Chapter 1: The First Time He Saw Her
Vision was nothing.
He was an orphan, separated from or abandoned by his parents at birth, he wasn't sure which. Named by Edwin Jarvis, (the head of his Orphanage) for his strange eyes, with vibrant blue irises that seemed to spin like gears in the right light. Eyes that most found frightening, that many thought marked Vision as some sort of monster or demon.
Vision was a thief. A reluctant thief, that was true. A thief who stole only to keep himself alive. To help others, when he could. But a thief none the less. It was all he knew, the only useful skill he had. And even that skill wasn't fully his own, aided by a magical stone that allowed him to walk through walls.
Vision wasn't supposed to fall in love with the Princess.
And she was most certainly not supposed to fall in love with him.
Or maybe she always was.
If Vision had known everything then that he knew now.. Well, he wouldn't really change much.
He supposed the story of how it all happened had actually started a long time ago.
Vision had been just four years old the first time he saw her.
Back then, if not easy, life had been bearable for just about everyone. The King and Queen of Sokovia were fair, well-liked rulers. They had made allowances for the care of the Kingdom's orphaned children.
Mr. Jarvis had taken Vision and a group of other children on a trip to the castle. Large crowds swarmed around the gates, jostling for the best view of the balcony. Soon, the King and Queen were to present the newborn Heir to the throne, Prince Pietro, and his twin sister, Princess Wanda.
The people cheered when their Royal Family appeared, the King holding Pietro, the Queen with Wanda. Most were more interested in the Prince, but little Vision's unusual eyes fixed on the Princess. Somehow drawn to her, he slipped away from Mr. Jarvis, pushing through to the front of the crowd for a closer look.
As Vision's eyes had fixed on her, Baby Wanda's found Vision in the crowd. She almost seemed to reach for him..
"Vision!" cried Mr. Jarvis, relieved, grabbing his hand. "Do not wander off like that again.."
Vision's eyes remained on Wanda as he was pulled away.
As young as he was at the time, the image of the little Princess remained with him, one of his earliest clear memories.
Ten years later, tragedy struck in Sokovia, with the King and Queen killed at sea during a terrible storm.
Custody of Wanda and Pietro, and the Kingdom itself until Pietro came of age, was passed to a distant relative, Lord Ultron.
Lord Ultron's style of ruling was not popular. He replaced the castle's Staff and Guard with people of his own choosing, and heavily restricted any public appearances from the royal twins.
Next He removed most of the allowances put in place for Sokovia's less fortunate. Edwin Jarvis's orphanage was closed, forcing Vision, now fourteen, and many other children out onto the streets.
Despite his own troubles, Vision could not help thinking of Princess Wanda, wondering if she was alright.
It was this thought, Vision learned later- his concern for someone else, someone he didn't even know, when his own life had just taken such a downward turn- that let fate decide Vision was ready.
One night, sleeping amidst a tangle of other street children to share warmth, Vision's eyes suddenly shot open, letting him see a yellow streak across the night sky.
Drawn to it as he had been to the Princess ten years before, Vision disentangled himself and got up, chasing the streak, following it until the object that had caused it crashed in the distance, just outside the city walls.
It was a vibrant yellow stone.
Selling a stone like that would feed Vision for at least a few months. Nearly a year if he kept it to himself, which he never would. And yet, somehow, he already knew that he wasn't going to sell the stone. He was drawn to it. It called to him, as if it was meant to be his.
Vision reached for it, gasping when his hand closed over it. For a moment, it seemed as though his hand had turned see-through, almost sinking into the ground beneath the stone. He let it go, hesitating for a moment, then grasped the stone again. Again, his hand looked see-through. Vision stood with the stone in his hand. The light, see-through feeling began to spread over his whole body. He reached for a nearby tree, and his hand disappeared into the trunk.
While any normal person would be very freaked out by this, Vision had never been entirely normal. He opened his fist, the shining yellow stone sitting in his palm, and he grew solid again. Grasp it firmly, and he faded, see-through, intangible.
Yes, there were definitely some possibilities here.
Vision headed back into the City, and made his way to The Bakery. Grasping the stone, he walked through the building's locked door. Let himself become solid again for just long enough to grab a loaf of Yesterday's bread and tuck it inside his shirt, then grasped the stone and rushed out, releasing the breath he'd been holding since he walked in.
Selling this stone may have fed Vision for a while, but keeping it and the strange new ability it gave him could feed him, and maybe others, for a lot longer. Vision didn't like the idea of stealing very much, he didn't see that he had a lot of choice.
More tragedy struck in the years to come. Prince Pietro died mysteriously just a few months shy of his eighteenth Birthday. Ultron, the only remaining male heir, was named the new King of Sokovia.
A few had argued in favour of crowning Wanda Queen instead, but the notion was quickly shot down. It was nearly unheard of for a woman to rule.
Princess Wanda's already rare public appearances became nearly non-existent.
Once, late at night, Vision had seen her step out onto the balcony where she'd been presented after her birth. She had grown into a beautiful young woman, but she looked so very sad. For the briefest of moments, Vision had worried she was about to jump, and had almost cried out, but then Wanda had shaken her head and disappeared back inside as quickly as she had come.
Chapter 2: A Simple Job
Vision's skills draw the attention of some noble outlaws.
Even though, really, Vision knew it was none of his business-He had just officially taken up a career as a thief, and she was a Princess, the last of the Maximoff royal line- He couldn't help the little voice in his head that told him to worry about Wanda.
So, every Evening after 'work' he took up a quiet vigil outside the castle. The Princess didn't appear often. Vision only saw her around every two weeks or so. Always at a different window to where he'd seen her the previous time. Sneaking, as though she was not supposed to be there. Checking for something, Vision didn't know what. And each time, from every window, there came a moment when he thought Princess Wanda may have been about to jump, that Vision would leap to his feet and panic.. But she never went through with it, always changing her mind and heading back inside.
Once, just for a second, she had looked down right at him, as if she had known he was there the whole time. And he swore that, for just a moment, her eyes flashed, as vibrantly, unnaturally red as Vision's were blue.
Vision scrambled back into the shadows out of her sight, and when he looked up again, the Princess had disappeared once more.
Vision's days were spent distributing the food he had stolen the night before, keeping only just enough for himself. Those on the streets of Sokovia were loyal to each other, and no one gave him up on the occasions someone came searching for the Thief.
Vision told no one about the magical yellow stone, but that didn't stop the whispers from starting. Sokovia was not a land entirely without magic. Rumours of a man with the power to walk through walls began to spread.
Eventually, around a year after Prince Pietro's death, Vision's skill brought him to the attention of The Avengers.
All of the Kingdom's poor knew of the Avengers.
Tony Stark, 'The Iron Man', who had built an amazingly sophisticated suit of armour with nothing but scrap metal.
Clint Barton, 'Hawkeye', a gifted archer who never missed a shot.
Natasha Romanoff, 'The Black Widow'.. Few were sure of exactly what her skill-set was, but common wisdom suggested that it was disadvantageous to one's health to get on her bad side.
And finally, Steve Rogers, a former Captain in the army, under the rule of the previous King and Queen.
The group's goal was somewhat similar to Vision's, albeit on a much larger scale. They stole riches from the upper class, not just of Sokovia but the lands beyond, and used it to help the poor.
Of the four Avengers, Captain Rogers was the only one Vision would have known by sight, from one memorable occasion when he had visited the Jarvis orphanage.
That changed very quickly, when the Black Widow snatched Vision off the street one morning, and plonked him into the middle of a meeting with her teammates before he had any chance to register what had happened.
"Uh.. Hello?" Vision squinted at four shadowy figures in the dark room he'd been dropped into.
"Hey" A man with dark hair and, Vision couldn't help but notice, some very impressive facial hair stepped forward to meet him. "Are you the kid who can walk through walls?"
"I'm not exactly a kid.." Vision replied. By now, he had recognised Captain Rogers in the shadows and guessed who's company he was in. "But.. yes."
"Great. I'm Tony Stark, the Iron Man.. the fine people behind me are Black Widow, Hawkeye, and The Captain. The Avengers.. You've probably heard of us."
"And your name, kid?"
"Vision, and I'm Not a kid" He repeated. "I'm twenty-three."
"Vision.. that's nice" Hawkeye spoke up. "He might not even need a separate codename."
"Codename?" Vision frowned. "For what?”
"We're planning a job" Tony continued. "Probably our biggest job ever. But we need someone like you to pull it off. It all works out, we might offer you a permanent spot on the team."
Vision considered this. As much as being a thief had become his way of life, he still didn't enjoy it. The Avengers stole a lot. On the other hand, he could help a lot of people.
"What is this job, exactly?"
Tony grinned a rather wicked grin.
"We need you to kidnap Princess Wanda."
It was deceptively simple. There was going to be a large Festival on. King Ultron was set to attend, along with a large contingent of the Castle's staff and guard. Princess Wanda would remain at the Castle.
While the festival was going on in the streets, Vision would use his stone to slip into the Castle, grab Princess Wanda, and take her to the Avengers. King Ultron would pay a generous ransom to get her back, and they would return her, all without ever harming a hair on her head. That last part was important to Vision, he wouldn't have agreed otherwise.
Everything was going to plan at first. Using his stone to become intangible, Vision walked through the gates, through the castle wall, and made his way towards Princess Wanda's chambers. He had guessed which was hers by which window she most frequently appeared at.
Of course, when he got there and made himself solid, he wasn't expecting Wanda to be fixing a string of tied bed-sheets out the window.
Or that she would turn on him with a dagger.
"Get back! You're not going to stop.. wait. You're not one of the guards.."
"N-No" Vision raised his hands in a gesture of peace.
"I.. I know you" Wanda slightly lowered her dagger. "You're the boy who watches me from outside."
"Well.. uh.. only the once.." Vision stammered slightly. "Maybe a few times. I.. I like Castles.."
Princess Wanda's eyes- A soft green, rather than the red he had once seen- bored into him. Considering. She tucked the dagger away, tilting her head to one side.
"Are you here to help me?"
He thought for a moment. 'No, I was actually sent to kidnap you', didn't feel like the appropriate answer. So instead, his stammer fading, speaking as though he meant it, because a very large part of him did.. Vision simply said:
Chapter 3: An Affinity For Strange Things
Vision aids Princess Wanda in her great escape.
"Come on, then" Almost immediately, Princess Wanda slung a small rucksack over her shoulder and seized Vision's hand, steering him towards the window. "We have to go, now."
"We don't have to go out the window" Vision told her. "This will sound strange, but I have a stone that lets me walk through walls, and renders me close to invisible. We can just walk right out of the Castle."
"We don't have time for that now" said Wanda, seeming remarkably not surprised at the power of Vision's stone. "They'll already know you're here.."
"No one saw me.."
"They don't have to see you. Ultron has spells that detect intruders.." Wanda glanced nervously towards the door of her chamber as she checked the sheet-rope was tied securely enough.
Her concerns were justified, as soon a barrage of footsteps were heard, fists violently beating against the locked door.
"Whatever stunt you are trying to pull, Princess Wanda" yelled a guard, "It is in your best interests to stop!"
"Go!" Wanda shoved Vision at the window. "I'll follow you."
Vision scrambled out, beginning to shimmy his way down the rope as fast as he could. Things were not going to plan, and he was very much in over his head. Above him, he heard a crunch of wood as Wanda's door was smashed open, and he almost climbed back up to help.. but then there was a sudden crash, a flurry of panicked voices, and Wanda was climbing out after him. Vision blushed and averted his eyes as he continued his own downward climb, trying very hard not to look up the Princess's skirts.
"You.. Princess.. are you.." Vision had developed a few skills over the years, but one he had definitely not mastered was talking to girls.
"I'm fine. Keep going!"
As soon as Wanda spoke, a guard appeared, leaning out the window, and, to Vision's horror, began to hack at the sheets with a sword.
"What is he doing?!"
Something flared red just within his line of sight.
"They know.." Wanda growled faintly. "They all know that Ultron would rather have me dead than out of his control.."
"Oh.." If that was true, it didn't really bode well for the Avenger's plans. But at this point, Vision thought, all plans were out the window anyway.
"Listen, boy, I don't know if this will work, but you're going to have to trust me and hope for the best" Wanda looked down at Vision. He almost argued that he wasn't a boy, but.. wrong time. "In about oh, five seconds, jump, and try to grab onto me."
"Okay.. bu.." Before Vision could properly reply, Wanda had reached up with her dagger and finished cutting the sheet herself, and the two of them began to fall.
Vision, panicking, fumbled at the air, only managing to grab hold of Wanda's ankle. For a few terrible seconds, they plummeted towards the ground. Then suddenly, a strange red energy seemed to surround Princess Wanda's hands, and they began to rise back up.
"Ha!" She whooped in victory. "It worked!" She flicked her arms out, beginning to move them away from the Castle.
For some reason, at that moment, clinging to the ankle of a flying Princess felt a lot less weird than it should. Wanda's joy was rather contagious, and Vision couldn't help whooping with her. Unfortunately, he soon noticed a new problem.
"Uh.. your majesty.. your highness.." He wasn't sure of her proper title.
"Wanda is fine."
"Wanda, the guards are about to shoot us."
Wanda looked down to see a rather large number of guards with bows aimed squarely at them. Far too many to dodge them all.
"We're going to die" Her heart sank. "All that, and we're going to die.."
"No" Vision grinned, feeling quite the idiot for not thinking of it already. "No, we're not!"
As the guards loosed their arrows, Vision plunged his free hand into his pocket, grasping the magical yellow stone. The arrows sailed through them harmlessly.
"That.. is brilliant! You are.. Oh, I never asked your name."
"Vision.." She seemed to be trying it out, never commenting on the strangeness of the name. "Vision, you are brilliant! Ha ha!" She whooped again, soaring into the distance.
Vision yelped and tightened his grip on her ankle, just going along for the ride.
Vision spent most of their flight to freedom as he had spent their climb out the window, trying to be a gentleman and not look up the Princess's skirts. Eventually, once they were far from the city and hovering over a forest, Wanda became exhausted.
"Oh no.." She gasped as the red energy around her hands flickered, then faded completely, causing them to fall once again, but thankfully from a much lower height.
Vision, acting on instinct, threw himself underneath Princess Wanda to cushion her fall, grunting slightly when she landed on top of him.
"Sorry.." Wanda glanced at him for a moment, then paused. "Whoa.."
"What?" asked Vision, but he knew. She'd seen his eyes up close. His terrible, fear inducing eyes..
"You.." She stood, offering a hand to help him up. "You have really amazing eyes, Vision.."
"Amazing?" His cheeks reddened as she pulled him up. "Most people are frightened of them.."
"Well, I'm not" Wanda shrugged. "I have an affinity for strange things.. Speaking of, you probably have some questions about what happened back there.."
"Actually, a few things are starting to make more sense" Vision smiled at her. "You were never going to jump from the Castle windows when I saw you, were you? You were trying to fly."
"I can't actually control it.. It's just one of a few weird things that happen to me sometimes. The unpredictability of it made me go with the classic 'bedsheets out the window while Ultron's away' plan."
"It was a good plan. I probably complicated things a bit."
"Yeah, but I'm kind of glad you did" Wanda chuckled. "I might have been shot to death without you."
After the commotion at the Castle, a furious King Ultron had rushed back from the Festival. He now addressed an elite squadron of his soldiers. His eyes, red as blood, peered like slits out of the helmet he always wore.
"You have all heard the Legends.. You know what she is. What she could become, if her new friend is who I think. You must find Princess Wanda."
"Yes, Sir!" The soldiers chorused. Many wore helmets matching King Ultron's.
"And if you cannot bring her back.. Kill her. And the boy. Kill him either way."
Another chorus of 'Yes, Sir!' rang out, before the Soldiers set off to carry out their deadly mission.
Chapter 4: How He Hurt Her
After learning the truth behind Prince Pietro's death, Vision begins to regret his part in the Avengers' plan.
For now, Vision and Princess Wanda remained blissfully unaware of the trouble heading their way. Wanda was currently behind a tree, changing into more suitable travel attire. Vision waited nearby, holding her rucksack. After catching sight of the Princess's nude silhouette just beyond the tree as she changed, he had politely turned away, his cheeks slightly pink.
"So" Wanda asked as she stepped out from behind the tree, now wearing sturdy leather travel pants and a long red coat, "Since, you came to help, I'm assuming you have somewhere we can go?"
"Oh, yes" Vision nodded. "I have friends waiting at the Potts Inn in Leestown. It's not too far, we can get there on foot easy enough.. " Then, remembering that she was royalty, and how far she could be expected to walk was probably very different to how far he could, added, "Or.. I could carry you if it's too far.."
"Alright. Carry me, peasant."
"Oh! Yes, of course. How would you like me to.."
"Vision, I'm joking" Wanda chuckled. "I got myself into this little adventure, I can handle what it throws at me. Just point the way."
Vision pointed, and the new unlikely duo of Princess and Thief set off.
For a while, the pair walked in comfortable silence, eventually broken when Vision spoke.
"I was very sorry to hear about your brother's accident.. Prince Pietro was a good man, from what I heard. A terrible loss.."
"He was" Wanda growled. "But my brother's death was no accident.."
"No. Ultron killed Pietro." The Princess's fists clenched. "I can't prove it.. but it's convenient, don't you think, that Pietro died mysteriously just a few months before he would have taken the throne back?"
"It is.." Vision frowned. He had heard rumours, whispers in the streets.. But bad things tended to happen to anyone who openly spoke badly of Ultron. He remembered that it was not too long after Prince Pietro's death that he had first seen Wanda on the balcony. "Is that why you decided to run away?"
"It was.. the latest in a long line of reasons. I never really felt like I fit the world I was born into. Pietro was the only thing that really kept me there. Without him.."
"Time to fly?"
"Exactly" Wanda smiled. "So.. You and your friends. Why are you helping me?"
"Well.. It just felt like the right thing, I suppose." Vision's gut twisted uncomfortably with his lie. How could he tell the Princess that he wasn't really supposed to be her Saviour, but her captor? That his 'friends' actually wanted to ransom her back to Ultron?
But.. Surely The Avengers wouldn't still want that after they learned what really happened to Prince Pietro, would they? They were supposed to be the good guys, after all. Once they found out the truth, they would want to help like Wanda thought they did.
Vision just had to make sure that he spoke to The Avengers first and explained things, before Wanda could meet them.
One thing he knew for certain was that he could not let Wanda be returned to Ultron. Not now.
After a few hours trudging through the woods, they reached a clearing, and then a path that took them on to Leestown. Leestown was a small town, existing mostly as a stopover for travellers. In the middle of nowhere, and on the way to just about everywhere. Because of this, Pepper Potts, the Town Innkeeper, did quite a roaring trade.
As Vision and Wanda entered, the Princess pulled up a hood to keep herself from being recognised. Business was clearly booming, the Inn's bar area crowded. A dark haired woman walked around serving drinks, while a boy of about sixteen scampered about collecting empty glasses. Pepper Potts approached Wanda and Vision, looking apologetic.
"Our rooms are all booked out tonight, I'm afraid. But you're welcome to stay for a drink and something to.."
"Actually," Vision interrupted, "I think some rooms may have been booked for us? We're with Mr. St.."
"Oh. You're Tony's new guy" Pepper interrupted Vision in turn, with something like a long suffering sigh. She dropped a key into Vision's hand, and glanced at Wanda with a look of sympathy that confused her. "Peter!"
The boy collecting glasses deposited them behind the bar, and dutifully rushed over.
"Yes, Miss Potts?"
"Can you take these two out the back? They're here to see Mr. Stark."
"Right away Miss Potts. Hello, I'm Peter, Peter Parker. Follow me please Sir, Ma'm."
"Actually" Vision tried to say, as they followed him towards the back of the building, "It might be best if I.." Unfortunately, their guide was quite the chatterbox.
"So, you work for Mr. Stark now? He said they might be taking on someone new.."
"Yes. And I.."
"Work for?" Wanda frowned. "I thought we were going to see your friends."
"Well, sometimes there is a fine line.. So.."
"Mr. Stark's great isn't he? He got my Aunt May a job here at Miss Potts' Inn, and then she hired me when I was old enough."
"That's wonderful" said Vision, trying not to feel annoyed. "But I should really speak to Mr. Stark first, alo.."
"I don't want to work at the Inn forever though. Mr. Stark said I can be an Avenger one day if I practice. I'm really good at climbing stuff, and I have awesome reflexes.."
Before Vision could object, Peter pushed open the door to reveal the Avengers. Captain Rogers was pacing the room nervously, Hawkeye and the Black Widow were keeping watch for any sign of trouble, and Tony was sitting in the centre of the room, looking impatient. He jumped to his feet when the door opened.
"There you are! My God, how long does it take to kidnap a helpless little Princess?"
"Kidnap?" Wanda leapt backwards as if stung.
Peter, seeing that he probably wasn't needed here, hurried back out front.
"Yeah.." said Tony. "We sent Vision to kidnap you, and now we're going to ransom you back to dear King Ultron."
Wanda turned to Vision, a horrible mixture of different emotions crossing her face.
"You.. You said you were there to help me.."
A horrible crack echoed through the room as Wanda slapped Vision across the face and bolted back up the Hall.
When Vision looked back on this moment, it was never Wanda's anger that bothered him. It was that she looked so badly hurt by his betrayal.
Chapter 5: Protect her
Vision follows Wanda into the woods, hoping to regain her trust.
Vision's cheek stung where Wanda slapped him, but worse was the ache in his heart, the sudden sick feeling in his stomach.
"Congratulations, kid" Clint sighed, shaking his head. "You've made things infinitely more complicated."
"Go get her!" Tony snapped. "We can't demand a ransom for the Princess if we don't have the Princess!"
Vision turned on Tony, suddenly, irrationally angry. Because hurting Wanda.. somehow, it felt like the exact opposite of what he was on this Earth to do.
"We're not ransoming her to anyone!"
"Yes we are!" Tony yelled. "That's our plan, and we're not going back on it just because the new kid has a little crush.."
"I'm not a kid, and I don't have a crush!" Hidden in Vision's pocket, his stone burned and glowed. "Ultron won't pay for her, anyway. He killed Prince Pietro, and his guards tried to kill Wanda as well as me!"
"Really?" Tony frowned.
"Shot right at us.. she would have been killed if not for my power."
"Well.. now we need a new idea" Natasha shrugged.
"We need to help Princess Wanda!" Cried Vision. "We need to find her and get her somewhere.."
"Look" Tony sighed, slumping back into his chair. "I wish the kid luck and bear her no ill will, but we really don't have time to babysit a Princess while she adjusts to the real world."
"You.. You're supposed to be the good guys. Heroes. You're supposed to help people!"
"We do help people, but.."
"Only when it's convenient?" Vision frowned. "This.. you could all have a chance to make a real difference, but you're sitting around like.. ugh! If this is what being an Avenger is, I don't want it." He turned, marching out of the room. "I'm going to find Princess Wanda and apologise.."
Vision desperately looked around the bar and front of House, but there was no sign of Wanda.
"Miss Potts!" He rushed over to Pepper. "Miss Potts, the young lady I arrived with.. did you see where she went?"
"Well.." Pepper hesitated.
"Please" Vision begged. "I just want to help her get somewhere safe.."
"Wow.. you really mean it, don't you?"
"Alright. I let her out the back, not long ago. You should be able to catch up if you're quick."
"Thank you!" Vision rushed off in the direction Pepper pointed.
Pepper shook her head and smiled, seeming impressed.
"Tony found another good one."
Back in the Avengers' meeting room, Steve, who had been quiet through most of the previous exchange, finally spoke up.
"Vision's right, you know."
"What do you mean?" Tony frowned.
"Well" Natasha mused, continuing Steve's line of thinking, "If what he says is true, that King Ultron really killed Prince Pietro.."
"Then he's even worse than we thought" Clint finished.
"We all know Ultron's a bad egg" said Tony, "But what do you really expect us to do about it?"
"What we do now.. it helps people for a little while" Steve began. "But this could be our chance to help for a lot longer than that."
"Okay. We're listening" Nat crossed her arms.
"Princess Wanda's Father was a good, fair King. Princess Wanda.. I never knew her well, but she always seemed like a sweet kid. If she's anything like her Dad.. If the people learn what really happened to Pietro, they could rally around her. If she gets enough support.."
"Cap, you're talking about a revolution!" Tony cried. "Four people can't start a revolution!"
"One person can start a revolution, if they believe in it enough" Steve corrected.
"And we'd have six, including Vision and the Princess.." Clint pointed out.
Tony was silent for quite a while.
"This is crazy.." He sighed, "But.. Barton, go see if Pepper knows where Vision and the Princess went."
Vision was running for quite a while, before he finally spotted Wanda ahead of him.
"Wanda! Wanda, wait!"
She turned on him, fury in her eyes. Vision swore they were flashing red.
"I'm not letting you take me back there!"
"I'm not going to take you back!" Vision tried to explain. "I want to help you!"
"Help, hmm? And by 'help', I bet you mean you'll take me back to Ultron so you and your buddies can collect a nice payday!"
"There is no payday, not for me! I was.."
"And you know the worst part?" Wanda laughed darkly, a sense of sadness trickling in amongst her anger. "For a moment, I almost believed I had a friend. But I've never had friends. Why should that change now? Take those freaky eyes of yours and get the Hell away from me!"
Vision felt as though he had been stabbed in the gut.
"Wanda.. Wanda, I am your friend, or.. I want to be, just let me explain.."
"There's nothing to explain" Wanda growled, turning to march away from him once more.
"Okay.." Vision sighed. "Okay. I wouldn't want to trust me either. So, you don't have to listen to me.. But I'm going to follow you until you get somewhere safe."
Wanda glanced back at him. It may have just been his imagination, but Vision hoped he'd seen the Princess's expression soften the tiniest bit.
"I'm not going to talk to you.."
"You don't have to. But as I said, I will follow until I've seen you to somewhere safe."
"Do what you want, then" She sighed, defeated, turning away from him once more.
Night was approaching, and still, Vision trudged dutifully along behind Princess Wanda. She spun around again, startling him.
"Will you stop muttering to yourself? I said I'm not talking to you!"
Suddenly, an arrow whizzed by their heads, just missing them both, followed by another that nearly clipped Vision's ear. Glancing behind them, the pair noticed a small group of Ultron's soldiers in pursuit.
They ran, dodging another arrow. Vision jammed a hand into his pocket, ready to use his stone, while the other hand reached for Wanda.
"Princess, take my hand!" He yelled.
"I'm not taking your anything!" Wanda snapped.
Vision looked behind them. Clearly, the first few shots had been a warning. The Soldiers were notching new arrows. Taking deadly aim.
A voice inside Vision's head, like his own, but somehow, stronger
The soldiers let their arrows fly.
Vision wrenched his hand out of his pocket, forgetting the stone and the protection it would have given him, and dove to push Wanda free of the speeding arrows.
He felt a sudden sharp pain.
Chapter 6: Show Me Who You Are
Still angry with him, Princess Wanda must decide whether or not to protect the injured Vision from King Ultron’s soldiers.
"What the hell are you doing?" Wanda snapped, after Vision had tackled her to the ground. "Get off me! Get.." She rolled over, shoving Vision away, then froze, her eyes wide.
Most of the arrows missed, but two were now buried in Vision's shoulder. Blood bloomed through the thin material of his shirt. He tried to stand, but fell onto his knees, his face twisted in pain. Vision looked at Wanda, the patterns within his strange eyes spinning.
"Run" He told her, but it was too late. The soldiers were upon them, notching new arrows.
"This doesn't have to end badly for you, Princess" One of them said. "You can come quietly, and we won't say another word about it."
"We only have to kill the boy" added another, taking aim. "And look, he's given us a perfect shot.."
Wanda's eyes flickered from the Soldiers to the injured Vision. Injured because he had pushed her out of the way. Her coat was made of thick, expensive leather. Those arrows likely would have done much less damage to her than they had to him, but he had still..
The soldier fired.
Wanda, without really knowing what she was doing, how or why she was doing it, leapt to her feet, red energy surrounding her hands, her eyes glowing the same fiery red.
"No!" The arrow stopped short, clattering to the ground. With a wave of Wanda's arm, the Soldiers were knocked from their feet, and a second wave surrounded most of them in red energy, sending them flying far off into the distance.
One soldier missed by Wanda's assault charged at the Princess, sword raised.
Vision, acting on pure instinct, grabbed the burning stone from his pocket with his free hand, thrusting it in the enemy's direction. The Stone emitted a beam of golden energy, burning right through the Soldier's chest. He fell to the ground, motionless.
Wanda looked down at Vision, wide eyed and slightly pale.
"How did you.."
"I don't know" Vision replied, panting. "How did you.."
"I don't know.." Wanda glanced down at her hands, then back at Vision. "Why did they want to kill you?"
"I have no idea.. You should go.. We don't know how far you threw them, or if they'll come back. I'd slow you down."
"You would" the Princess agreed, but didn't move. She just watched him for a moment, considering, her eyes green once more. She tilted her head slightly when she spoke again. "Why did you push me out of the way?"
"I didn't want you to get hurt. You're far more important than me."
That seemed to make up her mind. Wanda shook her head, pulling Vision to his feet and draping his good arm around her shoulders, supporting him as they moved forwards.
"I'm not more important than anyone.. I'm not anything."
Darkness fell as they trudged onward, with no clear destination in mind. They had moved off of the main path, hoping to make things more difficult for anyone looking for them.
Vision occasionally stumbled, almost pulling Wanda down with him, but she always managed to catch him. The Princess was clearly stronger than she looked. After another stumble, she brought them to a stop.
"We can't keep going like this. You're jostling the arrows and bleeding too much. We need to get them out and bandage your wounds, I don't want you dropping dead on me."
"You don't?" Vision may have sounded a little too hopeful, and Wanda frowned.
"I was angry. I'm still angry. But there's a pretty big leap between anger and wanting someone dead, Vision."
"That is true.."
"Now" The Princess found a clear spot, pushing him down gently, "Sit, and try not to move for a few minutes."
Before long, Wanda had managed to start a small fire, and had pulled a few pieces of cloth and a small bottle of something from her rucksack, ready to clean Vision's wounds. Vision was slightly surprised.
"You are quite capable, for a Princess.."
"I made sure to learn some things, once I'd decided I was running away. I'm going to need your shirt off.. try not to disturb the arrows."
"Alright." Vision did as he was told, carefully removing his shirt, tugging it gently off over the arrows embedded in his shoulder. While he had been scrawny as a boy, years of lugging around sacks of rice and potatoes, and crates of fruit or vegetables for his fellow disadvantaged citizens had left him with a rather impressive physique.
Princess Wanda blushed, then shook her head, moving to kneel behind Vision and examine his injuries.
"Hmm.. The barbed part hasn't gone too deep. That's good, it means I should be able to just pull them out. Try not to yell."
"Why would I..Ouch!"
Without further warning, Wanda yanked the two arrows from Vision's shoulder.
"Done." She pressed one of her cloths to his skin to stem the flow of blood from the now open wounds.
"You did that on purpose" Vision frowned.
"Still angry, remember? Now, tell me about yourself."
"Yes" The Princess replied. "Tell me all the need-to-know facts about you. Show me who you are, Vision, and I'll decide whether I want to forgive you or not."
"Well.." Vision paused. "Where do I start?"
"Where most people do. Your Family, where you were born.."
"I.. I don't know."
"Oh, that's helpful" Wanda rolled her eyes, slightly annoyed. "Why does my evil relative want to kill you? 'I don't know..'"
"What's with that weird stone you have? 'I don't know..'"
"So what do you know?"
"I was abandoned at birth, because of my eyes, I think.. I was raised in an orphanage. I assume I was born in Sokovia, but as far as any Family, I really don't know."
"Oh.." Wanda's face grew pale, suddenly guilty. She was quiet for a while. "I'm sorry.. You really think you were abandoned because of your eyes?"
"I have heard myself referred to as a demon because of them, so most likely, yes. The Orphanage was closed when I was fourteen, not long after your parents died. I'd been on the streets for a few weeks when I found the stone. It let me walk through walls.. what it did Today was new to me. I've been a Thief since I found it."
"Stealing food for my fellow homeless. I don't like having to do it, but so many would starve otherwise.."
"I see.. So when did your friends come in?" Satisfied that the bleeding had slowed enough, Princess Wanda poured some of the contents of the small bottle on the second cloth and began gently cleaning Vision's wounds. He winced. "Sorry.. this will sting a bit."
"It's alright" Vision took her 'Sorry' as a sign that she may have been softening towards him again. "I met the Avengers just a few days ago, when they needed my abilities to help with their plans regarding you. They swore to me you weren't going to be hurt at all. That was important to me."
"It was?" Wanda frowned. "Why?"
"It.. It just was" Vision felt himself blushing. "And as soon as You told me about what Ultron did to Pietro.. I swear, my own plans changed. I just wanted to get you somewhere safe."
"Hmm.." Wanda stood and returned to her rucksack, searching for something. When she apparently couldn't find it, she pulled out the dress that she had been wearing when she and Vision met, and tore a large section off the bottom before he could stop her.
"Why did you do that?"
"To bandage your wound" She replied. "I didn't have anything else big enough, and I won't be needing a dress anytime soon.. Arm up."
Vision lifted his arm, and Wanda wrapped the torn material just tightly enough over his injured shoulder, tying it securely.
"Thank you" Vision managed a small smile. "So.. am I forgiven?"
"Well.." The Princess looked at him for a moment. Her green eyes had definitely softened. "I do want to believe you. Let's see if we can get somewhere safe, and then I'll think about it."
"That's fair" Vision nodded.
"For now, though" She threw an old blanket at him, "You should get some sleep."
"I couldn't possibly sleep.. What if.."
"Try. You have healing to do. You're not much good to me injured. I'll keep an eye out for trouble."
Vision opened his mouth to try and argue, but Wanda glared at him.
"Alright.. But you'll wake me if you get tired yourself, won't you?" He settled easily on the ground and pulled the blanket over him, used to sleeping rough.
"I will.. and Vision?"
"I'm sorry, for what I said about your eyes.. I don't really think they're freaky."
"Back to amazing then?" He murmured. Half asleep, Wanda had been right, the day had taken a toll on him.
From the corner of his half closed eye, Vision thought he saw her smile.
Chapter 7: All She Had Was Him
When Vision and Princess Wanda find themselves in danger yet again, help comes from a surprising source.
A few hours later, Vision found himself being shaken.
"Wake up!” A frantic whisper. "They're coming!"
Vision opened his eyes to find himself gazing up into Wanda's wide, panicked ones. Blinking away sleep, he tried to listen.
"I don't hear.."
"Just trust me!" Wanda stood, jerking him to his feet. Her rucksack was slung over her shoulder, their fire already stamped out. "We have to go!"
"Okay.." Vision checked that the stone was safe in his pocket. "Okay, let's go."
So they, went. Where exactly they were going, Vision wasn't sure.. But it was lucky that they had left then, because Wanda's intuition had been exactly right. They hadn't been moving long when they heard the soldiers they had attacked earlier, yelling taunts, flaming torches illuminating the forest a short distance behind them. Too short a distance. There was no way that the Soldiers wouldn't catch up, unless..
"Wanda.. Wanda, they're going to catch up.."
"Thank you, Sir Obvious." Wanda hissed, sounding annoyed, but Vision somehow knew that this was just to mask her fear.
"Can you fly?" Vision asked her. "Like you did back at the castle?"
"I told you, I can't control it.. Then flying, what I did to the Soldiers before.. It just happens!" She focused, trying to do what Vision asked. A tiny wisp of red danced around Wanda's fingers, then nothing. "I can't.. I can't help.."
"We're gonna get you, Princess!" One of the Soldiers called.
"You and your new little suitor!" added another.
For a moment, Wanda's nose wrinkled at the comment. Vision didn't let himself be bothered by it. He knew that he was no great prize. He looked around, hoping for some means of escape.
"There!" He pointed to a large tree. "Up that tree, hopefully they'll pass right under and no one will see us."
He hurried over to it and began to climb. Vision knew it wasn't a great plan. The game would be over if any of the soldiers glanced upwards. Wanda knew it too, from the look she'd given him the moment he suggested it. But Wanda also knew that she couldn't come up with a better plan, because there was no other possible plan. It was either certain death by the Soldiers, or a small chance at life in the tree.
The chance at life would always win. She began climbing after Vision rather awkwardly, trying to stay close behind him. Spending most of her early years at least trying to be a 'proper' Princess, tree climbing had not been a big part of her childhood.
Meanwhile, Vision was trying not to aggravate his injured shoulder as he climbed. He was also learning why it was a bad idea to climb a tree without a shirt on, bark and branches scratching at his bare skin.
Apart from that though, the plan seemed to be going fairly well.. until the next branch Wanda grabbed onto snapped, and she screamed as she fell. Vision managed to grab her with one hand, but couldn't help crying out as the added weight of the Princess wrenched his shoulder, wetness seeping through his bandage as his just-closing wounds opened once more.
The noise had drawn the attention of the Soldiers, who were now running in their direction.
With one hand gripping the tree, the other Wanda's hand, there was no way Vision could reach the Stone in his pocket.
They were most definitely doomed.
Vision glanced down at Wanda, her eyes wide and frightened. It struck him, quite suddenly, how young she actually was..Not much older than nineteen. They were about to die. They were about to die, and Princess Wanda was young, frightened, and alone.. All she had was Vision, basically a stranger.
She looked up at him, pleading.
"D-Don't let go."
Vision surprised himself with the firmness of his reply.
"I never will. I promise."
The soldiers were gathering beneath their tree.
"We've got you now!"
But then, suddenly, right when all seemed lost, a sparking orange portal opened above just above Vision. A man wearing a strange outfit with a red cloak and rather impressive facial hair gazed out of it.
"Oh good, I found you" The strange man turned his head, calling to an unseen person somewhere behind him. "Wong, I found them!"
Both Vision and Wanda gaped at him.
"Who are you?" Vision cried. "What's going on?"
"I am Doctor Stephen Strange.. You two look like you need some help." He extended a hand to Vision.
Vision glanced from Doctor Strange, to Wanda's panicked expression, to the Soldiers on the ground. They had been briefly distracted by the spectacle of the portal, but were now notching their arrows.
Vision looked back to Wanda, a silent question passing between them. Portal or soldiers?
It was a silly question, really. There was only one answer. Because, again, a chance at life would always win out over certain death.
Portal, they agreed with a nod.
Vision let Doctor Strange take his hand, jerking them through the portal and closing it behind them.
Once through, Vision jerked his hand out of Strange's grip, scrambling to his feet and pushing Wanda behind him, shielding her. They were in what looked like a large old building, filled with unusual artefacts.
"Forgive us if this seems ungrateful" He said slowly, "But Princess Wanda and I have had a rather trying day, and a mysterious rescuer seems just a little to good to be true."
Doctor Strange didn't seem at all insulted. Instead, he was smiling.
"You're already protecting her.. That's promising. Isn't that promising, Wong?"
"Very promising" Another man, Wong, apparently, nodded as he approached, standing beside Strange.
"What's promising?" Wanda, who had been in a state of shock for the past few minutes, peeked out from behind Vision, finding her voice. "Where the Hell are we and what do you want with us?"
"This is the Sanctum Sanctorum.." replied Doctor Strange, spreading his arms wide. "Home base of the world's magically inclined. We've been looking for you, Princess. I understand that all this may come as a bit of a shock, but There are things we need to discuss."
Wanda looked at Doctor Strange. Then she looked at Vision, still standing protectively in front of her. The makeshift bandage she had given him earlier was soaked.
"Before we discuss anything, my.." She paused, as if not quite sure how to refer to Vision. "My friend is hurt.. Can you help him?"
Vision was slightly surprised by her words. He'd been prepared for a lot more grovelling before he'd hear her call him her friend again.
"Of Course" Strange nodded.
"And the Princess needs to sleep" Vision cut in. She had grown pale, dark circles forming under her eyes.
Wanda opened her mouth to argue, but found there was no point. She was exhausted.
"Very well. Wong will tend to.. uh.."
"..Vision's wounds, and I will take the Princess somewhere to rest.."
"No!" Two voices sounding out as one, neither Wanda or Vision willing to be split up in this strange place.
Vision realised, with a slight thrill, that she had grabbed hold of his hand.
"I.. I'll stay with Vision while he is being treated" Wanda stammered. "So.. so I can learn how to do it better next time."
"Alright" A slight smirk crossed Doctor Strange's face. "To the Infirmary, then."
Wong led the way. Wanda and Vision looked at each other, then followed, Wanda still clinging to his hand.
All she had was him.
Chapter 8: Trouble When She Smiles
Wanda and Vision settle in at the Sanctum. Meanwhile, The Avengers search for them.
Wanda and Vision followed Wong to the Infirmary, where Wong began treating Vision's wounds. Wanda sat in a chair nearby, trying not to doze off. Doctor Strange sat beside the Princess, smirking slightly.
"Your wounds will still leave scars" Wong explained, applying a special ointment and wrapping Vision's shoulder in a fresh bandage, "But they will heal more quickly than usual."
"Thank you.. now, Wanda, we can get you to.." Vision turned to address his travelling companion, only to find that Wanda had lost the battle, drifting off to sleep.
"I can take the Princess to.." Strange reached for her.
"No" said Vision quickly, standing and gently scooping Wanda into his arms. The Princess curled against him, causing a pleasant flutter in Vision's heart. "I've got her."
Strange smiled, a rather pleased smile.
"Of course. Follow me, I'll show you where the Princess can sleep.."
Doctor Strange lead Vision through the Halls. A few other people, wearing outfits similar to Wong's- Sorcerers, Strange said- were wandering about.
Eventually, they reached a room with a small bed inside.
Vision carefully laid Wanda down, removed her boots and heavy jacket, then frowned. The rest of the Princess's travel outfit did not look like it would be at all comfortable to sleep in, but he did not want to violate Wanda's privacy or modesty by undressing her any further. Just as he turned to ask Doctor Strange if there might be any women around who could help, the Sorcerer waved his hand, and Wanda was suddenly dressed in a Nightgown, and her clothes were folded at the end of the bed.
"What did you.." Vision gaped.
"Nothing untoward, I assure you. Just a small charm."
"Right.." Vision carefully tucked the blanket and sheets around Wanda. He wasn't entirely sure he'd done it right, It had been a long time since he'd had a bed of his own.. But she looked comfortable.
"You can take the room next door to this one" Strange told him. "There will be something for you to wear. Make yourselves at home, we will talk in the Morning."
"Alright" Vision nodded.
Doctor Strange swept out of the room.
Vision waited a few moments, checked that Wanda was still sleeping soundly, then stepped outside himself. He glanced at the door to the room that had been offered to him. After so long on the streets, the promise of a bed was very, very tempting.
But, he had promised to get Wanda somewhere safe. He wasn't entirely certain that the Sanctum was a safe place, yet. So, Vision left the door open a crack so he could hear Wanda if she needed him, and sat down outside.
Meanwhile, The Avengers, who had been searching for Wanda and Vision since they'd fled the Inn, stumbled upon the remains of their campsite.
Clint crouched, feeling the spot where their fire had been.
"Still warm.. They can't have gotten far."
"But.." added Natasha, somewhat puzzled, "All the footprints end at this tree. Theirs, and whoever was following them."
The Avengers all looked up, and were startled to see a face peering down at them.. quickly becoming less startled when they realised the face was familiar.
"Is that.." Steve squinted.
"Peter!" Tony's tone immediately indicated how furious he was.
"I know you don't think I'm ready Mr. Stark, but.."
"Get down here. Now."
Peter leapt rather gracefully down from the tree, rather impressing the Avengers.. Except for Tony, who was glaring at him.
"You said you were only tracking" Peter tried to defend himself. "And I thought.. How dangerous can that be, right?"
"Very dangerous!" Tony snapped. "Ultron's goons are about!"
They were all silent for a moment.
"Well.." said Clint eventually, "It's way too dark to send him back by himself.."
Peter looked between them all, hopeful.
"Pepper and May are both going to kill me.. but okay."
"Yes!" Peter grinned.
"Hold up, there are rules" said Tony sternly. "You stay close, and listen to everything I tell you."
"Yes, Mr. Stark.."
"And when we get back to the Inn, you will impress upon everyone that this was entirely your own idea.."
The following Morning, Wanda woke with a start. Confused by her unfamiliar surroundings, she let out a slight squeal.
"It's alright!" Vision burst in, holding a tray with what looked like a bowl of Porridge. "Everything's alright.."
"H-How did I get here?"
"I carried you. You fell asleep in the Infirmary."
"Okay.." She glanced down at herself, suddenly blushing bright red. "How did I get undressed?"
"I didn't touch you" Vision replied quickly. "N-Nobody touched you, I wouldn't have let anyone.. Doctor Strange, he did this magic, hand-wave.. uh.."
"Whoa.." Wanda cut off his stammering, and Vision was rather relieved to find that, while her cheeks were still a little pink, the Princess was smiling at him, an almost fond smile. "It's alright. I believe you."
"You do?" Vision tried to ignore how Wanda's smile had just made his stomach do a back-flip. That would lead him nowhere good. She was a Princess, and he was as far from royalty as it was possible to be.
"Well, you've been nothing but a gentleman so far, so.."
"Right." He offered her the tray. "That nice Wong fellow brought this by just not too long ago.. It's still warm."
"Mmm, thank you" Wanda took the tray gratefully and began to tuck in, then paused to look at him, concerned. "Have you eaten?"
"Yes, I have. You don't have to worry."
"I can't help it" She returned to her Porridge. "I think you're growing on me."
Vision blushed. He remained silent while the Princess ate, only speaking again once she was nearing the bottom of the bowl.
"So, when you're done, we should probably go see whatever it is Doctor Strange wants to talk to us about."
"We should" Wanda agreed, wiping her mouth, "But uh, before we do, don't you think you should probably put a shirt on?"
"Oh.." Vision looked down at himself, cheeks reddening once more, then rushed off. "Hang on.. there's something for me to wear next door, apparently.."
Wanda's laughter echoed behind him. It was a wonderful sound.. No. Nope. That thought would lead to trouble.
The outfit that had been left for him was unusual.. at least compared to the thin, ragged clothes Vision was used to. It was somewhat similar to Doctor Strange's, except in a teal colour rather than blue, and with a gold cape as opposed to Strange's red one.
Vision shrugged and put the outfit on, cape and all, then headed into the Hall just as Wanda emerged, redressed herself.
"Ooh, nice.. That colour suits you, Vizh. Now, let's go see what the Doctor wants."
"Yes.. Right." Vision blinked, surprised, then followed her.
He'd never had a nickname before.
He quite liked it, liked how it sounded coming from Wanda's.. Oh, he was going to be in very big trouble.
Chapter 9: Princess of Nothing, Son of No-one
Doctor Strange expresses his belief that Princess Wanda is the next Scarlet Witch, a Legendary Hero born in times of trouble, and that Vision is her protector, chosen by the Mind Stone.
Wanda is reluctant to accept her new role.
Wanda and Vision set off in search of Doctor Strange. As they searched, they passed by various unusual objects, and a group of Sorcerers practising manoeuvres with portals like the one Strange had opened over their heads the previous day.
Just as they were about to give up and ask for directions, the man they were searching for poked his head out from a door.
"There you are, finally. Come in, we've got quite a bit to go over.."
Vision and Wanda shared a slightly nervous look, before entering the room, which appeared to be a library. The pair sat at a table across from Doctor Strange. As the Sorcerer opened his mouth to speak, Wanda raised a hand to stop him. His eyes might have been deceiving him, but Vision thought he'd seen a tiny wisp of red at the tip of her fingers.
"First," said Wanda, "We need a few answers. Why did you help us? And how did you even know that we were in trouble?”
"We here at the Sanctum have been keeping tabs on you for a while, Princess" replied Doctor Strange with a smile. "And we've been looking for Vision.."
"Why?" Vision frowned.
"All that will be explained in the course of what I have to say."
"Okay" Wanda nodded, but was clearly still wary of their mysterious rescuer's motives. "Go on, then."
"Have either of you heard of The Scarlet Witch?"
Wanda immediately scoffed, but Vision nodded.
"They told us the story a lot in the orphanage."
"How much do you know?" Strange asked him.
"Just the basics.. That centuries ago, when the Kingdom was in great danger, a brave young woman sought out the magical Mind Stone.." The golden stone in Vision's pocket suddenly grew warm. As much as he'd heard the story, he never considered.. No, it couldn't be..
"Go on" Doctor Strange pressed him.
"The Stone gave the woman the power she needed to fight off the evil plaguing the land.. She became known as the Scarlet Witch. The Scarlet Witch gave the Mind Stone to her Sweetheart, to help protect her until her work was done."
"Yes" Strange nodded. "The story goes on to say that the power was carried in the Witch's bloodline, laying dormant until the Kingdom needed it again. When that day came, a new Scarlet Witch would be born, and the Mind Stone would choose a new Protector."
The Stone burned again in Vision's pocket.
Wanda rolled her eyes.
"How is that supposed to explain anything?" She frowned. "The Scarlet Witch isn't real. She's a fairytale people tell their children.. A pretty little lie, so they all keep hoping things will get better."
"Oh no" Doctor Strange stood, shaking his head. "According to all the evidence we've been able to gather, the Scarlet Witch was very real. She was a Queen, and her power is passed down through the women of the Maximoff Royal bloodline. But women are rarely born into your family, are they?"
"That's true.." Wanda shifted uncomfortably.
"You are the first girl born to the Maximoff line in ten generations, as Sokovia was approaching dark times.. You have exhibited unusual powers.."
"Yes" Wanda didn't like where he was going with this at all. "But I have no control over.."
"We believe" Strange continued, cutting her off, "That you, Princess Wanda, are the new Scarlet Witch, and Vision is your chosen protector."
"Me.. But.." Vision slowly drew the stone from his pocket, "Why would it choose me?"
"Well, it seems you gave it an easy choice. Already caring about her.."
"Oh.. Well you see, that is.." Vision's cheeks reddened.
Wanda looked at him for a moment, as if interested in this new information, then shook her head.
"No. This is ridiculous."
"Princess, I understand this a lot to take in" said Doctor Strange sternly. "But if you are the Scarlet Witch, we have work to do. We can train you, teach you to control.."
"I'm not!" Wanda snapped, standing up. "I'm not the Scarlet Witch, I'm not a hero, I'm not important, I'm.. I'm nothing!"
She stormed out of the room. Vision wanted to follow, but hesitated.
"You should go after her."
"I don't think I'll be able to make much difference.." Vision warned as he stood. "Our path to getting here was.. well.. complicated. And I won't make her do anything she doesn't want to do. I don't think anyone could make Wanda do anything she didn't want to do."
"Yes, I'm starting to understand that" Strange chuckled. "Just.. try.”
"Alright.. But no promises."
When Vision eventually found Wanda, she was standing on a balcony on one of the Sanctum's higher floors. With a light breeze whipping at her hair, the early Morning sunlight shining down on.. Vision shook his head. This was definitely not the time to get caught up in the feelings he definitely should not be having.
He slowly approached.
"I'm not the Scarlet Witch."
"I'm not trying to convince you that you are" said Vision gently. "But.. Why do you think you're not important?"
"Because I'm not" Wanda shrugged. "At least, not as important as Pietro was. My parents loved me, of course they did, but I always knew Pietro was more important.. the son and heir. That's just the way things are. But if I didn't already know, Ultron definitely made sure of it.. He loved reminding me that I was nothing, in the great scheme of things. I was okay with that.. I just wanted to run away and be not important somewhere else."
"Well, if you're not important" Vision chuckled ruefully, "I'd hate to think how unimportant I am."
"What do you mean?"
"At least you had people who loved you. I didn't. Like you said, Sons are important to most people. Even when they're given up, they're often left with some little symbol or trinket.. something the parents can use to lay claim if the child grows up to do something significant."
"I'm guessing you didn't.." Wanda gazed at him sympathetically.
"Nothing at all" Vision confirmed. "Not even a blanket. Just a little naked babe with strange eyes dumped on the steps of the orphanage. The Son of no-one.. I'm lucky Mr. Jarvis found me before I died of exposure."
A small, sad smile crossed Wanda's face.
"The Princess of Nothing and the Son of no-one.. we make quite a pair."
"I suppose we do."
They fell silent for a while, but it was quite a comfortable silence.
"When Doctor Strange said.. When he said you already cared about me before the Stone.."
"Oh.." Vision reddened again. "That.. Um.. It's just a feeling I've had.. since I was small..It must sound a bit creepy.."
Something flashed in Wanda's mind. A boy with strange blue eyes and golden hair.. her own tiny arms reaching. An old dream.. or was it a memory? Whichever it was, she'd seen it in her mind's eye many times.
"It.. feels less creepy than it probably should be."
"Wanda.." Vision began, "Have you ever considered that maybe, the reason why Ultron was so eager to remind you how unimportant you are is because he knew that you were important?"
"I'm not the.."
"Not the Scarlet Witch, I know. But you do have gifts, gifts you've been struggling with. If Doctor Strange and the other people here can teach you how they work, how to control them.. Well, I think it's worth a go."
"Hmm.. I think so too."
Wanda managed to smile. A real smile this time, one that reached her eyes and made them sparkle. Vision couldn't keep his heart from soaring at the thought that he was the one to cause that smile.
He was in So. Much. Trouble.
Chapter 10: Blurred Lines
"So.." Wanda offered Vision her hand, "I suppose we go back in and tell Doctor Strange that we'll stick around for a while.."
Vision took the Princess's hand without thinking. He knew he shouldn't have.. that he shouldn't let the lines between them blur. But he took her hand, because she was clearly nervous, and she needed him.
He had to protect her. He had to.. The voice in his head hadn't stopped telling him so since their escape through the forest.
So, he took her hand.
"We do.. and if it doesn't work out, we will run away and find somewhere quiet for you to start over."
"We will?" Wanda raised an eyebrow at him.
"Of course" Vision nodded. "I promised that I would get you somewhere safe. So, you're stuck with me until you feel safe."
Wanda blushed, but smiled again, and Vision felt his heart skip a beat.
"Well.. I guess there are worse people to be stuck with than you, Vizh."
When Wanda and Vision re-entered the Library, Doctor Strange immediately stood, opening his mouth to say something, but once again, the Princess stopped him.
"I still don't really believe in all this 'Scarlet Witch' stuff, but if.. if you can help me get a handle on the things I can do, I might think about discussing it again."
"Of course" Doctor Strange smiled. "We can help both of you attain greater control."
"Both of us?" Vision frowned, confused.
"Yes, both of you" Strange repeated. "You, Vision, have only scratched the surface of what you can do with the Mind Stone."
"Well.. What have you done with it so far?"
"I can walk through walls.."
"And there was that energy beam thing in the Forest.." Wanda pointed out.
"Well, yes.." Vision continued, "There's that, but I've only done that the once, and I have no idea how I did it, or how to do it again.."
"As I expected" Doctor Strange chuckled. "Just scratching the surface. The Stone can not just decrease your density, allowing you to become intangible, but increase your density as well, which will make you a heavy hitter if the need arises. It might even be possible to fly."
"Really?" Vision's strange eyes widened.
"Really. Follow me."
As the Sorcerer turned to leave, Wanda and Vision shared a look, then shrugged, following him from the room.
Doctor Strange led them to one of the many rooms filled with unusual objects, stopping in front of a case containing a golden circlet, with an empty space where it looked like some sort of jewel should be. And, Vision couldn't help but notice, the empty spot looked just the right size and shape for his Stone.
As if reading his mind, Doctor Strange removed the circlet from it's case and handed it to Vision. Vision pulled the Mind Stone from his pocket and, as expected, it fit perfectly into the circlet.
"We believe this belonged to the Mind Stone's original keeper" Doctor Strange explained. "It should help to channel and control the Stone's power more effectively. Try it on."
Vision did so, the Mind Stone now perfectly positioned in the centre of his forehead.
The circlet suited him, Wanda thought, a perfect fit, like it was meant to be his.. And the Princess felt a sudden unpleasantness in the pit of her stomach. Because if she really wasn't the Scarlet Witch, then Vision was supposed to be somebody else's protector.. And she found she didn't like that idea very much at all. She shook her head, that was a silly thought, she had no claim on him..
"So" She forced a smile, "Do you have anything like that for me? A nice bracelet or necklace?"
"Unfortunately, no" Doctor Strange replied. "Your power is not channelled through any object. Control must come from within yourself. My first piece of advice to you, Princess, is to stop thinking of your powers as things that 'just happen'. You must accept them as a part of you."
"Right.." That was not exactly the answer Wanda had been hoping for.
"It will take hard work.. Wong and I have some things to get organised. We will begin training you Tomorrow. For Today, explore, get to know the Sanctum.. Just, try not to touch anything dangerous." Strange swept out of the room.
"Wait!" Vision called after him, "How do we know what's dangerous?"
"Good point.. Maybe just don't touch anything for Today, okay? Good."
Once again, Vision and Wanda shared a slightly nervous look.
The pair roamed through the building together at first, but after a while, felt comfortable enough to split up and explore alone for a bit.
While Wanda explored the rooms, inspecting the unusual objects but not touching anything, Vision returned to the Library. He browsed the shelves, eventually finding a book about the Mind Stone and taking it down, beginning to read.
Sometime later, Wanda joined him, sitting across from him.
"You can read?"
"A woman named Miss Carter taught me.. Your Mother used to send her out to the Orphanages."
"I remember her talking about that" Wanda smiled softly. "Interesting book?"
"The Stone certainly has a lot of history.. " He blushed, making the stone stand out even more on his forehead. "Belonging to the Sweethearts of various Scarlet Witches.."
Wanda blushed too, but her lips tugged upwards in a shy, cheeky smile.
"It seems so.. uh.. according to this.. Maybe.. If there's anyone else you'd want to give it to instead.."
"No. It picked you for a reason."
"You're starting to believe in the Scarlet Witch, then?" Vision peeked at her over the top of his book.
"No, but.." She reached over, lightly touching the Stone. It grew warm, as if responding to her. "This suits you."
"Well.. uh.." He was blushing quite furiously. "T-Thank you, Wanda."
"Mmm.. You didn't happen to find where they keep the food, did you? I'm starving.."
"Of course" Vision jumped to his feet. "I'll help you get there.."
Yes, he thought to himself, inwardly groaning, his 'not blurring lines' plan was going just swimmingly..
Chapter 11: The Boy With Golden Hair
Wanda and Vision begin training.
That night, Vision felt secure enough in their new surroundings to trust that Wanda would be safe without him waiting outside her door, so instead, he headed to the bedroom that Doctor Strange had offered to him the day before.
Vision had never had a bedroom to himself before. He stared at the bed for a while, as though he couldn't quite remember what he was supposed to do with it. Then he kicked off his well-worn shoes, stripped down to his under things, and pulled back the covers.
Almost nervously, as if he were worried that someone was going to rush in and inform him that there had been some sort of mistake, that the bed was not meant for him, Vision laid down. He let his head sink into the pillow with a soft sigh. After so many years living rough, sleeping where he dropped, a bed was heaven.
He drifted off to sleep almost immediately. He dreamed of the Princess. Of her sparkling eyes.. her wonderful smile..
Sometime the following morning, Wanda knocked on Vision's door.
"Vizh, are you up? I think Doctor Strange wants us to get started soon.." She knocked again. "Vision?"
When there was still no reply, she opened the door, just a crack, and peeked inside. Vision was still fast asleep, a small smile on his face. Wanda's gaze softened. She didn't have the heart to wake him. When she heard footsteps approaching, she quickly closed the door.
"Where is Vision?" Wong asked as he approached. "It is important that we begin your Scarlet Witch.."
"I'm not the Scarlet Witch" Wanda frowned.
"Well, training is important with any powers. Yours and his.."
"He's still asleep. We've had a rough couple of days, so maybe we could just leave him, and he'll catch up.."
Before Wanda could finish, Wong had burst into Vision's room.
"It is time to wake up! Your training begins Today!"
Vision jolted awake with a yelp and scrambled out of bed. As he began to hurriedly dress, Wanda spotted the cluster of healing scars on his shoulder and felt a pang of guilt. Her fault. If she had just taken his hand when he asked..
"So sorry, overslept.." Vision looked to Wanda, and, in his efforts not to let himself grow too close to the Princess, his next words may have come out a little snappier than intended. "Why didn't you wake me sooner?"
Wanda, already feeling guilty, flinched slightly, stung. Vision felt his heart sink into the pit of his stomach.
"I.. You looked peaceful.. so I.. You know, next time, I just won't bother being nice!" Wanda stalked off.
"I'm an idiot.."
"An idiot who is late" Wong reminded him, as he too left the room, "So hurry up."
Vision rushed to their meeting place, the area in which they had seen other sorcerers practising the previous day. He wanted to apologise, but Wanda wouldn't look at him, and Doctor Strange began speaking before he had the chance to really try.
"We're going to split you up Today.."
"Probably for the best.." Wanda muttered under her breath.
"So, Vision, you'll be working with Wong. Wanda, with me.."
Vision opened his mouth to try and apologise again, but Wanda was already rushing to the other side of the arena to join Doctor Strange. Vision sighed, defeated for now, and moved to where Wong waited for him.
"So" Wong began, "We will start with the basics. What abilities have you mastered so far?"
"I can become intangible" Vision reached up to ensure the circlet holding the stone was positioned correctly atop his head. "I walk through walls.."
"And other objects.. you can make them intangible with you?"
"Yes.. uh.. crates and things, or sacks of potatoes.. J-Just food.."
"You will not be shamed here, my friend" Wong assured him. "We understand that things are difficult on Sokovia's streets.. Now, what about other people?"
"Only once" said Vision, glancing over his shoulder to where Wanda was working with Doctor Strange. "When the Princess and I had arrows fired at us."
"Did you find it difficult?"
"No.. But I was probably on an adrenaline high at the time."
"Alright.. We definitely have something to work with" Wong nodded. "Show me everything you can do, and then we can decide what step to take next."
"Your powers are very different than what Vision can do with the Stone.."
"Because mine come from within.." Wanda, slightly agitated after that Morning's events, rolled her eyes. "I know. You said that already."
"Right.. So, legend says the Scarlet Witch has many abilities, among them flight, telekinesis, and various forms of mental manipulation" Doctor Strange listed. "Do any of those sound similar to what you can do?"
"Well, I can fly, sometimes. And I guess what I did with the Soldiers in the woods is telekinesis.. But I like I said, I..
"Have no control" He finished for her. "That's what we work on first. When do your powers usually emerge?"
"Uh.." Wanda thought for a moment. "When I'm angry, or scared, or think I'm in danger.."
"Strong emotions trigger them."
"Yes, you could say that."
"This is a very good start" Wong told Vision, after seeing all he could do. "Perhaps next, we should begin work on the opposite of what you do already."
"So.. Increasing density?" Vision questioned.
"Yes" Wong replied, pushing a wooden dummy towards Vision. "Now, think of someone you would like to punch very, very hard. Focus all your energy.."
"First, you need to practice calling on the energy within you.. to begin with, you'll probably need to bring one of those strong emotions to the surface. So," Doctor Strange instructed. "Think of something, or someone, that makes you very angry."
Wanda closed her eyes. She thought of Ultron. Of what he had done to Pietro..
At first, Vision could not think of anyone he wanted to punch very hard.
But then, he thought of Ultron. Of all the pain he had caused Wanda.
He drew back his fist, and let it fly.
Red energy began to surround Wanda, curling around her body like scarlet flames.
"Yes, that's brilliant" Doctor Strange grinned. "Try and hold it there for.."
There was an almighty crunching noise, and bits of broken, splintered wood flew everywhere.
Wanda, startled, lost her concentration, the energy fading. She turned to see Vision, equally startled, surrounded by the shattered remains of the wooden dummy, his fist still raised.
"Well" Wong blinked, "This would seem like a good time to break for lunch. After, we can set back up and try again."
After they ate, they returned to practising. By the end of the day, Vision had punched his way through a few more dummies, and Wanda could summon her power for a few minutes at a time. They were both left sweaty and exhausted by their efforts.
"You are both welcome to use a very handy invention of ours" Doctor Strange informed them. "We call it a shower.. the water is always warm."
Vision stood under the warm spray, sighing contentedly. This was heaven, just as much as the bed had been. Any sort of bathing was a luxury rarely afforded him, with most water saved for drinking. He stayed there for a while, letting what must have been at least a year's worth of grime wash away. Then, he stopped the shower as Doctor Strange had taught him, dried himself with a cloth, pulled on his under-shorts, turned to leave..
..And crashed straight into Wanda as she was coming in.
The Princess was wearing a silk robe that did not leave very much to the imagination. Vision gulped, hoping very much that his shorts were not too tight.
"Vision.. uh.." Wanda's face was bright red.
"Wanda.. hello.. um.. I am sorry about this morning." Not the best time, but he wanted to get the apology out of the way. "I really didn't mean to snap."
"It's okay. I should have woken you.. Oh.." She reached a hand towards his head, then drew it back, thinking better of it.
"What?" He blushed. "Did I miss a spot?"
"No.. Just.. Your hair. It's kind of.. gold. I haven't seen it like that before."
"Oh.. Well, it really is quite a nice contraption, this shower.." Vision smiled. "Are you going to try it?"
"I was.. But I'm a little nervous about someone walking in.."
"I can guard the door, if you like" He offered.
"Really?" Wanda looked at him.
"Okay. Thanks, Vizh."
So, Vision waited by the door. The boy with golden hair, already the loyal protector of a lonely Princess.
Chapter 12: Protective Instincts
Doctor Strange makes a discovery that helps with Wanda’s training.
Slowly accepting her potential identity as the new Scarlet Witch, Wanda wants to know more about the legends. She and Vision meet up in the Sanctum library searching for information.
Over the next few days, as they each continued working on their abilities, Wanda couldn't help noticing that Vision did scrub up rather well, when he was able to bathe regularly.
The outfit Doctor Strange had given him really did suit him. His hair, a shimmering golden blonde when clean, perfectly complimented his unusual, vibrantly blue eyes.
More than once now, the Princess had caught herself musing about how soft his hair looked, and almost wished she could run her fingers through it. Then she'd shake her head, and pretend she'd heard whatever Doctor Strange was talking about.
Vision hadn't noticed the Princess's increased interest in him. He had been trying very hard not to notice Wanda at all. To take his mind off of the little crush he'd developed, he needed to focus on something else. He had a job to do, so Vision decided that he would focus on that.
He threw himself into his training. His job was to protect Wanda. If he forced himself to see her as a job, then maybe, it would become harder to see her any other way.
He had mostly mastered increasing his density, punching, kicking, and headbutting his way through an army of wooden dummies.
Now, Vision had moved on to summoning energy beams from the stone, now at home in the centre of his forehead when he wore the circlet. This was proving slightly more difficult than increasing his density. While Vision could summon the energy easy enough, he really had to work on his aim. He'd been forbidden from practising outside the arena after he'd accidentally blown a large hole in the roof of the Sanctum.
"It's really not that bad" Wanda had tried to comfort him after this accident occurred. "It lets a nice bit of extra sunlight in, and I'm sure they'll fix it before the next time it rains."
Vision had smiled gratefully at her, and offered to guard the door again while she showered. In the following days, he took to guarding the door for her without her needing to ask. It was his job to protect her, after all.
Now that Wanda was able to summon her power on command, she and Strange had moved on to teaching her to actually use it.
So far, this had involved him throwing pine cones at her while she attempted to stop them. They had achieved mixed results. While Wanda was definitely improving, she was still missing more than she stopped.
However, Doctor Strange had noticed one somewhat promising pattern. Wanda never usually bothered with the ones that had already passed by her, understandably choosing to focus on the ones coming toward her.. Except if they looked like they may hit Vision as he practised on the other side of the arena. These, Wanda always stopped, although it was as if she wasn't entirely aware that he was doing it.
During one session, wanting to test a theory he had formed, Strange unexpectedly hurled a small battle-axe at the back of Vision's head.
In less than a second, Wanda had jumped between Vision and the weapon. The axe was surrounded with red energy, stopping in its tracks, before she let it clatter to the ground.
Vision turned at the sound, startled. Seeing the axe and realising what had almost happened, he grew rather pale. Both at his own near miss, and the realisation that the Princess had just put herself in danger for him.
"What the hell were you doing?!" cried Wanda angrily, glaring at Doctor Strange, the red energy still surrounding her, her usually green eyes glowing scarlet. "You could have killed him!"
"I would never have let it actually hit Vision" said Doctor Strange calmly. "I was just testing a theory, which you have most definitely proven correct."
Wanda was still angry, but curious.
"That you, Princess, have some rather strong protective instincts of your own.. Vision, will you come over here and join us for a moment?"
"Alright.." Vision, slightly nervous, nevertheless did as Strange asked.
"Stand just there, near Wanda."
"What's all this abo.." Wanda began, but she was interrupted when Doctor Strange threw another pine cone at Vision. She instantly stopped it. He continued to throw more, all of which the Princess stopped with her power.
Wong, beginning to grasp the point of this exercise, joined in. But he threw his pine cones at Wanda. Without even really thinking about it, Vision stopped them all with perfectly aimed energy blasts from the Mind Stone.
"Good.." Doctor Strange seemed rather pleased.
"What's good?" Wanda frowned, panting slightly.
"Yes, I'd quite like to know that myself" Vision, too, was breathless.
"Neither one of you fights for yourself. You want to protect others" Strange explained, before turning to Wong. "Wong, I think we'll make better progress having these two practise together from now on."
Wanda and Vision glanced at each other for a moment, then quickly away, both pretending they hadn't seen the other one blush.
Vision spent much of his free time in the Library, researching his stone.
One afternoon, after they had been at the Sanctum for nearly two weeks, Wanda entered the Library and selected a book on the Scarlet Witch, quietly sitting across from Vision and opening it.
Vision couldn't help peering at her over the top of his own book. She frowned when she saw him watching.
"Are you changing your mind about.." He gestured to the cover of her book. "All this?"
"Well.. not really" Wanda sighed. "It still seems pretty crazy. But.. I'm letting myself remain open to the possibility."
They both settled into their reading. But after about an hour, Vision couldn't help noticing that Wanda hadn't got past the first two pages, and her brow was furrowed in concentration that seemed a little too intense for casual reading.
"Wanda.." He set his own book down, "You seem to be having trouble.."
For a moment, she almost glared at him, then sighed. Being annoyed with Vision wouldn't fix her problem.
"I can't read very well.. I mean, I can, but it's slow going. My parents tried to have me learn when I was young, but Ultron stopped most of my lessons when he took the throne. He was happy with me not knowing too much."
"But.." Vision's own brow furrowed now, slightly confused, "How did you learn everything, then? Starting the fire, and how to treat my wounds in the forest..?"
"Pietro taught me how to start a fire" Wanda explained. "Ultron didn't let us see each other much, but he'd sneak me out at night sometimes so we could talk. As for the other stuff, sometimes I'd pretend to be ill so I could go to the Healers and watch wounded Soldiers being treated.. and to steal a few things here and there, once I decided I was leaving."
"Oh.." Vision gaped at her. "You are brilliant, did you know that?"
"I think my abysmal reading skills beg to differ.."
"Lots of brilliant people can't read. You can, even if it's slow, so that's a good start." He held out his hands. "Bring it here, I can help with the parts you're struggling with."
"What about your book?" Wanda asked, although she was already moving to sit beside him.
"Well, the Scarlet Witch's powers are connected to my stone, apparently" Vision carefully took the book. "Maybe I'll learn something too."
"Thank you, Vizh.." She took a seat. "I seem to need to thank you a lot."
"You stopped my head from being split open by a flying axe, so I suppose that makes us even."
"I suppose it does."
Wanda laughed then, a wonderful, joyous laugh that made Vision's heart soar. He was so happy to have made her laugh like that, that he completely forgot about not growing closer to her.
For that brief moment, he forgot that they were a Princess and a Thief. They were just a boy and a girl laughing together in the library.
Chapter 13: Moments Shatter
Vision comforts Wanda after a Nightmare.
Meanwhile, news of the Princess’s escape, and rumours of her powers, begin to spread through Sokovia, angering King Ultron.
Meeting in the Library soon became a regular part of their daily routine. Vision would help Wanda with the more difficult passages of her book, teaching her any words she didn't know. He was gentle and patient with her when she struggled, for which Wanda was grateful.
It had been a long time since anyone had bothered being gentle or patient with her. In fact, Ultron had always shown a distinct lack of patience with her, treating her as though she was something unpleasant that he had stepped in. He had, for a while, tried to encourage the same behaviour in Pietro.
When they were done reading, they would discuss whatever they had learned. Over time, they began to discuss other things as well, like their very different childhoods.
"Every year on our Birthday, our Parents would have an enormous cake made for Pietro and I" Wanda told Vision one afternoon. "Absolutely huge. We could never finish it all."
"I know" Vision chuckled, and when Wanda looked at him, slightly confused, he explained further. "We loved your Birthdays at the Orphanage. Your Mother used to have your left over cake sent to us."
"That does sound like something she would have done" Wanda smiled softly. "It was good cake, wasn't it?"
"Oh yes" Vision agreed. "Very good cake."
During training, Wanda and Vision now practised together, as Doctor Strange had suggested.
The pair developed a friendly rivalry, competing to see which one stopped the most pine cones, or disposed of the most dummies.
"I've got this one, Vizh!" Wanda chuckled, attempting to destroy a dummy Wong had rolled into the field.
"No, I think you will find that I do!" Laughed Vision, as his extra dense fist shattered the dummy's head.
"Well, I've got more today overall!"
"I got more Yesterday!"
As time went by, a true friendship was forming between them. Another good reason, Vision decided, to ignore his growing feelings for the Princess. Why ruin such a special friendship for a relationship that could never be?
Unfortunately, Vision couldn't tell his dreams to ignore his feelings. Most nights when he closed his eyes, he continued to see Wanda. See her smile. Hear her laugh.
However, on this particular night, Vision was pulled out of his dreams by noises from the room next door. He always left his door open a crack, so he could hear more easily if Wanda needed help. Now, what he heard was whimpers, thrashing, and panicked cries.
Vision leapt out of bed, running to Wanda's room and throwing the door open.
"No.." The Princess was still asleep, but quite clearly in the midst of a nightmare, thrashing about. "No, No! Pietro! What have you done?! Why?!"
"Wanda.." Vision moved closer, raising his voice in the hope that he could rouse her. "Princess Wanda, you're.."
"No.. no! No! No.. Vision!" Wanda cried out. Vision froze. "No, Vision! Leave him alone! You can't take him too, I don't have anyone.. No!" She sat bolt upright, a sudden wave of red energy rippling through the room and knocking Vision from his feet. "Vision.. Vision!" She blinked, then jumped out of bed when she realised what had happened, running to help him up. "Vizh, I'm so sorry.."
"I'm alright" He rubbed the back of his head. "Are you? I think you were having a nightmare.."
"I.." she was about to say that yes, she was alright, but then she faltered, shaking slightly. "No.. I don't really think I am."
Without thinking, Vision opened his arms, and Wanda flew into them, burying her face against his bare chest.
"It's alright.." Vision wrapped his arms around her. She fit so perfectly in his embrace, almost like she belonged there. He resisted the urge to press a kiss to the top of her head. "It's alright. Whatever it was, it was just a dream."
They remained that way for quite a while, neither one of them sure exactly how long. Eventually, Wanda lifted her head, gazing up at him with her soft green eyes. Lifted a hand, looking almost as if she was going to run it through his hair.. Then froze, the moment shattered, and they sprang apart, both red-faced.
"I, uh.. I think I'll be alright now" said Wanda quickly. "Thanks for checking on me, Vizh."
"No problem at all.." He slowly backed out of the room, closing the door quietly behind him as Wanda climbed back into bed. Vision hesitated before heading back to his own room.
What if Wanda was to have another nightmare?
He returned to his room for just a few moments, to fetch a blanket, then settled himself on the floor outside Wanda's room, just as he had done on their first night in the Sanctum.
The following Morning, Wanda woke and dressed, and headed out of her room.. To find Vision sleeping outside, propped up against the wall.
"Vision.." She reached down to gently shake him awake. He slowly stirred.
"Oh.. Good Morning, Princess."
"Vizh.." Her tone was not accusatory, just curious. "What are you doing?"
"Well.." He blushed. "I wanted to be close by.. to wake you if you had another nightmare."
Wanda looked at him for a moment, the same softness in her eyes that he'd seen the night before. She smiled, a gentle, fond smile, and offered a hand to help him up.
"You'd better get dressed if you want time for breakfast before training. You know how they get if we're late."
"Yes" Vision chuckled, "They can be hard task masters."
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Sokovia, news of Princess Wanda's escape was spreading. Rumours of her powers, whispers of her training at the Sanctum Sanctorum. Of possible plans to take the throne from Ultron.
Eventually, the rumours reached the Avengers. After a few days of searching the forest and a few small surrounding towns, finding no sign of Vision or the Princess, they had returned to the Potts Inn to regroup.
"Well, this is the best lead we've had in a week" Steve sighed, once the news had reached them.
"It is" Clint agreed.
"Just one problem.." said Natasha.
"What the heck is a Sanctum Sanctorum?" Tony yelled.
"That's easy" said Peter matter of factly, collecting empty glasses from their table. "It's where Wizards go to learn the mystic arts."
They all stared at him.
"How do you know that?" Clint asked.
"I visited it with my friend Ned once. He was thinking about.."
"Wait" Tony interrupted him. "You know exactly where this Sanctum place is?"
"Yeah" Peter nodded.
"Could you take us there?"
"Well, I could, but.. It's a little over a week's trip, Mr. Stark, I'd have to ask Aunt May if.."
Tony gave a long suffering sigh, rubbing his temples.
"Pack a bag, kid. I'll talk to your Aunt."
Unfortunately, The Avengers were not the only ones hearing the rumours.
"So" King Ultron murmured coldly to himself when the news reached him, "The Sorcerers have entered the game.."
He was furious. His Soldiers had failed to capture or kill the Princess. They had failed to kill the boy travelling with her. They had been punished accordingly, but the damage was done.
Already, Wanda was gaining powerful allies. Already, the people were dreaming of better. There was only one thing to be done. He summoned one of his top Generals, Brock Rumlow, also known as Crossbones. He had a particular enjoyment for less pleasant tasks
"You called, your Highness?"
"Yes, Rumlow. I have a job for you."
"I thought so.." Rumlow pulled out a large knife, cleaning it. "I suppose you want me to kill Princess Wanda and her new Toy Boy?"
"This may surprise you" said Ultron, "But no. At least not yet. It is too late to simply kill the Princess. She is already inspiring hope. We need to squash that hope before it spreads. Therefore, we cannot just kill her.. We have to completely crush her."
"So.." Rumlow was slightly confused, "What do you need me to do, Sir?"
"For now.. Deliver a message. No more games. In three weeks, my army marches on the Sanctum Sanctorum."
Chapter 14: The Apple Of Equality
Vision thinks Wanda would make a good Queen.
Happily hidden away in their safe little haven within the Sanctum, Vision and Princess Wanda remained blissfully unaware of the trouble heading their way.
In fact, on this particular day, the weather was so pleasant that, at Wanda's suggestion, they had gathered their lunches in a basket, and, with Wong's permission, taken the food and their Library books outside.
Vision, inwardly, had been concerned that a Picnic lunch together was maybe a little too intimate. But the Princess had smiled at him, so pleased with her plan, his stomach had done a series of back-flips, and he discovered that he was rather incapable of saying no to her.
So there they sat under an apple tree, eating their midday meal, and, currently, debating Vision's origins.
"I'm not so sure that you were born in Sokovia" Wanda had said, as she tore a hunk of bread off the loaf.
"Oh?" Vision raised an eyebrow, adding a slice of crumbly cheese to his own bread, "Why do you say that?"
"Your hair" she replied, and when Vision looked confused, she explained further. "Blonde hair is rare in Sokovia."
"Wasn't your brother blonde?"
"No. More white, and he used potions to get it that way. Without them his hair was dark like mine. Blonde is quite common in Asgard.. Maybe you are from there."
"Wanda" said Vision incredulously, "Have you ever seen an Asgardian?"
"I have" The Princess nodded.
"Then you know that most of them are huge, musclebound warriors. I'm not like that."
"Hmm.." Wanda, with a cheeky smile, reached out to squeeze Vision's bicep.
"W-What are you doing?" His face reddened.
"Checking.." Wanda smirked. "You are more musclebound than most, Vizh."
"I've still got nothing on an Asgardian.."
"Maybe not.. but close. You have muscles here.. and here.." The Princess started to poke him.
"Wanda.." Vision squirmed, her touch tickling him slightly.
"And here.. and here.. here, too.."
"Wanda.. Really.." He tried to lean away, out of her reach.
"And here.. here.."
Vision leaned too far, losing his balance, and grabbed at the nearest thing to try and steady himself. Unfortunately, the nearest thing was the front of Wanda's jacket, and all he succeeded in doing was to pull her down on top of him as he toppled backwards into the grass.
Somewhat in shock, they laid there for a moment, both blushing furiously, faces almost touching. Vision gazed up into Wanda's wide eyes. If he leaned up just the tiniest bit, he could.. No, definitely not.
Wanda gazed back at Vision. The strange patterns in his eyes were mesmerising, but always so full of kindness. She didn't understand how anyone could be afraid of him.
Both of them waited just a little too long to try and move. But, Vision realised with a jolt, if he didn't get out from underneath her soon, his body might begin reacting in a less than innocent fashion.
"S-Sorry.." He stammered, trying to wriggle out, while also forcing himself to think of unpleasant things. Dead animals.. The time he'd accidentally walked in on Mr. Jarvis in the bathtub..
"No, no.." Wanda snapped out of the slight trance she'd been in, scrambling off of Vision. "It was my fault.."
Wanda spent a little too long brushing dirt out of his hair, thinking, briefly, that it was just as soft as she'd imagined it.. then blushed beet red, scrambling another few inches away.
They spent a short while, embarrassed by what had just happened, looking everywhere but at each other. Eventually, Wanda looked up and spotted a wonderfully ripe apple, grateful for the distraction it gave her.
"This one's ready to eat." She plucked the apple with her powers, letting it float down gracefully into her waiting hand.
"You're getting good at that" Vision told her, his face still slightly pink.
"Thank you" Wanda managed to smile. Vision shyly shuffled closer once again, looking with an unusual amount of interest at the apple in Wanda's hand.
"What about it?"
"Are they usually that red? I've never seen one quite that fresh before.."
"You haven't?" Wanda frowned, glancing at the apple.
"No. Fresh fruit goes to you at the castle first, then any other nobles, then the Inns.." Vision explained. "It's not quite at it's best anymore when whatever's left reaches my part of town."
"Here. You have it" The Princess held out the piece of fruit.
"Oh no. It's yours."
"You picked it."
"Take the apple, Vision."
"I really don't need it."
Wanda sighed, then pulled her knife out of her coat, the same knife with which she had cut the sheets on the day of their escape from the castle, and sliced the apple in half, offering one half to Vision.
"Take half, then. And I'm not taking no for an answer."
"Alright.. Thank you" Vision took his half of the apple and bit rather messily into it. It was much juicier than he was used to. "Mmmm.." He glanced over at Wanda. A cloud seemed to have crossed the Princess's face. "Is something wrong?"
"If.. If it's about before, I'm so sorry" said Vision quickly. "Sometimes men's bodies just.. just react to.. but I would never.."
"It's not about that" Wanda's face turned a faint shade of pink, but she giggled, so Vision relaxed. "I just.. I don't think it's fair.. That some people should have more than others just because they were born in a nicer place. Everyone should be equal."
"You would have made a good Queen" Vision told her, finishing his apple and licking the juice from his fingers.
"You mean that?" She looked at him, surprised.
"I do. You still could be, if that's what you want.."
"I don't know what I want.." Wanda sighed.
"That's alright. We have plenty of time to work it out."
Unfortunately, they did not have nearly as much time as they thought.
The Avengers were currently travelling the long, winding road to the Sanctum Sanctorum. Peter Parker lead the group, consulting what looked like a very old Map.
Suddenly, both Clint and Natasha froze.
"Get off the road" Nat hissed.
"What?" Tony turned his head.
"Get off the road" Clint repeated.
He, Natasha, and Steve fled into some nearby bushes, followed closely by Tony, dragging a confused Peter with him.
"Mr Stark, what.."
Seconds after they were all hidden, a menacing looking man came riding down the road, following the very path they had been walking moments earlier.
"That was Brock Rumlow" Steve said sombrely. "One of Ultron's most vicious men."
"If he's heading for the Sanctum, we need to get there first to warn Vision and the Princess" said Clint.
"How?" Tony frowned. "We can't outrun a horse!"
"There's a shortcut on the map.." Peter piped up.
"And you only tell us this now?" Tony snapped.
"No time" Nat cut in. "Lead the way, kid."
Chapter 15: A Little Bit Like Love
Wanda struggles to master flying. Vision has a way to help.
Of course, Wanda and Vision remained unaware of the Avengers' efforts to help them, or even that they needed help at all.
They continued to meet in the Library, where Vision would help Wanda read through information on the Scarlet Witch. She was becoming increasingly interested in the subject as they discovered more, but was still not quite ready to accept that she and the Witch could be one in the same.
Vision continued to guard the door for Wanda when she showered, and often, Wanda would do the same for him. She tried very hard to pretend that this wasn't because she enjoyed the times when she got to see him in nothing but his undershorts. The weeks of training had only improved Vision's already impressive physique, and a good diet had added a healthy glow to his face that hadn't been there when she met him.
Their playful rivalry in training now often lead into playful flirting. Vision never meant to flirt back, it just happened, his heart and his mouth conspiring against him before his brain could kick into gear and stop him.
A few times, Doctor Strange had had to yell at them to focus.
Otherwise, training was going rather well, apart from one minor issue. Recently, they had begun to practice flying. Vision, surprising himself, had quickly unlocked and almost mastered the skill. Wanda, however, was struggling.
"I wouldn't worry about it too much" He told the Princess after a session in which she'd become increasingly frustrated. "After all, I can only fly if I've got the Mind Stone with me. You can fly without it."
"Except I can't, can I?" Wanda frowned. "I haven't done more than hover for a few seconds."
"It's a start. I know you can fly, I've seen you do it.." Vision paused for a moment. "I've just thought of a way I might be able to help."
"Well.." His brow furrowed. "It would require you to trust me.. quite a lot. If you can't I understand.."
"No" said Wanda, without needing to think too hard about it. "I trust you."
"Well, it's kind of hard not to trust a guy who took a few arrows to the shoulder for you. And.." Her lips curled in a cheeky smirk, "Stands guard outside a room you're naked in without ever trying to sneak a peek."
Vision blushed, but smiled.
"Alright. Meet me on the balcony later tonight then."
"Yes. The one where I found you on our first Morning here."
"Okay.. But.." Wanda was confused.
"Trust me" Vision smiled.
So, that night, Wanda met Vision on the balcony, just as he'd asked, but was still very confused.
"What are we doing here, Vizh? And why at night?"
"Travellers do occasionally pass by the Sanctum" Vision explained. "I didn't want them to see us and panic."
"See us doing what?"
"Practising" He carefully floated up from the balcony. With the Mind Stone glowing in the centre of his forehead, his golden cape fluttering gently in the wind, he looked almost ethereal. "I have been doing some thinking. One of the most important parts of flying is believing that you will not fall."
"That.. makes sense" Wanda agreed.
"At the castle, you needed to believe you wouldn't fall, because you wanted to save us. In training, you have never been put in a situation where believing matters. So.." Vision floated down a little way, "Jump."
"What?" Wanda's eyes widened.
"Jump" Vision repeated. "I will catch you. And I will keep catching you, until you believe that you will not fall."
The Princess hesitated.
"I'm not sure about this.."
"Do you trust me?"
"I do, but.. Okay.. Okay.." Steeling herself, Wanda carefully climbed up onto the railing. Took a deep breath. Closed her eyes. And finally, jumped.
She plunged downwards, but she was not falling for long before a pair of strong arms swept beneath her, halting her descent, drawing her close so she knew that she was safe.
"I've got you" Came Vision's voice. "I've got you, you're alright."
Wanda's eyes fluttered open, finding Vision's gazing kindly at her. Whoa.. She knew his eyes were very blue, but had they always been that blue?
"I'm alright" she agreed when she found her voice, nodding.
"Do you want to try again?"
"Okay. Let's try again."
So, they tried again.
Every time, Vision would snatch Wanda out of her free fall, just as he had promised.
Every time, Wanda trusted him more.
Trusted that she was not going to fall.
So, eventually, when the Princess was so sure that she was safe, that she was not going to fall, Wanda jumped.
This time, Vision didn't catch her.
He didn't have to. Red energy had surrounded her hands, keeping her airborne.
"Wanda!" Vision called. "Wanda, you're doing it!"
"Hmm?" Wanda opened her eyes. "Oh! I am.. I'm flying!"
"Ha ha!" He floated up to hover beside her. "I knew it would work!"
"No one likes a bragger, Vizh. Race you around the Sanctum?"
"I thought you'd never ask" Vision chuckled.
They flew loops around the building together, losing count of how many laps they were making, or who was actually winning their 'race'.
Wanda soon seemed to have abandoned the idea of the race entirely, flying higher, whooping with joy.
Vision hovered for a while, just watching her, revelling in the happiness that he had helped to bring. Bathed in the soft light of the stars, the Princess looked so very beautiful. He knew he shouldn't think it. That it was better, easier, to keep his distance.
But it was pointless to deny it for much longer. Wanda was stealing Vision's heart, and he was most definitely letting her. It didn't really matter. A Princess could never be with a Thief. Especially not if she decided she wanted to be the Queen someday. If her friend and protector was all he could ever be, he would learn to live with that.
Wanda paused, glancing back down in Vision's direction, a slight flutter in her heart. He made her feel.. something. Exactly what, she wasn't sure, because the heart wasn't exactly something second-born Princesses were supposed to listen to, and definitely were not supposed to follow. But, from the small amount she did know about the subject, it was something a little bit like love.
She slowly flew back to where he was hovering.
"Enough for Tonight?"
"Yes, it is getting a little late" Vision agreed, then gently took her hand. "Landing can be a bit difficult at first. I'll help you." Hand in hand, they floated back to the balcony, carefully coming in to land. "We can practise again Tomorrow night if you like, just until you've really mastered it.."
"Okay.. Vizh?" She turned to look at him.
For just a second, Wanda pressed her lips to Vision's. The kiss was so brief that Vision was at first not sure that it had actually happened, but it was definitely a kiss.
"Thank you.." a soft blush coloured Wanda's cheeks, and she hurried away, leaving a rather stunned Vision alone on the balcony.
The goofy grin of a boy very much in love slowly spread over his face.
Chapter 16: A Problem For Tomorrow
Trouble comes to the Sanctum.
That night, Vision dreamed of Wanda once again. Dreamed of her smile. Of her kiss. Of how soft her lips had been, even though they had touched his for less than a second.
However, Wanda didn't mention the kiss the next day. And because she didn't, neither did he. But once or twice, he had caught her looking at him. And she would blush, and smile, a soft, shy little smile.. Vision thought it was the most adorable thing he had ever seen.
It was a nice day, so that afternoon, they once again packed up their lunches and headed outside. Unfortunately, as soon as they stepped outdoors, an unwelcome voice ruined their day.
"Hey there, little Princess!"
The voice had come from a rather slimy looking man sitting atop a black horse, grinning unpleasantly. A skull and crossbones symbol adorned his armour.
"No.." Wanda gasped in horror. "Not you.."
Seeing the fear in Wanda's eyes, Vision immediately pushed the Princess behind him. Both of them were surprised by the growl that escaped his throat.
"Stay away from her." He fired a warning shot from the Mind Stone, burning the grass near the horse's hooves.
"Whoa!" Cried the man, as his horse reared. “The Princess has gone and got herself a little guard dog. Well, don't worry puppy, I'm not here to.."
"Get away from them, Rumlow!" cried the voice of Steve Rogers, before the Avengers came surging out of a nearby patch of forest, Tony Stark suited up, the others with weapons raised.
"What.. Where did all of you come from?" Vision yelled, still shielding Wanda.
"We thought about what you said, kid" Tony began.
"You were right.." Clint continued.
"We were wrong" Natasha added.
"We're here to help" Steve finished.
Rumlow opened his mouth to comment again, but was cut off when a familiar teenage boy came flying out of a nearby tree, grabbing hold of Rumlow and trying to restrain him.
"Peter!" Tony scolded. "I told you to stay out of the way!"
"But I've got him, Mr. Stark! I.. whoa!"
"Get off!" Rumlow tossed Peter aside as the Horse reared once again.
Wanda, who had been quiet throughout most of this, caught the boy with her powers before he could slam into a tree.
"You brought a kid?!" she cried in disbelief.
Tony's justification for bringing Peter was never heard, because the ruckus had finally drawn the attention of Doctor Strange.
"What the hell is going on here?!" The Sorcerer yelled.
"Just delivering a message, Mr. Wizard" Rumlow was grinning his unpleasant grin once more, turning his attention back to Wanda. “People are startin' to notice you, Little Princess. Thinking they want to follow you. Ultron can't have that, of course. So, he sent me to tell you that he's having an army march on this place in three weeks. They're gonna kill you.. and probably your puppy, too.."
Vision growled again, about to tackle him and destroy his smug face, but Rumlow had already turned his horse and begun to ride away.
"What," Doctor Strange repeated, "Is going on? And who.." He turned to the Avengers, "Are you?"
"It's alright" said Tony, nodding towards Wanda and Vision. "We're with them."
Wanda and Vision looked at each other, slightly uncertain.
"Yes.." said Wanda eventually, though still seeming a little wary. "They're with us, I suppose.."
Sometime later, they were all gathered in an empty room, Wong and a few other sorcerers joining them. Everyone was arguing, talking over each other. No one could quite agree on a course of action.
"Everybody quiet!" Strange snapped, after quite a few hours had passed with no progress. "We work with what we know. So, we have three weeks until.."
"Two weeks" Wanda cut in.
"But Rumlow said.."
"It took Rumlow a week to get here. Ultron does this, he tries to confuse people" Wanda explained. "It took Rumlow a week to get here. Another to ride back. Week after that, he'll return with Ultron's army. Two weeks."
"Well, that's cutting it a little finer.. But if you leave now, you can get to.."
"I'm not going anywhere" Wanda frowned.
"No. You heard him.. People are starting to believe in me. How will it look if I run away at the first hurdle?"
Vision, worried as he was right now, couldn't help feeling a flush of pride for her.
"So" Strange smirked, "You believe you're the Scarlet Witch?"
"I didn't say that" The Princess shifted uncomfortably. "But I won't be the one to shatter the first hope my people have had in years. And anyway, Ultron will have his army attack whether I'm here or not. I won't leave you and the other Sorcerers behind to die for me. If there's going to be a fight.. I'll fight."
Vision was so busy feeling proud of her that he almost didn't notice that Wong was speaking to him.
"I'm sorry, what?"
"Vision, you are the other person who's life has been directly threatened" said Wong. "What is your say in the matter?"
"I'm with Wanda" Vision replied. "Whatever she decides."
Wanda blushed brightly.
"Thanks, Vizh.. We'll need the Sorcerers to stand with us. And you.. Avengers."
"Of course" Doctor Strange nodded.
"That's why we're here" said Clint.
There was a new flurry of activity, as the conversation quickly turned to battle strategy and training regimes. In the commotion, Wanda grabbed Vision's arm.
"Can I talk to you alone for a moment, Vizh?"
Vision looked at her. She seemed worried.
She led him outside the Sanctum, far away from the distracting chatter of the others. It was approaching dusk, the sky turning a warm dusty pink as the Sun prepared to sink below the horizon.
"I have a question" said Wanda, "And you're the only one I trust to answer me honestly.."
"Alright" Vision nodded, listening intently.
"Do you think I'm the Scarlet Witch?"
"Well.. I don't know."
"Helpful, Vizh" Wanda rolled her eyes.
"I meant.. I don't think that's a question anyone can answer for you" He tried to clarify. "I think you're just about the strongest person I've ever met. And yes, you have the powers. But the title.. the Scarlet Witch.. I think you have to choose to take it on for yourself."
Wanda blushed again, looking at her hands.
"I'm nothing special.. I'm not clever, or brave, or beautiful.."
"Wanda, you are all of those things! You caught Ultron's trick in there when even Doctor Strange missed it.." He felt a growl rising in his throat again, "And who on Earth told you that you aren't beautiful?"
"He lied to you, Wanda. He lied, because he didn't want you to know how special you are. He lied, because you are beautiful. You are so.." He trailed off, worried he had crossed a line. But the Princess was watching him, with soft eyes and a gentle smile.
"You're probably the best person I know, Vizh."
"I'm just a Thief." Now it was his turn to blush.
"A Thief who steals food for his friends" Wanda pointed out.
"Well, not for friends, exactly.. I don't really have any."
"Why?" Wanda frowned. "You go to so much trouble.."
"Oh, people do thank me for the food" Vision nodded. "But they're.. wary. The eyes.. everyone thinks the pattern is a devil mark. They're afraid of me."
Suddenly, Wanda's arms were around him, holding him tight.
"I'm not afraid of you.."
Vision had no idea how much those words would mean to him until she'd said them.
"Thank you.." He slowly wrapped his arms around her in return. He waited for the moment to shatter, for Wanda to spring away from him. She didn't.
"One more question, Vizh.. kind of unrelated."
"Do you.. Do you know what being in love feels like?"
"I do.." He didn't mention how recently he had discovered this information.
"Tell me" Her arms were still around him.
"Well.. Its a wonderful, warm sort of feeling" Vision didn't notice that one of his hands had reached up to run gently through her hair. "The world shrinks to just you two. All that matters is keeping that person safe and happy."
"It would be nice.." Said Wanda, "to have someone like that."
They stayed there as it grew dark, briefly forgetting the troubles that awaited. They were a problem for Tomorrow.
Chapter 17: Pretend To Love Me
Ultron’s army is coming.
They could die Tomorrow.
They could die Tomorrow, and there’s so much Wanda hasn’t done, hasn’t experienced.
She asks a very special favour of Vision.
Smut warning for this chapter. I don’t tend to get super graphic with it, but it’s there.
The majority of the following days were consumed with building strategies, and training for the battle ahead of them. Wanda and Vision were not much use in the strategy sessions, neither one of them having any real experience with that type of thing.
But in training, the Princess and The Thief shone. In the weeks training together, they'd really gotten to know each other, how they both moved, sometimes anticipating actions before they'd made them. Now both able to fly, Wanda and Vision twisted and spiralled through the air together, deflecting or dodging almost anything that came their way. They looked quite the formidable duo now, working in perfect sync with each other.
"They're pretty impressive" Natasha commented, slightly breathless, after a sparring session with Clint.
"They've worked hard" Doctor Strange smiled, a note of pride in his voice.
"Hey, kid!" Tony called to Vision, "If we'd known you could do all this, we would have recruited you sooner!"
"Well, I couldn't do all this yet when we met" Vision chuckled.
In fact, Vision didn't think he would have been able to unlock most of his fantastic new abilities before he'd met Wanda. His need to protect the Princess was the driving force behind his desire to do so well in training.
"I can do some pretty awesome stuff, Mr. Stark!" Peter piped up.
"Yup, you're going to be a 'pretty awesome' mascot" said Tony, "And stay the Hell away from this battle so your Aunt doesn't kill me. Now, go polish up those artefacts like the Wizard asked."
"Yes, Mr. Stark" Peter plodded away sadly.
"I can't believe they brought a kid with them" Wanda shook her head. "Especially when they knew what they were getting into.."
When the constant presence of the Avengers, all the talk of battle, became too much, Wanda would drag Vision off for a brief escape from their troubles, usually retreating to their old haven of the Sanctum Library.
"Peter's not that much younger than you" Vision pointed out.
"He's younger enough" Wanda frowned. "At least I'm old enough to really understand what's going on here. To understand what I might be giving up.."
"Giving up?" Vision frowned now, "What do you mean?"
"We could all die, Vizh" Wanda looked at him. "You know that, right? All the training in the world won't change that.."
Without thinking, he pulled her into his arms.
"You are not going to die, Wanda. Not if I have anything to say about it."
"Vision.." she sighed, but leaned into him.
"No. You are not going to die, because I am going to protect you. It's my job."
Unfortunately, Vision's comfort was not enough to stop Wanda's fears from plaguing her dreams, which increased in the weeks leading up to the arrival of Ultron's army. She would wake and cry out.
Vision, having developed a sixth sense for when the Princess was in any sort of distress, would run to her aid. He would hold her, and stroke her hair, just as he had after Rumlow and the Avengers had arrived, comforting her until she was ready to go back to sleep.
And every time, Wanda thanked him, and she would look at him for a while, as though she was going to speak again, to ask him something, but she could never quite get the words out.
Vision would park himself outside the bedroom door in case Wanda needed him again. He would wake up with a blanket over him, even if he hadn't bothered fetching his own. And once, though he was so close to sleep that he couldn't be sure, he thought he had felt someone curl up beside him. But if anyone had been there, they were gone by Morning.
The night before Ultron's army was expected to arrive, Doctor Strange ordered everyone to bed early, apart from a select few Sorcerers chosen to keep watch.
Vision was sitting in bed, wide awake, slightly anxious about what lay ahead. He was about to put out his lamp and genuinely attempt sleep when he heard a soft creak, Wanda slipping inside his room and closing the door behind her.
"Wanda" He jumped back out of bed, wearing only his undershorts. "Did you have another nightmare? I didn't hear.."
"No" said Wanda, the lamplight reflected in her soft green eyes. "I was.. I trust you, Vision. I know you won't hurt me."
"Of course not" said Vision quickly.
"We could die Tomorrow.."
"Wanda, we've talked about this. I'm not going to let you.."
"We could die Tomorrow" The Princess repeated, firmly. "And If I do.. There's so much I haven't experienced.. things that I'd like to. No-one's ever loved me.."
"Wanda, I really think.." Vision turned away from her then, because he had an idea where this was going, that it wasn't just about 'love', and he wasn't sure he liked it. She was a Princess, he was a Thief.. It would be easier to say no if he couldn't see her eyes.
"You haven't known me long enough to love me. But you said you knew how it felt. Being in love" Wanda continued, sounding ever so slightly nervous, but undaunted. He could hear her taking a few steps closer. "So.. Could you pretend to love me, Vision?"
"Wanda.." He wanted to tell her that he wouldn't have to pretend at all, that he already loved her. But that would be a very bad.. His breath caught. Wanda was kissing the scars on his shoulder, from the first wounds he'd taken protecting her. He knew she blamed herself for them, he'd caught her looking at them more than once. And the Princess's voice was cracking.
"Please.. I just want to feel.. something.."
Vision turned to face her then, his resistance crumbling. There was probably a special place in Hell for people who deflowered Princesses. But she was right. They could die Tomorrow. No one deserved to die without feeling they'd been loved. Especially not Wanda. His vibrantly blue eyes gazed deeply into her wide green ones.
"If you change your mind, at any point.. If you change your mind, Wanda, tell me, and I will stop. Nothing has to happen here."
"I know. I trust you."
Then she was kissing him, deeply, her hands buried in his golden hair as Vision's arms wrapped around her waist to pull her closer to him, and though he knew he shouldn't, he couldn't help noticing again how perfectly Wanda fit in his arms. Her lips were as soft as he remembered, her kiss was Heaven, and Vision couldn't help thinking that she was worth going to Hell for.
Slowly, shyly, Wanda's hands began to explore, over his toned arms, his well-muscled chest. Vision took this as permission for his own hands to wander, roaming her body, over the soft silk of her nightdress. When they had explored all they could while clothed, Vision broke their kiss and stepped back from her, looking at her, checking that she was alright. Wanda's cheeks were lightly flushed, but there was no sign of doubt or regret in her eyes.
"Can I.." Vision found himself suddenly shy.. He wasn't anymore experienced in this than she was, after all. "Can I see you?"
"If I can see you.." Wanda replied with a soft smile.
Vision nodded, shedding his shorts, while Wanda tugged her nightdress over her head. Vision's breath caught.
"You really are beautiful, Wanda.."
"And you are very handsome" The Princess blushed.
Then they were back in each other's arms, exploring each other's bodies once more, hands running over soft skin, finding where they liked to be touched, those special little places that elicited a sigh or moan. Eventually, they moved towards the bed, where Vision gently laid Wanda down.
"Are you okay?" He asked her softly. "Is this okay?"
"Yes" Wanda nodded, her heart doing a funny little leap in her chest. He was being so very sweet with her. Not that she'd expected any different from him, but it was nice. "I'm okay."
Vision set about exploring her body with his lips as he had earlier explored it with his hands. He placed a trail of kisses down her neck, her shoulders, over her breasts and her belly. He revelled in the soft moans that meant he was bringing Wanda pleasure. She was a Princess, for tonight, his Princess, and she deserved the world.
As he kissed his way back up, Wanda bent her legs, leaving Vision's hips cradled between them, pressing gently against her core.
"Hello.." Vision's heart was racing.
"Hi.." Wanda replied softly.
"Are you sure?" He asked her, searching her eyes. "Really sure?"
"If you change your mind.."
"If you do" Vision repeated seriously. "Tell me. I will stop. No questions."
"I know, Vizh."
He carefully positioned himself, then reached to link his fingers with Wanda's.
"It might hurt.."
Vision kissed Wanda, a soft, loving kiss, as he began to carefully slip inside her, pushing past the resistance he met.
Wanda winced, biting her lip.
"Are you alright?" Vision stilled, letting her adjust. "Do you want me to.."
"Don't stop" Wanda told him. "I'm okay."
He kissed her again, and began to slowly move his hips in a series of gentle thrusts. Soft moans escaped him. And as much as Vision knew he shouldn't think it, he couldn't help noticing that they fit quite perfectly together.
Wanda's discomfort faded into pleasure, her own moans mingling with Vision's.
He was peppering soft kisses over her face, murmuring sweet words to her. He was still holding her hand, and didn't look like letting go any time soon.
Wanda's racing heart swelled with that warm fuzzy feeling Vision described as love.
"Vision.." She wanted to tell him about it, but her mind was foggy, pleasure pooling in her belly. "Oh, Vizh.."
"Wanda.." He whispered her name like a prayer.
The patterns in Vision's vibrantly blue eyes seemed to be glowing.
"Vizh.." Wanda's breath caught. "Your eyes.."
"No.. They're beautiful.. Vision!"
She fell apart beneath him, crying out his name as her first orgasm washed over her.
Vision's followed moments later, her name on his lips as he found release.
They lay there, neither of them was sure for how long, breathing heavily.
"Wanda.." Vision murmured eventually, a happy fog clearing from his mind. "Wanda, are you alright?"
Wanda's eyes slowly opened, and for a moment, she smiled at Vision, a dazzling smile, like he was the most wonderful thing in the universe.. Then she remembered what had just happened, and blushed brightly.
"I'm alright.. are you?"
"Yes" He nodded, still slightly breathless, then carefully rolled off of her.
Seeming almost nervous, Wanda curled into him.
"Can I stay, Vizh? I don't think I could sleep by myself.."
"Of course you can stay" Vision pulled her closer, then pulled the blankets over them."Why would you think.."
"I heard.. some men.."
"That's not the type of man I'd ever want to be."
"You really are the best person I know.." Wanda smiled softly, curling up closer. She thought there was something she wanted to tell him, but she was suddenly very sleepy..
Vision held Wanda as she drifted to sleep. He kissed her forehead, gently stroked her hair, not wanting to waste a second of whatever time he had with her.
When he finally closed his eyes to sleep himself, there was only one thought in Vision's head.
He wished they could pretend forever.
Chapter 18: What She Needed Him To Be
Vision dreamed of Wanda, of that one precious, perfect night with the Princess that he could remember and carry with him for the rest of his life.. Even if the rest of his life proved short, seeing as they were going to war the next day.
Wanda was gone when Vision woke the next morning, but that was okay. He'd expected her to be. A Princess couldn't let herself be found in the bed of a thief, even if that thief was her chosen protector.
The Sanctum was alive with nervous activity. Everyone was rushing about, preparing themselves for battle, doing some last minute training. While the lookouts hadn't caught sight of Ultron's army yet, many swore they could hear marching in the distance. The atmosphere grew increasingly tense as the sound grew close enough for all to hear, their situation now frighteningly real.
Vision fixed the circlet containing the Mind Stone atop his head, taking a nervous breath. As the lookouts began shouting that they could now see the enemy approaching, he finally spotted Wanda, pulling on a pair of gloves with shaking hands, and moved to her side.
"Wanda.." Vision half expected her to run off, or become awkward with him, but she didn't.
"Hi.." The Princess looked up at him and smiled, a soft, shy smile. "I'm sorry I.."
"I understand. Are you alright?"
"That's understandable.. So am I" Vision admitted.
The Avengers, and all the Sorcerers willing to fight, had headed out ready to meet the approaching army.
Wanda and Vision were left rather alone in the entrance hall of the Sanctum.
"But.. I'm not going to die Today, right?"
"No. I will protect you."
Wanda's breath caught. Vision was looking at her the same way he had looked at her the night before, and she could nearly believe that he hadn't been pretending at all.
"I'll protect you too."
"Wanda, I'm not sure that's how this is supposed to.."
"I'll protect you too" She repeated, cutting him off.
"If you say so" Vision couldn't help smiling, making his way towards the door. "We'd better.."
"Wait, Vizh" The Princess reached into her pocket. "I have something for you."
"Oh.." He turned and walked back to her, slightly confused. "What is it?"
Wanda pulled out a strip of material that Vision recognised as a part of the dress she'd been wearing on the day they first met, the same one she had torn to bandage his arrow wounds.
"Traditionally, the Princess gives a favour to a soldier they wish to return home from a battle, to bring them luck. Usually it's a handkerchief, but all I had was this.." She looked up at Vision, tying the material around his arm. "Don't die Today, okay Vizh? I don't think I could deal with all this without you."
Vision blushed brightly. He did not know a lot about royal tradition, but from what he did know, he knew that receiving a Princess's favour was a great honour, one usually reserved for Princes, Lords, or Knights.
"Thank you, Wanda.. I will do my very best not to die Today."
"Good.." Wanda scanned his face with her wide eyes, as if trying to make sure that he was telling the truth. Then she kissed him.
Without thinking, Vision returned her kiss, his arms wrapping around her, drawing her close.
The kiss lasted until the sound of marching feet grew too loud, too close to ignore any longer, and finally stopped.
"Get out there" Wanda reluctantly agreed.
"That's nowhere near the whole army.." Wanda murmured to Vision as they headed outside, their troop of Sorcerers and Avengers standing face to face with Ultron's soldiers.
"That's good" Vision whispered back. "It means he's underestimated us.."
King Ultron was not present, clearly having deemed them not important enough to bother with himself at this stage. The army was being commanded by Brock Rumlow.
Rumlow suppressed a frown, as Ultron had indeed underestimated things somewhat. He had not expected quite this many Sorcerers to be openly standing with Wanda at this early stage. Not that it really mattered, he thought. How dangerous could they really be?
Rumlow ordered the Army to charge.
The Sorcerers charged to meet them.
Wanda and Vision took to the sky, as per the earlier made plans. Using their powers to fight from a distance, Wanda tossing soldiers aside, Vision firing blasts from the Mind Stone.
They caught glimpses of their friends scattered across the battlefield. Doctor Strange shouting orders to the Sorcerers. Flashes of Tony's armour. Steve's shield knocking soldiers down. Natasha fighting furiously. Clint's arrows flying every which way.
Wanda was only to swoop lower when she had a clear, certain shot at the enemy, Vision ensuring he stuck to her like glue, to keep her safe.
"Go for the Princess and her Guard dog!" Rumlow ordered, any time they grew close enough to strike. "That's who we're here for!"
Vision would furiously punch or blast anyone who's weapon grew too close to Wanda, and was ready to grab her hand at a moments notice to make them intangible when needed.
Then, they would rise back up, observing from afar, free from the worst of the fighting. The enemy clearly had not accounted for Wanda's mastering her ability to fly, as they had brought very few archers.
When Vision looked in Wanda's eyes, he saw fear, but also growing determination, and this steeled his own resolve. His main concern at this point was that the Princess seemed to be growing exhausted. She had never needed to remain airborne for quite this long before.
Fortunately, he didn't need to worry for much longer.
Combatants were falling on both sides, but it soon became clear that their side had the upper hand. Eventually, with a frustrated growl, Rumlow was forced to order Ultron's army to retreat.
A cheer rose up from the Sorcerer-Avenger alliance.
But Wanda.. Wanda chased the fleeing army.
"Wanda!" Vision followed. "Wanda, wait!"
"I never wanted this!" The Princess yelled, hurling red energy at the backs of the retreating Soldiers. "I never wanted to fight, you tell Ultron that! All I wanted was to get away from him!"
Then, knowing that Vision had followed her, Wanda turned and let herself collapse in his arms, exhausted and sobbing.
"It's alright.. It will be alright.."
There was much celebration in the Sanctum that night, feasting and drinking.
"We stuck it to Ultron Today, didn't we kid?" Tony, who had clearly drunk a little too much already, clapped a hand on Vision’s shoulder.
"Again, not a kid.." Vision was not entirely paying attention, keeping watch over Wanda who seemed rather quiet and subdued in the midst of the celebrations. "But yes, I suppose we did."
"To kicking Ultron's ass! Woo!"
As Tony disappeared back into the crowd, Vision hurried to Wanda's side.
"Wanda, are you.."
"Just tired" She managed a small smile. "I think I might go to bed.. Enjoy the rest of the celebrations, Vizh."
Vision watched her go.
He waited for awhile, then sighed and decided to head for bed himself. He wasn't a party person.
Vision had just climbed into bed when his door creaked open once again.
"Vizh? I can't sleep.."
"I'm not sure I'll be able to either.."
Before Wanda had even finished her question, Vision moved over to make room, and the Princess slipped into bed beside him, curling into his arms.
"Are you alright?" He asked her. "After the battle.."
"I was just a little overwhelmed with it all.."
"That's understandable. If you really don't want to fight, running away and getting a new identity is still an option.." If that was what she wanted.. If Wanda wasn't a Princess, there was no reason they couldn't be together..
"That is tempting" Wanda sighed. "But now I've started this.. I think I'd like to follow it through. Avenge Pietro."
"Then I will be by your side until you do."
Wanda's heart fluttered at his words. She thought of what she'd wanted to say to him the night before, wanted to say it now.. But she was confused, unsure, because these were things that she'd never been allowed to let herself feel. All Wanda knew for certain was that Vision made her feel safe, and happier than she'd been in quite a long time.
"Vision.." she said softly, "If I.. asked you to.. pretend for me again, sometimes.. could you?"
Again, Vision wanted to tell her that he didn't have to pretend, but the words caught in his throat. Instead, he said, softly:
Because he would be whatever she needed him to be, for as long as she needed him to be it.
Chapter 19: A New Journey
After the battle of the Sanctum, it is decided that Princess Wanda should head for Asgard.
It wasn't long before news of the battle at the Sanctum Sanctorum began to spread across the land. Of what people had seen Wanda do.
The Legend of the Scarlet Witch, a long forgotten symbol of hope, had been revived. In Inns across Sokovia and beyond, the story of the battle was spread through whispered conversations. People secretly toasted the name of 'Queen' Wanda, the hero who would end King Ultron's reign, and all their hardships with it.
Wanda was unaware of any of this, or rather, did not let herself become aware of it due to her continued reluctance to officially declare herself the Scarlet Witch. Vision supported her in this. That it was a decision she had to make herself, when she felt ready to do so, or not at all if it didn't feel right.
The Princess creeping into his room at night became a regular occurrence. Some nights she would just want him to hold her.
Others, they would make love.. If that's what they should even call it, seeing as they were just 'pretending' after all. Vision didn't mind. As long as they were just pretending, it didn't matter. As long as they were pretending, as long as it wasn't real, all the problems that being with him could cause for Wanda weren't problems at all.
Whatever it was they were doing, Vision thought he might be getting rather good at it. At least, the sounds Wanda made when he moved atop her, or a few times now, she atop him- the pleasured moans and soft little sighs- seemed to tell him that he was. And afterwards, however briefly, Vision was rewarded with the glowing smile that seemed to tell him that he was wonderful.
Wanda was always gone by Morning.. Though this wasn't, as Vision assumed, because of any embarrassment she might have felt regarding their different social stations. No, it was more to do with her confusion regarding what her feelings for Vision actually were. She knew that he made her feel.. something. She didn't want to hurt him if it turned out she was mistaken. And she couldn't hurt him if they were just pretending.
Luckily, it was easy for Vision and Wanda to sneak around together at the moment as the Sanctum was so busy, with many of its occupants preparing for a journey.
After the battle, it was decided that it would not be safe for Wanda to stay at the Sanctum Sanctorum much longer.
"So" Doctor Strange had told them, "We'll take the Princess to Asgard.."
"Why Asgard?" asked Clint, curious.
"Isn't that the land of the fancy-talking warriors with God-complexes?" Tony frowned.
"Well.. Yes" Doctor Strange was forced to admit, "But.."
"I'm alright with going to Asgard" Wanda cut in. "I've been there before."
"You have?" Vision looked at her, surprised.
"When I was young. I told you I've seen an Asgardian before, Vizh."
"Yes, and that does in fact relate to my main point" Doctor Strange tried to get the conversation back on track. "The Asgardians were staunch allies of Sokovia, when Princess Wanda's Father reigned."
"That's true" Steve agreed. "I fought alongside Prince Thor a few times back when I was in the Sokovian Army."
"Yes" Strange turned back to Wanda. "I believe that Asgard will give you safe harbour, and may even fight at your side if you ask. And the other Prince, Loki, may be able to help you master those abilities you have not unlocked yet."
"The mind manipulation?"
"Well then.." Wanda looked around at the assembled group, "I guess we are going to Asgard."
"You are not going to Asgard!"
"Oh, come on Mr. Stark!" Peter whined.
Around them, Horses were being loaded up for the trip to Asgard, which could take a few weeks. Doctor Strange and a group of specially chosen Sorcerers would accompany Wanda, Vision, and the Avengers on the journey, while Wong and the others would remain behind to protect the Sanctum. Vision was trying not to laugh as he watched the current exchange between Tony and Peter.
"No. The only place you're going is Home to Leestown. I should have sent you weeks ago.."
"But I won't get in the way, Mr. Stark, I promise!" Peter was begging now. "And you know, at least I'm asking this time.. I'll stay away from any fighting.."
Tony's resolve was weakening. Though he would never admit it, he liked having Peter around.
"I find" Doctor Strange interjected, "That it is good for young people to travel at his age. Broadens their horizons."
"See" Peter grinned. "It's educational! Mr. Wizard.."
"Sorry.. Doctor Strange thinks I should come!"
"Well.." Tony sighed that long-suffering sigh once more. "Okay. But you write to your Aunt about it this time, and make sure you really emphasise the 'educational' angle."
"Yes, Mr. Stark!" Peter rushed off to gather his things.
The time to depart was upon them. Tents, food, water, weapons, and everything else they needed was packed and ready to go.
Doctor Strange was talking to Wong, leaving some last minute instructions for he and the other Sorcerers staying behind. Some of the party were already beginning to set off, riding away down the winding road.
There weren't enough horses for everyone to ride. Vision had resigned himself to making the journey on foot. He didn't have any experience with horses anyway, and he was used to walking. But then, Wanda had cantered over to him on horseback, her hand outstretched.
"Ride with me, Vizh."
"Are you sure?"
"Of course, there's plenty of room. And besides.." She smiled at him, a cheeky smile that made Vision's heart skip a beat, "I need to keep my protector close by, don't I?"
"I suppose.." He was just a little bit nervous. "I don't know anything about horses."
"You don't need to" Wanda reached out her hand again. "Just hang onto me."
Vision took Wanda's hand, letting her help him up onto the horse behind her. His arms locked around the Princess's waist, and decided he really wouldn't mind a few weeks with her like this. Vision took one last look at the Sanctum Sanctorum. It had been their home for awhile, their first safe haven in the amidst of all this trouble. He would miss it, but he turned back to the path ahead as Wanda rode forward, ready for their next adventure.
"So.. You said you've been to Asgard?"
"I have" Wanda nodded. "I was about nine at the time. I think my parents were considering marrying me off to Prince Loki at one point.."
Vision felt a sudden flare in his belly, which he soon recognised as jealousy. Suddenly, going to Asgard did not seem like such a good idea.
Chapter 20: Worthy Of Her
Vision thinks about what he has to do to become worthy of Princess Wanda.
It wasn't really what Princess Wanda had said that bothered Vision, but the nonchalant way in which she'd said it. Like it was completely normal to announce to your current lover that she might once have been engaged to the man they were on their way for her to train with.
But then, he supposed, for Wanda, it was completely normal. In the eyes of many, a Princess's main purpose in life was to find a good match and be married off. To establish or strengthen her Kingdom's alliances. Never mind whether she actually loved her future husband.
To Vision, it didn't seem right or fair, but what he thought wouldn't really matter much to anyone. It was just the way things were.
He really had no right to be jealous. He and Wanda were just pretending, after all.
Still, that didn't stop Vision from spending the first few hours of their journey to Asgard deciding that he didn't like Prince Loki very much. He'd never met him, but he didn't like him. Not at all.
As the days passed though, Vision tried to push his newfound jealousy to the back of his mind. Instead, he decided that he would try to enjoy this time.
It was rather pleasant, spending most of each day on horseback with Wanda. His arms around her, without anyone needing to ask why. He chose to focus on this, rather than any troubled thoughts he might have.
The sometimes humorous actions of his travelling companions also proved a nice distraction.
"I don't get it" Tony was complaining to Doctor Strange as they walked. "If you can make those magic portal things, why don't you just open a portal to get us all to Asgard? I mean, I get that long journeys are supposed to be character building and all.."
At this point, he glanced back at Peter, hurrying along behind them carrying most of Tony's things, desperate to keep up, eager to please his hero.
"I already explained this.. multiple times, actually" Strange rolled his eyes. "Yes, I could have transported us all to Asgard. But going on foot, we have a bit more wiggle room.. take a few more detours. We can confuse any of Ultron's men who might try to follow or spy on us."
"I get it" Peter grinned. "You're trying to delay them finding out where we're taking the Princess."
"Exactly" Strange smiled.
"I still think its a waste of time" Tony grumbled.
Vision chuckled, leaning forward to whisper in Wanda's ear.
"I think Tony's just upset that he has to walk. Natasha beat him to the last horse and he wasn't game enough to fight her for it."
Wanda burst out laughing, and Vision's heart soared. The Princess's laughter had very quickly become one of his favourite sounds.
After a few more days had gone by, Vision's curiosity regarding where they were going, and who they would meet when they got there, began to get the better of him.
"So" He asked Wanda, "What is Asgard like?"
"It's been ten years since I was there last" the Princess began, "But from what I remember, all the stories you've heard about it.. how beautiful everything is, the giant statues and elaborate decorations.. that's all true. And.." She paused for a moment, thoughtful.
"And?" Vision gently prompted her.
"They can.. or some of them, anyway.. they can do things" said Wanda. "I always assumed it was all party tricks to impress their visitors. But now.." She let a few tendrils of red energy curl around her fingers. "Now, I think I know better."
"You think they may actually have these powers."
"I do. Otherwise, what reason would Doctor Strange have to think that Loki could help me master the rest of my abilities?
"So.." Vision shifted uncomfortably on their horse for a moment, then settled again, trying to appear for all the world like he did not at all care how Wanda responded to his next query, "About.. uh.. about Prince Loki.."
"What about him?"
"What did you think of him?"
"I didn't see enough of him to form much of an opinion, to be honest" Wanda shrugged. "He was in his teens at the time. Pietro and I were just children, so I think we may have been a little below his interest. But we both grew up being 'The Spare', so I guess I can relate to him a little that way."
"The Spare?" Vision frowned, confused.
"You know.. most rulers are encouraged to have at least two children.. The Heir, and a spare in case anything happens to them."
"That demeans the second child a little, doesn't it?"
"Only when you overhear things you shouldn't. Like people wishing you were a boy.. It's always easier if the spare is male too."
Vision's frown deepened.
"I don't think it should matter."
When she was sure no-one was looking, Wanda turned and kissed his cheek.
Vision had somewhat expected Wanda's nighttime visits to stop while they were on the road, as it would be quite a bit harder to make them in secret. But then, on the first night of the trip, and every night since, she had quietly crawled into his tent and curled up beside him.
On this particular night, as he held her close to him, both of them trying to catch their breath, Vision had begun thinking about something.
A Thief couldn't marry a Princess.
But a War Hero.. or a high-ranking soldier.. sometimes they could.
A tiny flicker of hope was sparking in Vision's heart. Maybe there was a way for him to become worthy of Wanda. To stop pretending.
"Yes?" She nuzzled his neck affectionately, and Vision chuckled.
"Asgard is known for producing great warriors.."
"It is" she nodded.
"I think I should train with them when we get there.. learn how to use weapons.. strategies.. Things like that. So I don't have to rely on just the stone to protect you."
Wanda propped herself up on one elbow to look at him, her wide green eyes fixing on his strange blue ones.
"This is important to you, isn't it?"
"You are important to me."
"No. Protecting you was important to me long before we started any of this.."
Wanda smiled softly, cupping Vision's cheek, and kissed him.
Vision leaned into her touch, returning her kiss, a soft sigh escaping him as his lips gently brushed hers.
If he could make himself worthy of her, maybe they wouldn't have to pretend anymore. Maybe, she could be his Princess for real.
Chapter 21: Hers Forevermore
Still on the road to Asgard, Wanda and Vision take a midnight detour to a spring she remembers from her childhood.
About two weeks into their journey to Asgard, Vision noticed that Wanda seemed to be distracted. Her gaze flickering to either side of the well worn path they travelled, examining the trees as if she were searching for something.
"Wanda?" He asked quietly.
"Hmm?" The Princess snapped out of her deep thoughts.
"What are you looking for?"
"You keep looking at the trees.."
A memory flashed through Wanda's mind. Herself and Pietro as children, running together through the trees, a beautiful natural spring in the forest that the two of them had gone swimming in..
"So, what is it?" Vision asked again, once again breaking her out of the memory. "Well, you don't have to tell me.."
"No, it's fine" Wanda turned to smile at him. "Last time we travelled to Asgard, Pietro and I ran off and found a natural spring a little way off the track. We went swimming. It was great fun."
Then, the Princess's smile faded slightly. Another memory, a smack across her hand. This was not how Princesses behaved.
"What's wrong?" Vision frowned.
"I got in so much trouble.."
"What about your brother?"
"Oh, Pietro got told off for wandering off. But I got in much more trouble."
"Well, it's really not appropriate for Princesses to run off and swim naked in a forest spring" Wanda chuckled.
"But.." Vision was confused. "You were only nine, weren't you?"
"It didn't matter how old I was" Wanda shrugged. "It wasn't proper. I could have embarrassed the family."
"But your brother.."
"Was a boy. He got in trouble for not telling anyone where he'd gone, but apart from that, he could do pretty much whatever he wanted."
"That doesn't seem fair.."
"Maybe not.. but that's life, I guess. Anyway.. Pietro marked a tree near where the spring was, so we could find it again if we came back. I thought it might be a nice place to go.. with someone" Wanda blushed. "So.. Will you come with me to the spring Vizh, if I find it?"
Vision's heart fluttered.
He would go anywhere with her.
A short while later, the travelling party stopped to eat. As Wanda led their horse away to find it some water, Tony appeared at Vision's side.
"She's not really what you'd usually expect from a Princess, is she?"
"What do you mean by that?" Vision turned to him, slightly annoyed at the comment.
"I mean" Tony continued, "She doesn't really act that much like a proper Princess.. No curtsies or frilly dresses, or.."
"And that's what you think makes a 'Proper' Princess, is it?" Vision's annoyance quickly grew into anger. "What makes you qualified to decide what a 'Proper' Princess is, Tony?"
"I only meant.."
"I don't think I really care what you meant.." Vision stalked off to find Wanda. It wasn't long before he found her, feeding an apple to their horse and stroking its neck.
The Princess turned, a wide smile crossing her face when she spotted Vision, waving him over.
He ran to join her, anger fading, a smile crossing his own face. To him, she was absolutely perfect just as she was, and every inch a Princess.
It was a rather warm night, so Vision sprawled nude inside his tent, almost asleep. Wanda had seen all of him that there was to see at this point, so he wasn't likely to shock her.
When the Princess did crawl into the tent, she was wide awake, fully clothed, and excited.
"Vizh, get dressed, I found it!"
"Wha?" Vision sat up, still half asleep, but nonetheless did as Wanda had told him, gathering his clothes. "Found what?"
"The Spring!" Wanda bounced slightly on her knees. "Well, the tree Pietro marked to find the Spring."
"Oh" Vision hurriedly dressed, shaking himself to full wakefulness as he did so.
If two Avengers spotted the Princess and the Thief exiting the tent and sneaking off into the night, they chose to say nothing.
Wanda excitedly led Vision away from the night's campsite. She stopped by a tree with the letters 'P' and 'W' carved into the trunk.
"Just through here.."
"Alright.." Vision let her lead him, ducking and weaving through trees and bushes, trying not to trip on any fallen branches. Eventually, they reached the Spring, fed by a steady stream, a small rock formation nearby that was begging to be dived off. The water was so perfectly blue.
"It's as beautiful as I remember it.." Wanda stared in wonder for a moment, looked around to make sure no one had followed them, then grinned, beginning to shed her clothes. "Let's go swimming, Vizh.."
Vision opened his mouth, about to ask whether this was really a good idea.. Then paused, remembering her story from earlier in the day. He wondered how many opportunities his Princess had had to just have fun, to be free, to be herself. Whatever argument he may have been about to make died in his throat.
"Yes, lets go swimming" Vision removed his own clothes and quickly slipped into the pool. He looked around for Wanda, spotting her climbing up the rocks. She stood atop them, looking very much like a Goddess in the moonlight, and Vision was very much in awe of her. She dived from the rock in a perfect arc, landing in the water with a splash.
Vision spluttered as he was caught amongst it.
"Oops.." Wanda smiled a not so innocent smile.
"You should be more careful, Princess" Vision smirked, then splashed her playfully.
"Oi!" Wanda giggled, splashing him back.
They laughed, they splashed, they chased each other through the water.
When Wanda dove beneath the surface of the spring, Vision didn't follow, not quite confident enough to venture under the water. When she rose up to take a breath, moonlight making droplets of water shimmer against the Princess's pale skin, Vision's jaw dropped, a look of awe crossing his face, and he couldn't stop the word that spilled from his mouth.
Wanda blushed, then her eyes locked on Vision's, swimming towards him, his own cheeks reddening when she grew close. She looked a strange mixture of somewhat surprised, yet also completely sure of what she was about to say.
"You really do think I'm beautiful, don't you?"
"Yes.." Vision replied softly. "I do."
Wanda reached up to to cup Vision's cheek, almost reverently.
"Kiss me, Vizh.."
Vision could never say no to Wanda. He kissed her, a gentle kiss at first, lips gently brushing against hers. Briefly pausing for breath, he relished the sweet taste that was uniquely Wanda, before she was kissing him again, more deeply now, her tongue slipping into his mouth to tangle with his.
The Princess wrapped her arms around his neck, her legs locking tightly around his hips.
Vision's hands instinctively slipped beneath Wanda to support her weight. So in sync with her now that he knew what she wanted without having to ask.
In another moment he was inside her again, hips rocking against hers. Slowly, gently, there was no need to rush. They were completely alone in their perfect little haven amongst the trees. Nothing could hurt them here.
She was so lost in him, and he in her. Their breathing growing heavier, kissing deeply to muffle the sounds of their growing pleasure.
Then, finally, Vision cried Wanda's name into the night, and she cried his in return.
"Are you okay?" Vision murmured. He always had to ask her, had to make sure.
"I'm okay" Wanda replied, slightly breathless, burying her face in his neck. "I'm always okay with you."
Wanda clung to Vision like a lifeline, which she supposed he was. He was the one person in her life with whom she felt completely free to be herself, without being judged.
"Good.." Vision held Wanda close.
Making love to Wanda was wonderful, but it was this, holding her after, that moment of perfect peace, that he would miss most if the time came that their 'pretending' had to stop.
It was these moments, without a doubt, that Vision knew he was hers forever more.
He was hers, even if she could not always be his.
Chapter 22: Heart Vs Duty
Wanda is caught between her own desires, and her duty as a Princess.
They remained there for a while, holding each other in their haven within the trees, neither one of them really wanting to leave. But as the night sky grew ever so slightly paler, signalling that they were a few hours out from dawn, Wanda and Vision came to the unpleasant conclusion that they really should head back to camp.
"Let's just rinse ourselves off first.. a quick dip under should do it.." Wanda reluctantly untangled herself from Vision's embrace.
"I'm not.. I don't usually put my head under water.." Vision murmured, not admitting that he was just a little afraid of the idea.
"It's okay.." Wanda didn't laugh, which Vision had been slightly worried she would do. "I guess you're not really used to swimming in deeper water, are you?"
"Come under with me, just for a few seconds" She reached to hold his hand. "I won't let go, I promise."
"Well.. alright" Vision agreed.
"Take a breath on three, Vizh. One.. Two.. Three!"
Trusting Wanda completely, Vision took a deep breath, letting the Princess pull him beneath the surface of the spring. He opened his eyes, to what seemed like another world, all so perfectly blue. He turned his head to see Wanda smiling at him, then she lightly tugged his hand, pulling him back to the surface.
"That was.." He drew a breath.
"Not so bad, was it?" Wanda grinned.
"Come on" Wanda's smile faded slightly, climbing out of the spring and gathering her clothes to get dressed. "We really should get back."
Vision followed, feeling his own spirits drop slightly with hers.
When they neared the edge of the campsite, Wanda paused, taking one last moment to take advantage of the trees that concealed them from view to turn around and kiss Vision again. Vision happily returned her kiss, his arms wrapping around her.
"Thank you for coming with me, Vision.." She smiled softly when they broke apart.
"Thank you for taking me" Vision replied. "It was wonderful."
"We should try to come back here one day.." There was a sort of sad, faraway look in Wanda's eyes as she spoke, as though she knew that it was wishful thinking.
That look almost brought a tear to Vision's own eyes, an ache in his heart. If it was up to him, everything that Wanda had ever wished for would come true.
They each hurried back to their own tents. It was far too close to daylight now to risk sharing.
If two Avengers had seen them again, they once again chose to say nothing.
It wasn't until the travelling party had stopped to camp again a few evenings later, Wanda and Vision briefly splitting up to deal with other matters, that those two Avengers found a chance to act on what they had seen.
"So.." Natasha sidled up to Vision, "You and the Princess.. how long has that been going on?"
Vision almost choked on a piece of apple.
"Clint and I saw you sneak off the other night.."
"I'm not planning on saying anything" Nat cut him off. "Neither is he. I'm just.. curious. How long?"
"Since the night before the battle at the Sanctum" Vision sighed. There was no point in lying.
"You know it can't last, right?" Natasha took a bite from an apple. It took Vision a few moments to realise that she had stolen his.
"Why, then?" Nat raised an eyebrow. "Why set yourself up to get your heart broken like that?"
"Because.." Vision paused for a moment. He thought of their perfect night in the spring. At the Sanctum. All the times Wanda had let him hold her. All the times she'd smiled. "Because.. A thing isn't beautiful because it lasts."
"Nice. Very Poetic. But that doesn't actually answer my question."
"It.. Whatever time I have with her, however short it is.. it's special. It means something. And I'd rather have the memories of being with her than not have them."
"Even if it hurts?"
"Even if it hurts" Vision confirmed.
"Well.. alright then" Natasha shrugged. "Your choice, I guess."
"So.." Clint made Wanda jump, appearing behind her as she was tethering her horse, "You and Vision.. how long has that been going on?"
"How did you.." Wanda looked at him, wide-eyed.
"Nat and I saw you two wandering off together the other night, Princess.. So, how long?"
"Since the Sanctum.. "
"Of course.. Listen, you know this can't last, right?"
Clint's voice was gentler than she'd expected, catching Wanda off guard a little. Still, she was rather annoyed.
"I know why everyone thinks it can't.."
"I don't care that Vision's a Thief.. Why should that one thing matter more than everything else he is?" Wanda frowned, and red energy crackled around her fingers without her having to think about it. "That he's kind, and sweet, and.."
"I'm not saying it should matter" Clint raised his hands defensively. "But it will, to a lot of people. You could both end up in very big trouble.. How far have you two gone, exactly?"
"I don't think that's any of your business.." Wanda replied, but her bright red cheeks told Clint all he needed to know.
"Alright then.. Very, very big trouble. What if you get.." Clint made a rounded belly motion with his hands. "You know.."
Wanda felt a lump in her throat. She hadn't thought about that.
She knew the idea should have terrified her.
Shock, horror, scandal!
Besides that, she didn't think she was anywhere close to ready for Motherhood.
But somehow, it did not scare her as much as she knew it should.
She thought of Vision. Imagined a child with her own dark hair, and his mesmerising eyes..
A child of Vision's would be a perfect excuse to just run away, to escape the royal life which had always stifled Wanda, the life to which she'd never truly felt like she belonged. They could start anew, where no one knew or cared that they were a Princess and a Thief, where they could swim in forest springs, love freely, build a life together..
Wanda shook her head. She'd committed to this fight, committed to avenging Pietro's death.
And besides, she and Vision were just pretending.
Wanda turned back to Clint, trying to clear the mess of confusing emotions from her mind.
"Why do you care so much if I get into trouble? You were ready to sell me back to Ultron a few weeks ago."
"I was never entirely comfortable with that plan, to be honest" Clint looked at his feet, somewhat embarrassed. "I didn't think we had a choice.. Now we do. And I didn't know that Ultron killed your brother. That was a game-changer for me. As a Father, someone killing a kid to further their own power.."
"You're a Father?" Wanda was surprised.
"Two boys and a girl.. they're home with my Wife, Laura."
"Why aren't you with them?"
"I want to be, believe me.." Clint sighed. "I write all the time, send money.. But, I'm trying to make the world better for them. Laura understands. And I think now, with you, is the best chance we've had in a while."
"Yeah" Clint laid a gentle hand on Wanda's shoulder, and it was suddenly much less difficult for her to believe that he was a Father. "Look.. it's your life, I can't really tell you what to do. Just.. Be careful."
"I will.. Thank you."
Clint left the Princess alone with her thoughts.
Wanda sighed heavily, once again locked in her lifelong struggle between what her heart wanted, and what duty demanded of her.
Chapter 23: Don't Forget Me
Wanda and Vision make a promise.
The closer they got to Asgard, the more anxious Vision became. Not just about handing Wanda over for training with Loki, although that did prompt a hot flare of jealousy in his gut whenever he thought about it.
There would be so many more eyes on them when they reached Asgard. The chances that they would give someone like Vision his own room were remote. Wanda probably would have a room to herself, but she would almost certainly be given guards, being a Princess.
If he didn't have a room for her to sneak into.. if she couldn't get out of her room, or he in, without alerting guards.. If they were training separately.. it would be difficult for them to keep spending time together.
Wanda was similarly anxious.
Back at the Sanctum, when it was just her and Vision, and on the road, where there was no time for ceremony, it was easy, for awhile, to pretend that she wasn't a Princess. For a few wonderful weeks, she had been able to let go of royal life and all its struggles, and just be herself.
Now, she was heading right back into the thick of it. Back to a Palace, back to a world where everyone knew she was a Princess, and would treat her like one. Back to dressing up for dinner, to constricting dresses and curtsies and forced smiles. Back to sleeping alone, unless she and Vision could find a way to work around the extra restrictions that would likely surround her sleeping arrangements when they reached Asgard.
Wanda wasn't looking forward to that at all. She didn't have nightmares when she slept in Vision's arms. Separated from him, she feared they could return.
All they could really do was make the most of the last few days of the trip.
Vision clung to Wanda just a little bit tighter as he perched behind her on their horse.
Wanda would crawl into his tent earlier at night.
She would sleep peacefully in his arms.
Leave his tent later the following morning, sometimes dangerously late, but leaving at all was getting harder to do.
The night before they were due to arrive in Asgard, Wanda lay curled against Vision's chest, listening to the steady beat of his heart, committing the sound to memory in case she needed it in the coming days.
"Vizh?" She whispered.
"Mmmhm?" Vision's eyes were closed, but he wasn't asleep, his fingers idly stroking Wanda's hair.
"Don't forget about me."
"What?" Vision frowned, his eyes opening, looking down at her.
"Just, when we get to Asgard, it will probably be harder to keep.. Pretending" Wanda sighed.
"I know.." Vision couldn't help sighing himself. "But why.."
"There will be other girls. Probably gorgeous warrior women" Wanda continued. "They're going to notice you, Vizh, because who wouldn't notice you, you're gorgeous.. and you wouldn't have to sneak around.."
Vision blinked, surprised. There he was, so worried about what would happen when she met Loki again.. And Wanda was worried about him?
"Wanda, I won't ever forget about you.."
"No.. even if this.. us.. even if it stops.. nothing could make me forget you."
"You promise?" the Princess gazed at him, and it seemed like her wide green eyes were the only light in the darkness of the tent.
"I promise" Vision told her, smiling softly, "As long as you promise not to forget about me.."
"I promise.." Wanda whispered, kissing him softly as she pulled him on top of her, "I will never forget about you.."
Rumlow and the rest of Ultron's defeated army had taken their time on the journey back to Sokovia, not relishing the prospect of revealing their failure. But they could not delay it forever.
"You lost?" Ultron said coldly. "You knew how important this was.. and you retreated?!"
"We were losing too many men, Sir" Rumlow argued. "We weren't prepared, the Avengers were with her, and there were more Wizards than we expected.."
"I don't care for your excuses, Rumlow!" the King roared. "We needed the Princess dead to keep my grip on the throne secure but now.. now the people have 'hope'.."
"The Princess can fly now, sir. We weren't prepared for that. Next time we'll take more archers. Her little guard dog.. he can fly too, and he protects her fiercely. And she protects him.."
Ultron's ears pricked up at this.
"Princess Wanda protects the boy?"
A wicked grin spread over King Ultron's face, the gears in his mind turning. Wanda protected the boy. Of course. Of course she would develop feelings for the first person who showed her kindness. The wicked grin widened, Ultron's eyes flashing.
This could be first love. First love was a powerful thing, particularly for someone kept starved of any love for so long, as he had tried to keep Wanda in the hopes of breaking her down. That plan had failed, but failure then could provide a key to victory now.
"Rumlow, I have decided to give you a second chance.."
"You won't regret this, Sir.." Rumlow bowed.
"You'd best see to it that I don't."
"I swear, I'll kill that little bitch for.."
"Not yet" said Ultron.
"Then.. What do you want me to do, sir?" Rumlow was confused.
"You will reassemble your troops" King Ultron began. "First, we have to find out where they have taken her. Once you do, you must take the boy who protects Princess Wanda so fiercely. Let's find out just how precious he is to her.."
The following afternoon, the travellers reached the outskirts of Asgard.
Vision gazed around in awe at the grand buildings. It really did seem as magical as all the stories said.
Asgard's common-folk pointed and whispered as the travelling party made their way through the streets. Tony waved at many of them, revelling in the attention. Wanda shifted uncomfortably in the saddle, but smiled when Vision gave her a reassuring squeeze.
When they arrived at the gates of Asgard's palace, by far the grandest of all the grand buildings, they were greeted by an imposing dark-skinned man with vibrant orange eyes and golden armour.
"I am Heimdall, Guardian of Asgard's royal family. Please state your business at the Palace."
Wanda straightened herself up, taking a deep breath.
"I am Princess Wanda of Sokovia.. These are my friends and allies. We come to Asgard seeking aid from those who were allies of my Father."
"We have been expecting you, Princess Wanda.." Heimdall nodded.
The large gates slowly opened.
Wanda took another deep breath, turning to Vision.
"Here we go.."
Vision clung to Wanda just a little bit tighter as they rode through the gates, hoping with all his heart that this would not be the last time he held her.
Chapter 24: Save A Dance For Me
Wanda and Vision arrive in Asgard.
Vision began to feel out of place even before the gates had closed behind them.
Heimdall immediately turned, leading them all towards the Palace.
Everything was cleaner, shinier, glowing. Golden statues lined the edges of the path. Everyone they saw was dressed in clothes much finer than anything Vision had even seen, let alone worn himself.
He looked around at the Avengers. Peter was looking around, awestruck, but the rest looked as uncomfortable as Vision felt. In fact, Doctor Strange was the only member of the whole group of travellers who did not seem entirely out of his depth.
This was a place for royalty. They didn't belong here.
Vision didn't belong here.
And yet, from the tension that had suddenly risen within her, Vision could tell that Wanda felt as uncomfortable as any of them, despite being the only one with a status high enough to fit in here. He never got a chance to talk to her about it though, because a small greeting party was exiting the Palace to meet them.
An impossibly handsome, muscular man with long, flowing golden hair, perfectly fitting armour rushed forward. Vision's first thought was to hope this wasn't Loki, and his wish was granted when the man eagerly seized Steve's arm.
"Captain Rogers!" The Asgardian boomed, and Vision swore he saw the sky darken. "It is wonderful to see you again, old friend!"
"It's nice to see you too, Thor" Steve chuckled.
Clint and Natasha were dismounting their horses, so Vision did the same. He raised his arms to help lift Wanda down, but found that someone had beaten him to it.
A man with pale skin, long dark hair, and icy blue eyes. Vision felt that spark of jealousy in his gut. Somehow, he knew..
"T-Thank you, Prince Loki" Wanda's cheeks burned bright red as he set her down.
"You're welcome. It is lovely to see you again, Princess. I fear I may not have been the most gracious host last time we met" Loki dipped his head to kiss the back of Wanda's hand, and grinned a rather cheeky grin.
Vision's fist clenched, the mind stone glowing in the centre of his forehead. He wanted to punch Loki. He didn't, because there was no surer way to get himself thrown out of the Palace and never see Wanda again.. But he wanted to.
"I was just a child" Wanda shrugged. "Not worth the interest of a teenage Prince."
"That is no excuse, I should have tried harder. I hope I can make it up to you this visit.." Loki's eyes flickered to Vision, who quickly relaxed his clenched fist. "Who is your friend, Princess?"
"This is Vision" Wanda's hand twitched, like she'd been about to reach for his hand as she introduced him, before remembering 'proper' behaviour. "He's the keeper of the Mind Stone. My.. Protector."
"Ah, yes. I heard that you might be the new Scarlet Witch."
"I'm.. not sure about that. But I can do things.."
"And your wizard friend believes I may be able to help" said Loki. Doctor Strange had sent a message ahead.
"Yes" Wanda nodded. "I still need to master.. mental manipulation."
"I see. Perhaps we can talk about it at the feast to celebrate your arrival" Loki turned to Vision for a moment. "And perhaps, now Princess Wanda is safe in Asgard, we can give you a break, my friend."
"Perhaps" Vision managed to force a smile.
"Brilliant. Thor can show you and the Princess's other new allies to your quarters" The younger Asgardian Prince linked arms with Wanda, steering her away. Wanda glanced back at Vision apologetically, but didn't stop Loki. "Father wishes to speak with you before the feast, to discuss exactly what you need. He is sorry he could not be here to greet you himself, but.."
Vision felt a little bit ill. He hadn't expected to be separated from Wanda quite so quickly. He sighed, he and the other Avengers following Thor as he chatted animatedly to Steve.
"This is a night for celebration! We are to have a grand feast, with dancing, and plentiful mead.."
Vision was so lost in his thoughts that he didn't notice another member of the greeting party, a young woman with silver armour and a perpetual sense of melancholy about her, was staring at him like she'd seen a ghost after she'd caught a glimpse of his eyes.
It was a night for celebration. Everyone was enjoying the feast.
Well, almost everyone.
Steve was still catching up with Thor.
Natasha and Clint were eating heartily.
Tony was regaling a pair of young women with tales of his adventures.
Doctor Strange had just snatched a large flagon of mead from a Peter, who had flashed an all too innocent smile and pretended he had no idea what it was.
Vision, however, wasn't enjoying himself at all. He wasn't enjoying watching the girl he loved dancing with a parade of other men. Not just Loki, although he had seen her with him twice now.. but also Thor, Thor's friends, dubbed the Warriors Three, and a few others. Everyone wanted to dance with the beautiful young Princess who had come needing their help. All probably dreaming that they could be her hero.
The worst part was that Vision knew Wanda wasn't enjoying herself either. He knew what Wanda's smiles looked like. Her real smiles, the ones that lit up her whole face and made her eyes sparkle.
Wanda wasn't smiling at her dance partners. Not really. They may have thought she was, but they were dull, forced smiles.
Vision pulled his eyes away from what was going on on the dance floor. Picked at the food, pushing it around his plate. Sipping from his flagon.
He was just beginning to consider getting drunk, escaping everything for a while, when whispers arose from the surrounding tables. The Avengers had been seated among the Asgardian Army, well away from Wanda and the royal family.
But when Vision finally looked up to see what the commotion was about, Wanda was standing right in front of him, and he only just managed to keep his jaw from dropping.
She was wearing a long, red gown covered in jewels, and although Vision knew it was nothing like what she was usually comfortable in, it definitely suited her.
"Hey, Vizh" Wanda half-smiled at him. In her eyes, he saw all he needed to know. A small cry for help. Just for a few minutes, she needed him. "I had to save a dance for my Protector."
Vision took her hand. He smiled softly.
"If you say so."
Vision let Wanda lead him back to the dance floor, just as a new song was beginning. Giggled as he moved with her, slightly awkward. But he eventually found his rhythm. He span and twirled with her amidst the other dancing pairs.
No-one said a word. The word had been spread about who Vision was, that he was the Princess's protector. She owed him a favour such as this, now and then, didn't she? At least, that's what everyone watching would think.
When the song ended, Wanda clung to Vision for just a little bit too long, but not long enough for anyone to ask questions. She looked at him, eyes wide.
"See you soon?"
"Soon" He nodded, resisting the urge to kiss her forehead. "I promise."
Then she was swept away by another dance partner he didn't recognise, but it didn't matter. Wanda had still chosen him, still sought him out when she needed comfort.
That would be enough to carry him through the uncertain days ahead.
Chapter 25: Great Minds
Vision struggles with being apart from Wanda.
Vision tried very hard to hold back the spring in his step as he returned to the table. Thankfully, or maybe not so thankfully, he had his new friends to bring him crashing right back down.
"Are you sure that was a good idea?" Clint leaned across the table to whisper. "I mean.. what if someone gets suspicious?”
Vision sighed, rather annoyed with the Avenger called Hawkeye at that moment. Couldn't he have had a few minutes, just a few minutes, to reflect happily on his dance with Wanda before someone brought reality along to crush his spirits?
"You and the Black Widow are the only ones who know about my relationship with the Princess" Vision looked up at Clint, frowning, "And you haven't told anyone else about it, have you?"
"No, I haven't" Clint replied.
"In that case" Vision continued, "It probably would have been more suspicious if I had refused Princess Wanda's request for a dance. Why would a low-born street urchin like myself give up the chance to dance with a Princess?"
"The kid's right, Clint" Natasha was tearing into a chicken leg.
"Besides, it will be near impossible to spend time alone together while we're here. Whatever Wanda and I had.. it's probably over." Vision moodily drained his flagon, then snatched another from a passing tray.
Vision didn't remember much of the next day. Apparently, he'd had a little too much to drink and had passed out, or so Clint told him.
The day after, however, he had recovered enough to ask Steve to properly introduce him to Prince Thor. In recent years, King Odin had transferred control over Asgard's armed forces to his son, so Thor was the person to speak to about training. In fact, most of the army were in the midst of a training session when Vision arrived to meet with Thor.
Nobody paid much attention when the woman who had been watching Vision on the day of his arrival slipped away as soon as he appeared in the training area.
"Of course!" Thor clapped a large hand on Vision's shoulder after he had made his request. "Any ally of Steven Rogers is an ally of Thor and Asgard! If you wish to learn swordplay, friend, then you shall learn swordplay! I'm more inclined to the hammer myself, but I'm sure the Valkyrie will.." Thor looked around. "Oh.."
"What?" Vision frowned.
"She seems to have disappeared" said Thor. "No matter, we have plenty of other worthy teachers.. Lady Sif!"
A young woman with long dark hair, tied back in a ponytail, left her current sparring partner and came running over.
"You called, my Prince?"
"Yes. Sir Vision would.."
"No 'Sir', I'm not a Knight" said Vision awkwardly. "Just Vision. I'm.. just Vision."
"Very well. Vision requires a Master to teach him the art of the sword."
"Hmm.." Lady Sif looked Vision up and down, sizing him up. "You have the right build for it. Strong, but speedy.."
"Yes, that's right" Vision nodded. As a thief, he'd needed to be both.
"You don't have any problem with learning from a woman?"
"Not at all. I just travelled across the country with a woman who's starting a rebellion, so.. No prejudices there."
"Good" Sif chuckled. "Now, let us just find you a practice weapon, and then we can begin."
Vision didn't see much of Wanda in the next few days. He sometimes managed to get a glimpse of her at meal times, and, on the occasions when he could catch her eye, gave her an encouraging smile. She would smile back, but she was quite clearly miserable, stuck making small talk with King Odin and Queen Frigga. Stuffed into uncomfortable looking dresses.
A few times now, he had spotted her walking around the grounds with Loki. However, he was usually training at the time, and therefore couldn't take these opportunities to talk to the Princess.
Lady Sif was proving to be a hard Master, and the woman who sometimes stared at him, the one Thor had called the Valkyrie, didn't help with his concentration. Anytime he tried to say something, though, the Valkyrie disappeared.
It didn't look like Wanda and Loki were training. Vision tried not to get annoyed about this, but wasn't training the reason why they were here?
Wasn't the whole reason they had come to Asgard that Wanda could train with Prince Loki, and unlock the potential powers that she had not unlocked yet?
When these thoughts came, Vision would shake his head and try to forget about it. He knew his annoyance was mostly due to fear that Wanda could replace him.
He couldn't worry about that. He needed to focus on his sword work, so he could protect her when the time came.
As it turned out, Wanda's training was going to prove somewhat more difficult.
"I create illusions" Loki was explaining, as he and Wanda walked through the grounds. "Which while a similar concept, is somewhat different than the ability of mental manipulation that you may be capable of.."
"Mmhm.." Wanda was trying to listen, but had become slightly distracted. She'd spotted Vision a short distance away, playing at swords with a beautiful young woman.
"So, I think it may be best for you to look into some theory first. The palace has a very extensive Library, and I think we may have some books on the Scarlet Witch.."
"The Library.." Wanda couldn't help thinking back to the many quiet afternoons she'd spent with Vision in the Sanctum Library, and a slightly goofy smile crossed her face. "The Library sounds like a great idea. Thanks for the advice, Loki!"
The Princess rushed off, leaving a rather confused Asgardian Prince behind her.
When Lady Sif finally allowed Vision a break, he wandered the Palace somewhat aimlessly for a while, before deciding on a trip to the Library, to see if the Asgardians may have had any books on the Scarlet Witch, or the Mind Stone.
If he could find any new, relevant information, something that Wanda didn't already know, something she needed to know.. Vision would have a reason, an excuse to seek her out.
He weaved in and out of the shelves for a bit, until a wonderfully familiar voice made him jump.
"Well, great minds think alike."
Vision looked up hopefully. A few books were nudged aside. He saw Wanda's beautiful, soft green eyes peeking at him from between the shelves, and his heart soared.
"I suppose they do."
And for the first time in days, both of them truly smiled.
Chapter 26: Sleep & Swordplay
Vision is concerned to learn that Wanda has been having trouble sleeping.
After a few moments of simply watching each other through the bookshelves, as if they were both waiting to be certain that the other one was actually there, Wanda ran around to Vision, grinning, and kissed him.
"I missed you, Vizh."
"I've missed you too" Vision smiled softly.
The Library was mostly deserted at that time of day, and even if it hadn't been, it was large enough that two forbidden lovers could easily spend a little bit of time together without fear of being discovered.
In order to claim that their afternoon had been at least somewhat productive, Vision took a minute or two to locate a book on the history of the Scarlet Witch. Then, he and Wanda sat huddled between the shelves together, holding hands, the Princess's head resting on his shoulder.
"I saw you with Loki earlier.."
"Mmhm. We were discussing how to go about my training. He thinks I should get into some of the theory behind it first" Wanda explained, then paused for a moment. "I saw you with a woman.."
"Lady Sif" Vision nodded. "She's teaching me the sword."
"Right.. Of course.."
Vision looked down at Wanda, slightly confused by the tone of her voice. She couldn't possibly be jealous, could she? No.. Definitely not. Vision didn't have much time to think about this, because as he gazed at the Princess, he noticed something else that concerned him.
"Yes?" She yawned as she replied, which only heightened Vision's concern.
"You look tired.."
"Oh.. yeah, that's not surprising. I haven't been sleeping too well since we got here. I think I got too used to sleeping without big stupid Guard feet clomping up and down the hall all night."
And, she thought to herself, she may have gotten too used to Vision holding her as she slept. Too used to using his heartbeat as a lullaby.
Vision looked around, pricked his ears for any hint of sound, but it seemed they were very much alone.
"Try sleeping for a bit now" He told Wanda. "I don't need to be anywhere for a while. I can keep an eye out, wake you later.."
"Are you sure?"
"Lie down with me?" Wanda asked, a faint blush crossing her cheeks.
"Alright." Vision kindly didn't question or comment on her request. Instead, he simply laid down on the library floor.
Wanda laid beside him, her head resting on his chest, a soft sigh escaping her. Between the sound of Vision's hearts, and the feel of his hand gently stroking her hair, the Princess was soon lulled to sleep.
Vision stayed right where he was, still stroking Wanda's hair, her steady breathing bringing him the same sort of comfort that his heartbeats brought her. He gazed down at her, looking so peaceful. This was the closest to content that he had been in days. Although, he couldn't help but feel worried about Wanda's struggles to sleep.
More specifically, the fact that, while Wanda blamed her guards, it was quite clear that, in truth, she just couldn't sleep without Vision. That could be a problem. If Wanda remained sleep deprived, she could have trouble focusing on her next round of training. Mostly, Vision was worried because a lack of sleep probably wasn't good for Wanda's health.
He would have to think of a solution.
Vision remained in the library for perhaps a little longer than he should have, letting Wanda sleep.
Despite his concerns for the Princess, when he eventually did leave the library, a few minutes after Wanda did, he was quite a lot happier than he had been when he first entered, a wide smile crossing his face. He was snapped out of his happy thoughts when he heard Tony and Peter, speaking in raised voices.
"No, absolutely not!"
"Oh, come on Mr. Stark! Please?"
"The answer is no!" said Tony. "Putting a sword in your hand? No, your Aunt would kill me!"
"I'm not going to actually fight" Peter promised, pleading. "I just think I should know some stuff.."
"The answer is still no. I don't have time to keep an eye on you while you're learning.."
"You won't have to, Mr. Stark! I'll be careful.."
Vision, in his current good mood, approached the pair, deciding to give poor Peter a hand.
"Peter has a point, Tony. We have brought him into a war. It would be for the best that he knows how to defend himself.."
"He's a kid!" Tony frowned. "Giving him a weapon.."
"We don't have to give him a weapon while he's learning" said Vision. "Not a real one. He can train with me. Wooden swords only."
"Wooden only.." Tony sighed. "You promise?"
"Well.. Fine then. Go ahead, kid."
"Yes!" Peter punched the air. "Thanks, Vision."
"Don't thank me quite yet" Vision chuckled. "I have to see how Lady Sif feels about taking on another pupil."
Sif did not have a problem, so the next morning, Vision and his very enthusiastic new training partner arrived for their first joint practice session.
Once again, the Valkyrie, looking as though she had been drinking a little too much mead, hurried away from the training area as soon as Vision had arrived. Vision frowned. One day, he would have to track her down and see just what her problem was. Maybe, like so many people throughout his youth, she was simply unsettled by his eyes, but the people of Asgard had seemed remarkably unfazed by Vision's eyes so far. Whatever Valkyrie's problem was, that probably wasn’t it.
Unfortunately, Today was not the day he was going to find out, because Lady Sif put he and Peter straight to work.
After a few hours learning techniques, she had the pair spar with their wooden swords. Everything was going very well, until a splinter on Peter's sword snagged on the golden cloak of the outfit Doctor Strange had once given Vision, tearing the material.
"Oh no" Peter gasped. "I'm sorry!"
"It's alright.." Vision removed the cloak, a smile spreading over his face as an idea came to him. "It wasn't even really mine. And the weather is getting warmer. I don't really need a cloak."
A short while later, Vision tracked down Natasha, holding out the torn cloak.
"Can you sneak this into Princess Wanda's room?"
"Well, you got the right person for sneaking.." Natasha took the cloak, "But why are you giving the Princess a ripped cloak?"
"She'll understand" said Vision. "Can you do it?"
"Great. Thank you" Vision turned to leave.
"I thought you and her were over" Nat called after him.
"Not while she still needs me" Vision replied.
The Black Widow shook her head. Love was for children.. But damn, those two were kind of adorable.
When Wanda returned to her room that night, prepared for another night of restless sleep, she was surprised to find Vision's cloak sitting at the edge of the bed.
She looked around hopefully for a moment, wondering if he had found a way to sneak past her guards, but there was no sign of him. Slightly disappointed, Wanda picked up the cloak, and a small note fell from between the folds of the material. The note, in handwriting she somehow knew was Vision's, read:
'To help you sleep.'
Wanda lifted the torn cloak to her face, taking a breath. It still smelled like Vision.
The Princess smiled softly. This wasn't quite as good as his heartbeat, but it would do for now.
Chapter 27: Training Aids
Even without training together, Wanda and Vision help each other improve.
The days stretched into a week, a week into two weeks, and all of it now so much more pleasant than those first few days in Asgard had been.
The main reason for this was the discovery of the Library. The Asgardian Library had become a haven for Wanda and Vision, just as the one at the Sanctum had been. It was usually empty enough that no-one would notice them.
The pair would sit between the shelves. Talk about their days, how their training was going. Wanda would climb into Vision's lap, they would kiss until they grew light-headed, and then simply sit with their foreheads pressed together, Vision holding Wanda close, just enjoying whatever time they had together. Sometimes, if they had managed not to get completely distracted by each other, they could make it through a few pages of their book, and maybe learn something important.
They couldn't meet every day like they had at the Sanctum. If Wanda and Vision both started disappearing at around the same time every day, someone was bound to get suspicious.
Thankfully, those few hours they got to spend together were enough to get them through the days they had to spend apart.
"So.. How is the training with Loki going?" Vision asked one afternoon, probably a little less subtle than he could have been.
"Not much progress so far. He's shown me some of his illusions, but we're still trying to figure out exactly how my other powers work. You have a new cloak.." Wanda noticed, running her fingers over the silky golden material of the new garment.
"Yes" Vision nodded. "Lady Sif gave it to me, she felt bad when she realised that I didn't have a replacement after the one I gave you was torn."
"Of course she did.." The Princess only just managed not to frown.
Vision looked at her. This was the second time she had seemed.. No. She couldn't be jealous. Definitely not. Why would a Princess be jealous over him?
"Is something wrong, Wanda?"
"No" Wanda replied, but she swung her leg over him, and Vision couldn't help noticing that she kissed him just a little more fiercely than usual. Then her hand was slipping into his pants and.. Oh dear God.
She could have gotten them into very big trouble, but at that moment, Vision couldn't form quite enough coherent thought to care too much.
Vision had a smile plastered on his face for the rest of the day, and this hadn't changed when he arrived for the evening meal.
"Well, someone's in a good mood" Tony looked Vision up and down as he sat across from him. "What's up, kid? Found a nice Asgardian girl?"
"A gentleman does not kiss and tell, Tony" Vision replied.
Natasha, listening to the exchange, smirked.
"Oh, come on!" Tony argued. "I won't tell anyone.."
Up at the Royal Table, Wanda caught Vision's eye and winked. Vision blushed.
A few days later, Wanda and Vision were in the Library again when he turned a page of their current book, and his strange eyes lit up.
"I think I've found something that might help you."
"Ooh, what?" Wanda asked, lifting her head from Vision's shoulder.
"Here" He showed her the book. There was an illustration of a past Scarlet Witch supposedly using mental manipulation. Sending a wisp of red energy into her target's temple.
"This is great, Vizh!" Wanda grinned, kissing his cheek. "It will still take some practice, but at least I have some idea of what I actually have to do.."
"I suppose you should go tell Prince Loki about this.." Vision didn't like shortening their already limited time together, but Wanda's training was the reason they were here.
"No. Not right now, anyway. He's in a Royal Council meeting with King Odin for another couple of hours."
"Hmm.." Vision grinned cheekily. "Whatever shall we do until he gets out?"
Wanda just smirked.
The following day in her training session with Loki, Wanda decided to try the technique she had seen in the book.
The Princess summoned her power, focusing on the unfortunate guard who had offered himself up for her to practice on. She sent a tendril of scarlet energy into the Guard's temple.
The man's eyes seemed to glaze over, a vacant expression on his face.
"That is brilliant, Princess!" Loki clapped. "You'll still have to figure out how to actually enter and manipulate minds, but this is a great start. How did you decide on the technique?"
"Oh.." Wanda smiled, "I saw it in a book.."
"It worked!" Wanda happily announced to Vision the next time they met, throwing her arms around him. "I still have a lot to work out, but this gives me a decent jumping off point."
"Wonderful" Vision kissed the top of Wanda's head. "I'm glad I could help."
"You really did" Wanda smiled him. "So I was thinking about how I could help you.."
"Oh. Were you?"
"Mmhm. I came up with one thing. Back when we were training with Doctor Strange and Wong.."
"Yes?" Vision's brow furrowed, curious.
"Sometimes you come down a little heavy on your left foot when you move.. I think it hampers your speed a bit. Something to think about in your sword training maybe?"
"I'll keep an eye on that" Vision smiled. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." The shelves they were currently hiding between were near one of the Library's windows. The Library was quite high up in the Palace, so they could see beyond the walls into some of the beautiful greenery surrounding it. "Asgard is a beautiful place, isn't it?"
"It is" Vision agreed, "Not that we'll get to see a lot of it."
Wanda frowned at this. She started thinking..
"Well done, Vision" Sif praised him during their next training session. "You are moving extremely well Today."
"Thank you, Lady Sif" Vision grinned, shooting out a hand to catch poor Peter when the boy nearly stumbled. Even now, no longer training together, He and Wanda were still helping each other, making each other better.
"Thanks, Vision.." Peter smiled sheepishly.
"You're welcome" Vision smiled back at him. Vision was having a rather good day so far. While he had missed the Valkyrie again that morning, Thor had told him she often visited a bar within the Palace when she wasn't on the training grounds, and Vision was planning to head there after training and finally confront the woman about just what her problem with him was.
However, as it turned out, Vision's plans would have to wait just a little longer. The atmosphere around them had shifted. Everyone else practising around them had frozen, hushed whispers breaking out.
Vision was confused at first, but when he turned around, it was clear what was going on.
Princess Wanda was walking onto the training grounds.
Chapter 28: Birds Fly Free
Princess Wanda interrupts Vision's training to take him on a trip outside the Palace.
As soon as everyone had realised that yes, that was actually the Sokovian Princess walking onto the Training Grounds, there was suddenly a great deal of bowing and scraping, everyone dropping to their knees. Wanda blushed, uncomfortable with the attention. For appearance's sake, Vision knelt too, which only made Wanda even more uncomfortable.
"You can all rise.. Please, just go about your business.."
Slowly, everyone rose and continued with their training exercises, though many continued to shoot curious glances in Wanda's direction. The Princess was no longer dressed in one of the fine dresses she had been given, but the travel outfit of red coat and leather pants that she had worn for most of the time Vision had known her, and which he knew she was much more comfortable wearing.
"Princess Wanda" said Sif as she stood, "To what do we owe this honour?"
"I am venturing outside of the Palace Today" Wanda explained. Vision noticed that her smile was one of her false, rehearsed smiles, like those she had given her dance partners on their first night in Asgard. "I will need to borrow Vision.."
"We are in the middle of a training session.. are you sure an Asgardian guard would not suffice?"
"Perhaps" The Princess's smile was even more forced now, "But really, I would much prefer to be accompanied by the Protector that destiny chose for me.."
Vision had already laid down his wooden sword.
"If the Princess needs me, Lady Sif, I really must go. I will put in a double session tomorrow to compensate."
"Very well" Sif nodded. "Take a real weapon with you in case you need it. I think you are competent enough now to handle one."
"Thank you" Vision rushed to take a sword from the nearby Armoury, then returned to Wanda's side.
She was standing tall, trying to look official, but Vision could see a spark of mischief in the green eyes he had come to love so much.
"Come along then, Protector. We have a busy afternoon ahead." Wanda turned, beginning to walk away from the training grounds, and Vision followed quietly.
Once they were out of earshot, the Princess and the Thief burst out laughing. Neither of them quite sure why, but it was nice.
"Outside of the Palace?" Vision questioned with a smile.
"I'll explain when we get out there, Vizh" Wanda grinned at him. "We just have to stop by the Kitchens for a moment.."
They stopped by the Kitchen, collecting a small basket of goodies Wanda had asked for before fetching Vision, and then they headed for the Stables, finding the same horse on which they'd ridden to Asgard waiting for them.
Wanda climbed up into the saddle, and Vision lead the horse outside the Palace Gates. Wearing her well rehearsed royal smile as they headed into the streets, Wanda politely waved to the interested commoners. Then, at Wanda's instruction, they took a detour, away from the hustle and bustle of Town, away from gossip and prying eyes, into shady trees and pleasant green pastures.
Once they were alone, out of sight, Wanda tugged Vision up to sit behind her on their horse, waited for his arms to lock securely around her waist so he wouldn't fall, then grabbed the reigns and took off at a gallop, a small whoop of joy escaping her as she did.
"As wonderful as it is to be out with you" Vision chuckled, raising his voice slightly to be heard over their horse's hooves, "Can you tell me what we are actually doing out here now?"
"Officially, I am practising my mind manipulation" Wanda explained. "Which I am actually going to do, so we're not here under false pretences. But unofficially.." She patted the basket, hitched to the Horse, "It seemed like a perfect day for a Picnic. You didn't have any other plans for this afternoon, did you?"
"Nothing that can't wait" Vision smiled.
"So.. You did have plans?" Wanda frowned.
"I was going to go to the bar.."
"With Lady Sif?"
"No, I was going to see a woman called the Valkyrie.. Not like a date" Vision added quickly. "I think you might be right.. about me being from Asgard rather than Sokovia."
"Oh.. well, I did tell you so" Wanda visibly relaxed, the joy of their excursion returning to her face. "But what does that have to do with this Valkyrie person?"
"She's just.. so desperate to avoid me" said Vision. "At first I thought it might have been because of my eyes, but they don't seem to bother anyone else here. It might be a long shot, but if there's a chance she knows anything about me.."
"You have to know" Wanda agreed, nodding. "Let me know how it goes, okay?"
They kept riding until they found a clear spot amongst the trees. Vision hopped off of the Horse, then gently lifted Wanda down after him.
Wanda's heart fluttered. She felt much more comfortable with Vision lifting her than she had when Loki did. She knew that Vision wouldn't drop her. She just knew. She didn't currently have that same level of trust with anyone else in her life, and she wasn't sure she ever would. With her feet still hovering slightly off the ground, Wanda kissed him. Vision returned her kiss, smiling into it, and didn't let go of her even after her feet were safely on the ground, breaking the kiss only when they both needed air.
"Picnic?" He asked, slightly breathless.
"Picnic" Wanda nodded, breathless herself, fetching their basket while Vision secured their horse to the branch of a nearby tree.
They sat happily in the grass, sampling a number of Asgardian delicacies. Wanda let Vision try them all first, knowing he had never tasted most of it.
"I didn't even know flavours like this existed!" said Vision, as he bit into a cake.
"Well, I'm glad I could enlighten your taste buds" Wanda chuckled, taking one herself.
"So, what mind manipulation are you practising out here that you can't do at the Palace? Do you need me to be your test subje.."
"No" Wanda cut him off. "I wouldn't ever invade your mind like that, Vizh.. I don't even really like doing it to the poor guard I practice with.. And strictly speaking, I didn't absolutely have to leave the Palace, but.."
"You needed to get out" Vision finished.
"My God did I need to get out.." Wanda looked around, and spotted a little bird in a tree above them. She crumbled up the last scrap of her cake. "Watch this.." with her non cakey hand, the Princess sent a wisp of energy to the little bird.
The bird's eyes grew glassy, then seemed to turn red. Wanda's brow crinkled, focusing, her own eyes glowing scarlet.. The bird fluttered down into Wanda's hand, pecking at cake crumbs.
"Oh.. Wow.." Vision gaped.
"Loki thought animal minds might be easier to manipulate.."
"I suppose he was right."
"I suppose so.. Hold out your hand, Vizh."
Vision did so, and Wanda had the little bird hop into it.
"Oh.. Hello there" Vision smiled.
"If this worked, Loki said I should bring one back to practice with.. but I.. I wouldn't feel right trapping something like that" Wanda dropped her focus, her eyes green again. The bird seemed startled for a moment, then fluttered away to a nest where another bird was waiting for it. "Everyone.. Everything should be free, don't you think?"
"Yes" Vision agreed, and he knew she wasn't just talking about the bird. "Everyone should."
Wanda shifted to sit between Vision's legs, leaning back to rest her head against his chest, her eyes still watching the birds. Vision's arms wrapped around her.
"Sometimes" Wanda whispered, "I dream that we never left the spring in the woods. That we built a little cabin where we could stay there together, and maybe even.." two more little birds, babies, suddenly peeked out of the nest, and Wanda blushed brightly. "A bit silly, really.."
"No" said Vision, kissing her cheek. "It's a nice dream.."
Eventually, they were forced to pack up and head back.
Vision rode with Wanda part of the way, then hopped down to lead their horse through the streets, back towards the Palace.
A seemingly innocent peasant watched as they passed by. Once they were out of sight, the spy ran off, to send messages, one to Rumlow, and one to King Ultron:
Princess Wanda was in Asgard.
Chapter 29: Ghosts Of The Past
Vision struggles in his quest to get answers from The Valkyrie.
Meanwhile, Princess Wanda’s Sleep troubles return, culminating in a terrifying nightmare.
Stomp, stomp, stomp.
Stomp, stomp, stomp.
Wanda lay awake, the noise of the guards pacing outside her door was relentless, never ending. Why did they even have to pace, anyway?
She had Vision's cloak, and it had helped for a while, but Vision's comforting scent was now starting to fade, and she couldn't ignore the sound completely.
Stomp, stomp, stomp.
As the nights passed by, the sound was putting the Princess more and more on edge. Stifled. Trapped. She knew there was a reason for this, but couldn't quite put her finger on why.
Stomp, stomp, stomp.
Stomp, stomp, stomp.
Wanda groaned, wrapping Vision's cloak around her ears to block out the guards stomping feet, and tried to get back to sleep.
Unfortunately, Vision was unaware of Wanda's new sleep trouble. He hadn't seen the Princess since their picnic in the Asgardian countryside nearly four days before, aside from a few glimpses of her at meals, or strolling the grounds. Usually with Loki, though once with Queen Frigga, and he'd seen the Princess walking by herself a few times now.
If no one else was looking, she would catch his eye and smile. He was grateful for this small acknowledgement, to know that she did not forget him between their visits. But Vision had not been close enough to Wanda to notice that she was looking tired again. He assumed Wanda was perfectly fine, and had let himself become a little distracted with other things.
On the first day after the Picnic, this had been the double training session that he had promised Lady Sif. She had worked Vision extra hard to make up for his missed training time the previous day. Peter, eager to impress, had stayed the whole double session, and the poor boy had left exhausted.
Vision's other days had been spent trying to lock down the Valkyrie, who seemed to have somehow guessed that he was looking for her. It wasn't until now, on the fourth day, that Vision had finally caught her in the bar.
"Excuse me, uh, Miss Valkyrie.." Vision began. She tried to leave as soon as she saw him, but he ran and blocked her path. "I just wanted to talk to you, for a moment.."
"Bad luck" She replied, trying to push past him. "I don't want to talk to you."
"I don't understand.." Vision frowned, still blocking her. "And I want to understand.. I haven't done anything to you. I don't even know you. Why do you have such a problem with me?"
"My Problem.." The Valkyrie growled, then strangely, seemed to soften a little. "My.. My Problem isn't with you, boy. My problem is me.. you remind me of a mistake I made.."
"What kind of mistake?"
"I don't want to.."
"Please" Vision almost begged, surprised at just how much this was affecting him.. "I don't know anything about myself.. My past, where I came from.. and I've spent my whole life telling myself it didn't matter.. But if you know.. If you can tell me.."
"Some things are better left unknown.. Sometimes, the past is best left in the past. This is one of those things, and one of those times. Let it go, boy. Look forward, not back."
Vision sensed that he wasn't going to get anymore from her Today. He sighed, and moved to let the Valkyrie go.
She looked at him for a moment, almost sympathetic, opened her mouth as if she was going to say something else.. Then shook her head, stalking off.
Vision, feeling rather deflated, headed for the Library. He wasn't expecting Wanda to be there, they hadn't made any plans, yet he still found himself feeling slightly disappointed when she wasn't.
He wasn't expecting his failed conversation with Valkyrie to have affected him this much. Didn't know he even still cared about knowing his past, until he'd gotten close.
Looking forward was easy to say, but Vision wasn't so sure it was the best advice, at least not for him. If his 'become a great warrior in the hopes of becoming an appropriate suitor for the Princess plan' failed- and he had to face facts, it was rather a long shot- What did Vision actually have to look forward to?
A life as Wanda's protector, and nothing more?
Would she even still need a protector, if she became Queen?
No, she'd probably have advisers who would suggest she surround herself with suitable, proven, reliable guards. Not a boy who had stumbled upon a magic stone.
Maybe he'd get a spot in her army, catching brief glimpses of her now and then.
Maybe he would be her dirty little secret, like he was now. Vision didn't like calling himself that, and Wanda wouldn't like it either, but it was the truth, wasn't it?
Even knowing all this, knowing the pain he was probably going to face in the future, there was no question of Vision giving Wanda up. She needed him.
He sighed, opening up his book.
Wanda had been working hard that day, trying to master her new powers.
She had made the guard she practised with believe he was in a room full of beautiful women.
She had made him see something that had terrified him.
The second one Wanda liked much less, yet it was this that Loki suggested she practice more, since it would be more useful if it came to a battle situation.
Wanda didn't like it at all. It took so much more effort to make someone see things they didn't like. Things they didn't want to see. It drained her, and brought her own fears to the surface.
Wanda flopped into her bed that night, exhausted. So exhausted, that she almost instantly fell asleep. The sound of the guards stomping outside her door became an unpleasant lullaby, creeping into her dreams.
Stomp, stomp, stomp.
"You need to be careful, Pietro.."
Stomp, stomp, stomp.
"I will, sister" The Prince had grinned. "I will play Ultron's game for now. But when I am King, things will change, back to how Mother and Father would have wanted it. I have big plans.."
Stomp, stomp, stomp.
"Just watch out who you tell them to" Wanda frowned.
Stomp, stomp, stomp.
"I have only told you.."
Wanda tossed and turned in her sleep.
Stomp, stomp, stomp.
Wanda was surprised when Ultron arrived at the door of her chambers.
Stomp, stomp, stomp.
"I bring tragic news, Princess" Ultron said solemnly, but he had not looked solemn at all. Almost.. triumphant. "Your brother is dead.."
"No.." Wanda whimpered. "No.. not Pietro.."
Stomp, stomp stomp.
"We must increase the protection around you now, Princess.."
Stomp, stomp, stomp.
Stomp, stomp, stomp.
"Keep you confined to quarters.. 24 hour guard.."
Stomp, stomp, stomp.
"No!" Wanda jolted awake, leaping out of bed and bursting out her door. "Just stop! Shut up!"
"Princess?" One of the guards pacing outside outside her room paused, startled by her outburst.
"Is something wrong?"
"You are what's wrong!" Wanda snapped. It was lucky the palace was large and no one else slept nearby, or they surely would have been woken by the commotion. "You two and your stupid, constant stomping! Just stop it! Go away!"
"We.. we can't do that, Princess.."
"We cannot leave you unprotected."
Wanda took a breath, trying to calm herself, gather her thoughts. Resumed her royal mask.
"I will not be unprotected. One of you, fetch Vision for me."
"My Protector. The keeper of the Mind Stone" It stung that they didn't know him, that someone so important to her could be deemed insignificant to everyone else, but she kept the feeling hidden for now. "He protected me adequately on the way here. He will do the same now. Go!"
Vision slept in a communal sleeping quarters with the other Avengers (minus Natasha), and a number of Asgardian soldiers. Many of them were woken, jumping to attention, when a guard marched in.
"Princess Wanda has summoned someone called Vision."
"I'm Vision" Vision leapt to his feet, hurriedly dressing and jamming the circlet with the Mind Stone onto his head. "What does she need?"
"I think it is best she tells you that herself.."
Vision followed the guard back to Wanda's room. Another guard waited with her, clearly confused.
The Princess looked exhausted, dark circles under her eyes. Vision wanted to pull her into her arms and ask what was wrong, but stopped himself.
"You asked for me, Princess?"
"These guards are not working out" said Wanda. "They keep me awake."
"We can't have that" said Vision seriously.
"Definitely not. Can you take over, Protector? I would not require you to stay awake all night.." She pointed to a much smaller room next to hers. "The Maid's quarters are empty. You should hear from there quickly enough if I find myself in any trouble."
"Of course, Princess. Whatever you need."
"Good" she turned to the guards. "I am protected. You may go."
Wanda returned to her room, and Vision entered the door to the Maid's quarters. He waited a little while, until he was sure the Guards had actually left, then summoned the power of the Mind Stone to walk through the wall to Wanda's room next door.
She breathed a sigh of relief when she saw him, and ran into his arms.
"Wanda.." He held her close, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. "What happened? What's wrong?"
"I just.. the guards.. I felt trapped" Wanda clung to him. "I had this nightmare.. a memory really.."
"I think.. I think the Guards, back home.. I think they overheard things Pietro told me, and I think that's why Ultron killed him, and when he started trying to confine me.. The guard's stomping reminded me of when I was trapped. I just.. " Wanda looked up at him with wide eyes. "I only feel safe with you right now, Vizh."
"I'm here now" Vision held her tighter. "I'm here, and I'll keep you safe.."
"Thank you.." The Princess's eyelids were drooping.
"You need a good night's sleep.."
Vision helped her back into bed, then crawled in beside her, pulling the blankets tightly around them both. Wanda snuggled into his chest, soon falling to a much more pleasant, peaceful sleep.
Vision's body curled protectively around Wanda's.
Whatever the future held for them, for now, it was his job to protect her, and he would, for as long as she needed him.
Chapter 30: Brother Of The Hammer
When an unexpected act during his training leads Vision to attract more attention from the women of Asgard, Princess Wanda gets a little jealous.
Vision decides to remind her that he is still very much hers.
Back in Sokovia, receiving the news that Princess Wanda was in Asgard, King Ultron grinned wickedly.
He had thought as much. Asgard was the obvious choice, and it worked perfectly for him and his plans. Ultron had given Rumlow his orders. He knew what to do next.
However much he may have meant to the Princess, the boy chosen by the Mind Stone was nothing to Odin. The Asgardian King would not risk his soldiers to save one insignificant boy. Whoever accompanied the Princess would be whoever she could convince on her own, and from Ultron's memory, Wanda had never been a great speech maker.
His wicked grin widened.
Of course, Ultron wasn't to know that Vision was about to do something that would make many in Asgard see him as more than an insignificant boy. Vision didn't know either, and neither did Princess Wanda. These last few weeks, they were focused on other things.
With Vision now staying in the Maid's quarters beside Wanda's bedroom, a new routine was established. It was rather similar to the one they'd had in the final days at the Sanctum Sanctorum, or on the road to Asgard, except now it was Vision rather than Wanda who had to creep back to his own room in the early hours of the morning. Easy with the Mind Stone, as he needed only to walk through the wall.
The other major difference was that while they could sleep together again, Wanda and Vision were trying not to 'sleep together', in case someone were to hear them. Their current arrangement had fallen so wonderfully into their lap they did not want to risk having it taken away from them. The one, teensy problem?
Temptation had been easy to avoid when their time together had been limited to a few stolen moments in the library, or a carefully orchestrated 'Training excursion. When they shared the same sleeping space? Not quite so easy, particularly when neither of them tended to wear much to bed.
They talked quite a lot, to distract themselves.
"You asked me to tell you how things went with The Valkyrie?" Vision's fingers idly stroked Wanda's hair. He loved Wanda's hair.
"I did" Wanda nodded, curling tighter against his chest. "So how did it go? Are you a secret Prince, Vizh?" She'd said it in jest, but there was the tiniest hint of hope in her voice.
"Unfortunately, no" Vision sighed. "She didn't tell me much of anything, really.."
"I could make her tell you" a wisp of scarlet danced around Wanda's fingers. "I still need to practice, but the first guard is getting a little.. Loki's looking for someone else.."
"I don't think I'm quite at that stage yet.." Vision kissed the top of her head, "But I'll keep it in mind."
Peter was eager to please Lady Sif, and desperate to impress Tony Stark, as the boy still clung to the dream of one day joining the Avengers. On this particular day, Tony was on the grounds, watching, so Peter was working extra hard as he and Vision sparred together.
As Vision's sword skills had improved, so had Peter's, and by now, the two were almost evenly matched. At one point, Peter even managed to knock Vision down, making him drop his wooden sword.
Vision had landed near where Prince Thor had been chatting to his friends Fandral and Volstagg. He grabbed for his dropped sword to slash back at Peter. It was only when Peter's sword immediately shattered into tiny splintered pieces that he realised he had not grabbed his sword, but Prince Thor's hammer.
"Oops, sorry Peter" Vision stood, still holding the hammer, and with the other hand picked up his wooden sword and offered it to Peter. "Take this one, I can get anoth.."
It was at this point Vision realised that the whole training grounds had come to a standstill, staring, jaws dropped. Sif, Thor, Fandral, Volstagg, Tony.. All staring. Vision looked around, wondering if Wanda was there again, but that wasn't it.
They were staring at him.
"I do not believe this.." Thor looked shocked.
Vision immediately dropped the hammer.
"Was I not supposed to touch that?" Vision gulped. Him getting in trouble would not be good for him or Wanda. "I'm sorry, it was an accident, I was reaching for.."
"Pick it up again" Thor demanded.
"Okay.." Vision nervously did so.
"It is true.. I thought this day would never come.. but I have found one.. A brother of the hammer!" Thor seized the one of Vision's hands that wasn't holding the hammer and raised it high.
Suddenly, a cheer rose up from everyone on the training grounds. Vision was very confused.
"Uh.. what's going on?"
"Only the worthy can lift Mjolnir, my friend!" The Asgardian Prince grabbed him in a bone-crushing hug. "You have joined me among their ranks! We must celebrate!"
As soon as Thor had released him, Vision felt himself lifted onto Fandral and Volstagg's shoulders and carried off, still holding the hammer. The other occupants of the training grounds followed, cheering.
The crowd grew as they moved along, gathering other soldiers, and quite a few giggling girls.
They passed by Prince Loki and Wanda, who's jaw dropped when she saw a rather uncomfortable looking Vision being carried along.
"My student!" Sif was crowing proudly. "My student is worthy! I trained him!"
"Well" said Loki, "That is a surprise."
"What is?" Wanda looked at him, confused.
"Only a special, worthy few can lift my brother's hammer" Loki explained. "It seems that your Protector is among them, Princess."
Somehow, this didn't surprise Wanda at all. A few more girls, stragglers, hurried after the group. Wanda frowned.
She only saw Vision briefly at dinner. He seemed to have crept away from the party in his honour, that could be heard through much of the palace, for a moment to himself and a quick bite to eat. However, some of the girls from earlier found him and dragged him away again.
Again, Wanda frowned.
She knew she shouldn't be annoyed. Shouldn't be jealous. She had no claim on Vision.
Those girls.. he could be with those girls. With them, he didn't have to leave their bed in the morning or sneak around in Libraries.
But with Wanda.. they were just pretending. Just pretending.
It was quite late when Vision walked through the wall into Wanda's bedroom. She was sitting awake, unable to sleep.
"I'm sorry, I just couldn't get away.."
"You made a lot of friends today.." said Wanda.
"Maybe.." Vision frowned. "All I did was pick up a magic hammer." The sound of continued revelry was heard in the distance.
"I wouldn't want to keep you away from your party.."
"I never wanted a party.."
"Or your new friends.." The tiniest note of bitterness in Wanda's voice, even though she tried to hide it. "They're very pretty.."
"What?" Vision was confused.
"Those Asgardian girls.."
"Wanda.. are you jealous?"
"No.. Why would I be?"
"You don't have to be" Vision told her. "I've been pushing them off all night trying to get back here.."
"Why?" Wanda stood up, her head slightly cocked to one side.
"I imagine it's how you feel, actually.. When suitors are pushed at you. Ones who only want you for your title. These girls weren't looking twice at me Yesterday. They're only interested now because they think I did something important. What you and I have.. it's more.. even if we are just.."
"Just what, Vizh? What are we.." She froze then, because Vision had grabbed her hand.
Stared at her for a long moment. And then he was kissing her, deeply, hungrily, and Wanda was kissing him back, because he was Vision, and he made her feel safe, and so many other things, and being with him felt right, even though everyone would tell them it shouldn't.
Their kiss deepened, tongues tangling, hands tugging at clothes, and they both knew their 'not sleeping together' plan was about to go out the window.
"Can you be quiet?" Vision murmured.
"Can you?" Wanda challenged him with a cheeky grin, and Vision laughed, because this was Wanda, his Wanda. This was who she really was, when she didn't have to wear the mask of the Princess. Cheeky, fun, happy.
He was kissing her again, and their clothes were pooling on the floor. They fell onto the bed, both laughing, hands wandering over soft skin. As Vision peppered gentle kisses over Wanda's breasts, her fingers lingered, gentle, over the scars on Vision's shoulder. They always did, her own quiet apology for the wounds he had suffered in his first act as her protector. It was an apology that Vision always accepted.
He hovered over Wanda now, her legs wrapped around him, locked behind his hips to trap him there with her, not that he needed trapping. Vision would stay with her forever, if he could.
"Remember, quiet.." He whispered.
"I will if you do" Wanda smirked.
"Cheeky.." Vision chuckled, and let himself slip inside her, Wanda biting her lip to muffle a soft gasp. Vision bit his own lip, swallowing a moan.
He began to move, and Wanda's hips bucked to meet him.
This was different than their usual love making.
Vision's thrusts were faster, more frantic, just a little bit rougher.
Trying to tell each other all the things that they were not allowed to say with words. The depth of the feelings they were not allowed to express in the open, now bursting out when they were alone together in the dark, moving as one.
Pleasure was building in both of them now, and while Vision, as a thief, was used to keeping quiet in difficult situations, Wanda was finding it more difficult to hold back her cries as she reached her peak. Vision kissed her deeply to muffle the sound as she toppled over the edge, and soon enough he was falling with her, moaning into her mouth as they rode the blissful wave together.
They collapsed in a tangled heap, trying to catch their breath.
Vision felt Wanda's fingers running through his hair, and she smiled at him, that absolutely gorgeous smile that made him feel like he was the most wonderful thing in the universe.
He opened his mouth to ask her if she was okay, as he always did, but he was so happy to be with her again, so caught up in the joyful fog of their afterglow, that instead, he said:
"I love you."
Chapter 31: Three Little Words
Three little words change everything for Wanda and Vision. In the midst of their turmoil, the enemy makes a move.
Two chapters in a row, on a roll!
At those three little words, both of them froze. Because even though both of them knew, in their hearts, that what they had was real, that they were not pretending, had never been pretending.. having it confirmed, those three little words out in the open.. somehow, that changed everything.
Maybe, Vision hoped- Maybe Wanda would ignore it. Maybe she would pretend he hadn't said anything, and they could keep pretending that..
"Vizh.." Wanda's voice was soft. She was still stroking his hair. "W-What did you just say?"
Vision's hope shattered. He scrambled away from her, quickly pulling on his clothes.
"I'm sorry.. I shouldn't have.."
"Stupid.. I.." He ran out of the room.
"Vision!" Wanda dressed hurriedly, chasing after him. "Vizh, wait!"
Vision ran. He was stupid. So stupid. When they were just pretending, it was easy to imagine the impossible, that maybe it could work out. But actually saying the words out loud, acknowledging the truth, making it real.. it just raised so many problems. For Wanda, mostly. Vision was the problem.. Being with him..
"Vizh!" Wanda's voice called behind him. "Vision, stop! Please.."
Vision sighed. Skidded to a stop, slowly turning to face her.
"Did you just.. Did you just tell me you love me?"
"Does it matter if I did?" Vision stared at his feet. "We were just pretending.."
"It matters" Wanda replied softly. "It matters a lot.. Because I don't think we are pretending. Maybe we never were. I think.. I think I love you too."
"You think?" He looked up at her.
"I.. It's hard for me" She sighed. "I've never been allowed to think much about what I want. Princesses aren't supposed to want things.. But you, Vizh.. You're probably the first decision I ever made for myself. Just for me. And being with you.. I'm happy. It just feels good. Right. It's.. a wonderful, warm feeling, right? That's what you told me, when I asked you what being in love felt like?
"Well, that's what I feel.." Wanda cut him off. "So.. I love you. I love you, Vision. We'll just.. no more pretending. We'll just tell everyone and be done with it."
"It's not as simple as that" Vision looked at her sadly. "You know it's not."
"Why not?" Wanda snapped, but she knew he was right. "Why can't it be? Why.. Why can't I just have something I want for once? In my whole life.. just once.."
Vision's heart broke for her, but there was no hiding the truth.. being open about their relationship could cause a lot of trouble for Wanda.
"There's so much at stake for you right now" He said, serious. "Wanda, you could be the Queen.."
"Maybe I don't want to be the damn Queen! Has anyone thought about that? No one's actually asked me.."
"Maybe you don't" Vision gently took her hands. "Maybe you want something else.."
"Maybe I do.."
"And if you do.. If you do, that's okay. But this isn't a decision you should make on a whim.. And it's definitely not a decision you should make just because of me."
"Vision.." Wanda's voice cracked.
"It's not" He squeezed her hands. "You know it's not.. As your Protector, I have a responsibility to you. You need time to decide what you really want. I need you to be absolutely sure, because this.. there isn't any going back. So, I think.. I should keep my distance for a bit."
"No, Vizh.." A tear crept down Wanda's cheek.
"I'm still your Protector" Vision wiped the tear away, even as tears stung his own eyes. "I'll still keep you safe. I'll still be right next door if you really need me. But.. You need to be sure, and I don't want to cloud your judgement."
"Okay.." Wanda sniffled, but she knew Vision was right. He usually was. "O-Okay.."
The next few days were Hell.
Wanda couldn't focus, and her grip on her new powers began to slip, leading her to struggle in training.
Vision couldn't focus either. Peter was constantly besting him now. Lady Sif scolded him for his lost focus, but he couldn't absorb the words. He was miserable.
Worse, he knew Wanda was miserable too. She wasn't sleeping, and more than once, he'd heard her crying in the next room. Vision had thought about forgetting everything he'd said that night.. Forget it all, and go right back to pretending.
But the truth of their feelings for each other was out, and there was no taking it back.
"I don't understand, Princess" Loki frowned, dismissing their practice dummy Guard. "You were doing so well.. Is something wrong?"
"No.." said Wanda. "Nothing wrong.. Just sleep issues.."
"No trouble in Protector paradise?"
"Don't worry" said Loki nonchalantly. "No-one else has caught on.. I am rather more observant than most in Asgard."
"Oh.." Wanda blushed. "I'm sorry.."
"For what?" Loki frowned.
"You and I.. we were.."
"Oh.. Oh, that?" Loki burst out laughing. "Princess, I would never hold someone to a never-official arrangement made when we were both children."
"By Odin's beard, no. Especially not when she clearly cares for someone else."
"Vision.. He's just worried" Wanda sighed. "He wants me to be sure about whatever decision I make regarding him.. and being Queen."
"So you should be" Loki agreed. "But if you are so miserable apart, isn't your decision already made?"
"Maybe.. If I can make him listen.."
"In the Library, there is a book on the history of the very first Scarlet Witch.. I think it may help you."
"How?" Wanda cocked an eyebrow, curious.
"Just a hunch, Princess" Loki grinned. "Check out the book."
"Vision!" That night, there was a hurried knock at the door of the Maid's quarters, Peter's voice hissing. "Vision, you sleep here, right?"
Vision jumped up, slightly startled. He had been preoccupied, listening to Wanda next door. At least she wasn't crying tonight. She was reading- slowly, without him to help her- occasionally turning a page. He shook his head to clear his mind, and moved to open the door.
"Vision, I think I found a spy from Ultron when I was out climbing trees Today!" said Peter excitedly, bouncing on the balls of his feet. "Help me catch him? It'll be easy, there's only one, maybe two.." The boy was hurrying off before Vision had even answered.
"Peter, we should really tell someone more experienced.." Vision, concerned, followed quickly after his young training partner.
He left in such a hurry that he didn't think to take the Mind Stone with him.
"If I can do this, Mr. Stark will be really impressed!"
Peter, excited, ignored Vision's protests.
"He might even make me a real Avenger!"
Vision sighed, and continued to follow the boy. Outside the Palace, through the town, into the trees.. He became increasingly unsettled.
"We should really go back and.."
"Just a little bit further, I saw.."
Suddenly, Soldiers Vision recognised as Ultron's began emerging from among the trees. Protective instincts kicking in, he pushed Peter behind him, but it was a useless act. They were surrounded.
Brock Rumlow appeared at the head of the group, smiling unpleasantly.
Vision felt a sharp pain in the back of his head, and then the world went dark.
Chapter 32: Spoken Like A Queen
Wanda must awaken her inner queen to convince King Odin to help her rescue Vision.
Princess Wanda sat alone in her room, oblivious to the trouble in which her Protector had found himself. She hadn't even heard him leave the room next door.
She was completely focused on her book. Her progress was slow, but Loki had told her there was something in this particular book, a detailed account of the story of the very first Scarlet Witch, that might help her situation with Vision. If that was true, she was going to find that something, whatever it might be.
So, Wanda focused. She sat reading well into the evening. Just as she was about to give in for the night, thinking to pick up again in the morning, she reached the section on the Witch's- future Queen of Sokovia, but still a Princess then- original quest to find the Mind Stone, and how she had met her sweetheart, the boy who had become the Stone's first keeper.
Something inside Wanda told her to keep reading. So she did, and as she read, a wide smile began to spread over her face, and she knew exactly what Loki had been talking about when he said the book would help her.
The first Scarlet Witch's sweetheart was a Thief.
He had initially followed the Princess on her quest in hopes of taking the Mind Stone for himself, but these plans changed when he fell for her, and she for him. In the end, after the Witch had gained her powers, she gave the Mind Stone to the Thief willingly, and he had become her Protector, just as Vision was Wanda's. When the Kingdom's troubles were over, they married, and he ruled at her side for the rest of his life.
The first Scarlet Witch and her Protector had been a Princess and a Thief.
The entire Maximoff royal line had come from a Princess and a Thief.
Wanda herself was the descendant of a Princess and a Thief.
Wanda fell back onto her pillows, laughing joyfully.
A Princess and a Thief.
Well, history did have a way of repeating itself, and it seemed she and Vision were repeating it. Carrying on a Maximoff family tradition. She jumped up, intending to run next door and talk to Vision right away.. and almost crashed right into Heimdall, who had been about to knock at the door.
Wanda squeaked in surprise, but Heimdall didn't flinch, nor comment on where Wanda was going. He simply handed her a folded piece of Parchment.
"I am sorry to disturb you so late, Princess. A disturbing note was left for you at the gate.. We cannot make sense of it. We were wondering if maybe you knew what it meant?"
Wanda, confused, unfolded the parchment. When she read the short, simple message, her blood ran cold.
We have your Puppy.
"Vision.. Vision!" Wanda ran and pounded on the door of the Maid's Quarters. "Vizh, open up!"
When there was no answer, Wanda summoned her power without thinking, blowing the door open. The bed was slightly disturbed, the Mind Stone on the bedside table.. But no Vision.
Wanda felt sick. Not now.. Not when she'd just..
"Princess Wanda?" Heimdall spoke, snapping her out of her unpleasant thoughts.
"I-It's Vision" Wanda told him. "My Protector. Rumlow called him Puppy.. They've taken Vision."
An emergency meeting was called. King Odin, both Princes, and many of Asgard's military leaders were attending, along with Princess Wanda, Doctor Strange, and the Avengers.
Everyone spoke with raised, frantic voices. It was not a good look for Asgard the Princess's Protector had been snatched from under their noses. Tony ran into the meeting late, in a state of deep panic.
"I can't find Peter either.. he's gone."
"How did this happen?" Doctor Strange snapped. "We brought Princess Wanda and her people here on the promise that they would be safe.."
"We will make this right!" Thor declared. "We will find this Rumlow and his men and.."
"Wait, Thor" King Odin cut him off. "I am, of course, sorry that this happened, and the matter will definitely be investigated. But we cannot initiate a military operation in the name of a single peasant boy.."
At Odin's words, Wanda stood.
"He is not just a boy" Scarlet energy crackled around the tips of her fingers, the same energy transforming her eyes from their usual soft green to an unsettling shade of red. She clutched the Mind Stone tightly in one hand. The Stone was Vision's, and she would not let anyone else near it.
"Princess Wanda.." Odin began, but she instantly cut him off.
"No, you will all listen to me.. For once, everyone will listen" Wanda paused, her now red eyes sweeping over the room, as though they were waiting for someone to object. No-one did.
"You have our full attention, Princess Wanda" Loki bowed slightly.
"Vision is not just a boy. He freed me from Ultron. He was with me, protecting me, long before anyone else was bothered. He suffered through arrow wounds for me, trained with me when I struggled. Vision taught me how to fly. He protected me through our first battle at the Sanctum. He rode with me, even though he had never been on a horse before, to make sure I reached Asgard safely.."
"The boy is clearly a loyal, valuable servant" Odin interrupted once again. "But to go to War for.."
"With all due respect, King Odin" Wanda turned to speak to him directly, "Sokovia is my Country. This fight against Ultron.. It is my fight. My war. It is for me to decide who and what I fight for.. Now, I choose to fight for Vision as he would fight for me." Wanda looked over to the Avengers, all standing, hanging on her words, Doctor Strange looking proud, "I have people who will fight with me. We would very much like Asgard to fight with us.. but we will fight, with or without your help."
Odin looked at the Princess, considering.
"If I may cut in, Father" said Thor, "I must agree with the Princess. Vision is not just any boy. He lifted Mjolnir.. You know how rare a feat that is. I wish to fight with Princess Wanda. To help him, if possible."
"I will fight too, Father" Loki agreed with his brother. "The commitment we made to the Princess should extend to her people, too."
"I will fight with the Princess!" Lady Sif raised her sword.
"The Warriors Three stand with Princess Wanda!" Volstagg roared, raising his battle axe, as Fandral and Hogun raised their own weapons. More voices soon joined theirs.
Wanda felt her spirits lift. Now, for a moment, she almost felt like a real Queen.
"Very well" Odin relented. "Asgard will help. But we need to know where we are going, what we are facing.."
"We will" said Wanda quickly, determined. "We will find out.. Clint, Natasha, go look for any clues to where Vision might have been taken."
"Of course" Natasha nodded.
"Right away, Princess" Clint bowed, before both of them rushed off.
Thankfully, it did not take long for the search to bear fruit. Clint returned the next Morning with a battered Peter Parker in tow.
"Peter!" Tony rushed over as Clint helped the boy through the gates. "Don't you ever frighten.. Your Aunt like that again. She would have been beside herself.. Peter? Answer me, kid.."
"I-It's my fault.." He mumbled. The boy bore quite a few bruises, but had otherwise come through relatively unscathed.
Tony didn't have time to press him further, as Wanda was running out to question him too.
"Peter!" There was a new air of authority around the Princess now. She had made herself someone to be listened to, someone to be taken seriously. "Peter, can you tell us what happened?"
"My fault.." Peter mumbled again. "Vision was only out there because he followed me.."
For the briefest moment, Wanda almost wanted to blame him.. But Peter was just a boy. No one could blame him for this.
"You couldn't have known" Wanda told him. "But Peter, you need to tell us everything. Do you know where they've taken Vision?"
"St-Stanville, I think.. that's all I heard."
"That's near the Sokovia/Asgard border" said Doctor Strange, joining the group. "We bypassed it on the way here to help keep our destination secret."
"Spread the word then" said Wanda. "We're heading for Stanville."
"Spoken like a Queen" Doctor Strange smiled, rather proudly, then headed off to follow her orders.
Vision was tossed unceremoniously into a cell, groaning, his body wracked with pain. He had been brutally whipped and beaten before the people of Stanville, dizziness from his earlier head wound kept him from fighting back.
Rumlow intended to make an example of him. Here was the Princess's protector, the great hero. Look how easily he was broken. How could he protect the Princess when he couldn't protect himself?
He couldn't help the Princess, and the Princess couldn't help them. Best put their faith back in King Ultron.
"Not such a good guard dog now, are you?" Rumlow laughed wickedly as Vision was tossed inside. "Weakling.. you really are just a puppy. The Princess won't come for you."
"Good" Vision spat, startling Rumlow for a moment. "I hope she doesn't.. But you think she will, or why take me? You think I'm bait.."
"It doesn't matter to me if the Princess comes or not" He lied, slamming the cell door behind him and stalking off. "I'll just keep beating you until you stop gettin' back up.."
Vision slumped to the floor. Winced as he drew a sharp breath. He may have broken a rib. And yet, as much pain as he was in, he couldn't help thinking of Wanda, worrying for her.
This was clearly a trap. He hoped she didn't fall for it.. hoped she stayed away.
The Asgardians wouldn't think a lowly thief like him wasa worth rescuing.. and He definitely wasn't worth Wanda risking her safety.
Back in Asgard, Wanda was mounting her horse, sat between Thor and Loki. The Avengers, Doctor Strange and his wizards, and a good chunk of the Asgardian army at her back.
She looked at the Mind Stone for a moment, then tucked it safely inside her pocket.
"Hang on, Vizh.." She whispered as they set off. "I'm coming to get you."
Chapter 33: Rise Of The Scarlet Witch
Wanda sets out to rescue Vision, and finally accepts her destiny as the Scarlet Witch.
Vision was beaten again the following day. Amidst the blows, he caught glimpses of the forcibly gathered crowd. The people of Stanville clearly did not like what was going on, but what could they do?
They were only common folk. Speaking out would only get them a ticket to share his cell, and most likely, to be beaten alongside him. That would do no-one any good.
When he was tossed back into his cell, Vision took stock of his injuries. Two black eyes, a split lip, a few potentially broken ribs, more bruises than he could count. Angry welts across his back where he had been whipped. His head still throbbed from the blow when he had been taken.
Vision knew he couldn't go on like this indefinitely. Eventually, as Rumlow said, he just wouldn't get back up.
If Vision got a dying wish, it would be that he could see Wanda again before that time came. To hold her one last time. Gaze into her beautiful green eyes. Stroke her hair. Kiss her soft lips.
He would tell her that he was sorry. Tell her that they could run away, build a cabin near their spring.
Vision thought of the baby birds in the tree on their picnic, and how Wanda had blushed. He found himself imagining what children of theirs might have looked like. He would have wanted them to look more like Wanda.. Wanda was so very beautiful. He wouldn't have wanted to inflict the burden of eyes like his on a child.. But then, Wanda liked his eyes, so maybe it wouldn't have been so bad.
And as much as he wanted Wanda to stay safe, didn't want her to come looking for him.. A small part of him hoped that she would.
He took a shaky, painful breath, and let himself slip out of consciousness.
He was roused sometime later by a loud commotion.
Vision sat up, dazed, trying to make sense of it. There was shouting. Screaming. The sound of clashing swords.
"Wanda.." Vision tried to stand, but his legs crumpled from under him. "Wanda.. no.. go back.. be safe..
Amongst the chaos, there was a sudden pounding at the door of Vision's cell. It grew louder, repeating over and over, as though someone was ramming into it, then the door burst open, and Clint and Natasha ran inside.
"Oh my God.." Clint gasped when he saw the state Vision was in. "What did they do to you, kid?"
"You can tell us about it later" Nat rushed to Vision's side, pulling his arm around her shoulders. "Clint, help me!"
Clint quickly took Vision's other arm, and the pair of Spy-sassins ran back into the thick of a heated battle, dragging the battered thief with them.
In a daze, Vision struggled to take everything in. He saw a flash of what might have been Tony's armour. Steve's shield whizzed over their heads, knocking down a soldier who had been coming up behind them. Vision saw Asgardians on the battlefield.. So they had come to help him, after all. Vision was glad, because he knew that this probably went against Ultron's expectations. Here and there, members of Ultron's army had collapsed into blithering messes. Wisps of scarlet crackled around their temples.
"W-Wanda.." Vision murmured.
"Yep" said Clint as they ran. "She's out there somewhere, kicking ass in your name."
"I-I'm not worth.."
"You are to her, apparently" Nat cut him off.
Suddenly, the Valkyrie was running with them, cutting down anyone who tried to block their way.
"Where are you trying to take him?" She yelled.
"We don't really know" Clint yelled back. "We just need somewhere safe to leave him."
"Follow me" Valkyrie nodded.
But just as she was about to lead them away to a safer, quieter area, Vision saw Wanda.
The Scarlet energy seemed to be flowing from her every pore. Some Soldiers were sent flying with a wave of Wanda's hand, others fled or crumpled where they stood as she made their very worst fears come to life in their minds. It was as if there were a Goddess on the battlefield.
And Rumlow was heading straight for her, sword raised.
"No!" Even though he had not even been able to stand on his own just a second before, Vision wrenched himself from the Spy-sassins grip and now he was running, faster than he had ever run before in his life, driven by pure adrenaline, instinct, love.. And he tackled Rumlow to the ground.
Wanda turned just in time to see what was going on. Rumlow had gotten close enough for his sword to nick the Princess's cheek as he fell.
Unfortunately, Vision's brave act used up whatever store of energy his battered body had, and he had passed out after the tackle. Rumlow tossed him off like a rag doll.
Wanda's eyes fell on Vision, bruised, bloodied, and broken. Red energy flared like raging fire, and she felt the Witch roar within her, demanding vengeance for Vision's pain. But her rage was tempered by panic. She couldn't leave Vision lying there injured, where he could be trampled or worse. Rumlow was coming for her again, and she needed to make a quick decision.
Wanda dived, grabbing Vision's limp form, and flew.
Vision came to with the wind whipping at his face. An arrow whooshed past his ear. He was flying, but he wasn't sure how until he heard a very familiar voice, and the tingle of the red energy helping the voice's owner support his weight.
"I've got you, Vizh" Wanda was telling him. "I've got you, you're okay.." She touched down somewhere on the far side of Stanville, where the fighting hadn't reached. Set Vision down between two empty buildings. "Vizh.. Vizh, can you look at me?"
Vision forced his eyes open. Blood trickled from a tiny cut on the Princess's cheek.
"Wanda.." He weakly lifted his hand to try and wipe the blood away. "You're hurt.."
"I'm fine. You're hurt.." Her eyes burned scarlet, filled with righteous anger. "Who did this to you, Vision?"
"Thought so.. Stay right here, Vizh" She might have kissed his forehead then, but Vision's grip on the waking world was beginning to slip, so he couldn't be sure. "Don't try to move, someone will come get you when it's safe.."
Then Wanda was flying again, a glorious scarlet flare streaking across the sky, and Vision slipped into unconsciousness once more.
Wanda soared over the battlefield, searching for her target.
She saw Thor's hammer flying. Saw Loki, confusing the enemy with his illusions. She saw the Valkyrie, now fighting alongside Clint and Natasha. She'd had Loki point her out to him on the way here. If they all survived this, she was going to help Vision find his answers.
Then, finally, Wanda spotted Rumlow. The Princess flew low, scooping up a fallen soldier's sword, and charged at Rumlow. Someone.. Steve, maybe.. Yelled for her to stop, to be careful, but there was no stopping Wanda now.
Rumlow saw just in time to dodge Wanda's blow, turning to grin at her as she landed, skidding to a stop.
"Hey there, Little Princess. How's your Puppy?" He dodged again as Wanda lashed out with the sword.
"Vision will be fine" Wanda growled, continuing to strike at Rumlow, relentless. "He is strong.. But you? The future isn't looking so bright.”
"Strong? Ha!" Rumlow easily dodged or deflected Wanda's strikes, and struck back himself, slicing Wanda's upper arm, the Princess crying out at the sting of the new wound. He landed a few more smaller blows that would likely cause bruises. "He's a weakling, just like you.."
"You don't see him" Wanda panted, lashing out again. "That's your biggest problem. You don't see him.. and you don't see me. Not really. Not who I really am.."
Rumlow scowled, surprised by how fiercely the Princess was still fighting back.
"That's all very touching and meaningful, but it won't help you now.." He raised his sword for what he clearly intended to be a finishing blow.
Wanda plunged a hand into her pocket, as she had seen Vision do on the day they met, her fingers curling around the Mind Stone. She became intangible, Rumlow's blade passed through her harmlessly, and she jumped away in case he tried again.
Rumlow was caught off guard by this, and Wanda smirked, releasing the Mind Stone and becoming solid once more.
"I think it will help me a lot.." A wave of Wanda's hand, and Rumlow's sword flew out of his grip, another, and his armour fell away. "You only see a little Princess.. but you're dealing with the Scarlet Witch!"
With a final flick of her wrist, a wave of scarlet energy knocked Rumlow onto his back. The Scarlet Witch raised her sword.
"W-Wait" Rumlow stammered. "Wait, Princess, we can talk about this.."
The image of the beaten Vision flashed through Wanda's mind. Her eyes glowed red.
The sword came down.
The next thing Vision remembered was being roused by whispering voices.. Happy voices, cautiously joyful.
He forced his eyes open, and found Tony Stark standing over him.
"Hey, kid. Upsy-daisy, The Princess wants to see you.." Tony helped Vision to his feet.
"Wanda!" Vision almost stumbled, his body still weak, legs still shaky. Tony caught him, holding him steady. "Wanda.. is she.."
"A few bruises.. Rumlow got a pretty nasty gash on her arm before she took him down.. But she's fine."
Vision didn't hear anything after the bruises and the gash on Wanda's arm. She was hurt.. She was hurt, because he hadn't been their to protect her..
All around them, the people of Stanville seemed to be celebrating. Ultron was an unpopular king, and Rumlow had been an unpopular enforcer. With Princess Wanda scoring this victory, hope for the future would grow.
Finally, Vision saw her.. surrounded by a mixture of Asgardians, Avengers, and cheering common folk, greeting them and shaking their hands. Wanda had never looked more like royalty than she did just now, and Vision had never felt less worthy of her.
Wanda looked up, her soft green eyes meeting Vision's strange blue ones over the crowd. She moved towards him, the crowd parting for her. She drew the Mind Stone out of her pocket, and took the circlet from Clint who had been hanging onto it. She returned the stone to the circlet just as she reached the spot where Tony was standing with Vision.
Vision saw the cut on her arm, steadily oozing blood. Wanda was looking over his cuts and bruises, tears prickling at the corners of her eyes. No.. she shouldn't cry for him, he wasn't worth her crying over.
Vision pulled himself away from Tony's grip, and fell to his knees before the Princess.
"Y-You shouldn't give that back to me.." He murmured. "I wasn't there.. I didn't protect you.."
Wanda shook her head. She knelt on the ground with him, letting herself be his equal, because in her eyes, he was her equal, always. She had never looked at him as lesser due to the different circumstances into which each of them were born, and never would. Wanda returned the circlet to it's rightful place atop his head. Gently lifted his chin to make him look at her.
"Vision, you always protect me.. It was my turn to protect you."
The Princess took the Thief's face in her hands, and there, for all to see, she kissed him.
Chapter 34: Time To Heal
After the battle, Wanda tends to Vision's wounds.
For all his insecurities just seconds before, Vision felt himself melting into Wanda's touch, returning her kiss.
Somewhere, Steve's shield clattered to the ground, and Tony's jaw dropped.
"Did.. did anyone know about this?" He pointed at the couple. "Were we supposed to know that this was going on?"
Doctor Strange shrugged, but smiled knowingly.
"Well.." Natasha smirked, while Clint whistled not-so-innocently.
"Oh come on!" Tony glared at them. "I'm the leader, you have to tell me about this stuff!"
Completely oblivious to the commotion they were causing, the Princess and the Thief broke their kiss. They remained kneeling there, their foreheads pressed together, until Wanda's brow crinkled in concern.
"You're shivering.." she immediately took off her coat and draped it around his shoulders. "Can you stand up, Vizh?"
"Maybe.." He murmured. "I'll probably need to lean on someth.."
"Lean on me" said Wanda, helping him to his feet, pulling his arm around her. "Hold on to me, I've got you.. We'll go get you patched up.."
The Scarlet Witch fixed a red-eyed glare on the crowd around her, daring anyone to object to what she was doing. No one did. Vision leaned heavily against Wanda as she helped him walk on shaky legs, the crowd parting again to let them by. Through his own slightly laboured breaths, he noticed that Wanda's breathing was also a little shakier than usual, and realised that she must have been exhausted. She had never needed to use her powers quite so extensively before.
"I'm okay, Vizh. You're okay. We are.."
"O-Okay.." Vision nodded.
They headed just outside the town, to where a junior member of Asgard's army was tending to some of the horses, and Wanda found her own, untying it.
"Can you hold on to me if we ride, Vision?"
"I'm not sure.." He was still quite severely weakened from his ordeal, his injuries still painful.
"That's alright, I'll work something out.."
Wanda thought for a moment, then looked to the young soldier.
"Boy," She said, and Vision was reminded of one of their earliest conversations, in which she had convinced him to jump off of a tower with her, "Help me get Vision up on the horse, then tie him to me."
"I'm not sure that's such a good idea, Princess.." the boy answered.
"Why not?" The Princess's eyes flared scarlet.
"W-Well, it might make it harder to escape if you are followed and attacked" He stammered.
"That is unlikely.. and even if we were attacked, I can fly. I can move things with my mind. I could carry him. So.." she repeated her order, "Help me get Vision up, and tie him to me."
The young soldier had no further objections. Once Vision was up on the horse, Wanda climbed up. Vision wrapped his arms as tightly around her as he could in his weakened state. She winced slightly as his hand brushed over one of her own bruises.
"I'm fine, Vision.. don't worry."
The young Asgardian wound a rope around them and secured them together, before Wanda took off at a gallop.
They didn't have far to go before they reached the camp that Wanda and the Asgardian Army had setup shortly outside Stanville. Wanda loosened the rope that bound Vision to her, and used her powers to get them both safely off of their horse.
A few wizards, those more versed in medicine than combat, rushed forward to tend to Vision. Wanda tightened her grip on him.
"I've got him. Bring hot water, cloths and bandages, and all the ointments and salves we have to my tent.."
"Of course, Princess.." The Wizards of the Sanctum rushed off to follow her instructions, knowing better than to argue. They knew what Wanda could do, being well versed in the legends of the Scarlet Witch.
Wanda let Vision lean on her once more as she helped him into her tent.
"Wanda.." He murmured. "I'm sorry.."
"Shh.. It's okay. Just sit down." She helped him do so. "We have some things to talk about, but that can wait until you're feeling better, okay?"
"Okay" Vision nodded again. He did not have the strength for much else.
Wanda retrieved the items she'd asked for from the Wizard who had come to deliver them, then returned to kneel by Vision's side, pushing her coat off of his shoulders so she could examine his injuries again. Vision hissed when she ran her hand over the large, dark bruise that indicated his likely broken ribs. Still, he was lucky it wasn't any worse. If one of those broken ribs had pierced something..
"Nothing internal, by the looks of it.." Wanda's face paled slightly, thinking of just how close she had come to losing him. "You're lucky. You could have killed yourself, tackling Rumlow like that in this state."
"I know" Vision managed a small, pained smile. "But what kind of Protector would I be if I hadn't?"
"You wouldn't be any protector at all if you were dead" The Princess frowned, dipping a cloth in the hot water and moving behind him, starting by cleaning a small amount of caked blood away from his head wound, cringing at the way it had stained his golden hair pink. "But.. Thank you.."
"You don't have to.."
"I want to.." She gently cleaned the wounds streaked across his back, then moved to apply some ointment to his cuts and bruises. "This will sting a bit.."
"I know.." Vision winced slightly at the sting, but it was nothing compared to the pain he was already in. When Wanda was done cleaning and treating his wounds, she carefully bandaged him up.
"You should rest now, Vizh" she told him.
"Wait.. you're hurt too."
"That's a nasty cut on your arm" Vision cut her off, "And those bruises are sore, I felt it.. Let me help you, it will only take a minute.."
"You really need to rest" Wanda frowned, but she knew him, knew he wouldn't let it go, so she undressed to let him treat her injuries.
Vision managed to shuffle closer to her. With gentle but slightly shaky hands, he cleaned and bandaged the cut on her arm, and rubbed ointment into her bruises. Wanda couldn't help leaning into his touch.
"That's better.." Vision smiled weakly, clearly exhausted
"Good" Wanda pushed him to lie down. "Now you can rest."
"Now I can rest.." Vision agreed.
"Good boy" Wanda laid beside him, holding his hand.
"Wanda.." His eyes had drifted shut. He knew he was a little out of it, that he might not even remember this conversation when he woke, but he wanted to say something.
"Shh. You're supposed to be resting."
"I know. I will. Just.. It.. it was you.."
"What was?" Wanda's brow furrowed in confusion.
"When you asked me.. when you asked me if I knew what it felt like to be in love.."
"And you told me you did.."
"I-It was you.. I was in love with you even then.. There was.. never anyone else.."
"No. Just you."
"So.." said Wanda slowly, "That.. that night at The Sanctum.."
"My first time too.." Vision murmured. His breathing shallow, so close to sleep.
A faint blush spread over Wanda's cheeks, and she smiled softly.
"Well.. I feel honoured" She pressed a gentle kiss to his forehead. "Sleep well now, Vision. Heal. I'll keep you safe.."
It wasn't long before Vision drifted off into a deep sleep. Wanda curled herself around him protectively, and pulled a warm blanket over them both.
For now, she would protect him, as he always protected her.
Chapter 35: A Promise Of Forever
Wanda and Vision make new promises to each other.
They stayed at the campsite for about a week, while the Avengers and the Asgardian army helped the people of Stanville repair any damage that had been done to the town during the battle.
Wanda spent most of this time with Vision, tending to his wounds. When Vision felt up to it, he tended to Wanda in return, though Wanda's injuries did not need quite so much tending. She rarely left the tent except to fetch their meals, or herbal teas that would aid Vision's healing. With his permission, Vision became Wanda's guinea pig in a small experiment to see if her powers could be applied to healing- focusing her energy on helping his broken ribs knit back together.
She couldn't say for sure whether the bones were completely healed, but the bruise over them was fading at a faster than average rate, and Vision said his pain had definitely lessened after her ministrations, which Wanda took as a good sign.
They hadn't yet had their important talk. About Wanda's decision on what she wanted, what they were to each other, what happened next.. That would come, when the time was right. For now, it was just nice that they didn't have to hide. No one said a word when Wanda crawled into her tent to hold Vision as he slept.
One night, Vision sat bolt upright, frantic.
"Peter! Peter was with me in the woods.."
"Vizh.." Wanda woke at his exclamation. "Vision, it's okay.."
"We found Peter" Wanda spoke quickly, trying to calm him. "He's back in Asgard. A few bruises, but he's okay. He's safe.."
"He's safe?" Vision looked into Wanda's eyes, his own still wide and panicked.
"He's safe" Wanda nodded. She pressed soft kisses to Vision's forehead, his nose, his lips, smiling at how quickly the gesture relaxed him, and gently pulled him to lay back down with her, her arms wrapping securely around him. "He's safe, and so are you.. No one can hurt you now."
"You're safe, Vizh. You're with me."
"I'm with you.." A small smile spread over Vision's face as he drifted back to sleep.
After a few days, Vision was strong enough to take short walks around the camp. He leaned into Wanda, even when he didn't really have to anymore. Wanda smirked, but didn't mention it.
A few Asgardian soldiers would stop to greet Wanda and bow as they passed by. Mostly out of respect, but some seemed the tiniest bit afraid of her.
"Well.." Vision commented with a raised brow, the ease with which he and Wanda had always talked to each other returning, "You seem to have made some friends."
"I may have needed to exert a little extra royal authority to get your rescue mission off the ground.." Wanda chuckled.
"I told you you'd make a good Queen" said Vision, and Wanda blushed.
Wanda could be the Queen. She knew now that she had the support of the people. But if they wanted her to take the crown.. She had a few conditions.
By the time they left the camp to head back to Asgard, Vision was well on the way to recovery, and could easily hold onto Wanda on horseback without her worrying that he would fall. However, she still rode slowly to avoid jostling him too much.
When they reached the gates of the Palace, Wanda helped Vision down from their horse before they headed inside, hand in hand. King Odin was waiting for them.
"So.." He looked Vision over, then Wanda, his single eye lingering on their joined hands. "This is the boy who inspired the Princess to such a grand rescue mission.. I hope you prove worthy of such effort."
"I will try my best, Sir.." Vision bowed.
"He will.." Wanda squeezed his hand, and her eyes flickered red. She was ready to fight for Vision now, if she had to. "He's.. something special."
"Very well.." Odin nodded. There might have been the tiniest hint of a smile at the corners of his lips. "Go get your friend settled back in, Princess Wanda."
Wanda grinned, rushing off and pulling Vision with her
"That went.. surprisingly well" Vision commented.
"Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, Vizh.."
"Oh, I'm not.."
Wanda led Vision through the Palace, heading for her room. When they got there, Vision was about to break away and head into the Maid's quarters again- out of habit, mostly- but Wanda stopped him.
"Wait.. with me, Vizh. I think we need to have that talk.."
"Yes.." Vision's heart sped up. "I suppose we do.."
A few moments later, they both sat perched on Wanda's bed, neither of them quite sure where to start.
Wanda had made a very big, bold move by kissing Vision on the battlefield, laying the truth of them bare for all to see.. and while Vision very much liked to think he knew what that meant, or at least, what he wanted it to mean, but he could not know for certain until she told him.
"I did a lot of thinking" Wanda finally began, "In those horrible few days when we weren't talking.."
"They were horrible.." Vision agreed.
"They were.. But I thought a lot about you, Vizh. How different you are from everyone else.."
"Different how?" His brow furrowed. "Good different.. o-or bad different?"
"Good different" Wanda clarified quickly, taking his hands. "Very good different. Everyone looks at me.. Even my Parents, even Pietro.. They look at me, and they see a title. Princess first, before anything else. But it's not like that with you, Vision. You look at me.. you look at me, and.." Her soft green eyes locked onto his strange, vibrant blue.
"And?" Vision gazed into her eyes.
"You see me.. Me, not the Princess, not the Scarlet Witch. You see me first, before anything else. When I'm with you, I can be myself, my real, true self, and not get judged for it. When I'm with you, I'm me. I've never had that before. And because I never had it, I never realised I needed it.. But I do need that. I need someone I can be myself with.. And that someone is you. I need you, Vision."
"You do?" His heart was racing, hardly daring to believe what she was telling him.
"I do" Wanda smiled softly.
"But what about.. Being Queen?"
"Well, I've thought about that too. You told me to think about what I want. I want to be with you more than I want to be Queen. But I'd like to give being Queen a try, because you think I'd be good at it, and I trust your judgement more than anyone else's. So, I have an ideal scenario, if you'd like to hear it.." Wanda paused to kiss his fingers, and Vision's racing heart skipped a beat.
"I was doing a bit of research.. The first Scarlet Witch and her sweetheart, they were a Princess and a Thief, just like us. They got married when she was crowned Queen, and he ruled with her."
"Mmhm. So, if that's an option, that's what I'd want." Suddenly, she seemed nervous. "If I'm going to be Queen, I want you to rule with me. If I was the Queen, I'd want you to be my King."
"Wanda.." Vision's breath caught in his throat, because what she wanted.. She was, in a way, proposing to him. And Wanda's nerves showed that she knew exactly what she was asking.
"And if they can't accept that.. Well, I don't need to be Queen. We'll just run away and build a cabin near our Spring and.."
"Baby birds?" A cheeky smile crossed his face.
"Maybe.." Wanda blushed softly. "So.. what do you say, Vizh?"
"I'm with you" Vision answered immediately, squeezing her hands, happy tears spilling from his unusual eyes. Being with her was all he wanted. The only thing in his life he could ever remember wanting. "Whichever way this goes.. I just want to be with you."
Wanda beamed, grabbing Vision's face and kissing him deeply. Vision returned her kiss, his heart so full it felt like it could burst. To have a life with her.. To have her want a life with him, was more than he ever could have hoped for. He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her closer. They only broke the kiss when they were both desperate for air.
"I love you" Wanda whispered, repeating the three little words that had once brought so much trouble, but now so much joy, and Vision said them back without fear.
"I love you too."
"Usually" The Princess continued, "This type of thing comes with a dowry or something.. Money or an elaborate gift.."
"I don't need anything.." Said Vision quickly. "You are all the gift I need.."
"Still the best person I know.." Wanda chuckled. "But I have been thinking. And there is something I can give you, Vision. Something I want for you, for both of us."
"What?" Vision's brow furrowed in confusion. He already had everything he wanted, with her here in his arms.
"Our first time.. It was special, and beautiful, and I treasure it.."
"So do I.."
"But.. now we can have another first time. One where we know what we are, know that we're in love, that we're not pretending" She cupped his cheek, her green eyes so soft as she gazed at him. "I want to make love to you, Vision.. Can I?"
"Okay.." Vision's breath hitched, his mind short-circuiting a little with her question, and that was the only word he could manage. "O-Okay.."
She kissed him then, a soft kiss, so full of love. Vision returned it, equally soft, almost nervous. Wanda's hands moved over him, exploring, rediscovering. Vision shuddered, and Wanda pulled away slightly.
"I'm okay.. A few spots are a little tender still.."
"I'll be gentle.." Wanda whispered. She kissed him again, a deeper kiss, her tongue seeking entry into his mouth which was quickly granted, his own tongue eager to tangle with hers. Wanda tasted of apples and cake and candy and sunshine, and everything else that was good in the world.
They undressed each other slowly, like they were opening a precious gift, which was true. To each of them, the other was the most precious gift they had ever received.
They worshipped each other, pressing kisses to every bit of newly uncovered skin. Wanda kissed every mark or scar or fading bruise that Vision had suffered, her way of apologising for them all. Vision kissed the healed cut on Wanda's arm, the fading remnants of her bruises, his own unneeded apology for not being there to protect her.
Once they were bare to each other once more, Wanda moved to straddle Vision's lap. Vision could not help but to stare at her, awestruck, and wonder how the hell he had gotten so lucky.
"You are so beautiful.." He whispered.
"So are you.."
"Especially your eyes.."
"I love you so much.."
"I love you too.."
Her eyes locked onto his as she slowly sank onto him, both of them gasping. It truly felt like the first time again. This time there would be no pretending. This time, their joining was love, apologies, a promise of forever.
This time it was real.
Wanda gazed deeply into his eyes as she began to slowly rock against him. Vision's hands rested gently on her hips, using them as leverage as he moved with her. His eyes never left hers. Soft moans escaping them both.
"Someone might hear us.. " Vision murmured, though he found he didn't really care all that much.
"Let them hear us.." Wanda panted. "I'm not ashamed of loving you.."
Vision kissed her, deeply, passionately, trying to bring her even closer to him. They fit together like they were made for each other, bodies moving in perfect sync.
Vision saw Wanda's eyes beginning to glaze over, and he knew his must have looked much the same. Her cries of pleasure growing louder, mingling with his own gasps and moans.
Wanda moved faster against him, her eyes locked on his. Racing to the edge, and Vision was right there with her, ready to fall.
"Vizh.. My Vizh.. Vision!"
"Oh Wanda.. Wanda!"
They cried out in unison, reaching their peak and the same moment, trembling as the waves of pleasure washed over them.
"Vizh.. Vision" said Wanda breathlessly, and Vision gazed into her gentle eyes as she asked him the question he had always asked her, "Are you okay?"
Vision smiled at her like she was the most wonderful thing in the universe.
"I am so much more than okay.."
And then they laughed, their hearts alight with joy, because she was truly his now, and he was hers, and they were never letting go again.
Chapter 36: Changing Attitudes
Finally receiving news of his failed plot, and Rumlow's untimely death, Ultron roared in fury.
"You are telling me" He growled at his returning soldiers, "That we could not even defeat one telekinetic Princess and her merry little band of wizards and outlaws?"
"I-It was more than telekinesis, your majesty" one soldier stammered. "The Princess.. she can do things. Get in your head.."
A few others nodded in agreement, all looking pale.
"And it wasn't just the wizards and the Avengers" added another. "Many Asgardian soldiers fought at her side, including both of the Princes.."
Ultron frowned at this, his eyes narrowing.
"That can't be right.."
"It is, sir.. Not all of Asgard's forces, but a significant number. Enough to overwhelm us."
Ultron's frown deepened. This, again, was unexpected. Why would the Asgardian Army mobilise for a peasant boy, Princess's sweetheart or not? There was obviously something special about him that he hadn't accounted for.
"The boy.. what is his name?"
"V-Vision, your Majesty."
"Vision.." An unusual name. Did it hint at something more? Who was this boy, really? What was he? King Ultron steeled himself. He could not afford for his enemies to take him by surprise for a third time. "Get a spy back to Asgard. We need to find out everything we can about this boy.. this.. Vision.."
Far away, oblivious to King Ultron's continued plotting, Wanda and Vision did not have a care in the world. Well, maybe Vision had a few.. But it was rather difficult to remember exactly what they were when he had a beautiful naked Princess sprawled sleeping on top of him. He pressed a kiss to the top of Wanda's head, his hand gently stroking her hair. She snuggled closer to him, sighing contentedly in her sleep, and Vision smiled.
Never in his wildest dreams did he imagine that things would turn out like this.. Engaged to the Princess, with her wanting him to be the King to her Queen. That was the part that worried him a little.. not being engaged to her, of course. The thought of marrying Wanda, being with her, officially, forever.. That was wonderful, a dream come true.
Making the official announcement of their engagement, which they hadn't yet done, concerned Vision a little. However, when he voiced these concerns, Wanda pointed out that, since nearly everybody currently around them had renounced Ultron as King of Sokovia, they had to accept that Wanda was the most senior member of the Sokovian royal family. In the eyes of some, already a Queen. The only person with authority over Wanda was Wanda. They could advise her against marrying Vision, but none had the power to outright veto the match.
And if they couldn't accept that, well.. their Spring was waiting for them.
Being King did not worry him quite as much as you would expect.. Vision had no idea how to rule, but he would have Wanda by his side.
No, what really worried him was the reaction of the people. Since their return from the battle of Stanville, Sokovians had been slowly flowing into Asgard, mostly small folk from Stanville and other border towns to start with, though they had received word that people from all over Sokovia were now making the journey. People that wanted to fight for Princess Wanda and help her regain the throne.
Vision was no stranger to the people of Sokovia. He had grown up among them, in the orphanage and then on the streets. He had lived through the highs of the reign of Wanda's parents, and the devastating lows that had come with King Ultron's. With the special abilities that had been given to him, Vision had done what he could to help feed those who, for whatever reason, had had trouble feeding themselves. He was one of them.
And despite all this, despite all he had done to help them, all he was still doing.. The people of Sokovia were afraid of him. Had always been afraid of him, even when he was an innocent baby dumped on the orphanage doorstep.. All because his eyes were a little bit unusual.
And if they were all so afraid of him, how would they ever accept him as their King?
Maybe, if he had more information.. about who he was, where he had come from..
Vision was distracted from his thoughts when Wanda began to stir, her eyes fluttering open.
"Morning, Vizh" She lifted her head and smiled sleepily at him, but the smile fell away at his expression. "What's wrong?"
"Vizh.." Wanda frowned.
"Really, nothing's wrong" Vision smiled to reassure her. "This is the most not wrong that anything has been in my whole life. I was just thinking.. I think I'd like to try and talk to The Valkyrie again."
"I'll help you" Wanda propped herself up on one elbow, looking down at him.
"Of course.. during the battle, after I hid you, I promised myself that I'd help you find your answers.." She kissed him softly. "I mean to keep any promise I make for you from now on."
"That is nice to know" Vision smiled, returning her kiss.
"I'm glad you think so" Wanda grinned, getting up to dress. "So, where can we usually find Valkyrie?"
"Right now, I'm not sure" Vision blushed slightly, taking a moment to admire Wanda's form, "But I think she's usually in the bar by around noon.."
"Vision.." Wanda chuckled when she saw his blush, "How many times have you seen me naked now?"
"Quite a few" Vision admitted. "But it still feels like a gift every time."
Now it was Wanda's turn to blush.
"You're quite the prize yourself, Vizh." She threw his trousers at him. "Now get dressed, we slept through breakfast, but..
"No, you slept through Breakfast" Vision teased.
"Well, someone keeps tiring me out" Wanda poked out her tongue. "I was saying, we can take a walk before lunch, and then we'll look for The Valkyrie.."
In those first few days, a few people had given Wanda and Vision strange looks as they strolled hand in hand through the Palace grounds, but this died down fairly quickly. Love matches, even for Royals, were relatively common in Asgard, particularly if the intended partner had proven themselves in some way, and in much of Asgard's eyes, Vision definitely had.
Rather than the unpleasant gossip the pair had initially been ready for, the word spreading was about Vision's action's on the battlefield. How, while gravely injured, he had risked his life tackling Rumlow to save the Princess. How he had most definitely earned her affections. It was for this act of valour that Odin granted Vision a seat beside Wanda at the Royal table when she asked for one.
Vision felt somewhat out of place there, but Thor and Loki were welcoming, and while King Odin was as aloof as ever, Queen Frigga had a kind smile. It was hard to feel completely out of place when Wanda smiled at him, and held his hand under the table. By Wanda's side was one place Vision was certain that he belonged.
Sometime after lunch, Wanda and Vision headed to the Bar, and, as expected, The Valkyrie was sitting there.
"So" She looked up ruefully when they approached, "You brought back up this time."
"He did" The tips of Wanda's fingers crackled scarlet. "I can make you tell Vision what he wants to know.. But I don't like doing that too much."
"And I don't want her to have to" said Vision, "So.."
"Sit down, kid" The Valkyrie sighed. "I guess you deserve the truth.."
Chapter 37: The Origins Of Vision
Wanda and Vision sit down with the Valkyrie, hoping to finally uncover the truth of his origins.
Vision, feeling a little nervous, sat down on the stool next to Valkyrie, while Wanda sat beside him.
"Huh. I heard you two had a little thing going on.. that's cute" The Valkyrie took a long sip from her tankard. "Get a drink, kid. You'll probably need it."
"I've only ever been drunk once, and I didn't really.." Vision began, but Valkyrie had already summoned the barkeep.
"A pint of ale for the boy here.. What do you drink, Princess?"
"Uh, I don't really.."
"..Just make it one of those fruity wines Queen Frigga likes.. And another Ale for me."
While the Barkeep fetched their drinks, Vision turned to Valkyrie once more.
"Right. The truth. You, kid.. You're the son of a Valkyrie."
Vision's strange eyes grew wide. Their drinks arrived, and he took a very large gulp from his own.
"So.." Wanda gasped, "You're Vision's Mother?"
"What?" The Valkyrie frowned. "No! I'm footloose and baby free, thank you very much."
"But you just said.."
"That he was the son of A Valkyrie, not THE Valkyrie" She drained half of her new pint. "I'm only called THE Valkyrie now because I'm the only one left. There used to be a whole army of us. Elite Warriors."
"And.." said Vision slowly, "One of them was my Mother?"
"Yes.. My best friend, actually.. but you had to go and be born marked.."
"Marked.." Wanda frowned, thinking. "You mean his eyes?"
"Ten points to the Princess" Valkyrie finished her drink and ordered another.
"Marked for what?" Vision asked eagerly. His eyes.. the strange eyes that had haunted him, caused him so much trouble before he'd found Wanda.. Were they really something special? "What does it mean?"
"Some sort of greatness" Valkyrie shrugged. "Exactly what is up to you. It's rare.. Usually, something to be celebrated. But when you were born, Asgard was on the brink of War.. Princess Hela was rebelling against her Father, trying to stage a coup for the throne.. You know, it might be easier if I could show you. Is there anything like that in your bag of tricks, Princess?"
"I can try" said Wanda. "Hang on.." She summoned the Scarlet energy, laid one hand on The Valkyrie's head, the other on Vision's, and closed her eyes, focusing.
Suddenly, all three of them were in a room somewhere in the palace. They could see a younger Valkyrie standing at the bedside of a beautiful blonde haired woman, her eyes as vibrantly blue as Vision's, but without his distinct patterned irises. She was exhausted from recently giving birth.
"Hela will come after him if she finds out about him" The blonde thrust a tiny blanket swaddled bundle- the newborn Baby Vision- into Valkyrie's arms. "She'll want to kill him. You have to take him and.."
"Oh no" The younger Valkyrie shook her head, holding baby Vision awkwardly and cringing when he cried. "I am not good with kids.."
"You don't have to be" said Vision's Mother. "You just have to keep him safe. Take him to Sokovia. Take all the gold I have saved, and take him to the Castle.. Sokovia's royals are good people. The gold will be enough to care for him until I can retrieve him.. or if I fall in the coming battle, it should be enough to buy him a place.. perhaps to be trained as a soldier one day.. Please, do this for me."
"Alright.." The Valkyrie sighed, relenting. "Alright, I'll take the kid to Sokovia.."
Wanda squeezed the adult Vision's hand.
"You were a cute baby, Vizh.
"Thank you" He smiled softly at her.
The scenery began to shift.
Now, they were somewhere on the road between Asgard and Sokovia.
The young Valkyrie was concealed amongst a large crowd of Asgardian commoners also making the journey in hopes of seeking Asylum before Hela's attack. She bounced baby Vision as he cried, but he just wouldn't settle. This was unusual, as he had, thankfully been a rather easy baby to deal with until now. It was almost as if he knew something that the others did not.. but they were all about to find out.
Soon, Valkyrie heard the unmistakable sound of Soldiers marching. Odin would not have come after them, as evacuating any small-folk who wished to leave had been his idea. This meant only one thing- that they were being pursued by Hela's forces. It wasn't long before she could see them.
Without thinking, Valkyrie shoved baby Vision into the arms of the person closest to her. The older Valkyrie reached out for a moment as if to stop her, as her younger self also handed over a bag of gold, and delivered the same set of instructions that Vision's Mother had given her. Then, the young Valkyrie told the Asgardians to run, for as long as they could, as far as they could, as she turned in hopes at delaying the approaching army.
Then, suddenly, they were all back in the bar.
Vision blinked, a little disoriented. Thankfully, he recovered in time to catch Wanda as she almost slid off her stool.
"Wanda, are you alright?"
"Yes.." Wanda nodded. "Just a little.. whoa. I haven't done anything like that before."
Both of them turned to The Valkyrie.
"So.. what happened?" Vision asked softly.
Valkyrie drained another tankard.
"It was only a small squad.. I took them out easily" She sighed. "I thought you were safe, so I headed home.. When I got there, it was too late.. Odin defeated Hela, but all the other Valkyrie had been killed.. including your Mother. I'm sorry.."
"I.. I'm sorry too" said Vision, a lump in his throat. "I never got to know her.. But she was your best friend."
"I tried to find out what happened to you" Valkyrie continued, "But no one could tell me.. I sent a letter asking about you, but there was no sign of you ever reaching the castle. The man I gave you to must have been a drunkard.. blew the gold on booze and.."
"Dumped me at the orphanage.."
"Yes.. and then you showed up here again, with those eyes.. You reminded me of my mistake. I know I should have told you the truth right away. It was just.. painful."
"It wasn't your mistake" Vision laid a hand on her shoulder. "It was someone else's.. you were just trying to save as many people as you could."
"You think so?"
"And Vision's okay now" added Wanda. "He's okay, and he actually turned out pretty great.. amazing, actually."
Vision blushed at Wanda's words.
"She's right.. I am okay. I.. I might even be a King soon."
"Really?" Valkyrie's lips quirked upwards in a small smile.
"Your Mom would have been proud."
"Thank you.." Vision stood. "And thank you for telling me the truth."
"You're welcome.. Maybe you could join me for another drink some time."
"I'd like that.."
Vision took Wanda's hand, and the two of them walked out of the bar.
Once they were back outside, Wanda turned to wrap her arms around him.
"Are you okay?"
"I will be.. I wasn't exactly expecting a happily ever after. It might take a bit of adjustment, getting this all straight in my head."
"But" Vision smiled softly, cupping her cheek, "At least I have you."
Wanda smiled back, leaning up to kiss him.
"You do. Always."
Chapter 38: Twinkle In Her Eye
Vision has just a few more questions for Valkyrie. Meanwhile, Wanda May have a precious little secret that she doesn’t even know she is keeping.
While Vision had initially been satisfied with the story of his origins, and had not wanted to push his luck with The Valkyrie after his earlier troubles, as days passed, he only found himself with more questions.
So, usually with Wanda at his side for support, Vision made a few return trips to the bar to speak with Valkyrie again.
"My Mother.." Vision began, as he and Wanda sat beside Valkyrie again.
"What was her name?"
"Oh!" The Valkyrie's eyes widened slightly. "I didn't tell you that last time?"
"No, you didn't" Vision frowned.
"Sorry" she sipped her drink. "Pretty big slip up there.."
"It was" said Wanda. "So, if you wouldn't mind just telling him now.."
"Right, of course.. You're Mother's name was Hildegarde."
"Hildegarde.." said Vision thoughtfully. "Thank you."
And another day..
"What was she like?"
"Your Mother, you mean?"
"Well, she was a gifted swords-woman. Absolutely brilliant" Valkyrie looked to Vision with a smile. "I hear you may have inherited some of her talent."
"Maybe" Vision chuckled. "I'm certainly trying to learn.. So, you fought together often?"
"We did" she confirmed, nodding. "There was a time when the Valkyrior were the first line of defense for Asgard.."
While The Valkyrie began to regale Vision with tales of Hildegarde's valor in battle, Princess Wanda, again sitting beside him, found herself becoming slightly distracted, watching two little birds just outside the bar window. The birds seemed quite young, just past fledgling age, and Wanda couldn't help wondering if they were the same two babies that she and Vision had seen during their trip into the Asgardian countryside, a trip that felt quite long ago, with everything that had happened since.
Wanda watched the birds for a while, a little twinkle in her eye, a soft smile on her face. One hand subconsciously hovered near her stomach. So lost in thought that she didn't notice when Valkyrie spoke to her.
"Wanda?" Vision waved a hand in front of her face, snapping her out of her happy little fog.
"Sorry, Vizh. Must have drifted off for a few minutes there. What were you saying?"
"I was asking if you wanted anything to drink, Princess" Valkyrie cut in.
"Oh.." Wanda thought for a moment. "Uh, maybe just some juice today."
"No wine Today? You seemed to be enjoying those. Oh well, your choice" Valkyrie shrugged and turned to the Barkeep. "Two ales, and some kind of juice for the Princess."
"Do you.. Do you know anything about who my Father might have been?" Vision asked. On this particular day, Wanda had not accompanied him to the bar. Instead, she was off meeting the latest group among the growing crowd of Sokovians migrating to Asgard.
"Unfortunately, no" Valkyrie replied. "Hildegarde never told me who your Father was. And I can't think of anyone else who'd be able to tell you much more. Post battle celebrations get pretty, uh, wild. It's possible she didn't even know herself."
"Oh.." Vision's spirits fell, just a little.
"Hey kid, this isn't worth losing any sleep over" Valkyrie clapped a comforting hand on his shoulder. "You're Asgardian now, right?"
"I suppose.." said Vision, though he did not seem entirely convinced. In truth, he was not entirely sure that he would call himself Asgardian. Yes, Vision was now aware of the fact that he had been born in Asgard, but he had spent pretty much his entire life in Sokovia. He had been rather proud to call himself a Sokovian, even though he knew most Sokovians had not been quite so proud to claim him as one of their own.
"Well, one advantage of being Asgardian is that we don't tend to judge people purely on the circumstances of their birth" Valkyrie continued. "Here, people are judged on who they are, who they become, what they make of themselves."
"Yes, I have noticed that.." Vision nodded.
"Good. Because from what I can see, Vision, you've done a pretty awesome job of making something of yourself. And you did it all on your own.. You're the only one who can take credit for how great you've turned out. You don't need validation from anyone else."
At those words, Vision managed a smile.
"I think you may be right."
"Of course" Valkyrie gulped down the last dregs of her latest pint. "I'm always right. For what it's worth, though, I did mean what I told you the other day. Your Mother would be proud of you."
"It means a lot, actually. Thank you."
Sometime later, Vision returned to Wanda's room (though it was really more like 'their' room now), to find her deep in thought. A book on the history of the Valkyrior lay open in front of her, but she didn't seem at all focused on it.
"Hey, Vizh" She seemed to perk up at the sound of his voice, a smile on her face. "Find out anything else from the Valkyrie?"
"No, but I'm actually not too fussed about it.. How were the new arrivals?"
"Alright. They might be the last group, I think.. they said Ultron's started trying to stop people from leaving."
"Oh.." Vision frowned, moving to sit on the bed beside her. "Is that what you were thinking about when I came in?"
"No" Wanda immediately moved to rest her head on his shoulder, a hand resting on her stomach without thinking, "I was thinking about you, actually. Everything we've found out."
"Oh?" Vision wrapped an arm around her. "What about it?"
"If.. If you'd ended up at the castle like you were supposed to.. We could have grown up together."
"That thought has crossed my mind too.. but I'm actually rather glad that we didn't."
"Well, it's like you said.. I see you before your title. And I always have, more or less" Vision pressed a kiss to the top of Wanda's head. "But if I'd grown up at the castle, raised to be a soldier.. I would have been taught to see you as the Princess first, just like everyone else."
"I didn't think of that.." Wanda frowned.
"I wouldn't be the same person I am now. My name wouldn't even be Vision. And if I wasn't Vision, you probably wouldn't let me do this.." He kissed her cheek, "Or this.. or this" Kissing her lips, her neck.
Wanda giggled and fell back onto the bed as Vision continued to shower her with kisses. For reasons she couldn't quite explain, her heart fluttered just a little more than usual when he kissed her belly. She tugged him back up to gaze into his eyes.. His brilliant, beautiful eyes.
"Well, we're very lucky you didn't make it to the castle then" said Wanda, a special little twinkle in her own eyes. Because I wouldn't give up my Vision for anything.. And I'm going to make everyone see just how wonderful you are."
"Only if I don't make them see you first.."
They kissed, becoming happily lost in each other once more. Together, they could face whatever was to come.
Chapter 39: Whispers
The Sokovians still whisper about Vision.
With his wounds close to fully healed, and the threat of imminent war dangling over them all, Vision soon returned to his sword training. The Training Grounds were rather more crowded these days, filled with all the newly arrived Sokovians. Peter came running over to him, red faced.
"Hello, Peter" Vision greeted the boy with a smile, pleased to see that he was also on the mend.
"Hi.." He looked at his feet. "I didn't.. I never got a chance to.. To apologize. I am really, really, sorry Vision. It's all my fault that.."
"Don't blame yourself, Peter" Vision laid a hand on his shoulder.
"We all make mistakes. Ultron's army wanted me. If it hadn't been you, they would have lured me out some other way. There is no reason for you to dwell on it, alright?"
"I.. Alright.. But I'm still really sorry."
"I know" Vision smiled. "But it's okay. Now, how about a bit of sparring?"
"Yeah, sure" Peter perked up instantly.
"I am a little out of practice.."
"I'll go easy on you, then."
"Please don't" Vision picked up a practice sword. "I want to get back to my best as soon as possible."
Despite his time spent off recuperating, Vision managed to hold his own against Peter without too much trouble.
"You're still really good, Vision" Peter panted.
"Thank you, Peter. You are becoming quite skilled yourself" Vision smiled at him, then became distracted by a tap on his shoulder. Realizing that the Training Grounds had become suddenly silent, and that many of the people around them were kneeling, he turned to find Wanda standing behind him, grinning.
"Hello.." Wanda kindly told everyone to rise and go about their business.
"Hello.." Though they were no longer hiding their relationship, and this was not the first time it had happened, having Wanda so openly walk into a public part of the Palace looking for him still felt a little strange.. and wonderful. Vision grinned. "Did you need something, Princess?"
"Yes, actually" Wanda smiled at him. "I was hoping someone might be able to teach me a few sword skills. I think they could be useful."
"They could.. Lady Sif?" Vision called across the grounds to where his old trainer was helping some inexperienced Sokovians.
"Yes, Vision?" Sif called back.
"Princess Wanda would like someone to teach her the sword."
"I heard. I think you are skilled enough now to teach her yourself."
"Well then" Wanda beamed, as Vision turned back to face her. "Teach me, Vizh."
"Uh.." Vision blinked, trying not to let himself be too distracted by her. Wanda was always beautiful, but today she seemed especially radiant. Almost glowing. He shook his head, handing her his wooden sword. "Alright. I'll teach you a few moves. Then maybe you can try sparring with Peter."
"I'll go easy on you, Princess" Peter offered.
"No need for that, Peter" Wanda chuckled. "I'll need to challenge myself a bit if I'm going to learn fast."
Wanda, as she had done so often throughout this wonderful adventure they'd been on together, proved a surprise, showing quite a bit of natural ability with the sword. She got a grasp on what Vision taught her rather quickly.
But, out of his own feelings out of protectiveness towards her, Vision held back on letting her spar with Peter until the second afternoon of their practicing together. And as he watched Wanda and Peter spar, Vision couldn't help feeling a little anxious. He didn't know why. While Vision had been Wanda's protector for a while now, at no point had he been overprotective. He had no reason to be. Wanda was holding her own in the sparring match, and even if she hadn't been, He knew Peter would never hurt her. Peter was an angel who would never intentionally hurt anyone. Maybe, Vision thought, it was simply a byproduct of their increasing closeness now that he and Wanda's relationship was out in the open.
Wanda had different concerns. Once or twice, she had caught a few Sokovians watching Vision with uncertain expressions. Whispering, as Vision told her they had always whispered, about the meaning of his unusual eyes. Although Wanda had never believed that Vision's eyes were a devil mark or a bad omen, as some of her people clearly did, after The Valkyrie's help she now knew with absolute certainty that this was not the case.
Vision had only ever tried to help, and didn't deserve the unpleasant gossip aimed his way. Wanda just had to find the right opportunity to deal with the problem.
She got that opportunity the very next day.
As she and Vision took a walk together after breakfast, a messenger came running up to them, delivering an envelope that bore Ultron's personal seal.
"Well.. looks like I'm finally important enough for him to deal with himself."
"That can't be good.." Vision frowned.
"Probably not. But we knew something like this had to be coming soon.." Wanda sighed and opened the envelope, unfolding the letter inside and handing it to him. "Read it for me, Vizh?" Her own reading had greatly improved, but with something this important, she wanted to be completely certain.
"Of course" Vision took the letter, his frown deepening as he read it.
"King Ultron is naming you as a traitor to the Crown, and officially declaring war on you and any one aiding you.."
"So Asgard too, then."
"Unfortunately, yes.. He says his army will be marching soon."
"We'll have to be ready march too.." Wanda sighed and rubbed her stomach, suddenly feeling a little ill. "I'll have to meet with Odin, decide how to tell everyone.."
Vision pulled her close, kissing the top of her head.
"I'll help you. Whatever you need me to do."
Wanda looked up at him, slightly stunned by the depth of the love she saw in his eyes. Love for her. He was hers, she was his, and she wasn't afraid to let the world know it.
"We should announce our engagement."
"Not exactly what I meant.."
"No, it's perfect" Wanda kissed him. "Mix some good news in with the bad."
"Will everyone think it's good news?" Vision was unsure.
"We'll make them see that it is. When we tell them the truth.. tell them your story.. They'll understand. You are the King I choose.. The King Sokovia needs.
"If you're sure.."
"I'm sure. I've never been more sure about anything" Wanda grinned, the most wonderful, dazzling grin, turning Vision's insides to mush.
"Alright" He grinned back. "Let's do this."
Chapter 40: Family Crest
The meeting with Odin delayed Wanda and Vision's plans, just a little. The King decided that nothing should be announced to the people, about Ultron's declaration of war or otherwise, until they could show that they well on the way to being prepared for what was to come. Showing that they had a plan, that they knew how to keep at least most of them alive, would be a comfort and limit any panic.
The news would be kept on a need to know basis- Wanda, Vision, Doctor Strange, the Avengers, the Asgardian Royal Family, and the top ranks of Asgard's army were the only ones made aware of Ultron's letter.
And so, the preparations began.
Up until now, the battles that Wanda and Vision had fought in together had been relatively small in scale. They had been lucky to get by without any sort of armor so far, but now they were heading into real, all out war. Yes, Vision could make himself intangible with the Mind Stone, but could only do the same for Wanda if he was touching her. He liked to think that, as her protector, he would always be close enough to do so, but the reality was that a larger battle meant a larger chance that they could get separated.
So, armor. And, as it turned out when the subject came up, Wanda had already had some thoughts about this.
"What have you got there?" Vision, slightly surprised, looked up from a book on famous Asgardian battle strategies as Wanda sat beside him in the Library, laying a roll of parchment on the table.
"Armor designs" Wanda replied, unrolling the parchment so he could look at the plans. "For you. Stark helped me, and Thor offered a few suggestions. If you like it, we'll go give the designs to the armorer and get you properly fitted.."
Vision looked at the sketched plans. A few technical notes were scrawled around, probably Tony's input, and the armor seemed similar to Thor's, including a golden cape, showing off the heir to Asgard's influence. The color was clearly Wanda's idea.. She loved him in teal. There was a symbol in the center of the armor's breastplate that he didn't immediately recognize, but at a second glance seemed very familiar. It looked rather like the Mind Stone, surrounded by a scarlet flame.
"Ah.." Wanda blushed. "I spent a little longer on that than I probably should have."
"It looks like.."
"The Mind Stone.. and my powers. I was thinking it might work as a new royal sigil, or family crest.. Ours, maybe?"
"Wanda.." Vision felt a lump in his throat. Not so long ago, he had been nothing, no one. No real name, no family. Just an orphan, street urchin and a thief. Now he was the son of a Valkyrie. The keeper of the Mind Stone, Protector of The Scarlet Witch. Engaged to the Princess, with her wanting him to be her King.. Including him in her Family Crest.. Their crest..
"Vizh? If you don't like it, we can.. mph.."
Vision kissed Wanda, cutting her off. A soft, loving kiss, lips gently brushing over hers, and she returned the kiss, a contented sigh escaping her. Vision wanted to kiss her every chance he got right now, in case this war didn't go the way they hoped, and his chances to kiss her ran out. He would be kissing Wanda every waking moment if he could, but that pesky little thing called 'needing to breathe' stopped him, just as it stopped him now. Breaking the kiss, his forehead pressed against hers as they caught their breath. Wanda was sitting in Vision's lap now. He wasn't quite sure when that had happened, but he didn't mind. The Thief cupped his Princess's cheek, and she leaned into his touch.
"The crest is perfect, Wanda" He told her. "The armor is perfect. You are perfect. Thank you.. I was just.. I've never had a family before, so.."
"You do now" Wanda ran her fingers through Vision's soft golden hair, as she'd often dreamed of doing before they were together. "You have me."
"I am a very lucky man.."
"And I am a lucky woman."
They stayed like that for quite a while, enjoying the simple comfort of being in each other's arms, before Vision finally spoke again.
"We should take these plans to the armorer and get me fitted. I imagine these would take a while to make."
"And you need to be fitted for armor too."
"I know" Wanda curled closer to Vision, quite reluctant to move. "As long as they don't make it too tight around.." She paused, frowning, as if suddenly unsure why what she'd been going to say mattered. Armor was meant to serve a purpose, it didn't have to be comfortable. Still, she couldn't help feeling a little concerned about it, even if she wasn't sure why.
"Too tight around what?" Vision asked.
"I don't know.. I just think I might need a little bit of extra breathing room, that's all. I don't like feeling constricted.."
"Then we will make sure that you are not" He kissed her cheek, and Wanda couldn't help but smile.
All those who knew about the coming war devoted much more time to training, in order to get themselves prepared.
Vision was currently training with Thor, who was going to teach him a few of his favorite tricks with Mjolnir, in case an opportunity arose where he would need to use it.
"How does it feel?" Thor asked him, rather excited. He had always thought he would be jealous if he found another worthy of his hammer, but for some reason, he did not feel that way at all with Vision holding it. There was definitely something special about the Mind Stone's keeper.
"It's strange" Vision gave Mjolnir a little test swing. "It seems like it should be heavier, but it's actually very well balanced.."
On the other side of the Training Grounds, Wanda had been working with Clint, practicing halting arrows with her power. Pausing for a short break while Clint retrieved his scattered arrows (harmless practice ones of course), Wanda glanced over to where Vision was training with Thor, carefully swinging the hammer. A small smile crossed her face.
"Proud of your boy, huh?" Asked Clint, returning with his arrows.
"I am, actually.. Aren't I allowed to be?"
"Oh, you're definitely allowed. I tried to lift that damn hammer and it wouldn't budge."
Wanda chuckled. Then she looked at the crowded training grounds, to Nat sparring with Steve a short distance away, Tony measuring Peter for something. Scattered among them were Sokovians training with various weapons. And suddenly, Wanda thought she might have a solution to her problem in helping everyone accept Vision.
"Clint, you and Natasha are good at gathering information, right?"
"It's our job, so, yeah, we are."
"How are you at spreading it?"
"We did a bit to get the good word out for the Avengers in the early days" Clint replied. "Why, something you need people to know, Princess?"
Wanda told Clint everything, about Vision's origins, what his eyes meant, that he was the son of a Valkyrie.
"That.. Is a pretty great story."
"It's all true" Wanda smiled. "Think you can spread it to the masses for me?"
"Yeah" Clint nodded. "I'll get the other Avengers on it too."
"Maybe add the story about how he saved me in the battle at Stanville?"
"Done" Clint saluted her, then rushed off to talk to Nat and Steve.
Vision caught Wanda's eye, waving to her across the grounds, and she waved back, grinning. Everything was coming together.
Chapter 41: Almost A King
As the time to announce his engagement to Princess Wanda approaches, Vision has some concerns about what kind of King he will be. Wanda comforts him.
A few days passed before Vision began to notice that the people of Sokovia's behavior towards him was slowly changing. It was subtle at first. There were still whispers when he passed by, but the whispers seemed much friendlier now.. some of them almost reverent.
They would smile when they saw him now. Real smiles, not the forced ones he sometimes used to get when delivering food to people. His possible future subjects would happily greet him, rather than trying to avoid him, or running away as soon as possible.
That morning, one young man had even bowed. Vision had looked around, expecting to find Wanda nearby, then remembered that she was off at another armor fitting, noticed that none of the Asgardian royals were around either, and finally realized, with no small amount of shock, that the young man was bowing to him, and that a few other Sokovians, after seeing the young man bow, were beginning to bow as well.
Vision's face burned bright red. He now completely understood why Wanda was so uncomfortable having people bow or kneel to her. However, unlike Wanda, Vision was raised the exact opposite of royal, and so had not spent his whole life being taught to adjust and react with grace and poise to this sort of thing. Vision opened his mouth to say something, but all that came out was a strangled squeak. His face reddened further, and unable to think of any better ideas, he simply ran away.
Vision wasn't exactly sure where he was running to. But, as often seemed to happen nowadays, his feet instinctively carried him towards Wanda, almost crashing right into her as she exited the armorer's workshop.
"Whoa, easy there Vizh! I was just about to come find you.." Wanda grabbed his arms to steady herself, and him, frowning when she saw the slightly panicked look on his face. One hand reached up to gently stroke his cheek. "Hey.. Are you okay? Is something wrong?"
"No.." Vision let out a breath, feeling himself almost instantly relax at her touch. "No, nothing is wrong."
"Are you sure? You look so worried.."
"I just.. have you said anything to the common folk? About our engagement? They.. they've been treating me differently.."
"Oh.." Wanda blushed. "Well, I might have asked the Avengers to spread a bit of nicer information about you, to help the people be more accepting when we make our announcement.. Shouldn't I have?"
"That was probably a good idea, actually. I just.. I feel.." Vision looked around, as if worried someone would hear him. If he was supposed to be a leader, he shouldn't be showing these sort of weaknesses. What sort of King would he be if he did?
"Come on.." Wanda tugged at his hand, leading him away through the Palace's maze of halls and corridors. "Let's go to our room, we can talk properly."
Despite his worries, Vision's heart was warmed. Wanda knew him so well.
They headed back to their room- it really felt like 'theirs' now, somehow- and sat on the edge of the bed together. Linking their fingers, Wanda patiently waited for Vision to tell her exactly what was wrong.
He opened his mouth to speak, closed it, then opened it again, but the words wouldn't come. Vision knew Wanda would understand, yet for some reason, he still felt nervous. He heard Wanda sigh softly beside him, and when he turned to look at her, she kissed him, with so much love, her hands cupping his cheeks. Vision happily returned her kiss. It would be so easy to get completely lost in her, and he did so rather regularly, but knew he probably shouldn't right now. Wanda knew it too, gently breaking the kiss.
"You know you can tell me anything, right Vizh?" She whispered, gazing at him with her wide green eyes. "Anything at all. No judgement here."
"I know.." Vision sighed. "I just.. I'm not sure I'll be a very good King. I don't know how to be. I don't know how to rule people.. I wasn't born to be a King. Sometimes it feels like I wasn't born to be anything much at all. What if I'm really bad at being a King?"
"You won't be bad at it."
"You won't. I know you" She shifted closer to him. "And you know, I wasn't born to be a Queen either. I was meant to stand around and look pretty, and smile and curtsy, until I eventually got shipped off to marry some Prince or Lord.. That's what my life was supposed to be before Pietro died, before I met you.."
"That doesn't seem fair.." Vision couldn't help but frown.
"It doesn't. But my point is, Vision, I don't know how to rule people anymore than you do. I wasn't taught any of that, because I was never meant to be Queen. Neither one of us was born to the Throne. But I think.. I think that might be what makes us good for it."
"I do" Wanda nodded. "We've both suffered.. In different ways, but we've both suffered. And we don't want that kind of suffering for anyone else.."
"We don't really care too much for power, you and me.."
"We don't" Vision agreed.
"But we do want to make the world better" Wanda continued, "For everyone, for ourselves, and.." She trailed off for a moment, a faraway look in her eyes, fingers dancing over her stomach, then shook her head, coming back to herself. "For ourselves, and whoever comes after."
"That is all very true.." Vision still seemed a little nervous.
"You don't even really need to be a King. I said I wanted you to be my King, because.. that's just a title we give to someone ruling.." Wanda gazed into his eyes. "But I think.. I think what Sokovia really needs is a Vision."
"And a Scarlet Witch?" Vision chuckled.
She kissed him again then, deeply, and this time, Vision let himself become lost, in more kisses, in gentle touches and soft skin, lost in warmth and pleasure and so much love, lost in her. Because when he came back from being lost, Wanda would smile at him like he was the most wonderful thing in the world, and he would smile right back.
Vision might not be a King. Maybe he didn't have to be. When he was with Wanda, he was the very best Vision he could be.
Armour was made, hundreds of new weapons were forged. Soon, King Odin decided the time had come to reveal Ultron's declaration of War. Wanda and Vision, with tightly clasped hands, waited behind him, ready to make their own announcement afterwards.
"It is important we remember" Odin boomed, over the assembled crowd of both Asgardian and Sokovian people. "That we are not at war with Sokovia itself. The people of Sokovia have been, and remain, our staunch allies. Our fight is with the false King Ultron. The goal of Asgard in this war is to get the Princess Wanda her rightful place on the throne!"
A large cheer rose up from the crowd.
Vision turned to Wanda.
"They like you.."
"They'll like you too, Vizh."
"I hope so.."
"And now, the Princess has informed me that she has an announcement of her own.." Odin stepped aside.
Wanda squeezed Vision's hand, leading him with her to the edge of the balcony on which Odin had been speaking. He saw a few friendly faces in the crowd. The Avengers, Peter, Doctor Strange. Wanda cleared her throat.
"People of Sokovia, and Asgard.. The man standing beside me is Vision. The keeper of the Mind Stone, my Protector.. The man I love." A murmur from the crowd. "Some of you have treated him unfairly in the past.. That ends today. When the war is won, Vision and I plan to marry.. He will rule at my side."
Vision squeezed Wanda's hand, then took a breath and stepped forward, finally ready to speak for himself.
"I.. I was lowborn, like many of you" He began. "I wasn't born to be a King. I don't know if I'll be a good one. But I swear to you, I will do my very best. I want a better world, for us. All of us. And whoever comes after."
For a moment, there was silence. Then, a slow clap. A cheer that spread through the crowd, building to a roar.
Slowly, Vision felt himself smile. He turned to Wanda, beaming at him. Glowing, radiantly beautiful.
And with absolutely no more reason to hide, he kissed her.
Today, he almost felt like a King.
Chapter 42: Made For Him
It is nearly time to leave Asgard, but Vision struggles to choose a weapon of his own.
Wanda grinned at Vision when he broke the kiss.
"Hey Vizh.. How about we give the people a show?"
"A show?" Vision's brow furrowed, confused. Although, that confusion may have been because he was slightly distracted by the still cheering crowd below.
"Mmhm" Wanda looked up at him, eyes sparkling. "Let's fly."
Vision paused, checking that the Mind Stone was safely in place, then smiled.
"Alright then. Let's fly."
He took Wanda's hand, then they both took off from the balcony on which they stood. They put on a show, just as Wanda had said, twisting, looping and spiraling through the air, delighting all those gathered below. After a while, Wanda zoomed off, away from the crowds, away from the palace, whooping with joy. Vision followed her, laughing. They soared over the City, watching the citizens of Asgard point upwards, gasping. They flew further, over grass and trees. Wanda eventually descended, landing in the same clearing in which they'd once had their picnic. Vision followed, his own landing a little shakier than usual. He was happy.. giddy, even.
Wanda turned to him, beaming, and Vision knew the look on his own face must have been similarly joyful. Wanda threw herself into Vision's arms, he happily caught her, and they both burst out laughing.
"How do you feel?" Wanda reached up to run her fingers through his hair.
"I feel.. I feel great, actually" Vision grinned, lifting Wanda and spinning her around. "Like I could take on the world!"
"I like your confidence, Vizh" Wanda giggled. "But perhaps we can start a little smaller. Ultron first."
"Ultron first" Vision agreed, leaning in to kiss her. "The world can wait.."
A few days later, Ultron received a note from one of his spies.
The note featured some of the information that the spy had gathered on Vision. That it seemed as if the boy had been born in Asgard, rather than Sokovia. That Vision could lift Prince Thor's 'magic hammer'. The boy was popular with the Asgardians, beginning to gain the support of the Sokovian people as well. The most important and troubling information for Ultron, however, was the news of Princess Wanda's engagement to Vision.
Engagement lead to marriage, and marriage led to children- legitimate heirs. Heirs meant stability for the Kingdom, a clear path forward for the future. Ultron had no children. The idea had never interested him. But now, if the little witch and her protector managed to produce a child, an heir, particularly if it was a son, her claim on Sokovia's throne would be strengthened.
King Ultron scowled, throwing the note into the fire. There was only one solution. He would just have to wipe the happy couple off the face of the planet before they spawned.
"Work faster!" He roared to the castle at large, as people rushed about making preparations. "I want to be ready to march in two days!"
In Asgard, too, the time to depart was growing closer. People sharpened their favorite weapons. Those who did not already have a weapon of their own were encouraged to choose one, quickly.
While every other aspect of Vision's life was going amazingly, breathtakingly well, better, in fact, than he ever could have hoped, he was running into some trouble with choosing a weapon for himself. He had sifted through the piles of newly forged swords, testing each one, trying a few moves, but none had felt quite right. None had really felt like his.
Thankfully, on this particular morning, he had been happily distracted from his troubles by the need to go try on his new armor. An extra happy distraction, since Wanda's armor was ready as well, and so she had accompanied him.
His jaw nearly dropped when he first saw the armor. It looked just like Wanda's designs. The teal color, the flame and stone sigil.. But Wanda's drawings didn't do justice to how, well, shiny it all was when applied to real metal. It really looked like something a King would wear. Vision could hardly believe something so fine belonged to him, had been made for him.. But made for him it most definitely was. The armor fit him perfectly, and it wasn't too heavy.
Wanda's was similarly well made, although hers was red. Mostly a soft red, to let the deep scarlet of their sigil stand out.
She grinned as she wore it for the first time, doing a little spin for Vision.
"How do I look, Vizh?"
"Beautiful" The reply came instinctively at this point.
"You always say that" Wanda blushed.
"I do" Vision agreed, "But in my defense, you would look beautiful in a potato sack."
Wanda's blush deepened, but she smiled, taking his hand.
"You look pretty good yourself, Vizh. Let's wear these to lunch and show off a bit, hmm?"
"Sounds good to me" Vision chuckled.
As they wandered through the palace, heading for the dining room, Vision spotted a group of newly minted Sokovian Soldiers having weapons issued to them. He frowned slightly.
"Still having trouble choosing something for yourself?" Wanda asked him.
"I am, actually.."
"Don't worry" Wanda brought their joined hands to her lips, kissing Vision's fingers. "The right thing will show up.."
"I hope so" Vision sighed. "Especially since we are supposed to leave in the next few days.. Ah!"
Almost as if in response to Vision's hopes, someone came running towards them with a sword in hand. Vision's initial reaction was to push Wanda behind him, but he relaxed when he recognized the person holding the sword. The Valkyrie looked much happier these days. Healthier, brighter eyes. She wasn't at the bar quite so often, and today, it looked like she had polished her armor.
"New armor? Nice. You scrub up well, boy."
"Uh.. Thank you. You too" Vision replied. "Is that your new sword for the war?"
"No" said Valkyrie. "It's yours."
"What?" Vision frowned, confused.
"Well, it was your Mother's, actually" she elaborated, holding it out to him. "I've been hanging onto it for.. a really long time. But I don't need two swords, so I think you should have it.."
Vision took the sword from Valkyrie's hand. It fit wonderfully in his grasp, a perfect weight.. Like his new armor, it felt like the sword was meant just for him.
"This is perfect.. Thank you."
Wanda squeezed his other hand, and he turned to find her grinning at him.
"See? I told you."
"You did" He smiled, kissing her cheek.
A few days later, on a rather glorious morning, the Sokovian and Asgardian armies were ready to march. Vision looked around as everyone made their final preparations, loading up horses, making sure they had everything they needed. He couldn't help smiling as he spotted the Avengers. All of them now wore Wanda and Vision's sigil.
"Of course we're gonna wear it, kid" Tony had said when Vision mentioned it.
"We know who we're fighting for" Steve had added with a smile.
Vision turned to Wanda, feeling rather proud, but then his smile faded slightly. The Princess looked a little pale.
"Wanda, are you alright?"
She looked up at him, managing a smile.
"Just a little queasy this Morning.. nerves, maybe?"
"Maybe.." Vision frowned. Everyone was milling about at the open palace gates, ready to leave. "Should we hold off leaving for an hour or two?"
"No need for that" said Wanda quickly. "Let's fly for a while. I'm sure I'll feel better with a bit of air on my face."
"Are you sure?"
The two of them took to the sky, leaving the palace behind them.
"Vision and Princess Wanda lead the way!" shouted Thor, leading the armies in the direction they had flown. "We march!"
Chapter 43: A Little Getaway
As they march to war, Wanda and Vision make a detour back to their forest spring. They discuss the future, and a gift that may be waiting for them when the war is over.
Thankfully, it turned out Wanda was right. She did feel better once she'd got a bit of air, and the color had returned to her face by noon. She was perfectly fine for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, the Princess's morning bouts of mild illness became a pattern. Wanda would brush it off, claim she was fine. That she would feel better soon, and that was true. She always felt better by Noon, and would spend the rest of each day making small talk with the Avengers. Walking tall beside Vision. But Vision couldn't help feeling concerned, no matter how much Wanda tried to blow it off.
On this particular day, Vision became distracted from his worries by Peter Parker as he came happily bouncing over to them as they marched down the road.
"Vision, Princess Wanda!" Peter pointed to himself, excited. He was wearing his own brand new suit of armor. A spider emblem adorned his chest, with Wanda and Vision's symbol on each shoulder. "How awesome is this? Mr. Stark had these made for me before we left, and he made me a junior Avenger! I'm 'Spider-Man' now, on account of how I climb and swing so good.."
"Very awesome" Vision chuckled.
"You look very handsome, Peter. Just be careful, alright? I wouldn't want you to get hurt" Wanda reached out to ruffle the boy's hair in an affectionate, almost maternal way.
For a second, a thought grasped at the edge of Vision's mind.. an almost realization.. but the thought was chased away, because Peter was speaking again.
"I won't, Princess. Mr. Stark doesn't actually want me to fight" Peter explained. "But if we meet Ultron's army before we reach Leestown to drop me home, he wanted me to have the armor for extra protection."
"That is a good idea" Wanda nodded. "If we do run into Ultron's men, you try and stay safe, okay?"
"I will, Princess Wanda. Thank you." Peter happily sprinted away to show off his new armor to somebody else.
Vision smiled after him, having developed a fondness for the boy after all their days spent training together. Then he frowned, trying to recall his thought from earlier. He knew, whatever the thought had been, it was important, but he couldn't quite remember what it was.
"Vizh?" Wanda looked up at him, brow furrowed in concern. "Is something wrong?"
"No" Vision replied quickly to reassure her, linking his fingers with hers as they walked. "I'm just, uh.. a little worried about Peter."
"So am I" Wanda sighed, squeezing his hand. "But he's a bright kid. I'm sure he'll be fine."
Apart from Wanda's morning illnesses, the days of the trip became increasingly monotonous. Marching along the road. Stopping to eat. Marching some more. Stopping to sleep. Vision's favorite part of the process was stopping to sleep, because that meant time alone in the tent with Wanda.. and because they didn't always sleep, at least not right away. They spent quite a lot of time making love, making the most of their time together. They were going to war, after all, and in war there were no guarantees of survival.
The cycle repeated the following day, the day after that, and again the day after that. Until the day when they reached a familiar stretch of road. And on that familiar stretch of road, a familiar tree. A tree with Pietro Maximoff's initials carved into it.
"Vision.." Wanda whispered, gently nudging him.
"I know" Vision replied, and they shared a grin.
They had found their Spring again. Wanda quickly declared that this was a perfect place to make camp for the night.
Wanda wanted to hurry off down the hidden path right away, but Vision convinced her to wait. The Spring was their special place, and they didn't want anyone else to find it.
So, they huddled together in their tent until it grew dark. Waited until everyone else was in their own tents. Then, they crept out and hurried away down the path. This time, Wanda and Vision were fully aware that Clint and Natasha saw them sneaking away.. and this time, they waved to them. They didn't have to hide anymore.
"Stay safe, kids!" Clint called, waving back.
"We will!" Vision chuckled.
The Princess and the Thief ran down the hidden path hand in hand, expertly ducking and weaving through the trees, dodging fallen branches. They had both dreamed of this path, dreamed of their Spring, often enough that they knew it almost by heart.
The spring was as beautiful as they remembered, the water perfectly clear and sparkling. The no longer forbidden couple smiled at each other and immediately began shedding their clothes, eager to swim.
"Wanda, remember how we always talked about running away and building a cabin here?"
"I do" Wanda looked at him, a wonderful twinkle in her green eyes.
"Well, I think we should build a cabin here anyway" Vision grinned. "A little get away spot. It could be a great place to bring the children one.."
"Uh.." Vision blushed. "I may be getting a little ahead of myself."
"No.. No, it's okay" Wanda smiled softly, her hand subconsciously drifting to her bare belly.
"You.. You've been doing that a lot."
"The hand on your stomach."
"Oh.. huh. I guess I have."
A lump was forming in Vision's throat. His earlier thought had returned, the clues rushing together in his mind. Wanda's morning sickness. Mothering Peter. The hand on her belly, that twinkle in her eye. A glow to her skin that had nothing to do with the moonlight.
"Wanda.. are you.. could you be.."
"Oh.." Wanda's eyes widened as the same thought sparked in her mind. "Maybe.." she paused, counting on her fingers. "Probably, now that I think about it.. There's the illness in the morning, a certain monthly visitor hasn't showed up in a while.. And uh, we haven't exactly tried too hard to 'not' make a baby.."
"You seem remarkably unconcerned about this.."
"I'm not concerned about it."
"But.. we're not married yet!" His eyes were stinging a little. His heart racing.
"We will be soon enough" Wanda shrugged, a small smile spreading across her face. "I never thought I'd get a choice about who I had children with.. So to have that choice, to have a child with someone I actually love.. I can't see that as anything but good."
"Good.. Yes, of course.."
"Vizh.." She turned to look at him, frowning at the tone of his voice, then ran to him. "Vision, you're crying. What's wrong? Are.. Are you not happy?"
"N-Not happy?" Tears were streaming down his cheeks, but a smile spread over his own face. "No.. I am so happy."
"I just.. I never thought anyone would want children with me."
"Vision.." Wanda chuckled, reaching up to cup his cheek. "You are the only person I have ever wanted this with."
"You mean that?" Vision knew that she did, but he couldn't always help old insecurities affecting him.
"We're having a baby?" He wiped the happy tears from his eyes.
"I think we are" Wanda smiled softly.
Vision swept her into his arms, and Wanda squealed happily. The world outside seemed miles away, and the future was bright.
Chapter 44: The Whole World In His Arms
Wanda and Vision want to do things differently.
Wanda giggled gleefully as Vision spun her around and set her down again, his arms still wrapped around her, and pulled her close to kiss her deeply. Wanda sighed happily against his lips. They truly were made for each other, every soft curve of her perfectly molded to the defined, but not bulky, muscles that made up most of him.
Vision dropped to his knees in front of her, and Wanda was reminded how different he was from everyone else she had ever known. Different in the most wonderful way, because he was gazing at her stomach the same way most people looked at gold or jewels.
For the first time, Vision was very glad that he might become King. Not for himself.. He was still worried about what kind of King he would be.. But for the tiny, precious new life that he and Wanda had created. The child of a King had a far greater chance of a good life than the child of a Thief, and he wanted his child to have the very best life possible. Vision reached out a slightly shaky hand, swallowing a new lump in his throat.
"Can.. Can I.." Vision looked up at Wanda. His voice was soft, almost nervous.
Happy tears now prickled at Wanda's eyes, Vision's nerves touching her heart. He sounded just like he had on the first night they had made love, nervously asking if he could see her.
Vision laid his hand on Wanda's bare belly. Still flat for now. He shouldn't be able to feel anything different yet, but somehow, he could. Warmth. Love. A promise. He leaned forward, gently kissing the soft skin.
"Hello.." He whispered. It was amazing, Vision thought, that he could love someone so small, so much, so soon. "I.. I'm your Father.. Oh, that will take a bit of getting used to.." He looked up at Wanda, frowning slightly when he saw her crying.
"It's alright. Don't worry, I'm happy too.." Wanda helped Vision back to his feet, kissing his remaining tears away, and letting him kiss hers. "So happy that I can't keep it all in.. I'm not used to this much happy. I've never been this happy before."
"Neither have I.." Vision chuckled.
"I love you" Wanda cupped Vision's cheek, "So much.."
"I love you too" He leaned into her touch.
"Let's go swimming."
"Yes" Vision agreed with a smile. "Let's go swimming."
So, Wanda and Vision swam in their spring. They washed away the sweat, dirt, and grime of days on the road. They played and splashed and chased each other through the water. They dove beneath the surface of the water, briefly visiting the different world below. Vision had been nervous to do this the first time they visited the spring, but he wasn't anymore. He knew he was safe with Wanda.
For a little while, Ultron, the War, and all their other troubles felt far away.
"There are a few things that I will want to do differently.." said Vision, currently treading water.
"Oh?" Wanda smiled and swam circles around him, her eyes sparkling. "Like what, Vizh?"
"I.. I know that sometimes, royal parents can be a bit hands off. I don't want that.. For me, growing up as an orphan, I know how it feels to think your parents didn't want you, that you weren't worth their time.. And I don't want any children of mine to ever have to feel that way. I want to be an involved parent. I want our child to always know how loved they are.."
"I want that too."
"I definitely do" Wanda stopped circling and swam to Vision, her arms wrapping around his neck. "My parents.. I know they loved us, and being royal we got just about everything we wanted, but one thing they could never do was give enough of their time.. Particularly to me."
"It's okay. We can't change that now.. But we can change things for our baby. Make time for them."
"We can" Vision agreed, brushing a damp lock of stray hair away from Wanda's face. "We can, and we will."
"There are a few other things I'd want to do differently too.."
"Growing up as a member of the royal family is always going to make things different.. a little more difficult. But.." Wanda paused, a little bit unsure. Even now, feeling so free, her own royal conditioning could be hard to break through.
"Go on" Vision gently encouraged her.
"I want our children to have a real childhood" said Wanda. "I want them to be able to play and have fun, to swim naked in forest springs if they want.. I want them to be whoever they want to be, and love whoever they want to love. I want them to grow up knowing that a title doesn't define who they are.." She was tearing up again.
"Wanda.." Vision pulled her closer to him, kissing the top of her head. "Wanda, it's alright.."
"I just.. I wasted so much time.. I almost lost you, and for what? Royal protocols? It seems so, so stupid now.."
"I want better, for our baby" Wanda looked up at him.
"Our baby will have better" said Vision, "And any siblings they have will have better, because we're going to make a better world, aren't we? For us.."
".. And whoever comes after" Wanda finished for him, a smile spreading over her face once more.
"Exactly" Vision grinned. "And I'm going to build a cabin just over there" He pointed, "Where we can all run away to when royal life gets too much. Just imagine it."
"I can" Wanda beamed, kissing him. "And it is wonderful."
Eventually, the pair climbed out of the spring, this time with the promise that they would return again sometime soon. They dressed and crept back out of the woods, stopped briefly to wave at Nat and Clint again, then crawled back into their tent.
It didn't take long for Wanda to fall asleep. Vision understood. A lot of her energy would be taken up with growing a tiny person in the coming months. But for Vision, sleep was not coming so easily.
Away from the safety of their forest spring, the reality of the coming war crashed over him again. He curled close to Wanda, holding her as she slept. His hand joined hers, resting over the spot where their child was beginning to grow. Vision, growing up with nothing and no one, felt as though he was holding the whole world in his arms.
Now, more than ever, he had to protect her.
Chapter 45: Moments Of Joy
Wanda and Vision discuss baby names.
Even with Vision's concerns about what would happen in the battle to come, he and Wanda managed to fill the following days with enough joy to carry them through. Maybe the timing wasn't the greatest, but after all they had been through, all they had suffered, Not just since their first meeting, but for all their lives, neither one of them could see the child Wanda carried as anything but a blessing.
Another reason to fight, a reason to fix the mistakes of those who had come before them, a reason to make the future better.
"You aren't worried that someone will notice?" Vision's fingers danced over the bare skin of Wanda's belly, his head pillowed against her breast. It was early in the Morning, the Sun not yet fully risen, and while a few signs of life could be heard around the camp site, no one was making any effort to get up just yet.
"Not really" The Princess giggled at his touch, slightly ticklish, her own fingers stroking his golden hair. Her now regular morning nausea had not yet taken hold. "No one has so far. If everything goes as planned, the war will be over before I start to show, and we can get married before anyone gets too suspicious."
"I am looking forward to that" Vision smiled softly. The idea that he was actually going to be married to her was still almost unbelievable to him.
"So am I."
"But.. what if someone notices when the baby is, uh, 'born early'?"
"I'm sure someone might" Wanda shrugged. "But I think the people like us enough now to forgive some slightly dodgy timelines. Anyway, the date of conception doesn't matter so much. As long as we're married when the baby is born, it's all legitimate."
"Mmmhm" A smirk curled at the edges of her lips. "When I was young, I remember my Mother mentioning that Prince Thor was born suspiciously soon after Odin and Frigga's Wedding.."
"Really?" Vision chuckled.
"Yes.. Not that I knew what she meant at the time. I was probably about five, sitting at her feet while she gossiped with the ladies of the court. Lonely and bored out of my mind, because Pietro got to go out with our Father, but I had to stay and learn how to be a lady.."
"I would have been nine" said Vision thoughtfully. "Still at the orphanage.. Lonely too, probably sitting in a corner because no one wanted to play with me."
"But look at you now, Vizh" Wanda pressed a kiss into his hair, her heart breaking for him. She at least had Pietro for most of her childhood, but Vision had been completely alone. "You're going to be a King.. a pretty good one, I think, and you've given yourself a good head start on at least one important part of it."
"I have?" Vision lifted his head to look at her properly.
"Well, yes.. You've already got an heir to the throne, haven't you?"
"That is true" Vision smiled, his hand still resting on Wanda's belly.
"It is" She returned his smile. "Have you thought about any names you like yet?" It might have been a little too soon to worry about that in normal circumstances, but when you were heading for a war, nothing really felt too soon.
"Well, I grew up with a slightly unusual name, and I don't mind it now, but.. I think I'd like something a little bit more traditional. Maybe Thomas? We could shorten it to Tommy.."
"Sounds good to me.. Or William.. Billy?"
"William would be good too."
"What about for a girl?" Wanda asked.
"Vivian.. Yes, that works."
"Well" Vision grinned, moving to pepper kisses over Wanda's tummy, "Tommy, or, Billy, or Vivian.. whichever one of you is in there.. Hello, and I love you."
Wanda giggled at his kisses. They remained happily cuddled up for another few minutes, until more signs of activity could be heard outside. Wanda sighed, removing herself from the tangle of blankets and Vision's limbs to stand, stretching.
"We should probably get moving."
"Do we have to?" Vision sat up, taking a moment to admire her nude form as she stretched. Wanda was absolutely beautiful, and he felt like the luckiest man alive.
"Well, we are leaders. We need to set a good example."
Her voice had taken on a regal tone, and Vision, knowing that this was learned behavior rather than something that came naturally to Wanda, couldn't resist teasing her, just a little.
"Oh.. like falling pregnant before Marriage?"
"Cheeky.." Wanda smirked, picking up Vision's pants to throw them at him, and laughing when they hit him in the face. "Get dressed, Vizh."
A short while later, Wanda and Vision emerged from the tent, and went to fetch their morning breakfast rations, and after they ate, began helping to pack up camp and get them all back on the road.
At some point during the pack up, Wanda ran off to vomit, and Vision ran after her to rub her back, and hold her hair out of her face. The camp site was so crowded and bustling with activity that they did not think anyone had noticed. They were almost right.
Only almost right, because at least one person had noticed.
His deadly aim with his bow and arrow was not the only reason that Clint Barton had been given the code-name 'Hawkeye'. The other reason, just as important, was that Clint had an eye for the smaller details. Clint saw the things that no-one else did.
So, Clint had seen Wanda run away into the bushes to be sick, and he had seen Vision follow her. Clint had also seen Wanda looking ill on the other mornings of their trip so far. The evidence was mounting in the archer's head. He was a Father of three himself, he had some experience with these things.
While he couldn't know for certain without asking them, the evidence seemed to suggest that Princess Wanda was Pregnant. There was only one thing to do. While Wanda and Vision were still occupied in the bush, Clint crept over and dumped a portion of his own breakfast into Wanda's half-empty bowl.
She would need the extra nutrients.
Chapter 46: Dad-Eyes
Clint takes it upon himself to have a special talk with Vision and Princess Wanda.
Over the following days, Clint began to watch Vision and Princess Wanda a bit more closely.
The Princess's bouts of morning sickness had now become a regular pattern. Wanda dashing off the path to be sick, with Vision close behind her.
They no longer rode a horse, despite numerous other members of the travelling party offering the Princess their own mounts. She and Vision now preferred simply to walk, or sometimes, to fly, scouting out the path ahead. Clint had caught a small snippet of conversation from them, something about not wanting Wanda to be jostled.
Clint had also noticed that Vision seemed to be growing extra protective of Wanda. Keeping her close. Sharing his meals with her.
The more Clint watched, the more he decided that his earlier deductions on Princess Wanda's current condition were correct.
And he couldn't help feeling just a little bit.. concerned.
"Nat" Clint asked his friend one morning as they packed up the previous night's camp, "Have you, uh, noticed what I've noticed?"
"That Princess Wanda has a bun in the oven?" Natasha replied with a shrug. "You want to go congratulate her?"
"You're not.. concerned?"
"Why should I be? It's no business of mine. Or yours, for that matter.."
"It's just.. she and Vision aren't married yet.."
"But they will be soon.. Oh, I see" Nat chuckled. "You've got your Dad-eyes on."
"What?" Clint frowned.
"You're looking at Princess Wanda the way a Father would. You're worried she's going to get taken advantage of."
"It's a possibility, isn't it? Since they're not married, Vision could just decide to.."
"That's not going to happen" Natasha cut him off.
"But.." Clint tried.
"It's not" Nat grabbed Clint's shoulders, turning him around. "Look."
"What am I looking at?"
"Vision and the Princess, you big dope."
Sure enough, Vision and Wanda were standing a short distance away. Wanda gazed up at him with a glowing smile, her eyes sparkling. Vision was smiling back at her, one hand gently caressing her cheek. His other hand twitched, almost reaching out to touch her stomach, but held himself back in the interest of protecting their precious secret.
Even though he wasn't the only one who could see them, Clint suddenly felt as though he was spying on something special and private.
"You see now?" Nat nudged him. "The kid absolutely adores her."
"He clearly does" Clint admitted.
"When this damn war is over, Vision's going to marry Princess Wanda" Nat continued, "Sokovia might actually have some good rulers again, they'll raise their kid to also be a good ruler, and we'll have started a whole new cycle of goodness. That's what the Avengers were always for, right?"
"When you'd become such a romantic?" Clint raised an eyebrow.
"I'm not" The Black Widow bristled. "Love is for children.. But, those two seem to have some how found it anyway. And some day, when Lila starts looking for a suitor, you're going to want her to find a guy who looks at her like Vision looks at Wanda."
"Yeah, I guess that's true" Clint managed a smile.
Still, it was hard for Clint to completely turn off his 'Dad-eyes', as Nat had called them. Especially when he remembered that Princess Wanda no longer had her own Father to keep an eye out for her. Someone had to give Vision the obligatory Dad-talk, right?
So, that evening, Clint found Vision and the Princess by their small campfire and sat with them. Wanda had settled herself quite comfortably in her beloved's lap. She had already finished her own portion of the evening meal, a hearty stew, but Vision was happily feeding her spoonfuls of his. The couple seemed lost in their own happy little world, and it was quite a few minutes before either of them noticed that Clint was sitting with them.
"Oh.. Hello, Clint" Vision greeted politely, a slight blush coloring his cheeks.
"Hello" Clint replied. "I guess some congratulations are in order.. For your, uh, 'Special Delivery'."
Vision almost choked on his latest mouthful of stew.
"I thought it would be you" Wanda just chuckled, a rather grown up sort of sound that reminded Clint she was no longer the fiery-tempered girl that Vision had first brought to the Avengers. Wanda was very much a woman now, and almost a Queen.
"What would be me?" Clint frowned a little.
"Who noticed first, being a spy and all.. Well, you or Natasha."
"Natasha knows too" said Clint, before turning to Vision, who was still sputtering slightly. "So.. you're going to do right by her, aren't you? Look after her?"
"Of course" said Vision quickly, his grip on Wanda tightening a little. "Wanda and the.. She means the world to me. She.. She's everything."
"So I won't need to hold an arrow to your back at the wedding?"
"Definitely not" Vision smiled, Wanda kissing his cheek.
"Good. That's all I needed to know" Clint stood to leave, but Wanda stopped him.
"Wait, Clint. I've actually been meaning to ask you about something."
"Oh?" Clint sat back down. "Alright, Princess. Ask away."
"Well" Wanda began, "When I get the throne back, I'm going to need some new advisers. People who can help me fix all the wrongs that Ultron has done, and run Sokovia properly. I've already asked Steve and Tony, and Doctor Strange, and I'm going to ask Natasha.. Maybe Thor or Loki, to help keep the Asgardian alliance strong. I was wondering if you might be interested? You'd have a place in the Castle.."
"I'm honored that you'd think of me, Princess, and it's a very generous offer" said Clint, genuinely sorry to have to turn her down, "But when this next battle is over, I really need to get back to my family. I've been away for long enough as it is, far longer than I expected, and.."
"I mean for you to bring them."
"W-What?" Clint blinked, not quite believing what Wanda was saying to him.
"When I say you'd have a place in the Castle" Wanda continued, "I meant you and your family.. Sorry if that wasn't clear. And as valued members of the royal household, they would have everything they need. We can hire tutors for your children. If any of them want to learn to fight when they're old enough, that can be arranged.. If it's okay with you, of course."
Clint's jaw had dropped. It was probably around a minute, maybe closer to two, before he managed to find his voice.
"I.. I'll have to send a letter, check things with my wife, but.. oh, that sounds amazing, Princess. Thank you!" Clint jumped to his feet and rushed off, intending to write said letter right away, even if he couldn't actually send it yet.
"I think" Vision smiled, "You may have just got yourself another new adviser."
"I think I have" Wanda grinned, leaning back against his chest.
Surrounding themselves with good people, educating the next generation, were wonderful steps towards the brighter future they hoped to create.
Chapter 47: Nothing Left Unsaid
War with Ultron is closer than they hoped. Wanda and Vision make sure nothing is left unsaid between them.
As the days moved on, Wanda and Vision became lost in a happy bubble. Lost in hopes for the baby they were expecting, in their plans for the future. So lost, in fact, that, just for a little while, they almost forgot that they were headed for war, (even though some members of their travelling party claimed that they could hear marching feet and weapons being sharpened in the distance). Sadly, it was impossible to forget something like heading for war for long. It was inevitable that their happy bubble would soon burst.
The bursting of that happy bubble came quite late one morning. Wanda had suffered through her bout of morning sickness for the day, and had come out the other side of it seeming surprisingly refreshed. She had grabbed Vision's hand, looking up at him with sparkling eyes.
"Come fly with me?"
"Always" Vision had replied. He could never deny Wanda anything, so why would he deny her this, especially when flying with her was one of his own favorite pastimes?
Wanda had smiled at him then, the most wonderfully bright smile, and taken to the sky, with Vision close behind her.
They flew up, up, so very high, past the tops of the tallest trees, up into the clouds. Vision couldn't help feeling just a little bit proud as he watched Wanda soaring through the air, familiar scarlet energy crackling around her. He remembered helping her when she had been struggling to master the skill early on, remembered having to catch her. He chuckled at the memory, and Wanda turned mid-flight to look at him, that dazzling smile still on her face.
"What's so funny, Vizh?"
"Nothing" Vision flew a little higher, until he came level with her. "Just remembering, that night back at the Sanctum when I was helping you practice flying."
"Oh" Wanda blushed slightly. "What part are you remembering, exactly?"
"A couple of parts.. I remember needing to catch you quite a few times before you got the hang of things. And I remember.." His brow furrowed.
"What?" She hovered a little closer to him.
"I remember.. You kissed me" Vision continued. "But it was so quick I wasn't sure you meant it.."
"I meant it" Wanda told him, gently cupping his cheek as she leaned in to kiss him. "I mean this one, too."
Vision sighed happily, his arms wrapping around her as he returned her kiss. But then, a few moments later, Vision spotted something that made his blood run cold, and he quickly broke the kiss, frowning.
"Wanda.." He used the Mind Stone to make them intangible, and therefore more difficult to see.
"Vision, we're engaged. It doesn't matter if anyone sees us anymore."
"It's not that.." Vision pointed. "Look.."
Wanda's gaze followed where Vision was pointing, and her heart sank.
Some distance ahead of them was another bustling campsite. Plumes of smoke rose from the remains of last night's fires. Crates filled with unseen objects or substances. Soldiers in horribly familiar armor rushing about practicing and preparing weapons. Ultron's army. They could not see King Ultron himself, but a single elaborate tent told them where he was.
Wanda and Vision shared a grim look. At their current pace, their army would come upon Ultron's within the next two days.. Possibly sooner.
The camp was thrown into chaos when Wanda and Vision returned to deliver the news. Somehow, even though they had crossed the border back into Sokovia, were growing closer to populated areas by the day, no one had expected to come face to face with the enemy quite so soon.
"Everyone.. Everyone, please, try to remain calm" Wanda was squeezing Vision's hand tightly, telling him that she herself was not nearly as calm as she sounded, although her speech seemed to have a calming effect on the gathered crowd. "We knew this was coming.. we knew that Ultron would want to hit us before we got too far and had a chance to gather more supporters. We are as prepared for this as we can possibly be. If we continue to stand together, we can win this battle just as we have won others."
After a moment, the crowd cheered. Wanda, sighing heavily, let Vision pull her into his arms, kissing the top of her head.
While Wanda's speech had calmed everyone considerably, it did not stop many from dragging their feet as they resumed their march, no longer as eager to get where they were going. Now and then, a few would rush off to the river running a short distance off the main path (Wanda and Vision guessed that somewhere along the way, it connected back to their Spring), splashing their faces with water to settle and refresh themselves.
As they stopped to set up camp, possibly their final camp, all those who could write rushed to claim pieces of parchment, quills, and ink so they could write home to their loved ones.
Clint wrote another letter to his wife and children.
Natasha wrote three small notes for each of Clint's kids, and a longer one for Clint, only to be read if he survived and she did not.
Steve wrote to a woman named Peggy, whom he had not seen for quite a long time, but loved very much.
Peter, of course, wrote to his Aunt May.
Wanda, thanks to Ultron stopping most of her lessons when she was just ten, could not write all that well, and even if she could, she had no-one worth writing to. Vision did not have anyone to write to either. He and Wanda only had each other. They huddled together by the fire and forced down a meal, knowing they should eat to keep their strength up even though neither of them really felt hungry.
Everyone was heading into their tents early, wanting to make sure they were well-rested for what was to come. On the way back to their own tent, Vision and Wanda spotted Tony Stark, clutching a quill and staring at a blank piece of parchment.
"Tony" Vision lightly nudged his shoulder to get his attention, "Are you alright?"
"Hmm? Yeah, I'm fine kid. Just trying to write to Pepper.. "
"The woman who runs the Inn in Leestown?" Wanda questioned.
"That's the one" The Iron Man sighed. "There's some things I need her to know.. Things I should have told her a very long time ago. I'm just not sure exactly how to say it.."
"Well.." Vision thought for a moment. "You just have to say what's in your heart, I suppose."
"Great advice" Tony rolled his eyes.
"It is great advice" Wanda cut in. "So what if it doesn't sound quite as good on paper?" She thought back to the previous battle, seeing the battered Vision unconscious on the battlefield after he had saved her from Rumlow. For a moment, she'd thought he was dead. The Princess felt a lump in her throat at all the things she might never have gotten to tell him. "You don't want anything important to be left unsaid, trust me."
"Yeah" Tony agreed. "I guess you're right, Thanks." As Tony began to scribble on his parchment, Wanda and Vision left him to his task.
The moment Wanda and Vision entered their tent, Wanda kissed him deeply, passionately, and he knew immediately what his Princess wanted, because, well, he wanted it too. Yes, they probably should be resting, because there was a not insignificant that they would be going into battle tomorrow, heading into the biggest fight of their lives.. But if it had possibly been your last night on Earth, what would you want to do?
The couple's clothes quickly pooled on the floor, and they fell together in a tangle of blankets and pillows. Vision kissed his way down Wanda's body, over her neck, her shoulders, heated kisses to her breasts that made her squirm pleasantly beneath him. His hands and lips touched and kissed every part of her they could reach, mapping out every dip, every curve, committing every single bit of her to memory as well as he could. Vision lingered around her belly, his breath catching. Now, he could feel the first tiny signs of a baby bump.
"Vizh.." Wanda had noticed the catch in his breath, her on voice slightly breathy from his attentions, "I-Is everything okay?"
"Yes.." He touched her stomach reverently. "You have a bump.."
"Okay.." Vision did as she asked, because he always did. Wanda was smiling A happy tear had escaped her eye, a he gently kissed it away.
"We are going to win" she told him, determined. "We are going to win, take back my home.. our home.."
"We are" Vision agreed, because any other possible outcome was too terrible to contemplate.
Wanda pulled him close, kissing him deeply, gently flipping them over so she was on top of him. She kissed her way down Vision's body, committing him to memory as he had done with her. She continued speaking to him as she did so. Nothing would be left unsaid.
"Vision.." Wanda said his name with the same sort of reverence with which he had touched her belly, and Vision's breath caught once again. "You.. You're everything I was never allowed to want.. Everything I thought I was never going to have.. but here you are.. you are everything to me, and I love you, so much.."
"Wanda.." Vision murmured, as he felt her kissing her way back up. "My Wanda.. you are my miracle.. I thought.. Everyone was afraid of me, but then.. then there was you." He reached up to touch her cheek, as Wanda gazed at him with love-filled eyes. "You weren't afraid.. Somehow, you love me even with these strange eyes.. I don't know how I got so lucky. There are no words to describe how much I love you."
"No words, huh?" Wanda smirked cheekily. "Well, maybe there's another way you can show me.."
"Maybe there is.." Vision smirked right back, flipping them again so Wanda was beneath him, Wanda giggling. He kissed her passionately, shifting to position himself, and slowly slipped inside her.
They both gasped. They would not rush. There was no need to rush this, no need at all.
Vision's thrusts were slow, but deep, hitting just the spot Wanda needed him.
"Vizh.." It was Wanda's turn to have her breath catch.
"Are you alright?" Vision gazed at her gently. The patterns in his eyes seemed to glow.
It was the most beautiful thing Wanda had ever seen.
"I'm okay.." A soft moan escaped her. "I-I have you.. You're beautiful.."
Vision blushed at that.
"So are you.. So beautiful.." He kissed her, their tongues tangling in a deep, lazy kiss.
They moved together slowly, gently, bit by bit rising to their peak. Their soft moans and cries of pleasure filled the night, too lost in each other to have any care for who might have heard them.
Wanda's cries were becoming louder, higher pitched. Her face was flushed.
"V-Vision.. Vision, I.."
"It's okay.. " Vision murmured, hovering right there with her, so very close. "It's okay, you can let go.."
"Vision!" Wanda cried out into the night as her release washed over her.
"Wanda!" Vision cried out her name moments later, following her over the edge into bliss.
They lay there for a moment, trying to catch their breath. Wanda gently nuzzled Vision's neck.
"Hey, Vizh.. Back with me yet?"
"I am always with you" Vision replied, carefully rolling off of her and pulling her close. "I love you.."
"I love you too.." Wanda snuggled even closer. They could both feel her tiny baby bump resting between them. Their future. Their reason. "We're going to win."
"We are" said Vision.
In that moment, they truly believed it.
Chapter 48: The Impossible Promise
Princess Wanda extracts a promise from Vision.. A promise that he cannot really make.
We're headed into the closing stretch of this story now, folks. Enjoy the ride!
Not wanting to waste a single second of whatever time they had together, Wanda and Vision lay awake for a good long while, happily tangled up in each other's arms. Whispering to each other, each of them repeatedly reminding the other one just how much they loved them. Lost count of how many soft, lazy kisses they shared. They talked about all of their plans for the future.
"I think I'll be a good Queen" Wanda told Vision, at some point in between their many lazy kisses.
"Well, I have told you so" Vision tenderly brushed a lock of stray hair away from Wanda's face. "Quite a few times, actually."
"I know.." Wanda chuckled. "You telling me so much was what made me really start to believe it. Because you, Vizh, you're the most genuine person I've met in my entire life. So if you believe something, there has to be some sort of truth in it."
Vision blushed slightly.
"I'm honored that my opinion matters so much to you."
"Yours is the only opinion that really matters to me anymore. I'm going to be a good Queen, because you believe that I will be. Because being a good Queen matters more to me than being Queen in the first place. I care more about the responsibilities that come with the crown than the power of it. I'm going to be a good Queen, and you're going to be a good King.."
"I'm still not so sure, but I'm definitely going to try.."
"You are going to be a good King" Wanda repeated, firmly. "I know you are. And together, well, maybe we could even be great."
"Maybe we could" Vision couldn't help but smile.
"And.." Wanda took Vision's hand in hers, guiding them both to rest on her small baby bump, "We're going to raise our child to want to be a good King or Queen too.. to want to help people."
"We are" Vision nuzzled her affectionately.
"Definitely" She smiled sleepily at him. Vision frowned.
"It could be a big day Tomorrow. We should probably get some rest.."
"Not yet" Wanda tried to hold back a yawn as she snuggled closer to him, burying her face against his neck. Soon, however, the Scarlet Witch's exhausted body betrayed her, and her eyes drifted shut.
Vision lay awake for a while longer, trying to push a few troubled thoughts out of his mind. The future they wanted was so tantalizingly close, and at the same time, dangled just out of their reach. One more huge, terrifying obstacle stood between them and their dreams.
Wanda's grand plans for the future would never come to be as long as Ultron lived.
Vision sighed, holding Wanda just a little bit tighter, until sleep claimed him as well.
As the Sun began to rise on a new day, the usual bustling activity of the Sokovia/Asgard camp gave way to a much more subdued atmosphere. No-one was eager to be on their way, as the sooner they did, the sooner they would face Ultron's army. However, they definitely didn't want Ultron to catch them unprepared, so dragging their feet was also not an option.
"Help me with my armor, Vizh?" Wanda's voice shook slightly with nerves. This battle was nearly here, and as much as they had prepared for it, it would have been impossible to ever feel truly ready.
"Of course" Vision quickly shook off his own troubles, eager to help Wanda. "Whatever you need. I am completely at your service."
"You don't have to be at my service, Vision" Wanda chuckled as she got up. Simply hearing Vision's voice was enough to calm her, even if it was just a little bit. "You and I are equals, now and always."
"Of course" Vision smiled. "But still, I am happy to help."
While Wanda dressed, Vision gathered all the pieces of her armor. Before he set about buckling her into it, however, he knelt in front of her, gently kissing her tummy.
"You stay safe in there, alright little one?" He whispered, addressing the tiny new life growing inside Wanda's womb. "Your Mother and I.. we have something very important to do" Vision smiled, feeling Wanda's hand run through his hair. "But when it's all done, we're going to get married, and make sure you get to be a little Prince or Princess.."
"For a Prince or Princess" Wanda smiled softly.
"Well.." Vision stood, pulling Wanda close to him, "As a potential soon to be King, I guess I'm supposed to say I'd want a Prince.. But really, I am completely happy whatever our little one decides to be."
"You really mean that, don't you?" She stroked his cheek, her eyes sparkling.
"I really do" He took the chance to kiss her then, because who knew how many more chances they were going to get?
The kiss was slow, deep, lingering, trying to pour in every ounce of love that they could. It would be so, so easy to get carried away, to forget, to fall back into the mass of blankets and become wonderfully lost in each other once again. So easy. But they couldn't. They wouldn't. People were relying on them.
Wanda reluctantly broke the kiss, but kept her hand on Vision's cheek, gazing up at him with her wide green eyes.
"Don't die, okay? Promise me you won't. I.." she paused, and the hand not on Vision's cheek drifted to her stomach. "..We need you, Vision. We really need you to not die."
Vision felt a lump in his throat. If he was killed, Wanda would still have their baby, still have a little piece of him. But if anything happened to Wanda, Vision lost everything. He wanted her to promise that she would not die, either. But this was war, and not dying was a promise that was impossible for either of them to make. They both knew that.
And yet, Vision could never deny Wanda anything she asked of him. So, he said:
"I promise you, I won't die."
He held her close, for a few moments longer. Then, he set about helping her with her armor. Afterwards, she helped him with his. Fixed the circlet with the Mind Stone in place atop his head. Holding hands, they each took a deep breath, and stepped out of the tent.
They had a job to do.
Chapter 49: The Important Mission
Princess Wanda has a very important job for Peter Parker.
When Wanda and Vision exited their tent, they found the Avengers and Doctor Strange waiting for them.. minus Peter, whom they could see rushing about the campsite as everyone was packing up, carrying out a task that Wanda had left for him on the day before. At the other end of the camp, Thor appeared to giving the Asgardian soldiers a pep talk, Loki at his side.
"So" Natasha looked at them, a sly smirk crossing her face, "Sounds like you two had a bit of fun last night."
Both Vision and Wanda blushed bright red at the Black Widow's words. Pretending you didn't care who had heard you making love was much, much easier when everyone around had very politely agreed not to acknowledge that they had, in fact, heard you.
"It's alright, you won't get any judgement from me, kids" Tony winked at them, which only made them blush redder. "We could all be dead soon, after all. If you have one last chance to get lucky, I say go for it!"
"Excuse me!" Steve glared at both Natasha and Tony, looking scandalized at the exchange he had just witnessed. "Avengers, could we try and show a little bit of respect, please? This is our soon to be King and Queen you're talking to. Princess Wanda, Vision, I'm so sorry about my teammates behavior.."
"It's alright" Vision managed to speak. "Really."
"But.." Steve frowned.
"Really, it's okay" Wanda added with a smile, though her cheeks were still slightly pink. "What kind of King and Queen would we be if we didn't allow a few special privileges to the friends who helped get us there? A little bit of light teasing now and then is acceptable, don't you think Vizh?"
"Yes, I find that perfectly acceptable" Vision agreed, grinning, pressing a kiss to the top of her head.
"Spoken like true royalty" Doctor Strange smiled, bowing to them both.
"That they did" Clint bowed as well. "And might I say, nobody here is going to die anytime soon. We're all going to live long happy lives annoying our new King and Queen and making them question why the hell they made us their advisers."
The whole group laughed, and a few moments later, Peter came sprinting over to them, clutching a stack of sealed envelopes.
"I collected everyone's letters home, Princess Wanda, just like you asked" Peter said, a little breathless.
"Thank you, Peter" Wanda smiled at him.
"You said you might have another important job for me?"
"I do" Wanda nodded. "A very important job. I need you to take all those letters and make sure they get delivered to the right people."
"Oh.." Peter's face fell a little. "Y-Yeah, I can do that, I guess."
"You guess?" The Princess stood a little shorter than Peter, but in this moment, she seemed to almost tower over him. Her eyes flashed red. The presence of the Scarlet Witch, the future Queen of Sokovia, flowed over them all, her authority unquestionable. "I need you to more than guess, boy. This is an enormous responsibility. Possibly the biggest responsibility I have ever handed out. If any of our people fall in this war, their families deserve to know that they were thinking about them."
"Of course, Princess Wanda" Peter gulped.
"So, can you do it then? Can you make sure these letters get delivered?" Her voice was deadly serious.
"Yes, I can do it" Peter nodded eagerly. "I swear to you, Princess Wanda, every one of these letters will reach their destination!"
All of the Avengers watched Wanda's conversation with Peter, slightly awestruck. No longer the troubled girl they had met at the beginning of this whole crazy adventure, they now saw a Queen in waiting, ready to take her throne. Vision, of course, was not surprised at all. He'd always known she had it in her. Even though Wanda had not officially been born into the throne, Vision believed that she was made for this, to be a Queen people could truly love. And wherever she belonged, his place was at her side.
"Good boy. I knew I'd made the right choice" The red faded from Wanda's eyes, returning them to their usual soft green. "Make sure you take enough food and water with you, and stay off the road, so no one sees you. Just follow the river and you should make it back home to Leestown in a couple of days. You'll be able to send the letters on from there."
"Good. Your future Queen wishes you safe passage, Peter Parker." Wanda pressed a kiss to his forehead.
Peter blushed furiously, but stood tall, saluting her.
"I won't let you down!" He rushed off to gather everything he needed for his special mission. Wanda gazed fondly after him.
"Okay" Tony gathered his jaw from the floor, turning to Wanda once Peter was out of earshot, "I have to hand it to you Princess, that was absolutely brilliant."
"What was?" Wanda questioned.
"That" Tony gestured wildly with his arms. "You know, what you just did with the kid. Tricking him into staying safe by making him think he's doing something important."
"It worked because she didn't need to 'trick' him at all" Vision pointed out.
"Vision's right" Wanda smiled. "I didn't. Peter is doing something important, just something important that requires him to be far away from the battlefield. There are ways to include him without putting him in danger."
"Interesting.. and still brilliant" Tony grinned.
Wanda chuckled, but it didn't take long for the more somber mood to settle back over the group. They were ready to move.
Onward they marched. This felt much different from the other days of the trip. Everyone was armed and ready for battle. A sense of dread and anticipation hung in the air.
They could hear others marching ahead of them.. and then the second group of marching feet stopped. A nervous murmur passed over the Sokovia/Asgard army, but they pushed on. As they marched, dark clouds appeared over head. The trees around them thinned, the forest slowly morphing into mostly open space. On the other side of it, stood Ultron's army, and at the head of it, King Ultron himself.
Wanda's heart raced. She hadn't seen Ultron in the flesh since before she had fled the castle. Vision saw the look on her face, and reached for her hand, giving it a comforting squeeze. She looked up at him, managing a small smile.
"Here we go.."
Vision nodded, taking a shaky breath.
"Here we go.."
Chapter 50: To Avoid Bloodshed
The Battle for Sokovia begins.
Ultron grinned wickedly as he watched Princess Wanda and her forces appear on the other side of the clearing. His eyes briefly flickered to the boy, Vision, glued to the Princess's side.
He had been a concern for awhile, but apart from his status as the keeper of the Mind Stone, and his ability to wield Thor's magic hammer, which would probably remain with Thor anyway, Ultron's spies had not managed to uncover anything overly special or important about him. Except, of course, the fact that he was important to Wanda. That, as always, could be a weakness for him to exploit if need be.
If the Princess and her boy toy even survived for that long.
They had no idea what they were dealing with. No idea how brutal his army could be. And of course, no idea of his secret weapon. Of the new, highly explosive substance created by his alchemists before his army had departed- The substance inside the crates his men had deposited about the clearing. The coming electrical storm would provide perfect conditions for them to go off.
Ultron's wicked grin widened.
Vision's strange eyes scanned the opposing army, his heart pounding. Their numbers seemed just about equal to the Sokovia/Asgard forces. That was good, wasn't it?
He thought it was. The thing that troubled him most was the crates Ultron's forces had brought with them. While most were behind the army, a few had been laid about the clearing where this battle was to take place.
Why? What was in them?
Wanda looked at him, and Vision knew she was wondering the same thing.
The sky grew darker overhead, accompanied by the sound of distant thunder.
For a few moments that felt like an eternity, no-one on either side moved. No one spoke.
Then, finally, King Ultron moved forward- alone.
Wanda took a shaky breath. A part of her wanted to take this opportunity to end things right now, to take Ultron within the grip of her powers and rip him limb from limb. Another part of her wanted to run. Forget the throne, forget the whole stupid war, and run away with Vision. Find some place far, far, away, where no one knew who they were. Somewhere quiet, safe, where they could settle down and raise their baby in peace.
The first option was especially tempting, but she could see Ultron's archers notching arrows. Even with her armor, one well-aimed shot could end her vengeance before it had even really begun. As equally tempting as option two might have been, Wanda definitely couldn't run. Too many people were relying on her. The people of Sokovia. The Asgardians who were risking their lives for her cause. And Vision, of course. Vision was so happy with the idea of their child growing up royal, sparing them from the struggles he had grown up with. Wanda resisted the urge to touch her armor-clad stomach. Ultron could see, and she did not want to give the false King any hint of the precious secret growing within her.
She took another deep breath.
"I suppose the proper Queenly thing to do is try to talk to him, right?" She looked up at Vision for his opinion on the matter. "You know, the whole 'one last chance to give up the throne without bloodshed' spiel?"
"I suppose it is" Vision frowned, "But I don't like the chances."
"Neither do I" Wanda sighed. "But I think I have to do it anyway."
"No" said Vision, taking Wanda's hand. "We do." No way was he letting her face this alone.
Wanda smiled gratefully at him, and they both moved forward, slowly. Vision gave a small signal to Clint, who wordlessly notched an arrow of his own, ready to fire if Ultron pulled anything tricky.
The sky continued to darken. After what again felt like an eternity, they met Ultron in the middle of the field.
"Well, look at you" Ultron's lips curled in an unpleasant smirk. "Little Princess Wanda all grown up and playing at War. How many people are going to die because one little girl didn't know her place?"
Vision wanted to punch the smirk right off Ultron's face, but he didn't because Wanda was squeezing his hand to keep herself from shaking as she looked up to meet Ultron's gaze. Not out of fear, but because she was angry.
"I'm not a little girl" she glared at him. "I stopped being a little girl when I was ten years old. If I had any innocence left after that, you stole it when you took my brother from me. I'm not sure if I belong on the throne, but I sure as hell know that you don't."
Ultron just chuckled, and again, Vision wanted to punch him.. But then the King was speaking to him.
"You must be Vision.. You've certainly brought yourself up in the world, haven't you? I respect a man with ambition."
"I've never been ambitious" said Vision cooly. "I just fell in love."
"Pity. For a moment I thought we might have found common ground."
"That was never going to happen."
"Yes, I see that now.." Ultron turned his attention back to Wanda, a wicked grin on his face. "I'm going to kill that boy, and I'm going to make sure you see it happen. That you know it is all your fault."
Wanda's eyes flared red, the Scarlet Witch awakened.
"I came over here to give you one last chance to relinquish the throne without the need for a battle. Because giving you that chance is the right thing to do. What a Queen should do."
"And you really thought I would agree to that?"
"No" Wanda smirked. "But when you don't, when you say no? Every death becomes your fault. I'll be the one who tried to avoid bloodshed. My people will remember that, and so might yours. So.. what is your answer, Ultron?"
Ultron cursed to himself, a scowl curling his lips. She had definitely put one over on him. There was no way he would give up the throne willingly.
"Then we have nothing more to say to each other" Wanda turned and took to the sky to fly back to her army, Vision at her side.
One of Ultron's men loosed an arrow, but Vision spotted it, seizing Wanda's arm and using the Mind Stone to make them intangible, the arrow sailing harmlessly through them. Clint fired his own arrow, letting it whoosh by Ultron's head. A warning shot.
"That was for Prince Pietro!" He yelled, and Wanda, still airborne with Vision, felt a rush of affection for the archer. "Next one won't miss, King Ass-tron!"
Ultron was furious. He turned to his army.
"Charge!" He shrieked. "Kill them! Destroy them all!"
Thor looked up to Wanda for permission, before giving the order for their own army to charge.
"For Asgarrd, and for Sokovia!" The Asgardian Prince yelled. "In the name of the rightful Queen, we will defeat this tyrant!
Both sides surged forward, coming together in a terrible clash of weapons and battle cries.
"Stay away from the crates!" Wanda ordered, as she and Vision surveyed the battle from the sky. "We have no idea what's in them!"
Ultron had disappeared into his army.
"Wanda.." Vision began.
"We have to find him" Wanda agreed, knowing what he meant without him having to say anymore. "If we can kill him.."
"We can end this" Vision nodded.
They swooped low, landing in the thick of the battle. Wanda cast out with her powers, searching for Ultron's mind in the midst of the fighting, and unleashing a few mental attacks on his soldiers in the process. Vision watched over her, lashing out with his sword, a few increased-density punches, and even a few well placed blasts from the stone. He and Wanda worked together perfectly, like a well-oiled machine.
They were a forced to be reckoned with. But as they fought on, it became clear that things were not going so well elsewhere on the battlefield. Steve was shielding Natasha from a rain of arrows from Ultron's forces. Tony looked like he would soon be overwhelmed. Vision and Wanda shared a look. Both having the same thought, though neither of them liked it.
Wanda's training had increased her powers greatly over the course of their adventure. She didn't need Vision's protection as much as she used to. It was beginning to look as though they may be of better help to their forces at large if they split up, divided their efforts.
Before either of them could voice this unpleasant realization, an explosion rocked the battlefield.
Chapter 51: What Makes You Special
As the battle rages on, Wanda and Vision search for Ultron.
It didn't take Wanda and Vision long to realize where the explosion had come from. Thor, hoping to spook the enemy and boost morale on his own side, had summoned some thunder and lightning with Mjolnir, but unfortunately, a stray bolt had struck one of the mysterious crates, resulting in the explosion.
Chaos reigned on the battlefield, with combatants from both sides caught in the ensuing blast.
"Definitely do not touch the crates!" Vision yelled, although it seemed unlikely anyone had heard him over the new roaring blaze, the screams of those injured, and the battle still raging everywhere else.
Wanda looked at him, very reluctant to speak her next words.
"I think we need to split up, Vizh."
"I think we do" Vision sadly agreed.
The sky above them was growing darker still, whether due to smoke, Thor's efforts, or the natural thunderstorm that had already been on it's way, they couldn't be sure. Even though a battle for the future of their country was raging around them, and they really, really, did not have time for this, Wanda pulled Vision into a deep kiss, pouring all her love into it, and he kissed her back, doing the same. They forced themselves to break the kiss, each giving the other a light push.
"Don't die, okay Vizh?" Wanda almost begged him.
"I won't" Vision told her. "I promised."
With a final parting nod, they each headed off to where they were most needed. The kiss they had just shared was not a kiss goodbye. They wouldn't let it be.
Wanda took to the sky for a moment, looking around the battlefield for any sign of Ultron, but unable to spot him in the commotion in the sea of armor and the increasingly frantic clashing of weapons. She felt a rush of pride as she spotted Vision, a flash of shining teal running to Tony Stark's aid. Seeing Steve once again shielding Natasha from a new wave of raining arrows, she landed near them, halting the arrows in their tracks with a wave of scarlet energy, and hurling them back towards the enemy.
"Thank you, Princess" said Steve, before yelling "Duck!"
Wanda did, and Steve threw his Shield to strike down a trio of retaliating enemy soldiers who had just attempted to charge towards Wanda.
"Thank you, Captain" Wanda echoed his sentiments, standing after Steve's shield had returned to him. "I know this is probably a long shot, but have either of you seen King Ultron?"
"No" Steve replied, shaking his head. "I imagine his men will be trying to keep him safe."
"Probably" Wanda agreed. "If that changes, you see any sign of him, let me know, okay?" she turned, quickly taking to the sky once more.
"How the hell are we going to do that?" Natasha yelled after her. "Finding any one person in the middle of all this is next to impossible!"
Wanda paused, deflecting another volley of arrows shooting her way, and looked over her shoulder at Steve and Natasha as she hovered above them, a vision in red.
"Just.. Think about it really hard" Wanda tapped the side of her head as she departed, smiling. "I'm the Scarlet Witch. I'll know."
Steve and Nat watched after her for a moment, mouths agape. Then two enemy soldiers fell near them, both shot down by Clint.
"Come on, you two!" He shouted at them, annoyed. "Keep your heads in the game, I won't always be around to save your asses!"
They both nodded and quickly rejoined the fray, more confident than ever before that they had chosen the right person to fight for.
"She's gonna make a great Queen, isn't she?" Nat commented, delivering a swift kick to the head to one of Ultron's men.
"Yeah, she really is" Steve agreed as he punched another, and threw his shield at one he'd seen getting too close to Clint.
"You think we'll all live to see it?"
"I sure hope so."
Just as Tony was becoming totally overwhelmed and beginning to lose hope, a great number of the soldiers attacking him were blasted aside by a well aimed beam of golden energy, and Vision landed beside him to help fight off the rest.
"Thanks, kid" Tony panted, when they finally got a short moment to breathe. "Things were looking pretty bad for a minute there."
"You're welcome" Vision replied, delivering a swift increased density punch to a young soldier running towards them in a misguided attempt at avenging his fallen allies. "You wouldn't happen to have seen any sign of our dear King Ultron about recently, have you?"
"Unfortunately, no" Tony frowned, lashing out in response to another enemy attack. "That old bastard is probably out there in the middle of this surrounded by an honor guard or something."
"That's just what I'm afraid of" Vision sighed. "We have to find him, Tony. If we can just find Ultron and kill him.."
"I know" Tony replied. "We take out Ultron, and we end this shit-show, avenge Prince Pietro's death, and get Princess Wanda her rightful place on the throne so you two can get married and live happily ever after having adorable little royal babies."
Vision's heart jumped a little at the comment. But he couldn't think too much about Wanda and their baby right now. He needed to remain focused on the task at hand.
"I suppose that is the goal.. If you see him.."
"Kill the bastard.. or at least hurt him really badly. Princess Wanda deserves to be the one to end it.
"Yes, she does."
Vision parted ways from Tony, fighting his way along with all he had as he searched for King Ultron. He lashed out with his sword, delivered some super-density kicks and punches, and when needed, a few blasts from the Mind Stone to clear his way. The latest of these blasts was used to clear a crowd of enemies threatening to surround Valkyrie and Lady Sif.
"Well, boy" Came Ultron's horribly familiar voice from behind him, "I think I've just worked out what makes you so special."
Before Vision had a chance to turn and react, he was tackled to the ground, an armored hand wrenching the circlet containing the Mind Stone from Vision's head, sending it rolling away into the crowd of battling soldiers.
Chapter 52: Into The Fire
Vision may have away to rid himself and Wanda of Ultron forever, but at what cost?
Vision's heart sank as he watched the circlet roll away. He tried to reach for his sword, but Ultron was keeping him pinned to the ground. He could feel the false King's warm breath on the back of his neck, a strange, unpleasant mix of sour and metallic.
"Everything special about you came from that Stone. Without it, you're nothing."
"No.." Vision struggled.
"Yes" Ultron hissed. "I'm right, aren't I? You're nothing, Vision. Just another peasant boy in a city with too many mouths to feed. A thief. A little orphan freak that nobody wanted.."
"No!" Vision growled, twisting free of Ultron's grip and throwing him off.
"Wha.." Ultron, caught off guard, scrambled to his feet.
Vision got up, standing tall, towering over his enemy. Though covered in dirt and mud, weaponless in the middle of a raging battle, he still cut an imposing figure. He looked, Ultron realized with an unpleasant jolt, very much like a King.
"You don't know me, Ultron.. You don't know who I am. I am not nothing. I am Vision, the son of Hildegarde of the Valkyrie, chosen keeper of the Mind Stone. And, if Wanda still wants me to be when she is Queen, I might be the King of Sokovia soon.."
Ultron's lips curled in an unpleasant scowl, and he charged at the unarmed Vision with his sword raised.
"She won't be the Queen of anything if you're dead!"
Vision dodged Ultron's blow, almost laughing. In the distance, he caught the flash of Wanda's power in the corner of his eye, her voice as she shouted orders.
"You really don't know Wanda at all, do you? Wanda doesn't need me to be Queen. She and I do need each other, for reasons someone like you could never understand. But I'm not the reason why she's going to be a great Queen. She had that in her long before she met me, you just never saw how strong she was. I always saw, I just had to protect her until she saw it herself.."
Ultron attempted to strike again, and again, becoming increasingly agitated. Vision dodged each blow, struggling to retrieve his own sword from the ground. A few of the King's attacks were coming dangerously close, when a familiar booming voice called from nearby.
"Vision, brother, catch!"
Vision whooped, seizing Mjolnir's handle just in time for the mystical hammer to block Ultron's assault. Ultron didn't even have time to react to this development before Vision swung Mjolnir into him, enough to send the false King flying, but not a killing blow, yet. Vision recovered his Mother's sword from where he had dropped it during Ultron's attack, then tossed Mjolnir back to Thor with a grateful smile. Thor returned the smile before diving back into the battle.
Vision ducked and weaved through the clashing soldiers, his unusual eyes scanning the ground. Ultron had to die to end this war, but first, Vision had to get the Mind Stone back. The Stone was his responsibility, and he did not want it falling into the wrong hands. He dodged countless attacks from enemy soldiers as he desperately searched.
The combatants constantly kicking up more hunks of dirt and grass, coupled with the dark clouds blocking most of the light from the sun, made it close to impossible to see what was going on on the ground. The Mind Stone had become a needle in the haystack of fighting, stomping feet. Just as Vision was beginning to lose hope of ever recovering the stone, he saw wonderfully familiar scarlet energy snaking it's way into the temples of the surrounding enemy soldiers. They screamed, each immediately fleeing in the face of a terror only they could see. While this left a number of confused Asgardian soldiers behind, it also left a large patch of the field clear, and Vision spotted his circlet and the Mind Stone glinting in the mud. He dived towards it and scooped it up, almost sobbing with relief.
"Take better care of that, will you?" A familiar, much loved voice called out, and Vision turned to see Wanda, on the other side of the cleared space. "It's kind of important!"
"How did you know I needed you?" Vision couldn't help the smile that spread over his face.
"The Scarlet Witch can't give away all her secrets, Vizh!"
Vision laughed as he watched Wanda rush back into battle, but his laughter soon turned to horror as he saw Ultron rising again just behind her. Vision opened his mouth to shout a warning, but it was too late.
Ultron roared, diving to try and tackle Wanda as he had done to Vision. Wanda sensed his presence, taking flight in an attempt to dodge him, but he seized Wanda around the waist, forcing her to drag him upwards with her.
"I've got you, my dear little Princess.." Ultron smirked.
"I'm not your little anything!" Wanda growled. Unfortunately, his extra weight threw off both her flight and her focus, and she struggled to shake him off.
Vision, watching things unfold from below, jammed the Mind Stone back onto his head, pausing just long enough to strike down a few enemies making a charge for him, then took to the sky himself, heading to Wanda's aid.
"Get the hell off of her!" Vision seized Ultron, tearing him away from Wanda and forcing him to release his grip on her.
"Wha.. you?" Ultron sputtered. "How did you get the stone back?"
"I had a bit of help" Vision looked to Wanda, who flashed him a grateful smile.
"Let go of me!" Ultron shrieked.
Vision flew, taking Ultron away from Wanda, giving her time to recover. Ultron struggled in his grip, throwing off Vision's flight patterns, clawing at his face. The battle raged on below them.
Vision could drop Ultron, right now. He could just drop him. The chances of him surviving such a fall were small. If the fall itself didn't kill him, Ultron's own soldiers, whipped into a blood frenzy by the battle, would probably do the job. Probably.
But 'Probably' was not 'definitely', and anything less than definitely was not enough. For this to be truly over, for the future Wanda dreamed of to be a reality, they needed to be certain that Ultron was dead. Then, Vision saw them. The large pile of crates, stacked near where they had first seen Ultron's army approach, crates Vision now knew were filled with fiery doom. Vision looked around. Wanda still hovered some distance back, catching her breath. The Avengers, Doctor Strange, and the vast majority of the Sokovia/Asgard army were out of range.
Vision flew faster. The sky continued to grow darker, thunder roared, a reminder of the still approaching storm.
"Let go of me!" Ultron shrieked again.
It didn't take long for King Ultron to realize his mistake, but it was far too late. Hovering above the crates, Vision dropped Ultron. Took aim with the Mind Stone, and fired. The crates erupted in a huge ball of flame, everything within the blast zone obscured with smoke and fire.
Watching the scene unfold from a distance, Wanda screamed.
Chapter 53: A Chance At Mercy
In the aftermath of the explosion intended to kill King Ultron, Vision is missing.
The explosion shook the battlefield, bringing the battle to a standstill as everyone stood in shock, no-one entirely sure of what had just happened.
"VISION!" Wanda screamed again, but he couldn't hear her.
While Vision had avoided the most destructive part of the blast, the recoil from it had caused him to black out, and unseen through the flame and ash and smoke, his limp form was sent sailing through the air back into the nearby forest. With another clap of thunder, the heavens finally opened upon the battlefield, wild winds battling the roaring flame as rain began to pour down.
In the forest, Peter Parker, keeping close by the river as Princess Wanda had ordered him, ran, raising his hands above his head in a mostly fruitless attempt to shield himself from the rain. For a moment, he thought he heard something splash into the river beside him, but when he paused to look, saw nothing but raging water.
Peter shook his head, thinking his ears must have been deceiving him, and kept running. He had a very important job to do. The Princess was counting on him to make sure those letters were delivered.
Back on the battlefield, once it was becoming clear that their King was nowhere to be seen, most of Ultron's forces began throwing down their weapons in surrender. Some members of the Sokovia/Asgard alliance began to cheer at their victory, but Wanda could not share in their joy. She flew to the sight of the explosion, landing, her heart in her throat. The rain poured down, hissing as it hit the flames, slowly dousing them.
"VISION!" Wanda screamed once again, then coughed, her eyes burning and watering, lifting her arm to her mouth as she tried to keep herself from breathing in too much smoke. "Vision, where are you? Answer me!"
Vision wasn't dead. He couldn't be dead. She would know. Wanda didn't know how she knew this, she just did. It was a fact, and she would not believe otherwise. She opened her mouth to call again, when she was interrupted by laughter. Weak, but horribly familiar.
"He's gone. Dead. He left you, like everyone leaves you."
Wanda turned. If not for the laughter, she would not have recognized Ultron laying among the debris of the explosion. He was burned beyond recognition, just barely clinging to life. Wanda approached warily, crouching at Ultron's side. She almost pitied the charred husk that had once been her very worst enemy.
"You're wrong" she said. "Vision isn't dead. I'd know if he was. And Pietro didn't leave me. You took him from me."
"The boy didn't have to die. If he'd listened to me, I would have ruled through him" Ultron snarled, then coughed, an unpleasant black gunk spilling out of his burned mouth. "But he rebelled.. Made his own plans.. wanted you to rule with him.."
"He wouldn't be your puppet" Wanda spat, "And neither would I."
"And where has it got you? Alone again.. Death follows you, Scarlet Witch."
"No, it followed you. It ends now. Death is your legacy, and your legacy is done. But mine?" Wanda smiled, one hand moving to her stomach. There was nothing to fear from him now. "My Legacy is only just beginning, and already, the future is secure."
Ultron laughed, an already horrible sound made worse by the inclusion of a hacking cough and the death rattle of his breathing.
"Well, you were a naughty little Princess, weren't you, Wanda? I'm surprised the boy had it in him. But he is gone, without ever marrying you. You know what that makes the little brat squirming in your belly, don't you?" Wanda's eyes flashed, a warning that Ultron chose not to heed. "No-one is ever going to accept a Thief's Bastard as the heir to the throne."
"I was almost going to let you just die quietly" Wanda's eyes flared red, as did her fists, the Scarlet Witch fully awakening. "You were already halfway there, so what more harm could you do? But you do not deserve that mercy, Ultron. You never did. You can insult me as much as you like, your words can't hurt me anymore. But insult my child? That is the last straw.."
Wanda raised a glowing fist, and now in the face of true death, the defeated King's eyes widened in horror.
"No.. wait.. No!"
Ultron's final blood-curdling scream echoed through the battlefield. A scarlet flare soared through the stormy sky, and Ultron's burned, blackened body was dropped at the feet of his surviving forces, all huddled together in surrender, a few moments before Wanda Maximoff- Queen Wanda Maximoff- landed before them.
One of the new Queen's hands was covered in blood, but the explosion had left Ultron's body damaged enough before death that nobody was quite sure how she had delivered the killing blow. On that day, and all the days that followed, nobody was ever brave enough to ask.
For a few moments, the defeated soldiers huddled tighter together, fearful of her wrath. Wanda stared them all down for a moment, then let the red energy fade, the Scarlet Witch sleeping, for now. Wanda Maximoff was not Ultron. She would not rule with fear. She took a deep breath.
"Ultron is dead. The War is over. Ultron was a cruel King. I know some of you have been forced to do horrible, vile things under his rule.. Things you may never have done if you felt that you truly had a choice. Things you did out of fear for your safety. I will not be a cruel Queen. Today, I offer mercy to those who may deserve it, and a chance, for new beginnings. Renounce Ultron, swear loyalty to me as the new, rightful Queen of Sokovia, and all will be forgiven. We need never speak of the false King Ultron's dark reign again."
Wanda waited, a little anxious over how this would go, but trying not to show her nerves. The Avengers, Doctor Strange, and the rest of Wanda's forces looked on, also nervous. Then, one of Ultron's former generals knelt, offering up his sword, and the others began to follow suit.
"To Queen Wanda!"
"Queen Wanda! Queen Wanda!"
"Woo!" Cried Tony, as he and the other Avengers joined in. "Queen Wanda!"
"Queen Wanda!" Yelled Clint.
"Queen Wanda!" cried Nat.
"Queen Wanda!" echoed Steve, kneeling.
Wanda blushed at all the attention. Her heart raced at her victory, pumping with adrenaline. But She could not celebrate yet.
She had to find Vision.
Chapter 54: Destiny
Wanda knows Vision is alive, even if the search for him is not going well.
With her grand speech complete, Wanda's first order as the new Queen of Sokovia was to instruct her followers, both old and new, to begin a search for Vision. Those who had been fighting for Ultron searched while carrying white flags of surrender, and were told to, as loudly as possible, declare their new status as Wanda's subjects, in the hope that Vision would know it was safe to reveal himself to them.
They searched for hours. While the rain had now stopped, the mud it had caused, and the ash from the explosion, hampered the search efforts somewhat. There didn't seem to be any sign of Vision at the site of the explosion. Wanda chose to take this as a good sign, chose to hope that it meant Vision had not suffered any of the burns or injuries that Ultron had been subjected to before his death.
The most likely scenario was that Vision had been blown free from the worst of the blast. And while this was, unbeknownst to Wanda, exactly what had happened, the search of the forest and other areas surrounding the battlefield also failed to bear fruit.
As the hours ticked by, Wanda began to hear nervous whispers from some members of the search party. If Vision had fallen in the river, still raging after the storm, particularly if he had fallen in while injured or unconscious.. There would be little hope of finding the boy alive.
Wanda pretended that she hadn't heard any of these whispers, and even if she were to acknowledge that she'd heard them, she refused to believe what they were saying.
Vision was not dead. He couldn't be. As Wanda had already told herself, she'd know. She'd know if Vision were dead, if he were gone. But he wasn't, because she could still feel him. Somewhere, somehow, Wanda could feel Vision's presence. In fact, now she realized that she could, it seemed like a part of her had always been able to feel him. Had always been waiting for him to come for her.
It would explain a lot, like why Wanda had not been creeped out by the boy with strange but beautiful eyes whom she had sometimes caught watching her on her balcony from the streets below the castle. Why she had not been afraid when the same boy had unexpectedly walked right through the locked door into her room as she was right in the middle of her long planned escape attempt.
Wanda knew, without any doubt, that she and Vision were meant to find each other, meant to be together. Meant to rule together, and make Sokovia a better place for everyone. Maybe even better than it had been when her parents ruled.
First, he just had to come back to her. He had to.
Eventually, as the last of the day's light faded, Wanda was forced to call off the search for the day and set up camp. The now united armies combined their food stores, before rations were distributed and cooking fires were lit.
The Avengers, Doctor Strange, Princes Thor and Loki, and the Valkyrie sat around Queen Wanda's fire, forming a sort of honor guard as she ate her evening meal. When no one else was paying attention, Clint sneaked a little of his food into Wanda's bowl, as they both knew Vision would have done if he had been there. Wanda gave him a small, grateful smile in return.
A short while later, another of Ultron's former Soldiers approached, seeming slightly nervous, and knelt before Wanda. If their new Queen ordered it, of course they would resume the search for Vision at first light. But, he explained, Ultron had been pushing them all far beyond their limits for weeks on end, they were exhausted, and many had been injured in the battle.
Wanda looked around, and saw that the man was right. Many of Ultron's men were near breaking point. Some looked as though they might already be there. These were her people now, and they were hurting. Sometimes, being a Queen meant making difficult decisions.. But these were Vision's people too, and she knew what he would tell her to do. There was no real choice to make. The needs of many outweighed the needs of one.
"We will move on to Leestown in the morning" Wanda declared. "Our people can rest, and the injured can have their wounds properly treated."
"Thank you, Queen Wanda" The soldier bowed, then hurried off.
"But.." Tony turned to her, seeming surprised, "What about Vision?"
"Vision is smart" said Wanda, standing. "He knew where we'd be going next if we won. He will follow. Now if you'll excuse me, It's been a very long day, and your Queen needs some rest.."
Nat slapped the back of Tony's head as Wanda left.
"Ow!" Tony yelped. "What was that for?!"
"She's the Queen now, you idiot!" Nat scolded him. "You don't question the Queen!"
Wanda sighed and crawled into her tent. It felt so empty without Vision there. She took a breath and undid the buckles on her armor, letting it fall away, no longer needed. Stripped the bloodstained gloves from her hands and tossed them aside. She wouldn't bother retrieving those when they departed in the Morning. Ultron needed to die, yes, but she did not need a permanent reminder of him and all the blood she'd had to spill that day.
Wanda flopped down and pulled a blanket around her. A blanket that still smelled like Vision. As exhausted as she was, she wasn't sure if she'd be able to sleep without him.. But she had to, for their baby, for the little piece of him she carried with her. Wanda's hand drifted to her belly, resting over her small baby bump.
"It's okay, little one" she whispered. "It's okay.. Your Father will be back soon.."
Vision drifted down the river. How far, or for how long, he couldn't be sure. Golden energy from the Mind Stone enveloped his body, protecting him anytime he had slipped below the surface of the water. Without it, he would almost certainly be dead.
Eventually, the drifting stopped. Vision broke the surface of the water, taking a deep, much needed breath. He looked around. Blinked a few times, not quite believing where he had ended up.. But there he was. Wanda was right, the river must have had a branch leading back to it.
And here he was. Floating in the perfectly blue water. Vision was in their spring. The spring Wanda had searched for on the road to Asgard, just to bring Vision. The spring where they'd escaped from all their troubles, where they'd made love, where they had learned they were expecting their child. Vision paddled to the edge. He saw where he'd knelt and kissed her stomach, saw the spot he'd marked for the cabin they planned to build.
Vision laughed, the most joyous laugh. Destiny was most definitely on his side, or else how could he have ended up here?
He and Wanda belonged together.
Chapter 55: Long Road Home
Vision begins a long, tiring walk to get back to Wanda.. until a strangely familiar family stumbles upon him by the side of the road.
Meanwhile, in the first days of her new, peaceful Sokovia, Wanda wants to check on the health of her baby..
After taking a few more moments to marvel over where the river had brought him, Vision hauled himself out of the pool, not an easy feat considering he was exhausted and still wearing a full suit of armour. Then, he flopped down in the spot where he one day planned to build a cabin for himself, Wanda, and their child, and took stock of the situation in which he now found himself.
Somehow, Vision knew that they had won the war. He just knew it, deep in his heart. They had won, his Princess was now a Queen, and as soon as he married her, their baby would be a little Prince or Princess. And preferably, he should do so before anyone else realised that Wanda was already pregnant. She already had the first tiny sign of a bump. Vision figured he had at least a few weeks before Wanda's growing belly became too difficult for her to hide.
He had two options. Asgard was closer, so at first glance, returning there would seem the smarter option. From there, Vision could send word to Wanda that he was alive, maybe get in a rest and a good hot meal before heading on to Sokovia. But, that would add days to his trip.. more days away from Wanda. Sending word of his survival would be more for everyone else's benefit than for Wanda's. Because as surely as he knew that they had won the war against Ultron, Vision knew that Wanda already knew that he was alive. Already knew that he was coming back to her.
Why waste time letting her know something she already knew? Time that he could be using to get back to her and their baby. Vision stood, his decision made. It was going to be a long walk to the castle in Sokovia.
Just as Vision was making his decision, Wanda and her party had arrived at Leestown. Someone had sent word of her victory, and they were met by a crowd of cheering citizens, led by an excited Peter Parker.
"Princess.. Queen Wanda!" The boy cried happily, bowing to her. "I made sure all the letters got delivered, Queen Wanda, just like you asked!"
"Thank you, Peter" Wanda managed a smile for him, though she still could not truly feel the joy of the moment without Vision there to share it with her. "Your hard work is appreciated."
"All the letters?" Tony was suddenly nervous, and grew more so when he noticed Pepper Potts striding purposefully towards him. "Miss Potts, please don't be mad, I know there was stuff in that letter that I really should have said in person, but I didn't want to maybe die without.. Mmmm.." He was immediately cut off when Pepper kissed him. Tony returned her kiss, his arms instinctively wrapping around her waist.
Wanda smiled at them, thinking of Vision, then remembered the responsibilities of her new crown, and set about making sure all of her people got what they needed.
Leaving the injured soldiers behind in Leestown to recuperate, the rest of the party headed back to Sokovia's capital the following day, so that Queen Wanda could officially reclaim the castle as her own. The transition into Wanda taking power was surprisingly smooth. King Ultron had been a highly despised monarch, but Wanda's parents had been much loved, so most were pleased to have a descendant of theirs back on the throne. Add to that the fact that Wanda was now a war hero, and there would have been very little grounds for anyone to argue against Wanda taking her crown.
Every day, Wanda sent men out to search for Vision. Thor refused to return to Asgard until his 'Brother of the Hammer' was brought safely home. But as the days turned to weeks with no sign of him, many, even the Avengers, began to lose hope of finding Vision alive.
Wanda, of course, never did. She knew that somewhere, somehow, Vision was on his way. One thing, however, was beginning to worry her. Beneath the loose fitting clothes she wore to hide it, Wanda's baby bump was growing. Usually, royal babies would be under close watch by doctors by this point. She knew she needed to be looked at, to check that her baby was healthy and growing well. Unfortunately, Wanda didn't feel she could trust the Castle's Doctors to keep her news secret long enough for Vision to return, marry her, and legitimise their child.
However, there was at least one Doctor Wanda thought she could trust.
One afternoon, Wanda jumped slightly as someone knocked at the door of her new chambers. Not wanting to sleep in the tower that had been her prison, or the royal chamber that Ultron had called his own, she had moved into the room that had once been Pietro's.
"Queen Wanda?" came Doctor Strange's voice. He had chosen not to return to the Sanctum just yet. "You summoned me?"
"Oh, right" Wanda relaxed. "Come in.."
Strange bowed after he entered the room.
"You said you needed a check up? I'm sure one of your own Doctors could.."
"No. I needed someone I know I can trust."
"Well then, I am honoured. What do you need, Your Majesty?"
"I.." Wanda took a breath, slightly nervous. She pulled her dress tighter over her stomach, so her baby bump was more clearly visible. "I'm pregnant."
"Ah" Doctor Strange smiled a knowing smile. "I thought so."
"You knew too?" Wanda's eyes widened.
"I was a medical Doctor before I became a Master of the Mystic Arts, so I may have noticed the signs" He chuckled. "Sit down, I'll have a look.."
"Okay.." Wanda sat. Strange knelt before her, gently feeling her bump.
"Any unusual symptoms?"
"Just a bit of morning sickness.. A few aches and pains now."
"All seems normal. How far along do you think you are?"
"Uh.." Wanda counted on her fingers. "Three months? Maybe a little more.."
"Hmm.. Okay then.." Doctor Strange's brow furrowed.
"What?" Wanda panicked. "Is something wrong?"
"No, not at all. You're just a little, uh, bigger than we'd usually expect for this stage.."
"I think, Your Majesty, there is a chance that you may be expecting twins.."
"Twins?" Wanda's hand flew to her belly, thinking of herself and her brother. She turned, as if to tell Vision, almost forgetting he wasn't there Tears prickled in her eyes. "Vision should be here.. he'd be so happy.."
"He'll be here when he can" Strange replied.
"You believe that?" Wanda looked at him, surprised. "Everyone's starting to look at me like I'm insane to keep searching.."
"I was with you two way back at the start of this" said Doctor Strange. "The bond you have.. it's incredible. Magical. If you believe Vision is coming back.. He's coming back."
For days on end, soon bleeding into weeks, Vision trudged along the lonely road back to Sokovia. Back to Wanda. Only eating whatever he could scavenge from the forest.
He was slowly growing more exhausted, but he couldn't stop. His progress would be faster without his armour, but Vision could not bring himself to give it up. Wanda had designed it for him.
One day, after so many days of trudging he had lost count, a horse and cart pulled up beside Vision. It's driver, a dark haired woman with a kind face, gazed down at him.
"You look like you could use a bit of help.."
"Yes" Vision's eyes lit up. "Do you happen to be going to Sokovia?"
"Yes, actually" The woman replied. Three young children peeked out from the cart behind her. "My Husband works for the new Queen.."
"Laura! You're Laura Barton!"
"I'm Vision, I know your husband!"
"Vision.." Laura's eyes widened. "As in.. 'about to marry Queen Wanda' Vision?"
"Oh my god, Get in.." Laura ordered.
"Thank you!" Vision happily complied.
"Lila, find something for him to eat, and Cooper, send a pigeon to Daddy.."
Chapter 56: Reunion
Wanda and Vision are reunited at last.
Laura stopped the cart just long enough for her eldest son to scribble a note to Clint informing him that they had come across Vision on the road and send it away via their pigeon, and then set off again.
"I feel a little bit embarrassed that we don't have better to offer a soon to be King.." said Laura from her spot driving the cart. "It's just that we're on the last couple of days of this trip, so we're down to the last of our supplies.."
"It's perfectly alright, Mrs. Barton" Vision munched on a slightly stale bread roll, taking a few gulps of water to help wash it down. After scavenging for weeks, even old bread seemed like a luxury. "I am very grateful for your help. Besides, I am not a King quite yet.."
"You will be pretty soon, if the letter Clint sent me is any indication.."
"Well, yes, if all goes to plan. Wanda and I were planning to marry as soon as possible.." Vision blushed a little. He saw Clint's youngest son, Nate, eyeing off what was left of his roll, and wordlessly handed it over. If the little boy was making eyes like that over a stale bread roll, he clearly needed it more. "When we get to the castle, there will be lots of nice food. Queen Wanda might even have some spare cake to share with you."
Clint's daughter, Lila, shuffled closer.
"What's Queen Wanda like?" She asked, very interested. "Is she pretty?"
"Oh yes" A goofy, boy-in-love smile spread over Vision's face. "Wanda is very pretty. Wanda is beautiful.. But that's not all she is. She's clever, and kind-hearted, and so strong. She's going to make a very good Queen. I've missed her a lot, and I'm sure she's missing me too.."
"It's so romantic" Lila sighed dreamily. Cooper rolled his eyes, and Nate, not old enough to fully understand any of what was going on, munched away at the last little bit of Vision's roll.
"It is" Laura agreed with her daughter, turning to smile at them all. "Don't worry, Vision. We'll have you home with her soon."
As much as Wanda had wanted to wait for Vision's return before making any more official arrangements, Wanda eventually agreed to let her new Castle Staff move ahead with plans for her Coronation. Supposedly, having her officially crowned would help the people feel more secure with their change in leadership.
A few days after the Barton Family had picked up Vision, the day of the planned Coronation arrived.
Wanda was in her chambers getting dressed for the ceremony. Though quite a few servants had been milling about, Wanda had allowed no one but Natasha in to help her.
"This isn't too tight, is it?" Wanda asked the Black Widow as she tried on her coronation gown, off-white with a red cloak around her shoulders. "I don't want anyone to notice my stomach before Vision gets back.."
"Wanda.." Nat frowned a little.
"I know what you're going to say. Don't say it. He's coming back."
"Hey, I want Vision to be alive too, but it's been weeks. I think maybe you have to.."
"NO!" Wanda growled. Her eyes flared red, the first time that the Scarlet Witch had woken within her since she had set foot into her new, peaceful Sokovia. "I don't care how many weeks it's been. Vision is coming back!"
"Okay.." Natasha cringed away from were. "Whatever you say, Your Majesty.."
At that moment, there was a panicked cry as the servants waiting outside scattered, followed by a frantic knock at the door.
"Not now, The Queen is busy!" Wanda snapped.
"I know" came Clint's voice from the other side of the door, "But I think you'll want to know about this.."
"Clint?" Nat frowned, and at Wanda's slightly confused nod of permission, moved to answer the door.
Clint entered the room with a grin, thrusting a letter into Wanda's hands. The Queen was puzzled at first, but as she began to read, a dazzlingly bright smile spread over her face.
"Vision.." She looked up at Clint. "How far away are they?"
"Well, that note's dated three days ago. Assuming they didn't run into any delays, they're probably only a couple of hours out.."
"Quicker if I fly.." Wanda grinned, running to her window and throwing it open. She had one foot on the windowsill before anyone tried to stop her.
"Whoa, hold up there kiddo!" Nat called after her.
"What?" Wanda turned her head, slightly annoyed at her reunion with Vision being delayed for even a second longer.
"Your Coronation is in a couple of hours" Nat pointed out. "And you're a Queen now. You can't just go flying out into the great blue yonder by yourself."
"Good point.. you two will have to come with me." With that, Wanda jumped out of the window, taking flight, and before Nat or Clint had a chance to argue, they found themselves surrounded in scarlet energy, floating out after her.
"Whoa!" Clint chuckled. "This is kinda cool!"
"Not cool!" Natasha yelled. "Wanda.. your majesty.. Put me down.. Wanda!"
Huddled in the back of the cart with Clint's children, Vision's excitement grew. He could feel himself growing closer and closer to Wanda. But then.. Hmm.. He seemed to sense Wanda's presence growing closer unusually fast. Soon, he knew why. A large red flash illuminated the path a short distance in front of them.
"Whoa!" Laura cried in slight panic as their horses reared a little.
Vision wasn't worried at all, because he knew the red flash was Wanda landing. He saw her now as the energy cleared, and she brought Clint and Natasha down for a gentle landing either side of her. Clint seemed excited, Nat as though she could kiss the ground, but Vision only had eyes for Wanda. He suddenly felt rather stupid, realising that if he had flown, he would have been back with her so much sooner. Then again, everything had happened for them just as it was meant to so far. Vision laughed joyfully and leapt out of the cart, racing towards Wanda.
She raced towards him as well, flinging herself into his arms, squealing happily as he lifted her and spun her around, before pulling her close for a deep, passionate kiss. Vision could feel Wanda's growing baby bump nestled between them, and ran his fingers gently over it, not caring right then if anyone saw. He somehow trusted Laura, even knowing her for only a few days.
They could hear the happy sounds of Clint reuniting with his family, but were only really aware of each other. They broke the kiss only when air became an issue.
"You're here.." Wanda whispered, cupping his cheek.
"I'm here" Vision replied, his forehead pressed to hers. "I'm sorry I took so long.."
"It's okay.." Wanda smiled. "Are you still going to Marry me?"
"If you still want me to" Vision gently nuzzled her neck.
Wanda giggled, turning to Natasha.
"Hey, Nat. How hard would it be to turn a coronation into a Wedding?"
"Surprisingly? Probably not that hard.." Nat mused.
"Well then" Clint rubbed his hands together. "Let's make it happen."
Vision just laughed, sweeping Wanda into his arms to kiss her again.