Tanned fingers curled around Sasuke's arm, jerking him backwards a few feet. "What the hell do you think you're doing?! I can take care of myself, I don't need you to stick up for me. What do you care, anyway?!"
Cold, piercing red eyes seemed to harden as his gaze slowly lifted to meet furious blue ones. Cobalt met scarlet and the atmosphere intensified. As the two boys stared at one another for what seemed like eternity, no one else in the room mattered at all. They couldn't hear the soft, curious chattering of the Death Eaters; nor the hissing of an infuriated Voldemort. Naturally, just as their hearing blocked out all other sound, their sight focused on only the other, as if Orochimaru wasn't currently looking at them with an unreadable expression, as if the glares they were receiving didn't matter at all.
Then, as quickly as it had been cast, the spell broke and Sasuke realized both what he had just been about to do as well who it was for. Suddenly overcome with obvious anger and frustration, the ebony-haired boy pulled away from Naruto's grip sharply, glaring at him indignantly. "Don't be so foolish. I wasn't trying to protect the likes of you. He was overstepping his boundaries, demanding so much from Orochimaru." Sasuke growled out, looking pointedly away from the blonde.
Kabuto sighed softly in what could have been exasperation. He had long since gotten used to Sasuke's habit of 'forgetting who he was talking to,' since the Uchiha had the tendency of speaking to even Orochimaru with an air of defiance. Despite that fact, the spy was a tad surprised at Sasuke's livid reaction. Naturally, he suspected that the traitor still harbored some old ties to Konoha, particularly when it came to Naruto, but it wasn't like the boy to loose his cool so easily. "Voldemort-Sama.." Kabuto started coolly, moving forward to place a hand on Sasuke's shoulder. "It isn't very wise to threaten your host's subordinates." He remarked, nearly rolling his eyes when Sasuke shrugged his hand off of him.
It was debatable as to who would win if a battle were to break out in the underground lair. Neither side knew much about the other's abilities, since shinobi and wizards had rather different ways of fighting. But in the current situation, Voldemort would be at quite the disadvantage. Not only would he and his followers be out numbered, but they just had magic to rely on. The shinobi, on the other hand, were skilled in both jutsu and regular fighting. Indeed, the time for their alliance to break would come, but Voldemort knew he couldn't attack just yet… Regardless of how much he wanted to teach the Uchiha a lesson about holding his tongue in the presence of beings who were so obviously superior. "Unless I get the Kyuubi, you will not be receiving the wand."
"And if I do not get the wand, then you will not be getting the Potter boy." Orochimaru countered lightly, though his gaze was transfixed on his future host.
Orochimaru may have been many things, but an idiot was not one of them. He wasn't nearly naïve enough to believe that Sasuke's outburst had been for his benefit, especially since the Uchiha didn't give a damn about whether Orochimaru was treated with the proper respect or not. The boy had clearly spoken out for Naruto's well-being, regardless of whether or not the Uchiha wished to admit it. The thought caused the snake-sannin's eyes to narrow, not liking the concept of his Sasuke still clinging onto the ties of the past.
"You'll regret this." Voldemort's statement was spoken without even a hint of doubt, a pure declaration rather than an assumption. The Dark Lord was not one to be trifled with, especially when it came to his goals. He needed Harry Potter and at the moment, Orochimaru and his shinobi were the only ones standing in his way. As one could imagine, that simply wasn't acceptable for the wizard. Indeed, Orochimaru would bemoan his insolence, as would the rest of the troublesome little ninja- Voldemort would make sure of that.
Though no more words were actually spoken between the two, it was as if Orochimaru had dismissed the other man and the Death Eaters started to file out of the room, aware of the fact that were being scrutinized. Paying them no mind, Voldemort locked his predatory gaze on Harry, promising his rapidly approaching demise.
Harry, not one to cower, met the challenge with admirable fury and confidence, assuring the dark wizard's downfall with his own intense glare. Voldemort followed his subordinates out and the whole group seemed to disappear, though not even the shinobi were surprised that the wizards were capable of such.
"Sasuke-Kun," Orochimaru spoke at last, seeming untroubled with the current situation. "your nerve is certainly impressive, but you might want to consider being more careful of your words." He remarked, though it was obvious by both his tone and expression that he didn't expect the Uchiha to heed to his suggestion. After all, Sasuke was rather stubborn.
The ebony-haired youth merely scoffed, preventing any emotion to flicker across his expression. Although his composure remained ever-stoic, inwardly Sasuke was greatly troubled by that day's events. He was well aware that his antics had been foolish and perhaps even hotheaded, as much as he hated to admit it. But for some reason the measly thought of Naruto falling into Voldemort's horrid clutches had infuriated him, overwhelmed him with urges to protect the blond.
Worse yet was the fact that the snake sannin had noticed his resurfacing connection the Kyuubi vessel and his former existence in Konoha- Sasuke was certain of this, for Orochimaru's previous staring was far too perceptive to be that of aimless observing. If Orochimaru doubted Sasuke's loyalty, the prodigy was quite sure that he'd be tested and he knew for a fact that outside of training, he'd prefer to spend as less time as possible with the older man.
Keeping that in mind, Sasuke walked past the others and toward the door, not sparing them even a glance. Clearly he had no intention of bringing the two captives back to their cell, but considering the fact the job could easily be placed on one of the actual guards, Sasuke found no reason to explain himself. The door to Orochimaru's chambers closed with a slam.
Two weeks passed without any significant occurrences. Voldemort had yet to make an appearance and as far as Sasuke knew, nothing regarding him had been decided. The Uchiha's visits with Orochimaru had increased and he noticed bitterly that the older man was handling him even more roughly than usual- As if he were reminding the prodigy that he belonged to him and him alone. Indeed, Orochimaru had no intention of sharing.
Still, the sannin never mentioned Naruto, much to Sasuke's relief. He could endure the pain and the nightmares, even the shame. But if Orochimaru had verbally questioned his feelings toward the blonde shinobi, Sasuke wasn't so sure that he would have been able to be too convincing.
And with Orochimaru's doubts would come the shattering of his own resolve.
Sasuke couldn't afford to break free from his denial, not when the three years were finally coming to a close. Not when he was the closest he had ever been to being strong enough to defeat his brother and make his family proud.
Not once in the past two weeks had Sasuke ventured toward the dungeon area and he avoided doing so at all costs. He fully expected to continue that strategy, really. After all, 'out of sight, out of mind' as they say.
Absently, the male reached into his the folds of his attire and withdrew a stick that, though he had been told otherwise, looked utterly useless. At first, Harry's wand had been in Orochimaru's possession but recently Sasuke had been allowed to take it, since Harry's attempts at summoning it had diminished over time. The traitor simply couldn't fathom what was so special about it, however, no matter how long he mused over it. Orochimaru had mentioned wanting a wand from Voldemort, but Sasuke didn't see why the man didn't just use the twerp's.
The ebony-haired teenager made his way down the vast corridor and toward the kitchen. It was well past lunchtime and he hadn't had time to eat anything that day, far too busy distracting himself with training so that his thoughts wouldn't trail to something- or someone- that would weaken him. Not that he succeeded anyway, of course.
Shrugging it off, Sasuke made it a point to ignore the others who resided within the room, answering any greetings with a curt nod and nothing more. As he rummaged through the cabinets in search of something potentially edible, bits and pieces of conversation reached his ears.
"How long do you think that Kyuubi-fellow will last without food? An average human can go three weeks, but with that demon's influence… Do you think we can pull off even more time?"
"I dunno, probably. For someone who's been denied food for the past two weeks, that Uzumaki doesn't look and scrawny as he should. The wizard isn't looking too good, though."
"Then I guess we'll continue starving him for a little while more. Orochimaru-Sama told us not to kill either of 'em, but he never said anything about not having some fun."
"Heh, yeah! And I've gotta say, I had a lot of fun beating the shit out of them. Uzumaki fought back a bit, but I managed to get in some pretty good punches. The Potter kid hardly stood a chance. His head's gotta be hurting-"
The two sound shinobi's discussion was promptly interrupted by the shattering of glass. Startled, gazes snapped to the source of the noise, only to see the young Uchiha standing at the counter, his right hand bleeding from gripping the shards that had formerly been a glass of water.
"Eer, Sasuke-Sama, you okay?" One of them asked hesitantly, staring at the boy in confusion.
"I'm fine." Sasuke grit out, hastily cleaning up the mess he had made before running his hand under cold water, glaring at nothing in particular as the red-tinted water ran down the drain.
Sound was never a really bright place, a majority of the lair being located underground. Still, the nights truly took the cake as far as bleakness went. The torches cast an eerie glow upon the dungeon's wall, making the hall appear even more ominous than it usually was.
Footsteps were soft as the youth made his way down the hall, mentally blocking out the groans of agonizing prisoners. He stopped in front of one particular cell and peered inside.
Neither of the two occupants were asleep, though Sasuke really couldn't blame them. It had taken Sasuke nearly a year before he had been able to rest with a decent amount of ease. The Uchiha observed the two keenly for a moment and, true to the guard's words earlier that day, both seemed to have been putting up with violence. Bruises laced Harry's pale arms and his brown hair was messy and matted. There were cracks in the lenses of his glasses and Sasuke could make out some dried blood on his robes. The older boy looked significantly thinner than he remembered as well, which meant that the shinobi hadn't been lying when they spoke of their little games with the two prisoners.
Naruto looked much better off, his skills preventing him from receiving too much of a beating. Any bruises he ended up having faded away after a while anyway, due to Kyuubi's insistent healing abilities. Still, he looked paler than usual and had lost a bit of weight as well. Though Sasuke would never admit it, he was also silently pleased to see that the idiot's eyes were just as bright and defiant as ever, despite his treatment.
Not bothering to reply to Naruto's greeting, he reached into the bag he had been carrying and two boxes through the bars. Sasuke wasn't sure what had possessed him to do it, but he ended up making each of the two captives a meal when he had been making his own. He was about to state that they weren't poisonous but stopped when he noticed that Naruto had already began to eat from his bento.
The Uchiha rolled his eyes at the other's antics. The food could have been tainted for all Naruto knew, yet he hadn't even hesitated in gulping down the meal. Maybe he's just really hungry and didn't care. Or he's just an idiot. Probably the later.
As if sensing Sasuke's thoughts, Naruto paused from eating and looked at the other directly in the eyes. "You wouldn't poison me."
"Oh? And just what makes you so sure?" Sasuke inquired, either genuinely curious or just humoring the aspiring Hokage.
"'Cause you're too much of a bastard to let me die that way. You'd want the satisfaction of killing me in battle."
An unsettling silence washed over the two, their thoughts no doubt drifting to the dreadful fight in the valley those three long years ago.
"Oi, Harry stop staring at your food and eat it already. I know Sasuke-teme's cooking isn't all that good but at least it's something." Naruto remarked, breaking the uncomfortable silence while looking over the wizard.
"Che. It's better than anything you could cook, dobe. The only thing you can't screw up is ramen."
Harry gave Naruto a look of mild uncertainty, both skeptical of how harmless the food was and too prideful to accept it from an enemy. Still, hunger won out over common sense and soon he, too, was indulging.
No words were exchanged as the two ate their food, Sasuke just as silent and stoic as ever. His mind was like a bubbling pit of confusion, berating comments, and disappointment. He shouldn't have cared whether Naruto starved to death or whether the guards beat the poor boy over and over again like they had. Naruto's fate shouldn't have concerned him. At all.
And yet, it had. The guard's words had enlightened a strange possessiveness within the Uchiha, as if no one had the right to belittle the prisoner besides Sasuke himself. It was a preposterous notion, really, to think that he held any claim over the other boy- Sasuke was well aware of that. But regardless, he found such emotions sparking to the surface and try as he might, any attempts at pushing them away were failing.
Sasuke hated his weakness.
Within moments the temperature dropped remarkably, causing the brunette to shiver. Looking up just in time to see the others shudder as well, proving that they had noticed the change in condition also, Harry glanced at their surroundings. The chill was something he found regrettably familiar, as if the claws of death and wretchedness were reaching out for him. He knew that feeling, oh yes, he knew it well.
Telling himself that it was certainly impossible for his assumptions to be true, since surely it was no where near Orochimaru's lair, the emerald-eyed wizard urged his heart to calm.
All tranquility shattered, however, when Harry finally caught sight of what was before him.
The dark figure glided eerily across the floor as he approached the only mortal outside of the horrid cell, bringing with it a sense of pure dread and hostility. Shadowy robes seemed to cling to no actual flesh, the creature looking more so like an apparition than anything alive.
Sasuke, having no doubt sensed the grotesque presence behind him, whirled around in preparation to attack, but it was already far too late. Any emotion even remotely pleasant was sucked out of him immediately, eyes fading from black to red and than black again, like an endless shift in identity. The creature was not anything the teenager had ever encountered before and he found himself unable to move or utter a sound.
Memories of blood and death quickly overwhelmed his mind, taking control and drowning him in a sea of devastation.
Naruto had watched it all with a look of alarm, jumping to his feet in an attempt to warn the other, shouting at him to 'move away from it, bastard! Don't just stand there!' But his words landed on deaf ears and soon he, too, began to feel the fiend's effects.
A piercing scream escaped the Uchiha's throat as his thoughts shifted completely to that of his bloodstained history. Images played over and over again in his mind like a broken record, the death of his childhood and family appearing at full force.
The shriek startled Harry out of his temporary state of shock and he fought fiercely against the Dementor's influence. He blocked out the screams of his mother as his mind raced for a solution. A wand! Yes, yes, he needed a wand so that he could cat a spell… Oh but what spell? What spell?!
His mind was so jumbled that he could hardly think straight. But Harry knew he had to do something, because Sasuke's screams were starting to get even more frantic and Naruto's fight against his own inner demons was starting to fail rather miserably.
"Accio wand. Accio wand!" The words were murmured over and over again, and much to his surprise, it actually worked. His wand was jerked from it's confinement within Sasuke's attire and it flew sharply into Harry's awaiting hand.
Closing his eyes, Harry mentally prepared himself for the spell, digging up every happy memory he could muster. He thought about his mother and father, about Ron and Hermione, and even about Quidditch.
After only two attempts the stag finally appeared, it's transparent form casting a bright light as the Dementor backed off in obvious pain, disappearing into the darkness once more.
Sasuke and Naruto, minds fuzzy and barely coherent, turned bewildered gazes toward Harry.
"Dementors." Harry breathed, pausing before explaining himself further. "They're Voldemort's… Servants, I guess." Not bothering to go into any more detail, he pointed his wand at Sasuke, his former confidence and certainty returned. Now he had the upper hand. "Let us go."
The Uchiha stared at him indignantly, but stood his ground, making no move to comply with the order. He could hear screams coming from the other parts of the lair and could sense the presence of wizards and Dementor's alike. Apparently Voldemort had choose that night to make his move.
After a moment Sasuke finally unlocked the cell, the heavy metal door swinging open with a soft 'clink.' The whole place was in complete chaos, Sasuke knew, and he decided that he really didn't care whether Harry was free or not. However, he was quite surprised that Naruto refused to come out from where he swelled.
"Naruto, what are you doing?" Harry inquired, keeping his wand pointed at the Uchiha.
The blonde crossed his arms stubbornly, fixing them both with a look of determination. "If I leave, all my work at getting Sasuke back will go to waste. I won't come out until he frees me… Not because he's being threatened, but because he wants to."
Sasuke frowned at those words, silently noting that his former friend's eyes seemed just a tad sadder than before. Damnit.
"Fine, dobe. I'll come."
With one little lie, everything could change.
Finally, chapter four! I can't believe how many reviews I ended up getting for the last one. 22 reviews! Oh, I love you all!
Now, before any of you ask how Harry could summon his wand without actually having a wand to use, that'll be answered in future chapters. In fact, many questions will have answers later on. nn Some lovely SasuNaruSasu goodness will also come eventually, though that this point they're each just trying to evaluate their own feelings.
I'm not sure what I'll do with Harry as far as romance goes. A possible one-sided HarrySasu could possibly work, but ultimately I think I'll keep him loveless. What do you guys thinks? Sasuke and Naruto are the main focus of this story, after all, and although many things happened because of Harry, his role isn't quite as large.
As usual, I don't have a beta, so please disregard any mistakes/typos I've made.
Anyway, thank you so much for reading. :-)