Disclaimer: I do not own anything from Harry Potter or Prince of Tennis.
General Warnings: OOC!Harry, Master of Death!Harry, Kickass!Harry, language, violence, gen, PoT AU (duh).
Author's Notes: Just in case it wasn't clear, Haruto can't use healing spells on himself.
Shorter this time but I found a good place to stop so I thought I'd post this.
Chapter 7 – Irato
"Fuji Yuuta, age thirteen, previously attended Seigaku but transferred to St. Rudolph halfway through his first year. He moved away from home and is currently staying in the school's dormitories. Also known as the Southpaw Killer in the tennis circuits for his consecutive victories against left-handed players."
Syusuke eyed his kouhai speculatively as the bus headed towards their destination. "Have you been hacking again or are you stalking my brother?"
"Of course not," Akiyama looked indignant. "I promised Tezuka-senpai that I wouldn't anymore, and it's a waste of time to stalk someone just to find simple facts like those. No, I got that from listening to Inui-senpai and Eiji-senpai."
Syusuke hummed noncommittally, his shoulder knocking against Akiyama's when the bus took a sharp left. "Yes, both of them would know Yuuta. Eiji even knows him personally."
Akiyama cocked his head curiously. "Your brother plays tennis so wouldn't the others know him as well?"
Syusuke shrugged, glancing absently out the window at the passing scenery. "Yuuta didn't join the Seigaku Tennis Club. He trained with a hired coach instead."
Syusuke turned back to the first-year, studying the other teen closely. Part of him still couldn't figure out why he had chosen to accompany Akiyama today – Yuuta had made it plenty clear when he had moved out that he had no wish to clap eyes on Syusuke again anytime soon. But since he had decided to ignore his brother's wishes, maybe he should have brought Eiji along instead, or even Tezuka. At least the former knew of the split in Syusuke's family and the latter suspected. Akiyama didn't know anything.
"Saa, we don't really get along," Syusuke finally said, forcing a smile.
"So much that he isn't willing to join the same club as you?"
Syusuke's jaw tightened momentarily. Akiyama could be as blunt as Echizen sometimes.
"I guess it can kinda suck sometimes," Akiyama voiced mildly. "Being a genius."
Syusuke arched an enquiring eyebrow. "Oh?"
Akiyama tapped a finger against his temple. "I'm guessing... Yuuta-san feels somewhat overshadowed by his big brother so he moved to a different school to prove his own worth. Something like that?"
Syusuke stilled, glancing sidelong to his right. "I'm not sure what you mean."
Akiyama shrugged. "Senpai, you should look in the mirror sometime. That smile doesn't suit you at all."
Syusuke craned his head to the side, smile dropping. "...How did you know?"
Akiyama tilted his head back onto the headrest and stared up at the roof of the bus. "Mmm, I once had a friend. She was ridiculously smart – cleverest person I've ever known – and she could be very kind too, but she didn't have many friends, none at all until she met me and another boy. Mind you, I didn't have any either until I met her at the school we all went to. They're not the same cases of course, but they're similar at least. Genii stand out much more than average people. Others tend to be jealous and resentful."
Syusuke frowned even as he relaxed again. "'Once'? She is no longer your friend? Because you moved away?"
"Hmm? Ah, I'm afraid not," Akiyama smiled, but it rather reminded Syusuke of his own fake smiles that he normally wore. "She's gone now. Passed on."
Syusuke stiffened. "My condolences."
"Meh, it was a long time ago," Akiyama dismissed. Nevertheless, the atmosphere rapidly darkened into something more depressing.
Syusuke observed his kouhai carefully. It was rather odd. Akiyama talked about this friend as if they had known each other for decades, but the teen was only twelve.
"Sorry, that's not what I wanted to talk about now," Akiyama quirked a wry smile. "So then? What's this brother of yours like?"
Syusuke had half a mind to tell the first-year that he really wouldn't care if Akiyama suddenly decided to spill his entire life story. It was the first time that the other teen had offered anything from his past. Syusuke knew for a fact that not even Inui had found out much about their manager besides what everyone else in the school already knew.
"He used to follow me around all the time," He said instead. "We were very close. But as we grew up, I became more... well-known, for a number of things. People started referring to Yuuta as just my younger brother, even though he is talented in his own right in tennis. He's a lot angrier now, more hostile to the people around him." Syusuke offered a rare sardonic look. "Must be at that rebellious age."
Akiyama huffed a laugh. "So he wants to beat you in tennis then? That's why he went to a different school to join the tennis club there?"
"Yes," Syusuke thought of the teen who had recruited Yuuta in the first place and he had to fight down a sneer. "He was scouted."
"Ah, I heard about that too." Akiyama's brow furrowed in thought. "Mizuki Hajime, St. Rudolph Tennis Club's manager." He paused. "That sort of makes him my opponent, doesn't it?"
Syusuke hadn't thought of it that way but now that Akiyama had mentioned it, he was unexpectedly curious to see just what kind of adversary the first-year could make. He had never seen Akiyama compete before so Syusuke didn't know whether or not the teen would take a challenge seriously.
"Or maybe we could be friends," Akiyama mused, and Syusuke's entire being rebelled against this.
"I'd rather you stay away from him," He said stiffly, bristling at the very thought.
Akiyama glanced at him in surprise. "Do you not like him? Because he stole your brother away or because he has a nasty personality?"
"Both," Syusuke announced almost defiantly, gaze sliding to the front. "You'll see for yourself. We're here; let's go."
"Is this how you snuck into Fudoumine?"
Haruto grinned down at Fuji as he gave the third-year a hand up, pulling him over the wall and helping him balance on the thin railing. "Nah, Fudoumine's even easier to get into than St. Rudolph."
Fuji shook his head and then chuckled a little, exasperation and fondness etched on his face as he followed Haruto onto the roof of a nearby building. It was just close enough to jump onto from the wall they were balancing on. "If Tezuka ever finds out, we'll be running laps for days. Maybe weeks, depending on his mood."
"Then he just won't find out," Haruto said blithely as he pulled out a notebook and flipped to a blank page. "Now then, where are we?"
"One of the dorms, I think," Fuji peered around before glancing down at the notebook Haruto was holding. "...Are you sketching a map?"
"Well, I can't hack into the school database to get the blueprints anymore since Tezuka-senpai's so uptight, so I might as well draw it as we go," Haruto reasoned, quickly outlining the front gates, surrounding wall, and dormitory buildings.
"'Uptight'?" There was laughter in Fuji's voice. "He's just looking out for you. What would happen if you were caught?"
"I like living on the edge, senpai," Haruto flashed a smirk at the third-year. "And the first rule to doing so is to never get caught. And I never do."
"You're as cocky as Echizen, Akiyama."
"Nope, I'm just confident in my own abilities," He clambered onto his feet. "Where to now? You've been here before, right?"
Fuji nodded. "Yes, with my sister when she came to see that Yuuta was settling in alright. Although," He glanced around in amusement. "I can't say I've ever been on the roofs before."
Haruto grinned, quite pleased at how the day was turning out. "I'm corrupting you, senpai. Spending so much time with me could be detrimental to you."
Fuji's mouth tilted up into an unreadable smile. "I think I'm willing to chance it. This way."
Five minutes later, with Fuji giving directions and Haruto leading the way so that the third-year, who wasn't as prone to leaping large distances as he was, could easily traverse the roofs without being seen, they were standing on top of one of the school buildings overlooking the tennis courts.
"That one's Mizuki," Fuji pointed out almost immediately. Haruto followed his finger to a dark-haired teenager standing on the sidelines.
"I guess it would be unfair to tape them," Haruto mulled somewhat wistfully. And he had packed his movie-camera too.
"I didn't know you cared about that sort of thing," Fuji said, glancing over at him.
"I don't, usually," Haruto agreed, crouching near the edge of the roof. "But fair's fair. I've been doing nothing but chasing spies away from Seigaku since the Fudoumine match-up. It would make me something of a hypocrite if I did the same."
"Aren't we spying right now?" Fuji pointed out dryly.
"Well, yes," Haruto admitted. "But I'm also the team manager and part of my job is to- well, you know, manage. By scouting out the other teams."
Fuji actually did laugh this time, a quiet sound that disappeared on a passing breeze. "You have a convoluted sense of logic, Akiyama."
"Whatever works," Haruto shrugged. "That's Yuuta-san over there, right?"
"Yes, that's him," Despite the animosity one held towards the other, Fuji's features were undeniably tinged with pride.
Over the next hour, Haruto managed to jot down all the names of the St. Rudolph regulars, each person's dominant hand, and whether they were most likely lined up for singles or doubles in the upcoming matches. Inui would be having a field day come tomorrow.
Just as he was about to call it a day, Fuji jerked forward abruptly, almost toppling over the edge of the roof they were sitting on. Haruto instinctively reached out and clamped a hand on his shoulder. "Senpai! Be careful!"
Fuji didn't seem to notice. "What the hell is he doing?"
Haruto followed his line of sight, enhancing his eyes with magic to get a better look. He had never heard Fuji so angry before.
"That's the Twist Spin Shot," Fuji said flatly, shoulder tense under Haruto's hand. "It has an enormous amount of violent spin. He shouldn't be learning that!"
Haruto hadn't the faintest idea what this Twisty Spinning Shot was but he could see the younger Fuji sibling's arm muscles straining in a way that, if not fixed or stopped, would one day destroy the boy's shoulder.
They watched as Mizuki stepped forward, smirking with satisfaction, and Haruto could feel Fuji's muscles flex. One glance to the side at darkened blue orbs told him everything he had to know.
"Get him back during the match, senpai," Haruto said calmly, not so much as batting an eye when the third-year's sharp blue gaze pierced him.
"He's hurting him!" Fuji hissed. "More importantly, he's hurting my brother!"
"I understand that," Haruto continued evenly. "But Yuuta-san isn't in any immediate danger. His shoulder will ache and he might risk a sprain but there won't be any long-term damage between now and our matchup. I guarantee it."
"And if you rush in there going all overprotective big brother on Yuuta-san, he isn't likely to thank you for it," Haruto forged on relentlessly. "Teach him through tennis. You tennis players do that all the time, don't you? This is a choice that your brother made, to learn this shot no matter the consequences. He wants to show you that he's grown stronger and he's doing that through tennis. If you want to show him that the way he's going about it is wrong, then do it through tennis."
His hand tightened on Fuji's shoulder when it looked like the third-year was going to continue protesting. "Come on senpai, I've never taken you for someone who charges in half-cocked. Think."
Fuji froze, lips thinning into a grim line. He stared unblinkingly at Haruto before turning to glower at the tennis courts again, and then looking back at Haruto once more. Gradually, the fire blazing in Fuji's eyes cooled.
"He's in no immediate danger?" The third-year finally asked.
"I guarantee it," Haruto repeated.
Fuji closed his eyes and sighed. "Alright then. Let's head back."
Haruto released him with an inward huff of relief. It seemed even Fuji could lose his head when it came to his brother. As they started back the way they had come, Haruto wondered what would make Tezuka's self-control slip.
"Thank you for that," Fuji told him when they were on the bus and halfway home. "Yuuta would never have forgiven me if I had stormed the court."
Haruto glanced sidelong at him. "No problem. Everyone gets angry when they're properly provoked."
"You don't," Fuji remarked lightly.
Haruto's mouth twisted into a semblance of a smile. "Oh, you'd be surprised. I don't get angry often but someone once told me that I had one of the scariest tempers they had ever seen."
"Hmm, then maybe you'd like to blow up at Mizuki sometime," Fuji looked unrepentantly hopeful.
Haruto chuckled as the bus pulled up at their destination and they headed for the folding doors. "I'll think about it."
They walked down the sidewalk in a companionable silence, but just as they reached the end of a block where Haruto would be turning up the street and Fuji would be turning down, the third-year shifted to face him fully with a peculiarly intent sort of fascination.
"Back when we were heading to St. Rudolph, you mentioned two friends," Fuji started quietly. "One of them has passed-"
"Two," Haruto interrupted smoothly. He knew the third-year had been curious about his past since he had brought it up on the bus ride. "Both of them are gone now."
Fuji eyed him for a long moment. He didn't apologize this time, didn't commiserate, for which Haruto was grateful.
"We went to school together," Haruto offered, idly waving at the old lady who ran the teashop he always frequented nowadays. The woman waved back, smiling warmly at him. "In Scotland, not the States. We were good friends for a good long while. I've long since accepted their deaths though. It was nothing I wasn't expecting."
"...You're the strangest person I've ever met," Fuji said at last. "I really don't know what to make of you. Most twelve-year-olds don't... well, they tend to tear up when talking about close friends or family dying."
Haruto gave a half-shrug and a crooked smile. "I guess I'm just strange then. See you tomorrow at school, Fuji-senpai."
Fuji nodded, raising a hand in farewell before they parted to make their own way home.
"Is it just me, or is Fujiko practicing harder than usual today?" Eiji enquired as he followed his long-time friend's progress. Fujiko wasn't going all-out – he never did – but he had whipped out his Counters and was currently thrashing two second-years in a match.
Oishi, lobbing balls at Eiji so that the redhead could practice his accuracy by returning them into the basket at Oishi's feet, glanced over as well. "Yeah, I guess he does seem more... enthusiastic today."
Eiji frowned. Enthusiastic wasn't how he would describe the other teen. Fujiko seemed almost... angry today. There was definitely some annoyance straining his signature smile. Had the second-years he was playing – who both looked terrified out of their minds – done something to irritate the genius?
"Eiji-senpai, Oishi-senpai, don't stop practicing or Tezuka-senpai will assign you laps!"
Eiji winced at their manager's warning and speedily swung at a hastily-served tennis ball Oishi sent his way. Haru took his duties seriously, that was for sure. Tezuka didn't even have to assign as many laps nowadays since Haru kept everyone focused. While only a first-year, the younger teen's charisma had seemingly charmed the entire club, so much that most of the members did as they were told when Haru instructed them alongside Inui. The few students who had dared to scoff at him had quickly been quelled by a stern look from Tezuka, a flash of blue eyes from Fujiko, juice waved in their faces by Inui, or a threatening crack of the knuckles from Kaidou or Momo.
The funniest thing was probably the tiny fact that Haru could take care of himself perfectly fine.
Glancing one more time at the fierce ongoing match – and sparing a moment of pity for the two second-years who looked torn between begging for mercy and running away as balls blazed past them – Eiji focused back onto his own practice. Fujiko would calm down in his own time.
"Oh? Seigaku acquired a team manager?" Hajime absently wrapped a strand of his hair around one finger as he scrolled down the Tennis Club section in the Seigaku's school website. "And a first-year at that."
"Does that matter, senpai?"
Hajime glanced up at the newest addition to his regulars. "Not in the long-run, no. Still, Seigaku isn't a team that would take on just anyone to run their club."
He studied the screen for a moment longer before smirking and getting to his feet. "Yuuta, how do you feel about visiting your brother? Make him nervous about your upcoming match? I'm sure he wouldn't mind."
Haruto blinked and almost stumbled when Fuji seemingly materialized beside him in a rush of subtle almost-panic and urgency, dropping a hand on his shoulder with a conflicted expression on his face.
"Fujiko, what's wrong?" Eiji called from the other side of the room where he was in the process of pulling on a shirt.
There was something tense in the line of the genius' jaw but he did manage a smile. "Nothing, Eiji. There is the small matter of two of St. Rudolph's regulars at the Seigaku gates though."
This made everyone pull up short. Tezuka frowned. "Have they come inside?"
Fuji shook his head before glancing back at Haruto. "No. One is their manager. The other is... my brother."
Haruto tilted his head as a wave of murmurs swept over the room's occupants. Did Fuji want him to act as something of a buffer for him?
He slung his bag over his shoulder and nodded, and something in the third-year's face relaxed. Without a word, he followed Fuji towards the door, only pausing to glance back at Ryoma.
"Ryoma, meet us at the gates in ten minutes, okay?" Haruto waited for his charge's mildly curious nod before continuing on his way.
Just before the door swung shut behind them, Haruto heard Inui's thoughtful assessment of, "Ninety-seven percent chance that Fuji believes Akiyama is able to play mediator between him and his brother."
"Saa, Yuuta, what a surprise."
Yuuta stiffened automatically as his eyes landed on his brother, that damn fake smile already plastered over the older teen's face.
Surprise his ass. Syuusuke had probably already known he was here and was plotting something. His brother had always disliked Mizuki, but he disliked Yuuta hanging out with Mizuki even more.
"As if," Yuuta sneered and turned his attention on the kid who was walking a step behind his brother. Black hair, green eyes, first-year by the size of him, and foreign to boot – this was definitely the Tennis Club manager.
Good – they wouldn't have to stay long.
He glanced to the side as Mizuki stepped forward, a sly smirk already playing on his lips.
"Fuji-san, it has been a while," The third-year started graciously.
If Yuuta didn't know his brother so well, he would have missed the tiny derisive curl of Syuusuke's lip. Fury snapped in his chest but he reeled it back with some effort.
"Quite," His brother said, before markedly dismissing Mizuki's presence and turning back to Yuuta. "Did you need something, Yuuta?"
Yuuta gritted his teeth and scowled. Did his brother have to sound so disinterested? As if he was wasting his older brother's time just by showing up?
"Actually, since the matchup between our two schools is coming up," Mizuki stepped in again, a charming smile on his face. "I was hoping to pass on my regards to Seigaku's new Tennis Club manager. As one manager to another."
Yuuta frowned when he caught the slightest flicker of displeasure dart across his brother's features. What, this of all things finally caught Syuusuke's attention?
"I highly doubt that," His brother said, and while Syuusuke's voice was still deceptively friendly, his eyes had slitted open at last and they glittered dangerously in the afternoon sun.
Yuuta shifted uneasily. This side of his brother never boded well for anyone, least of all Mizuki who seemed to be the only person in the entire world who could rile Syuusuke up without even trying (something Yuuta was vindictively satisfied to know), but this also placed Mizuki on Syuusuke's bad side, and no one wanted to be there on a good day. Maybe he should try convincing his teammate and manager to come back another day when Syuusuke wasn't around or at least had had some time to calm down. Then again, he didn't want to give his brother the impression that he was running away.
And then the other boy was stepping forward, Akiyama Something-or-Other, and the younger teen laid a hand on Syuusuke's arm, the gesture brief and light, and Yuuta's brother-
His brother calmed the fuck down.
Yuuta stared, barely keeping himself from gaping. Syuusuke still looked immensely dissatisfied but his eyes had closed again, and though he didn't move, there was an air of backing down around him.
For as long as Yuuta had known him, Fuji Syuusuke had never once backed down after he had someone in his sights to crucify.
He turned his focus on the black-haired first-year. Who the hell was this guy?
"Akiyama Haruto," The boy held out a slender hand in Mizuki's direction, an amicable smile on his face. Yuuta couldn't detect anything fake in it. "Manager of Seigaku's Tennis Club. It's nice to meet you."
Mizuki's smile curved into a smirk again as he shook the proffered hand. "Mizuki Hajime, Manager of St. Rudolph's Tennis Club. Nice to meet you as well."
They let go and Mizuki continued with a crafty glint in his eyes, "When I heard Seigaku had gained a new manager, I just had to come meet him. You must be very good – Seigaku hasn't had an actual manager in half a decade."
"Ah, well, I can't say I'm very good," Akiyama said somewhat sheepishly. "I have absolutely no skill in tennis, but I am alright at writing up training menus, and Inui-senpai helps me out with that."
A guy who couldn't even play tennis was managing Seigaku's Tennis Club? That couldn't be right.
Yuuta snuck a surreptitious look in his brother's direction. Syuusuke was watching the exchange between the two managers like a hawk but made no move to interrupt.
"Well, I'd be happy to give you a few pointers," Mizuki offered with uncharacteristic generosity, and Yuuta's gaze snapped back to his senpai. "Perhaps we could meet up in the next few days before our two schools compete next Monday."
Akiyama's smile widened, practically oozing delight, and Yuuta finally realized that the battle between them had long since started, probably from the moment the two managers had laid eyes on each other.
"That sounds great," Akiyama accepted readily. "I'm pretty busy with the team and all but I can take some time off on Saturday and meet you for lunch."
Mizuki's smirk gained an edge that somewhat alarmed Yuuta. "Perfect. I can bus here again easily enough. Yokozawa Café on Takeshita at noon?"
Akiyama nodded pleasantly. "I'll see you there, Mizuki-san."
And before Yuuta could really wrap his mind around the impromptu lunch date-but-not-date, Mizuki had already said a swift farewell to a narrow-eyed Syuusuke before ushering Yuuta away.
"What the hell was that?" Yuuta asked in bewilderment as they rounded a corner.
Mizuki chuckled darkly. "That, Yuuta, was an invitation to war."
"What was that?" Syuusuke demanded the moment he was sure both his brother and Mizuki were out of earshot. "I told you to stay away from him and then you go and make lunch plans with him?"
Seething inside and not quite sure whether it was directed at Mizuki or Mizuki and Akiyama (because Mizuki was a given), he watched his kouhai's smile slide away like water, a more speculative expression taking its place.
"Senpai, calm down," Akiyama said equably, only irritating Syuusuke even further. "You really lose your head around Mizuki-san, don't you?"
Syuusuke swallowed the harsh retort at the tip of his tongue. He'd regret it later – Akiyama was a friend, not to mention the first-year could probably return any and all cutting remarks tenfold. Instead, he mentally calmed his thoughts and reigned in the automatic fury that always welled up inside him whenever he saw Yuuta with that damn manager.
"What was that?" He repeated, less ruffled this time. "I warned you about Mizuki."
Akiyama arched an eyebrow. "You really think I'd be stupid enough to let him worm anything about your team out of me?"
"Our team," Syuusuke corrected mechanically. "And no, I don't, but he's not above hurting someone to reach his goal. You know what he's doing to Yuuta."
Akiyama had the gall to laugh. "Trust me, Fuji-senpai, he's not going to be twisting my arm to get anything, figuratively or literally."
Syuusuke fought the urge to pinch the bridge of his nose. "They why did you agree?"
Akiyama smiled winningly at him. Syuusuke could feel a migraine coming on. He wondered if this was how Tezuka felt whenever the first-year batted innocent puppy-dog eyes at the captain after another one of his successfully humiliating pranks that put half the Tennis Club out of commission.
"It's just lunch, senpai," Akiyama declared evasively. "And I've heard good things about that café."
Syuusuke sighed. The only thing that could be worse was if Akiyama actually went through with his previous suggestion and became friends with Mizuki.
(Later, looking back, he really should've known better than to tempt fate.)
"Winning isn't everything, Mizuki-san," Haruto said mildly as he scooped up a spoonful of ice-cream.
Across the table, Mizuki borderline-sneered. "And yet, if your goal is to win, as every team worth their name should be aiming for, having that sort of mindset is only setting yourself up for failure."
They had been here for half an hour already, and after the first two minutes of polite greetings and how-do-you-dos, they had proceeded to trade opinions on hypothetical situations when it came to competition.
"True," Haruto agreed. "But there's not much point if you don't have fun winning, is there?"
Mizuki smirked. "Oh, aspiring to win is plenty of fun."
"Really?" Haruto stared avidly at Mizuki. "Even when you go through players like Kleenex?"
Mizuki's eyes abruptly narrowed at this implication. The third-year was smart enough to understand the insinuation. "You are... surprisingly well-informed, Akiyama-kun."
Haruto raised his milkshake as a mock-toast. "Just doing my job. ...As a friendly warning, from one manager to another, you do realize Fuji-senpai is going to destroy you, right?"
Mizuki's lip curled. "He can certainly try. In fact you can give him my regards. My tennis will stop him."
"Hmm," Haruto swallowed another mouthful of ice-cream. "You are underestimating Fuji-senpai, Mizuki-san."
Mizuki cocked a skeptical eyebrow. "Oh?"
Haruto smiled. "Senpai can be a sadistic bastard to people who annoy him. He's predictable like that. You haven't annoyed him, Mizuki-san, you've downright pissed him off, and that's when he becomes the worst kind of player you can meet on the court – the unpredictable sort. Data tennis doesn't do much against people like that."
Haruto thought he might've just scored the first win when he caught the faintest flicker of apprehension in the other manager's eyes.
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