The new reality had no wizards or magical nations – but it had a whole boatload of powerful and occasionally inept sorcerers. Who were usually semi-public and sometimes very popular in social media. How it worked, Harry had no idea.
It opened up some interesting job opportunities – the kind magical laws had prohibited back home. Granted there were plenty of illegal jobs he could've done too… but that was just a bit too much trouble. So he stuck to the legal aspects of his rather narrow field of expertise.
It covered a lot of ground, actually. Especially when word spread.
There were of course the old fashioned things like checking for curses and creating wards for people – not that he was an expert in either field, but when your customer was a muggle with muggle problems, you didn't really need to be that good; just better than the competition. And Harry was. As a born wizard who went to a school, rather than as a late-trained – or worse yet self-taught – sorcerer, he had huge advantage.
Schools, it turned out, were better at teaching magic than most single masters busy with other concerns – or books that could offer zero training and less realism. Just by knowing some real world application of magic made Harry a master here.
And it was the real world application of magic that employed him. Curses were rare and very few people needed wards. What people really wanted were bottomless purses, self-cleaning bathrooms, pipes that never glogged, knives that never dulled. One of Harry's biggest commission was from a transportation company that helped people move – they wanted him to make their dollies weightless. A few featherlight charms and he was done. The charms had to be redone every week and the contract Harry wrote with the company paid his rent on its own.
The funny thing about that old edict about muggles wanting magical solutions to everything and all. It wasn't nearly as troublesome as Hagrid had seemed to think – and it paid the bills in ways Harry wasn't sure actual magical professions could've matched.
Harry was thinking over a job a small business wanted him to do – a floating advertisement on top of their offices – when S.H.I.E.L.D. came knocking. Not that he knew what S.H.I.E.L.D. was then, of course.
"Is this seat taken?" a mild mannered muggle in a black suit asked, motioning at the seat across from Harry.
They were in an internet cafe where Harry came to check his email daily – he wasn't good enough with electronics to bother getting a computer for himself, and they served a decent cuppa.
"The seat's free, but I'm using the computer," Harry said and checked the clock. "You can have it in ten minutes."
"That won't be necessary," the man said and took a seat. "Mr. Potter, I am Agent Coulson with Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistic Division."
Harry paused at that, turning to look at the man. "Okay?" he said. "Um. Good job?"
"It pays the bills," Agent Coulson said.
"I meant memorising all that. It's a mouthful," Harry said and shook his head. "What can I do for you, Agent Coulson?"
"I'd like to ask a few questions if that's alright with you, Mr. Potter?" Coulson said, watching him type out his email slowly, a letter at a time. "Do you prefer magician or sorcerer?"
"Wizard, but no one wants to call me that," Harry said with a sigh and squinted at the keyboard. "It makes people giggle for some reason."
"I see. So your preferred professional title is wizard."
"No, it's just what I am," Harry said, looking at the man with newfound interest. "I guess the closest thing to a professional title would be Spellist."
Harry grinned. He'd put maybe too much thought into it, especially considering that no one had ever asked before. Back home there hadn't really been an equivalent to what he did here, though, so… "A specialist at casting spells. Spellist."
Agent Coulson blinked slowly at him. "Alright. Can you tell me anything about how you do what you do, Spellist Potter?"
Harry snorted at that. "Potter's fine, Agent Coulson. And I do what I do with magic. I wave my magic wand and say the magic words and then magic happens."
Coulson nodded seriously at that, though there was a half-buried hint of amusement in his eyes. "Would you be willing to demonstrate? You'd be well compensated for your time."
"Not for television or science," Harry answered. "No recording equipment and not any sensory doodads. And I'll be using a spell to disable them anyway, and it never fails. Just so you know."
The agent frowned but nodded. "Very well. When might you have the time for an appointment?"
"And he just agreed?" Fury asked suspiciously. "Just like that?"
"Yes, sir," Coulson shrugged. "He's a professional for hire – he simply took a commission I offered him. That's all."
"A sorcerer that just… agreed to demonstrate magic," Fury muttered. "Never thought I'd see the day."
The demonstration was held in a rarely used S.H.I.E.L.D. base not far from the city – desolate enough to be private, but big enough to house an audience. And there was an audience – consisting of researchers, scientists, and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. As much as they wanted to film the whole thing, thought, Coulson had kept his word on recording devices.
The demonstration lasted for half an hour and during it Harry Potter broke a handful of natural laws and scientific principles and caused at least four nervous breakdowns. He did it all without breaking a sweat and finished with a summary of general abilities and, of course, his commission prices.
"Do you think we could recruit him?" Maria asked, eyeing the dog that had previously been a foldable plastic chair.
"On a commission basis… maybe, " Coulson said thoughtfully, watching the Spellist giving away all the secrets sorcerers usually died to keep.
Fury snorted in agreement. "How he's learned magic I have no idea. Who'd teach someone like this guy? Man can't keep a secret to save his life," he said and shook his head. "See if we can get some kind of consultation deal, Coulson. Nail down a contract before he realises how badly he's underselling himself."
Harry didn't really do that much magic for S.H.I.E.L.D. at first. He advised them on magical matters and occasionally looked over confiscated magical items; identifying them for the agency.
Not before they realised he could fix all their broken gear, vehicles, and devices instantly and at a fraction of the price it usually took. Even with S.H.I.E.L.D. it was the mundane everyday stuff that made the bulk of their magical commissions.
"Should I get a garage?" Harry wondered, eyeing the trashed jeep Coulson had brought him to be healed.
"S.H.I.E.L.D. can rent you a parking lot," Coulson offered.
Harry hummed and fixed the jeep with a wave of his wand. "I've been thinking of getting a bigger place anyway. This would be easier if you just let me in your secret bases, though."
"Well the point of secret bases is that they're secret," Coulson shrugged.
"Suit yourself," Harry shrugged. "Come on, I'll fix us a cuppa."
Coulson had tea with the Spellist once every week as work permitted it. It was, right from the beginning, an almost disturbingly casual arrangement.
Harry Potter rolled with the punches with almost offensive ease and just kept on going at a sedate, easy going pace. It was in parts gratifying and extremely frustrating. If the man had had even a bit of ambition he could've made a stellar addition to S.H.I.E.L.D. As it was, his ambition didn't go much past his next cup of tea.
"There's a lot of good things you could do with your abilities," Coulson had to say.
"The Greater Good isn't really my thing," Potter shrugged.
Well… at least he wasn't trying to take over the world. It was nice to have a sorcerer on their side for once – even if his contribution didn't go beyond magical equipment service.
They had a lot of tea together. They even had some mild arguments over responsibilities and common good and the service to mankind.
Harry Potter resolutely refused to rise to the challenge. Any challenge, actually. It was the most annoying thing about him. It was infuriating.
"More tea?" the Spellist asked.
Coulson narrowed his eyes. "Please," he said.
He wasn't about to quit, though. Far from it. There was a hero somewhere in Harry Potter and Coulson was determined to find it.
"What's he like, the Spellist?"
Coulson sighed, looking over Barton's report. Budapest had apparently been a mistake. "Let's concentrate on the matter at hand."
"Yeah, yeah – but seriously. What's he like?" Barton asked, leaning in. "I mean, you know him. Really know him."
Coulson sighed again. "He's… rather boring, actually."
"…Huh," Barton answered. "Guess that explains why you like him then."
Coulson gritted his teeth at that and said nothing more.
At some point they stopped having tea once a week when Coulson's job allowed – at some point it became a daily thing when Coulson's job allowed. And Potter, the easy going guy he was, always had the time.
When it moved from coffee shops to Potter's kitchen Coulson didn't think much about it.
When Potter started making him dinner occasionally, he didn't think much about it.
When Potter offered him a drink he didn't think much about it. Or about the offer of a guest bedroom to stay the night. Or breakfast the next morning.
They argued about the ethics of responsibility and Potter rolled with the punches somehow right into the centre of Coulson's life.
When Phil's toothbrush found a new home in Harry's bathroom, he didn't think much about it either.
Then Loki happened.
In the midst of the chaos that had taken over the Helicarrier, no one noticed Harry Apparating right into the middle of things.
Even Loki was too busy dropping Thor from the sky and Thor was too busy falling - and Coulson, well, he was too busy dying.
Harry took the situation in slowly. Coulson - Phil, now - was lying slumped against some techy looking consoles, bleeding. He'd been stabbed in the back. There were explosions happening somewhere that rocked the floor beneath his feet. There was a bloke with a horned helmet, holding a bloody spear.
"Harry -" Phil gasped, seeing him, and Loki turned sharply.
"What is this?" he asked, amused. "Another great defender for your pitiful little planet to throw against me? Do you too mean to make a stand against a true-"
Harry turned him into a cat and while Loki yowled in outrage, suffocating in his own armour, Harry turned to attend to Phil.
"Told you so," the Agent said, smiling painfully at him. "Knew you could -"
"Saving you isn't me being heroic, Phil, it's me being selfish," Harry answered with a frown.
"Baby steps," Phil shrugged. In the background Loki wiggled from under his armour just in time to see Harry Apparating away with Coulson - and to come face to face with a very irritated Nick Fury.
"Okay, why the hell isn't that guy an Avenger?" Stark asked, waving an accusing hand at the screens. It was playing the footage on a loop. A guy in a green sweater and faded jeans appeared, turned Loki into a cat, and disappeared with the wounded Coulson.
"Personality issues," Fury said, scowling at another screen. It was showing Loki-the-cat sitting in an electrified holding cell and glaring imperiously at the camera.
"What, he's another doesn't-play-well-with-others-not-recommended?" Stark demanded.
"That's the Spellist, isn't it?" Natasha asked from where she was sitting with a slumped over Barton.
"Who?" Stark asked.
"He's a sorcerer for hire, does magic for people on a commission basis," Fury said and shook his head. "He's apathetic - doesn't care about much anything. Coulson is just about the only thing that could motivate him to act - we're almost lucky Loki decided to single Coulson out."
"Will he be able to help Coulson?" Rogers asked.
"He damn well better," Fury grumbled. They had no word from Thor, no idea where Banner had run off to, the Helicarrier was barely limping, and Fury had some pointed questions to ask the Spellist - like his hereto unknown ability to teleport and how the hell he had known that Coulson was hit and how the hell he had been able to find the Helicarrier.
"What are we going to do about that?" Rogers asked, pointing at Loki-the-cat.
"For now, nothing. We don't know if it's permanent until reversed or if it will eventually wear off on its own - the Spellist's abilities vary on how permanent they are and we've never seen him do this to a human - or an alien - before," Fury said. "So we wait until we hear from him and Coulson. Meanwhile, we need to find Banner and Thor."
"A guy who does magical commissions," Stark grumbled. "And I hear about him only now?"
Thor came back to the Helicarrier a few hours later, looking none too worse for wear. Banner they didn't hear from at all.
"Seems like you met your match, brother," Thor commented after seeing Loki-the-cat. Loki hissed at him and Thor turned to Fury. "The spell laid on him is permanent - Loki surely would have been able to reverse it by now were it not."
"I guess that means he won't be escaping anytime soon," Fury said. "Is he a danger like this?"
"The spell on him has reduced his abilities greatly - he cannot perform magic. He would have by now if he could," Thor said thoughtfully. "I would very much like to meet the sorcerer who is capable of this. He must be very great and powerful."
Fury just sighed irritably. "Well since Loki is harmless… let's concentrate on finding the cube."
They found the cube eventually on top of StarkTower, being fussed over by Erik Selvig and the mind-jacked S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.
"Couldn't turn the thing on without the Sceptre," was Stark's eventual conclusion about the device. "We've got the Sceptre so… no activation, no portal, no alien invasion on New York. Hooray!"
"Great," Fury said with a sigh. "Let's trash the device and take the cube somewhere safer. Then we can figure out what to do with this whole mess."
Now where the hell was Coulson?
"Tahiti, Harry? Really?"
"It's a magical place, Phil. The waters have all sorts of healing properties. You need it to heal."
"I'm not even injured anymore."
"You still need to recover."
"They need me out there."
"You need to relax."
"You're going to get me fired."
"Drink your coconut."