Disclaimer: Anything you recognize – be it character, location, idea or line – belongs to others, I may be playing with them but I make no profit from this.
A/N: I blame fringeperson for this; I totally do. And in the same breath, I'll recommend his lovely fic "He Knows", that sort of inspired this.
Harry is six when Grunnings is bought by Minoru Murata's Japanese Drilling Company.
That wouldn't mean much to him, except that Vernon is offered the chance to move to Japan and take the control of a whole tool-making factory in Tomoeda-city. It is the opportunity of a lifetime, and, after discussing about it overnight, Petunia agrees wholeheartedly. It is distressing to be forced to move so far away and live among foreigners for a whole two years, but the promised increase in their income is more than enough incentive to bear the discomfort. And she can always lord over the neighbouring wives what a wonderful opportunity it will be for her darling Dudley – and at such a young age, too. Cosmopolitanism is all the rage nowadays, after all.
Harry for his part isn't particularly happy at first. He doesn't think the Dursleys will like him any better in some distant place than they do in Little Whinging.
And indeed, they don't, but as it turns out, Japan improves his life dramatically.
The apartment they're given, though furnished with every modern comfort, down to a state of the art videogame home console for their precious Dudley, is small and part of a crowded complex with typically thin walls. That means that the Dursleys are unable to hide the boy away or overwork him like they are used to.
Out of the necessity to keep up appearances, Harry gets an actual bed and almost no chores.
He can hardly believe his luck, but Vernon is increasingly angry around him and Petunia fears what the neighbours' reaction might be if her husband loses control around the useless boy, so in an effort to keep him out of their hair, she signs him up for as many activities as she can get away with at that horrid foreign school that is so incapable of recognizing her precious Dudley's talents. Let these Japanese ruin the boy instead, it's not like he wouldn't have turned out bad anyway.
So Harry spends most of his day at the local Elementary School, first in classes, then in clubs, full of wonder at how many interesting thing he is allowed, nay, even encouraged to do.
With Dudley moved to a more expensive, but much easier, private international school that offers classes in English, Harry is left to discover in peace the wonders of reading and writing and art and music and numbers and science – and his hesitant grin grows a little bigger every day.
He is amazed whenever the teachers smile at him when he does things right and he's overjoyed that he's even making friends, well sort of, because the language barrier is hard to overcome, but the children don't mock him much or sneer at him and they let him play as best he can at recess.
That he is even allowed to eat his fill with all the others children at lunch and use books and sometimes toys without anyone punching him or stealing them away just because he's using them confirms his opinion.
He loves school.
And he's more than happy to stay after lessons for all the activities Aunt Petunia wants him to take: he'd spend the night there as well if he only could.
The teachers frown at first: children are encouraged to only choose one club, so that they aren't overwhelmed, and as a foreign student, Harry already has difficulties learning the different language and is hard pressed to keep up with his year-mates, so they don't think it smart for him to try so many different things at once.
A few sharp observations change their tune however.
They notice his skinniness and quietness and wariness, the way he hunches over his food at lunch as if in fear of having it taken away and his terrible ragged clothes. Most of all, they notice his naked fear at the idea of being sent home, even though he tries his best to hide it, and that opens their eyes to a new perspective.
So after a few hurried confabulations, their plan is put in action.
Harry doesn't realize what they're doing, the lengths they go to, to help him.
He doesn't hear the debate over scheduling and the rearranging of timetables; he just knows that he suddenly has permission to attend two clubs a day, the swimming one which doesn't require too much talking and is great fun and a calligraphy one right after, where everybody is older but that he likes because of the intriguing brushes and coloured sands and the way his 'senpai' all smile at him and are willing to help the 'cute little one'.
He doesn't understand the importance of the many many questions Masago-sensei asks him about his home and family and he has no idea that she's carefully recording all his answers; he just knows that she tells him that he's doing well enough but he could do even better and asks him to stay after the clubs are over so she can help him with homework and continue to teach him Japanese and almost incidentally she makes sure to buy him dinner at the end of their lessons and Harry loves her for it all – the food and the attention.
He isn't there for the heated discussion about his health the school nurse has with the supervisors of the sports club; he just knows that he's chosen among a group of others to join the kendo lessons that take place before school starts in the early mornings, which is awesome because they're going to be using swords one day like their senpai and he gets a breakfast of rice balls and tea and pickles with the rest of the kids, courtesy of Isao-shishou, and regular check-ups that he doesn't think much of, but lead him to get all his vaccines and a few needed supplements slipped in his morning tea and, eventually, a pair of proper glasses that make the world seem brighter and friendlier.
He doesn't realize that the kind old lady who finds him curled on the landing one morning after the Dursleys have locked him out for being late, and who patiently gets the name of his school out of his broken Japanese before accompanying him there, storms the Principal's office as soon as Harry is out of sight; he just knows that the tall and forbidding sensei who teaches English to the older students invites him to the meetings of the additional study groups, that have mysteriously been moved to the early evenings, because Harry is, well, English, and he can help the students with pronunciation and conversation, and Harry finds it funny to hear the strange accents and is glad that the teacher always accompanies him home afterwards, because the Dursleys don't dare leave him to sleep on the cold landing anymore now that Hideaki-sensei is there to glare at them until they let him in.
He doesn't realize how much is being done for him, because after all, he's only six; he just knows that he's very happy.
He loves Japan.