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
Harry looked up from his book when he heard Shikamaru's unmistakable voice reach his ears. He lifted his head, prepared to greet the other teen when his eyes widened at the messy state of the shinobi's hands. "Shikamaru! What happened to your hands?" he cried out and got to his feet before the other teen could say a word.
"It's not as bad as it seems," the Nara heir said but under the hard look Harry gave him, he caved in. He allowed himself to be ordered around as Harry got everything together to patch him up, not wanting to point out that he could just go to the hospital or seek out Sakura to work on him because in all honesty, he wanted to have Harry fussing over him.
Shikamaru carefully watched as Harry cleaned away the mess before patching him up in an expert manner. It brought unwanted reminders of Harry's past circumstances and he pushed it in the back of his mind because currently, all he wanted was to bask in Harry's presence.
"So... I heard you went out on a date?" Shikamaru asked just as Harry was finishing bandaging his knuckles. Even with chakra coating the skin he had done a number on himself.
Harry's hands stilled. "Oh, you heard about that."
"Did you have fun?"
A shoulder shrugged. "It was fine."
"Fine?" Shikamaru prodded.
"Fine," Harry repeated.
Shikamaru sighed as he took in how nervous Harry looked. He really was an idiot, he decided. Then he voiced this out loud, making Harry's head snap up to look at him.
"Harry," he said, leaning closer to the teen, "If you hate it, pull away, or you can slap me, that works too," he instructed the green eyed youth before he brought his face closer to Harry's. He got bolder when he realised that Harry was not pulling away from him, but on the contrary he was staying still, looking at Shikamaru expectantly. It was then that it got through to the young genius that he really had a chance for a future with the teen. And then their lips touched and all other thoughts disappeared.
A soft gasp came from Harry's lips but the teen did not pull away. Shikamaru gently pulled the green eyed teen closer to him, almost on his lap, as he deepened the kiss until he got a soft moan from his kissing partner. Then he pulled away with a soft smile.
"Took you long enough," was Harry's sullen comment that made Shikamaru snort.
"You have no idea how much I agree with you. Forgive me?"
Harry worried his kiss swollen lip. "Convince me?" he challenged and it was all Shikamaru could do not to lose control. Instead he did the next best thing and kissed the slim youth again.
Unknown to them, Shikaku witnessed the whole exchange with a smug grin and later on when he met with his team-mates from his genin days he bought them all a round of sake when they gathered for some ramen, not their usual place to eat but it was Choza's turn to choose a place and he had heard from his son that Ichiraku's ramen stand.
"What's the occasion?" Choza asked even as Inoichi shot an inquiring look at the Nara.
Shikaku just told them to drink up.
"You are awfully cheerful," Inoichi said. "You did something. You had that same look on your face when you set me and my wife up for a date."
Choza started. "Don't tell me... You were playing match maker again?"
"Who's the unlucky sod?" the Yamanaka asked.
"My son," Shikaku replied.
"Oh, it's about Harry-kun then?" Inoichi asked.
"Are congratulations in order then?" the Akimichi queried.
Shikaku nodded and his team-mates decided to join him in his joy.
Their first date was not an actual date really. Harry wanted more things for a meal, Shikamaru was unwilling to let his side and after a bit of whining to stay home and let Yoshino do the shopping ("Come on, Harry, we can cloud watch together."), the genius was finally strong armed out of the Nara compound and towards Konoha's busy market. Before that though, Harry had met up with Yuu Hajime and gently turned the teen's attentions down and explained that he had been in love with Shikamaru and how that one date got the Nara heir to finally act. Hajime had been disappointed but understanding and wished them the best of luck. It was only when Yoshino found out what those two considered a date that she took her son aside and gave him a very long lecture about treating his partner properly that an actual date took place, one that involved Shikamaru wearing something other than his Shinobi uniform and escorting Harry to a nice restaurant after a long walk. And the Nara heir had not minded one bit, not when he got to kiss his Harry again or when he got to hold the green eyed teen intimately. Soon enough in the coming months the young couple were often seen around Konoha, holding hands, or Shikamaru helping Harry with his shopping without the typical complaining he did when another sent him on errands.
It was getting serious, their relationship. And it was at that point that Harry decided not to keep any secrets from the young man he was in love with. Telling Shikamaru about magic was both the easiest and hardest thing he did in his life.
"The Nara Dojo?" Shikamaru asked when the green eyed youth. "Why should a date happen there?" his natural suspicion was active since the moment Harry asked him that favour.
"You'll see," Harry replied.
"Secrets are troublesome."
"That's why I'm going to tell you my secret," Harry replied and Shikamaru's eyes widened.
"Harry! Now I'm going to keep thinking about it! Just tell me now. Harry!"
But the green eyed teen laughed and slipped away and Shikamaru let him, because he liked seeing his love so carefree.
Butterflies in the stomach were the most tame way Harry could describe his nervousness when the day of the big reveal came. It was just the two of them. Harry had prepared tea and snacks just in case, but those were more distractions and excuses than anything else. Shikamaru was there, shooting him looks that were not as sly as he hoped. Harry had let him stew in his curiosity for two days and even Shikaku had remarked on how jumpy Shikamaru was being or how, at random times he tried to guess Harry's secret.
"You're a spy from Iwa."
"The lost grandson of the Sandaime... or even Jiraiya's offspring?"
"You have a twin brother."
"You are some sort of demon that took human form."
"You're Shino's illegitimate brother lost at birth?"
"You used to be a girl."
That had made Harry slap Shikamaru.
"It's possible!" the genius had cried out but then produced a very nice case full of chocolates to earn the green eyed teen's forgiveness.
But now, he was about to find the truth and he thought he had not seen Harry look more afraid.
"What is it?" Shikamaru asked. "You know I was teasing you all those times I was trying to guess... Unless I did guess right. You don't look like a spy though."
"No," Harry allowed a small smile," I'm not a spy."
"Good to know," the Nara heir replied.
Harry sighed. "Well, I guess there's no helping it." He took a deep breath. "Shika, I'm a wizard."
Utter silence as the genius stared at him for several minutes.
"Shikamaru?" Harry prodded.
"I can't see you as a wizard, sorry," he shook his head.
"Ah, you need proof," the once Gryffindor said. He nodded. "I can do that, give you proof I mean."
Shikamaru cocked his head to the side, a non-verbal sign for Harry to do what he wanted, but the disbelief was still there. After all, by regular civilians, shinobi techniques were a kind of magic.
It was easy doing that. Harry had practiced after all. He tapped a finger to the tray and suddenly they teacups came to life, hopping to rest in front of the two of them. Then the teapot rose and started serving them, Shikamaru first and Harry second.
"Sugar?" Harry asked, as if he was doing this with his own two hands.
"You can stop showing off now. I believe you."
Harry smiled and ended his little show, sneaking glances at Shikamaru as he did that.
"Is that all you can do?" Shikamaru asked, looking serious for once.
If he was curious he was not afraid, Harry thought at first before he recalled that the Nara was usually lazy but a good mystery was enough to kick him into gear. So the green eyed wizard shook his head and started talking, explaining to the young genius about his life, how he was raised, how his parents were murdered, about Hogwarts, the classes, how he thought he ended up in the Elemental Countries in such a state those years ago. And Shikamaru listened, not frightened, but genuinely intrigued.
"It's still you," he later told Harry. "Magic or no magic. But it sure eases my mind knowing that you can keep safe," Shikamaru after a while.
Harry smiled. "Thank you!" he told the teen and kissed him.
Harry and Shikamaru had been a couple two years and the Nara heir a Jonin for half that time. There was relative peace across the nations, no plans for an all out war. Shikamaru both liked and hated such times because it meant that he had to assume responsibilities he did not like, such as the Chunin Exams. It was Konoha's turn to host them but the Kazekage was expected to attend so the red head's sister was roaming Konoha's streets, alongside Shikamaru, poking fun at her once opponent for the Chunin title. Temari, despite her teasing, was a good friend to the Nara and she enjoyed making him mutter 'Troublesome' whenever possible, just as much as she liked teasing him about Harry.
"You keep teasing me about him," Shikamaru muttered as they crossed the main street market of Konoha. "I think it's because you're jealous that he's better looking than you," he quipped and then had to dodge a fist. "Che, he definitely looks better in a kimono."
Temari lowered her fist and considered the times she had seen Harry dressed in silks. "Yes, he truly does," she admitted. "So, two years. It's serious between you two."
"Always was," Shikamaru replied.
"What about your ambassadorial duties in Suna?"
"I'll still have that task but Harry said he would like to travel with me."
"The trip is not an easy one, despite the peace."
Shikamaru grinned. "Harry can take care of himself," he said confidently.
Shikaku frowned as the shinobi that delivered the news disappeared without a noise. The letter from the mission office was crumpled in his fist but the contents had been memorised the second Shikaku read them.
"Dear, what is it?" Yoshino's voice reached him and he turned, knowing he was going to meet his wife's concerned face and Harry's fearful eyes.
"Is it Shikamaru?" Harry asked and next to him, Yoshino gasped.
Shikaku slowly nodded. "The team heading to Suna was attacked. We suspect rogue Sound Shinobi but we can't be sure."
"Is my son..." his wife's voice was surprisingly steady for what was taking place. Harry placed a hand on her shoulder and he could feel her trembling.
"Missing, presumed dead," Shikaku said and caught Yoshino just as her legs gave way and she started sobbing. Shikaku held her and tried to offer comfort. Harry slipped away, not wanting to intrude. He did not cry, barely though. But he did bite his lower lip hard enough to draw blood.
He tracked him down easily. Since two months ago he and Shikamaru had dropped pretences and started openly sharing a room at the main house. Harry was sitting on the bed, a book open in front of him but his eyes locked on the sky he could see from the open doors. He did not immediately notice Shikaku.
"How is Yoshino?" the green eyed man asked in a low voice, focusing on Shikamaru's father.
The youth was pale, and his hands were shaking, the Nara clan head noticed. His eyes saw the still raw lip and he frowned. HE was already worried about his son and his wife and seeing Harry in this state, trying to put up a brave front... His fondness for the boy was swelling in his chest. His son had chosen well.
"Asleep," Shikaku told the other male as he lowered himself to the floor, "I've asked Inoichi and Choza's wives to come over tomorrow. They're good friends."
Harry nodded. "You know Shikamaru is alive."
"Yes, that's what I'd like to think so."
"Shikaku, I know he's alive. It's not a belief. It's not a feeling. I know it," he stressed and the Nara Clan Head really looked at the boy that his son had brought in.
The ANBU captain knew that however Harry came to them, it had not been by normal events. The jumbled mess Yamanaka Inoichi had discovered in his head all those years ago still bothered Shikaku from time to time. He knew that Harry was no mere ordinary civilian. It was true, he had no chakra, but he had strength in him. He knew that the green eyed youth had plenty of secrets and he suspected that recently Shikamaru had found out about the biggest one, if not all of them.
"Can you truly know? Can you truly help?" Shikaku asked.
"If I'm within a certain range, I can," Harry replied.
"How?" Shikaku demanded.
Harry did not hesitate. His secret for Shikamaru's life was a fair trade in his opinion. "Let's say magic," the green eyed man replied.
"Then I'm coming with you."
"Neji already offered the same."
Harry nodded. "He's a friend."
"I'll put a team together, the Godaime won't refuse this. Can you be ready to leave tomorrow?"
"I will be."
"And Harry? Not a word to Yoshino. I don't want to give her false hopes."
There were nine of them in the team sent to recover Shikamaru, including Shika's team-mates and Kurenai's team and Harry. Shikaku had spoken with Tsunade and Harry had been granted special permission to follow the two teams and managed to get himself included as well. The group set out from Konoha following the route the Nara heir was supposed to have followed. Every once in a while they would stop and Harry would mutter a few words in a strange language, shake his head and they would start all over again.
"What are the words you say, I can't understand them," Aburame Shino asked during a break they took. Harry was able to keep up with them when they were running on the ground but tree climbing was beyond him. For a civilian he had good stamina and they had made progress. When they had to cover more distance Harry had accepted Shikaku's offer to be carried on his back while the shinobi strove to cover more ground faster.
"The words?" Harry repeated. "They are short of like the Jutsu you shinobi use."
"W-What do they mean?" Hinata asked, not as shy around.
"'Point me' means point me and it can be used to seek out a location or a person," Harry said.
"A tracking Jutsu?" Kiba asked, Akamaru resting at his legs.
"That is brilliant, Harry," Akuma told the green eyed teen who just shrugged.
"Could you teach us to use it?" Shino asked.
Harry shook his head regretfully. "I'm sorry, only my family can use it."
The shinobi deflated but did not seem to mind much.
It was the next day, around eleven that they stopped again and Harry stood on shaky feet next to Shikaku. They were in a more rocky terrain with various trees.
"Let's try once again," Shikaku told Harry who readily nodded.
The youth took a deep breath. "Point me Shikamaru," he intoned and for the first time he could feel the spell take hold and tug him towards the east. His eyes widened and he started walking, letting the spell guide him.
"He found something!" Kiba cried out needlessly.
"Harry?" Shikaku asked.
"This way," was all the green eyed wizard said.
The shinobi followed him with little fan fare.
They found the battle ground.
Basically it was a clearing where Shikamaru had faced his opponents. All the trees were decimated. The ground was scorched and upturned. There were four bodies scattered around and weapons embedded on trees and spread out around the clearing.
"Harry, stay next to me," Shikaku told the youth, taking out his kunai, just in case. Around them the rest of the shinobi were taking weapons out.
"He's not here," Harry said, still feeling the pull of the spell.
"Sound ninja," Asuma said from where he was crouching next to a body. "We need to take care of this," he added, looking at Shikaku. "Take the kids and go, Kurenai and I will catch up."
"I know you need to take the heads," Harry said, looking at Asuma.
"Shikamaru?" Shikaku guessed.
Harry nodded. "He always talks to me," was all he said.
"Let's hurry with this," Asuma concluded and got to work.
Harry carefully averted his eyes.
The tag from the 'Point me' spell faded about three hours worth of distance from the spot the skirmish had taken place. On the way to the new spot there had been more signs of altercation taking place but no new bodies. There had been blood though. Lots and lots of blood and they had all turned pale when a solemn Kiba had translated Akamaru's bark to them: the blood had been Shikamaru's. The group stopped when Harry's footsteps ended near some rocks, not far from a stream.
"What is it?" Ino asked the green eyed wizard.
"This is the place," Harry announced.
"There's nothing here," Choji frowned.
Hinata shook her head. "Byakugan!" she intoned and her kekkei-genkai activated. "There's chakra strewn all over the clearing," she announced and that prompted Shino to scatter his bugs.
"There are remains of a body not seven minutes from here," the Aburame said and Kurenai vanished fast only to return five minutes later, looking grim.
"Sound ninja," was all she said.
Harry frowned and repeated the spell. "Point me Shikamaru," he repeated and the spell fizzled. "That's odd," he muttered to himself.
"These rocks look out of place," Shikaku remarked.
"Not a genjutsu," Hinata quickly supplied.
"No," the Nara Clan head said, "But they are blocking an entrance to a cave."
His deduction was met with shocked looks and a renewed hope about finding his son.
The cave opening was large enough to fit even Asuma, height wise and Choji, width wise. Harry was left up on the surface to wait, in the company of Kiba and Akamaru, with Kurenai and Choji while the rest of them entered the below ground formation, trackers like Shino and Hinata first.
"He's going to be fine, we practically found him," Choji tried to soothe Harry's nerves. "And you helped plenty with that. The shinobi previously dispatched found nothing."
"I just... He's got to be fine," Harry stressed. "I know he's alive. He might be lazy but he's equally stubborn."
Kurenai smiled at him. "Ino and Hinata both are capable of first aid and Ino had more medic training. Shikamaru is one lucky shinobi to have all of you so worried about him."
"They're coming back up," Kiba said when Akamaru stood and left a soft low wine near the entrance they had earlier cleared.
Harry's breath caught when the first thing he saw was Shikaku and gently cradled in his arms the barely recognizable form of his boyfriend.
"He's alive," were the first words that came from the elder Nara's mouth. Within seconds Ino was next to him, hands glowing with her chakra and the kunoichi was back to treating her team-mate.
Hinata was next, supported by Shino and looking exhausted.
"He's going to be fine," Harry told himself out loud, mostly to convince himself. Choji grabbed his shoulder and squeezed but did not pulled back, offering whatever comfort he could.
Three cracked ribs.
Left hand broken.
Right hand slashed heavily by enemy blades.
Right leg injured with shurinken on the thigh.
A mild concussion and numerous bruises and scrapes.
There was also blood loss, chakra exhaustion and dehydration.
Harry listened with growing dread at the list Ino gave of Shikamaru's injuries. Shikaku was next to him now. They were moving fast, trying to get back to Konoha and the hospital. There was only so much Ino could do while on the field. They had no idea if the Nara heir suffered from any internal injuries and that was the Yamanaka girl's biggest worry.
"I'll do everything I can to stabilise him," she had declared before the teams set out to return to Konoha, looking both at him and Shikamaru's father.
Her words turned out to be the truth. Because Shikamaru himself was as stubborn as he was lazy. Three days after they returned to Konoha, he regained consciousness, much to the relief of the people who loved him. Only then was Harry able to get a full night's rest.
A Nara Shikamaru on the mend was a curious person indeed. For one, he was restless, like most shinobi and he hated being confined to the hospital on bed rest, a fact he made sure that all his doctors and nurses, family and friends knew. But whenever Harry visited him, and he was at his side a lot, his mood would change. The unease for the bed rest was there but the prickly mood (he could rival an Uchiha if he wanted to) would disappear, making everyone wish that Harry could spend all of his time with the difficult patient that was Nara Shikamaru.
Harry entered the room of his boyfriend carrying a portable shogi board just as a nurse fled the room, looking near tears. Instead of being curious or angry, the green eyed teen was exasperated.
"Again, Shika?" he asked the bed ridden shinobi, who gave him an unrepentant look even as he eyed the shogi board.
A smile appeared on Harry's face. "Your mother dug it up from somewhere and gave it to me just as I came to see you. She said it would keep you from tormenting the medical stuff, somewhat," he added that last word as if it where a direct quote and if Shikamaru knew his mother, it was.
"I'm not that bad," the genius protested but it was feeble at best.
"I don't really mind," Harry told him in a matter of fact tone of voice. "I'm just glad to have you back in Konoha."
Shikamaru smiled. "Harry?"
The wizard complied and the genius used his mobile hand to pull the other teen to him and mesh their lips together in a kiss.
Neji was slowly sipping his tea, shooting amused looks at the green eyed civilian across from him.
"What?" Harry demanded, cheeks puffed and tone defensive.
"You are amusing when you get all jealous," the Hyuga commented.
Harry rolled his eyes. "It was my right you know. Those fan girls had no business going to the hospital to harass Shikamaru."
Neji gave a bit of a shudder. As a shinobi with a fan club of his own he understood the horror the Nara heir must have gone through when the fan club managed to enter his hospital room. Usually Hanabi and Hinata would take turns keeping vigil by his side whenever he was incapacitated at Konoha's hospital. Most shinobi with fans used the practice after too many shinobi snapping at their adoring stalkers (and they were the most disturbing stalkers out there) and nearly killing the (mostly) civilian girls that fought for their attention. As it was, Harry came to Shikamaru's room just as the five most prominent and rabid members of his club managed to slip in unnoticed. Currently two of them were receiving medical care and the others would look at him from across the street, pale, screech in fear and flee.
"You are a hero in my eyes," Neji told the green eyed teen. "And I'm sure Shikamaru appreciated the intervention."
Harry flushed a bit, "Yes, he thanked me," he replied and sipped some of his tea.
A teasing smirk appeared in Neji's face. "Oh, I bet he did."
Shikamaru became a Jonin at age seventeen after a particularly gruesome mission. Harry never asked the details as he knew from whispers around the Nara's comrades that out of the team of six Shikamaru was in charge of, three died on the mission. It was a field promotion but the genius asked to take the tests as well. The reason for that was that the Godaime's successor, one Uzumaki Naruto, had suggested him for promotion and the Nara heir wanted no one second guessing his skills and aptitude and right to rise in rank. The fact that he passed and was a given. The party his team-mates and Harry threw for him afterwards was an unexpected but not unwelcome surprise.
"Hyuuga Kirito, Kiryu Mamoru and Aburame Yumi, you are Team 4 and your Jonin Instructor is..." a small smile played on Umino Iruka's lips as he read the list. "Nara Shikamaru."
There was a groan from his students who belonged to shinobi clans and knew the reputation of the Nara Clan and more specifically the Nara heir.
"You've got to be joking," Kirito muttered.
Iruka smirked at them. "You will have to find him yourselves as I doubt he will be turning up at the Academy. Why don't you try 'Yakiniku Q' or the training areas near the South district's river, particularly the bridge," he advised, recalling all the places he had had to chase the young prodigy from when he had been in the Academy and skipped to go cloud watching. He saw the disbelief on the kids' faces and chuckled. "Well? What are you waiting for? Go hunt him down," he said and shoed them out of the classroom, enjoying their grumbling and the promise of retribution in the young Hyuuga's eyes in the case their Jonin was as bad as the rumours said.
It was embarrassing when Shikaku walked in on them. They had not planned it or anything but Shikamaru had to take Team 4 for training near the preserve the Clan kept their deer and Harry woke up to make him breakfast and keep him some company. Somehow that got a bit out of hand and the Nara heir cornered his lover near the kitchen counter in a heavy make out session that was about to become a whole lot more, when they heard a choked sound and Shikamaru retrieved his hand from where he had sneaked it inside Harry's sleeping robe. He scowled when he saw his father, blush on his face and eyes straying all over the room and refusing to focus on his son and the green eyed man with him.
"Father," the Nara muttered.
Harry flushed red. "Um, Sh-Shikaku..."
"I'll just go and... lots and lots of paperwork... Right! Goodnight!" Shikaku said and backed out of the room.
Shikamaru and Harry looked at each other and burst into laughter.
"Now... Where were we Harry?"
"No!" the green eyed man said, placing a hand on the Nara's chest and pushing him for good measure. "Not in the kitchen, anyone can walk in. Your father was bad enough as it is. Now go, you have the duckling to teach right?"
Shikamaru rolled his eyes and then he sighed. "How troublesome, I just wanted to cuddle with you," he smirked at Harry and swooped in for a kiss that left the green eyed man weak in the knees and his eyes glazed. "That will tidy me up for a bit," he muttered and left with a smile on his face. "When I get back tonight we can finish what we started," were his parting words.
"ANBU?" Harry tried the word with some distaste on his face. He knew what ANBU were, their job description and their value to the village but he did not like it, he never really got used to just how violent this world that was his home was. The constant need for Konoha to be strong enough to fend off their enemies and the shinobi that it took for that to be possible... But that was all logistics. This, what was Shikamaru telling him that very moment had made him feel faint.
The Godaime Tsunade was retiring. Uzumaki Naruto was scheduled to take the hat from her in two months time, when his official inauguration would take place.
Most of the old Shinobi Clan Head's council were stepping down, letting the new generation step up. Neji had told Harry that Hyuuga Hinata, his cousin, was taking the mantle of the Hyuuga Clan.
Shikaku was retiring from his position and he had recommended Shikamaru to succeed him as ANBU Commander. The catch? He had to join ANBU for at least a year on missions, get a feel on how they operated. To do that, Nara Shikamaru would have to vanish and his mask to take that place. For that one year he had to belong to ANBU alone, stay at their headquarters, meet with only his comrades and have no contact whatsoever with the regular ranks. At the end of the year, should his performance be exceptional and should he be alive by then, he would be eligible for the position. Usually, one had to be in the ANBU corps for at least three years but the Hokage did not was to break her new ANBU commander to the extent the regular ANBU members suffered during their tenure.
"Shikamaru, are you sure?" Harry asked. He was in Shikamaru's embrace, in the safety of their bedroom.
"Twelve months, no more, no less," the Nara Heir said without inflection in his voice. "Twelve months away from you, surrounded by death and madness that is the ANBU lifestyle."
"I need advice Harry."
Green eyes went wide. "Shikamaru!"
"Tell me, should I pursue this?" he asked his lover. "If you tell me you want me here, by your side, I won't ever leave you. Just say the words Harry."
Harry closed his eyes and sighed. They had discussed it, long ago. When Harry had been with the Nara Clan for about a year. Harry and Shikamaru had been talking about their plans for the future. They were lying on their backs on the soft grass right outside the main house of the Nara Clan Head after watching the clouds and napping that lazy afternoon.
"Neh Harry? Do you ever think about the future?" a younger Shikamaru had asked the green eyed boy.
"The future?" the raven haired boy asked.
"Yes, about what job you want to do when you grow up?"
Harry had grown quiet after that. "I... I never thought about it, not really," he had replied. "What I truly want, what I've always wanted is a family and friends of my own and a place to call home," he truthfully admitted somewhat bashfully. He knew it was not usual for a boy to have these thoughts. He never thought about being a policeman or a soldier or an astronaut or having powers like magic. But he had longed to be normal, to have people who cared about him and even loved him.
Shikamaru had not commented on his pause. Instead he sought to fill the silence. "I... Don't tell my dad, or mom, because they won't leave me alone after that but..." he rubbed the bridge of his nose. "I'd like to be in ANBU one day."
Green eyes blinked. "ANBU?" he tried the word. "What does that mean?"
And the Nara heir explained them to him.
Currently, that's what bothered Harry the most, the fact that Shikamaru was given the chance to make his dream come true and he was second guessing it for him, because he loved Harry and did not want to leave him behind. The green eyed wizard turned to his lover, the decision made for him.
"Shika... You should do it."
The Nara stared, surprised by this. "Harry... Are you sure?"
"One year," Harry stated. "You're allowed to leave my side for this one year but after that, you won't leave me ever again. I don't want you to get hurt or take unnecessary risks. Just give it your all and make your dream come true. I don't want you to resent me, Shikamaru, so I won't be selfish. I can live apart from you for those twelve months," he declared.
The wizard kissed the genius, effectively shutting him up.
"One year," Harry repeated, breaking a kiss. "So you better give me one hell of a 'Goodbye and see you in twelve months' parting gift," he warned the Nara heir who smiled.
"What a troublesome man you are."
"No more than you, Shikamaru."
"Harry... Thank you."
Yoshino was quietly standing next to Harry, both helping to make breakfast. The house was quiet now and the green eyed man was prone to bouts of solitude but not for long. They were all worried, even Shikaku, but each and every one of them pretended it was nothing at all. Life went on for them and the village. It was not easy for Harry. At first he was uncomfortable spending a lot of time alone in the bedroom he shared with Shikamaru and the house felt even emptier. Yoshino at first said nothing but after two weeks of restlessness she had enough.
"Why don't you get a hobby, or even some kind of work, anything to take your mind off from what's bothering you?" Yoshino remarked one day during breakfast. "Shikaku, what do you think?"
"It's a brilliant idea, really. And it will keep you out of trouble," Shikamaru's father mused.
"But what hobby?" Harry wondered. "And what kind of work? I'm good with household chores and Shikamaru and Neji usually spar with me but..." he trailed off. "I could go for a walk," he muttered to himself.
"Want some company?" Yoshino asked. "Oh, but I had promised Kaoru that I would visit the nursery today," she visibly deflated.
"Nursery?" Harry asked.
"Yes, where children of Jonin shinobi and kunoichi go when the parents are away on missions," Yoshino explained.
It took him a moment to decide.
"Could I come along with you?" the green eyed man asked.
Yoshino smiled and nodded.
The nursery was colourful and loud and had around thirty kids under the age of five, all of them offspring of Konoha shinobi and kunoichi. At all times there was an ANBU standing guard nearby, just in case someone decided to get back at one of the prominent Jonin by kidnapping their family members while they were off defending Konoha's interests. People from various clans visited on rotation, willing to play the part of nannies to the children. They were usually assigned one or two brats per person so the kids could be familiar with them and not get too confused. And if the shinobi parent was not from a clan then said clan would sponsor the kids for their shinobi career and usually in the event of the parent dying, said clan would adopt the kid and not let him or her end up in the orphanage. Yoshino explained all that on the way there and Harry was quite eager to see the kid Shikamaru's mother was in charge of. Azami Akimichi, Choji's mother, was a plump, jolly woman who was in charge of a four year old girl and Hiyori Yamanaka, Ino's mother, was in charge of a baby around nineteen months old. Each went off to see their respective charges the moment they were cleared by the Jonin that manned the front entrance.
"Nara Yoshino with Nara Harry for Higashiyama Seiya," Yoshino told the Jonin who after a while told them they could enter.
Harry followed Yoshino in a room with soft floor and squishy toys and playpens all around. Yoshino went straight for a little boy around two years old, with hair the colour of rich chocolate and olive green eyes. He was dressed in a one-piece outfit with little duck on it and was currently playing with a stuffed puppy but the moment he saw Yoshino his eyes lit up and reached towards her, begging to be picked up in a hug. Shikamaru's mother did not hesitate for a second and complied with a smile. Harry did not blame her, Seiya was simply adorable.
End of chapter 2