"Don't worry, this will be cleared up soon." Kotetsu patted Harry's back and walked into the office labelled 'Hokage'.
Harry rubbed his bandages as he stood in the hallway outside the Hokage's office with the other teens. Even without looking he knew that, Naruto, his possible relative was staring at him. The sheer amount of people around, made Harry twice as wary. But no matter how much he wanted to drag the boy away to talk and question, Harry forced himself to wait and see what happened.
He consoled himself with the fact that he knew the boy's name and what he looked like. At least that would help him if he ever decided to use Hedwig to track the boy later.
Harry forced himself to calm down by shoving his hands in his pant pockets and cataloguing everything he had. A handkerchief, some scrap paper, a rubber band, something squishy and candy.
Harry fingers ran across the candy's embossed surface, recognizing an antidote end from the Skiving snack boxes and remembering why he was carrying it around. For when I can't use a potion vial carelessly in front of people.
Harry fiddled with the candy, wondering if he should take it so that the small amount of calming draught in it would help him. No, even a little calming drought will make me talk. It's too risky, Harry told himself, I need to be consistent as an unpredictable teenager.
Harry moved his right hand closer to the wall and away from the corridor's other occupants. Homenum Revelio. His mind buzzed as information filtered in via the spell, There are a lot of people in that office. Guards? That'd explain why someone's in the office ceiling.
Harry adjusted the range of the spell and took a while to understand all the data from the cut off the spell and took a deep breath as the door opened.
"She wants to talk to you, Harii, so you can go in. Only you," Kotetsu said giving the other teens a look.
The blonde, Naruto, angrily turned to the brown haired man beside Kotetsu. "But Yamato- taichou…"
"Not now, Naruto." Yamato said.
Harry walked past Kotetsu into the office and blinked when caught sight of the middle-aged woman seated behind the Hokage's desk with a black-haired woman standing beside her. He couldn't see any trace of the people he'd detected before. They've done a great job hiding themselves.
Hazel eyes watched him carefully from beneath a furrowed brow.
Harry stayed silent but his thoughts buzzed She may not be Dumbledore but as the leader she must have some skill in reading and judging people. I should pay attention. Is this the desk I fixed? But I didn't get any more broken desks! Harry stopped in front of the wooden desk, bowed down and said, "Hokage-sama!"
Harry looked up warily when he was greeted by a thick silence. The Hokage glanced at the other woman, nodded to the door and said, "Shizune!"
The blonde woman, Tsunade, narrowed her eyes at the other woman.
Harry gulped as Shizune practically ran out of the office with a little pig in her hands. But a part of him was more concerned with knowing where the pig came from.
"My ninja tell me you're claiming to be an Uzumaki."
Harry took a deep breath and said, "I may not use that name anymore but there is no doubt that I'm part of the Uzumaki clan."
"My granduncle was the clan head when Whirlpool was attacked!" Harry said.
"And what about your parents? Surely they'd offer better proof of your claims."
Harry looked down. "They've been dead for a long time. Them and my grandparents, the only people who could have possibly…"
The Hokage stayed silent but glanced at him with slightly softer eyes.
"I've never used the Uzumaki family name. I lived my childhood with distant relatives who never bothered to tell me about my clan. It was blind luck that I learnt about my origins, especially since my own mother didn't know about the clan."
"What did you find?" The Hokage said.
"Letters, at first. Then photos. After that, I looked for everything I could. But everything I found was terrible. My clan had been reduced to nothing because of some power play. I don't know the exact details behind the attack but I knew nothing good could come from taking up the clan name again."
Harry knew he needed more emotion in his story especially since he'd be twisting actual events. "Because of my godfather's death recently, I found the old village ruins and salvaged some blood activated heirlooms that matched things my own grandmother had left me."
The Hokage straightened in her seat. "Blood activated heirlooms?"
Harry tugged on the necklace hidden under his shirt. "I didn't realize this was one until it was pointed out to me. Apparently when I removed it from my family scroll, I smeared some blood on it. That's the only reason I can wear it."
The Hokage, Tsunade- Harry reminded himself, stared at the black koi pendant intently and nodded for him to continue.
Give me something to work with. I don't even know what you're thinking, Harry thought at her lack of input but said, "No one ever mentioned the name Uzumaki where I lived. And I guess I just, when I heard someone else with that name, I…"
"So if you hear someone having Uzumaki as their last name, you immediately assume they have something to do with your clan?" Tsunade said and tilted her head.
"No, no…well, maybe. I admit the first time I heard it I immediately looked for red hair." Harry paused when he caught a flicker of something in the woman's eyes. "But then I thought, I'm the only one left, so anyone using that name is just a fake, so I felt indignant. After that, I just didn't want someone to get targeted because they used my clan's name."
Tsunade leaned away from her table and glanced up at the ceiling. "You think there are people who still hunt the Uzumaki name?"
"I don't think people need many reasons to start killing. It's possible that someone still bears a grudge somewhere out there," Harry said softly.
"No one has ever come after Naruto for having that name," Tsunade said, still looking at the ceiling.
Harry wondered if that meant someone had come after him for a different reason.
Tsunade finally looked at him. "You said you had photos and letters that could verify your claims?"
Harry nodded. "I'm not willing to share my letters for personal reasons. But I can share my photos because I have a lot more of those."
"That's fine. I'll send someone to get the photos from…" Tsunade stopped as Harry reached into his jacket, fumbled around and pulled out two photos.
Harry clutched the photos tightly. "I'll get them back, right?"
Tsunade nodded and held out her hand.
"The one with the green eyes is my mother. And the one with the blue eyes is my grandmother," Harry said as Tsunade examined both pictures with a stony face.
"You always carry these pictures in your pocket?"
Harry shook his head, "I was hoping to find some picture frames. They're awkward sizes so I needed to check…"
"I heard you like Dango?"
Harry blinked in confusion. "It's my favourite sweet."
"I see." Tsunade eyed him and said, "I'll order an official blood test for both of you. Do you have any objections to having your blood taken and tested by Konoha's medical facilities?"
"I don't mind," Harry said.
"And these photos? Are you willing to let us test their authenticity? I can guarantee they won't be damaged."
Harry nodded, curious about how they'd test for authenticity.
The wooden chair screeched against the floor as she left the office. Harry looked around the room examining the shelves, stacks of papers and even the red and white hat in one of the glass cabinets. But he couldn't detect any of the guards, that the Homenum Revelio spell had showed him before.
Harry tensed as the door opened behind him.
"Harii?" Kotetsu put a hand on Harry's shoulder.
Harry rubbed his forehead wearily. "Would you think it's weird if I said, I really want him to be a relative? No matter how distant."
"No." Kotetsu squeezed Harry's shoulder. "I'm sure he feels the same..." They both turned to the door when they heard yelling. "See?"
Harry smiled softly and glanced at his grandmother's photo on the desk. "Kotetsu, I'm sorry about dragging you into this..."
"Are you kidding? Izumo's going to be annoyed he missed this."
"He'll probably be more pissed he can't eat yet!"
Kotetsu snickered and nodded in agreement. They both flinched when the door slammed open.
Tsunade entered and sat down in irritation. "Until the results come in, you're not allowed to make contact with Uzu... Naruto!"
Harry tensed as a masked man materialized beside the Hokage's table and cast another Homenum Revelio. Harry blinked when certain areas around the office flickered during the spell and realized that the spell also showed people hidden within his line of sight. So this masked man was the one near the window. Wait, the person at the top is missing too!
"To ensure your compliance, you'll be under house arrest for two days starting this afternoon. Raccoon will monitor your location at all times. Are there any questions?"
"House arrest?" Harry said sharply. "Two days?"
Hazel eyes narrowed at him. "We'll have a blood test to see if there's any relation between the both of you. It'll take a maximum of two days. I want the tests to be completely accurate."
Harry frowned. "But, err...Hokage-sama, my blood activated heirlooms..."
"What if he isn't part of your clan?" She gave him a long stare and continued with a sombre tone, "Every heirloom that acts as a tester is meant to find real clan members and get rid of impostors lethally. They weren't created to be forgiving to impostors."
Harry looked down at his fingers, ashamed that he'd forgotten about the lethality. "I didn't..."
The Hokage said, "I have to look out for the ninja under my rule!"
"I understand. I just forgot about the killing part," Harry said sheepishly.
Tsunade gave him small nod and yelled, "Shizune!" The black-haired woman, from before, entered the room with a tray of items. "Because of the secrecy of this matter, I hope you don't mind if we collect your blood here. The hospital would require too much paperwork."
Harry watched Shizune prep a needle. "But will this test still be valid if there's no paperwork to back it up?"
Tsunade smirked. "The paperwork will be filled. I just want this to be kept under wraps until the results come out."
"I see." Harry frowned as she nodded to the other woman.
"Please hold out your hand," Shizune said.
Harry turned away as she moved closer with the needle but wondered about the need for such secrecy.
Before Harry could process anything, and while he was still dazed about the prospect of house arrest, the Hokage rushed him out of the tower with Kotetsu. He played along, knowing that co-operation would work in his favour later.
Homenum Revelio. Harry twitched as information flooded his brain but walked, noticing that his guard was on the roof slightly ahead of them. I wonder how this spell lets me find the people I want in the mass of people. Even without any labels or difference in the colour of light, I know that he's my watcher.
Just like I know… that guy a few roofs behind me was the ceiling guard! So I have another guard? Harry paused abruptly as his thoughts connected bits of conversation. Dango! She was probably hinting at me staying at the dango store.
Is that why I have this secret guard? It adds a whole new level to things. But surely I looked dense enough when she asked me about it... Harry's thoughts stopped abruptly when he felt an odd pressure on the back of his head. He gasped as the pressure increased and pushed against his mind. This can't be Voldemort! My scar doesn't hurt.
Strong arms latched onto Harry as he stumbled forward. "Harii?"
Harry concentrated on Kotetsu's voice and suddenly the pain vanished. "Sorry, my head just… I guess I need to eat."
Kotetsu gave him a long stare, nodded and moved closer to Harry as they walked to his apartment. Izumo stood outside his door with the box of broken things. "Where have you two been? I've been …" Izumo paused and frowned at the roof. "What happened?"
Harry sighed heavily, entered his apartment and slumped face first on to his couch. As Kotetsu whispered to Izumo, Harry moved his wand hand closer to his face. Homenum Revelio
Harry flinched as his mind prickled with information of all the areas surrounding his apartment for a large radius. All that control I had in the tower is gone now! Harry frowned. The watcher is definitely on the roof. Is he/she just there to make sure I don't leave the apartment? Or is the person there to see what I do in the apartment? But wouldn't it make sense to be in the apartment with me?
And why tell me that I'm going to have this guard person? To see what I'd do? Or just to reassure me because I'm a civilian? But there's that secret guard!
A voice from his memories interrupted his thoughts, Constant vigilance!
I'll just assume that the roof watched has some ability to know what I'm doing in the house. Harry groaned at what he'd have to stop doing. No eavesdropping with the extendable ear! No blatant magic. And no mirror talking! At least, I checked the mirror message before I left the apartment today…
A hand tapped his head. "Oi, Harii. Don't fall asleep, we have to eat, remember?"
Harry shoved the hand away, burrowed into the couch and said, "I can't leave the house."
"Of course you can!" Kotetsu said, "If you're accompanied by us then we'll make sure you don't run in to…"
"I'm not hungry." Harry said even as he wondered whether he should removed the spells he's put up around the apartment.
"You need to eat so you can work! Plus the restaurant we're going to has green tea flavoured dango! I bet you haven't had that before,"
"Don't want any!" He heard two loud sighs above him, footsteps walking away and his door closing. Harry frowned as he went through his information again. Where's the other guard? If he's outside that range then there's no way he can watch me.
Harry raised his head when he heard a thump on the floor close to him and found Izumo waving at him. "I thought you wanted to eat."
"Kotetsu's bringing the food here! We can't just leave you without food." Izumo fiddled with his bandana and leaned against the couch.
Harry frowned. "I have food in the kitchen. And I can cook!"
"What about your fingers? You still flinch when you do things. I don't understand why you won't go to the hospital."
Harry cringed. "They're fine."
"But they're stopping you from fixing things, aren't they? You left some weapons in the box unfixed!" Izumo said and pointed to the box next to the main door.
Harry rolled his eyes, "I wanted to tell you about those in the morning. But you ran off before I could say anything! I can't fix things if I don't have all the broken pieces."
"That's… most ninja lose bits of their weapons on missions." Izumo's face crumpled. "This reduces so much of your potential business."
"Why are you so disappointed? I'm the one with the repair job!"
"It's just, now you won't be able to fix…" Izumo paused and rubbed his chin. "Ah! never mind!"
"Fix what?" Harry glared at Izumo. "Izumo, did you promise someone that I would fix something really important?"
"I might have said something about a valuable heirloom…"
"But you don't have to bother. I mean if you can't fix it, then you can't fix it! And no matter how much fixing it would have helped your business, it doesn't matter. There are loads of things that need to be fixed." Izumo said with a placating smile.
"I should just kick you out." Harry said, "But Kotetsu would pitch a fit and I'd be stuck listening to all that whining."
They both looked at each other and chuckled.
"I really wonder …" Harry said, "Why do you guys keep visiting me? I've only been here for like a week and I've seen you both almost everyday. Did Isshin ask you to keep an eye out for me?"
"No," Izumo said blandly. "We come here because you're a civilian who's not too spooked by ninja."
"It's rare to find civilians who are willing to talk freely with ninja. I guess they always expect us to kill them or something. But you're different, heck, you blatantly curse us."
Harry scoffed. "Here I thought you just came here for food and to make me fix things."
"Well, you do have a lot of groceries." Izumo smiled back. "But you're just less stressful to be around."
"You're kind of blasé with things, aren't you? What if I was a spy?"
Izumo glanced at Harry and then turned away with shaking shoulders.
"Hey! Why are you laughing? I could totally be…" Harry said as Izumo stifled his laughter.
"You're eyes are too open for you to be much of a spy." Izumo looked directly at him. "Sure you have your secrets, but it's obvious those secrets aren't… I guess it's just personal matters from your past that you don't want to share."
And here I thought I wasn't too obvious, Harry blinked. "I see…"
"If you're hiding because of your clan stuff then it does explains things." Izumo looked away.
Harry hesitated. "Have you heard of the Uzumaki clan?"
Izumo turned back and shook his head. "Just knew the name belonged to Naruto, nothing else. Didn't even know there was an actual clan!"
"What about Naruto?"
"I've seen him around. Who can ignore all that orange? I don't know much about him personally."
Harry sat up as the door opened and Kotetsu came in, hands filled with take out containers.
"Finally!" Izumo said and took some of the containers and placed them on the low table of the sitting room.
No matter how much Harry wanted to plan for things that needed to be done, he couldn't help but get pulled into the pair's enthusiasm as they ate.
"So do you want us to get you something while you're stuck here?"
"No, I got all my groceries. I only wanted to get some plants." Harry paused when he caught sight of both men sharing an odd look with each other. "What? I'm not lying! You can check the kitchen if you want."
Izumo said, "That's not it! We're just wondering about the plants."
"You think I won't be able to take care of them here?" Harry frowned at them. "I have loads of space. There's that extra room that Isshin wanted as my work area, but I fix things here in the living room anyway, so it's a waste of space."
"What kind of plants are you looking for? Maybe we can get you a deal, we know a place," Kotetsu said.
Damn, I put off buying plants because they're too permanent. If there's no real relative here, I need to leave and search somewhere else but having plants... "Really?" Harry went over to his stack of recently bought books, grabbed a specific book, shoved the book in Izumo's hand and said, "I marked the ones I want in red."
Both men examined his marked list carefully and Izumo said, "Medicinal plants?"
"Yeah, why?" Harry asked, wondering about their apprehension.
Both men shared another look and turned to Harry.
Kotetsu frowned. "Why would you need something like snakeroot?"
He'd recognized the plant as something he'd used in potions class and the book assured him that it had most of the same properties here. But knowing that Snakeroot was an exotic plant to want, Harry decided to be honest. "Snakeroot is good base for different poison antidotes."
"You're going to make poison antidotes?" Izumo asked hesitantly.
"I can only make a simple antidote," Harry said, "But it's best to be safe, right? Fire country has too many poisonous things." Magic with those normal antidotes would do wonders if I ever run out of potions. Harry rubbed the back of his neck, "That's how I met Isshin-san. His nephew got poisoned and they didn't have any antidotes."
"Yeah, he told us about that. He said you managed to cure a purple lyre bite within minutes with a 'unique' antidote."
Harry noticed the emphasis on unique and said, "That antidote was made for me and I can't re-create it." I have a stash of it but it's something so complex that only a potion master can make. I'd never be able to make it, especially with the distinct lack of magical ingredients.
"Made for you?" Izumo said cutting through his thoughts.
"Yeah, when I was younger I almost died from a poisonous snake bite," Harry said and rubbed the crook of his left arm absently. "Needless to say, I'd rather be safe than dead."
"But you know, there are many kinds of poisons out there. Not just the kinds from animals and insects." Kotetsu said.
Harry shrugged. "Well, those are the only kinds of poisons I can make some sort of antidotes for."
Both men in front of him seemed to relax.
Did they think I secretly made super-antidotes? Harry scoffed at his thoughts. Psh, no way! But it's a good thing I'm not a good potion maker. Definitely makes me seem more truthful.
"Okay, I'll see what I can do! But then you'll need more books, right?" Izumo looked through the marked pages. "Or are you a secret gardener too?"
"That's why I chose the easy plants. No expert gardening skills required."
"True!" Izumo closed the book and shoved it under his arm. "Do you need any bandages for your fingers?"
"Or better yet a doctor?" Kotetsu said.
Harry groaned. "Stop nagging me. My fingers will be fine by the end of the week. Doctors are just a waste of time and money."
"You wouldn't have to pay.."
"No thanks!" He lifted up his hands and flexed his fingers ignoring the twinges of pain that shot up his arm. "The bandages are just a precaution."
"You're not a doctor, what if you get infected or something. It'll be too late to do anything..." Izumo said
"You don't even know what's under the bandages. There's no chance of getting an infection. Just because I'm not a doctor, doesn't mean I don't know how to deal with wounds. Occupational hazard, you know..." Harry joked even as he reminded himself to be more diligent with the scar-reducing salves that would ensure that his injuries looked old if anyone ever saw them.
"Fine, we'll see you later!"
Harry closed the door and leaned against it tiredly. With a casual touch of his wand's tip, he removed most of the locking spells. He took a deep breath and remembered Hermione's recent instructions for putting up stealth sensor spells, similar to what Umbridge had used in her office the previous year.
Harry looked around the apartment but decided to modify the spells on each window later. He picked up a book he'd considered too tedious to read before, something about ninja-politics, and moved to his sofa.
Harry woke up to a darkened apartment and banging on his door. He stumbled towards the door and glared at his visitors, "Why are you here again?"
"Food, remember?" Izumo said holding up a container. "Were you sleeping?"
Harry left the door open and went back to the couch groggily.
"Harii, you're such a lightweight! They didn't even take that much blood from you. How can you be so tired?" Kotetsu said and poked Harry's sleepy face.
Harry slapped the hand away and rubbed his eyes blearily. "I don't know, but my brain feels like it's been stuffed…" with information? Of course! I used the reveal spell at least four times. That plus that odd headache must be the reason I'm so… Harry looked up hopefully and said, "Dango?"
"No! You can't have that for dinner. Here, eat this and sleep. Just when I thought you could take care of yourself," Izumo said while Kotetsu snickered.
Too tired to protest, Harry ate and fell asleep before his visitors left.
The next time, Harry woke up to a brightly lit apartment and an odd ringing in his head. He put on his glasses to find a sheepish looked Kotetsu at his main door with Hedwig flying around his head. So that was the spell I put up yesterday? I guess it works!
"We didn't open any windows for her before leaving," Kotetsu said. "She found us and kept screeching until I followed her here."
Harry grinned. "Thanks and… sorry?"
Kotetsu shrugged and said, "You're obviously going to thank me with a large free meal when you give us a treat."
"Yeah! Yeah! Go back to work already!" Harry said and closed the door. Now I can change all the spells on the windows. I'll open them and make it look like I'm just airing out the place.
Harry's day passed by in a blur of reading, cooking, arranging the new plants that Izumo somehow managed to get delivered to him, ignoring the messages on his mirror and secretly modifying all the spells around his apartment.
After he let Hedwig out to hunt that night, Harry glanced at the box of things-that-needed-to-be-fixed with apprehension. I managed to ignore them last night because I was too tired. But I need to fix thing,s especially if I'm actually being spied on in here.
Harry sorted through the items in the box and contemplated how to repair without removing his wand or using a verbal spell. An image of the monk he had met at the start of his trip filled his mind, but he shrugged off his idea as ridiculous.
But as he ran out of items to sort, Harry resigned himself to putting on a show for anyone who might have been watching him and arranged himself in a vague cross-legged position and joined his hands together as though he was praying.
With an awkward bow, he held out both his hands over the broken items. It took him multiple tries to get the non-verbal casting of the spell down. Well, it adds credibility to me not being an expert, Harry consoled himself as he looked at the large pile of broken things that remained.
Harry had just finished lunch when one of the spells on his window warned him of an intruder just as Hedwig screeched in alarm. He turned around and came face to face with his masked watcher. Harry frowned, trying to remember the guard's name, as he examined the mask. "Cat-san?"
The masked man tilted his head to the side. "Raccoon. The Hokage has called you in for a meeting."
So my guard's male! But that mask is obviously a cat. I guess the masks aren't meant to reflect their names. "Okay, let me just," Harry shoved the garbage into a bag and walked out of his apartment. "All right! I'm ready to go…woah!"
Harry snatched his hand back as the world around him came into sharp focus. The masked man gave him an apologetic nod but walked forward towards a familiar wooden door. We teleported to the tower? No, it was too rough for that. I definitely felt a large amount of stops even though it was too fast to make out.
Harry followed his masked guard and entered the room warily. Standing in various positions in the room were four different people along with the Hokage. He recognized Nara Shikaku standing beside a blue-eyed man with long blonde ponytail.
On the other side of Tsunade was a man with long untied black hair and the oddest eyes Harry had ever seen.
Blind? Harry discredited that thought when he noticed the man following his movements clearly. Looks like he's not related to that monk. Harry finally noticed a hint of lavender irises in the pupil-less eyes but frowned at the bulging veins along the man's temples partially covered by the long curtain of hair.
Harry glanced at the final person in the room. He was taller than all the other occupants with a bandana on his head and held himself like Mad-eye Moody.
Wait, didn't that book mention the Hokage has three old advisors? Since they're not old, these aren't the elders Isshin mentioned. So they're some sort of advisory council meeting? As soon as Harry reached the centre of the room, the masked guard vanished from sight and Harry bowed to the Hokage. "Hokage-sama." and other people, he quipped in his mind.
She smoothed out a paper on the table in front of her. "We've got the results."
Harry bit his lip and nodded suddenly finding it too hard to say anything.
"It seems there has been a misunderstanding."
A dead end! Harry's stomach plummeted at the thought and he looked down at his feet. After all the trouble I went through. What am I going to do with those plants…
"You're not the only survivor of the Uzumaki clan."
Harry gasped as the words registered in his mind. "Wha…Really? I…so, he's my …"
Tsunade looked at him with oddly soft eyes. "A cousin."
"So…I… " Harry said, rubbed his neck absently and flinched as the door behind him opened noisily. He turned and watched a one-eyed man, with thick bandages on the side of his head, enter with a steady clacking of his wooden cane. The newcomer glanced at Harry and smirked at the gathered ninja. The air thickened with tension.
Tsunade's expression hardened. "Danzo, what are you doing here?"
The ancient man ignored her, walked to the front of the room and stood beside the table. "So you're the new Uzumaki?"
He knows? How do I work this? Non-threatening as possible… Harry smiled at the man, "Yes! And you are?"
"I'm one of Fire Country's councilmen from this village. It's my duty to see to the welfare of each and every person in this village on behalf of the Daimyo."
That's sounds very Fudge-like. What would Hermione say? Harry thought to himself, tilted his head to the side and said, "That must be hard with just one eye." Nooo, that's something Ron would say, not Hermione!
"I manage." Danzo gave him a tense smile. "Do you just think we're going to believe you are his relative?"
"The blood test..." Harry said.
"The blood test can be faked with the right tools."
Shikaku rubbed his forehead wearily and sighed softly as everyone tensed.
Tsunade bristled with a venomous voice, "Are you implying that my medical staff are incompetent, Danzo? Or even my ANBU who kept him under constant watch to ensure no tampering till the results came in?"
Harry grit his teeth in irritation. "My scroll!" Harry blurted out.
Everyone stared at him.
"My family scroll." Harry offered. "Only an Uzumaki can open the seals placed on it." Thanks Akira! Take that, wrinkly old politician.
"Is that all?" Danzo said with an air of triumph. "Seals can be made to accept someone with the right…"
"No, I also have clan heirlooms." Harry interrupted and frowned as a glimmer of something washed over the man's face. "Heirlooms that stay within the clan! I have no intention of outsiders getting their hands on them."
Emotion saturated the room and tingled across his skin. They're surprised? Why? Akira told me that no one can force a clan to give up its heirlooms. Even if they did force me with violence, the items would be useless to them.
Shikaku stepped forward and looked at Danzo, "That's true! No one can interfere in clan matters and force a clan to give up items that are crafted for clan members. This was one of Konoha's founding principles."
Harry noticed a tightness on Shikaku's usually relaxed face.
"If the Hokage doesn't have any objections, then I most certainly don't."
Tsunade narrowed her eyes. "I see no problem with a clan keeping their heirlooms to themselves."
Danzo glanced at Harry. "And what do you plan to do with your newly found… relative?"
Harry pushed back his glasses and smiled. "I was thinking of taking him out to dinner."
"You're right! I need to do more than dinner. I need to get a gift! What do you suggest? Socks? You can't have enough socks!" Harry nodded, as though he'd just had an epiphany and thought, If nothing else, Dumbledore always managed to unsettle people with weird comments like that.
Danzo's eye crinkled tensely. "A weapon is always of better use to ninja. Sentimental things make them weak."
Harry nodded even as he snorted at the thought, Socks are sentimental? He must be using code or something.
The Hokage cleared her throat. "Was there something else you needed, Danzo?"
Harry blinked at the open hostility. He's some sort of political opposition to her and so, a threat to me.
"You have my congratulations at being able to find family. Make sure to treasure the opportunity you were given."
"I'll remember that." Harry clenched his hands as a wave of anger surged up but he gave the man another civil nod. He gazed fixedly at one of the windows as the old man moved to the door in a flurry of wooden clacks.
Homenum Revilo. Harry's eyes widened and he glanced back just as the door closed behind Danzo. That guard, there's no doubt! He's the secret guard I couldn't find when I was under house arrest. What's going on?
When Tsunade cleared her throat, Harry turned back and said, "So when do I meet Naruto?"
The people in front of him shifted slightly and Tsunade said, "You're free to meet with him after he's informed."
Harry slouched in irritation. "Am I being put under house arrest again?"
Shikaku coughed and Tsunade gave him a look. "No, I need to explain things to Naruto privately. After that, I'll send someone to escort you to him."
"Can't I just…" Harry winced at the vibes he felt from the Hokage. "Why don't I just wait at my apartment?" He ignored the amusement in the other people's eyes.
"Hokage-sama, I'll make sure he reaches his apartment without any inconvenient meetings." Shikaku stepped forward.
Tsunade quirked an eyebrow but nodded. Before Harry could even bother to argue, he was looking at familiar dusty streets.
"You're a bit of a risk taker, aren't you?"
"Mozunabe said you acted like a hysterical teenager when you heard the name Uzumaki," Shikaku said as they walked towards his apartment.
"Yes, I was a bit..." Harry frowned.
"You didn't strike me as the hysterical sort."
"Well, you've never mention my clan's name so casually." Harry frowned. Damn, what is he implying?
Shikaku just gave him a slight smile and turned away.
The older man looked up at the sky. "You're a bit weird. And weird in a troubling way! Who ever heard of a civilian going against Danzo?"
"I didn't go up against him…"
"Most shinobi can't even look him in the eye," Shikaku said and shoved his hands into his pockets. "And you go and make a smart ass comment about his eye. Are you asking for trouble?"
"It just came out. Besides he seems like the sort who wouldn't like me even if I was sickeningly polite," Harry said.
"I guess I should have expected it. You're a person who's used to going against authority. I knew it the moment I saw your shogi."
"Shogi isn't real life!"
Shikaku scoffed. "No, but it's the perfect place to see a person's mentality."
Harry turned to the older man. "So you saw my authority defying mentality in a game where I was losing?"
"The point is, Harii, Danzo isn't someone you should openly go against. Don't antagonize the man."
"I know!" Harry said, "Nara-san? I didn't know civilians get called up during a Hokage's council meeting."
Shikaku turned to Harry and smirked. "They don't."
"I see." Harry frowned. So either they don't consider me a complete civilian or there's something about Naruto… "Ow! What was that for?"
"Don't go looking for trouble, you're a civilian."
"I thought you were implying I wasn't really a civilian. Make up your mind! And I don't look for trouble." Harry rubbed the back of his head.
"Your shogi showed you were willing to do anything to get results. It's a risky way of living."
"It's the only way of living I know. And how can you possibly get so many random things about me from one shogi game?" Harry said, wondering if Shikaku was just making things up.
"Well, you have a cousin now. A younger cousin who's never had a relative before," Shikaku said.
I'm older than Naruto? Harry felt oddly happy at the thought. "I'm never playing shogi with you again."
Shikaku laughed. "You owe me for my support in the meeting."
"I knew you had an ulterior motive," Harry said.
"You never finished our game. Besides Shikamaru's mother is bound to call you for dinner again. Something about kids needing more food."
Harry turned to the man. "You want me there to distract her from nagging you?"
"Nara-san, you scare me."
Shikaku laughed loudly. "Good to know. I better get back. Think you'll be fine on your own?"
"Don't I have that cat fellow following me?"
"The ANBU have better things to do than baby-sit you."
"Could've fooled me," Harry said and winced at the sharp smack on the back of his head. "Jeez, you didn't show a violent mentality in your shogi."
Shikaku snorted and said, "You heard the Hokage, right? She said you weren't under house arrest anymore. That's all the ANBU was supposed to do!"
"So he wasn't there to spy on me and make sure I wasn't some sort of danger to the village?" Harry said blandly.
"Of course not!" Shikaku gave Harry a wide smile.
Harry shook his head and looked ahead. "Your smile's creepy!"
Shikaku chuckled and jumped up onto one of the rooftops.
Harry looked up and said, "Thanks Nara-san!"
Shikaku waved it off and said, "Go get ready to meet your relative."
Harry stared blandly at the spot that Shikaku had disappeared from and berated himself, it never occurred to me to look up when people just disappeared from my sight on a straight road.
Homenum Revelio. Harry climbed up the stairs with relief as he realized that no one from the Hokage's office had followed him. Even so, he wondered if they'd sent other people, who he wouldn't be able to recognize, to watch him.
Harry opened the door and was greeted with a ball of white feathers. He chuckled and grabbed Hedwig, "I've got good news!"
Lousy politics, I've had enough of waiting. It's night already! I'll ask someone where he lives and… Harry grit his teeth as he looked in his fridge. Of all the days to be out of groceries! I'll just take him out to dinner.
Do I need to change my shirt? Harry looked down, sniffed at his clothes and considered himself presentable enough. He flattened his hair as he walked towards the door. He turned to Hedwig, "You want to come?"
Hedwig cocked her head to the side and glanced between him and the door and gave him an odd hoot.
"Is that a no?"
She blinked and gave him another lazy hoot. Harry frowned but turned to leave, wondering why she wasn't eager to meet Naruto.
He put on his shoes, raised his hand and groaned at the knock on his door, "Kotetsu, if it's you, I'm not..." Harry gaped at the orange clad blonde standing in front of his door. "Naruto?"
"I just...er, here," Naruto said and held up a small potted plant with vibrant pink flowers scattered on it. "Are you going out?"
"Not anymore. Come in." Harry took the plant, placed it on his low table and stared at curiously. "I've never seen this plant before."
"It's a Satsuki. I thought you'd like the flowers. I wanted to get you a Bonsai, but it'd take too much maintenance," Naruto looked away and bowed his head.
Satsuki, fifth moon. I wonder if there's some sort of meaning to it. "It's lovely, thank you. I didn't think of getting any flowers. I've kept my plants in the spare room, but this will work well right here in the living room."
Naruto glanced up."You have other plants?"
Harry nodded and pointed to his spare room. "I asked Izumo and Kotetsu to get me some medical plants when I was under house arrest."
"Oh…" the blonde said and looked away again.
Eager to chase away the silence, Harry said, "I'm glad you showed up here. I was about to go out to ask around for where you lived."
"You don't know where I live?"
"No, they said someone would come and escort me but..."
Naruto blinked in confusion. "But I live really close by!"
Naruto moved to one of Harry's living room windows and pointed to the circular pink building. "I live right at the top of that building."
So close? We're practically neighbours… Harry snorted. "You live in the strawberry cake building?"
Naruto's face cracked into a timid smile as he tilted his head and squinted at the building. "No one's ever said that before. But yeah, I guess I do."
Another silence descended upon them. Harry struggled to come up with a topic that wasn't too awkward or invasive. Just as he opened his mouth, a loud rumble filled the apartment.
Naruto rubbed the back of his neck in embarrassment.
Harry said, "I forgot to ask you if you wanted something to eat. I'm a terrible host." Harry ran to the kitchen and came back balancing a plate of dango and two glasses of juice. "Sorry, I used up most of groceries and with all the news from today, I forgot to buy more things." Harry said sheepishly, embarrassed at the impression he was leaving on his new found relative.
"No, it's all right. I'm the one the came without warning!" Naruto grabbed a stick of dango.
Harry cleared his throat awkwardly at the silence. "So, the other day when I saw you, you just came back from a mission, right?"
Naruto nodded and opened his mouth to speak but ended up coughing and sputtering. Harry hastily pushed the juice into his cousin's hands.
"Are you all right?" Harry said.
"Yes! I'm sorry… I…" Naruto said and ducked his reddening face.
Harry chuckled. "Why are you apologizing? I should have waited till you were done eating before talking." Harry frowned when Naruto just bit his lip. "You don't like Dango?"
Naruto's eyes widened. "No, no I like it. It's really nice," he said and picked up another stick of dango.
"Don't eat so fast!" Harry said in panic. He cringed when Naruto started choking once again and pushed his own glass of juice to Naruto.
Naruto's shoulders slumped down. "Sorry!"
Harry said, "There's no need to apolo…" Someone banged on the main door. "I'll be right back!" Harry opened the door, groaned at Kotetsu and Izumo, came out of his apartment and said, "What are you two doing here?"
"We're here to celebrate your freedom from house arrest obviously!" Kotetsu said and laughed.
"Plus there's a buffet at the barbeque place. Besides, didn't you promise to buy us food? You can't back out from your promise!"
"Maybe some other time. I'm kind of busy right now," Harry said. "I'm…"
"I didn't know you had other plans!" Harry turned back to find Naruto smiling at him. "I'm sorry for taking up your time. I just remembered I had to meet up with my team-mates for, you know, stuff."
"It was nice meeting you. Thanks for the dango!" Naruto said, smiled and jumped off the railing to the streets below, disappearing from sight within seconds.
"Why does no one give me a damn chance to finish what I'm saying?" Harry said and slammed his hand against the wall. He ignored the pain that shot up his arm and turned to Izumo and Kotetsu.
"Sorry. We just wanted…"
"Harii, we didn't…"
Harry rubbed his forehead and said, "It's not your fault. You didn't know he was here."
Kotetsu said, "He couldn't have gone far. I'm sure I can find him and bring him here."
Harry shook his head and said, "Don't. He'll just become even more uncomfortable!"
"Harii, you can't just let him go!" Izumo said.
"I'm not really hungry right now. I'll take you guys out some other time." Harry walked past them in to his apartment and slammed the door shut, ignoring their protests.
Naruto's smile replayed in Harry's mind as he slid down to the floor. Hedwig swooped down and landed on his legs. Harry patted her gently, "Sorry, I forgot to introduce you."
Shikamaru sighed. "Why are you here?"
"I needed to get away from Kotetsu and Izumo for a bit," Harry said and plopped down next to the other boy under the tree hoping to escape the afternoon heat. He looked around the Nara property, taking in things he'd ignored during his past visits.
"No, really, why?"
Harry looked away from the group of children playing a little away from them and said, "Your dad must have told you about it."
Shikamaru gave Harry a questioning look.
"Okay, maybe he didn't. I found some family here. A clan member of mine has been living in Konoha."
Shikamaru tilted his head. "You have a clan? Congrats? It's good news, right?"
Harry nodded. "I…it's… actually I don't know what to do. I met him, but it was awkward. So I'm trying to come up with some ideas on how to bond with my new relative."
"And you came to me?"
"No need to look so incredulous! He's a ninja around your age. I can just get some ideas from you about what to talk about and stuff."
"My age? Who…" Shikamaru paused and squinted at Harry and then closed his eyes with a sigh. "Naruto?"
"You know him! Yeah, he's my… cousin, of some sort. How'd you guess?" Harry said and resisted the urge to pat his face.
"I wondered why it was familiar talking to you. Even though I don't know you that well, you have a way of making people comfortable…"
"Oh, that's nice, I suppose." Harry sighed. "Anyway, he came over last night. But it was really awkward, he's really quiet."
"Naruto, quiet?" Shikamaru said. "He's never quiet."
Harry groaned. "I knew it. He doesn't like me. I mean, I should've expected it. I'm not a ninja and I look nothing like him…"
"Family members don't always look alike."
Harry turned and pointedly stared at one of the many Naras on the property.
"That doesn't count." Shikamaru said and rolled of his eyes.
"Fine, then I'm a boring person." Harry reasoned, "I mean, who'd want to be related to me?"
"That's it! I'm dropping you off with dad! He can help you out."
"What? No way. He'll make me play shogi and… Shikamaru, don't do that to me!"
Shikamaru groaned. "I'm not the best person to ask for advice. But if it's Naruto, I suppose I could try to help."
"Then, can you tell me about him? About his life here, what you know about him. Anything will be really helpful for me."
Shikamaru bit his lip. "I've always known him as the orphan troublemaker in the academy. I never used to pay attention to him outside of class…"
Harry grinned as Shikamaru regaled him with stories of pranks and delinquent behaviour. He turned to the large mountain with the imposing carved stone faces. "He painted the faces up there on that mountain? All by himself?"
"That's impressive!" Harry said with pride when Shikamaru nodded. His smile faded as he went over the various stories he'd just been told and remembered that odd smile stretched across his cousin's face.
"I just…" Harry looked away and said, "I'm worried about things you didn't say, the things you can't tell me. Things like how he ate his food at school, or how he had a dorky umbrella when it rained."
Shikamaru looked away and stayed silent.
"I'm not accusing you or anything." Harry said softly, "I guess it just makes me wonder if anyone…"
"The Sandaime Hokage checked up on him whenever he could."
"The Hokage?" Harry frowned. "He must've been a busy man, so he couldn't…I don't get it. As an orphan, shouldn't he have been in an orphanage. Or at least have a caretaker?"
"Not that I know of. Then again I never paid much attention to that stuff. But there was an academy instructor who watched out for Naruto during our final year. There's nothing more I can tell you."
Wouldn't someone have bothered before that final year? Even Shikamaru's mum seems like the sort who'd help an orphan, Harry thought to himself and said, "But Naruto can, right?"
"If he wants to," Shikamaru said.
"Then I'll just have to wait."Harry stood up and dusted the grass off his pants. "I better leave before your dad gets home."
Shikamaru snorted in amusement.
"Hey, you work with a lot of plants because of your deer, right?" Harry turned back with a sudden thought. "Do you know anything about flowers?" He paused at Shikamaru's almost irritated look. "Fine, do you know a book I could find to…"
Shikamaru sighed. "Why, what happened?"
"Naruto gave me a plant. I guess it's supposed to mean something, but I didn't really understand," Harry said with a sheepish look.
"What was it?"
"You actually know flower language?"
Shikamaru sat up and gave him a flat stare. "Do you want my help or not?"
Harry stifled a chuckle at the irritation lacing that bored voice. "He called it Satsuki."
Shikamaru stared at Harry, shook his head in exasperation and lay back on the grass murmuring to himself. "Tsutsuji."
Azalea, Harry's mind translated. "No, he said Satsuki."
Shikamaru snorted. "They're basically the same thing. There's an evergreen variety and then there's the one you got which only blooms in June. He must have gotten you one that's been modified to bloom longer or something."
"Whatever! Is there any hidden meaning?"
Shikamaru closed his eyes and said softly, "Take care of yourself."
Harry swallowed back the lump in his throat and chuckled. "I'm the one who should be telling him that. I'm older and he's the ninja…"
"Harii," Shikamaru looked up and said, "Naruto is a fairly simple person to please. He doesn't really expect a lot."
Harry smiled and walked towards the gates. "Thanks. I think I understand."
Feeling a lot more confident, Harry stopped at his apartment to grab some odds and ends from his scroll. He smiled at the pink flowers on his living room table. "Come on Hedwig, we're going shopping."
He rechecked his stealth sensor spells and stuck a note on his main door- Gone Out.
By early evening, Harry's arms were weighed down with multiple grocery bags. He stopped outside a tiny store and frowned, wondering if it was too soon to buy Naruto a gift. I'll just tell him it's a gift for all the birthdays I missed. Like Sirius, Harry told himself as he entered the shop.
He passed by his apartment building and walked towards the distinctive round pink building with Hedwig hovering by his head in confusion. "Last night was a bit awkward, but today will be different. He'll be more comfortable if he's in a familiar place!"
Harry clambered up the stairs hefting the charmed grocery bags and boxes, stood outside the only door on the topmost floor of the building and knocked.
After a few minutes of silence Harry fiddled with the door gaped as the door opened. He doesn't lock his door? Well that's good, I suppose.
With a decisive nod, he walked into the apartment with Hedwig, removed his shoes at the entrance and opened the door at the end of the narrow corridor.
"Convenient, even if it's the oddest layout I've ever seen. At least, I don't have to search for the kitchen." Harry said to Hedwig and placed his purchases on the dining table.
He glanced around the tiny kitchen and frowned when Hedwig landed on the only chair at the dining table. "There's no counter space to work with and only one heating pan to cook. Maybe I should have cooked at home and then brought the food here! Then again, I do have magic…"
Hedwig tucked her head under her wing for a nap as Harry rifled through the cupboards for cooking utensils.
Two hours later, Harry hovered in front of the pot as he rechecked the cook book in front of it looked right, Harry turned off the heat and moved the pot onto one of the dining table's serving mats and placed a heating charm on it.
Harry he looked at the food he'd put on the dinner table so far- vegetables, drinks, some fish-maybe-sushi rolls he'd bought, soy sauce bottle, his recently beef stew- and moved to start cooking the rice. Just as Harry placed the pot of rice onto the pan, the door to the kitchen slammed open. He turned to find Naruto staring at him in shock.
"Naruto! You're early! I thought I'd get the rice done before you were home," Harry said and closed his cookbook.
"Rice?" Naruto repeated and put away his weapon.
Harry nodded. "I didn't give you anything proper to eat yesterday. So I had to make it up to you."
"You didn't have to," Naruto said as he looked at the table.
"Of course I had to. I didn't handle yesterday well. I planned on finding you and taking you out to a restaurant, but stuff got in the way." Harry shook his head and continued, "So today I decided to start over with a new plan. I thought it'd be better to eat here without other people interrupting. So here I am! Your door was unlocked so I just…"
Naruto glanced back between the food and Harry's fingers with wide eyes.
"And we never introduced ourselves properly." Harry said with a smile. He walked forward and held out a hand acutely aware of the blue eyes staring at him. "I'm Harii, just turned sixteen a few days ago. I fix broken items for a living, I like dango and other sweets and… I'm glad I found you."
Harry ignored the slight tremble in his cousin's face as Naruto came forward and grabbed his hand gently. "I'm Naruto, I'll turn sixteen in October. I'm a ninja and I like ramen. And I'm glad you found me."
Harry rolled his eyes when their moment got interrupted by a hoot and a flurry of feathers. He glanced at the owl perched on his shoulder. "Ah, and before I forget, this is Heduwigu who likes eating bacon and bossing me around."
Harry chuckled when Hedwig nipped his ear and Naruto watched the owl in amazement. "Hello?"
Harry bit back a laugh when Naruto eeped as Hedwig flew to his shoulder and nuzzled against his face.
"The rice!" Harry turned around and sighed in relief. "All right, food's all done!"
A loud rumble filled the air.
Harry laughed. "I've got good timing. Well what are you waiting for? Wash up and dig in!"
"But where are we going to sit?" Naruto said and eyed the single chair at the dining table. Before Harry could reply, Naruto ran out of the kitchen into the hallway to the right.
Harry gazed uncertainly at the wall as he heard crashes and bangs from the other room.
Naruto came back holding an old worn mat. "Do you mind?"
Harry shook his head and helped Naruto shove the dining table aside, place the mat on the ground and transfer the dishes to the mat. Naruto sat down and examined every dish, looking a lot more relaxed than the previous night.
"Help yourself!" Harry said and filled his own bowls.
Naruto piled some food into his bowls, snapped his chopsticks apart with a soft "Itadakimasu", took one bite of his food and stared at Harry with wide eyes.
Harry stopped mid-bite. "What?"
"This is …awesome!" Naruto said loudly with a wide smile.
"Eh? Oh! Thanks." Harry said sheepishly, a little blinded by the genuine smile that was so different from the previous day, and watched with amazement as Naruto inhaled the rest of his bowl.
"You can eat as much as you want, Naruto." Harry said when Naruto looked at his bowl with a frown. "I'm fine. Besides didn't you know cooks don't need to eat that much during a meal?"
Naruto stared at him curiously.
"Because we get to taste it when we cook. So we come to the dinner table half full already!" Harry said with a smirk. The most ridiculous thing I've ever said, Harry thought, but it feels nice saying it.
The silence during the meal, interspersed with loud slurps and chews, left Harry calm and relaxed. So this is an Uzumaki meal? It's comfortable! Harry placed his empty bowl down and watched Naruto clean up every morsel of food and burp loudly in satisfaction.
"Do you have any space left? There's still cake," Harry said and grinned when Naruto's eyes lit up.
Harry nodded, stood up and piled the dishes into the sink. "In the fridge."
"You don't have to do the dishes." Naruto said and stepped to the sink. "Your bandages…"
"They're due for a change anyway!" Plus they repel water because of the Impervius I put on them. Harry shoved Naruto away with his elbow. "Get the cake. I'll be done in a few minutes." Harry heard the fridge door open, a cardboard box open and a low chuckle fill the room. "You like it?"
Naruto said, "It's not my fault my building looks like a cake."
Harry chuckled as he rinsed the dishes. "You have something against strawberry cake?"
"I've never had it before!" Naruto said as he searched for plates.
Harry's hand stilled as his mind replayed the words alongside Naruto's awkward smile from the day before. He gasped when Naruto poked his shoulder.
Harry looked over his shoulder. "What?"
Naruto gave him an odd look. "How many pieces do you want?"
"One's fine!" Harry finished the rest of the dishes with a well placed Scourgify and took his share of cake. "What do you think?" He asked when Naruto took a bite.
Harry snickered. "It tastes happy?"
Naruto nodded and took another bite. "I've never felt this happy before."
Does he have any idea how corny he sounds? Harry mused as he watched Naruto finish another piece of cake. I guess he's just naturally corny without even knowing it. He's probably really talking about the cake.
"We can go try another cake tomorrow if you want!" Harry said after finishing his portion. "The store had some interesting flavours."
"Really?" Naruto said and yawned widely.
Harry looked out the window and winced. "It's late and you're tired. I guess I should get going."
"I'm not tired!" Naruto said.
Harry rolled his eyes in amusement and walked into the corridor to the main door with Hedwig hovering over the two boys. "But I have do have work to do, you know! And I'm kind of tired."
"Ahh, Ni… Harii?"
"Hmm?" Harry watched Naruto's mouth open and close a couple of times. He sighed, leaned forward and patted the golden spikes, glad that he was just a bit taller than Naruto. "No need to rush things. We can talk tomorrow!"
"Tomorrow?" Naruto said softly.
"Yeah! You're coming over for breakfast, right?"
"Yes, breakfast! Then we can go try some cake. I'll see you then, all right? Good night!" Harry said and grinned when Hedwig nuzzled Naruto's cheek once more before flying off to hunt.