to this day.”

“I’ve matured quite a lot in the past few years,” Jiraiya said indignantly. “I’ll have you know that I have students look up to me nowadays!”

“That’s how I know the ones that are going to the headmaster’s office for perversions!” Tsunade snapped back.

“Okay, you guys,” Madara said, stepping in between them to break up the argument. “It’s still really early. You guys should probably head back to bed. Tobirama and I are about to head out. We’ll see you in a few days when we make it back.”

“Be careful,” Tsunade said, immediately forgetting about the argument. “I better not have to look either of you over when you get back!”

“Don’t worry about us, Tsunade,” Tobirama told her with a small smile. Jiraiya shook his head in disbelief. Sometimes it was hard to believe that they were related when they really didn’t resemble each other at all.

She reached over and gave him a large hug. Jiraiya shook both of their hands and said, “Travel safe.” They both promised that they would before they turned around and began walking toward Hogsmeade.

“How long do you give them before they start trying to kill each other instead of their target?” Jiraiya asked jokingly as they started making their way back to the castle.

“I don’t think that they will,” Tsunade said with a smile. “You never know. Maybe they might finally work out their differences and realize that they’re totally in love with each other.”

“You don’t actually believe that, do you?” Jiraiya asked in disbelief. “I mean, I might tease them about it to get a rise out of them, but it’s pretty obvious that they dislike each other.”

“For a man that claims to be in love with women, you have a pretty bad idea of what love seems to be like,” Tsunade informed him. “They don’t dislike each other at all. I’ve seen them both when they were around people that they despised. They act differently toward each other. It’s because they don’t know how to express their feelings.”

“Either that, or they hate each other more than anyone else,” Jiraiya retorted. “And I know plenty about love.”

“Whatever, Jiraiya,” Tsunade said with a fond smile twitching on her lips. “You wouldn’t know love if it were staring you straight in the face.”

“Oh?” Jiraiya challenged. “You would?”

“Of course, I would,” she told him with a nod. “I see it all the time.”

 

Iruka woke up feeling warm. It was a comfortable warmth that made him smile and try and burrow closer to the source. It would be even better if his back wasn’t aching so much. He realized that it was due to the awkward position that he was in. He was leaning sideways with his torso folding at an awkward angle, putting too much pressure on his spine.

He hissed, his happiness momentarily forgotten, as he tried to adjust himself so that he wasn’t so uncomfortable. His eyes flew open as he sat straight up, groaning as his spine cracked in multiple places, relieving the pressure.

Looking around blearily, he saw that he was still on the loveseat in the Gryffindor common room. Kakashi was next to him; he was sleeping, but there was a grimace on his face. Obviously, he was as comfortable as Iruka had been in the first place.

Taking pity on him, he sighed, reached over, and gently shook him. It was enough to wake the silver-haired man out of his slumber. Kakashi opened his eyes and grimaced as he looked up at Iruka. He slowly leaned forward and Iruka heard his spine doing the same thing as Iruka’s had moments before.

“Talk about shitty sleep,” Kakashi grumbled, wincing as he brought his arms over his head to stretch them out as well.

“So,” Iruka said quietly. “Do you think the potion has worn off?”

Kakashi turned to look at him, and Iruka felt a strong tugging sensation in his gut. “No,” they said simultaneously.

Iruka sighed as he put his face into his hands, at a loss for what to do. He’d come really close to screwing up the night before. Kakashi had looked so damn tempting, and he’d had the strongest urge to kiss the hell out of him. It had taken all of the willpower that he had to stop himself, and he was afraid that the next time, he wouldn’t be strong enough.

It didn’t help that Kakashi was looking at him like he was a starved man and Iruka was a five-star meal up for grabs. Was it too much to ask for someone to look at him like that when they weren’t under the influence of a love potion?

Feeling resentful didn’t help at all. Whenever he started to get irritated at the thought of it, all he had to do was look over at Kakashi. The anger would be gone, and guilt for even being irritated at him would kick in. The only thing that he could do was assure himself that he would be able to be as angry as he wanted with Kakashi when all of this wore off. It wasn’t very comforting because he didn’t want to be mad at him when he was in this state.

He felt a hand on his shoulder and all of the tension that he had been feeling before just melted away. “Is there something wrong, Iruka?”

“No,” Iruka sighed. “I’m fine. This situation just isn’t the most idea, you know?”

“It’s not so bad,” Kakashi told him with a grin. “I mean, you haven’t seriously bitched at me in over twelve hours. That’s got to be like some kind of record.”

Iruka scowled at him. “I do not bitch that much! Sheesh. What is it with all of you guys telling me that?”

Kakashi laughed lowly, shaking his head before he turned and looked at Iruka. His laugh slowly stopped as his face grew a bit more serious.

That look was back.

Warmth spread throughout Iruka as he looked back with wide eyes, feeling his scowl slowly melt off his face. He felt a hand on his cheek, slowly rubbing across the surface. Kakashi’s expression turned so tender that it made Iruka’s heart pang and the heat rise just a little bit. A small, fond smile turned his lips upward as he leaned forward. Iruka’s heart was racing now as he leaned closer as well.

Yes! Was his only thought as they neared each other, coming so close that their breaths mingled. He smiled as his eyes closed. This was exactly what he wanted.

Wait…no it’s not. His eyes snapped open as he flung himself backward. “No,” he said quickly, his breath coming out harshly. His entire body was shaking from adrenaline, and he didn’t even know why. “We can’t do that, Kakashi.”

“I’m so sorry for making you uncomfortable,” Kakashi said, his eyes were bright with regret and worry. “I lost control for a minute. I swear it won’t happen again.”

“I wouldn’t have been uncomfortable at all,” Iruka told him quietly. “That’s the problem.”

“I don’t think that’s a problem at all,” Kakashi told him. He sighed and rubbed the back of his head as his face screwed up in concentration. “Things seem to be getting a bit stronger as time goes on. We probably need to go to Madame Tsunade about this. Since Professor Madara didn’t give us all the details, maybe she’ll be able to.”

“That’s a good idea,” Iruka said. “Why don’t we try and keep our distance until then?”

Kakashi nodded and Iruka got to his feet. “Let me go and take a shower. You do the same and we’ll just head out after we’ve gotten ready. I’m sure that she’s away by now anyway.”

Iruka looked out of the window and saw that dim light was shining through the window, casting a small reflection on the floor. “Sounds good,” Iruka told him. “I’ll be down in a few minutes.”

After one last long look at Kakashi, he got to his feet and walked toward the boy’s dormitories.

 

“You guys got into what?” Tsunade screeched after Kakashi finished his explanation of what had gone down the night before. “Those two bastards! Why didn’t they mention this before they left?!”

“They left?” Iruka questioned.

Tsunade shot him a look that told him he would be better off with his mouth shut. Iruka immediately complied. She was a nice enough woman, but he was by no means inclined to piss her off.

“Oooh, wait until they get back,” she seethed. “I’ll tear off both of their inconsiderate heads for this one!”

She got to her feet and began pacing the length of the hospital wing with her arms behind her back. It looked as though he was itching to punch something. She thankfully refrained and just spun around to look at them halfway through her second lap.

“What color was it?” she questioned.

“It was a lavender color,” Iruka recalled after a moment of thought.

“Okay,” Tsunade nodded to herself. “You said that Professor Madara told you not to touch each other when you were walking to go and wash it off?”

“Yes, ma’am,” the both replied simultaneously.

“Okay,” she said again. “I see now.” She walked back over to her chair and sat down again. She clasped her hands and looked up at them apologetically. “I’m sorry to say that there’s nothing that I can do for you with this potion.”

“We know that,” Iruka told her. “Professor Madara told us as much.”

“Then why did you come here?” Tsunade asked them.

“Well,” Kakashi said, looking a bit uncomfortable. “He told us the symptoms, you see, and well…I don’t think he gave us a complete list. We’ve been experiencing some other…urges, and they’re much stronger than they were last night. We were wondering if you could give us something to go off of. Could you tell us what to expect?”

“He didn’t tell you everything?” Tsunade demanded. She was on her feet again and pacing. Iruka had a feeling that Madara was in for a thorough talking-to when he got back. Tsunade looked pissed and totally inconsolable. He might have feel pity for the man if the jackass hadn’t put him in detention and been the entire root of why he was even there.

“No,” Iruka said weakly. “Could you fill us in on what we’re missing?”

“Of course, I can,” Tsunade said.

“Do you have anything for exhaustion?” a tired voice called from behind them. Iruka and Kakashi both turned at the same time and saw their Care of Magical Creatures professor slowly walking toward them. He had bags underneath his eyes and a paler than normal complexion. He looked like a walking corpse.

“Jiraiya,” Tsunade said slowly as she stopped pacing and looked the other professor over. “You look terrible. I just saw you a couple of hours ago, and you looked fine then.”

“I don’t know what happened,” Jiraiya admitted. “I was okay until a little while ago. I tried to go back to sleep and started feeling awful.”

“Can you guys wait a few minutes?” Tsunade asked. Both guys nodded as she walked over to Jiraiya and grabbed him by his arm. She dragged him toward her office briskly.

They disappeared behind closed doors a moment later and Kakashi snickered lowly. “You think the rumors going around about them are true?”

Iruka grinned. “I think that it’s about as truthful as the ones about Tobirama and Madara.”

“Speaking of rumors,” Kakashi said lightly as he slowly reached over and grabbed Iruka’s hand. He brought it up and started looked at it, moving his fingers around and bending them as though they were the most interesting things that he’d seen in years. “You know that our names are going to be going around the rumor mill for a while, right?”

“Your fangirls are going to be woefully disappointed,” Iruka said with a grin, the thought making him chuckle. “Hopefully you don’t have any psychotic ones. I don’t think I can deal with death threats at this point in my life.”

“If anyone threatens you like that,” Kakashi said, sounding very serious, “I’ll take care of it.”

“Calm down,” Iruka told him. “I was only joking. I’m sure that everything is going to be alright.”

“Sorry,” Kakashi sighed. “It’s just that the thought of someone causing you any harm pisses me off enough to want to commit murder.”

Iruka’s heart fluttered at the admission, even if the comment seemed a bit extreme. He clamped his hand around Kakashi’s and squeezed as he looked over at him with a gentle smile. “I don’t need a bodyguard. I can take care of myself.”

“I want to take care of you,” Kakashi told him. “Even if this is just the love potion talking, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s all I want to do.”

Iruka smiled as he moved to the side and leaned against him. Kakashi immediately took advantage of the contact and wrapped his arms tightly around him. “I’m fine with that.”

“I’m glad,” Kakashi told him. “I don’t think I could help myself even if you told me not to.”

“I want this,” Iruka told him abruptly. He cursed himself, wondering why the hell he would blurt something like that out at a time like this.

“What do you mean?” Kakashi asked.

Iruka wanted to tell him that he didn’t mean anything by it, but he figured that might give off the wrong idea all by itself. He swallowed before he said, “I want something like this. It…I think that it would be nice. Of course, I don’t want it because of a love potion, or anything like that, but it really would be nice. It doesn’t have to be with you necessarily, but I think that I’d like to share something like what I’m feeling right now when I’m with you with someone.”

Kakashi was silent for a long time. He didn’t look at Iruka, and Iruka didn’t look at him. His grip didn’t slacken at all; he still held onto him tightly, but something felt off about it. After quite a few moments passed by, Kakashi finally squeezed him and murmured, “Yeah, you’re right. This really would be nice, wouldn’t it? You’ll just have to excuse me for disagreeing with you about having it with another person. I…I don’t think that I can tolerate the thought of something like that happening right now.”

“I understand,” Iruka told him. “I can’t really imagine it with anyone else right now, either.”

“C…can I….” Kakashi trailed off as he finally looked down at Iruka. His lower lip was being gnawed on by his teeth and he looked very uncertain. Iruka immediately felt the urge to do anything in his power to stop the uncertainty, if only so that he would be comfortable again.

“Can you what?” Iruka asked.

“I really want to kiss you,” Kakashi admitted. His face reddened, as he lowered his eyes to the ground. “I know that you said no earlier because it wouldn’t make you uncomfortable, and I know that I’m being pushy. I totally understand if you say no and—”

Iruka couldn’t help it. His babbling was just so damn cute. He was blaming the fact that the snatched his hand away from Kakashi’s and grabbed the front of his robe and crushed their lips together completely on that. So, it really was all Kakashi’s fault that his willpower drained to zero. They met with so much force that their teeth clacked together and Iruka felt his lips throb. That didn’t stop him from wrapping his arms around Kakashi’s neck and pull him even closer.

He felt Kakashi’s hands digging into his hips as he was hauled forward so that their bodies were pressed as tightly together as could be. He slipped one hand into his hair and knotted it there as he kissed him forcefully. Everything felt so right. He felt complete, more whole than he had in a long time. He felt Kakashi’s tongue slide across the seam of his lips and Iruka immediately opened his mouth to reciprocate when he heard someone clearing their throat loudly.

Iruka flew off Kakashi and looked around with wide eyes. Tsunade and Jiraiya were both looking at them. One with disapproval, and the other with wide eyes.

“I’ll be damned. I can’t say I didn’t see this one coming!” Jiraiya said with a grin. “Seeing you two chasing after each other for six years is almost as pathetic as Uchiha and Senju!”

“You just said that you didn’t believe it about them,” Tsunade snapped at him accusingly.

“You have to keep the rumors going somehow,” Jiraiya told her.

While they bickered, Kakashi and Iruka just stood there. Iruka was trying to collect his thoughts with his mind blaring panicky thoughts. Embarrassment at being caught was in there too. He just kissed Kakashi. He and his best friend just kissed. Oh god. Oh god! OH GOD!

Both adults seemed to remember that they were there at the same time. Personally, Iruka would have preferred for them to have permanently forgotten their existence. They turned and looked at them.

“We’re not together!” Iruka shouted immediately, waving his hands around spastically in a form of total denial of what had just happened. “We aren’t together at all. We…we….” He slowly stopped spazzing as dread coursed through his body. “It’s not what it looks like,” he said weakly.

“I’m sure it’s not,” Jiraiya told them. “So, what is it like then?”

“Love potion,” Kakashi said quietly. Iruka refused to look over at his friend. There was something in his voice that told him that he didn’t want to see the look on Kakashi’s face at that point in time. His heart felt like it was crumbling into dust at the sound of his voice alone. “Can you just tell us what we need to know, Madame Tsunade?”

Tsunade looked in between them, her expression sad. “I can,” she said gently. “The potion is a tricky one that plays on…emotions, for lack of a better word. It’s not necessarily a love potion per say. You automatically seek comfort out from the person that you touch first after physically coming into contact with the potion. It’s almost like the best qualities shine even brighter and you feel the need to be with them at all times.”

“How long does it last?” Kakashi asked.

“A few days,” Tsunade replied. “You should be back to normal by Tuesday or so. You guys aren’t in the same classes, are you?”

Iruka shook his head and Tsunade nodded. “Alright. I’ll notify the faculty that you won’t be in class until the effects ware off.”

“That won’t be necessary,” Kakashi told her. “I’m sure that we’re going to be fine.”

“The effects keep getting stronger until they hit a peak, which probably won’t happen until Monday night,” Tsunade informed him. “I can promise you that you won’t be fine without the other around.”

“But—”

“Shut up, Hatake,” Tsunade said sharply. “Do as I say!”

There was silence from behind him, and Tsunade smiled weakly at them. “The last warning that I can give you two is that your emotions are going to be heightened until it’s over. Try and keep yourselves as calm as possible. If you don’t, you’ll end up having a panic attack by the time everything is said and done, and you’ll end up here for a few days.”

Iruka remained silent, and Kakashi didn’t offer up any opinion himself.

“Jiraiya and I are going to step back into my office for a few minutes,” Tsunade told them. “I don’t know what happened before we came out, but it’s obviously started some tension. It’s going to get worse until something bad happens. I want you two to work it out while we’re gone. Understood?”

Iruka nodded and Tsunade and Jiraiya quickly turned around and walked back into her office, closing the door behind them again.

“Kakashi,” Iruka sighed as he turned around. The silver-haired man looked more like an upset child that had been told that Christmas had been cancelled for the year.

“I’m fine, Iruka,” Kakashi told him quietly, despite the fact that he was clearly as far from fine as one could find themselves.

“No, you’re not fine at all,” Iruka told him. “I’m sorry…I didn’t mean to sound so desperate. I swear that I just panicked, and I didn’t know what to do. I really don’t care if people think that we’re going out. I know that this is all just the love potion and that neither of us actually feel this way. I just don’t want us to get in too far and it all be a lie.”

“What if it isn’t a lie?” Kakashi asked him quietly.

Iruka looked up at him for a few moments as he tried to process what Kakashi had just said. His mind refused to wrap around it and take it in. There was no way that he meant what Iruka thought that he meant. “What are you talking about?”

“Exactly what I said,” Kakashi told him. “What if what’s going on isn’t a lie at all? It feels so real to me. Sure, Tsunade said that the emotions were amplified, but doesn’t that mean that they’re in there somewhere? Doesn’t that mean that somewhere inside of us that we truly want this to happen?”

“Liking someone could be amplified as the stronger emotion of love and being loyal to someone as a friend could be amplified to romantic devotion and possessiveness,” Iruka reasoned. “I don’t think that—”

“Tell me that you didn’t like it when we kissed,” Kakashi cut him off as he took a step closer to him. “Can you do that? I don’t think that you could. Tell me that you didn’t feel great when we were close to each other, holding each other while we slept. Tell me that you didn’t sleep the most soundly that you had in years. Tell me that being around me doesn’t make all of your problems disappear. Can you say any of that and actually mean it?”

“It’s just the potion,” Iruka argued. He didn’t like how much he loved the way that this conversation seemed to be going.

“Potions have the ability to give the weak illusion of a feeling,” Kakashi insisted. “They can’t give you a feeling that’s this real. They can’t make it feel so damn right being around someone to the point that you haven’t felt so comfortable in as long as you can remember. Iruka, when I’m around you now, I feel like I’m complete. I feel as though you’re exactly what I need. You’re what I’ve been missing up until now.”

“I’ve been with you since your second year,” Iruka told him. “I’ve never left your side since then. We’ve been friends for over six years. It makes no sense to say that you’re happier now than you were then.”

“It’s different,” Kakashi said. “Maybe the potion opened up my eyes to something that I’ve been too stubborn to acknowledge this entire time, but it’s still real. I refuse to believe that this is a lie. It can’t be.”

“What if it isn’t, though?” Iruka pleaded for him to see sense. “What if we realize that it’s all a complete lie when the potion wears off? I don’t want to hurt you, Kakashi, and I’m not going to lie and say that I’m not afraid of being hurt myself.”

“I’m not going to hurt you,” Kakashi promised him. “The thought of causing you harm makes me feel sick. I trust you not to hurt me. I know that you won’t.”

Iruka opened his mouth to argue that there was no way for Kakashi to know any of that. He wanted to argue until the bullheaded idiot saw sense, but he knew that it was a waste of time. Once Kakashi was fixated on something, it was impossible to tear him off of it.

“Just wait,” he finally sighed.

“Wait for what?” Kakashi asked.

“Don’t confess anything else right now,” Iruka told him. “While we’re under the effects of the potion, I’m not going to believe any of it. It would be as bad as one of us trying to confess when we’re drunk. We’ll be normal again on Tuesday. If nothing has changed by Tuesday, then we can talk about where we want to go with everything. Does that sound fair enough?”

“I—”

“If you care about me as much as you say that you do,” Iruka told him, “and if you’re sure that it’s not just the potion talking, then you’ll do this for me.”

“I just have one request,” Kakashi replied. “I’ll wait. I have no problem with waiting for you. I just want one thing from you.”

“What is it?” Iruka questioned.

“Can I kiss you one more time?” Kakashi asked. “That’s all I want from you is one last kiss.”

“I—”

“What’s one kiss going to hurt?” Kakashi asked him. “With everything that I just said, can you really say that a kiss is going to change anything?”

My resolve, Iruka thought dryly. It had been harder than he thought telling Kakashi things that he wasn’t going to want to hear. The only thing that had helped him through it was that he knew that it was for Kakashi’s own good. At least if they waited, there was a chance of them coming back if Iruka proved to be right and Kakashi proved to be wrong. He didn’t know if he could handle the thought of his life without Kakashi in it. He was too precious for Iruka to lose over something that might not even be real.

“Yes,” Iruka said. He wouldn’t ever be able to refuse the pitiful, pleading gaze, love potion or not. Maybe he really did have it bad for Kakashi after all and hadn’t ever realized it.

Kakashi smiled and leaned down. Iruka was expecting something heated like the last one. Something that would progress to teeth and tongue and groping as they fought hard for breath. He wasn’t expecting what actually happened. It was a tender kiss, barely a brush of lips against his at first as Kakashi cupped Iruka’s face in his hands. The second contact was a bit firmer, but still feather light, as though all Kakashi wanted to do was just feel him. Kakashi kept it chaste. So chaste, in fact, that Iruka barely felt it.

They parted too soon and Kakashi smiled at him gratefully. “Thank you,” he murmured.

Iruka’s heart was pounding even more harshly than before as heat spread across his face. His breath came out as nothing but pants as his chest strained with all of the tenderness and happiness. This was what he wanted. He really did want something just like this.