Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter nor Naruto, nor any of the characters, and concepts associated with them.
The Power of Friendship
Henry James Potter's life was different from most people in Briton. Like most seven year olds he knew the insides of the cupboard under the stairs better than any room in the house. Unlike most seven year olds though it was not because this was his favorite hiding spot, but rather because this was his bedroom, living room, and sometimes dining room all rolled into one. Ever since he could remember the thin boy with the messy dark brown hair and green eyes who stood in his cousin's hand-me-downs had lived in the cupboard, this was where he would take his meals, do his homework, and sleep at night. Five days a week he would be woken up at 05:30 by his alarm clock, quickly bathe and get dressed before cooking breakfast for his "family", then after doing the dishes he would gather up his books and walk to school while his cousin watched the telly (before he in turn was driven in by his mother). His time at school was spent learning all he could, and avoiding being bullied by his cousin's gang, before running home and cooking supper for the "family". On the weekends when everyone else was relaxing, maybe watching the game on the telly or going for walks in the park, he could be found cleaning the house, working in the garden, or out doing the shopping for the next week's meals.
On the whole it was a very lonely existence for Henry. He had no friends at school (as everyone realized quickly that being friends with Harry Potter was the quickest way to being found by a teacher with a black eye, and bruises all over your body courtesy of his cousin and his gang). Some would have thought that the teachers would have seen what was going on and would have taken the boy under their wing, but the teachers were also not inclined to keep an eye on him, due to the odd pranks that he would seem to pull (like the time he somehow climbed on top of the school roof, this caused them no end of trouble as the school was investigated to discover how such an incident could occur) and because Harry was told he was not allowed to outperform his cousin, he always seemed to be one of the worst students in the class. This meant that while Harry's teachers concentrated on the other students (especially Dudley, who would only do any work if a teacher stood over him and forced him to do it) it was up to Harry to figure out everything for himself. It did have some benefits though, it was how he learned his name was actually Henry, he had seen it on his file the first time he had been summoned to the headmaster's office after one of his "pranks". No one called him that though, he was referred to as Harry, or at home, Hey You, or some other name.
There was one ray of joy in Henry's life. Last year every student in the class was given a pen pal from another country. Mrs. Fayton had called the class to attention at the beginning of the day saying "Children, today you are going to learn how to write a letter. Letter writing is a very important skill. To help you with this you are all going to be issued the address of another child in a foreign country."
"But Miss, how are we going to be able to understand them if they are from another country?"
"Well remember class this is not the only part of the world that speaks English. Now some of you will be given the addresses of people in non English speaking countries, I know Toby" she said looking at a child in the second row in a dark blue shirt and glasses "that your parents have taught you French, so if you want your friend can come from France. Would that be alright?"
"Yes miss, that would be great." Toby said, he liked to project the image of being the class "brain", and would do anything that set him apart from the rest of the group. Dudley, who saw the whole process as useless, was assigned a boy in America, wrote a single letter that was basically dictated by Mrs. Fayton, before never thinking about the project again. When it came to Harry though there was only one address left. "Here you go Potter, a boy your age in Japan, Uzumaki Naruto."
"Mrs. Fayton, I don't speak Japanese."
"Well this was the last name given from the pen pal service and you don't have to send anymore after the first one if you don't want to. But you do need to write this Uzumaki at least one letter."
Uzumaki Naruto sat in his apartment in Konoha, waiting on the mail. A little over a year ago Old Man Sarutobi had changed Naruto's life for ever. Since Naruto had first been forced to move out of the Orphanage he had met with the Old Man once a week for a general check up. On that day they had met in his office rather than at a restaurant in the village.
"Hey Ojii-san what is wrong with Ichiraku's?" Naruto asked as he walked into the Hokage's office.
"Nothing is wrong with Ichiraku's and we will go to lunch in a little while Naruto, but first I wanted to meet with you here. So Naruto how has your week been?"
"Eh, not too bad, I got most of my homework done, although I can't wait to leave these classes behind when I start at the Ninja Academy, I also helped Teuchi by testing his new ramen flavor, and I discovered a great hiding spot on the west side of town... did you hear about the prank I played on that dango shop?"
"Yes, why did you decide that they needed to have the entire place painted bright pink with green dots?"
"Some baka claimed that their food was better than Ichiraku's! It was completely justified."
Sarutobi tried his best to keep a straight face upon hearing this, covering up a laugh behind a cough. "Naruto I wanted to talk to you about something important."
"Naruto do you know what lies outside Konoha?"
"eeeh...there is the forest? The rest of Fire country?" Naruto answered carefully.
"Correct Naruto" Sarutobi replied smiling slightly, "now what is beyond Fire country?"
"The rest of the Elemental countries. Wow Ojii-san I heard that the mind was the first thing to go, but wow!"
"Very clever Naruto" Sarutobi replied with a chuckle, "now pay attention, what we are about to discuss is an 'S' class secret between the two of us. The only people who know what I am about to tell you are the Daimyos, most of the other Hokages and a few select people. You must not mention it to anyone else, is that understood? Even to those who you think might already know."
For the first time today Naruto stopped moving completely. He was always an energetic boy and no one had ever seen him when he was not at least fidgeting with something, in fact all through the discussion Naruto had been rocking back and forth on his heels and fiddling with his hands, but now a look of complete seriousness and quiet had descended upon him.
"Hai Hokage-sama, I will not tell anyone."
"Gaki! Don't call me that Naruto, I will think you have been possessed by an evil spirit." barked Sarutobi with a smile.
"Hai Ojii-san, so what's up?"
"Naruto, what is outside of the Elemental countries?"
"Outside the Elemental countries? Nothing, maybe some dessert or just water."
"Wrong Naruto, outside the Elemental countries there is much more. The Elemental countries are a hidden group of countries inside the Empire of Japan. The rest of Japan for the most part does not know we even exist in the same way that the average person who lives here does not know much about the empire..."
"WHAT" cried Naruto, interrupting the old man in the middle of his explanation, "are you kidding me Ojii-san? That doesn't make sense."
"I can assure you Naruto this is the truth. Who do you think put the Daimyos in charge? It was the emperor. Now Naruto, I am telling you this because we keep ourselves strictly separated from the rest of Japan for a reason. We can do things that most other Japanese can't, and those that can we identify early and try to bring them here. We are even stricter about keeping ourselves separate from the rest of the world outside of the Empire. Now Naruto pay attention. I am telling you this for a specific reason. Many years ago I was called to spend some time doing missions for the Emperor outside of the Elemental countries. On these missions I became friends with a man who I still keep in contact with today. He suggested something that I think you might enjoy, a way, if you want, to possibly become friends with someone your age?"
"I do not understand Ojii-san. I would like some friends my age, but you know the parents in this village will not allow their children to play with me for some reason, and I don't see how keeping a secret from them will help me."
"Correct Naruto, but how would you like to be friends with someone from outside the Elemental countries?"
"How can I become friends with someone when I may never get to meet them?"
"My friend told me of this messaging service that connects children with other children in different countries. In this way people can learn from others who grew up with different customs, and be exposed to new ideas. I can arrange it so that you can be put in touch with another child and the two of you can write letters back and forth. A child whose parents do not already dislike you, and knows nothing about you."
If Naruto was shocked by the way this conversation had started, he was almost catatonic after that statement. A friend, a real friend, someone who would not call him demon or monster, and of his own age. It took the boy a few minutes to process the information, then suddenly, like a dam being bursed Naruto ran up and hugged the Hokage. "Now be careful Naruto" Sarutobi said "remember that who ever you are writing to will not know a lot about your life and there are certain things that you cannot tell him. There are certain secrets that you must not divulge. Number 1, you cannot tell him about any Ninja training you go through or see except Taijutsu. Number 2, you cannot tell him about the different elemental countries… Naruto pay attention" by this time Naruto so happy over the news had started jumping for joy and a glazed look had passed over his eyes.
"Sure sure Ojii-San, anything you say, when do you think I can start sending these messages to the other kid?"
"Oh it might only be a month but it could be a lot longer, and be prepared the person may not know any Japanese, and the first child that responds may not keep up writing, it may take awhile before you develop a friend."
"No Japanese? Then how will we be able to understand each other? And why would a kid not continue messaging?" the boy asked stopping in his tracks, a funk visibly descending over him.
"Well at first I will translate the letters for you but remember the system was invented to introduce children, who came from different countries, to each other, and most of those countries do not speak Japanese, but eventually, you both might have to learn each others language. He will have to learn our language, and hopefully as he is doing it he can teach you some of his. There are very few experts in the elemental countries on these foreign tongues, learning another language will be a useful skill even if you won't use it very often. Remember Naruto, rarely do you come across such a thing as useless knowledge."
"Hai Ojii-san." Naruto replied dutifully as understanding about the difficulty of the task really sank in.
3 months later Naruto received his first letter from Harry, and the Hokage sent back the pre-arranged message letting him know about the language barriers. Harry sat in his cupboard as he finished the letter 'well now, what am I going to do? How do I go about learning Japanese?' The enormousness of the task was daunting, until Harry turned to the one friend he had, 'Looks like this is a job for The Library!'
Because none of the teachers would spend any time with Harry and his grades always had to be so appalling the only way Harry ever learned anything was at the local library. He knew that one day he would leave his "family" and the only way to do that would be if he could survive on his own, knowledge is power and Harry was determined to use that power to achieve his freedom. Every few days after school let out, before going home to cook supper, Harry would take a trip to the library and check out a few books, then at night, after he had been sent back to the cupboard after dinner, he would stay up reading and studying from them. Thanks to his efforts, he was actually a year or two ahead of the other students in Mrs. Fayton's class.
The next day after class Henry walked into the library, smiling at the librarian sitting behind the desk "Miss Goosen, how wonderful to see you again."
"Why thank you Harry, and how are you doing today?"
"Oh just fine Miss" said Henry, happy to be back in the one place where no one ignored him and looked down on him, "But I am going to need you help. Do we have any books on learning to write Japanese, and an English to Japanese dictionary?"
"We might do, what do you need them for?"
"I was assigned a Pen Pal from Japan in school, and he doesn't speak a word of English and apparently the village he lives in doesn't have the resources to teach him."
"Well let me have a look" she said as she starts to flip through a box containing a portion of the library's card catalogue.
"Alright well it seems like we have some books that might work out. If you go back to the foreign language section, you can find the dictionary and here is a list of books on learning Japanese." With that Harry took the list of books and walked back into the library. After looking through shelves and flipping through books for 30 minutes Harry finally found the books he thought he would need, checked them out of the library and returned home to cook the Shepherd's Pie that he was serving that night. later that evening while everyone else was watching a rerun of the Professionals he started studying the books he had borrowed, and got to work on his first letter. The next thing Harry new it was 11:00 at night and he had just finished writing a very short letter (with possibly horrible grammar), giving this Naruto a short overview of his life.
"Ojii-san, I got a letter" Naruto shouted bursting into the Hokage's office, temporarily saving him from the mounds of paperwork that had been piling up.
"Well Naruto that is great! What does young Harry say?"
"I am not sure, I cannot read what he has written, can you understand it?"
The Hokage looked at the letter for a few minutes before it dawned on him,
"Naruto, remember that the boy does not know Japanese, he has put these words together with very little understanding of how to do it. Leave the letter with me I will translate it for you, come back tomorrow and I will have it ready for you."
"Thank you Ojii-san" Naruto then stood for a few minutes looking awkwardly at the Hokage before Sarutobi finally had enough.
"Was there something else Naruto?"
"Hai. What is this boy's name?"
"I believe it is pronounced Hen-ry."
"Hen-ry! Thank you Ojii-san" with that Naruto bolted out of the office to go and see what he could find, repeating Harry's name every few seconds.
Over the next few months the two started to exchange letters. Every time Harry sent a letter he would receive a reply from Naruto as well as a corrected version of his original from Sarutobi. In this way Harry learned to read and write Japanese. He also developed his first true friend. Slowly over the course of months the boys started opening up to each other. Both were orphans and new about living around people who did not like them. The idea that there was someone out there that would listen to them, and could understand at least a little bit the things they were going through gave them hope for the future, and strength not to give up on particularly bad days.
"Ojii-san. I need your advice" Naruto said as he walked into the Hokage's office holding a letter in one hand, and a look of determination on his face.
"what is the problem Naruto" the Old man sighed, today had not been a good day so far, He had just left a council meeting where it seemed like he had to fight tooth and nail to get anything done, and once again Danzo had been pushing to be given control of Naruto, while the rest of the village just wanted him cast out not wanting to have to deal with the "Monster". How that had happened when they were meant to be meeting to discuss the sewage problem was beyond Sarutobi.
"Harry is having trouble! His cousin keeps on attacking him."
"That is unfortunate, but there isn't much I can do about it from here."
"Well the thing is, his school is really weird, I don't understand what they are teaching there, it seems no one has ever taught him how to fight"
"Naruto, not everyone is enrolled in a Ninja Academy."
"But there must be something we can do! Can't we send him a Taijutsu scroll or something?"
"Naruto, we cannot just sent scrolls out into the world, many of the Taijutsu styles practiced in this village are clan or village secrets. They cannot be shared with outsiders!"
"But you yourself said that he lives far outside of the elemental countries, there is no way that any scroll we share with him could be shared with the other villages. It would be safe. I am not asking for you to send him the Hyuuga's style, just a style."
It was times like this that the Hokage could not understand why someone would call Naruto a monster. Here was a boy with the Will of Fire, willing to argue with the Hokage in order to help out a friend.
"Alright Naruto, let me think on this you will have your answer tomorrow. Meet me at the Ramen stand at lunch time and I will give you my answer."
"Yosh, thank you Ojii-san" shouted Naruto as he jumped into the air with one fist raised triumphantly.
The next day Naruto was sitting at Ichiraku's counter talking to Teuchi as Hiruzen Sarutobi showed up. "Ah, a bowl of pork ramen please Teuchi, and a bowl of the miso for Naruto."
"Hey Ojii-san, how has your day been?"
"Fine Naruto, pass the chopsticks."
"So what did you decide for Harry?"
"I am going to allow you to send him a copy of a Taijutsu scroll, but you must make sure that the copy you send does not contain any portions that require weapons, or the use of Chakra. His people do not seem understand Chakra and from what I understand they have a hard time getting weapons, in fact you had better bring the copy to me when you have finished making it so I can check it."
"That/s going to be a lot of work, but I'll do it. Which style should I start copying?"
"That is up to you, I will allow you access to the library's Taijutsu scrolls and you will have to select the style that you think will work best for your friend."
"But Ojii-san…There are dozens of different styles, how will I know which one to copy?"
"Well I guess you will just have to study them and figure that out!"
With that the Old Man dived into the waiting bowl of ramen, chuckling to himself.
The first thing Naruto noticed as he stepped into the Library, was how few people were in it. Growing up the way he had it had become his system for rating different businesses, and twenty seconds in, he thought have found a new favourite. It wasn't perfect, As soon as he walked in he could feel the librarian's eyes on him, bu since this library was the Ninja library they weren't going to mess with him too bad.
After being pointed in the direction of the Taijutsu scrolls he was left alone and for the next 3 months Naruto poured over every scroll on Taijutsu in the Konoha library, carefully examining every style, weighing the pros and cons of each one. He knew from the letters that Harry was thin, and very agile, relying up until now on his speed and reflexes to avoid any major damage from his cousin. Naruto took careful notes not wanting to let his only friend down, and found several styles that would work well for him, and a couple that he set aside to learn for himself, a neccessary action, once he realized that every time his stance had been corrected at the academy they had apparently done it wrong.
Almost 4 months after first approaching the Hokage with his problem, Naruto walked into his office, "Hey Ojii-san, I'm finished" he shouted throwing the scroll at the old man.
"Well, let's see how you did" carefully opening the scroll Sarutobi begins to examine it, "I am glad to see that your handwriting has improved Naruto…This is an odd style to pick, are you sure you have the right one?"
"Hai, I think so, he will at least now have a fighting chance."
"Congratulations Naruto, I think you have done a fine job here, you should be proud of yourself, I will make sure this gets sent off right away."
A week and a half later Harry was washing the breakfast dishes and preparing to go to school when there was a knock at the door.
"Oi freak, answer the door" Dudley shouted as he squirted ketchup onto his plate already covered in bacon, eggs, beans, and toast. Harry dutifully put down the frying pan, and went to see who was stopping by this early, to discover the post man holding two packages.
"Delivery for ya' young Harry."
"Thank you Sam, do I need to sign anything?"
"No I just wanted to let you know they were here. Well I will be off still got some work to do."
"Bye Sam" with that Harry quickly gathered up the mail and started walking inside. Glancing at one of the packages Harry saw it was in fact addressed to him, and quickly threw it into this cupboard before his uncle came around the corner.
"What was all that about boy?" His uncle asked with a snarl on his face.
"Just the postman, you received a package Uncle Vernon."
"Then stop lazing about and give it here, I don't have all day" the man said, followed it up with a quick cuff to the back of Harry's head. Harry dutifully handed him the package, put the rest of the post on the kitchen table and hurried off to school.
All that day only one thought was running through Harry's mind 'What is in that package? What could Naruto have sent me?… Do I have to send him a package now? What could I possibly send him?" The second school let out Harry ran all the way home, not even bothering to go the back way to avoid Mrs. Figg and all her cats in his mad dash to get back to No. 4 Privet Drive. Taking a minute just outside the front door he regained his composure before quietly walking in. No one seemed to notice his presence (although with how loud Dudley had the telly turned up that was hardly a surprise) as he quietly made his way into his cupboard. Pausing for a moment to jamb his towel along the bottom of the door to block out any light from escaping, Harry quickly tore off the brown raping paper and opened the box to reveal, what could only be described as a scroll. The outside of it was a bright orange with two thin black line running around it each set one third of the down the scroll, and two wooden knobs sticking out at either end, and a piece of string tying it closed. 'A scroll? What the…Who sends a scroll? …Is this meant to be decorative, or am I supposed to open it?' Taking a risk Harry pulled on the string. Opening the scroll slowly, being careful not to tear it, he was amazed to see it was filled with diagrams of people in different poses and carefully laid out instructions. "Harry, I did not like the idea of someone hurting my friend, so please study this carefully, it may protect you." Harry read the first sentence again carefully before glancing at the rest of the scroll, 'Wow! This must be one of those martial arts, like the ones Dudley is always talking about….I wonder if this will actually work?'
Luckily Harry already had the perfect place to practice. It started two years ago when he discovered the need of a private place where he could rant without being heard. While generally seen by all as a quiet boy there were times when the need to shout at the universe about the injustices of the world just grew too much. The clearing in the woods was near enough to No.4 that he could get home before he was missed, yet inaccessible enough to grant him the privacy he required. The day after the package arrived was a Saturday, and so his weekend was spent doing all the chores that were expected of him, but soon enough Monday rolled around, and The second classes were over Harry was off like a rocket, normally he would wait around until all the other children were gone so that no one would notice him, and maybe report his activities to his aunt, but today he was in a rush to get started.