"Oh my god, I am so so sorry," Harry hissed. "I didn't have a choice. He insisted he had to be here."
Sakura wanted to roll her eyes at it all, but she was worried Harry might think she was directing it towards him. "It's fine," she promised. Naruto was busy making faces over his shoulder. It was juvenile and not at all subtle but she hoped it was as satisfying as it looked. "We are familiar with his objections."
Harry grimaced again, face flush with embarrassment. "He shouldn't talk to you like that. It's not your fault."
It wasn't, but Sakura wasn't enough of a child to think that had any bearing on the matter. It certainly did not help that Kakashi took advantage of every opportunity he could find to play the idiot. Team 7 was far too used to his tactics to truly be upset about it. Annoyed, maybe. Exasperate, certainly. But if Kakashi wanted to respond to the general disdain they had been receiving from much of the wizarding world by pretending to be a sexist, lazy, buffoon, then hopefully he had a reason for doing so. A very good one.
"It's fine," Sakura repeated.
Sasuke hadn't said a word. The repeated failures at magic were wearing on him. He wasn't used to having to work hard the way Sakura and Naruto did. Sasuke was normally naturally talented at something and then worked hard to ensure he wasn't just talented but actually the best. He wasn't used to being stuck at square one for very long. More than one unpleasant DADA class had been followed up by a brief but vicious bout of sparring to work off his frustration.
Failure was not something Sasuke handled well. Idiots, on the other hand, he was more than used to ignoring. After all, he'd grown up with Naruto, trained under some of the most melodramatic narcissists around, and routinely had to sit in on clan meetings. Idiocy was something Sasuke had plenty of experience working around. Sakura doubted very much he even much noticed Northstein at all.
In fact, his first question was "what training are we doing?" and Sakura had to laugh. You could insult Sasuke until you were blue in the face and his only question would be when did training start? Harry looked relieved though.
He worried about them too much. Sasuke's cousin was far too kindhearted and too prone to treating setbacks as his own personal fault. And trying to argue with him about it only made it worse. A reality Sasuke was slowly learning to work around.
Though hopefully their performance tonight would go a long way towards taking some of that pressure off of them.
Harry grinned broadly, looking far more comfortable in his own element than she was used to seeing him. "Hermione came up with it," he told them proudly. "It's sort of so obvious I should have thought of it right away. What do you all do routinely that doesn't require any seals?"
"Punch things?" Naruto suggested. "Stab them? Steal something?"
"Talk too much," Sasuke grumbled.
"Use our creepy face to be a creep that makes other people go insane just by having to look at such creepiness?" Naruto snarked back.
Harry grimaced. "Okay, so none of that. Wow. Maybe Hermione's right, and I have spent too much time with you."
Sasuke scowled at the very notion and for a moment Sakura thought she might need to step in, literally, and stomp on his foot to keep him from doing anything foolish. Harry's friends hadn't received them as warmly as they would have liked, but it was clearly they were making an attempt. Mostly for Harry's sake, but they weren't actively working against Team 7. Sasuke was going to have to learn that sometimes that was enough. And that sometimes, big boys had to share their cousins with other people.
Thankfully, this was one of those times when Harry was in a good enough mood that he just shrugged off Sasuke's obviously poor manners. "Not like that," he sighed. "It's just funny how used to you all being kind of scary I am. I don't even think about it, honestly."
Damning with faint praise, but Sakura guessed they would have to take it. There were plenty of civilians who never were able to accept the kind of lifestyle being a nin was. Even her parents were much more likely to ignore that part of Sakura's life than ever talk to their daughter about it. Becoming a nin in a village like Konoha was usually considered a mark of honor, but that didn't mean every farmer or merchant understood it or embraced it.
"So what's the plan?" Sakura asked before this conversation could dissolve any further. Just because Harry was in a happy mood and inclined to overlook Sasuke's blunders didn't mean things would stay that way. They both did better when they had a goal to concentrate on and didn't get themselves tangled up in knots worrying about each other.
Harry grinned. "How's your sticking charms?" he asked loudly.
All three nin stared back. Their charms were nonexistent.
"Like, sticking to things or making other things sticky?" Naruto asked. "Because the first one's easy and I can think of about a dozen ways to make the latter happen, depending on how gross you want it to be or how much skin it's going to rip off to get free."
Harry wrinkled his nose. "Let's stick to magic based sticking for now, okay? And not whatever unholy concoction you have for pranking people with."
"Spoil sport," Naruto grumbled but he was grinning from ear to ear.
Sticking "charms". Why did one of them think of that sooner? It was one of the first things they had learned as genin, came as naturally as breathing and barely took a thought. It would be easy to wave a wand a round and chant a special word and make something like that happen by sheer will. No magic needed, but to everyone else they would seem perfectly competent.
"Can you run a whole lesson plan just on that?" Sakura asked out of curiosity. There weren't many trees in this part of the world to leap to and from, and she had yet to see a wizard make good use of his full surroundings by walking on the walls or ceiling. If it wasn't a piece of magic commonly used, it wasn't going to do them much good.
But Harry was rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet, eager to get started the way he was when they used to play games of 'tag' in the Konoha training fields. He liked being active and he could be fearless sometimes. "Hermione and I got you covered. We have a whole list of attacks and counter attacks based on sticking charms. And if you guys happen to suggest something practical and clever, well, it'd help make it look like you're participating, you know? Just don't do anything too flashy," Harry quickly added on.
"He means you, dobe," Sasuke muttered. It was clear that Harry's good mood had spread to him as well since that mild mannered grumbling was about as affectionate as he got. And Naruto knew it. So when he yelled back about teme's being showboats it was all in good fun and for once made them look far more like normal teenage boys than they had managed this entire mission.