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The Forbidden Waves

Chapter Text

“The Forbidden Wave”

By ThroughtheMirrorDarkly


13rd June 2007

It was a bright blue and cloudless sky that settled over Konohagakure, with sunshine and warmth filled up the air as flowers bloomed and were brought to life during this prosperous spring. It was renowned as the most peaceful nation in the Elemental Countries, but only fools would believe that meant weak. Peace was hard won and ever harder to keep, especially when there were many roots—poisonous and deadly—that would choke the life out of the village and its people. The Hokage hummed with his chin dipped forward and his face obscured in the shadow of his ceremonial headdress. He linked his fingers together to form a steeple and peered over them out at the view of the city with a deep frown on his face. Twelve years… He mused, quietly to himself. Twelve years since the night of the Kyuubi attack.

A massive red fox, with nine tails lashed out in every direction underneath the light of the bright, yellow full moon. The beast looked all around it, a deep, guttural growl reverberating through its body. It’s tails lashed out to smash mountains and send tidal waves crashing to the shores. Men, women and children tucked away in the shadows, praying for an end to their suffering while the ninja rose up to defend their village.

“Hold the attack and wait for the fourth Hokage!” One ninja cried out. Some ninja were down and exhausted. Some knocked out or dead. And those that remained attacked with all their might which seemed trivial in the face of the demonic chakra rolling off the Kyuubi in waves.

“It’s getting closer! Don’t let it near the village!”

A giant toad appeared amidst the chaos, and on top of it stood a ninja. Namikaze Minato and his wife Uzumaki Kushina stood against the Nine-Tailed Fox in mortal combat. His blue eyes burned with anger and determination, blood trickling down the side of his mouth. The golden chains that bound the Nine-Tails stretched and creaked ominously, and his great paw came downward, the long claw piercing through the two parents who shielded the tiny blond haired baby who had been placed in the center of a seal.

There was a light rap at the door before it was pulled it open after a moment, Katō Dan peeked his head inside. Dan wasted here as the Hokage’s secretary when he was better suited to work at the Hospital given her medical prowess. Still enemies lurked and prodded at The Village Hidden in the Leaves defenses from outside and within, and the Hokage had to have people he could trust and rely on. It also had taken several bottles of his best sake to get Tsunade to relent and agree to the idea given how overprotective she was of her husband. Even after the sake, the Legendary Slug Princess still complained. “Hokage-sama, the council meeting starts in fifteen minutes,” he reminded the Hokage, with a patient smile. “Do you want to go over the itinerary for today to refresh your memory?”

“I’ve memorized it fine, Dan,” the Yondaime Hokage stated, pulling the Hokage hat off of his head and setting it lightly on his desk. The ghost in his bright blue eyes receded back, and he ran a hand through his spiky blond hair as he flashed a quick and small smile. “But I thank you for the offer, nonetheless.”

The white-haired man gave a small nod, before he closed the door and left Minato to the privacy of his thoughts once more. The smile slowly slipped off his face and his gaze grew sightless, his hands falling down his side and he thought the one question that haunted him since that night. Kushina, what did you do? What did you get Death that night that made him spare me?

The pain was unbearable. The psychical pain seemed so small in comparison to the way his heart squeezed in his chest as Kushina sobbed, his arms wrapped loosely around her as the new parents stared down at their child. Both knew that this would be their last moments with their child in this life. “Naruto…there’s going to be hard and painful times ahead…take good care of yourself,” Kushina choked out, tears rolling down her cheeks. “Find a goal…a dream, and don’t stop trying until it comes true! There’s…there’s so much more I want to tell you…to teach you…I wish both your father and I could…could stay with you longer. I love you so much!”

Minato buried his face into his wife’s neck, tears leaking out of his eyes while his hands swiftly made the signs, and the seal started to glow blue. A bright light engulfed the forest area and suddenly everything went black. The scent of Kushina the smell of star gazer lilies, oranges and something sweet like honey faded away and her warmth disappearing entirely from his world, while he fell deeper and deeper into the abyss. It gets colder and colder until he loses sight of all else, and then he heard it, a deep and low chuckle that curdled his blood.

Shinigami had come to claim him.

He sat on a throne made up of blood and bone, with a sea of dead surrounding him. He was a demonic looking specter, towering to any human with long, shaggy, white hair and two red horns protruding from his purple-colored skin. He was draped with a lavish white kimono and a set of pray beads were clasped in a lazy grip while his other hand, the Death god twirled his tantō. His long serpentine tongue ran across his large and jagged teeth, while his ebony colored eyes with golden irises stared down at Minato.

Minato pulled himself to his feet, off the ground where he had been laying immobilized for quite some time. “I suppose it is time for me to pay my debt,” the Yondaime Hokage stated, ready to pay the price for the power he invoked to save his village and his child.

Shinigami looked him dead in the eye and smiled in a devil-may-care way. “Why would I require that when your wife has so graciously paid it for you.”

And Minato had woke up, screaming.

He had screamed and thrashed until he throat was raw, until it bled and Lady Tsunade had been forced to put him into a chakra induced coma. It had been twelve years since that day, but Minato felt like he had aged a lifetime. His hands slowly curled into his fists at his side, and he drew in a deep and long breath, dispelling the memories and lingering regrets to the back of his mind. A Hokage’s work was never done, and he couldn’t get lost in the past that he could not change.

Even if his heart remained in that past.

About ten minutes later, Minato appeared in front of the Council Building where all meetings in the village were held with the Civilian Council and the Shinobi Council. Some meetings held both councils, but today’s meeting was just the heads of the most prominent Shinobi Clans, given that graduation was only a week away. He entered through the great doors, inclining his head in acknowledge at the ninjas who bowed in deference as he passed by. He entered the room, his eyes scouring the group that sat patiently chatting with each other in quiet conversation as they awaited his arrival.

Inzukua Tsume stroked the head of her canine companion Kuromaru. She was in an animated discussion with Shizune, who had been sent to be proxy for Senju Tsunade. Tsunade always managed to have an excuse as why she could not be at council meetings, if she could help it. Nara Shikaku, Yamanaka Inochi, and Akimichi Chōza were sitting all grouped together. They had been a tight knit group ever since their genin days and it was no secret that three hoped that their children—Ino, Shikamaru, Chōji –would be put on a team together as well.

Asuma Sarutobi sat there, relaxed on smoking a cigarette much to the distaste of Hyūga Hizashi who sat beside him, nose wrinkled and jaw taut. Scars lined his temples and forehead, where the Caged Bird Seal had been broken when he had become the head of the Hyūga Clan. His twin brother died eight years ago while protecting Hinata and Neji from being kidnapped by an emissary Kumogakure. Kumogakure was outwardly sympathetic and disowned the ninja, so the Hyūga Clan got their justice by the ninja sentenced to death. Aburame Aina sat there with sunglasses perched perfectly on the bridge of her nose, having been the Clan representative since the death of Aburame Shikuro for the last eight years now. She was the mother of Torune and aunt to Shino.

Lastly there was Uchiha Mikoto who sat primly and proper with her arms folded nearly into the sleeves of her dark blue kimono. Her long dark hair hung loosely around her pale face, and her dark eyes revealed nothing of her inner thoughts. Mikoto had become the Head of the Clan only four years ago, shortly after the attempted massacre on the Uchiha Clan occurred. There had been much unrest and suspicion that fell on the Uchiha Clan, not only due to the tumultuous history they had since before the founding of Konohagakure but given the fact that the unleashing of the Kyuubi twelve years ago had been done by a mysterious figure with sharingan. Apparently, the resentment had been steadily building up until select individuals in the Uchiha Clan started to plan a coup d’etat against the village, but not all were in favor of such a plan.

The Clan seemed split down the middle, with some in favor of the coup and others who were appalled by the notion. Uchiha Fugaku, Mikoto’s late husband, had been one of the loudest voices in favor of the coup, seeming to spiral deeper and deeper into darkness until Mikoto could not stand it any longer. She feared for her village, but more importantly, she feared for her children. In the middle of the night, Mikoto sent a scroll that contained the entirety of what she knew about the coup with her eldest boy, Itachi, to warn Minato of the takeover. It had taken a little over a year before Minato had enough evidence to bring the conspirators to trial.

There had been a number who had their charka pathways bound and sharingans sealed; they were then exiled from the Land of Fire. Those who had been at the heart of the conspiracy were not shown such mercy, and after an extend period of time being interrogated for every last shred of information they had, the Councils thought it was best to offer them the choice to commit hara-kiri as honorable alternative to execution. Fugaku was the only Uchiha whom refused, and thus was publicly executed. It had been a tragic and bloody day, and it should have been the end of it. Minato had reached to Uchiha Clan, extending an olive branch to them, and let them know that the actions of the few would not cloud his judgment on the many.

This did not satisfy Shimaru Danzo, the old War Hawk had been very critical and judgmental on the way that Minato ruled over the Village Hidden in the Leaves. He found him soft-hearted and with a weak spine and had been wroth with anger when the Yondaime had put an end to his ROOT organization. Minato had known that despite his best efforts to make sure the organization was good and gone, that Danzo was a slippery bastard. His fears had been validated only a week after Fugaku’s execution when alarms had blared through the streets of the village. One of the Uchiha police enforcers had managed to alert the ANBU about the vicious slaughter at the Uchiha Compound before he fell over dead from blood loss.

ROOT agents had slaughtered an untold amount of the clan before they were killed or driven off into the night. Out of a clan that had easily two hundred members, only thirty-seven now remained. The Fourth Hokage went to bring Danzo to justice, and the two clashed in a violent battle that ended with Danzo devastatingly wounded. Before Minato could end him, a group of ROOT agents intervened and Danzo fled from the village. The last four years had been spent picking apart what ROOT compounds could be found and trying to deprogram children who had been stolen or kidnapped to be turned into emotionless soldiers. There was no doubt from the information funneled through his allies across the Elemental Nations that Danzo was still alive out there, and likely plotting his revenge against the Fourth Hokage and all those loyal to him.

The massacre had shaken the community, but thankfully, it seemed that the village had grown stronger in the aftermath. Upon his approach the Clan Heads started to rise out of their seats as is considered respectful only for Minato wave for them to sit down; the Fourth Hokage had never been a big stickler for protocol such as that. “As you are well aware, the Academy Graduation is swiftly approaching. We have several applicants putting forth their name to be considered a potential jōnin sensei to those that will make up the future genin teams. If the Clans would have any suggestions to put forth then the time to do would be now since T&I will have to go through a through mental health evaluation and background check to qualify,” Minato started, with his hand placed idle on the arms of his chair. His blue eyes flickered across the people that slowly settled back into their chairs.

“The Uchiha Clan would like to put forth Uchiha Shisui as a candidate to be considered,” Mikoto stated, completely straight faced.

If it weren’t for the slight wrinkle upon her brow, Minato would believe that she whole heartedly supported the young man’s cadency. However, the Hokage knew better and knew that the elders were pushing for an Uchiha to be jōnin-sensei given that Uchiha Sasuke would be graduating in a week’s time. It was a clear bid to control Sasuke’s future, just like Hizashi proposed another Hyūga jōnin this year to hopefully claim being a guide to the young Hinata who was the Clan Heir. It was not the subtlest of politics, but the Hokage allowed it to pass without comment. It was very rare that a last-minute entry would be given a team at any rate, which it probably why Mikoto bit her tongue until now.

“Very well,” Minato nodded, and the scribe, Ebisu, that stood off to his right with a fountain pen in hand to write the missive down. “If there are no other names to be recommended, are there any other concerns that need to be brought to my attention before we speak of the Gathering of Clans?”

The Gathering of Clans was a traditional meeting where the Ninja Clans could gather tonight for a weekend of festivities and light-heartedness meant to bring strong ties and bonds, as well as opportunities for friendships and business should the opportunities arrived. After realizing how rumor and speculation had driven the Uchiha to isolation and made old wounds fester, Minato realized the need to show a strong front not only to other villages but also the civilians who lived in Kohona. The most poisonous roots were after all the ones that grew in one’s own backyard.

“We have had trouble along the border of our deer forest,” commented Shikaku, with a deep frown on his face. “The deer have been keeping closer to the house, unnerved by a wolf that skulks around our borders.”

“A wolf?” Hizashi raised a brow.

“Yes.” Shikaku sent him a deadpanned look. “Normally, predators are easy to deal with. A few traps or hunters sent out, and I would call it a day. But this wolf—”

Kuromaru yipped, indignantly.

“It smelt like a fox,” Tsume translated, with a half-laugh.

Shikaku sighed. “It was too big to be a fox, unless they’ve been breeding in the Forest of Death.”

The Forest of Death was created originally by Senju Hashirama. It was a layer of defense against invasion in the early days when the Hidden Village had first been established. He had used his Wood Release—a technique thought lost to the ages—to grow the forest from the ground, and the ambient charka that still coursed through those lands caused unnatural plants and life to grow. It was why it was why it eventually had been enclosed, and only used as a specialized training ground. Occasionally, it would be used in Chunin-Exams and Jonin-Exams.

“Regardless, it is cunning and too intelligent. I would say summons, but I have never heard a Wolf Summons, or a Fox Summons, in all my years. I requested aid from Inukuzua Clan, but they haven’t had much luck in capturing or running off the predator,” Shikaku stated, his brows pinched.

“The tracks circle around the border of the village,” Tsume responded, threading her fingers through Kuromaru’s fur. “It hasn’t just been prowling along the Nara Clan’s lands. We’ve attempt to trail it back to where the beast is hold up, but the trail grows cold immediately anytime we go to investigate.” Her lips twisted with displeasure at the admission, given that the Inuzukua Clan prided themselves on being the best trackers in all the Land of Fire. “I came face to face with that wolf—fox, whatever you want to call it—and it didn’t have the mannerisms of a wild animal.”

“What do you mean?” Inochi asked.

“Normal wolves would scurry away from humans with weapons. This animal held no such biased and stared upon Kuromaru and I with no inkling of fear,” Tsume said, with a low growl in her voice. “That can be very dangerous. It seems to be testing territories, and given how bold it is, I believe it is only a matter of time before it enters the village.”

Minato parted his lips to speak, when the doors to the chamber with thrown open with a thunderous bang. A chunin stumbled in, red-faced and out of breath. “Lord Hokage! It’s an emergency!” he gasped out. “It is Naruto again! He climbed onto the great stone faces! He put graffiti all over the Hokage monument!”

There was no outward change in Minato’s expression, but inwardly he felt exasperation throb through his temples in the start of an oncoming headache. He pinched the bridge of his nose, releasing a soundless sigh. Of course, he did.

An orange blur raced across the rooftops, and shouts broke the serenity of the day. The familiar spot of orange was easily recognizable these days because there was only one ninja-in-training that wore such an eye-catching color. Namikaze Naruto, Kohona’s Number One Most Unpredictable Ninja. His bright blond hair rivaled the sun and his deep blue eyes glittered with laughter, while his face was split in a mischievous grin. He rushed across the rooftop of the market, with a bucket of paint that swayed in his grasp. Bit of brightly colored pink splashed over the rim in his haste, but he couldn’t slow down, not with two ninjas chasing him.

“Honorable son! Come back here! Your father, Lord Hokage, would not approve of such manners!”

“You crossed the line this time, Naruto!”

The blond boy threw his head back with a cackle. He raced around the corner and hid in his almost too clever disguise. His cheeks hurt so bad as he had to stifle his giggles as the two chunins passed by him, distressed that they lost him. He stood there with the blanket disguised to look like the fence, for a moment longer until he sure he was in the clean. “Losers! Every single one of them always fall for that trip!”

“Not everyone.”

Naruto jumped a foot into the air. He flailed about wildly as he fought to regain his footing before he ate the pavement. It was useless as he seemed to stumble helpless over his own feet and went falling face first towards the ground. His eyes went shut tight, and he prepared for explosion of pain. It never came when the fabric of his jacket went tight around his throat abruptly and choked him, and he was left dangling in the air. His blue eyes slowly creaked opened, and he saw the ground only inches from his face before he craned to peer over his shoulder.

He could feel the sweat drip down his forehead, and a guilty smile spread across his face. “Obito-oji!”

Uchiha Obito stood there, with a fist curled into the back of Naruto’s orange collar. “Now, Naruto, you know that it is Obito-sensei during Academy hours,” Obito chided, the corner of his mouth curled up into a smirk. He helped Naruto get his feet out from underneath him, and his lone dark eyes surveyed the blond with fondness and exasperation. He had been badly injured during the Third Shinobi War; his right arm and eye was lost, and he hid the scarred half of his face behind an obsidian mask. He did not wear a prosthetic arm, and the sleeve of his yukata flapped useless in the light breeze. “Which is exactly where you should be right this moment.”

“I, uh, got caught with this—uh, thing,” Naruto stuttered.

Obito snorted. “I am aware of what you got caught up doing. There isn’t a spot where the whole village can’t see your handy work,” he told him, a hint of amusement in his voice. It slipped away for a more professional mask, and he clucked his tongue lightly. “Graduation is just around the corner, Naruto. As much fun as I know you have with pranks, you cannot afford to miss your classes. You haven’t gotten your transformations down, and that is needed to graduate as you well know.”

Naruto looked petulant at the reminder that he had failed the graduating a total of six times. His large chakra coils from his Uzumaki heritage made his control abysmal and his short attention span didn’t make him the most attentive student. “But—but Obito-oji—” Naruto protested, his voice weak and thin.

Obito did what he always did to light a fire underneath Naruto’s backside. He flashed his sharingan, and Naruto jumped like a cat dropped in water. The only time that Obito activated his sharingan was when he meant business. Naruto didn’t want his butt handed to him, so he turned on heel and fled. “Off to the Acadamy, Obito-sensei! Don’t have to tell me twice!”

The blond ran so fast that a dust trail was left in his wake.

The sharingan faded from his eye and he chuckled underneath his breath. “Ah, works like a charm.”

In a swirl of leaves, an ANBU in a weasel mask appeared by Obito’s side with his head cocked to the side thoughtfully. “I’m certain that frightening your students into compliance isn’t an ethical use of you kekkei genkai,” Weasel stated, his tone quiet and serene.

“What the Uchiha Clan don’t know won’t hurt them,” Obito stated, with a careless shrug of his shoulder. “Besides, I haven’t been considered a real Uchiha in years.”

Naruto made it to the front doors of the Academy when Obito-sensei body flickered right beside him, causing the boy to yelp and nearly topple over. His blue eyes narrowed up at his pseudo uncle and teacher and placed his hands on his hips. “You did that on purpose,” he accused, his bottom lip stuck out in a pout.

“You can’t prove a thing.” Obito-sensei placed a hand on his shoulder and steered him into the school. It only took a minute to reach the classroom, and Naruto glumly entered the room with Obito shoving him through the door. “Since Naruto decided to skip out, we will review the transformation jutsu once again. Form a line, single file.”

All the children groaned in unison and tossed glares at the Hokage’s son. Naruto wilted underneath the glowers and stares, scuttling to the back of the line and muttered underneath his breath about much school sucked.

Obito-sensei chuckled and then turned his gaze to the pink haired girl who stood at the front of the line. Haruno Sakura was always first in line to show off the progress of her skills. “Alright, Sakura, you are first,” he said, gesturing for the girl to step forward.

“Hai.” Sakura was an intelligent and bright girl, that was shy on one day and outgoing on the next. She was one of the school’s brightest students and the girl that put hearts in Naruto’s eyes. Her mint green gaze filled with determination, and she formed the hand signs with practice care. There was a slight burst of chakra and smoke, and when the smoke dissipated, there was a perfect replica of Obito-sensei down to the last detail. “Yes, I did it!”

Obito-sensei chuckled, a little amused at the tiny girl voice that came out of his mirror image. “Transformed into me? An excellent choice,” he stated, with a nod. “Great job, Sakura.”

Sakura smiled, big and proud. She trotted off to her seat, and the next student came forward. It was a girl named Ami who didn’t pull of the transformation, and the girl flushed with humiliation before she stomped back to her desk. A couple of other students went, with mixed results. Naruto was out of his mind with worry when he noticed his rival and sort of friend, Uchiha Sasuke, had reached the front of the line. It was no surprise that he aced the transformation, and Naruto shifted on the balls of his feet. He raked his hand across his goggles, feeling his competitive streak rise in his chest and knew he needed to do something to one up him.

“This is a total waste of time,” Nara Shikamaru huffed. He had narrow hazel eyes that always looked vacate, or bored. His shoulder length hair was tired in a spiky ponytail which gave his head the appearance of a pineapple, only few though said that to his face. He would rather be sleeping than standing here, or cloud watching which it was the boy’s favorite pass time. He found schoolwork too “troublesome”. He was a decent friend though and didn’t try to schmooze up to Naruto just because who his dad was.

“We always pay for your screw-ups, Naruto,” Yamanka Ino added, in a hiss. Her long blond hair was her crown, held up in a high ponytail and her teal gaze was narrowed on the orange cladded blond. She was sharp witted, cheery and very blunt. She was loyal to her friends, if a bit pushy to get her way when it suited her. She was meaner than a snake when her temper was invoked. Wherever she was, Shikamaru and Akimichi Choji weren’t far behind.

Akimichi Choji was quiet and very kind kid. He had spiky brown hair with dark eyes with thick brows, and the Clan swirl painted on his cheeks, and like the rest of his clan, he had a more robust stature. He had hidden pockets sown into his clothing, for small snack and food that he didn’t mind sharing with his closest friend. Except the last chip—the last chip was his and his alone.

“Like I care.” Naruto turned his head away, trying to hide the flush of embarrassment that crawled up the length of his throat.

The line dwindled down, with mixed results for the class, until it was Naruto’s turn.

The blushing Hyūga Hinata pressed her fingers nervously, with her light eyes cast downward on the floor. “Do your best, Naruto,” she whispered to him, when he passed her seat. She never spoke loud enough for him to hear, too nervous to draw attention to herself.

Naruto wore a foxish grin on his lips, barely containing the laughter that reverberated through his chest. He puts his hands together, and there was an explosion of smoke; the dissipated revealing a skimpily cladded and well-endowed girl, blowing at a kiss at Obito-sensei.

For a moment, there was a hush that fell throughout the classroom. It was punctuated by the following scream when Naruto dodged the kunai tossed in his direction. His transformation promptly dispelled, and he looked up at the irate Obito-sensei with a fearful stare. “That always works on Iruka-sensei!” he shouted.

“I’m not a closet pervert like Iruka is,” Obito told him, flatly. “Get to your seat. Your transformation is passable.”

“Passable?” Naruto shouted, offended. “My transformation was the bomb!”

Later That Evening

On the Leaf Border

Bones and sinew shifted and reformed, while muscles slid underneath and fur became skin. A willowy woman rose where a monstrous fox once stood. A tired sigh fell of dry, cracked lips and greyish green eyes lined by dark circles peered up through the fringe of red hair. Her cheeks were sallow and her skin sickly pale. Magic simmered along her skin and the chakra settled like a lava pit in her stomach. Aster Potter had not acclimated to this world as well as she had hoped. It had been painstaking to get her magic and chakra to work together, and even now there were sometimes the forces inside her body were at a cross purposes. She picked up the bundle of rabbits that she had hunted down while she scouted the surrounding area and made her way through the uneven forest terrain.

She had been scouting out the Leaf Village for threats. She had searched many villages and towns, for a permanent place to call home. Out of all of them, Kohonagakure seemed the most promising. She wasn’t about to rely on rumors and word of mouth alone to make her decision. A great many of ugly and dangerous things had a beautiful, seemingly perfect outer shell. She slunk through the trees, taking her thumb over the cut on her cheek.

The ninjas were getting smarter about tracking her movements. It wouldn’t be safe for her to return as the fox again, so she would have to enter the village another way. A glow of fire in the distance pierced the afternoon shadows, and she followed it all the way back to camp. Around the campfire sat a rather mismatched group of people.

Tazuna was a grey haired, bespectacled man with a choppy beard. His dark eyes were bloodshot, and he reeked of cheap booze. The bridge builder had been forced to reach out for protection after being sabotage by a crime lord. He had asked to accompany her to the Leaf Village, seeking safety in numbers. To the old man’s immediate right sat, a young boy that could be no old than thirteen, with a bright blond hair swept into a ponytail and piercing blue eyes. He molded a piece of clay in his hands, devoting his sole focus to his art. This was Deidara.

Deidara was an unexpected addition to her group, after their time in Iwagakure. The village secluded in the rocks and mountains had been rather inhospitable to outsiders, in more ways than one. He and Teddy grew close in a short time, practically inseparable. She did not ask why the boy wished to flee, allowing him the privacy of his own reasons and was too much of a bleeding heart to turn him away.

“I won’t be travelling with you forever, un!” Deidara declared, petulantly. “Just long enough get away Iwa and that’s it!” They had long passed the Iwa border, and Deidara still remained. He got horribly embarrassed and defensive if it was mentioned.

Lastly, was her son Theodore Remus Lupin. He had sandy blond hair and gentle grey eyes, with a book cracked open in his lap. Teddy adjusted to his chakra coils infinitely better than she had. The Sickness had left his magical core useless and with only a trace amount of magic to qualify him as a Squib. There was no backlash or pangs from his magic to interfere with his chakra development, and he wanted to learn everything about chakra and how to use it. She also had a theory that if she could connect his two cores, then Teddy could store chakra into the empty magical core. This would give him an abundance of chakra at his disposal and help him survive in this very brutal world.

Aster never wanted Teddy to fight. She would fight all his battles for him if she could, but she knew that wasn’t realistically possible. All she could do was prepare him the best she could and give him every tool he needed to survive and more importantly live.

“I caught some rabbits for the stew,” she announced, stepping through the thicket.

Deidara nearly jumped out of his skin, and barely caught himself from launching a little one his art pieces at her. He glowered at her, crossing his arms over his chest. “More rabbits?” he asked, unhappily. “I am so sick of rabbits!”

“What was that, Deidara? You wanted an extra helping of food? Good, you need it since you are such a growing boy,” Aster replied, with a pleasant tone while furious aura vibrated out of her pores just daring the boy to backtalk her again. The ends of her long red hair swirl, stirring with both chakra and magic.

“Yes, sure! I love rabbit stew, un!” Deidara replied, a tad nervously.

Admittedly, Aster could be a bit of a hot-head on any given situation. When she was tired from lack of sleep and exhausted from travelling was not the ideal time to be pushing her buttons, though she never did take her anger on someone else. She could still see Uncle Vernon’s angry, purple face that sent shudders down her spine, or the noise of Aunt Petunia’s shriek still rattling in her ears after all these years. Aster made sure she would never be anything like them.

“Did you have any trouble, mom?” asked Teddy.

“Nothing that I couldn’t handle,” she reassured him, gently. She pressed a kiss to the crown of his forehead when she passed by to which he made that face that all boys do when they think they are too old to get kisses and hugs from their mothers anymore. She grabbed her knife from the knapsack and settled down on the log, to clean off the rabbits. Bit by bit, she added the meat to the already boiling pot of stew that hung from the center of the cooking spit.

She couldn’t believe it had been nearly four years since she had left the Wizarding World behind. Some days, it still felt like a dream than her new reality. Everything around her was so new yet familiar, and she struggled to grasp at the fragments of a life left behind. Who had she been before Dumbledore’s ritual stole her away? Did she have a home? A family? So many unanswered questions, and she didn’t even know where to start to find those answers.

The elves, who looked more humanoid now, had travelled with them for the first couple of years. In the end, Aster had set them up a little village just on the edge of Wave Country and Leaf territory when Dobby had expressed interested in setting down roots. Aster longed to join them, and had for about a year, until the longing for her past was too strong. It was a constantly pull, the ever-flowing tide that wouldn’t be content until it reached the shore.

“Do you have to do that right here? All that blood is turning my stomach…” Tazuna commented, nose wrinkled in distaste.

“That would be alcohol actually,” Teddy quipped.

Deidara chuckled, loudly.

Tazuna harrumphed. “Children these days don’t have any respect for their elders!”

“Give me something to respect and I will, un!” Deidara said, waspishly.

“Enough bickering you all—” Aster cut off mid-sentence, when all the hair on her neck stood on end. An unnatural chill enveloped the air and her heart skipped a beat when a fine mist started to creep into the clearing. She rose to her feet slowly, panic prickled along her scalp, and she poured magic into the runes carved into the ground just on the outskirts of the camp. “I want all you to get inside of the tent, right now.”

“Mom, what is it—”

A giant sword came sailing through the forest, cutting down trees in its path and was only stopped by the magic safeguard that flared up in the nick of time. It pierced half-way through, causing spiderweb like fractures all through the golden shield. Her eyes went wide in shock, and then from the shadows emerged a man who gave off a blood thirsty aura.

“Shit, shit, shit!” All the blood drained out of Deidara’s face. He took a half-step back and clutched his clay creation in a knuckle white. “Do you know who that is, un?”

“Deidara, not now! In the tent, with all of you!” snapped Aster, her voice sharper than she meant. “The protections are stronger there, go!”

“Mom, you can’t be serious!” Teddy stared at her like she had just sprouted three heads. “That’s Hoshigaki Kisame, the Monster of the Mist! He is that Bingo Book that you got me!”

The Bingo Book were filled with the most dangerous shinobi that were in existence, and the shark-like man was so dangerous that few would go after him, even with the hefty bounty on his head. Killer intent came of the missing-nin in waves that made her feel rooted the spot. “Now isn’t this just interesting?” asked Kisame, with a sharp and toothy smile.