Harry tilted his wings to swoop around an office building and took advantage of an updraft to soar higher.
He'd been scouting the city for weeks now, trying to find any signs of the unusual events it was supposedly rife with.
Starting from Midtown where a group called the Avengers had fought off an alien army several years ago he'd attempted a structured scouting pattern that expanded out to cover the rest of Manhattan. That was where it seemed the majority of newsworthy events occurred.
Unfortunately his search so far had resulted in nothing but flight practice and Harry's mind wandering to the logistics of superheroing. Did they have to juggle superheroing with keeping up their day jobs? Maybe being independently wealthy was a prerequisite. Either way, as his lack of success continued over the weeks Harry began putting less effort into searching till he was halfheartedly keeping a lookout while taking leisure flights over the city.
In really he was more interested in finding the local magic users of this world than trying to track down superheros anyway . It was unfortunate for Harry the magic users of this world seemed just as dedicated to hiding and secrecy as the ones back home. Or rather they were almost as dedicated. It seemed they weren't too concerned about Harry practicing magic in muggle areas all over the place as they'd yet to send out any kind of law enforcement to reprimand him. Not that Harry had deliberately tried to provoke them into doing so... That would be irresponsible *cough*.
Regardless he'd had months of little to no luck finding any magic users on this world to the point that he'd believe there weren't any if not for the Great Big Magical Shield enveloping the entire planet. It was more powerful than any other work of magic he'd ever heard of let alone observed. In fact Harry's arrival to this world had only been possible due to the -apparently temporary- destruction of the planetry shield weakening the natural dimensional barriers. Just to remove all doubt that the were active magic users on this world within the same day the planetry shield had reappeared miraculously intact as if it had never been gone in the first place. Even when your worldview included magic and dark lords that was pushing credulity.
As a result of his lack of success he'd taken a break from looking for magic users directly and had instead taken up this search for superheroes. Superheroes who with their strange abilities and experiences may be able to point him in the right direction for finding magic users who can help him get home.
Today this search for superheroes had taken Harry on a meandering flight through Queens but despite enjoying the flight he had nothing to show for hours of searching. He was considering calling it a day and going home when a red and blue blur buzzed past him only feet to his right.
Needless to say Harry was not at all shocked by this and it was the resulting turbulence generated that was completely and solely to blame for him swerving head first into an office building window. Fortunately Harry was flying leisurely enough that he didn't suffer any real damage from the collision. Unfortunately it did leave him momentarily stunned so that instead of managing to hastily correct his flight he dropped like a stone plummeting towards the cement.
Harry had only just noticed his upcoming meating with the pavement when out of nowhere some kind of sticky cord smacked into his chest before pulling taut like a bungee cord and springing him back towards the miscreant that caused him to crash in the first place.
“Whoops, sorry. My bad.” The red and blue... man, it was definitely a man in that skin tight suit, said while he swung around buildings using more sticky cords like some kind of urban Tarzan. Actually the cord attached to Harry's chest had him facing forwards so he was afforded a fine view of Urban Tarzan as he displayed a build and flexibility worthy of a jungle king. If being tugged behind someone like a poorly designed kite wasn't so undignified he might have even enjoyed the experience.
Thus it was with a conflicted relief that Harry awkwardly glided down onto the low building Urban Tarzan had landed on transforming back from his animagus form as he did so. This barely gave him time to shove out his arms and avoid faceplanting into the roof gravel. He stood up dusting the stone dust from his hands before attempting to remove the sticky cord from now feather-free chest but found it stuck fast.
“Oh wow. Uh, hey. So you're a, uh.. human falcon, thing, er person... right? Sorry about the webs. Er... They'll dissolve in a couple of hours? Heh, um... What's your name? No no wait lemme guess, um... Falcon-guy... Falcon man? Aah! Wait, no. There's already a Falcon. Umm... can you turn into any other animals? Only I'm pretty sure that guy's a war criminal right now... Ooh I know! You could-”
“You can call me Peregrine.” Harry interrupted, giving up on the webs. If he let Urban Tarzan continue he'd end up stuck with a horrible bird-man nickname. At least Peregrine was both relevant and something a parent might consider naming their child. Well... a wizard child. It could even do in a scrape for a Marauder nickname if shortened to Pippin.
“Peregrine! OK, cool, cool, I'm Spider-man.... Aah, you're er... actually a superhero... Right?” The guy, Spider-man, asked twitching nervously. “I mean, ha ha... Just because your face is a little shady you're not like a villain... or anything... ha...” He trailed off scratching at the back of his neck sheepishly trying to play it off as a joke. He remained tense but Harry didn't notice too busy trying to process that, yes, Urban Tarzan was really asking him if he was some sort of comic book style villain.
Meanwhile in the face of Harry's lack of immediate and vehement denial of villainy Urban Tarzan had begun to look increasingly uncomfortable. Harry was considering whether it might have been easier to have just brought some kind of mask with him for concealing his face. Instead, before he'd left for scouting he'd thrown on a scarlet red dragonhide jacket he never wore, gifted by the Weasley twins to their 'silent partner', and threw up a face shrouding charm anchored to the hood, effectively hiding his identity. It seemed that a 'small but significant sample' of heroes thought it made him look like a criminal though.
“Er, no. I'm not a villain.” Harry replied flatly, still a little off balance from the roundabout accusation but he rallied quickly. “I wouldn't really call myself a superhero either exactly...” He trailed off considering it. “I suppose it depends who you ask.” He hedged. The thing is he may been called a hero by the majority of the wizarding community since he was a year old but despite playing a major role in Voldemort final destruction he wasn't the sole contributor. Nor was he sure killing someone, even someone as irredeemably evil as Voldemort, could be considered heroic.
“What is it that makes someone a superhero?” Harry blurted out surprising himself. Urban Tar- Spider-man must have been surprised as well if the comically widened eye holes and his almost owl like head tilt were any indication.
“Um, what?” Spider-man eloquently articulated.
Before Harry could tell him to forget it Spider-man pulled himself together and awkwardly attempted to answer. “Er, I suppose a superhero is um, well, it's someone who has special powers or abilities like Mr St- er Iron Man with his suits or Mr Captain America with his super strength, but not um... It's not just having strength that's important. It's also about acknowledging you can use that strength to protect people and then doing it because not protecting them when you can is as bad as hurting them yourself.” Spider-man finished passionately.
“Huh.” Harry murmured. Spider-man's previous eloquence apparently catching. He considered how similar Spider-man's words were to to Dumbledore's beliefs that you should always choose to do what's right over taking the easy option. Perhaps this could be what Harry had been missing after the war. He been so caught up in no longer having some predestined purpose that he'd been ignoring all the ways he could get out into the world and actually help people.
Well... Maybe not so much back home. He could hardly take a step into the wizarding world without being mobbed by fans or reporters and if he'd tried using his abilities to help muggles he'd have been arrested by the aurors. Here though... Here there didn't appear to be any wizarding governments enforcing separation from the non-magical community. Here he could use his magic to help everyday people and give himself some purpose again. Not that he was going to so easily give up on getting home, but that would take time especially if he had to come up with a solution on his own. In the meanwhile....
Harry abruptly snapped his focus on Spider-man who reeled back from trying to get a closer look into the shadows of Harry's hood. “Will you teach me?” Harry demanded ignoring the attempt at seeing his face, or perhaps whether he had a face. While Harry could go out on his own to start his... career? as a superhero, being shown the ropes by someone who seemed to already have an idea what they're doing was much preferable to fumbling about until he got the hang of it.
“I could pay you for your time.” Harry bargained when he didn't get a response. A decent chunk of his gold had come with him to this world and it was worth a lot more here than he was expecting considering the goblin exchange rate back home.
“What! Hey, no. I'm not- you're- um... Look, I was just a little... surprised you want my help getting started. I'm not going to make you pay me. What kind of hero would I be if i did that.” Spider-man answered brightly. His tone gave Harry the impression he was grinning in delight behind the mask.
He wasn't all that comfortable taking Spider-man's time and assistance without giving him anything in return but he thought he recognised that shade of pride in Spider-man's tone. It reminded Harry of Ron's refusal to take 'charity' from him whenever anything to do with money came up.
Never mind, Harry would just have to find another way to return the favour. If it meant closely observing Spider-man in future interactions so he could find a way to do so? Well, that was just a burden Harry was duty bound to carry wasn't it.
“What's you phone number? I'll text you before my patrol tomorrow so you can join me.” Spider-man's voice jolted Harry from his... virtuous planning.
“Er, I don't actually have a phone. I'm... rather new here. Haven't had a chance to pick one up yet.” Harry said, not technically lying. He probably should see about getting some sort of mobile phone. They seemed to be essential for communication in this world. “I'll pick one up this evening and send you a, er... text message if you leave me your number.” Harry offered, subtly conjuring a pen and notepad to pull from a pocket.
“Yeah man, no problem.” Spider-man chirped and gave Harry his number.
“Great, thank you for this. I'll see you tomorrow then?” Harry asked. He'd need to get a move on if he wanted to get the phone today.
“Yeah!” Spider-man exclaimed sounded delighted again as if it was Harry doing him the favour. “Ooh shoot.” He said after checking the time. “I'm going to be late. See you tomorrow.” He yelled over his shoulder while swinging off to the next building.
Harry watched him jump and twist and swing his way from building to building as he disappeared into the distance.
“Looking forward to it.”