"I'm bored," Tony announced, loud enough for Bruce to hear him but not so loud that Professor Fury would.
Bruce waved his left hand at him, a signal to be quiet. His right hand was busy taking notes, quill scritching on the desk between them. "You're always bored."
This was true. The plague of being an unqualified genius is that you quickly got bored. Granted, his school was probably the least boring school in existence, and Tony was nothing if not good at finding ways to entertain himself. Nonetheless, there were only so many times you could transfigure Professor Fury's desk into a hippo before you began to wonder what the point of it all was.
On Tony's other side, Thor was nodding seriously along with Fury's latest rant about the importance of conviction in casting defensive spells. You wouldn't guess it, looking at him, but Thor was a good student. It was all that good-natured earnestness. All the professors loved him. And he was always up for a good time, so he was one of the few Gryffindors with whom Tony could carry a conversation without feeling like smashing his head against the nearest flat surface.
"Hey," said Tony out of the side of his mouth to Thor, idea forming already, "you distract Fury, and I'll--"
"STARK." Fury stopped mid-sentence and Tony froze.
"He-ey, Professor. What's happening?" Tony turned on a winning smile.
"Talking out of turn, five points from Ravenclaw." Fury turned back to his lecture on shield charms.
Around him, half of the classroom erupted in groans, with some muttering, "Way to go, Stark."
Tony shrugged. He really didn't give a hoot about winning the House Cup – it was a giant cup, who really cared who won? - so the threat of losing points wasn't much of an incentive for him to stay in line. Much to the dismay of everyone in Ravenclaw.
Having mastered the first half of the sixth years' Defense Against the Dark Arts textbook already, Tony zoned out of the lecture. He propped his chin in hand, leaning on his elbow, and daydreamed about his next broomstick prototype. He wanted to add rocket thrusters to this model, maybe.
A quiet cough from the doorway interrupted Fury once again.
Fury whirled around, black cloak swirling and good eye narrowed, and barked, "What is it now?"
"Um." The guy in the doorway, wearing Gryffindor robes, looked confused. "I'm... in this class? Steve Rogers? Sorry I'm late, but I just got my schedule from the Headmaster."
Tony sat up, intrigued.
He wasn't alone; most of the class broke out in murmurs of interest. Students didn't join Hogwarts as sixth years, it just wasn't done. And none of them had ever seen this Steve Rogers before. That alone made him interesting. Not to mention he was good-looking enough that Tony was half-tempted to poke at him with a wand and see if the guy hadn't cast a Glamour on himself or something.
Professor Fury schooled his face into a less-menacing expression. "Right." He gestured to the empty seat next to Thor. "Rogers, take a seat next to Odinson. We're on Protego charms now, chapter five of your text."
Tony leaned across the aisle, looking around Thor to his other side. "Hey, I'm Tony."
Steve looked surprised for a second that Tony was even talking to him, but then he broke out in a reserved, half-embarrassed smile, ducking his head a little. "Hey."
"Oh god," muttered Jane Foster, from the desk behind Tony and Bruce.
"You, shut up," said Tony. Bruce was laughing a little, trying to hide it by pretending to cough. Tony elbowed him in the side. "You too."
Well, at least school just got more interesting.
"So the word going around is he had some freak accident with a Time Turner," said Clint, taking a bite of a pumpkin pasty. Clint had an uncannily good ability to keep track of everything going on in the school.
"What do you mean, 'accident?'" Tony blinked. "And when the hell did you even get here?" Two seconds ago, it was just him and Bruce, eating lunch on the courtyard benches. Now Clint had appeared on Bruce's other side.
Clint wiggled his fingers at Tony absently, preoccupied with examining his pasty for the next corner to bite. "Magic," he said, cocking an eyebrow.
Tony snorted, trying to pretend he wasn't amused. He turned back to his broomstick prototype, which sat in nearly-assembled form in his lap. "So, what was the accident?"
"No one knows the details. Nat was saying that Loki was saying that some other kid was saying he's really from 1940s. World War II. Something happened and he got ejected into the future."
Bruce, who had finally looked up from editing his extra-credit Arithmancy essay (Bruce had actually asked Professor Vector for more homework, something that boggled Tony's mind), gestured at the broomstick. "Are those kinds of modifications even legal on the Quidditch pitch, Tony?"
"Of course not." Tony grinned. "But that doesn't stop me from making them."
Tony just liked... tinkering. There was no other word for it. Charms and Transfiguration were his best classes. But while building things through spellcasting was great and all, sometimes he liked to do things the Muggle way. Something was innately satisfying about using his hands.
The Starks were an old and incredibly rich wizarding family from way back, but the other pureblooded families have basically hated them ever since Howard Stark went off and married a Muggle and built an empire making Muggle inventions. If nothing else, Tony was sort of proud of his father for doing that, rebelling against centuries of tradition.
"What is that?" Natasha appeared at Tony's elbow, startling him so much he nearly toppled off his spot on the bench.
"Merlin! You and Clint need to wear bells or something." Tony straightened himself, surly. He waved the tool in front of her face. "It's a wrench, if you must know."
It was then that Loki and Thor showed up. Loki's mouth twisted disdainfully at the work in Tony's lap. "A Muggle tool."
"Why do we even talk to you again?" said Tony, looking up at Loki with feigned confusion.
Loki scowled, taking a step forward, but Thor took him by the shoulders and held him back. "Peace, brother," said Thor, because he and Loki talked like that. No one was sure why. Probably because they were raised in some kind of mythical Nordic kingdom.
"Alright. Just watch this, kids." Tony made the final adjustment on his broomstick, and leaned back a little.
The broomstick in his lap lifted up, hovering in the air for a second, before it gave a rumble much like a motorcycle and shot off into the air, leaving a trail of white-blue energy streaking behind it. It swirled around and looped crazily, drawing the attention of all the students in the courtyard.
It also apparently caught the attention of Steve Rogers, who approached the group just as the broomstick sputtered to a landing in the grass in front of Tony.
"Um, hey," Steve said. The whole group stopped talking to stare at him. He continued, hesitatingly, "Uh, sorry to interrupt. I just wanted to talk to Thor."
"Oh, really?" Loki arched an eyebrow.
"Please excuse my brother," reassured Thor, stepping forward and offering Steve his hand to shake. "How can I be of service, Steve Rogers?"
"McGonagall told me you're captain of the Gryffindor team. I know the term's already started and I think she said you had tryouts last week, but I was a pretty good Keeper back when I used to play. I'd like to try out for the Quidditch team if you'll let me."
If Thor smiled any wider, his face would split in half. "Of course, Steve Rogers. Everyone should have an opportunity to test their skill." He slung an arm around Steve's shoulders, as if they were old friends. "And I have a feeling you shall be an excellent Keeper for our team."
"Their current Keeper is a scrawny third year," Clint confided.
"Great. Now I need to recalculate all my odds." Natasha ran an elaborate gambling ring around the school's Quidditch matches.
"So you made that broomstick yourself?" It took Tony a second to realize Steve was addressing him.
"Yep. Kinda my thing. Making stuff. I also made some excellent quick-draw wands last year, which have unfortunately been banned from school." Tony blinked up at the strange guy standing in front of him, whose hair caught the rays of the rare Scottish sunshine in a really attractive way. "So when you said, 'used to play,' you really mean you used to play here, didn't you? At Hogwarts."
"Um. Yes, but that was in 1942," said Steve, looking sort of sheepish. "There was, well… it's complicated. But I guess you guys heard already."
Clint shrugged. "News spreads fast."
"You do half of the spreading," muttered Natasha in an undertone.
"Eh, don't worry about it. You'll be old news by the time the next scandal rolls around. Chocolate frog?" Tony held out an open packet, offering.
"Wow. They still make these things," Steve said, taking the candy and examining the package, amused and pleased. "Thanks, Tony."
"Don't mention it." Tony glared at the mix of expressions on his friends' faces, ranging from inquisitive to mocking. "Not a word, anybody. Just shut your holes."
"About what?" Steve asked, mouth full of chocolate.
"This is totally presumptuous of me. Totally."
"When has that stopped you before?" Pepper was pulling out and repotting Dizzying Daisies. She was doing extra credit work for Professor Sprout – who knew why, no one really cared about Herbology during sixth year, but Pepper insisted she enjoyed the work, found it to be peaceful.
"Don't you know I hate… green things? And dirt? And manure?" Tony wrinkled his nose as he made his way through the greenhouse, edging his way around a Punching Petunia. Give him a laboratory or a workshop any day.
"That's why I spend so much time in here," said Pepper with a smile. She was up to her elbows in potting soil, but she was as beautiful as always, and Tony was sort of sad that they never worked out after their stint of dating during their fourth year.
Tony sat down on the cleanest part of a nearby workbench. "I barely know him."
"As I recall, that didn't stop you from sending me half of the stock of Honeydukes on Valentine's Day. Everyone was swimming through the Hufflepuff common room for weeks. And we had never even said hello before then." Pepper patted Tony's cheek with a dirty hand, and Tony batted it away. "Being presumptuous is part of your unique charm."
"So you admit I'm charming."
"I didn't say that." Pepper nodded out towards the lake. "And I think the object of your affection is walking by the Black Lake right now, so if you're lucky you can catch—"
Tony pressed a kiss on her cheek. "You're a peach," he said, and darted out of the greenhouse.
"Steve!" Tony slowed himself to a reasonably paced, non-eager walk. The air was brisk, getting chillier with the onset of deep autumn. He caught up to Steve, breath puffing out in faint white clouds from his lips. "Steve, uh. Hey."
"Tony!" Steve was grinning triumphantly. "I made the team."
"Yeah, Clint already told me."
"But I only just—" Steve gestured back at the direction of the Quidditch pitch, perplexed. "I mean, just—"
"News goes pretty fast around here." Tony paused. "Faster than the speed of light, sometimes."
"I was going back up to the Great Hall for supper if you want to come." Steve shoved his hands deep in his pockets. His nose was going pink from the growing cold.
Tony stared at him, blinking, train of thought derailed. "Uh, what?"
"You know, food?" Steve was smiling.
"Um. Right. Sure. But," Tony barreled ahead, because there was a point to chasing Steve down right now, "So, you probably don't know this, because of your being-trapped-in-time thing, but I own a company. Okay, a lot of companies. And those companies own companies. Some might say my family causes an antitrust problem, but." Tony stopped himself from rambling more. "Point being, one of these companies makes broomsticks."
Tony produced what looked like a tiny toy broomstick from the pocket of his coat, letting it lie in the palm of his hand. He muttered, "Engorgio," and it exploded into a normal-sized broomstick. It had a shining red handle and thick bristles the color of gold. He held it out to Steve.
"Meet the Starkbolt, Mach 3. And this one actually passes the Quidditch League Regulations, unlike the broomstick I was working on earlier."
"I… geez. Tony. This is for me?" Steve took the broomstick in hand, feeling the weight and heft of it.
"I figured since you made the team, you might need a broomstick that can keep up with the big boys out there." Tony hastened to add, "It's not like it's a big deal. I have boxes and boxes of these things at Stark Labs. Although they don't go on sale until next month."
"Thanks. Thank you." Steve was looking at him, beaming, and for a second, everything was pretty awesome, but then Steve started laughing a little, trying to politely hide the fact by doing it into his fist.
Tony frowned. "What's so funny?"
"You have, um… dirt, right here." Steve sobered up. He touched Tony on his cheek, cupping his jaw and sweeping a broad thumb down his face. "Here."
Tony abruptly stopped breathing, so it was fairly difficult to get the next words out of his mouth. "It was there this whole time, and you didn't tell me?"
"I didn't want to interrupt you," Steve said, soft. He dropped his hand. "There. All better."
"I mean, feel free to keep going—"
"Friends!" Of course, of course, that was when Thor decided to come charging down the hill, followed by an entire contingent of their friends – Jane, Clint, Natasha, and Loki. "Let us depart for supper and celebrate the new addition to the Gryffindor team."
Steve took a step back from Tony, straightening his robes in embarrassment, and Tony sighed at the terrible horrible tragedy of it all.
Jane caught up to Thor, breathless, throwing an apologetic look in Tony's direction. "Sorry, I told him to give you a minute, but he took that as a literal minute and then he dashed off—"
"Why would we celebrate anything related to Gryffindor, anyway?" Natasha cocked an eyebrow, and Loki added with a nod, "What she said."
Thor looked truly wounded at this comment.
Natasha sighed. "I didn't mean it, Thor, of course."
For some strange reason, Clint was ducking behind the bulk of Thor and Steve's combined frames.
"Um, Clint? What are you doing?" Tony had to ask.
"Hiding from Phil."
"You usually hide better than that." Natasha looked distinctly unimpressed. But she always looked that way, so Tony guessed she wasn't any more unimpressed than usual.
"I don't know what it is, but he's got a weird knack for finding me whenever I'm—"
"BARTON." Phil came striding towards their group, black and yellow robes flapping behind him in the autumn wind.
"Crap." Clint straightened up. "Hey, Phil! My, don't you look handsome this evening, and your prefect badge is looking particularly shiny today."
"You've got detention with Fury." Clint let out a squawk as Phil grabbed him by the collar and started dragging him back towards the castle. "C'mon. Bad enough you got detention, but you're already late for it."
Clint stretched imploring hands back at them. "Save me!"
It was a terrible day for Quidditch.
It was sleeting horribly and the wind was blowing sideways. Nonetheless, as always, the game was still on and the entire school was out in the stands. It was Gryffindor versus Hufflepuff today, and while that might be thrilling for those respective Houses, Tony had no clear idea why his House or Slytherin gave a damn.
Well, alright, so it was Steve's first game as Gryffindor's Keeper, but that had nothing to do with why Tony was watching in this horrible weather.
"I hate Quidditch." Tony had transfigured his umbrella to be larger and nigh impermeable, and had cast a Levitation Charm on it so it stayed upright without any effort on his part, but it didn't help much when the icy rain was coming at him horizontally
He burrowed into Bruce's side for warmth, which Bruce tolerated with a sigh.
Bruce was reading a book, which was growing sodden in his hand under the torrential onslaught, and which made no sense because if Bruce was going to ignore the game, he could totally be doing that indoors in the warmth of Ravenclaw Tower.
"You play Quidditch. You spend half your time making crazy broomsticks." Jane jumped up and down in place, rubbing her hands together briskly, trying to keep warm. Tony looped an arm around her neck and pulled her into his other side, under the umbrella's cover. She protested, but was laughing while she did it.
"Whatever. Just glad it's not us out there." Tony and Jane were two of the Ravenclaw Chasers.
"Should be interesting, at any rate. Darcy's commentating this game."
"Really. That should be pricel—"
Just then, Darcy's voice exploded throughout the Quidditch pitch and the stands. "Hello all, it's a pretty sucky day out here on the Hogwarts pitch. Luckily you have my lovely voice to serenade you through the wind and the rain, like a siren luring you to your—well, never mind. Madam Hooch is up and out and the balls have been released—hah, that's kind of a hilarious expression if you think about—"
"Darcy!" Professor McGonagall interjected, scandalized.
"Sorry, Professor. Anyway, the Quaffle's up and Jason McCleary's got it, and he's dodging and weaving, weaving and dodging, almost there, and oh – totally blocked by the new Keeper for Gryffindor, Steve Rogers. Sorry, Jason. And I have to say it, I don't care that I'm a diehard Hufflepuff, that is one beautiful Keeper, ladies, am I right? Gentlemen, too, if that's your preference. I mean, just look at his—"
"Broomstick! What a lovely broomstick! Gosh, what'd you think I was going to say, Professor? Designed by one Tony Stark, Ravenclaw Chaser and the current record-holder for number of detentions issued in one year. Pretty nice gift, if I do say so myself, wonder if there's anything going on there, because we all know our Tony—"
"Oh my god, I'm going to cast a Silencing Charm on her from over here," muttered Tony, palming his face with one hand, mortified. "I swear I'm gonna do it."
Bruce snorted a laugh into his book, and Tony punched him halfheartedly.
"The Snitch is long gone, I have no idea where it is right now, and it looks like both of the Seekers can't figure it out either. Oh, but wait, looks like Clint Barton's spotted something with his hawk-like gaze, and he's shooting across the pitch, but the Gryffindor team is catching on and Thor has sent a Bludger his way, but Clint dodges easily, GO CLINT—"
Tony couldn't help but laugh and applaud with the rest of the crowd when Clint did a beautifully complicated flip, letting his broom go for a second, body flying in the air, before landing back on it, triumphant, Snitch fluttering in his fist.
As the roar of the crowd died down, Jane knocked into Tony's side. "You totally love Quidditch."
Tony sighed, resigned. "I totally love Quidditch."
They were sitting at the Ravenclaw tables for supper. The Great Hall was noisier than usual, probably because the next Hogsmeade visit was just announced.
Darcy was one of the later folks to arrive. She reached over Tony's shoulder to pluck a bread roll out of the basket in the middle of the table and sat down at Tony's side. He shot her a glare.
"What?" Darcy turned dark, liquid eyes full of feigned innocence at him.
"You know what, Ms. Announcer," hissed Tony, turning his head to Darcy and speaking low enough that Steve, sitting on his other side, couldn't hear.
"I don't know what you mean." Darcy poured herself a glass of pumpkin juice.
"Fine. Good luck getting your Transfiguration homework done without my help." Tony knew this was Darcy's real weak spot, because Jane was brilliant at Charms and Potions and almost every other possible subject, but she was strangely bad at transfiguring anything bigger than a teacup.
"Sorry! Oh, I am so sorry, Tony. It'll never happen again. Please forgive me? Here, I'll even let you get to second base."
Tony turned, intrigued. "Well…" Pepper, who was sitting across from him, reached over the table and bopped him on the head with her Potions textbook. "Ow! Fine, forgiven."
Steve watched this exchange with a mix of confusion and amusement. "You know, this is nice. This would've never happened back in my day."
"What do you mean?" Tony was working on charm casting without talking, and he was pleased when Darcy's glass shrank to the size of a thimble, making her yelp and hit him in the shoulder.
"All of you guys, being friends, sitting together even though you're in different Houses." Steve gestured at the group that they had assembled. "This would have never happened when I was in school. All the Houses basically hated each other."
Clint shrugged. "It all developed pretty organically. People have gotten used to it by now."
"I actually still don't know why I hang out with you people," Tony joked.
"Oh. Shoot. I forgot, I promised to take Bruce—" Jane stopped mid-sentence, catching Steve's eye. "I mean. Er. Nothing. I promised to take him nothing."
But it was too late. "What about Bruce?" Steve asked.
"Nothing. He's just a little under the weather. Jane's going to go back to Ravenclaw Tower to take him some medicine, right?" Tony made frantic shooing motions at Jane behind Steve's back.
Steve, because he was probably a Boy Scout or something, began to stand. "Does he need to go to Madam Pomfrey? I can help—"
"No!" The collected group of people around him shouted in unison.
Steve froze. "Uh, okay?"
Loki rolled his eyes. "Don't even bother to ask, Rogers. Not worth your time."
"No big deal, Steve." Tony patted his elbow reassuringly. "Bruce'll be fine. Nothing you need to worry about." Steve nodded, and Tony breathed a sigh of relief when Steve bought the lie.