When Naruto opened his eyes the next morning, he was both surprised and happy to discover that Harry was still wrapped around him protectively, making him feel warm and safe once again. Joy washed over him as he realized that no, last night was not a dream. That someone other than Jiji had looked at him with kind and gentle eyes. Had spoken to him with nice words. Reaching a hand out, Naruto gently began to pet Harry's fur, silently marveling at the softness of it. Snuggling closer to the fox, he closed his eyes with a small sigh of contentment, a smile lifting his lips.
"... You are too adorable, Naru-chan."
Naruto jumped, his eyes snapping open in surprise. He huffed once he realized what Harry called him. "Don't call me chan! I'm not a girl, dattebayo!"
The fox pouted, ears drooping in sadness. "B-but it's my own special nickname for you." Harry sniffled, looking utterly pitiful.
Naruto's eyes widened, the warm feeling in his chest growing at the thought of someone giving him a nickname only to be used by them. "Uh-um, I guess you can call me Naru-chan," he muttered, scratching the back of his head nervously while looking away, cheeks turning a bright pink. He yelped when he was suddenly tackled by a human Harry.
"So kawaii, Naru-chan!" Harry cooed, hugging him tightly.
Naruto's blush darkened. "I'm not cute, dattebayo!"
Harry chuckled and released him, standing. "Sure you're not, Naru-chan. Now, how about some breakfast?" he asked.
Naruto instantly perked up. "Ramen?" he asked with a grin.
Harry gave him a disapproving look. "Ramen isn't a healthy breakfast, Naru-chan," he said before giving him a suspicious look. "Naru, you live by yourself. Does that mean you buy your own food?"
Naruto nodded hesitantly, wary of where this was going.
"Do the villagers let you buy food?"
Naruto didn't move for a few moments before he eventually shook his head.
Harry snarled in fury, the shadows in the room moving restlessly. "Those bastards!" he hissed darkly, almost lapsing into parseltongue, his hands clenching into fists.
Naruto eyed him with concern. "Hari?"
The brunette took a deep breath, letting it out slowly as a way to calm his nerves. "Sorry, I just... You don't deserve this, Naru." Harry told him, pulling the blonde into his arms. Naruto immediately relaxed, melting into the embrace.
Releasing him a few seconds later, Harry took out his trunk and un-shrank it, chuckling when he saw Naruto's wide-eyed look. Unlocking the trunk, he opened one of the seven compartments, which contained food. Summoning all of it into the kitchen and into their correct places, he went to the kitchen to make breakfast, Naruto following close behind him. While Naruto sat at the table, Harry began making a traditional Japanese breakfast, which consisted of steamed rice, miso soup, grilled fish, tamagoyaki (rolled omelet), and tsukemono pickles, along with onigiri. Hisana had enjoyed teaching Harry how to cook Japanese cuisine and it had been one of his favorite things to do when he had the spare time.
"You know how to cook, Hari?" Naruto asked after a few minutes of silence.
Harry nodded. "Mhmm. Since I was four."
"Did you live alone, too?"
"In a way, I guess. After my parents were murdered when I was a year old, I was sent to my aunt and uncle. The only problem was, they hated my parents, and me by default. They didn't want me and made sure I knew that. My bedroom was the cupboard under the stairs and I was forced to do all the chores; cooking, cleaning, gardening. They never used my name, calling me freak instead. I actually thought my name was freak until I started school when I was six." Harry told Naruto, knowing the boy wouldn't judge him and give him pity. Besides, it felt good to finally say everything out loud. Like a weight was lifted off his shoulders. "If I didn't finish my chores or do them correctly, I was punished. Usually, it was going to bed without dinner, but it's not like they fed me well anyway. Everything they gave me was always scraps. Other times, I got a beating. Actually broke a few of my bones, sometimes. And their son didn't act much better towards me. Even invented a game; 'Harry Hunting'. He and his minions would chase me around and, if I was caught, beat me until I was black and blue. But most of the time I was too fast for them." Harry continued as he set the plates. Putting the food on the table, he looked at Naruto, freezing when he saw tears in the boy's eyes. "Naru-chan?" he asked with mild panic, wondering if he said too much.
Naruto sniffled and tackled Harry in a tight hug. "Hari-nii has me now. You don't have to go back to those mean people. I'll be your precious person, dattebayo."
Harry's own eyes watered a bit at that and he smiled gently, eyes warm with fondness. Naruto had already taken residence in his heart, despite the short time they knew each other. "You're already my precious person, Naru."
Naruto beamed at him and Harry had never seen someone so happy before. He vowed to himself then, that he would do everything in his power to make sure those bright blue eyes never went dull with despair and pain.
It's been a few months since Harry and Naruto met. During that time, the two had gotten closer, Harry's protectiveness over the blonde growing as he began to view the blonde as a little brother, or even a son. When Naruto left the apartment to go to the academy, Harry was right there beside him, though he always went in his wolf form. A plus of this was that the villagers now avoided and ignored Naruto for the most part, after Harry had nearly torn out the throat of a man who dared insult the jinchuuriki. Naruto's classmates were also wary of Harry, who took pleasure in growling at them when they got too mean towards his charge. He especially loved baring his teeth at Haruno Sakura, who was constantly berating and hitting Naruto. The second Harry realized Naruto had a crush on the girl, he had ranted for hours about how Naruto deserved better than 'the pink haired bitch who treated him like trash'. It took some convincing and a few more rants before Naruto listened to Harry and actually gave thought to how Haruno treated him. He still had a small crush on her, but it was gradually fading, which made Harry more than happy. He didn't want his Naru-chan to end up with a girl like Haruno. He knew it was a bit harsh, as she was only a child and had yet to grow up or even mature a bit, but Harry didn't care. She might be young, but the child she was hitting was HIS and he refused to let that go just because of her age.
Something Harry had noticed when he went to the academy was how everyone else treated one Uchiha Sasuke. He had heard about the Uchiha Massacre, how Sasuke was the only survivor. Harry could see the loneliness in the boy, the need for revenge resting behind that loneliness. He knew Naruto was worried about his fellow classmate and wanted to talk to him, but knew that Sasuke would see it as pity and not actual concern.
Harry blinked when Naruto came to a sudden halt on their way back to the apartment. Looking around, he saw that they were near the lake where Sasuke always was. Following Naruto's gaze, he saw that the blonde was, indeed, watching Sasuke, who was once again cloaked by a shadow of loneliness. Making a decision, Harry trotted down the stairs and up to his fellow brunette before gently hitting his arm with a paw. Sasuke jumped and snapped his gaze to him, eyebrows furrowing.
"Aren't you that mutt who's always with the dobe?" he muttered.
Harry huffed, not appreciating being called a mutt. Taking hold of Sasuke's sleeve between his teeth, he tugged softly.
Sasuke's eyes narrowed and he scowled. "What do you want?"
Harry rolled his eyes and continued tugging until the eight nearly nine years old stood. Moving behind the Uchiha, he pushed him with his head towards the stairs. Arching an eyebrow, Sasuke stared at the wolf.
"You want me to go up the stairs, to the dobe, don't you?"
Harry nodded, pushing him again.
Sasuke shook his head. "Why would I want to go to the dobe?"
Harry scowled and, making a split second decision, turned back into a human, despite knowing that a few ANBU were watching from the shadows. He'd deal with that later. "Because Naru and I see how lonely you are and think that you need some company since we understand the pain of loneliness all too well."
Sasuke stared at him with wide eyes. "Y-you-how?!"
"It's a bloodline. A very old and rare one. Now, if you don't come willingly, know that I'm not afraid to use force."
Sasuke glared darkly at that. "You wouldn't dare." he hissed, scowling.
"Is that a challenge? I'll take it as a challenge."
Moving forward, Harry grabbed Sasuke and threw him over his shoulder before the kid could react. Heading back to Naruto, who was staring with eyes wide in shock, he grabbed the blonde and apparated to the apartment. Sasuke let out a groan as he was set down, holding his stomach as he turned a bit green. Naruto winced with sympathy.
"Yeah, it's like that the first couple times." he said, patting the brunette with understanding and sympathy.
Sasuke glared at him. "Who the hell is he?! Who are you?!" he turned his glare to Harry, who gave him a disapproving look.
Sasuke blinked, taken aback by the reprimand.
"Um, Hari-nii, why did you take Sasuke and bring him here?" Naruto asked the green-eyed nineteen-year-old, shocking the Uchiha with the use of his first name.
"Cuz he's staying the night."
"WHAT?!" came the shouted response from both Sasuke and Naruto.
Harry turned to Sasuke. "You need company, Sasuke. Company other than rabid fangirls and ass-kissers. Not to mention, staying in the house where your family was killed isn't good for your health."
Sasuke gave him a defiant look, arms crossed over his chest. "I can take care of myself."
"I don't doubt that, but everyone needs someone, and you've been alone since your family died. And children shouldn't be alone."
Naruto stepped forward. "Please stay the night, Sasuke. I know you don't like me, no one but Hari-nii does, but I want to be your friend."
Sasuke turned to him with a sneer. "Of course you want to be my friend. Who doesn't want to be the friend of the last Uchiha?" he hissed with bitterness.
Naruto growled, glaring at him. "Don't think me so shallow, you damn teme! You're not just the last Uchiha to me, dattebayo!"
Harry flicked Naruto's forehead, making the boy blink. "Language, Naru-chan. I just scolded Sasu-chan earlier, what makes you think you can get away with it?"
Naruto flushed. "Gomen, Harry-nii."
"Why do you call him brother when you're clearly not related to him?" Sasuke asked, unable to keep his curiosity a bay.
Naruto huffed, crossing his arms over his chest as he narrowed his eyes at the Uchiha. "We don't have to be related for him to be my brother. Hari-nii is the only one who cares for me and doesn't see me as annoying or a demon."
Naruto's eyes widened as he realized what he let slip. "Demon? Who said demon?" he laughed nervously, mentally berating himself.
Sasuke narrowed his eyes. "Who calls you a demon, Uzumaki?" he demanded.
Naruto swallowed, panic rising in him.
"Naruto, answer me." Sasuke ground out, refusing to be ignored.
"The villagers, okay!" the blonde finally exploded. "They all hate me!"
Sasuke scoffed. "Oh, please. Why would they hate you, of all people?"
Naruto's eyes misted over as he curled into himself. "I- I don't know." his voice cracked in the middle. "They just do. And I don't know what I did wrong!" he cried.
Harry quickly pulled him into his arms, rubbing his back soothingly as he whispered calming words into his ear. Guilt washed through Sasuke as he watched Naruto break down and he shifted uncomfortably before he moved toward the brothers and hesitantly put a hand on Naruto's shoulder.
"Um, I'm sorry, Uzum- Naruto. I shouldn't have pushed you like that. And you shouldn't believe the villagers. You're not a demon. Just a dobe." Sasuke told the blonde, an awkward look on his face.
Harry snickered, though he sent a grateful look at Sasuke as Naruto relaxed a bit, the sobs stopping. "Naruto's actually very smart. He just doesn't like to show it because he thinks the villagers will react worse to his existence. And I have to agree with him. A smart 'demon' is more dangerous than a dumb 'demon'." he said, kissing the top of Naruto's head.
Sasuke blinked. "... That makes sense, I guess." he murmured. "Hard to believe, though."
Harry nodded. "Naruto has a very good mask, kind of like mine when I went to school, only I wasn't as loud. I think the only one who suspects him is that Nara kid."
"Shikamaru?" Naruto asked, tilting his head to the side as he looked up at his brother.
Harry nodded again. "He watches you sometimes, as if he knows that your hiding something or something like that. Anyway, I'm going to go make dinner. Any preferences, Sasu-chan?"
Sasuke immediately scowled. "Don't call me chan... And anything with tomatoes." he added, looking away with a red tint to his cheeks.
Harry smiled and ruffled his hair. "Honestly. Between you and Naruto, I'm going to die from the adorableness."
Both Naruto and Sasuke blushed, making Harry laugh as he headed to the kitchen to start dinner. Sasuke turned to Naruto.
"Your brother is crazy." he said bluntly. "How did you two even meet?"
Naruto's smile slipped and he paled before he forced a grin. "Oh, just bumped into each other!" he said with a fake laugh.
Sasuke gave him an unimpressed look, though the concern in his eyes was obvious. "You don't have to tell me, but I'd appreciate it if you didn't lie to me."
Naruto sighed and motioned for Sasuke to follow him to his room, where he sat on his bed, staring at his lap. Sasuke climbed up next to him, the worry never leaving his face. Seeing Naruto like this was unusual and not natural. Naruto was supposed to be grinning and loud. Happy and bright. Not sad and in obvious emotional pain.
"I'll tell you if you tell me what happened the night your family died." Naruto looked up and met Sasuke's wide eyes.
Sasuke gritted his teeth and nodded. Logically, he knew that he needed to tell someone, that holding it all in wasn't good for his mental health, but that didn't mean he was ready to tell someone what he witnessed that night. Sasuke jerked out of his thoughts when he felt something grab his hand and looked at it to see Naruto's held his. He looked up, locking eyes with the blonde.
"It's okay, Sasuke. It feels better once you let it out." the blonde told him.
Sasuke nodded and took in a deep breath and began.