okay, so you guys can go ahead and flame me for: 1. not updating for damn long, 2. a possibly crappy chapter… reasons? i never planned past chap 17, so major fail over there…and of course, school, need i say more…

not to fret, there will only be a few more crappy chapters to the end of this whole story but eh no, i don't think i can make in time for my twfo-year deadline thing… did i mention i hate naming chapters? sorry, that was random…

anyway, there's a poll up on my profile page…i'm trying to gather opinions on specific things on this fic, so head over there after you've finished…

oh and i realised that there is very little i can do about the lack of narusasunaru moments so late into the story... to be honest, i kinda forgo romance for the plotline, blehh...

i'm done and you can read and flame (i'm not expecting anything less) but please be a little more diplomatic yet straightforward about it? it's more for my benefit so that i could understand actually…

disclaimer: don't own HP nor Naruto

Chapter 18: Anger

by zfirze

Harry, Naruto decided, was not at all pleased with them. Idly, he concentrated on the loud stomping and huffs that were issuing from both Harry and Ron. The stomping was a way to vent their frustrations and the silent huffs were the duo biting their tongue until they were in a more private spot. These were Naruto's deductions as the five of them trooped up back to the Gryffindor dormitory.

Of course, the fact was that Naruto was just trying to distract himself from the inevitable. He had seen how Hermione had reacted to the truth and he was not sure if he was ready to handle Harry's and Ron's more volatile reaction. He glanced at Sasuke whose face was kept neutrally blank and Naruto fidgeted.

After a few negotiations with the others who share their dormitory, the five of them finally had the room to themselves. Naruto and Sasuke found themselves on the receiving end of two very hostile glares from Harry and Ron.

"Guys, please be calm," Hermione tried pleading with them, having apparently seen and felt their rage.

But Naruto understood their anger. After all, they had just been lied to.

"You knew," Ron turned to Hermione and pointed a finger accusingly.

"It's not her fault," Sasuke calmly spoke up and diverted Ron's attention away from the girl.

Harry shot out a hand to stop Ron's angry retort. He took a deep breath. Now what he wanted more than anything was answers, not a full-fledged confrontation.

"Answers, now," Harry said tersely.

"Unfortunately, we can't give out information as freely as we like to. So unless you have a specific question and it does not violate any rules, we would answer them," Sasuke said matter-of-factly.

Naruto hung back, unsure of what to say. He wanted to tell the trio everything (they were friends!) but he knew that this would compromise the safety of their village. He would let Sasuke handle this. Knowing that Sasuke's response was only inviting an outburst, he waved his wand and cast another Silencing Charm on the room. Better not take the chance.

"Fine," Harry's voice rose with each word, "Who are you? Where are you from? Are you the guards? How to do what you did earlier? How do you appear at two places at once? And more importantly, why are you here?! Who sent you here?!"

Sasuke eyed Harry carefully, "I am Sasuke and he is still Naruto," Sasuke paused and hesitated before letting out a resigned sigh, "Yes, we are the guards. We are here on a request by Dumbledore. And the rest are classified information,"

Behind Harry, Ron had calmed down slightly at having some questions answered. Hermione though, was picking nervously at an invisible thread on her robe.

Harry turned towards Naruto, "You said that you were not guards,"

Naruto winced at Harry's accusing tone and shot a look at Sasuke to stop him from interfering, "Yes, I did. I lied and I'm sorry but you didn't have the need to know then,"

"So if Malfoy hadn't come along earlier, we would have been kept in the dark forever?"

"Yes," There was no hesitation as Naruto replied.

"Fine, fine, so all the while you had been lying to us?" Harry gave a hollow laugh which cut right through to Naruto's heart, "Some friend,"

Naruto looked guilty and crestfallen at this point.

Sasuke decided to speak up to spare Naruto the pain, "We aren't here to be friends. We are only here to ensure your safety,"

"So now I need protecting? Great. Tell you what, right now I'm going to sleep early and when I wake up tomorrow, I will head straight to classes with no detours. Would that help in your planning?"

"Thank you for your consideration then," Sasuke replied blandly to Harry's sarcastic jibe.

Harry gave a disbelieving look at Sasuke's answer, "Alright, good night then, Fox, Raven. And I don't care who's who," Harry disappeared with an angry pull to his curtain.

There was an uneasy silence in the room before it was broken.

"Sorry but I can't side with you here. Just when we thought you were our friends…" Ron shook his head, "We don't even know how much of what we had known for the past months were true. Sorry mate, but good night," With that, Ron disappeared into his four-posters as well.

Hermione gave them a sympathetic half-smile, hinting that she would try to persuade Harry and Ron to see reason. Naruto shook his head in reply, he knew how much trouble Hermione was already in with Harry and Ron just for keeping their secrets. With another wave of his wand, Naruto dispelled all the spells surrounding the room and Hermione left quickly enough.

Sasuke's hand reached out to pull Naruto closer towards him, "Don't worry, they'll understand in time," He whispered softly as he watched Naruto looked forlornly at the two beds.

"How did it turn out this way? We were fine a few hours ago," Naruto mumbled into Sasuke's shoulder, "We just want to protect them. Is that so wrong?"

Harry ignored them the next day. And the next day. And the next.

Naruto watched as the days turned into weeks as Harry persistently refused to accept any form of apology that they had offered. Even if Naruto understood the reason for Harry's anger, it did not change the fact that it hurt Naruto more than it was supposed to.

Belatedly, Naruto looked up from the shadows as Snape's office door slammed shut. Harry stood with his back facing the wall Naruto was leaning onto, his back stiff and his posture seemed to radiate shock. This was vastly different from the usual temper that Harry would have build up during the usual Occlumency lesson.

"Harry?" Naruto called out tentatively as he stepped out into the well-lit corridor.

"Oh, you're here?"

Harry's voice was icy but Naruto could hear it shaking. Naruto frowned, he was pretty sure that Harry's current confusion had nothing to do with him. What had happened in Snape's office?

"Are you alright? You looked like you just seen a ghost…" Naruto tried breaking up the increasingly tense situation, "Well, not that seeing a ghost at Hogwarts is uncommon, I mean – "

"Yes indeed, much different from where you hail from, isn't it?" Harry had turned around now, "Then again, maybe not since I don't even know where you're from,"

Naruto kept his calm exterior as Harry eyed him with more distrust before turning heel and walking back to the Gryffindor common room. Only when Harry was safely out of sight did Naruto allowed himself to let his unruffled facade collapse. He hated that look.

Through the Ministry power, Umbridge had somehow gotten another Educational Degree which would allow her to rule of Dumbledore's decision. Unfortunately for the school, Dumbledore had some other affair to attend to urgently and had left the school in McGonagall's care. Naturally, Umbridge saw this as a chance to take over.

Throughout the day, both the staffs and students went out of their way to make Umbridge's day hell after they heard of the many rules that Umbridge had imposed. And Sasuke found himself overhearing Harry talking to Fred and George about breaking into Umbridge's office in the midst of the chaos that was the Great Hall.

Sasuke nudged Naruto, wary of the worried look that the other boys in their shared dormitory was giving them, "I think Harry is planning another bout of rule-breaking,"

"Hmmm," Naruto mumbled distractedly as he waved off Neville's concern, "Don't worry, we just had a small argument," He gave a weak smile as he attempted to placate Neville.

Sasuke raised an eyebrow as Harry turned to glare at them (Ron was watching their non-verbal argument cautiously). He turned back to his lunch as a loud shriek came from the Ravenclaw's table. Apparently someone had started throwing food into Umbridge's path.

"I'm actually surprised that the rule-breaking hadn't start earlier, given his track record that Professor Dumbledore had shown us," Naruto said thoughtfully as he attempted to lip-read Fred's response.

Sasuke glanced briefly at Naruto, "Stop pretending, moron. You're too unskilled to be acting as though you're cool with Harry's attitude towards us,"

Naruto scowled, "I'm just thinking rationally. Besides, even if Harry hates us now, we still have a mission to complete,"

The duo got up as Harry left the Hall shortly after Fred's and George's departure. Following Harry as he went into McGonagall's office for his careers appointment, Sasuke gestured for Naruto to head for Divination while he stood outside the office door. Leaning against the wall and blending in with the surroundings, he waited for Harry to emerge.

Nearly a half hour later, Harry came out looking slightly guilty and threw a glance in Sasuke's direction. Wordlessly, Sasuke trailed Harry as he turned a corner and met with Fred and George going in the opposite direction. They exchanged grins with Harry and did not notice Sasuke's presence at all.

Finally, Sasuke decided to speak up as they neared Umbridge's office, "Harry," Reluctantly, Harry turned as he was addressed, "This rule-breaking is too rash. What if you were caught? Then everyone's effort would be – "

"Well, it's your duty to protect me isn't it?" Harry cut Sasuke off, "Then again, maybe not. Who knows if you are really on our side and not a double agent for Voldemort," Turning, Harry concealed himself in a corner as Umbridge rushed past them to get to the commotion that was happening on the floor above.

Without waiting for any response from Sasuke as Umbridge disappeared up the stairs, Harry entered the office. Giving a slight shake of head in disapproval, Sasuke stood casually outside as though he had the every right in the world to be standing in a deserted corridor.

Naruto frowned as he watched Harry disappeared out of sight from the Quidditch stand, 'Isn't this the most important match that would decide Gryffindor's victory? Where is he going?'

With a nudge from Sasuke, the two of them made their way down the stand. Managing to make out Harry's and Hermione's outline as they ducked into the darkness of the Forest, the two of them noiselessly followed.

They lost Harry's and Hermione's trail a few moments later. Settling onto a tree branch, Sasuke studied the dirt path that lay before them and the less visible path to the right.

Naruto sniffed the air a little, "This way," He pointed to the near invisible path.

Hurrying across the Forest ground and stopping once in a while for Naruto to make sure that they were going in the correct direction, Sasuke thought he had a pretty good idea where the path led to.

Both Naruto and Sasuke sighed as they reached a clearing and Hermione's loud shrieking filled the air. Hagrid's half-brother lowered a whole tree onto the ground, only missing Hagrid by half a head. They tensed, waiting to see if the miniature giant would pose any danger to their charge. And also knowing that Harry would not be pleased with them if they charged in now and remove Harry from the scene.

Their cue to interfere came when the giant shot out a hand to reach for Hermione. One second Harry and Hermione were faced with the palm of Grawp's hand shooting out towards them and the next, they found themselves a few meters away from Grawp's reach. Harry turned jerkily and was met with Sasuke's unreadable features. Without a word, Sasuke allowed Harry to slide from his grip onto the Forest floor. Harry felt a stab of guilt at Sasuke's expressionless face.

"Let's go," Naruto motioned back towards the castle.

Hagrid nodded a few seconds later after getting over the surprise of Naruto and Sasuke appearing out of nowhere.

"Harry, this is childish," Hermione pleaded as the trio sat themselves under a tree near the lake, "Let's just forgive them. They've done enough to earn our trust haven't they?"

Harry hesitated in his answer.

"But they're mercenaries, aren't they? That's what they told you," Ron pointed out.

"But they also said that they would protect us now and wouldn't help Vo-Voldemort even if they had been paid enough,"

"I still say they can't fully be trusted,"

"I agree," Harry said quietly, "I want to forgive them but… I'm not sure… would they really not betray us?"

"We swear on our souls, our honour and on our lives," Naruto's voice came clearly from above them.

Twisting his head sharply, Harry was met with the sight of Naruto's serious stare as he sat comfortably on a branch.

"That's a bit too harsh…" Hermione gave a nervous laugh, her eyes darting between Naruto and Harry.

"…promise?" Harry asked quietly after a few moments.


Without further argument, Harry turned back to his Transfiguration notes, "Well then, what are you still doing up in the tree?"

Hermione blinked before beaming while Ron rolled his eyes. Naruto and Sasuke slipped down from the branch to land on an empty spot beside the trio.

"We're not fully forgiving you just yet. And you can't expect us to trust you immediately," Harry quickly added when he saw Naruto's grinning face, "So just take this as a probation period of sorts,"

"Okay!" Naruto said cheerfully.

Sasuke gave a small relieved smile as Naruto regained his lively spirit. This was more like the Naruto he knew.

Harry sighed and put down his notes, "I can't concentrate," He looked directly at Naruto before slowing turning towards Sasuke as though analysing them, "Can you at least tell me what had been true so far? What was a lie and what wasn't?"

Hesitantly, Naruto glanced at Sasuke briefly before relating the whole incident at Grimmauld to Harry. After all, that was the time where they had lied the most.

End of Chapter 18