The response for last Chapter was MAHOOSIVE, I was honestly quite shocked. Usually I'm looking at between a hundred and a hundred and fifty reviews a chapter – imagine my shock when the first day yields over three hundred.
At this point, with Chapter 18 alone we're looking at a near two thousand review increase alone. Damn. That's... I had no idea so many people read this. I'm a little terrified of fucking up now. XDD;;
A lot of people forwarded their thoughts and opinions, which is great, I love them all, every review has been read and cherished. You're all awesome. The decision has been made, special thanks to those people whom I had some rather in depth conversations with over the matter, you know who you are. Also special thanks to my Facebook (link on my profile) for sounding board and generally camping out to intimidate me into updating faster.
I shan't say who won the poll. You'll just have to read and find out.
People have also been bothering me about Pairings. As of right now, nothing is planned.
Harry didn't have the slightest clue what had happened, but either word about what Ayase-san had done, or people just stopped caring, either way, neither she nor Naruto were stared at as they made their way down the street. A few people waved at them, called greetings to 'Namikaze-hime' and 'Uzumaki-kun' – evidentially, as they were more familiar with the distinctly informal and playful Naruto they called to him in affection, and to her in deference as the eldest and thus the Clan Heir/Head. It was a surreal experience that was making Naruto panic, she was however more used to public ogling as the Boy Who Lived and then as Undesirable Number One, so the constant changing opinions of the public was no skin off her nose. She was well used to it and no longer had any care to give in regards to a stranger's opinions. As long as they didn't try to weedle their way into his life then that was fine.
Stopping Naruto from grabbing her hand and haring off over the rooftops to Tsunade and screaming about village wide Genjutsus and conspiracies was surprisingly more difficult than she had anticipated.
Speaking of Tsunade, she really needed to talk to her about Sasuke and the whole Uchiha Coupé. Sasuke deserved to know before it really destroyed him, yes Village security was a thing to be concerned over, but in this case, if they didn't tell Sasuke, then... Well, Harry had seen how keeping secrets could damage things. Sasuke was very important to a lot of people, Itachi for one, Orochimaru for another, not to mention the other worrying things about that she had discovered in Danzou's mind. Itachi hadn't done the whole massacre alone. He had help. Help from a masked stranger with the same ability to phase through things as the man who released the Kyuubi at Naruto's birth. Harry didn't like the idea that such a man was still running around and screwing with everyone and everything. They needed to tell Sasuke the truth, control the fall out, instead of letting him find out himself. And he would find out. These things never stayed hidden. Ever. And he knew that best of all.
She sighed, nodding to yet another young man who greeted 'Namikaze-hime' as they passed. She ignored the glare Naruto shot him as they came to a stop outside a shopfront, Yamanaka Flowers emblazoned over the door.
Naruto barged in, pausing only long enough to hold the door open for her, shouting a boisterous greeting to 'Ino-san'.
"SHUT THE HELL UP DEADLAST! QUIT SHOUTING IN MY DAD'S..." Harry arched an eyebrow, pinning the mouthy young girl a cold stare as she stepped in making her fall silent for a moment. It was a pleasant shop, a typical florists, buckets full of fresh-cut flowers, pleasant smells, the occasional broken stem on the tiled floor, hanging baskets, anything and everything you would hope to find at a florists, even tables of small potted plants, seed packets, gardening tools, etc, etc. Behind the counter was a blonde girl probably the same age as Naruto, she had the same eyes as Inoichi and Buta-san and pale cornflower coloured hair. She was thin and didn't have all together that much in the way of muscle mass, but her clothing was simple and easy to move in and a muted shade of indigo that would work quite well in the dark – if not for her bright hair. Her face was currently caught between stunned, and horrified.
"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING PLAYING WITH THAT SICK HENGE IN MY SHOP!" she suddenly started screaming, launching herself over the counter at Naruto who was gaping at her with a deer-in-the-headlights expression on his face. He didn't even dare move, knowing from experience back in the Academy that if he ran it would just make the beating more painful when the girls finally did catch him. Ino wasn't like Sakura who lashed out violently for every little thing, which was why he was so shocked by her sudden attack.
Ino didn't get that far before a hand was clamping down tightly on her wrist.
Harry scowled at her, "Touch him, and you will regret it," she promised darkly, squeezing the girl's wrist a little tighter before releasing her. Ino retreated a few steps, rubbing her reddening flesh and staring at the older blonde woman in a mixture of confusion and fear. Harry, however, ignored her, "Find the flowers you want and then we'll go," she said to Naruto who blinked up at her in mild confusion.
"I thought you were going to ask for a job?" he asked, bemused as he went about collecting the flowers he wanted. He knew Fuzzy-Brows liked green, so he made sure to get a lot of green leafy things, along with some awesome yellow and orange flowers to cheer him up.
"I decided against it," she declared flatly, eyeing the younger girl who coloured almost immediately upon realising that she was the reason for that decision.
"Just who the hell are you?" she hissed warily, taking another step back. The grip she used on her wrist was way stronger than that of a civilian, not to mention that despite her... generous proportions, she had the sleek muscle toning of a successful Kunoichi. And that, combined with her obnoxiously long hair could only count up to a very skilled fighter – after all, if you were going to have long hair, you were going to challenge anyone and everyone in a fight to try and grab it.
Green eyes flicked away from her dismissively as she stalked off after Naruto, the smaller blond flitting around the brightly coloured flowers eagerly. "Naruto's older sister," she stated idly.
Ino scoffed, "Naruto doesn't have an older sister," she snapped, "He doesn't even have family!"
You would had to have been blind not to notice the way everyone treated him like crap, the fact that the civilians were both terrified and revolted by his very existence and the way the Shinobi watched him like hawks, as if he were about to either attack or turn evil. Naruto didn't have a family. A polite way of saying that they had been removed from the records, blackmarked. Either because he wasn't supposed to have been born, or because they were major criminals and traitors. Naruto didn't have a family. And when you don't have a family in that sense, it was the Administration's attempt to keep what might otherwise be a potential asset in the village. His parents must have been fairly powerful and skilled for that to happen, they were hoping that their bloodlines had bred true in their son so that they could ensure his loyalty to the village – well they had somehow managed to succeed despite every civilians' attempt to make it otherwise.
"And yet here I am," the woman sighed lazily as she picked up some purple iris to add to Naruto's growing collection of flowers.
Ino scoffed, a little hysterically, "Then where the hell have you been? Have you bee- "
"Namikaze-san, and Naruto-kun." Ino jolted as her father interrupted her, smiling as he came out of the backroom, eyes flicking between her and the other blonde girl in the room.
"Yamanaka-san," the girl greeted politely with a bow of her head.
"Hey! I didn't know you were Ino's dad!" Naruto burst out in surprise.
Her father chuckled, "Yes. How's your head, Namikaze-san?" he asked rounding the cashier's table to take the girl's face in his hands, gently pulling her eyelids down and checking her ears, the girl stoically letting him. Ino frowned, he was doing the Check, but... he only did that to other Yamanaka who had just gotten back from difficult Mind-Walks.
"It's fine. No more headaches or bleeding. I still have dizzy-spells when sitting up too fast and I'm taking the medicine that Tsunade-sama prescribed. I should be back to one-hundred percent in the next two days," she explained bluntly as Naruto hovered uncertainly, she ruffled his hair without looking at him and the boy grinned before returning to gathering flowers. He had an eyebleeding collection by the time he bounced up in front of Ino who was still gaping at her father and the strange blonde girl.
"Can I have these please, Ino?" Naruto asked, breaking her out of her reverie as he rummaged in his pockets for that stupidly adorable frog-purse she had seen him with on occasion.
She wrapped the flowers mechanically, noting how much each of them cost as she did so, "Who the hell is that, Naruto? She can't be your sister, where has she been?" the gossip hissed leaning over the counter.
Naruto's face twisted unhappily, "She is my sister," he bit out, "And her name is Hari." Needle, go figure, she was definitely as sharp as one.
"Well, where's she been? Everyone figured your parents were traitors with the way the rest of the village treated you, has she been off with them?" she hissed.
Naruto growled at her, he actually growled!
"My parents aren't traitors!" he snarled loudly, causing the conversation between his sister and Ino's father to falter, the two of them turning to stare as Naruto laid into his former classmate. "They were kept a secret because my Mum had an ultra-rare Kekkei Genkai that Kumo tried to steal before and Dad was hated by Iwa! If either of them knew that Hari or I existed we would have been kidnap or assassination targets!" he shouted loudly before a hand dropped onto Naruto's head.
Ino flinched as she got a look at her father's facial expression, "Ino-hime, Naruto's parents were heroes and dear friends of mine." She wilted at the disappointment practically dripping from his voice, he sighed and ruffled Naruto's hair, "Well, I suppose it's alright to tell you. The rest of the village is positively buzzing with it anyway. Naruto-kun is the son of the Fourth Hokage. His mother was the beloved grand-niece of the Shodai's wife, Uzumaki Mito." Ino felt the bottom of her world drop out from under her. "Hari-san's birth was kept a major secret, only the Sandaime and the Sannin were aware of it. She was sent away to learn Sage Arts as she was born unable to mould normal Chakra, but Natural Chakra instead. The Chakra of every living thing around her. She only returned recently through happy accident," he explained to his beloved daughter.
"We should be moving on, Yamanaka-san. There is a lot to do today," the blonde woman said quietly, holding the door of the shop open. Naruto quickly pushed over the money owed for the flowers and gathered them up, eagerly bounding over to the woman's side.
"Of course. You're welcome back anytime, Hari-san," her father told the younger girl who nodded shortly.
"I'll think about it," she agreed before following her younger brother out of the door.
Ino spluttered and turned her gaze to her father, he eyed her for a moment before sighing and patting her head, "Go. Just be back before dinner-time," he told her as she eagerly threw off her apron and made for the back door.
She needed to find Sakura!
They wondered through Konoha for another two hours, Naruto showing her the sights as they looked for Lee-san (Harry having to take the flowers off him within five minutes of leaving the Yamanakas' for fear of their getting damaged with Naruto's enthusiastic gesturing). Harry was shown to the Academy, which was situated in the same building as Tsunade's office and the Mission Desk, Naruto enthusiastically explaining the process as they watched a dusty and muddy genin team hand over a grumpy looking cat to a portly woman in heavy make-up before quickly escaping out of the building. She was shown the training grounds, all of them, including the memorial stone where Naruto became part of Team 7, he very enthusiastically told her this story, complete with how Sasuke was a jerk, Sakura was pretty, Kakashi was a pervert, and he was just amazing – even if he did end up tied to the log. They just couldn't comprehend his majesty and awesome.
Going through the market district was an experience, Naruto pointing out the good shops here and there, she looked in on the Yakiniku B stall and made some enquiries about the waitressing role. After speaking with Akimichi-san (Chouji's aunt, according to Naruto), she was all set for a trial day, to see how she handled the workload and the role, the day after tomorrow.
There was a beautiful teahouse that sat on the edge of a large estate with a huge garden, it seemed to be split into three, a nice tearoom, and two other, more traditional areas that were closed off from all sight. They were looking for servers, but taking a quick look inside, not to mention how a great deal of the patrons, and even the woman she was speaking to about the potential job-role, reacted to Naruto, she opted against it. They were looking at him like Aunt Petunia used to look at her, as if she were something rotten and half-liquidated at the bottom of the vegetable draw in the fridge. She opted out of their trial week and bid them good-day, mentally noting that she would never return to that teahouse ever again.
She was a tad wary of the Apprenticeship role to go for it right now. An Apprenticeship was not only a huge responsibility, but also a huge commitment, it meant he would have had every intention of continuing into his role as a career. If something happened to Naruto, it would make caring for him vastly more difficult if she had to juggle the demanding hours of a blacksmithing career too – it was a very time and labour intensive, not to mention physically demanding, job role. Plus, the pay would be a lot less as an Apprenticeship compared to a full time job, even as a waitress.
She brought these concerns up with Iruka as they ate dinner, Naruto having spotted him leaving the mission office after his shift and demanded he eat dinner with them – both adults outvoting him on returning to Ichiraku and instead stepping into a nice sushi place that did Shinobi discounts for the mission office.
"Well, that's a bit of a misconception," the pleasant teacher corrected after she explained her concerns on the whole apprenticeship side of things when she mentioned job hunting. The Ninja D-ranks tended to fill the short-term temporary jobs so finding a job was proving difficult right now as after the invasion most of the stores and businesses were hiring out overworked Genin-Teams to fill the voids that death or disappearance had caused.
"What do you mean?" Hari asked, setting her drink down, a pleasant juice from some Fire Country native tree she couldn't remember the name of, but ordered because it sounded interesting.
"This is a Shinobi Village, our blacksmiths are our lifeblood. Without them, we can't do business. They're some of the most highly paid individuals in the village. An Apprenticeship with the Three Blades would be well paid, more than enough to support both you and Naruto-kun. The owner is a family man as well, his daughter is a Genin only a year older than Naruto. I believe you've met her already in the Chuunin exams," the teacher said to his former student.
Naruto squinted sceptically at him before lighting up, "Fuzzy-brow's teammate! The weapon girl!" he exclaimed in remembrance. That was the only Konoha girl at the Chuunin exams who was older than him and not in his class.
"Yep, Miura Tenten. She's a budding weapons-specialist and the Top Kunoichi of her year. She'll go far that one. I can't say much for the hours or workload, the Blacksmiths guard their secrets better than the Hyuuga do their own. Competition to get that job will be ridiculously high. It's a very honoured role. You should definitely try though, you might get it," he suggested with an encouraging grin.
Harry scoffed in amusement, taking one of the prawn topped rice-ball things and popping it in her mouth, "I sincerely doubt it. I have absolutely know skill, or knowledge on blacksmithing," she pointed out as she took a drink from her juice.
"You can do it, Neechan! You're really smart and strong!" Naruto exclaimed enthusiastically.
Iruka ruffled his student's hair with a smile, "Strength would definitely be a boon. There'll be a lot of heavy lifting and, I hope you don't mind me saying so Hari-san, but you have the muscle toning of a Jounin Kunoichi. You'll have more than enough strength and stamina to keep up with the workload, make no mistake. Most Blacksmiths are civilians, hence why they're so precious. To cripple a village, one need only remove their lynch-pins. The children, the blacksmiths, and the hospital. Hence why the Academy is in the Hokages' tower, the Hospital is next to the Hokage monument, and the Hunter-nin offices are directly opposite them. It's the protective triangle, in that triangle are most of the village's essential services, like the blacksmithing shops and medicinal clinics, plus the orphanage."
Harry sighed, "I forgot this is a Military village," she muttered, looking out of the window, "It's very different from the ones back home."
Iruka hummed as Naruto's order of mango parfait came out and he eagerly dove in with a hoot of delight. As soon as Hari-san said it was orange coloured the excitable boy was ordering three, but the two adults managed to argue him down to just the one – in case he didn't like it. Which, given the rate he was gobbling it down, he wasn't tasting it enough to be able to find out.
"If you don't mind me asking, Hari-san, what was your home like?" he asked before thanking the waitress who brought out a fresh pot of tea and a new juice for the young lady. And she was a Lady, make no mistake. Sat next to Naruto who was all elbows and wide flailing motions, Hari-san was strangely dignified, her movements restrained, and her back straight in her seat. She ate neatly and with very good, if odd, table-manners.
She smiled a little bitterly, "Very, very different. There were two societies back home, those who practiced Senjutsu, and those who did not. I was raised amongst the non-practitioners, we called them Muggles..."
"I think Iruka-sensei likes you," Naruto told her guilelessly as they made their way to Rock Lee's hospital room, to give him his flowers.
Harry laughed, "Don't be silly, Naruto, we barely know each other."
"But he was laughing! He doesn't do that! Plus, he's a pervert too, and you're pretty. He likes you," the boy stubbornly insisted, with some volume.
"Shhh, calm down. We're in a hospital, Whiskers," she admonished, patting him on the head and deciding not to get into an argument over the matter. Now that he'd made his mind up, it would be next to impossible to get him to change it, "Let's give Lee-san his flowers, and if he's sleeping you are not to wake him, understand?"
"Yes, Neechan," he sulked as they finally reached the boy's door.
Knocking lightly, she waited for a response, but to her surprise, the door was opened. By a man much bigger than someone Naruto's age. He was huge, not only in height but also in width! And built with even more muscle than Ibiki-san and Buta-san, though, perhaps, not as much as Jiraiya. It was a lot more easily seen as well with the tight green spandex he wore stretched over every inch of himself, a Jounin jacket unzipped and left loose on his chest.
Eyebrows thicker than Hagrid's and dark black eyes, just as friendly, peered down at them.
"Ah, Naruto-kun. I'm afraid Lee-kun is sleeping. Though it is youthful of you to visit, I cannot allow you in right now," the man told them in an undertone.
Harry nodded, "That's understandable. We came earlier and saw that Lee-san didn't have much in the way of gifts. These are from us, please give him our best for a speedy recovery," she intoned, gently presenting him with the collection of flowers.
Naruto nodded, "Yeah! I know he likes green but yellow and orange are really cheerful and they make me happy so I thought they might make him happy and Sakura-chan said he looked a little down when she saw him, so Neechan and I got these!" he gushed rapidly, only falling quiet when Harry's hand dropped onto his head. It was becoming a very familiar feeling, to have her fingers running through his hair.
The man grinned, his teeth bright and shiny, practically sparkling in the hospital lights, "You have my most Youthful thanks, Naruto-kun. I am sure Lee-kun will be filled with the Fires of Youth at your most heartfelt gift. And to you, beautiful blossom of Konoha, thank you for your kind words. To know a lovely flower such as yourself has wished for his recovery will greatly cheer him on."
Harry smiled a little weakly as the reminder that he was, in fact, a beautiful young woman that would have boys, young and old, interested in her. "Th-thank you. I'm... I'm glad," he managed to get out before bowing politely and ushering Naruto away, the boy waving over her shoulder to the tall man as they left.
Okay, sorry guys. I know I said May for an update but things pretty much exploded.
Final hand-in was a bust, then there was suddenly finding a new place to live – it's a great place and I wasn't likely to find anything anywhere near as good or nice for the price so I grabbed it with both hands, first chance. So there was moving out – I only unpacked my desk two days ago.
And then my Dad nearly killed himself. And I WISH I was joking about that. He was moving a powertool, it got caught and turned on, caught him in the stomach. Tore a four inch long, inch-inch and a half deep slash through his stomach. I get a voice calling me from downstairs asking me to call an ambulance, and find my father staggering down the hallway holding his stomach shut and bleeding. Get him sat down, call the ambulance, he goes into shock and nearly vomits, so goes outside – we'd just painted the hall, he didn't want to get vomit over it, stupid man, like we would have cared. He then passes out while I'm mid-conversation. Smashes his head open on the concrete flooring, breaks his glasses and nearly blinds himself. I'm freaking out and rolling him onto his back, and then spend what feels like the next half an hour holding his stomach shut while waiting for the ambulance while his head is gushing like a faucet.
So yeah. That happened.
And I was in no shape for writing at all that week. Then the week after I was moving. And now we're hear. June. And I finally have a chapter for you, after wrestling with it for far too long.
So please, don't send me snotty messages asking if anything is abandoned. Check my bio, or check my fucking FACEBOOK. I have a link to it ON my bio specifically so people can keep up with what's going on. I also have some exclusive stories on there that I won't be posting on FFnet, typically because one of them has porn. /cough.