Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or Naruto, nor the characters from them and I do not make any money from the writing of this story.
Summary: When the Mirror of Erised shatters, Nara Shikamaru comes across a child with the most unique green eyes. It's not quite love at first sight but equally as troublesome.
Pair: Harry Potter/ Shikamaru Nara
The Nara compound was eerily quiet. It was too early for the members of the main house or the outer family to be up and about, much less awake. Yet the clan heir, Nara Shikamaru, was the exception to this rule. The young genius was awake, his brilliant mind tormented from the shadows that stayed with him after he got back from his first C ranked mission with Asuma and the rest of the team. Shikamaru was not blind to the darkness that existed in the word, but the eleven year old Genin was still shocked by what he and his team mates encountered. Before the trip to Rice Country, the Nara heir had never seen torture. It took one trip, one particular mission, to take that innocence away. He still recalled the small form of the eleven year old boy with the green eyes and the cuts and burns on his body. There had not been a spot on his arms and legs that had not been bleeding and his neck... Shikamaru shivered. The bruises had been a dead giveaway; the boy had been choked, someone had tried to strangle him. And they had failed, because despite everything, the boy was alive, barely but tangibly so.
They had been returning to Konoha and there had not even been a question of whether they would be helping the child. Shikamaru had been able to merely watch while Asuma bent down and gathered the injured kid in his arms. Choji had stopped eating after that, the blood turning him off the mood for it. That was saying a lot about the situation. Shikamaru, when Asuma grew tired had asked to step up, help carry the precious burden and Asuma had briefly hesitated before he acquiesced to this. Shikamaru doubted he could ever forget when the broken body was eased into his arms ever so carefully and gently. The first thing the Nara heir noticed was just how thin his burden was, how fragile the bones felt. Then he held his breath, afraid that if he touched the boy a bit more, he would break him. There was a faint heartbeat but Shikamaru felt better once he saw it, much better. Then they started walking again and during that time, blood seeped through the bandages they had wrapped around the worst wounds and into Shikamaru's clothes, permanently staining the preteen held on, despite the rising panic he felt. Asuma had been shooting him worried looks when after a couple of hours Shikamaru had not protested. But when the Jonin took on carrying their foundling again, Shikamaru then and only then allowed his shock to show, his hands to tremble. They had made it to the hospital of Konoha but just barely.
When he had returned home, his mother had taken one look at him and she had gone pale. It had taken a long while until Shikaku got her to calm down long enough for Shikamaru to get a word edgewise with the upset woman.
"Not my blood," Shikamaru had managed to say and Yoshino's sigh of relief did not last long when he described just how the blood got onto him. By the end of it, Shikaku looked quite thoughtful.
"If he survives, we'll know," he had told his family grimly.
Now, hours later, Shikamaru could not forget those words or the brief look he had gotten of the boy's eyes; Greener that the forests surrounding Konoha and lidded with pain, before the boy passed out again on the hospital bed.
Shikamaru sighed when the first rays of light hit his face. It was dawn and he had not slept at all.
"Troublesome," the Nara muttered, sounding exactly like his father. He shot a disinterested look at his bed and with a final shake of his head, he stood. Somehow the urge to sleep was avoiding him that day and it bothered the Genin. If he was unable to get back to bed, he might as well do something productive. Fifteen minutes later he was outside Konoha's hospital where Sarutobi Asuma was reclining against the door smoking. From the buds on the floor, he had been there for a while now. The Hokage's son noticed his least motivated pupil but he did not say anything until Shikamaru approached him.
"What are you doing here? I would have thought you would be sleeping or lazing around by now," Asuma remarked.
Shikamaru scowled at his instructor, shoved his hands deep in his pockets and hunched his shoulders a bit. "What difference does it make where I take my nap?"
A mocking smile spread on Asuma's face. "Is that so?"
"Tch," Shikamaru said and passed by him and into the hospital in a snit.
He stared. Really, there was not much else he could do the moment he saw the child's eyes open. There had never been anyone with eyes so bright, anyone Asuma had met in his life. The boy seemed to be drowning under the blanket and sheets that covered him. He was mostly healed by now, weeks after they had found him. He still was entirely too pale for him to be healthy and rather thin and short, almost like a famine victim. Asuma guessed he was more likely abused, the bruises around the boy's neck had been telling.
He realized he had been staring when the kid noticed him and curled up further under the covers. Next to him, Shikamaru gave an exasperated look at his jonin instructor and approached the hospital bed. If Asuma had to guess what emotion the kid was feeling, he would bet it was anxiety. But when Shikamaru approached he just looked apprehensive, but not afraid. And the way he kept studying the Nara... It was like he was expecting an attack ad weighting his options against the Genin. Asuma subtly prepared. His paranoia that the kid could be a plated agent, wanting to kill the Nara heir was not all that outrageous.
Shikamaru ignore his instructor's inner struggle and came closer to the bed, not taking his eyes off of the boy on the bed. His mind flashed back when he had carried the slim boy, when the smell of blood was so thick he could taste it.
"Hello", the shadow user greeted.
The boy blinked.
Shikamaru watched as the mop of hair on the boy, wild and messy and thick, fell to the side as the boy cocked his head sideways, reminding the Nara about does she had seen, and newborn ones, around the clan properties. He was not emotional or a person to be attracted by cuteness, but at that moment he found the lost look on the green eyed boy endearing. Then of course his genius mind studied further clues like the fact that the boy was squinting, which meant that he could not see properly. Also, the look on his face when the doctors had spoken earlier, when Shikamaru himself spoke.
"Can you understand me?" Shikamaru asked, ignoring the look Asuma gave him.
The green eyed boy still looked confused and a tad bewildered, like he could not understand what was happening.
The Nara tried again, asking his age, what happened to him but and he got was silence, which was odd, because it was obvious the boy was not deaf. That meant his original suspicion was correct, there was a language barrier.
Shikamaru did the only thing he could right then. He pointed at himself.
"Shikamaru," he said. Then he pointed at Asuma. "Sarutobi Asuma."
The boy seemed to catch on quickly after that, green eyes widening and a timid smile appearing on his face. "Harry," he said and the name even sounded foreign.
Well, it sounded similar to other words the two Konoha shinobi knew, but the accent and everything... Yes, a whole different language. Asuma had seemed to catch on right after the green eyed kid, because he turned to a smug looking Shikamaru.
''He speaks another language?''
The Nara shrugged. ''Seems that way.''
Asuma groaned. ''Just great," he muttered.'
Shikamaru shrugged. He knew there was nothing to be done now. He lifted his head and once again was met with green. He wondered how it would be, to not understand anyone around you. This boy was alone; compete alone, in a foreign place, hurt and stuck in a hospital and unable to cloud watch, unable to do anything. He sighed. ''Asuma sensei, I'm staying here today,'' he announced. ''You can tell the team I´m not going to be at practice.''
Asuma sighed as well as of sensing the reaction of one third of his team before he nodded, accepting what Shikamaru had decided for himself. "I'll tell Choji and Ino," he promised and inside he felt a little bit proud that his most lazy kid actually thought of another person without being prompted.
That day Shikamaru had been weird. Medics and nurses kept coming and going from the room they were in. At some point Shikamaru noticed that the green eyed boy had all the awareness trained shinobi had of their surroundings. Despite the initial feeling that he was comfortable around Shikamaru, the bedridden boy did not seem to trust the nurses or the rest of the medical personnel that visited the room, regarding all of them through weary eyes, even when they were there to bring him a meal. And the way the boy, Hari Shikamaru reminded himself, ate reminded him of Naruto. While he was eating a nurse had come in, an older one, about his mother's age and not one of the young trainees. She had frowned at the way her patient had wolfed down his food and the Nara heir had made note of it and asked her out right why this fact worried her. She had stared at him with something between hesitation and pity.
"Well?" Shikamaru had rudely demanded trying to ignore how 'Hari' was looking at their every move even though he had no idea what was being discussed. Though, if Shikamaru had to guess by what he saw in his green eyes, the injured boy was smart and would probably guess that he was the subject of their discussion.
"Nara-sama," the nurse hesitated, using the 'sama' because he was a clan heir and she was a mere chunin even at her age.
"I can ask another and eventually I will learn," Shikamaru pointed out. "I just thought you'd save me the hassle," he muttered, trying to look his usual disinterested self.
"The subject is rather... ugly," she tried.
"He bled all over me," Shikamaru stated, eyeing her through dark eyes.
"He was starved," was the explanation he got, blunt and to the point. "Systematically denied food and probably water too. He's gone for a long time without proper nutrition although his body seemed to be recovering slowly but steadily. He has low blood sugar, low calcium, low iron reserves... Frankly, I've seen war victims with better health. And we got all that from the physicals we gave him. If we ask him we will probably learn more."
She refused to say more after that and Shikamaru did not ask her. He let her leave only asking her to bring extra food to the room. It earned him a small smile from her as she hurried away.
Then Shikamaru turned to the boy on the bed and the empty plate in front of him. He felt angry that someone had done this to a kid (because Hari truly was a kid). It also explained the frown on Asuma's face and why he had felt so light when he was carrying him. He knew intellectually that there were all sorts of people out in the world and that during his shinobi career he was bound to meet the worst sort of the worst of them. It was the first time he both dreaded that future and looked forward to it, because if nothing else, he did not want another child to go through what Hari had.
They were one man short that day and Ino noticed. How could she not when she spends half the time trying to motivate her comrades into training, especially with the Chunin exams on the horizon? She wanted to show a stellar performance and she was willing to whine enough to make Asuma cave. She had a hunch that Sasuke would join and she wanted the Uchiha to notice her.
"And what does he have to do that is better than training?" she demanded of the Third Hokage's son.
Asuma exhaled a cloud of smoke, skilfully ignoring her frown at his smoking habits. "He's at the hospital," he replied and watched as Ino made the connection between Shikamaru being at the hospital and the boy they had found battered and bloody on their way back to Konoha. Ino deflated quite spectacularly.
"Oh!" she whispered.
"Is he better?" Choji asked when Inoichi's daughter was left speechless. "The boy I mean."
"He's awake," Asuma told the Akimichi boy. "And his name's Hari, well thereabouts, he can't speak very well," he revealed. "Shikamaru decided to keep him company since he seemed so scared of adults."
"Why was he scared of adults?" Ino asked and the Jonin sighed.
Sometimes Asuma hated just how sheltered kids in Konoha were. They were hardly any kids that recalled or even knew what death and destruction could bring upon a hidden village, a blessing and a curse really. He knew that Inoichi, while he used to head the Torture and Interrogation's division, was a loving father and there was no way for Ino to know what abuse was, aside from the abstract meaning of the world. He pondered how to breach such a subject and apparently he took too long because Ino huffed in annoyance. She really was a little brat, Asuma thought. Choji and Shikamaru were also little brats, but less so than his nephew.
"The boy… he had it rough in life," Asuma settled on saying. He guessed the boy (when he learned to speak their language and if the T & I division cleared him) would not want everyone and their summon to know that he had been abused. It was a private thing and Asuma was going to respect that. Already he had revealed a lot to his team and only because Shikamaru was being altruistic that day.
"Why does he get to skip practice though?" Ino asked.
"Just start running laps," Asuma said. "I'll be the one to worry about Shikamaru."
He received a glare for his troubles from the kunoichi. Choji on the other hand just shrugged and hid his bag of chips as he got prepared for the work out. Asuma watched them half heartedly while inwardly thought that it was indeed odd that Shikamaru had stayed behind. He would get to the bottom of that later, much later, for now he had genin to torture… train, he corrected himself with a half smile on his face.
Shikamaru noticed the way the green eyed boy perked up when he walked in. It was the second day in a row he had visited the injured kid in the hospital and this time he came prepared. He had brought his shoji board along, determined to at least find a plausible way to pass the time. Harry (after several tries he could pronounce the name well enough that it earned him a beaming smile from the other kid) was often too tired to stay up all day and Shikamaru was left with little to do.
"Good morning," he said when he walked in.
He received a sweet smile in return and an attempt to copy his speech. He butchered it spectacularly but Shikamaru made him say it again and again until he got it right.
"Good," the Nara told him. He walked up and started setting the board. Harry seemed to recognized it for what he was and he actually looked interested, always a plus, the genius thought. An hour later he was still thinking this as the bedridden boy was surprisingly good at the game. Shikamaru had a ton of questions to ask about how and where the green eyed patient had learned to play but the language barrier was still going strong. He pondered on this even after he beat Harry, after he went back home and missed the speculative looks his family gave him. Well, his father mostly since Shikaku had no idea what to do with his son now that Shikamaru apparently had another interest other than cloud watching and complaining about having to train, and of course, napping.
The next morning Shikamaru woke up and he had exactly the idea he wanted. At first, he thought it outrageous but the longer he thought about it the more he thought the idea had merits. So at breakfast he decided to ask his father for his opinion. The silence that followed was rather telling.
"Mind repeating that?" Shikaku asked.
"You know about the boy we rescued," Shikamaru said.
His father nodded. As the head of ANBU, there were few things Shikaku was not aware of. He knew the only reason Ibiki did not have that boy in the dungeons to interrogate him was the Sandaime had stepped in after he had seen reports on the boy's condition and especially after Asuma had reported to his father and Hokage that the green eyed boy did not speak their language. They had been planning to make a Yamanaka, preferably Inoichi, mind walk through the boy's mind and learn everything. After that the boy would probably end up in an orphanage where he would possibly learn the language and perhaps, eventually find a way to earn a living. There were a lot of maybes and variables and until the boy got clearance to be in the village, the future was not set in stone.
"You want to teach him how to speak?" Shikaku asked. "That will be hard you know, more troublesome than it's worth."
Shikamaru shrugged and ate some more rice. His mother stared from her husband to her son.
"Why is it so hard?" she asked of them. "It's actually the nice thing to do. That boy is probably worried and scared and no one can understand him, the poor dear. How old is he?"
"The medics say he looks like an eight year old but the medic Nin said it was because he… he was apparently denied food. All the signs of abuse they wrote in the file," Shikamaru reluctantly muttered.
It all made his mother more eager to help the boy. Shikaku stared from his wife to his son.
"You can start," he finally told his son and heir. It would not hurt if they got a head start with this. And if the boy was cleared by the T&I, well, all would be perfect.
The lessons started easily enough. Shikamaru had walked into the bookstore and went to find a children's book he recalled having back when he was three. He had hidden that book when his mother realized he could easily solve the puzzles and pictures in it, not wanting the drag of doing any of those exercises but now he knew this was the way to get Harry to learn the language, baby steps.
They started by saying their name, age and then moved to telling various food items, apples, oranges, rice and whatever was on the boy's tray when breakfast and lunch came, they also covered some animals as well, colours too. And Harry during the whole lesson was cheery and eager and quick on the uptake. He was also stubborn in a way that reminded him of Naruto when the blond would try a Jutsu only Harry was less obnoxious about it and listened to Shikamaru when the Genin told him not to tire himself out reading or doing physical therapy to help his limbs get mobility and not atrophy while he was bed bound.
It was one of those days Shikamaru hardly looked at the clock and did not care whether he missed a nap or not. It was also the days that Asuma had told him that he could no longer skip his team meetings days on end. He had made the shadow user attend training and D-Rank missions, mostly to stave off nagging from Ino. Shikamaru had agreed on certain conditions. One was that training would begin earlier in the mornings.
"Hari eats breakfast on seven to seven thirty. I can be at the training grounds by eight until one and then from three until seven. The rest of the hours I need to be at the hospital," Shikamaru had explained to Asuma in front of a surprised Choji and a shocked Ino. The blond kunoichi had been about to say something to him but Asuma had cut her off, agreeing readily to the terms. What Shikamaru had asked for, not only was much better than the schedule they currently followed, but it also motivated his least motivated student.
"But sensei!" Ino had spluttered.
"And Shikamaru," Asuma paused smoking long enough to pin the shadow user with a serious look. "You will train and you will not complain about the training or the missions. You want to nap, do it on your own time or else the deal is off and you will not be allowed the time your requested. Am I clear?"
"Good," Shikamaru said.
Harry grinned and moved to the next object. "Lemon."
The list went one and the nurse that came to take the green eyed boy's blood pressure smiled.
While she was there, fussing over him, Shikamaru moved on to numbers and the nurse paused.
"Can you ask him how old he is?" the nurse suddenly asked and the Nara heir considered it.
"I can try," the shadow Nin said and turned to Harry. He pointed at the number twelve and his age a couple of times and then asked quite clearly, "And you?"
"Me… eleven," Harry replied and the nurse gasped in shock. Shikamaru was no less affected when he saw just how much smaller and thinner than him the other boy was.
"I have to tell the medic Nin," the nurse told the Nara heir, who nodded reluctantly.
"Could you bring more fruit?" he asked her.
She winked. "I'll throw in two portions of dessert as well." The nurse sauntered out and Shikamaru smiled and turned to Harry.
"Let's get you started on writing as well," he said and took out pencils and papers.
Ibiki stared at the green eyed boy in front of him. He hated situations like this, when his principles were shot to hell because the good of the village called for it. Next to him, Inoichi was of the same mindset, more so because he was a father himself. Inoichi hated interrogating children. While he had never needed to actually torture a kid, he had not been above using emotional torture and blackmail. Worst of all, his former team-mates' kid was present because Shikamaru was the only one who could make the boy not cringe away from adults. He had no way to explain to the boy that he wanted to … well, read his mind. And he was not looking forward to explaining himself to Shikamaru, because the boy looked like he would demand explanations.
The boy was seated on the bed, propped up on pillows and covered firmly to keep warm. Shikamaru was in the room, seated near the window, while Ibiki was near the door, not quite towering over the boy; he had guessed that his horrific looks were enough to scare the unknown boy. Strangely, the child seemed unfazed, something that both bothered him and made him feel approval.
Inoichi took the lead. He called the boy's name and when he made eye contact, he was in. there was a bit of resistance, or more like it a foreboding feeling and then he found himself inside a kaleidoscope, where memories upon memories swirled around, like colourful water. He delved inside. The very first one was of a tall, dark haired woman towering over a toddler, yelling at the boy as a blond boy much fatter than Akimichi Choji laughed in the background. Going further back he saw the obese boy tripping the dark haired, green eyed child, and making him drop the glass he was holding, later getting the blameless child guilty for the damage. Going forward to other memories, he began to see a pattern. He could understand the emotions behind the actions and he did not like it one bit. The boy was not just abused, but treated like a slave and from the look of things, the abusers were family too. The boy apparently had natural genjutsu because when he was upset or in danger he could use a Jutsu much like Shunshin... No, it looked like the Hiraishin the Fourth Hokage used. It was impressive really. He moved forward again and the scene he stumbled upon was odd. There was no mistaking it really, the boy had watched a dragon (an honest to life dragon!) hatch from its egg. The details were very interesting and very confusing too. And before Inoichi had time to swallow the thought of actual dragons existing, he moved forward again, time was pressing and he did not want to cause damage by staying to long in the child's head.
The next scene he happened upon was that of a nasty experience. There was the green eyed boy in a chamber surrounded by fire and darkness. There was a mirror, a decidedly old one, in the middle of it. There was a man that had an added face in the back of his head. The added face looked disturbingly like Orochimaru. The man was over the boy, hands wrapped around the child's neck, trying to squeeze the life out of him. Inoichi was worried, the choking was too much and the man could break the boy's neck, but then all his fears alleviated because the boy, brave that he was, tried to fight back, he pushed and kicked and while he did that, the man's skin started flaking, like coal falling off a log. It was fascinating in a morbid short of way. The man's skin smouldered in such a way that he fell into ash, nothing left of him but the dark dust. And then a wraith, much like a ghost rose from them and headed from the boy. Then there was an explosion, a powerful one that turned everything dark, in a blast of shards from the mirror and fire and screams.
"You want us to do what?" Yoshino asked her son, frankly feeling bewildered. Her husband however made no such exclamation and knowing of his brilliant mind she thought he might have guessed or at least considered this might happen. Shikamaru, her beloved lazy son, stifled a yawn and she resisted the urge to scold him about his awful manners when there were more pressing things at hand.
"I asked whether it would be possible to keep Harry," Shikamaru repeated. "I had a talk with Naruto and…" The young genius shrugged. "I don't like the idea of him ending up in such a place and we have the room and the money to feed one more person. He hardly takes up space."
"Shikamaru! We're talking about a living, breathing human being, not a dog!" Yoshino yelled.
Shikamaru scrunched his chin. "I know that," he said completely unconcerned.
Yoshino, exasperated, turned to her husband but the man just stared at their son, having the best poker face possible. "Shikaku…"
"Why?" the Jonin asked.
Shikamaru shrugged. "I need a reason?"
"Yes," Shikaku stated.
"Well, I don't have one," the Nara heir replied, making his father stare some more.
Finally, after a long stretch of silence, Shikaku nodded. "Fine."
"Fine?" Yoshino asked, shocked.
Shikaku sighed. "Well, won't hurt any, will it? And you can coddle him all you want," he told his wife, who spluttered.
"If that's all, I'm going to bed," Shikamaru announced and stood.
"And I will copy him," Shikaku said after a yawn, leaving the mother and wife staring after them.
Alone, Yoshino shook her head. "What am I going to do with those two?" she asked the empty room. Still, she considered how willing Shikamaru was to help the child and how Shikaku was not opposed to the idea. And finally, what her husband had mentioned about the child needing coddling. It would be nice, having someone to care for. She could not have more children and with Shikamaru being a Genin now the boy was no longer at home and even less likely to accept her attentions and affection. Really, she had known that shinobi were tough ones, but this was too much. She only got six years with her son and the moment he joined the Academy he was lost to her. Yoshino gradually started liking the idea of a child in the house and by morning she was quite eager to meet with the green eyed child that was deemed by her son 'Not troublesome at all.' A hefty endorsement from a Nara. She herself was of Chunin level but not active, not since she decided to hang up her headband in favour of having children, even though she had only managed to have one, Shikamaru. Yoshino regarded her son and husband as lost cases since they needed a drill master, not a mother and a wife respectively. She would meet the green eyed child and then she would see. With that she stood and joined her husband in their bed.
Harry stared at the clothes Shikamaru had brought him. All the clothes had been worn by the Nara heir when the youth was six or seven and the young Genin had felt a sense of anger about this situation. He stood silent and supportive and helped the green eyed boy whenever he could, still finding it hard to believe, even with the bruises gone, that this was an eleven year old boy. He could count the boy's ribs and worse yet; he could feel how frail the boy was whenever he touched the raven haired boy.
Green eyes searched for Shikamaru's dark ones. "Me doing well?"
"You're wearing it fine," the genius assured the other boy, who beamed at the obvious sign of praise. Shikamaru resisted the urge to pat Harry's head as if the boy was a dog.
There was a knock on the door and one of the nurses that treated the boy popped her head inside. Harry subtly hid behind Shikamaru.
Shikamaru blinked as he woke up. He felt the warmth coming from his side and he turned his head a bit. He blinked for a second time that day when he found Harry's sleeping form laying right beside him. He shifted carefully and turned on his side, watching the slim boy sleeping. He looked even smaller like this. The dark hair and pale skin made him look so much like an Uchiha, even more so like Sasuke, yet his face was softer, more childish and somehow equally tormented with the last survivor. He worried about what Harry had seen, what he had lived through.
Apparently he had been staring too long because Harry stirred, sleepy green eyes staring at the Nara with wide eyes.
"Morning," Shikamaru said.
Harry nodded. "Good morning," he replied.
"Come on, we better get up, Asuma said we would be training today and mother will have breakfast ready by now, you do not want her to come wake us up."
Harry was up in a flash, so fast that Shikamaru absently thought that with some honing, Harry's skills at speed could become the best. Too bad he would not become a shinobi. He shook his head and stood as well, yawning and stretching as he did so and cursing the fact that he was a genin now, with responsibilities and Ino nagging at him to train.
Harry had paused at the door, looking up and down.
"The bathroom is on the left," Shikamaru said, rightly guessing what the other kid wanted.
"Thank you," Harry shot at him and dashed off.
Shikamaru shook his head, feeling the ponytail in which he usually held his hair up, loosen. He was about to move when his mother knocked once on the door and entered.
"Oh! You're up. Where's Harry?" she asked her son eagerly. "Breakfast is ready. You better come too."
Shikamaru sighed. "I know, and Harry's in the bathroom."
She nodded and left and her son sighed yet again and got up. "Mornings are troublesome," he muttered as he started preparing for the day.
Harry washed his face, still feeling off kilter. A month. That was how long had he had been in this strange place. It had an Asian feel, all of this. A mix between Muggle and wizarding world or what could have been but never was possible back home. Because Harry suspected that he was no longer at home. When the darn Mirror of Erised broke when the green eyed wizard smashed against it from the backlash of power.
He still shivered at the memory of Quirrell, with Voldemort piggybacking on his head, the challenges that he had to overcome to get to that hellish room. He had expected Snape, but never the man who had murdered his parents. His blood ran cold whenever he thought about that monster, the wizard whose name his friends could not even utter, the monster that had no body yet could still make evil happen. In a way, smashing into the Mirror and ending up in the middle of nowhere had not been that bad. He could not remember much, but he did recall seeing Shikamaru's face when he had a rare moment of lucidity while he was racked with pain from the glass shards digging into his skin and the fire that had burned him and the magical exhaustion he had felt while he was struggling to survive. He thought that was one of the reasons he felt so safe around the boy that was his age. He had never felt safe, not even in Hogwarts, with the moving staircases and the thousands of portraits and the forbidden forest and the dreary corridors with the ghosts and the trolls and the dragon eggs and the monsters drinking unicorn blood… Harry still felt a shiver. He had thought, hoped desperately, that Hogwarts would be a shelter away from the Dursley's. He knew that logically, the castle was a school, but he had been naïve and desperate. He had not been ready for the fame and the Boy-Who-Lived and so many eyes to be focused on him, that bit was worse than the negative looks he got back in Privet Drive.
This place was different from Hogwarts and Privet Drive together. He was starting to get hopeful that this place could be better from his past life because frankly the young wizard dreaded going back to the castle and the Dursley's, back to being the Boy-Who-Lived where everyone stared at him like he was an exhibit of some sort, where everything that went wrong was his fault and no one really saw him. He stared at his hands, mind briefly flashing to where he had caused Quirrell to crumble to dust. The thin lines littering his skin were still visible from where the mirror fragments had dug in his skin. He still got phantom pains and the scars would never truly fade away due to the magic the mirror had. There were similar very thin lines over his hands and legs, but thankfully not on his face. A couple were on his neck as well, Harry realised. He was still inspecting the changes on him when the gentle knock on the door and Shikamaru's voice reached him, asking him whether he was fine or needed anything. Harry answered back, few words messed together. He felt silly, speaking worse than a baby. A flush of shame overcame him but he squashed it because Shikamaru was always kind and truthful with him, praising him and his fast progress. He pushed dark thoughts out of his mind and got ready to face the day.
Yoshino was fidgeting though Shikaku knew that his wife was trying not to show just how nervous she truly was. The head of the Anbu division eyed the spread she had produced for the breakfast table; it truly was an impressive display and he knew most of it would end up as leftovers since she made enough for ten people when neither he nor Shikamaru's liked heavy meals. She was trying to impress and he had still to make up his mind about how he felt about that. Shikamaru rarely asked for things growing up and when he asked for that one favour they had caved relatively easily, even Shikaku could admit that. Had anyone else asked, he would not have opened his home and the clan compound but his son had and, after Ibiki cleared the boy, the foundling of team Asuma had spend the night among them.
Fine tuned senses heard soft footsteps before his son and their new houseguest entered the kitchen. Almost in synch with his wife, Shikaku's eyes fell on the green eyed boy that had managed to garner Shikamaru's interest and even he fought down any reaction he wanted to make. The boy was tiny, tiny and frail and pale and he had shadows in his eyes... Shikaku forced a pleasant look on his face and Yoshino smiled brightly.
"Shikamaru," she approached her son and kissed him. "Did you sleep well?" She then turned to the other boy, and her husband could she how she ached to hug the green eyed boy as well but not dared to approach him; Shikaku knew their guest could do with a hug at the very least. Yoshino settled for a warm smile and an encouraging prompt at them to sit with them for breakfast.
The Jonin watched as Shikamaru helped the green eyed boy take a seat and started explaining the foods at the table, encouraging Harry to pronouncing the names and insisting the smaller boy repeated them until he got them right. It was a touching scene and from the look on Yoshino's face, she too liked the change in their usually couldn't be bothered attitude Shikamaru sported. Breakfast was both long and insightful that morning in the Nara main house. Shikaku's analytical eyes took in every move, every word and every look exchanged between his son and their new charge. He was not going to fool himself that the boy was now part of their home. Shikamaru already was smitten with Harry and Yoshino...
A humming noise the boy made at her food had Shikaku hiding his smile. Yes, apparently they were keeping him.
His chunin jacket was dirty, just like the rest of him. His bones were aching, joints were sore, he had developed facial hair that badly needed shaving, and he had not eaten a decent meal in days and slept for longer than that. Not just Shikamaru but his team-mates as well. Ino had been complaining for a while now about the bad conditions and at one point it was Choji who quite pointedly told her to 'shut up'. The young Akimichi and Yamanaka were only Genin while the Nara heir had grown in leaps and bounds since he was promoted to Chunin during the invasion of Konoha by Orochimaru and Sand. During the exams he had fought hard, not exactly for the rank itself (the jacket that came with the promotion he knew it would bring more responsibilities, more missions and even more danger) but it also brought more money, more power and put him in a better position than before to do one thing; protect the green eyed boy he had taken under his care.
His parents had not said much when he started spending more time with Harry, not only teaching the boy the language but also how to wield a kunai and fight if need be. Yoshino had been hesitant at first about Harry learning to fight as the boy, in her eyes was rather frail. But the child did not complain and Shikaku had remarked just how quickly he took to everything he was shown, displaying all the signs of a prodigy. It was a pity he could not join the ranks but also a blessing in disguise because the Nara Clan Head knew that Shikamaru did not want Harry to become a warrior. If anything, Harry turned into the daughter Yoshino had wished to have. Harry, as soon as he got more confident in his surroundings, started following Yoshino around while she did her chores around the house, helping with the housework and especially in the kitchen, almost taking over breakfast and half the dinners after a six month period of staying in the house. Spending so much time with Yoshino had also improved the youth's vocabulary since whatever time he spent with Shikaku, the Anbu Commander just preferred to play shoji with the boy and listen to him babble about the skies and the various stars that shone up there.
Asuma could pin-point the time Shikamaru turned into a dedicated shinobi down to the moment they came across the wounded boy. Shikamaru's motivation to protect the kid was both admirable and worrying for the T & I department as the Nara exhibited unusual loyalty to someone not of Konoha. However most fears and negative voices were quelled by the simple fact that the foundling was adopted into the Nara clan and was never seen walking the streets unaccompanied. One rare, very rare, occasions the Nara heir would walk alongside Harry and through Konoha's busy streets, along with his team-mates but no one else. Apparently the green eyed teen was still shy among strangers and felt more comfortable when surrounded by the people who had rescued him.
"Shikamaru?" Choji asked when the Shadow User tugged at his collar with distaste. Blood and dust clung to him.
"Break time's over kiddies," Asuma said in an entirely fake cheerful voice.
Ino gulped down the last of her water and refilled her bottle from the stream. "We can take it slow you know."
Shikamaru shook his head, "No," he stressed. "We were supposed to be back in Konoha four days ago. We're late," he stated with a scowl.
Ino rolled her eyes. "Take it easy lover boy; he's probably fine, busy cooking or something. Maybe he's found someone else to play the dutiful wife to." Her teasing comment was met with a glare from Shikamaru and a gulp from Choji who hurried to calm Shikamaru down.
"Ignore her, she's just tired and not controlling her mouth, you know how Ino is," the young Akimichi hurriedly said.
Asuma arched an eyebrow, fearing that the kunoichi's mouth might spark another argument. While they were usually a tightly knit group, Shikamaru had changed his attitude where Harry was concerned. Ino on the other hand was still prone to gossiping and teasing and could not understand that Harry was the one subject you did not tease Shikamaru about, not ever. Choji had to mediate on average two such fights every three days when the blonde did not know when to refrain from teasing. Asuma flicked his cigarette away and stepped up. He was tired and as much a mess as his team and he wanted to get back to Konoha fast. Everything else could wait.
The smells reached him before he even stepped foot in the main house. The entire compound usually smelt good but when the meal was to welcome Shikamaru back to Konoha then the green eyed went all out. In the two years he had spent in the Nara household Harry had learned to cook the foods native to Konoha but every time there was a special occasion he would cook the cuisine of his own home country, foods unlike anything the Nara clan was used to, all to show Shikamaru how glad he was that the teen was coming back. Yochino would smile and let Harry have total control of the kitchen those days and Shikaku would loiter around, trying to steal a few bites or perhaps taste the dessert before his son. One time, the third time Shikamaru went on a mission outside Konoha with Harry staying with them, the green eyed youth had started the tradition. Shikaku had snuck into the kitchen during a short break he took from playing shoji with Harry and trying to teach the boy about Konoha's history, basic geography and the like. He paused at the door before walking in and sitting at the table, leaving Yoshino and Harry to carry the plates and set the table.
"So, Shikamaru's coming back today?" he asked, a teasing lilt to his voice that had the green eyed boy they welcomed to their home blushing to the tips of his ears. His wife shot him a warning look that he had half a mind to ignore but wisely reconsidered when Harry looked uncomfortable at the teasing. Despite everything the kid still followed whatever rule they told him to, like he was afraid they would kick him out at the slightest step out of line. Little bits like this rekindled Shikaku's hatred for Harry's previous residence (he would never use the word home) and made him glad his son insisted so much to have him with them.
"Ignore Shikaku Harry," Yoshino said in a soothing tone at the embarrassed teen. "I'm sure Shikamaru will be just as happy as you are about coming home. That boy likes your cooking more than mine."
"That's not really true," Harry refuted, "You're a great cook."
Yoshino smiled at the boy and decided not to press the issue. She knew that her son would rather have Harry's cooking than hers. It was cute how Shikamaru was crushing on the green eyed boy and vice versa. Shikaku had noticed as well and if she knew her husband, he would be plotting to help their oblivious son get a clue because otherwise it would take those two forever to acknowledge their connection. Of course, it could very well be that she and her husband were reading too much into it, projecting their own wishes onto the boys. Any other Clan and the members would not want the Clan heir to be homosexual but the Nara Clan never had such hang-ups. There were plenty of other solutions, from surrogacy to adoption and to naming an heir for Shikamaru from within the Clan but that was far into the future. Still, Yoshino could hope for grandkids.
It was the smells that made a smile break out on his face, despite the fact that his joints hurt and his body was one huge bruise. The debriefing he has to his superiors and the quick visit to the hospital to get him checked for poisons and internal bleeding. He had given the slip to the nurses and checked himself out; ignoring the indignant looks his team-mates gave him as he hopped from rooftop to rooftop until he reached his clan compound. He saw the lights were on in the main house; he was expected it seemed. His father came out to meet him, shot him a look and shook his head.
"Go get changed," Shikaku muttered. "If Harry sees you in this mess..."
"It's mostly dirt," the younger shinobi told his father.
"Yes well, there's blood too, I can smell the copper from over here. Burn those."
Shikamaru nodded. He knew how Harry insisted to help around the house, sometimes aiding the servants and housekeepers and he did not want the green eyed boy to come across his bloody clothes. He hated making Harry worry over him.
The teen paused. "Yes?"
"Do something about him. I hate seeing him pine over you. Or vice versa. I hear the rumour mills, you know. It's how I always know what's happening around Konoha. Like for example how that lumber merchant's son had an unfortunate accident with a sign post just a day after he asked our little one out for a date."
Shikamaru sighed. "I have no idea what you're talking about," he lied, managing to keep his pulse steady and his looks nonchalant. He had done this much and a lot more to others who had noticed Harry's beauty and his kind mannerisms. Some who wanted heirs were willing to disregard that bit when they came calling for Harry's hand in marriage, thinking that concubines were acceptable on the side and only seeking to use Harry for his looks and connections to the Nara clan. A couple had been genuinely attracted to the younger teen but the Nara heir had been subtle with them as well. He could strategize and manipulate with the best of them and so far he had succeeded keeping Harry safe. He had no idea that his father had known about all this.
Shikaku continued grinning. "The Kyuubi festival is just around the corner. Ask him. Or I will find him a suitable date." It was a valid threat, coming from his father and Shikamaru took it to heart.
"I like you."
He blinked slowly, using the time he closed his eyes to imagine it was another saying those words. When he opened them, seconds later, it was still Yuu Hajime, in front of him. His family were merchants that dealt with fabrics. Apparently the tall teen with the brown-red hair and black eyes had spotted the young wizard at Yoshino's side and then later had seen him around Konoha's market and asked about him. He was the second son in his family. The oldest was twenty and already married with an heir on the way so there would be no problems from his family to sire his own offspring.
"Would you go out with me?" Yuu asked.
Harry took in the eagerness and earnestness on the older teen's face and nodded, however reluctantly. The way Yuu's whole face lit up and the dark eyed man smiled at the Nara protégé had Harry gulping with guilt. Was it really the right choice? Should he have turned the offer down like he had ignored similar offers he had been given? Because every time he was asked all he could see in his mind's eye was Shikamaru's face and immediately he would start to feel a weird emotion deep in his belly. Other times, when Shikamaru was around, his heart would skip whenever the Chunin would smile at him, or hug him or tease the ends of his hair, right at the nape of his neck. Once or twice Shikaku had even teased him but for a while now, the Nara clan leader would keep quiet and observe. It was Shikamaru's father that one day told him to go ahead with this.
"Go for it," Shikaku said.
"Go for it?" Harry repeated timidly.
The Jonin nodded. "You are young. One date does not mean you end up married to that person. Just that you get to know them. Who knows, maybe you'll make a friend. You don't have many of those. Promise me you will try at least once?"
And the green eyed teen had agreed to this yet now that he was doing this, more out of curiosity and in order to keep a promise, he felt awkward and uncomfortable. He agreed to meet with Yuu Hajime at the gates of the Nara Compound, and then they would watch a movie and maybe eat something.
When the actual day of the date came, Yoshino had been at his side to help him out. Harry had always wore a mixture of kimono and shinobi casual wear but for the day he went with the former, favouring a mint green kimono with dark green patterns depicting trees in a vague way.
"And remember Harry, he tries anything you don't want to do and you can stab him as much as you want. Then you tell me and I'll get Inoichi to punish the brat."
Harry blushed. "I don't think he's a pervert," he said and she sighed, muttering under her breath about 'how innocent her Harry-chan was'.
Yuu Hajime came to the Nara Clan's compound five minutes before the set time, and took Harry with him after greeting Yoshino. For the next three hours Harry spent with the older teen he had a nice time. He let the Yuu boy take the lead, appreciating how the other teen deferred to him about the movie he liked (it was actually an action film with a dragon quest that Harry very much enjoyed mostly because he found the exaggerated faux ninja techniques hilarious) and then to a sushi restaurant. They talked a lot and he got to know his date better. Yuu Hajime was smart and kind but he was not sarcastic enough, he had not seen or experienced violence, he was too... innocent and it unnerved the green eyed wizard. He had not considered it before because he too was technically a civilian, but in the past few years he had been brought up in a ninja clan that specialised in assassination techniques and strategy (Harry knew Shikaku was ANBU captain and Shikamaru was groomed to eventually succeed him), not to mention his previous life, when he had been used and abused and fought for his life. Yuu was not someone who could understand that Harry was not just quiet and meek. He had no idea that the youth had killed (self defence was just semantics) and he would probably be horrified by the sheer abilities Harry had at his disposal. No, Yuu was fine as a friend or a distraction, but he lacked what Harry needed, what the teen knew he had spotted in another. But he would try to keep this first date perfect, try to make new memories and experiences like he had been advised.
It was that resolve and blatant curiosity on his part that made him at the end of the night accept Hajime's request to kiss him. It had been timid at first, the merchant's son careful and gentle with him. Harry liked the warmth, how he felt being held and the sweetness he felt that was mostly due to the dango they had indulged in. Neither noticed that they had a witness in their exchange or the high rise in chakra in the area.
"Where is Harry?"
Shikaku leaned back in his seat, pouring sake in his cup before looking at his son. Shikamaru was back from training, he had been practicing with Asuma so he had not been there to see the frenzy in Yoshino about Harry's date or to see Yuu Hajime come to pick up the green eyed teen. A good thing too because this way Shikaku's plan was coming into fruition in the best way possible.
"Huh, I think I saw him leave a few hours ago," Shikaku muttered in bored fashion.
The Clan Heir frowned. "He just went to the market yesterday. Why would he go out again?"
"He did not go shopping, he went on a date," the teen's father revealed, watching with carefully concealed glee at how his son froze at the nonchalant admission.
"What?" Shikamaru repeated.
"Harry went on his very first date, Yoshino was bursting with pride and worry all day, it's like he was her daughter or something," Shikaku drawled.
"And you let him leave the house just like that?" Shikamaru demanded. His voice was kept even but his hands were both curled into fists and his chakra was fluctuating.
It was amusing just how affected his usually aloof son was over the whole matter. It was also the definite proof Shikaku needed to confirm that his son had feelings for their protégée. Yoshino would be glad to know that since she really wanted Harry to stay forever with the. Shikaku sipped his sake slowly.
"Who was it? Who was the one to ask Harry out?" Shikamaru asked in a low voice.
"Hm, I think a merchant's son? Too troublesome to remember the name?" Shikaku feigned to have forgotten it even if he practically had someone from the clan to follow around the couple, with discretion, just to make sure Harry was safe and enjoying himself. When he turned to glance at his son again, Shikamaru had already disappeared with a burst of Shunshin and the ANBU captain allowed himself a smile.
Shikamaru was furious as he escaped his father's knowing gaze. Furious at both his meddling old man and himself for allowing his father to manipulate the whole situation. Shikamaru's father had probably nudged the green eyed teen into dating just so that he could spur his son into action and any other day Shikamaru would be offended that his troublesome father thought to use one of Yoshino's best tactics - manipulation- to get his son in gear and get him to pursue that which he desired. Honestly he had hoped that his father would chose to sit this one out and not try and orchestrate anything but in hindsight he should have known and planned accordingly.
For a while now Shikamaru had been teased about various people about what they suspected of his emotions towards the boy his family had welcomed. His parents more vocal than even Temari's knowing smirk or Ino's comments about the green eyed youth. The 'I should have known', 'I should have acted', 'Harry's first date was supposed to be me', all clustered in his mind.
"... movie and dinner with me."
"Harry-kun... a date with you was simply a pleasure for me; I enjoyed it as much as you did."
Shikamaru stopped short as his sensitive hearing picked up the conversation. It was easy to spot the pair returning from their date and even easier to hide and observe them. He heard and saw everything. Especially what made his blood boil.
"... May I kiss you goodnight?"
That punk! That upstart! Who did he think he was...?
That simple word, that blush on Harry's face made Shikamaru's ears pound and his chakra flare. He wanted to do something, anything but next thing he knew, his father was there, holding on to him, his superior strength stopping Shikamaru, preventing the genius from doing or saying anything he might regret.
Shikaku knew exactly when to find his son when the younger shinobi stormed out of the house early that morning. Shikamaru had not said a word since he came back from seeing Harry's first kiss. He knew his son was hurt and angry and in need to let some steam out and knew just the place he would go to do just that. It was a Nara property, just outside the village near the farmlands they had for the deer they kept close by. His son, even with his emotions getting the better of him, would not seek out a comrade to vent like any other of the Rookie 9 were most likely to do. He was probably letting his anger on some poor unsuspecting tree.
True enough, as he approached, he could hear the sounds of flesh meeting tree bark and said tree bark shattering under muscles combined with chakra. The ANBU commander stepped forward and silently approached his son and heir, only to be nearly decked by the still angry genius. Dark eyes met his and his son glared up at him. Shikaku absently thought that his son had gotten taller again.
"Shikamaru," he greeted even as he looked at him over his raised arm. His now smarting raised hand because that blow hurt something fierce.
The teen pulled away. "I don't need another lecture," Shikamaru told him.
"I'm not here to lecture you," Shikaku retorted. "I am your father and I do care for you." At the baleful look he got he decided to elaborate a bit, "I care for you but Harry is also under my protection Shika. I have to think about him and his future. Tell me, do you honestly want him or have I been reading you wrong? My gut and the results of the little scheme I cooked up tell me I'm right."
"... You're not wrong," his son admitted.
Shikamaru sighed. "Tch, you're so troublesome. What do you want me to do?"
"Show him your interest. He's a catch as shown and another could very well step up and snatch him away."
"Like the Yuu brat?"
Shikaku shrugged. "You're not in a position to call anyone brat as you're still one yourself. And that guy is not going to be a problem, not really. Harry... he likes another."
The Nara heir rolled his eyes. "I know it's me he likes, old man."
"Then get up and make your move. I want you happy Shikamaru, but I want Harry to be happy as well."
"Always nagging me," Shikamaru muttered without any heat in his voice. "I'll be there," he added and Shikaku smiled and vanished after that now that his job was done.
Every now and then he would lock himself in his room and do this when he knew he would not be disturbed. He started as soon as he got the idea and had not stopped since. They only thing Harry James Potter missed of his old life was the magic, the sheer wonder of it being all around him, from floating candles to dancing pineapples. The green eyed teen did not want to forget everything about the past, like the image of how his parents looked when he saw them in the Mirror of Erised or how it felt to do magic.
The idea about keeping up with practicing said magical skills came to him when he thought back of how he turned a teacher's wig blue. And he thought I could try and do similar stuff again. Like move things, banish them away, anything to give him an edge if a shinobi attacked him. It was not an unrealistic thought that one. Konoha had been invaded once before and the Nara clan were all shinobi which meant plenty of enemies in the shadows trying to make a move against them. Harry was not willing to become a liability for them and so he trained to the best of his abilities a skill that might just become his trump card if anything happened. That is aside from the self defence and martial arts training he was getting from the family that took him in and cared for him. Which led him to a pleasant memory he had, that of making a friend all of his own.
Harry had been training near the stream when a voice he heard cut him off.
"Spread your legs a bit further apart and bend the knees a bit more. That way you'll not lose your balance as easily."
The green eyed wizard had looked up at that and met with pale white eyes. "Um, thank you...?"
"Hyuga. Hyuga Neji."
"A protégé of the Nara Clan," Neji commented. "I'll leave you to your kata."
"I don't mind the company of you wish to stick around," had been Harry's hurried response.
It was what got him to make a friend out of Hiashi's nephew.
End of chapter 1