Chapter 1: To Begin Anew
Disclaimer: I do not own anything from both Harry Potter and Avengers…
Summary: When Harry finally accepted the fact that he had stopped aging, ten years had passed and he knew it was time to leave. AU.
The general idea of the first two chapters are similar to that of criesofthefallen's Taking Chances. Check out their story if you have time; it's pretty good.
Chapter 1 – To Begin Anew
The war had left the Wizarding World in pieces and its seventeen-year-old Saviour even more so. The only difference was that one had, slowly but surely, been rebuilt; the other had not.
After the war, Harry had quietly packed his things and found a small flat in Muggle London to move into. Polite but firm, he had turned down offer after offer to dinner parties and social gatherings, brushed off his friends' attempts to cajole him out of the niche he had made for himself, and generally ignored the goings-on in the magical community he had once called home.
And gradually, the time between visits from people he knew became longer and longer, and Harry found that he didn't really mind. The war had taken something from him and he knew instinctively that he would never get it back. He much preferred being alone now, and his friends stopping by usually just resulted in frustrated defeat for them and a migraine for him.
It wasn't as if Harry was idle though. He had enough money in his vaults to live comfortably for at least another century or so without lifting a finger but he had never been one to sit around doing nothing. With the Elder Wand now in his possession (quite literally as both the wand and the resurrection stone had returned to him after he had thrown them away and had bonded with his magical core soon after, leaving him with the ability to perform wandless magic. He hadn't let himself so much as think about the resurrection stone; a part of him wanted to test his ability with it, but another, larger, part of him knew that messing with the dead was bad news all around.), magic no longer proved difficult for him, so he had turned to other branches of study instead.
He had always been good at math so he had started there. He had picked up physics, which had eventually led to other fields in the subject. Aero physics and quantum physics had interested him and he had spent many hours holed up in his flat going through book after book. But he couldn't very well enter either field; they were both too much in the spotlight, and being noticed again was the last thing he wanted. So he had finally turned to mechanics instead. He made friends with the owner of a garage in London, who, upon realizing that Harry wasn't from a rival business and was simply interested in auto mechanics, invited him in for a tour. The tour turned into lunch breaks in which Harry would bring lunch, and West, the garage owner, would teach him about the practical aspect of fixing a vehicle.
And just like that, time went by, day after day, month after month, year after year, until one day, Harry could walk into the repair shop and customers would greet him on sight, asking his advice and paying him to fix their cars. He knew West's wife, Sienna, and the man's two children called him Uncle Harry. The garage had become more of a home than perhaps even Hogwarts had ever been. Harry had found that he liked working in the quiet haven it provided, and West had practically adopted him as a younger brother after a few months, bullying him into eating and making sure he got back to his flat for some rest when he discovered Harry's unhealthy habits in both areas. They ran the garage together now, with West insisting Harry get half the income when Harry had tried to refuse.
It was peaceful and normal and Harry found himself content and even happy at times. But fate and luck had always hated him, so it would stand to reason that the simple life he had made for himself would never last.
"You need to leave."
Harry paused in his work before rolling out from under the car he had been working on to look up at West's gruff features. Nothing fazed him much anymore and this was no different. Keeping his features blank, he waited for West to continue, ignoring the tightness in his chest at the older man's words.
West heaved a sigh, running a hand through his dark hair. "Look Harry, I love having you here, you know I do, but you can't stay here," The man glanced to the side at the open garage doors before frowning down at him. "You must have noticed: it's been ten years but you haven't aged a day."
Harry stilled, tensing even as his fight-or-flight instinct flared to life. West must have caught it because his frown turned into an outright glare.
"If I had a problem with whatever's affecting you, I would've chucked you out five years ago," West snapped harshly. "I know shit's happened in your life, kid; I can see it in your eyes, but I didn't press when you first came and I'm not going to press now. But some of the customers are talking. Not the usual regulars; they know how to keep their mouths shut and turn a blind eye, but the jackasses pissing money who come here a few times a year; they've gotten suspicious. Sooner or later, they'll be asking questions and calling scientists and doctors, and next thing you know, you'll be sold off to the highest bidder and locked up in some government facility like a lab rat. I don't like it any more than you do but you need to leave."
Harry listened to West's long tirade, letting his head fall back as the mechanic finished. He knew, of course, that he had become something of an immortal. Seven and a half years ago when he had woken up one day and wondered why he didn't own a shaver, his life had taken a downturn. West had been out of town visiting family and, not having known Harry long enough yet to trust him completely with the garage, had closed it up for the six months he would be out of town. Harry had spent that time alternately staring at the mirror and tearing through all the magical books in every single library he could get into. None of it had been remotely useful until, at the end of the six months, desperate and not a little bit scared (because there had never been a time when he had ever thought living forever would be a good idea), he had taken a knife to his wrists, watching with clinically morbid fascination as the world dissolved around him.
And then he had met Death itself, nondescript and not really the terrifying image most people associated with it, and it had kindly explained to him exactly what it meant to be Master of Death. He could get hurt and he could even die, but he would always come back because one of Death's duties was to keep its master alive. It had been vague when Harry had all but begged it to tell him he would live out a normal, albeit extended lifespan like everyone else. There were rules and consequences, Death had told him, but hadn't said much more than that before sending him back.
Harry had woken up to four white walls and West's face looming over him, furious and worried in equal measure. Apparently, the mechanic had returned early and had decided to stop by Harry's place to ask him to dinner with his family again. It had been midday and he had found it strange that the curtains had been closed and at least three weeks' worth of newspapers had been piled up on his doorstep, so, after calling Harry on both his home phone and cell and getting no answer, he had forced the door open and found him bleeding out in the bathroom.
West had yelled himself hoarse after Harry had finally managed to stay awake long enough to listen, a disgusted 'how stupid do you think I am' look on his face when Harry had tried to reassure him that he wasn't really suicidal and he wouldn't do it again. The day Harry had gotten out of the hospital, he had found Sienna parked out front with a warm smile and an adamant glint in her eyes. Half an hour later, he had found a new home in his boss's guest bedroom, all his belongings in the closet and his flat's keys turned back in to his former landlord.
West had watched him like a hawk for a year and a half before finally easing up, but he had stubbornly turned down Harry's offer to move out and Danny and Janey had cried when they had heard that their Uncle Harry wanted to leave, so Harry had sighed and agreed to stay.
As for the issue of being Master of Death, there hadn't been much Harry could do about his newfound immortality but it was obvious he wasn't going to be leaving the land of the living anytime soon so he had put it out of his mind, not wanting to upset the family that had taken him in.
When his friends had found out (seven months later) that he had moved in with Muggles, their reactions ranged from confused to downright scandalized. They had pulled all their cards; Ginny still waiting for him (but Harry had gotten over that years ago), his education at Hogwarts (he didn't really need it anymore), the Wizarding World needing him (as far as Harry was concerned, offing Voldemort at seventeen for them had been more than enough), etc. Harry had ignored them all, and when Hermione had tried to force him to leave by throwing up a fuss and accusing him of being irresponsible and selfish while West and his family had been home, Harry had had it out with her right there on the front lawn. It had ended with the witch leaving, temper high, and Harry tired and drained. Neither had spoken to the other ever since.
To his relief and gratitude, neither West nor Sienna had pressed him about it, carrying on as if they hadn't seen their houseguest threaten an unknown woman for threatening them (though West had asked what Obliviate meant, to which Harry had given an honest answer, curious about the reaction he would get. West had blinked, shrugged and then pointed him at the nearest car that needed to be fixed and that was that.)
"Okay," Harry found himself saying now, rising to his feet. "I'll go pack my things."
Before he could take more than a few steps, West's hand had come down on his shoulder.
"I don't mean right at this moment," West said irritably. "At least wait until the kids get home from school. And I don't care where you go; just make sure you've got a phone and an address. I expect calls and letters every week."
Harry stopped and stared out of the garage for a long moment, contemplating his next words.
"I don't age," He finally said. "This doesn't bother you?"
West shrugged. "I should think it bothers you more."
Harry gave him a long measured stare. "...You're really strange."
The mechanic snorted and led the way back into the house. "You're one to talk, midget. Now get in here; Sienna has lunch ready."
In the end, Harry had cracked open a map, transfigured a pen into a dart, and hoped for the best. West had face-palmed when he found out his method.
"What if you had picked a place well-known for serial killers or something?" He had demanded.
Harry had shrugged. "New York probably has its fair share but I'll manage."
West had thrown his hands in the air and helped him get his things together, not even blinking as he gathered some of the quills Harry had forgotten in a side drawer years ago.
Seven hours and several tearful goodbyes later, Harry was on a plane heading for New York. If he had known just what was in store for him, he probably would've reconsidered his choice to move to this particular city.
Six months later, Harry was settled in Manhattan and had opened a business of his own. Once word got around that his garage, though smaller than most, had a very talented, albeit young mechanic running it, vehicles of all kinds came rolling in. Apparently, car accidents were the norm in New York City. The fact that he didn't charge very much for assembling parts and/or repairing them either was just a bonus.
It was a decent life though Harry found it slightly odd in the first few weeks when he turned to say something to West only to find himself alone. But he adjusted and remembered to write, not quite able to help the smile on his face when he was bombarded with dozens of letters in the first month.
It was nearing the end of the ninth month when autumn kicked in and Harry woke to a chill in the air and the telltale hiss of an overheated engine outside his house. When he peered out his window, he saw a worried-looking woman in a white shirt and formal skirt and two men with rolled-up sleeves bending over the hood of a sleek black unmistakable Audi R8.
Almost as if he had sensed him, one of the men glanced up and caught Harry's gaze. To his surprise, the man flashed a rakish grin, waved at Harry's currently closed garage, and made a pleading gesture, complete with puppy-dog eyes that actually didn't look completely ridiculous on him considering the fact that the man looked to be in his mid-thirties. Harry couldn't quite hold back a snort as he moved away from the window, eyeing his bed for a moment before grabbing his work clothes. Technically, he didn't open for another two hours, but once he was up, there really was no point in going back to bed. He might as well start the day by doing what he did best.
Of course, Harry had no idea that his life would change quite drastically in his decision to help one Tony Stark.
Finished! First work on this site. Hope it's a good start.
Chapter 2: To Be A Friend
Disclaimer: I do not own anything from Harry Potter or Avengers...
There might be a bit of confusion on the timeline for this fic so I'll clear it up here. This story takes place several months before Loki arrives and it will be AU so the storyline won't completely follow the Avengers movie.
The general idea of the first two chapters are similar to that of criesofthefallen's Taking Chances (on fanfiction). Check out their story if you have time; it's pretty good.
Chapter 2 – To Be A Friend
"Tony, we're going to be late."
Tony waved a hand to clear the smoke, trying to get a good look at the damage. "Yeah, don't I know it," He grumbled before pinning his driver with a long-suffering look. "Stevens, I pay you to get me to conferences on time, not to get us halfway there."
He expertly ignored Pepper's look of disapproval as well as his driver's mumbled apologies and frowned at his engine instead. If he had the proper tools for it, he could try to fix it himself, but he wasn't exactly in the habit of carrying around an entire toolkit in the back of his Audi.
A movement flickered in his peripheral vision and he glanced up, eyebrows rising when he caught sight of a pair of green eyes staring back at him. He shot a quick look at the sign above the large garage on the right – Marauders' Den: Auto Assembly and Repair – and grinned hopefully back at the man in the window. The garage was closed at the moment but surely no one would turn him away in a time of need.
Tony scowled petulantly when the man disappeared from sight without acknowledgement, but brightened again when the overhead garage door smoothly slid up a few minutes later. Bounding forward, he greeted the man that stepped outside, hand already extended.
"Good morning!" Tony shook the man's hand, hiding his surprise when he realized just how young he looked. The mechanic was almost a full head shorter than he was too. "Tony Stark, pleasure to meet you!"
The black-haired man – or teen, really – blinked back, looking bemused. "Harry Potter," He returned with a British accent. "Likewise. What seems to be the problem?"
Harry moved away, eyes focused on the steam pouring out of the hood. Tony had a feeling Harry already knew the problem and kept quiet instead, observing him curiously.
"Overheated engine," Harry muttered absently. "Blown head gasket; I'll have to replace that. How soon do you need this fixed up?"
"Soon as possible would be great," Tony glanced at his watch. It was seven-twenty. "We're in a bit of a hurry. Conference meeting at eight-thirty and we're still half an hour away." He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "But if it's replacing the gasket, you'll need at least a few hours to repair it. Damn."
Tony expected Harry to nod in agreement but the mechanic only peered at the engine again before enquiring, "How important is this meeting?"
"Lose-a-few-million-dollars-if-we're-not-there important," Tony sighed.
Pepper jumped in, shooting a stern frown at Tony. "Do you have some way of patching it up just until we get there?"
Harry shook his head. "No, the gasket's completely crushed," He paused and then turned to make his way back into his garage.
"Here," He grabbed a set of keys off one of the hooks and tossed them at Tony before pointing at a velocity red Mazda3 parked inside his garage. "Take that. Return it in one piece after your conference and I'll have your car ready by the time you get back."
Tony gaped at him, staring wide-eyed from the keys in his hands to the Mazda in the garage. A small part of his brain was trying to figure out how he could've missed seeing the Mazda in the first place. "Wait, you're just gonna lend us your car? We just met!"
Harry shrugged. "Yeah, so return it without getting it scratched," He cocked an eyebrow. "I thought you were in a hurry?"
Tony gauged the mechanic's expression and found nothing but honesty there. He shook his head in disbelief but gestured for Pepper and Stevens to get in the Mazda. Pepper thanked Harry warmly before sliding into the passenger's seat. Tony approached the mechanic and did the same.
"Thanks," He said, opening the door on the driver's side. "We'll go for a round of drinks after this. To show my appreciation," He added with a smirk when Harry made to protest. Ducking into the car effectively cut off the rest of Harry's objections.
"That was lucky," Pepper said as Tony pulled back on the road, feeling a rush of delight when he realized just how smoothly the Mazda could run. The speed was amazing and the engine literally made no noise at all.
"Yeah," Tony agreed, increasing the acceleration. "How much do you think I'd have to pay him to convince him to come work for me?"
Pepper rolled her eyes. "Really, Tony? He's already lent us a car. Don't harass him in return."
"I'm not going to harass him," Tony protested. "It's just a business proposition."
Pepper shook her head. "I don't think he'd agree. He seems comfortable where he is."
"You just wait," Tony said confidently. "Everyone wants to work for Stark Industries and, more importantly, me."
Pepper refrained from slapping him upside the head. Judging by the lack of reaction when Tony had introduced himself, she had a sneaking suspicion that Harry didn't even know who Tony Stark was.
Which was a good thing, she mused. Harry didn't seem like the type to be tempted by money and if Tony wasn't too much of a bastard to the mechanic, the arrogant idiot might just gain an actual friend.
Fixing the Audi was easy enough, and mornings were always slower than afternoons on Saturdays, which left Harry some time to think. He knew who Tony Stark was, of course; half the world probably knew. Harry had been surprised when he had dug into New York's history and come up with actual superheroes in this day and age. It wasn't something he expected and he made sure to look into everything he could find on them. He had come up with Iron Man, Captain America, and even zones of destruction where whispers of someone called the Hulk was rumoured to have passed through.
But Harry had never expected to actually meet any one of them, especially someone as high up in the American hierarchy as Tony Stark. A billionaire industrialist and inventor, he would've thought that his modest garage would be the last place someone like Stark would show up at.
The spark of magic Harry had placed in his Mazda thrummed against his own magic and he looked up to see his car in the distance.
"Great car!" were Stark's first words as he pulled up in front of the garage without so much as a whisper from the breaks. "I don't know how you did it. Not even my cars run like this."
Harry shrugged and caught the keys Stark tossed back at him. "I'm good at what I do," He replied vaguely before waving at the Audi parked neatly in his driveway. "It's good to go. Where are the other two?"
Stark waved a dismissive hand as he hurried over to his car. "They hitched a ride with someone else while I drove back here and is my engine quieter or what?"
Stark had started his car and was listening intently to the low growl it produced. Harry nodded. "I had time so I thought I'd give it a tune-up. I hope you don't mind. I couldn't resist. I've never worked with an Audi R8 before."
"Mind? Are you kidding?" Stark asked incredulously. "I'd like to bring all my cars over here. Oh, which brings us to a very important question I've been meaning to ask you since this morning."
Harry arched an eyebrow when Stark paused dramatically.
"How would you like to come work for me?"
Harry blinked and replied without missing a beat. "No thanks."
Stark looked taken aback. "Why not? You do know I run Stark Industries, right? And just name your price; I can pay-"
"I earn enough on my own, Mr. Stark," Harry interrupted, feeling slightly annoyed. "I neither want nor need any more money."
The usual playful careless look on Stark's face abruptly sharpened into something more intent, as if he was trying to solve a particularly difficult puzzle, and Harry wondered why he would choose to hide this side of him behind his usual facade.
"Are you sure?" Stark pressed, though Harry had a feeling that he was simply carrying on the conversation now. "You'd have state-of-the-art parts to work with, and more Audi R8s than you'd know what to do with."
"I'm sure," Harry said, stuffing his hands into his jean pockets. "Thanks for the offer though."
Stark nodded thoughtfully before the teasing glint reappeared in his eyes. "Don't call me 'Mr. Stark'. It sounds ridiculous. Tony is fine."
Harry shrugged again. He didn't want to seem too friendly. He hadn't come to New York to make friends and seeing how he would have to leave either at a moment's notice or in around five years' time, or both, it was better to simply keep to himself.
"Stark then," He said as a compromise and ignored Stark's loud complaint.
"So how much do I owe you?" Stark asked after it was clear Harry wasn't going to indulge him.
"Six hundred dollars," Harry replied and Stark almost dropped his wallet.
"What?" He exclaimed dubiously. "Replacing a head gasket on an average car alone costs seven hundred, much less mine, and you gave it a tune-up."
"Tune-up's free because I didn't ask first," Harry explained. "And I don't charge much. I already upped the price for your car. Usually, I'd charge four hundred for replacing a head gasket."
Stark eyed him as if he was wondering just how crazy Harry was. "Are you sure? I mean money's no problem for me-"
"And money's no problem for me either," Harry said firmly. "Now pay and leave. I still have a Honda to finish tuning by the end of the day."
Stark handed over the money without further prompting but he made no move to leave. "So what kind of Honda are you working on?"
"An Insight," Harry answered warily.
"Great! I've worked on one before. I'll give you a hand."
And before Harry could say anything else, Stark strolled past him into the garage, whistling cheerfully as he rolled up his sleeves.
Harry stared for a full five seconds before heaving a resigned sigh. He had expected Tony Stark to be arrogant and he had heard of the man's reputation as a playboy, but he had not expected the billionaire to be very hard to get rid of.
Over the next few months, Harry found out just how difficult it was to remove Tony Stark from his home. The billionaire literally came over at anytime he wanted. The first time his doorbell rang at three in the morning on a Sunday was a month after Harry met Stark. He had been all for kicking the man off his doorstep but the dark bags under his eyes and the frazzled air Stark brought with him was enough for Harry to allow his uninvited guest a chance to explain.
The CEOs of other companies had come for a business party held at Stark Industries, Stark had explained, and some of the guests hadn't left until only an hour ago. The place was a mess and he couldn't stand looking at all the proposed contracts and paperwork left in his home by said CEOs for another minute and Pepper was on leave visiting her parents so he had driven all the way down to Harry's place and could he please just spend the night.
Harry hadn't had the heart to say no and had allowed Stark entry, hastily shoving some boxes he had still yet to unpack away from his sofa-bed. Unfortunately, this one time admission into his home somehow became an open invitation and within the space of another two months, half a dozen midnight visits, and quite a few daytime appearances on Stark's off days, Harry had finally thrown in the towel and given the irritating man a key of his own.
The smug look Harry had caught on the billionaire's face when said key was handed over told Harry that this was the outcome Stark had been aiming for all along.
"Stark, have you ever heard of common courtesy?" Harry glared at the billionaire currently studying a closet with a disturbing amount of interest.
Stark barely spared him a glance before returning to his careful examination. "Of course I have," He said airily. "And I have plenty of it. I just save it for when I need it."
Harry rolled his eyes. "What are you doing?"
Stark hmm'ed thoughtfully before waving a hand around the living room. "I've always wondered: why is this place smaller on the inside? And," Stark raised a hand to silence Harry's reply. "Before you deny it, I've measured this place. It's definitely bigger on the outside. And I looked up the floor plans for this place; there should be a basement. Most of it's underground but the stairs leading down to it should be right here."
Harry felt a spike of real frustration that he wasn't quite able to hide and Stark hastily backtracked. "I know, I know, I shouldn't have looked, but I was curious and I couldn't help myself. Sorry?"
Harry sighed considered his next move. He knew if he denied Stark's claim, the man would never bring it up again. While Stark was curious enough to get himself killed ten times over, he also respected Harry enough to respect his privacy.
On the other hand, if Harry showed Stark just how many pet projects he had on the side, he had a feeling the man would only find even more reason to stick around. Not that Harry understood why the billionaire wanted to befriend him in the first place. Harry was not delusional in the least. He knew he wasn't the easiest person to get along with. He often preferred to stay silent as opposed to talking and he wasn't exactly all that friendly to other people anymore. He was polite, yes; that was a must when dealing with customers six days a week, but he never went out of his way to try to make friends with them either. The regulars knew him well enough to keep their visits almost completely on business.
"Fine," Harry snorted at the pleased look he received; Stark always wore it when he got his way. Surreptitiously, he used some of his magic to unveil the panel near the back of the closet, tapped in the code, and stepped aside as the back of the closet slid open to reveal a set of stairs leading downwards. "Knock yourself out."
Stark's face literally lit up with childish glee when his eyes landed on the six vehicles Harry had stored in the basement. "Those two are hybrids! And you have a motorcycle! And that's an Audi R8; I thought you said you didn't have one?"
Harry sat down on a chair. "I didn't. I bought it recently."
Stark glanced back at him for a moment. Harry knew the billionaire had always wondered why the prices Harry charged were never very high. Stark had never asked and Harry had never said, but he supposed it was now a confirmed fact that Harry was just as rich as Stark.
"And what are these two?" Stark peered curiously at the two vehicles on the far right.
"They're mine," Harry replied with a tinge of pride colouring his words. "They're not finished yet but I've been building my own cars."
"Ah, inventor," Stark nodded sagely, gaze already taking in the different parts that made up his two creations. "You never said."
"You never asked," Harry countered.
"True," Stark acknowledged. "You must be quite the genius to be doing this at your age. Exactly how old are you anyway? Seventeen? Eighteen?"
Harry made a noncommittal sound. "About, yeah."
Stark didn't seem very put out by the non-answer, turning instead to take in the basement. "How did you get everything in here?"
Already expecting the question, Harry drew out a remote and a moment later, the far part of the basement's ceiling opened, a ramp extended downwards, and cold sunlight splashed the floor of the room.
"It opens out to the backyard," Harry clarified.
Stark just grinned happily, enthusiasm almost visible around him. "Harry, you and I are going to be the best of friends."
Harry scoffed quietly as Stark bounded over to one of the hybrids. He supposed he could call Stark a friend, but there wouldn't be time for them to become best of anything. He had already stayed here for over a year. Another four years or so and it would be time to pack up and leave again.
Hope Tony wasn't completely out of character or anything.
Chapter 3: To Start A War
Disclaimer: I do not own anything from Harry Potter or Avengers...
On to the next chapter! More action and the plot will be moving along now.
Chapter 3 – To Start A War
The spike of energy that washed over his Occlumency shields woke Harry immediately, and he shot out of bed, halfway to the window before he was completely conscious. He peered outside but only a clear night sky and a quiet street greeted him.
It happened sometimes; a sudden surge of something most definitely death-related that would hit Harry at the most random times. The first time this had happened, he had woken up in a panicked state, not quite knowing why. An hour and a Muggle newspaper later, Harry had found out that a gas line had exploded, taking three blocks and hundreds of Muggles with it. He had found that this news, while not something he knew about, did not come as a surprise for him either. Over the years, he had learned to block out most of this, knowing there was nothing he could do to stop it; that the feelings he received weren't warning s but simply the souls of the dead being ferried to the afterlife by Death. Apparently, it was Death's duty to notify its master on this issue as well.
Nowadays, so long as he kept his Occlumency shields up, Harry only felt the really, really bad cases, which were, thankfully, far and few in between. But he hadn't felt something quite like this in, well, ever. For one, the usual terror that gripped him was nonexistent. For another, whatever had woken him hadn't felt like death.
With a sigh, he turned to face the opposite side of the room and called softly, "Death? A word, please."
Years ago, Harry had accidentally summoned Death, almost giving himself a heart-attack when it had appeared in West's living room right in front of Danny and Janey. Thankfully, nobody else could see it unless Harry allowed it, as Death generously pointed out, and Harry had found out that he could summon it at any time he wanted.
"You called, Master?" Death appeared on the other side of the room, scythe in hand and, for once, a frown turning down its lips. Harry had always instinctively known that Death had no real gender or form, which would probably explain why he could never give a physical description of it, no matter how many times he saw it.
"What's going on? What woke me up?"
Death took its time before speaking, expression darkening. "Something that does not belong is here. What that is is not clear. But he does not belong yet he sings my song. I wish him gone, Master."
Though Harry never talked to Death unless he couldn't help it, he had adjusted to the funny way it spoke, half rhyme and half not, and he quickly dissected the meaning it was conveying. "Okay, something's interfering with your job. Is it a wizard? I mean, it's probably not a Muggle, right? Unless they've created a way to cheat death or something stupid like that."
But Death shook its head. "He is Muggle and yet he is not. He has arrived through power and through thought. His rule has started and his goal is clear; if not stopped, the end draws near."
"Muggle but not?" Harry repeated, ignoring the dread that came with the ending of Death's speech. "How is that possible? Do you mean a squib?"
Death shook its head and was silent.
"Not a squib," Harry muttered. "Someone with no magic then, but not really a Muggle either. Like- Like an alien or something?" He guessed with a half-laugh until Death nodded.
"An alien?" He asked faintly. "Really?"
Again, Death nodded. "Asgardian. My hold over them is not the same as the ones here I claim."
Harry sighed. Wonderful. Well, he supposed if there was magic and superheroes, then aliens weren't too far off an idea.
"Right, so whoever managed to get here took half a soul of some people and that's what woke me up," Harry said. "Why would he take half a soul of anyone?"
"A soul is power, a soul forsooth," Death told him. "When bent to one's will, it shows nought but truth."
"What does that mean?" Harry asked, finally lost. "You mean he's controlling people by taking over half their souls?"
Death nodded. "And true truth is revealed."
"True truth?" Harry sighed. "No such thing." He stiffened. "Unless... there's nothing else to influence that truth. Like emotions and free thoughts. Is that what you mean?"
Once more, Death nodded, and Harry snorted. "Why can't you just say that? I suppose the government's handling it then?"
This time, Death did not answer and Harry dismissed it with another sigh. Unless the issue had to do with it directly, Death did not particularly care. It could not predict the future nor was it a spy Harry could send off to retrieve information.
But the unease twisting his stomach did not leave and he spent the next ten minutes moving from room to room, restless and on edge. Finally, he retrieved his cell, pulling up the number Stark had entered into his phone eight months ago. He knew Stark had contacts in the government; maybe he would know something. But he had never called the billionaire before, not once; Stark would know something was wrong instantly. His stomach gave another lurch and for a moment, Harry thought he might be sick. He took a few deep breaths, fully pulled up his Occlumency shields to block out the worsening feeling he was getting, and dialled the number.
Surprisingly, Stark picked up after only three rings, voice still sleep-riddled but surprisingly sharp for two in the morning.
"Harry? What's wrong?"
Harry hesitated for a moment, not really knowing what to say. "I- I'm sorry for calling so late."
"Don't worry 'bout it. I don't mind. What's the matter?"
Harry glanced out the window again as if that would somehow give him a clue as to what was going on. "Have you- I mean do you know if anything strange is going on?" Besides me calling you this late, he added mentally.
"No, not that I'm aware of. Should I?"
Harry swallowed as another surge of energy jolted against his mind. Someone somewhere was taking souls like it was going out of style. "No, of course not, but- Do you think you could check with the government? I know you've got a few contacts with-"
Harry's words died in his throat as a crippling wave of energy washed over him. The phone slipped from his hand and he fell to his knees, gasping for breath. Whoever was doing this had just taken over half of a very powerful soul. A part of him screamed; this was wrong, this was sick. Someone out there was contaminating souls.
"Harry? Harry! What's wrong? Come on, answer me! Damn it, I'm coming over there, just hang tight!"
"No, no," Harry picked up the phone again as the sick feeling ebbed to something bearable. "I'm fine; just- a bit of a stomach flu. Don't worry about it."
"Don't lie to me; I just saw you yesterday and you were fine then! I'm coming over."
"No," Harry said, more forceful this time. "Look, I'm fine. Just- I think you should stay by a phone, or call someone. I was asleep and woke up feeling a little... off. I thought something might be wrong, that's all."
"I have my cell with me and I'll call some people, but I think I should still come over."
"I really am alright, Stark," Harry assured, and he did feel better. It seemed the Asgardian had stopped for the time being. "I'll be going back to sleep so there's no point in coming over," He paused and then said sharply, "If you show up here, I'm kicking you to the curb."
Stark snorted. "Duly noted. I'll call you in the morning then."
Hanging up, Harry leaned his forehead against the window pane and squinted at the sky. Something was about to happen, something big, and he was afraid he might be pulled into whatever conflict that was about to explode across the world.
"Tony, who was that?"
Tony glanced up at Pepper as she appeared in the doorway with two mugs of coffee. "You're a lifesaver, Pepper, and that was Harry." He quickly took a gulp of the bitter liquid before returning to his computer.
"Is everything alright?" She asked, looking concerned.
"With him? Probably not, but he doesn't want me at his place right now and he told me to check up on a- holy son of a-!"
"What?" Pepper leaned over his shoulder. "Is that a satellite feed? You're hacking into satellite feeds now?"
"Who cares about that?" Tony enlarged the image. "Do you have any idea what that is? That's a research facility. Or it used to be a research facility. Now it's just a pile of rock and metal and probably bodies."
"Where is that?" Pepper asked anxiously.
"Southern coast of Staten Island," Tony studied the images. "Looks like the place collapsed in on itself."
"Wait, Staten Island? A research facility?" Pepper looked almost scared now.
Tony frowned at her. "Yeah, what about it?"
"Phil? Who the hell is Phil?"
Pepper smacked him upside the head. "Agent Coulson, Tony! Remember the last time he visited? He mentioned he had been sent to a research facility on Staten Island. I bet that's it."
Tony squinted at the damage. "And here I thought his first name was Agent. Well, Fury's not gonna like it if his butler's stuck under all that-ow!"
Pepper glared hard at him, an edge of panic entering her expression.
"Alright, alright, I'll call him right now," Tony picked up his cell. "You shouldn't worry so much; Coulson's one of those cockroach types. He's probably in some helicopter with Fury right now being very calm and not hysterical." He gave her a pointed look as they waited for the line to connect.
Seven rings went by and even Tony's bored expression started slipping before the line picked up. "Coulson. Mr. Stark, now's not a good time."
"Tell me about it," Tony said as Pepper released a sigh of relief. "No really, tell me about it. Did some experiment go boom or something? There's nothing left but a pile of rubble."
"Mr. Stark, this is really supposed to be classified."
"An explosion happens off the coast of New York and you wanna classify it? Trust me, it'll be all over the news in a couple hours."
There were muffled whispers on the other end before Nick Fury's voice sounded instead. "Stark, I'll assume you managed to hack a satellite feed, but how did you know to search in the first place?"
Tony didn't miss a beat. "You think I don't keep an eye out for this sort of thing? Never know when Iron Man's gotta make an appearance, right? The public looks to me for protection, you know."
Fury's disgusted scoff floated clearly over the line. "Your ego does more damage than anything we've got," He retorted. "But now that I've got you, I might as well fill you in. Are you alone?"
"Yup," Tony replied, clamping a hand around Pepper's wrist when she made to leave.
"I highly doubt it but this won't take long. Can you locate S.H.I.E.L.D.'s aircraft carrier?"
"What do you take me for?" Tony shot back, mildly offended. "If it's on the planet, I can find it."
"Good. Pack your bags and head over there immediately. We'll meet you there."
"What? You haven't told me what's going on!"
"You'll be briefed once you arrive, now get a move on."
"I am not just going to pack and hurry off to-"
"Stark, I'm reactivating the Avengers Initiative."
Tony fell silent for a moment. Beside him, Pepper stiffened, looking wide-eyed. "Director, last time I checked, I didn't qualify for the Avengers. Something about being volatile, self-obsessed, not playing well with others? Ring any bells?"
"Times change," Fury said. "The world needs the Avengers and I need you to get off this phone and head to the Helicarrier. Hurry up, Stark. There's no time to waste."
And with that said, Fury hung up, leaving an irritated Tony with the dial tone.
"Well," Pepper straightened and grabbed the coffee mugs. "I suppose we've both got some packing to do. I'll take the jet to D.C. tonight. Be careful."
"You too," He murmured before focusing on the satellite feeds again. A moment later, he dialed Harry's number. It didn't surprise him when the line picked up on the first ring.
"You were right," Tony started. "An explosion occurred on Staten Island. How did you know?"
"I didn't," Was the abrupt reply. "I just felt something might be wrong. ...Are you leaving? As Iron Man?"
"Yeah, I'm leaving right now," Tony headed for his closet. "Listen, stay close to home and if something big happens, stay inside. If anything seems wrong at all – some weird dude coming up the street, robots, lasers, monsters, whatever – go down into your basement and stay there until I call and say it's alright to come up, okay?"
"You don't have to worry about me," Harry said flippantly and Tony paused.
"I mean it, Harry. This is serious."
The pause on the other end only broke when Harry released a dry chuckle. "Trust me, I'll be fine, Tony. Stay safe yourself."
And before Tony could even register the fact that Harry had finally used his first name after nine months of wheedling on his part, the mechanic had hung up.
Tony blinked at his cell before a happy grin spread over his face and he returned to his packing with more enthusiasm. Well, never let it be said that Tony Stark didn't get what he wanted in the end.
Harry locked up his house and garage, making sure the CLOSED INDEFINITELY sign would be clear to all. It was lucky he had no future appointments or regular clients coming in anytime soon.
Hefting his bag and pulling on his invisibility cloak, Harry set off towards the general direction of Stark Industries. He would give Tony a few hours before Apparating directly there.
He knew Tony could take care of himself but there was no way Harry was going to let one of his only friends walk into what looked like the dawn of another war alone, especially when Death itself was worried.
Finished! Hope the Harry-Tony interaction flowed well.
Chapter 4: To First Meetings
Disclaimer: I do not own anything from Harry Potter or Avengers...
On to the next chapter!
Chapter 4 – To First Meetings
Standing outside Stark Industries, Harry wondered how he was going to get inside. There was probably some indication on Tony's computers that would tell him where the billionaire had gone, but he didn't think simply Apparating inside would be a good idea. For one, there was enough artificial intelligence tech in the building to make breaking-in almost suicidal, even for him. For another, while he had always refused when Tony had tried to invite him over, Harry had heard of Jarvis, who would probably notify Tony immediately when it sensed an intruder, and that was only if Jarvis wasn't the shoot-first-ask-questions-later type.
The funny thing in all this was that Harry actually had his own pass key; Tony had left it at his place one day and refused to take it back no matter what Harry threatened him with. But he didn't know if Jarvis would inform Tony anyway since Harry was supposed to be staying close to home.
Well, there was no point in hanging back and wasting time. Maybe if he asked politely, Jarvis would keep it a secret.
An almost startled hum came from his suit as Tony flew over Brooklyn. "Jarvis? What is it?"
Jarvis didn't reply for a long moment and Tony was about to ask again when it spoke. "Nothing, sir. I was simply running a scan on Mr. Potter's household."
"Oh," Tony fully approved. He had managed to install a small scanner into Harry's alarm system without too much complaint from the mechanic. "Is he alright then?"
"Quite," Jarvis replied promptly. "He is safe. Not asleep though."
"Doubt he can sleep," Tony muttered. "I wish he'd tell me how he knew about the explosion. If Fury ever gets wind of his predict-the-future voodoo or whatever it is, he'll never leave Harry alone."
Another pause from Jarvis before Tony got the feeling that his A.I. was amused. "You wish to protect him, sir?"
Tony made an offended sound. "You say that like he isn't worth protecting! I save complete strangers every few months. Harry's a given."
"You misunderstand, sir," Jarvis objected. "I simply find it fairly presumptuous of you to think he needs protecting at all."
Tony blinked. "What? What does that mean? He's a wiz with cars but I really don't wanna throw him in front of whatever helped make that research facility go boom. ...Jarvis?"
"We are approaching the Helicarrier, sir," Jarvis ignored his attempts to return to the previous topic. "Decreasing power to forty percent in back thrusters. Preparing to land at your command."
Tony grunted, annoyed, but didn't push as he started descending. The broad expanse of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s aircraft carrier took up quite a bit of space in the Atlantic Ocean, dark and solid even against the night-shadowed waters. He could already see a number of people running around, helicopters and fighter-jets parked by the runway. Disinterested, his thoughts remained on the mechanic he had come to see as probably his only friend, not counting Pepper.
Since meeting one Harry Potter, Tony had thanked every god he didn't believe in for the day his car had broken down right in front of Marauders' Den. He could literally count his friends on one hand and still have two fingers left over, and that was including Jarvis. Sad, but true. Of course, it wasn't as if he needed friends, but a few he could actually count on to at least be his emergency contacts wouldn't hurt.
But from the very beginning, there had always been something about Harry that sparked his interest. Tony still had yet to figure out how Harry managed to tune his vehicles so well that they never made any noise. And that wasn't the only thing Tony found strange. Sometimes, he would work in the garage with Harry for a while and then Harry would point out a Mazda or a Toyota needing fixing that Tony would swear in front of a full jury wasn't there before. But somehow, he was never completely certain that he hadn't just missed them before, and Harry simply carried on with whatever he was working on so Tony would let it go.
And there was also Harry's age. Tony had been trying to get an actual number out of the mechanic for months only to receive responses like 'about' or 'something like that' or a noncommittal sound that really told him nothing at all. Harry looked to be in his late teens but his reclusive personality and mature countenance always left Tony jabbering on as if he was talking to someone closer to his own age.
However, none of that compared to the mechanic's eyes. After all, Harry could simply be a very grown-up teenager. Yet Tony had never, not once, called him a kid because there was no mistaking the haunted shadows lurking behind emerald green. They were the same ones he sometimes saw in his own eyes when he looked into a mirror. Harry had suffered; seen and done things no one should have to go through, and was probably part of the reason Tony found himself so at ease in the quiet mechanic's company.
It hadn't been easy getting through to Harry though. The mechanic had done everything humanly possible to shut Tony out since day one, but Tony was nothing if not persistent. He had wanted Harry as a friend and hadn't been above inviting himself over even when Harry didn't want him there (which, come to think of it, was pretty much all the time during the first two months). When Harry had given him the spare key, Tony had been pleased. When Harry had shown him the basement, Tony had been delighted. And, only two weeks ago, when he had once again shown up unannounced, Harry had let him in and, instead of waving in the direction of the sofa-bed in the living room, had led him to the guest bedroom, previously used to store some boxes and cleaning supplies but had been cleaned out and replaced with a new bed and desk and even a bookshelf, and Tony had been ecstatic. Now the only thing left was to persuade the mechanic to visit Stark Industries once in a while. The guest bedroom Tony had set aside for Harry was starting to collect dust.
"Mr. Stark, you've arrived."
Tony landed on the deck of the Helicarrier and removed his helmet. "Ah, Agent Coulson, Pepper sends her regards. She's very glad you're the cockroach type."
As usual, Phil didn't seem all that fazed by Tony's flippant attitude, taking it in stride with patience borne from familiarity.
"Glad to hear it," Phil nodded. "Now please follow me. The Director wants you to take a look at some files before the others arrive."
"'Others'?" Tony repeated as he trudged after the agent. "Who are we talking about now? I'm assuming Agent Romanov will be here?" He added with a mischievous smirk.
Phil didn't smile back. "She's gone to pick up Dr. Banner, but yes, she will be here."
"Ah, well then, I suppose Birdbrain will be around as well," Tony glanced around as they stepped inside.
"...Agent Barton has been compromised," Phil said, his voice neutral.
Tony's head tilted sideways, no words coming to him for half a second. "So he's finally flown the coop, huh?" He cocked an eyebrow. "Damn, our resident Lady Spider's gonna be all frowny until we get him back. Not that she isn't usually frowny anyway, of course."
True to form, Phil ignored the tactlessness of his words and waved him into a lab where a laptop waited for him on the nearest desk. "Start studying, Mr. Stark. The Director will call on your brain quite soon."
As Phil disappeared down another corridor, Tony made a face and proceeded to step out of his suit. This was going to take a while.
"Thank-you, Jarvis," Harry said as the A.I. pulled up the satellite feed of Tony's current location.
"Not a problem, sir," Jarvis replied smoothly. "But if I may enquire: shouldn't you be back at your house?"
"Nah, I can't let Tony go alone," Harry grabbed the printed copy of the coordinates. "And just out of curiosity, why haven't you told him I'm here yet?"
"Mr. Stark has entered an unknown situation," Jarvis explained. "And judging from what he has told me, you know more about the recent events than he does. As infuriating as he can be, I do want him to come out of this in one piece, if only because it would leave Ms. Potts quite a lot on her hands if she has to clean up after his mess."
Harry snorted and shook his head. "Well, you and I will make sure he comes home safe and sound. Now, is there an open window...?"
He trailed off as one of the floor-to-ceiling window panes slid upwards, letting in the soft breeze of a spring night. "Oh, well that'll do."
"Mr. Potter, are you certain jumping out a window is the wisest course of action at the moment?" The A.I. asked politely.
Harry's mouth twitched. Five minutes with Jarvis and he was already liking the system. "Quite sure, Jarvis. I'm going to fly, you see."
"Fly?" The A.I. paused as Harry pulled out a miniature broomstick and returned it to its normal size before clambering onto it. "Sir, I am not familiar with this technology."
"You wouldn't be; it's not technology," Harry quickly cast a disillusionment charm on both the broom and himself before slipping his invisibility cloak back on for good measure. "Keep this a secret for me, Jarvis?"
The A.I. was silent for a few seconds before speaking again. "Of course, sir; no one else will hear a word from me. Take care, and have a good flight."
Harry sketched a casual salute to the room in general before pushing off from the ground, the wind wrapping around him immediately putting him at ease. The air was where he belonged; he couldn't believe he had put aside his broomstick for so many years. Leaning forward, he shot into the brightening sky. He would catch up to Tony and simply keep an eye on him for now. He would refrain from jumping in unless it looked like tony couldn't handle it. With any luck, he might not even need to interfere. Humans, Muggle or magical, were surprisingly resourceful when they wanted to be.
Over twelve hours later, Tony was jolted out of his thoughts on everything he had just read by Phil, striding into the room still decked out in the same suit.
"Mr. Stark, how much have you gone over?"
"Everything," Tony spread his hands. "You are now looking at an expert on thermo-nuclear-astrophysics."
"Good," Phil motioned to the door. "Just in time too. Mr. Rogers and Dr. Banner have just arrived with Agent Romanov. We will be taking to the air in a few minutes."
"Great," Tony stifled a yawn. "Stars-and-Stripes before coffee. I hear he's a real... patriot."
"At least try to get along, Mr. Stark," Phil admonished with a resigned air. "Don't antagonize him before the entire team is even assembled."
"Who, me?" Tony asked with an innocent air. "I would never antagonize anyone. I'm a big fan of non-antagonizing."
"Can't you be serious for one minute?" Steve snapped two hours later when Tony cracked another joke about Bruce's rage monster.
Tony rolled his eyes. "Oh loosen up, Cap. Seriously, you face is gonna get stuck that way if you don't."
Bruce sighed as the room's other two occupants started another round of barb-trading. He half-wished Agent Romanov was still in the room; at least she could get them to tone it down. Somewhat. For a few minutes.
"Guys, stop it," Bruce called out, ignoring the other guy's restless stirring. "Can't you two at least pretend to get along until Director Fury gets back?"
Tony was the first to back off, easygoing as always. "Just saying; Cap here really needs to relax. Maybe get laid. That'll help him relax."
"Stop," Bruce repeated firmly when Steve made to get out of his chair. He shot a frown at Tony. Honestly, he didn't have anything against the billionaire; he was the only one here who didn't seem afraid of what Bruce could become at all, but he didn't think anyone else appreciated the man's sardonic quips. Captain America certainly didn't.
The door slid open at that moment and Bruce heaved another sigh, relieved to see Agent Coulson.
"Mr. Rogers, Mr. Stark," Coulson started without preamble. "Suit up; you're flying out with Agent Romanov. Loki has been spotted in Stuttgart, Germany. This is a retrieval mission; capture him alive."
Steve raced out of the room and Tony followed with a roll of his eyes at a more sedate pace, leaving Bruce alone with Coulson. The agent nodded at him. "The Director would like you to stay here, maybe just get a feel for what you'll be working on when Mr. Stark gets back."
Bruce correctly translated this to 'the Director orders you to stay here so you won't accidentally change into the other guy and kill a lot of people'. He nodded silently and settled down into a chair to wait for his new teammates' return.
Harry watched Tony and two others hurry onto a jet and waited for them to take off before hurtling after them, sticking a tracking charm on the aircraft before it could get too far away. He had a feeling this would be a long flight and there was no way he could keep up. He just hoped nothing drastic happened before he got there.
Finished! A small appearance of Bruce and Steve. Hope they seemed in character.
Chapter 5: To Friends, Enemies, and In-Betweens
Disclaimer: I do not own anything from Harry Potter or Avengers...
I've had a few questions on this fic so I thought I'd clear it up here.
First of all, Harry has to move every five years or so since he doesn't age. He could use glamours, etc but that would have a constant drain on his core for, literally, years. Also, if he actually stuck around and used charms to make himself look like he's growing older, the friends he makes will grow old around him and he'd have to watch all of them die again and again. Not something anyone would want to go through.
Second, dunno if it was clear at the end but Harry can't keep up with the jet which is why he used the tracking charm. Also, he didn't actually board the jet with them just in case he gets caught. I mean, yeah, they're technically Muggles, but being superheroes with actual training, at least one of them would probably at least sense Harry's presence.
Finally, like I said before, at the moment, I haven't really decided to pair Harry with anyone, but if I do, it will be slash.
Chapter 5 – To Friends, Enemies, and In-Betweens
When Harry finally arrived in Stuttgart, panicked screams wrenched the air, Death was flitting around gathering wayward souls, and a full-blown battle was taking place right there in the square between Iron Man, Captain America, and a man cloaked in green and black that distinctly reminded Harry of a Slytherin. He was holding a strange-looking staff and, judging by the way Death was circling him warily, never getting too close, Harry guessed that this was the Asgardian.
Ducking when a large chunk of concrete flew into the air, Harry quickly casted several subtle shield charms over the fleeing crowd, waving at Death in a dismissive gesture. Death bowed, features taking on a half-relieved, half-frustrated expression for a moment before disappearing without delay.
He winced when Captain America was tossed into a nearby window. It didn't seem like he was hurt though so Harry turned his attention on Tony as the Asgardian did the same. He frowned when they clashed again. The blasts he was shooting off dealt damage but nowhere near the level of destruction Harry could sense from the staff. Why was the Asgardian holding back?
He arched his eyebrows when a heavy blast from Tony's palm repulsors knocked the man onto the ground, the staff skittering away across the ground. A moment later, Tony had every piece of weaponry built into his suit out and pointed at the Asgardian.
"Make your move, Reindeer Games," Harry could practically see the smugness dripping off the billionaire's words.
"Alright, bring him in," A woman's voice echoed from the jet hanging in the sky as Loki fazed back into simpler black clothes. "And keep the staff away from him. We're not taking any chances."
Harry remained a distance away as the two Avengers returned to the jet. He waited until the door closed behind them before settling on top of the jet instead. He wasn't looking forward to another long flight back; hitching a ride with the risk of being noticed was probably better. So, huddled against the metal of the jet, he placed a sticking charm against the aircraft and kept a firm grip on his cloak as they took off back to the States.
The crack of lightning that lit up the night sky was what stirred Harry from his frozen stupor. At least when he was flying, he still had to concentrate on staying in the jet's sensory blind spots. Stuck on top of the jet, he was surprised he hadn't started growing icicles by this point.
Peering up at the sky, Harry frowned when he couldn't spot any storm clouds. Where was the lightning coming from? The door at the end of the jet suddenly slid open and Harry stiffened as he spotted the red and gold of Tony's suit. What was going-
Harry jumped back as someone landed heavily a few feet away from him. He stilled, careful to keep his cloak around him, but that didn't seem to matter as the man – Harry was going to guess another Asgardian, judging by the way he was dressed – rose to his feet and took in his surroundings, gaze settling on Harry with perfect accuracy. There was no doubt in Harry's mind that the Asgardian could see him.
But the man made no move towards him after seemingly deciding that Harry wasn't an immediate threat, turning on his heel towards the back of the jet instead. Still reeling from the shock that Asgardians could see through his cloak, he had no time to act as the blond grabbed the black-haired Asgardian and leapt from the aircraft. Judging by the rough angry grip one had on the other, Harry doubted they were on the same side. A moment later, Tony had also leapt out, shouting something about plans and attack. With a roll of his eyes and a muttered curse, Harry hurtled off after him, letting himself fall about halfway before pulling out his broom again.
It was lucky, he mused, slowing as he approached the ground. If the black-haired Asgardian had seen him earlier, he probably would've had to reveal himself, and letting the enemy know about magic was the last thing he wanted at the moment.
Harry hovered in a nearby tree, not close enough to hear what the two Asgardians were arguing about, but almost face-palmed when Tony crashed headlong into the blond one, sending both of them into a crop of trees.
"-don't take my stuff," Harry arrived in time to hear.
"You have no idea what you are dealing with," The Asgardian shot back, voice low with warning.
"Uh, Shakespeare in The Park? Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?"
Harry stamped down the urge to whack Tony for that remark as the Asgardian's eyes narrowed. Wonderful. Tony was going to literally talk himself to death. Then again, Harry had been convinced from the first day he had met Tony Stark that if the billionaire ever met an early end, it would be because he had mouthed off one word too many to the wrong person.
"This is beyond you, metal man," The blond's voice was tight with restrained anger. "Loki will face Asgardian justice."
The joking tone Tony had been using levied off somewhat as his expression sharpened. "He gives up the cube and he's all yours. Until then," His visor snapped back down. "Stay out of the way. Tourist!"
He turned to leave and in the span of a heartbeat, Harry knew the blond's temper would snap. Without thinking, he flung out a hand and sent a wave of magic tearing through the air, crashing into the hammer as it was flung at Tony's unprotected back.
The hammer was sent off-course, missing the billionaire by a mere few inches as the billionaire wheeled around again. Both of them stared at the weapon with an air of perplexity.
"You missed," Tony said lightly, though there was more puzzlement in his voice than mockery.
The blond glared hard at him before switching his gaze to Harry standing at the edge of the small clearing. "I would not have had it not been for your sentinel's intervention."
"My what?" Tony's visor flipped up again as he turned to follow the Asgardian's gaze. "Did you knock a few screws loose when we hit the ground?"
Cursing his own stupidity, Harry instinctively took a few steps back. It didn't really matter at this point; the Asgardian could see him and Tony could not. He glanced back at the blond, body tensing even as the man looked back and forth between the two of them. Tony was his top priority; if the Asgardian attacked again, Harry wouldn't hold back.
For the first time since he arrived, the anger ebbed from the Asgardian's face, leaving confusion in its wake. "Your..." The blond trailed off as he seemed to catch some of the warning in Harry's stance. He looked to be considering the situation now that this new turn of events had cleared his head a little. His next words were measured, spoken just as much to Harry as it was to Tony.
"I shall accompany you back to your base of command," The blond finally announced, holding out a hand for his hammer. "Loki is my brother and I wish to see this matter through to the end."
Tony looked taken aback by the abrupt temperament change but he didn't have time to open his mouth before Captain America came jogging into the clearing, looking more than a little surprised at the lack of carnage.
"Stark, I thought your plan was attack," He eyed the two people facing each other. "I thought diplomacy was beyond your level of understanding."
"What are you talking about? I'm the epitome of diplomatic," Tony scoffed, though he looked distracted as his gaze returned to the general area Harry was standing in.
"Right," Steve nodded, clearly not believing a word of it as he stepped cautiously towards the Asgardian. "I'm Steve Rogers. Or Captain America."
"Thor Odinson," The Asgardian shook Steve's offered hand. "Lead the way, Steve."
Harry breathed a sigh of relief as Thor only gave him one last curious look before heading back to the cliff face Loki had been left on with Captain America. At Steve' impatient shout, Tony also turned away, expression still shrewd as he scanned the clearing one last time before taking off into the air.
Harry waited until the jet took off before following on his broom once more. He didn't know why Thor had kept silent, but it wasn't up until this point that he realized just how nervous he was about other people finding out about his magic. Thor was alright; the man wasn't exactly human himself. But Tony was, not to mention he was one of the few people Harry had allowed himself to befriend. He knew it would hurt more than he cared to admit if Tony rejected his friendship altogether once he found out.
"Jarvis, do a scan of the area around the jet," Tony murmured. "A one-mile radius will do."
"Initiating scan," Jarvis responded. "What am I looking for, sir?"
"Anything out of the ordinary," Tony frowned as the search came up without any blips. "Extend the radius to maximum. Anything?"
"No sir," Jarvis replied smoothly. "Is this about Mr. Odinson's remark?"
"Yeah," Tony continued reading the results. "We were five feet away from each other. There is no way he could've just missed. I mean he could just be a really bad shot, but seriously, it would be an insult to demigods everywhere if he couldn't hit me from that distance, not to mention we're all doomed if that's the skill-level of our supposed heroes."
"Oh? And what of yourself, sir? You are included in this team, after all."
"I'm the hero of heroes of course," Tony quipped back. "Naturally, the public can count on me."
"Of course, sir," Jarvis' voice was dry as it stored away the scanner system. "Now if only you could deflate that head of yours in proportion to all that hot air you blow and you would be perfect."
Tony rolled his eyes and leaned back with a sigh. The scans hadn't picked up anything yet he was sure Thor had implied that someone else had... what? Protected him? Why would anyone go out of their way to protect him, especially smack in the middle of nowhere, Germany?
"Try not to think too hard, sir; you might short-circuit your brain."
Tony released an irritated sound. "I swear, J, you're worse than usual today."
His A.I. didn't reply this time and Tony turned his attention back to their demigod prisoner instead. Bored within seconds, he crossed his arms and closed his eyes behind his visor to catch up on much-missed sleep. No one would know, so not even Captain sleeping-on-a-mission-is-not-per-regulations America could get on his case.
Humans were curious beings. Thor had found that out the first time he had arrived on Earth and met Jane Foster.
Sitting neatly on top of the winged vessel, he could just catch the flap of a cloak and hair the colour of a raven's feathers hovering in the corner of his eye. Even with his eyesight, he could barely see the figure. The man was obviously hanging back as far as possible.
His first impression of Tony Stark had been that of an arrogant fool who had no place in dealing with such important matters. But if an arrogant fool was all the man of iron was, then why would someone stand guard for him with such ferocity? Thor had quickly realized that Tony had no idea he had a shadow and that the man under the cloak was invisible to the humans. The anxiety he had caught on said shadow's face was also enough to tell him that the unknown man didn't want Tony to know either.
Thor had wanted to point him out, of course, if only to call the man out on his intervention, but the blazing look of almost devoted protectiveness that turned the human's eyes a haunted jade set off all of Thor's instincts to retreat. He almost felt sorry for whoever truly threatened the man of iron; they wouldn't be coming out of the encounter unscathed, if at all.
So he would give this dysfunctional band of humans a chance, though from what he had seen of the interactions between Tony and Steve, the war looming on the horizon was going to be difficult. But Jane had taught him a little of humility and learning not to judge so quickly the first time around, and it had taken the silent warning of a man in the shadows to remind him of that again. Besides, this was their planet in the end. Perhaps they would know best how to protect it.
Hovering outside the Helicarrier once again, Harry stared in bemusement at the demigod standing by an open door, looking for all the world as if he was scanning the skies for danger but was really doing nothing at all. Harry had circled around the giant aircraft several times now yet Thor had yet to go back inside. Was the Asgardian trying to give him a way in?
Hesitantly, Harry flew around the Helicarrier once more before landing silently on the deck and making his way over to the demigod, strengthening his disillusionment charm as much as possible. Caution in every step, Harry didn't stop until he was standing only a few feet away from Thor, eyeing the blond with suspicion.
"Go on then," The demigod muttered, finally glancing down at him.
Harry tilted his head. "I could be an enemy. You'd be endangering everyone inside if I were."
Thor inclined his head. "That would be so if you were working with Loki, but I do not believe your loyalties lie with anyone save Tony Stark. It would be remiss of me not to let you in as you would be a powerful ally for the man of iron and, by extension, the rest of us as well."
Harry arched an eyebrow before finally stepping inside. "Are all you Asgardians this trusting?"
"I would consider 'this' to be insightful rather than trusting, and only the best of us are," Thor replied with a faint smile as he turned to follow Harry inside.
Harry smothered a smile of his own before stepping to the side to let the demigod lead him through the base. For someone who had hurled a hammer at Tony mere hours ago, he supposed Thor wasn't so bad.
"Thor, what's Loki's play?" Steve asked as soon as Thor stepped into the meeting room. Harry quietly stepped over to one side of the door, perking up when he realized this information would be important.
"He has an army, called the Chitauri," Thor revealed. "They're not of Asgard or any world known. He means to lead them against your people. They will win him the Earth," His features darkened. "In return, I suspect, for the Tesseract."
"An army. From outer space," Steve said, sounding resigned as he glanced around the room.
"So he's building another portal. That's what he needs Erik Selvig for," Harry recognized this person as Dr. Bruce Banner and he straightened with interest. Tony had shown him some of this man's works and Harry had found it all to be high interesting. Since learning, also from Tony, of the doctor's problems with his alter ego, Harry had been working on a new calming draught in case it was ever needed. Tony had mentioned more than once that he would one day track down Bruce Banner and invite him to Stark Industries for a few discussions. Both he and Tony could take care of themselves against brute strength like the Hulk's, at least long enough to get out of range, so Harry had had no problem with the billionaire's future schemes either.
"Selvig?" Thor's voice was alarmed as he turned sharply to face Bruce.
"He's an astrophysicist," Bruce offered.
"He's a friend," Thor divulged grimly.
"Loki has them under some kind of spell," A red-haired woman from across the room cut in. "Along with one of ours."
"I wanna know why Loki let us take him," Steve said. "He's not leading an army from here."
"I don't think we should be focusing on Loki," Bruce spoke up, and Harry noted the contrast between the doctor's speech and demeanour. While his words were confident, the man didn't seem to be able to fully look at any one of them as if he was afraid they would attack him or, worse, he would attack them. Harry found he could relate well to that as one of his hands absently reached up to touch his scar. "That guy's brain is a bag full of cats. You can smell crazy on him."
"Have a care how you speak," Thor snapped, looking annoyed. "Loki is beyond reason, but he is of Asgard. And he is my brother."
"He killed eighty people in two days," The redhead countered bluntly. Harry grimaced. Because Loki had taken those lives with that soul-staff, he had felt every one of those deaths.
Thor looked first at the woman before glancing at Harry with a slight frown when he caught the strained expression surfacing briefly on his face.
"...He's adopted," Thor offered, and Harry fought down a chuckle.
"I think it's about the mechanics," Bruce brought them back on track. "Iridium; what do they need the iridium for-?"
"It's a stabilizing agent," Tony's voice sounded as the billionaire strode in with Phil Coulson at his side. Tony had warned him to run the opposite direction if this agent ever came at you with a stack of folders and a smile. At the moment, Tony seemed to be trying to coax Coulson into something or other, and Harry wondered if it wasn't the agent who needed to run when Tony came at him with a scheme and a smirk.
"Means," Tony continued as he circled around to the front of the room. "The portal won't collapse on itself, like it did at S.H.I.E.L.D.. Also, it means the portal can open as wide, and stay open as long, as Loki wants."
He paused to glance at the bridge below. "Raise the monitors," He called, and Harry closed his eyes and waited for the quips.
"That man is playing Galaga!" Tony revealed cheerfully as Steve frowned in confusion. "Thought we wouldn't notice, but we did."
He turned to look at the monitors in front of him before covering his left eye with one hand. "How does Fury even see these?"
Harry heaved a sigh as the black-haired woman by the table indulged him. "He turns."
"Sounds exhausting," Tony decided dramatically. Harry glared at the man from under his cloak and, as if sensing his ire, the billionaire miraculously continued on the problem at hand.
"The rest of the raw materials, Agent Barton can get his hands on pretty easily. Only major component he still needs is a power source," Harry's eyes narrowed when he caught the subtle sleight of hand Tony pulled to plant a chip on one of the computers. He knew a Stark decryption system when he saw it. "A high energy density, something to kick-start the cube."
"When did you become an expert in thermonuclear astrophysics?" The black-haired woman asked, looking half-amused, half reluctantly impressed.
"Last night," Tony scanned the room. "The packet, Selvig's notes, the Extraction Theory papers. Am I the only one who did the reading?"
"Does Loki need any particular kind of power source?" Steve cut him off pointedly.
"He'd have to heat the cube to a hundred and twenty million Kelvin just to break through the Coulomb barrier," Bruce interrupted before another fight could break out.
"Unless, Selvig has figured out how to stabilize the quantum tunnelling effect," Tony countered, and Harry recognized the beginnings of the childish excitement the billionaire always got when talking about science.
"Well, if he could do that, he could achieve Heavy Ion Fusion at any reactor on the planet," Bruce replied, finally looking up completely.
"Finally, someone who speaks English," Tony grinned at Bruce, glancing pointedly at everyone else. "Honestly, I know one of the only living people I could talk about all this to and I had to leave him behind. Thank god there's one here."
Harry chuckled, feeling a glow of warmth in his chest as Steve rolled his eyes and muttered, "Is that what just happened?"
"If you know what we're up against, I want you two to start tracking the cube."
Harry immediately recognized the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. as the man strode in.
"Let's start with that stick of his," Steve suggested. "It may be magical, but it works an awful lot like a Hydra weapon."
Harry frowned at that. There was no way a simple Hydra weapon could hamper Death.
"I don't know about that, but it is powered by the cube," Fury said, looking disgruntled. "And I'd like to know how Loki used it to turn two of the sharpest men I know into his personal flying monkeys."
"Monkeys?" Thor enquired, looking puzzled. "I do not understand."
"I do!" Steve straightened in his chair, looking proud."I understood that reference."
Harry had to fight down the urge to jab an elbow into Tony's ribs as the billionaire rolled his eyes.
"Well, let's get to it then," Tony said as he waved a hand at the door. "Should we play, doc-"
Tony halted mid-word just as he stepped past Harry's location, less than a foot away. Heart pounding, Harry stopped breathing entirely as the billionaire's head turned sharply to the side, gaze running over the place Harry was standing in twice.
"Something wrong, Stark?" Fury questioned sharply.
A confused look briefly surfaced on Tony's face before his expression smoothed over again and he shrugged. "Nope. Just thought I smelled... lilies."
Without another word, he continued out of the room, Bruce a step behind him as the room stared after him with differing degrees of puzzlement.
Harry ignored the questioning look Thor threw at him and cursed himself again. Damn, he was really losing his edge after a decade off the battlefield.
He had forgotten; his home was filled with small pots of lilies lining the windowsills and Tony, having been over to his home so many times and had even bought Harry some of the flowers after finding out he liked them, would obviously know the scent anywhere. While the lilies probably clung only faintly on his cloak, Tony's first thought on the scent would be Harry and not, say, one of the women's perfumes.
Finished! I'll end it there. How were all the interactions?
Chapter 6: To Trust
Disclaimer: I do not own anything from Harry Potter or Avengers...
On to the next chapter! Lots of Tony and Harry in this one. Hope you like!
Chapter 6 – To Trust
Stepping into a deserted corridor, Tony waited impatiently for his call to go through. Five rings went by and he was just about to hang up when the line connected.
"Tony? Something wrong?"
Tony didn't quite know what to say for a moment. As crazy as it sounded, he had honestly expected Harry to not be at home. After all, the lilies-
"Ah," Tony jolted back into the present. "Well, I just... wanted to know how you were doing."
"At three in the morning?"
"Oh, is it three?" Tony glanced at his watch. "So it is! How are you?"
"Fine," Came the wry reply. "And you?"
"Tired, hungry, and I need more coffee," Tony rambled. "Fury's going dictator on our asses and Coulson's as creepy as ever. I mean, does that guy ever need to sleep? Every time I even think about taking a break, he shows up and goes all 'are you finished yet, Mr. Stark?', and I say 'do I look like a genius on steroids? No.', and he goes 'keep it up, Mr. Stark. You may not be on steroids but you're certainly a genius.', and I say 'well thanks, Agent! Mind telling the Director that even genii need sleep?', and he goes 'Sorry, Mr. Stark. The Director has given everyone orders to dump you into the Atlantic Ocean if you start slacking off. I'm just here to make sure that doesn't happen.', and I say 'well that's very kind of you.', and – note the sarcasm in my words? Yeah, everybody and their grandma could hear it but Coulson just smiles that creepy smile of his and says 'not a problem, Mr. Stark. Keep up the good work.', and then he leaves me to do my thing like I haven't been awake for the last seventy-two hours straight!"
He drew in a deep breath as he finished his rant, and couldn't help huffing in mock-offense as Harry deadpanned, "Since you've reached the twenty-four/seven hotline for complaints and general grievances and have yet to use up your minutes per call, we would love to hear about anything else in your life that you have found fault in."
"Ha ha, very funny," Tony grumbled good-naturedly, already feeling better after Harry's usual dry wit. "But seriously, I wish I was home. I wouldn't have gotten out of bed if I had known it would be this hard to return to it."
"The faster you wrap up whatever it is you're doing, the sooner you'll get to sleep," Harry told him unhelpfully. "But look, if you're really that tired, you're at some military base right? Override the systems or something and lock the door. You can get some shuteye that way."
"That... sounds like a wonderful plan," Tony sighed, running a hand through his hair before tugging at his loosened collar. He had long since ditched his tie. "Unfortunately, Bruce – Dr. Banner I mean; he's here as well – is still going strong, and the guy's a peace-lover if I've ever seen one. I think I'd actually feel guilty if I left him to do the work all by himself because he started offering to do that after Coulson's third visit."
"Sounds like a good man," Harry offered. "Have you asked him to go to Stark Industries after this whole fiasco?"
"I have," Tony made a face. "And let me tell you, the guy's self-esteem issues have self-esteem issues. It didn't help that the American Capsicle kept telling me to leave him alone. Honestly, how does he think that'll help? A guy can't be left alone for the rest of his life."
There was a thick silence on the other end and Tony stiffened, a sudden sense of foreboding twisting his gut. "Harry?"
"...I agree," Harry's light tone seemed forced to Tony's ears. "Definitely. Bring him back to Stark Industries; you'll be good for him, Tony."
"Yeah..." Tony agreed before trailing off. "...Are you okay?"
"Fine," Came the prompt response. "You should probably get back to work. Talk later?"
"Right," Tony frowned worriedly but let it go for now. He'd get it out of the mechanic once he wrapped this crazy mess up. "I'll call you later."
It wasn't until Tony hung up and was halfway back to the lab he and Bruce were using that something hit him. Several somethings. Figuratively, of course, but the impact was staggeringly similar to being hit by a freight train while salsa dancing in your birthday suit on the train tracks and all the while not realizing you were actually there until it was too late. Embarrassing, fast, and so out-of-the-blue that you couldn't believe you missed it before.
The lilies. He had smelled them, and it couldn't be perfume or hell, even cologne, because agents on duty weren't allowed to wear them.
And Thor had said, clearly, that someone had protected him, had knocked the hammer aside, and Tony could believe that because he just didn't think the demigod could miss at that distance. There was only one person out there that he really believed could and would come to his aid no matter where he was.
And Jarvis, oh Jarvis. His own A.I. had questioned whether Harry needed protecting and that really should've been his first clue. Jarvis had told him it had scanned Harry's house but Tony had asked the wrong question. Instead of 'is Harry at his house', he had asked 'is he alright'. Jarvis had answered with an affirmative but that didn't mean Harry was at home. It just meant-
A moment later, Tony was full-out sprinting back down the corridor, flying past startled agents with single-minded intensity. Oh he was stupid; so, so stupid. He had installed part of Jarvis' mainframe into Harry's house himself.
"Jarvis!" He burst into the room where his suit was held, activating his A.I.'s verbal speech system. "Did you reroute my call to Harry's house back to his cell?"
Jarvis was silent for a heartbeat longer than necessary and Tony had his answer. "Sir, which call-"
"Save it, Jarvis," Tony growled. "Yes or no?"
"...Affirmative, sir," The A.I. finally admitted almost nervously.
Tony closed his eyes and stumbled into the nearest chair. "Where is he?" He finally asked.
"Just please tell me he's not still in Germany," Tony said tersely. "Or if he is, tell me now so I can go hijack a jet."
"He is no longer in Germany."
"Well thank god for that," Tony pinched the bridge of his nose. "Now what the hell's going on? Since when do you go behind my back like this?"
"...Mr. Potter knows more about this situation than you did when you left," Jarvis began. "He arrived at Stark Industries shortly after you departed and I thought it prudent to help him as much as possible when he revealed his intentions to come after you. He did not wish for you to know so I simply refrained from notifying you of his presence. Rest assured, he is not a danger to you."
"I know that," Tony snapped. "I'm not worried about me, I'm worried about him. This is S.H.I.E.L.D.. God knows Fury would love a clairvoyant or whatever Harry is in his arsenal. No offense to him but he's got tunnel vision when it comes to every big disaster on Earth. Is Harry actually here? At the base?"
"How is that even possible? How did he get here?"
"My apologies sir, but that I cannot say. I gave my word to Mr. Potter."
"Wonderful," Tony rose to his feet and pulled out his phone, quickly dialling Harry's cell. "My A.I. has integrity."
"If I may say, sir," Jarvis pointed out politely. "I am only what you programmed me to be."
"Yeah, yeah," Tony waved a hand as he pressed his cell to his ear again. While he still felt a sting of annoyance at the fact that Jarvis had kept something so important from him, it was dulled by the fact that at least it was Harry the A.I. was working with. "For future reference, you can help Harry to your electronic heart's content, but not telling me about something again that could potentially hurt him in the long run and I'll dismantle you myself." Unfortunately, he was only half-joking and Jarvis had the good sense to promise him that much.
"What now, Tony? If you're calling about a sudden midlife crisis or something, so help me I will help you end it in a very unpleasant way."
Tony's grip on his cell tightened. "Yeah, you could say I'm having a bit of a crisis. Let's start with the near heart-attack I had a minute ago when I found out – surprise, surprise! My best friend's on the military aircraft with me."
Silence reigned on the other end of the line and Tony almost started lecturing – him, lecturing! – again when Harry said resignedly, "Jarvis told you."
"Yeah," Tony collapsed into the chair again, heaving a sigh. "Harry, why did you follow me?"
"...I had to keep you safe," Harry said, voice suddenly so small that Tony almost missed it. "You're an egotistical bastard who doesn't know when to back off and it's your goddamn fault for pushing into my life like you did. I made it clear in the beginning that I wanted you to leave me alone, didn't I? I didn't want you around, but you just kept coming back and you wouldn't leave. So unfortunately, you're... one of the only friends I have now, the only friend I have in all of America and I'll be damned before I let you walk into some war alone."
Tony wanted to be mad, he really did. Harry had worried him and followed him without telling him first, but he just couldn't help the stupid grin now pasted on his face. Not once had Harry ever admitted so candidly that Tony was important to him and it was a refreshing change from all the people who liked him for his money and position that he had to deal with at work every day.
"Really?" Tony couldn't quite hide the smug note that crept into his voice and he could all but hear Harry roll his eyes.
"Yes, really, you self-centered arse," Harry snapped back. "Now are we finished with this conversation yet?"
"No," Tony immediately took a sharp turn into serious-ville. "Where are you? You do realize getting caught here is a very bad idea? And how did you get here in the first place?"
There was a long pause and Tony picked up a soft sigh before his head snapped around as the door slid open and Harry stepped in, simultaneously closing his phone.
"Harry!" Tony leapt to his feet again, stowing his phone away and automatically checking for injury on the mechanic's person. Harry looked tired, like no-sleep-for-seventy-two-hours tired, and Tony silently berated himself as he realized that stowaways didn't even get an uncomfortable lab chair to catch a few winks in, nor did they get food of any kind. "Shit, look, I'll go get you some foo-"
"No need; I'm really just a bit tired," Harry gave him a rare smile. "Thor got me something to eat."
"Thor?" Tony repeated, not sure if he should feel confused or hurt. "You went to Thor? As in demigod-with-a-hammer-happy-arm-and-a-crazy-half-brother Thor?"
Harry glanced down before gently manoeuvring Tony back into his seat before grabbing a chair for himself. The billionaire softened when Harry couldn't seem to meet his gaze and he quickly said, "Look, if you trust Thor to help you, more than me I mean, but I know I haven't exactly had a lot of free time on my hands-"
"-then I think it's fine that you went to him-"
"-it's good that someone's looking out for you here-"
Tony fell silent when Harry pinned him with a pointed stare.
"If you shut up for a second then you'd know I didn't go to Thor for help," Harry said irritably. "Just- Just shut up for a minute, okay?"
Tony blinked, and for the first time since meeting him, he could see a hint of fear clouding Harry's expression. He wanted to reassure him that there wasn't anything in the world that Harry had to fear from him, but the mechanic seemed to be using the momentary silence to pull himself together so Tony stayed quiet.
"Here," Harry finally spoke, pulling out a silvery material that turned out to be a cloak. "That's mostly how I've been getting around without being seen."
Tony slowly took the cloak, catching a whiff of lilies as he studied the silky fabric. "What-"
"Put it on," Harry said quietly.
The cloak seemed to automatically lengthen to fit him as Tony tugged it around his shoulders and pulled up the hood. Feeling a little awkward, he glanced back at Harry who nodded at the nearest wall. Turning, Tony found himself staring at his reflection on the metal surface, except...
Except there was no reflection. Stunned, he drew closer to the wall before sticking out a hand from the cloak. Immediately, his reflection's hand appeared as well, but that was it. He pulled down the hood and found his floating head staring back at him, looking just as startled as he felt.
Whirling around, his gaze fell on Harry who was now staring back at him with very weary eyes. He seemed almost defeated, and Tony, for the life of him, couldn't see why.
"Harry, this is amazing!" He exclaimed, bounding back over to the mechanic. "How did you make it? Is this carbon nanotube tech? I've never seen it incorporated like this-"
And Tony stopped talking at once because he had never heard Harry use that tone of voice before, stuck somewhere between hurt and lonely resignation, and Tony just really, really wanted to make it go away.
"It's not technology," Harry continued, gaze wary in a way that reminded Tony of the first two months they had known each other, as if the mechanic expected him to leave without a moment's notice. It had been a large part of the reason Tony had done exactly the opposite. "It's not even science. It's just magic."
The silence that fell over them was near-suffocating as Tony tried to wrap his mind around this. Magic? Did Harry mean that whatever made this was a lot like magic? Or...?
"Magic?" Tony probed tentatively, being very careful to keep any disbelief out of his voice. Harry didn't seem to notice the effort, already pushing Tony away even as both remained seated.
With a tilt of his head and slight twitch of his index finger, Tony's cell flew from his pocket and into Harry's hand. In amazed disbelief, the billionaire watched his phone become a hedgehog plushie which promptly started tap-dancing across the table next to them when Harry flicked his finger again.
"Magic," Harry confirmed, expressionless. "I'm a wizard."
For a long minute, Tony could only stare blankly at the hedgehog before finally glancing back at the mechanic. A wizard. As someone who grew up around science, that was something he would never have come up with in a million years, but Harry was a wizard and that, it seemed, made all the difference, because Harry didn't lie, not about the important things and rarely even in jest. Tony had learned, after the mechanic had badly twisted his ankle one day and had almost broken it trying to continue working, that Harry only ever lied when it came to his own wellbeing.
He guessed that Harry must be a fairly powerful wizard because the mechanic was currently staring at his lap and the plushie was still tap-dancing. At the back of his mind, a part of him really hoped Harry could change it back. He only had the one phone on him at the moment.
"Well?" Harry finally broke the silence, still not looking at Tony.
Tony studied the hunched shoulders and dulled eyes and did the only thing he could think of. "Think you could magic up a cup of coffee for me then? It's been a long day, and Fury's probably out for my blood by now. I'd rather suffer through another one of his sermons with coffee than without."
And then Tony just grinned and leaned back to enjoy the open-mouthed surprise that spread across Harry's features, mentally congratulating himself on a job well done.
"You're not- You're not scared?" Harry stammered, looking confused and cautiously hopeful as if he wasn't quite ready to believe it yet.
"Harry, we're currently fighting against a psychopath with daddy issues and a power-hungry streak the size of Mexico bent on world domination," Tony reached out, ignoring the slight flinch the movement received and silently promising retribution to whoever instilled that reaction if they weren't dead already. Instead, he ruffled the mechanic's hair teasingly before slipping a friendly arm around his shoulders in a familiar gesture. "I'm not all that concerned about magic. Seriously, you worry about the most ridiculous things."
"It's not ridiculous!" Harry scowled, but the expression was half-hearted and his shoulders had relaxed. Tony would count that as a win.
"So tell me why Thor is helping you out," Tony said, still disgruntled about that. And then added as an afterthought, "And please tell me you can turn that hedgehog back into my phone."
Harry released a ragged laugh, sounding mostly relieved as he twitched a finger and returned Tony's phone.
"Thor can see through my cloak," Harry explained. "I guess it's an Asgardian thing. He's the one who helped me slip in and he's been sneaking me food for a while."
Tony nodded thoughtfully. "And you managed to follow us to Germany and back because..."
Harry shrugged. "I flew."
"You flew," Tony repeated faintly before grinning widely again. "That is awesome." He paused in thought before recalling, "You know, he called you my sentinel," He wiggled his eyebrows at the mechanic. "You're my protector now, Harry. My own personal knight in shining armour."
Harry snorted and Tony pretended not to notice the quick swipe of the mechanic's arms over his eyes. Honestly, to be worried about something like that. He really should be offended. Hadn't he shown how good a friend he was by now?
"I'm not used to it," Harry was staring back at him, obviously guessing what he was thinking. "One of my best friends; he got jealous of me a lot because, well, I was a bit famous in my world, in the magical community back in Britain, and I come from a rich family while he doesn't. He's always just a bit off when either of those things come up so I suppose I'm used to people leaving for things out of my control."
"Doesn't sound like a very good friend," Tony said, voice harder than he had meant to sound.
Harry quirked a sardonic smile at him. "We parted ways a while ago. It's nothing to worry over anymore."
Tony grunted. "Well I'm not going anywhere."
Harry's expression became a little odd for a fraction of a second before it eased away like quicksilver. "No, I suppose you're not."
The sudden ring of Tony's phone suddenly split the air and the billionaire made a face as he saw who it was. "You have reached the life model decoy of Tony Stark," Tony intoned, smothering a grin when he caught Harry's stifled laugh out of the corner of his eye. "Please leave a message."
"Mr. Stark, where are you?" Coulson frowned at him.
"In Honolulu," Tony said at once.
"Just return to the lab and continue your work. The cube is of the utmost importance."
"Tell him my flight's been delayed," Tony said, still straight-faced. "I won't be back until sometime tomorrow."
"Dr. Banner has been asking after you," Phil told him, and Tony scowled. He had forgotten about lab buddy.
"Alright, alright, I was just stretching my legs," Tony sighed. "I'm coming back now."
"Good to hear." Coulson smiled pleasantly at him. "The Director has upgraded his threat to death by the nearest volcano. Just thought you should know." The agent hung up before Tony could get another word in.
Tony rolled his eyes. "Really? Death by volcano? Is that the best he can come up with?"
Harry just shook his head and rose to his feet, retrieving the cloak Tony had taken off. "Have fun then."
"I rather doubt it," Tony looked hopefully at the silver cloak. "You'll lend that to me later, right? I could have so much fun with it!"
This time, Harry did laugh, a little hoarse from misuse but genuine. "Yeah, Tony, you can borrow it later."
"And you'll show me more magic?" Tony pressed gleefully.
"Yes, Tony," Harry indulged before waving a hand. A moment later, two mugs of freshly-brewed coffee appeared on the table, just the way Tony loved it. "And there's your- hey!"
Ignoring the mechanic's protests, Tony gave him a tight hug before sweeping up the coffee. "See you later, Harry! Gotta get back to work!"
And before Harry could threaten to throttle him, Tony ducked out of the room, highly satisfied and feeling very accomplished. All in all, it hadn't been a bad three-in-the-morning conversation at all.
Finished! I really hope this came out right. Did everyone like the reveal?
Chapter 7: To Revelations
Disclaimer: I do not own anything from Harry Potter or Avengers…
Again, not sure if I'm adding a pairing for Harry. It might just stay a GEN fic.
Just as a heads-up, the war fully ended when Harry was eighteen. Ten years passed with Harry remaining in London, England, and then he moved to New York where he's been living for eighteen months, so he's twenty-nine years old, almost thirty.
As for Harry being detected on the base, while the personnel would probably pick up Harry's body heat, etc when he's not careful enough, his cloak plus the disillusionment charms would help him hide. Also, a headcount won't be done every day or even every week. They'd usually do those maybe once every few months or when there's a security breach so even if the cameras pick up something, if they don't sound any alarms, nobody will know that there's one extra person on the base.
Lastly, Harry does have an Animagus form but he doesn't use it often, and in the books, both Voldemort and Snape could fly, but that doesn't mean Harry can, not to mention he hasn't really practiced a lot of magic for eleven years. Magic comes easier to him and he could learn to fly in a very short time or in a tight situation, but his first thought when he needs to fly wouldn't be to use just magic. He would definitely think of his broom first.
Chapter 7 – To Revelations
"You have not told me your name."
Harry glanced to the side at the demigod sitting next to him. "…Harry. Harry Potter."
Thor nodded thoughtfully before they both turned to stare out at the open air around them. Apparently, they both preferred being outside than in, surrounded by metal walls all day.
"I believe Tony is upset with me, Harry," Thor continued.
Harry sighed. "Sorry about that. Tony found out about me and he got… annoyed that you knew first."
"That seems… somewhat petty," Thor said carefully, not sure if Harry would take offense to this on Tony's behalf.
To his surprise, Harry chuckled outright, drawing up one knee under his cloak. "Petty sums up at least a third of what makes Tony Tony. He gets hung up on things most people wouldn't really make a big deal out of, but then again, he has known me longer."
Thor considered this and then asked, "He does realize I only know that you are on this fortress, does he not? I do not know how you flew to Germany and back, for one."
Harry shrugged. "He does, but he'll still stew on it for a while. He's not really mad, but he has a flair for dramatics. He'll get over it though, don't worry."
"I see," Thor wasn't sure if he did. "Well, I shall endeavour to stay out of his way until such a time arrives."
"Probably for the best," Harry agreed.
They fell back into a companionable silence again but Thor had never been one for very long periods of quiet, especially when there was something of interest on his mind.
"So are you actually human?" He enquired. "You can fly yet I am quite certain this broom you use is not part of your world's science."
Harry glanced at him again, and this time, Thor thought he saw something darker lurking in the man's features.
"I'm certainly from Earth," Harry said hesitantly before his mouth twisted into a sardonic smile. "But human… well, that's up for debate."
Before Thor could ask him about what he meant, Harry had posed a question of his own. "In Asgard, you said that your race is something like gods. Demigods. You live a long time then, don't you? Doesn't that get… tedious?"
Thor tilted his head contemplatively. "No," He shook his head. "For us, long life spans are normal. Humans consider a life span of a century or so to be the full extent of one . Asgardians are the same, save that we consider several dozen centuries to be our average lifetime."
"Oh," Harry looked away again, letting his senses wander across the invisible wards he had set up around the Helicarrier two days ago. "What about living forever? That'd be pretty difficult, wouldn't it?"
Thor's expression darkened. "Indeed. I would not wish for such an existence to befall anyone. Immortality is a heavy burden to bear. …Why do you ask?"
Harry shook his head wearily. "No reason. Just wondering," He rose to his feet and adjusted the cloak around him. "Let's head back in. It's getting a bit cold."
Thor followed Harry's lead without protest, but a dawning suspicion grew in the back of his mind. Judging by Harry's physical features, the demigod would put him somewhere around seventeen, still technically a child in the human world. But Harry certainly didn't talk like one, nor was there anything childish about his manner or speech. Thor talked to him as an equal, finding himself grateful when Harry would always answer any questions he had about humans with patient honesty. Even Jane had laughed at him a little when he couldn't figure out what gas stations were for. Harry answered his queries as if he had had to adjust to a new culture as well, which was actually the main reason Thor had wondered whether Harry was human or not.
And Harry hadn't actually said yes. He had said it was debatable. As the demigod stepped back inside their temporary stronghold, he knew one thing for certain: Thor had never met anyone, human or otherwise, shrouded in as much mystery as Harry Potter.
"Are you still hung up on what the Captain said?"
Tony glanced over at Bruce before returning to his phone.
"He's a real stiff," Tony muttered. "But no; I've got better things to do with my time."
"Hm," The doctor typed something down before casually bringing up, "Then you're thinking about your stowaway?"
Tony reacted on instinct, halfway to the door and already dialing Harry's number even as he turned a wary look on Bruce.
The scientist quickly raised his hands in a placating gesture. "Whoa, I didn't mean it like that."
"Funny," Tony hovered by the door but lowered his phone. "Here I thought there was only so many ways you can mean that." They eyed each other for a long moment before Tony spoke again. "How do you know?"
Bruce offered a rueful half-smile. "The other guy, remember? Better senses. I smelled the lilies too, but I thought that was you."
Tony looked mildly offended. "Really? You think I spray lilies all over my-" He looked down at his shirt in sudden realization. "Oh, this must be one of the shirts I left at his place."
Bruce arched an eyebrow. "His? Boyfriend?"
Tony shook his head, shoulders finally relaxing as he made his way back into the room. "Best friend. He's…" A smirk. "One of a kind."
"I can tell," Bruce nodded at the cell in Tony's hands. "You've been texting him nonstop every time you have a spare minute."
"I have lots of questions," Tony mumbled, before his eyes lit up mischievously. "Wanna meet him?"
"Oh, uh, I don't think that's a good idea," The doctor immediately balked. "This room has cam-"
Tony rolled his eyes and cut him off. "Please, you're in the presence of a genius. As if I wouldn't hijack those cameras at the first opportunity. Trust me, the only thing anyone will see if they even bother looking at the monitors is a video loop of our first day working here."
"Don't worry," Tony assured even as he texted Harry again. "You'll like him."
"That's not what I'm worried about," Bruce muttered, but knew further protesting would be useless.
Slipping through the half-opened door, Harry watched as Bruce immediately looked up, eyes focused somewhere over his shoulder. The doctor glanced at Tony who was bent over the staff with a frown.
"Er, Mr. Stark? Your friend is here."
Tony immediately looked up, a grin already on his face. "Harry?"
Ignoring a touch of apprehension at being so exposed, Harry tugged off his cloak, simultaneously closing the door behind him. He caught Bruce's surprised look and offered a slight smile in return.
"Hi, I'm Harry Potter," He strode forward and extended a hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you. Tony's showed me a lot of your work on anti-electron collisions. It's brilliant."
The surprise on the scientist's face grew more pronounced, along with a flash of pleasure at Harry's obvious sincerity. "You like science?"
"I like physics," Harry confirmed as they shook hands.
"And," Tony interrupted as he came to stand beside them. "Harry's also a huge fan of the way you lose control and turn into an enormous green rage monster."
Harry sighed as Bruce's expression immediately started to close. "Ignore him," Harry said with a sharp look at Tony. "Look, first thing you should know about me is that I may be a bit on the small side, but I can take care of myself. I don't have any problems with, what do you call him? The other guy?"
There was a moment of silence as Bruce blinked back at him, startled. "You're very honest, Mr. Potter." He finally said, seemingly having decided that there was absolutely no deceit in the mechanic's words.
Harry shrugged as he tossed his cloak over a nearby chair. "I know what it's like to be lied to. Not a pleasant feeling. And it's just Harry, Dr. Banner. Mr. Potter makes me think I'm still back in school."
Bruce nodded slowly, still looking a little uncertain, but his frame became more relaxed. "Then Bruce is fine."
"Hey, how come he tells you to call him Bruce and you agree right away but I had to beg for nine months and get hauled away by S.H.I.E.L.D. before you called me Tony?" Tony protested when Harry nodded agreeably. "That's not fair!"
"He's a lot less aggravating than you are," Harry told him blandly.
Tony scowled before turning away with a huff. "Well fine then. You wanna be his best friend, go ahead."
Harry arched an eyebrow before exchanging a glance with Bruce. The scientist shrugged before shooting him a questioning look. "Give me a hand with these?"
"Sure thing," Harry moved over to where Bruce was standing, scanning the stats on the screens. Both of them proceeded to ignore Tony's loud squawk of indignation, sharing a small grin, Bruce's more hesitant than Harry's but genuine all the same, when the billionaire threw up his hands and returned to his workspace, grumbling about injustice and conspiring friends.
All in all, it was a rather nice way to pass the next few hours.
Bruce wasn't sure why but he found that the other guy was a lot calmer when he stood beside Harry.
It had been close to four hours since Harry had joined them and Bruce had been pleasantly surprised when he found out that the mechanic was just as good as Tony told him he would be. While there were a few areas in which he had to clarify (and he honestly didn't mind those; Harry made an attentive student and brought up questions interesting enough to make even him stop and think about the answers), Harry could still keep up with their scientific jargon, sometimes throwing in his two cents and picking up percentage errors faster than either of them.
But he wasn't quite sure what to make of the soothing effect Harry had on him. No one had ever been able to calm the Hulk before, yet the mechanic didn't even show signs of minute discomfort around him, much like Tony. It was no wonder the two of them were friends; they didn't seem to have any self-preservation instincts to speak of.
Bruce nodded absently when Tony stepped out for a bathroom break, leaving him alone with Harry. The scientist glanced over at the Briton again. He showed no change as he flipped through one of the books Bruce had recently written but hadn't published with a faint frown creasing his brow. He seemed completely immersed and not at all discomfited by Tony's absence.
"Why aren't you scared?" He blurted out before he could censor his words.
Harry looked up.
"I mean, I understand why Tony might not be," He continued, shifting a little as he glanced away. "He may be a civilian but he's also used to this sort of thing, being Iron Man and all. But you…"
"Didn't I tell you I could take care of myself?" Harry cut in, voice mild. "I'm not exactly helpless, you know. If you ever do lose control, we can just wait for you to cool down again."
"You're part of the invite-me-to-Stark-Industries parade as well?" Bruce asked, looking back again.
"Well, I can't have Tony running the parade by himself," Harry said dryly. "He'd end up doing something stupid and dramatic and before you know it, the entire Avengers team would be moving into the place."
Bruce laughed a little at that. "Good luck convincing the Captain to go. Those two do not get along at all."
"They haven't fought together yet," Harry replied easily. "There's no respect between them right now."
"Not much respect between any of us," Bruce mumbled.
"Not true," Harry countered sternly. "Tony respects you and it's easy to see that you respect him. Thor's not quite sure what to make of any of you yet but he's getting there. That red-haired woman – Agent Romanov? She's just wary of all of you and probably feeling a little off-balance what with her partner going AWOL, and Mr. Rogers respects what you can do though he has yet to pull his head out of his arse when it comes to Tony and vice-versa. Dysfunctional, but not impossible."
Bruce stared at the mechanic. "You haven't met all of us."
"No," Harry agreed. "But I've seen all of you around and I've heard enough of Tony's rants on both Mr. Rogers and Agent Romanov to get a good idea of what they're like."
Bruce stared for a moment longer as Harry offered him a small smile before returning to his book.
"What can you do then?" Bruce enquired, finally giving in to his curiosity.
Harry chuckled. "I'm no superhero, Bruce."
"Maybe not, but neither am I," He seemed to have caught the mechanic's attention with that statement as Harry looked up again.
"I can do… a number of things," Harry said slowly before giving him a lopsided smile. "Ask the right question next and I'll show you one."
Bruce blinked and then instantly settled on one query he was sure Harry would have to answer. "How come the other guy's so much calmer around you?"
Harry's eyebrows shot up as if he hadn't been expecting this question and then he closed his book and shot a look at the closed door. "What do you know about phoenixes, Doctor?"
Bruce looked taken aback. "Uh, they're mythical birds, aren't they? Immortal, because they can be reborn," He shrugged. "That's about all. I'm not really well-versed in mythology."
Harry smiled a little though it didn't reach his eyes. "They're not myths, Doctor. I've seen one."
"You're serious," Bruce studied the mechanic's expression. "But what does that have to do with my question?"
"In addition to rebirth," Harry began. "Phoenix tears are capable of healing just about anything. Their song gives courage to those who need it and their very presence soothes emotions to a certain degree."
"So are you going to tell me you're hiding a phoenix in your pocket?" Bruce joked.
Harry gave him a wry look. "Not quite." He shot one more look at the door before rising to his feet, and a moment later, Bruce was gaping at the medium-sized bird perched on the table.
"No way," He breathed, feeling the other guy settle down even more. "That- That's not possible."
The phoenix poised in front of him had a sleek onyx plumage, the black feathers almost shining dark blue under the white lights of the lab. When it took flight, three long tails trailed behind it, fluttering gracefully as the bird landed next to him. Familiar green eyes stared back at him.
"You're- still Harry?" Bruce asked uncertainly, scanning the room for any sign of the mechanic.
The phoenix trilled an agreement before blinking questioningly at him, holding out his wings for Bruce to take a closer look. Bruce wasn't sure he was allowed to even touch such an ethereal creature, even if it was still Harry.
But Harry hopped forward and almost smacked his nose with one wing, somehow giving him a stern bird-look and Bruce knew he was being scolded. Laughing, half in disbelief, half in amazement, he reached out to pet the soft feathers.
"You're beautiful," He breathed in wonder, and then, when Harry trilled indignantly again, told him hastily, "I mean handsome, of course."
The bird nodded, puffing out his chest in an exaggerated motion and reminding Bruce that Harry was Tony's best friend, after all. Some of the drama-prone billionaire's personality would have rubbed off on the mechanic eventually.
At that moment, the Hulk picked up approaching footsteps and, not sure if Harry could change back quick enough, Bruce all but lunged across the room for the cloak and dropped it over the startled phoenix, just as the door slid open and Tony strode back in, stretching.
They stared at each other for a long second before Tony looked around. "Where's Harry?"
"Uh-" Bruce scratched his head and glanced at the air next to him. Tony followed his gaze.
"Why is he there?" Tony asked suspiciously.
An amused trill suddenly echoed around them and Bruce grinned sheepishly before reaching out to tug the cloak away. The drop of Tony's jaw was very gratifying.
"What the-" Tony stared at the bird. "Is that-"
Right before their eyes, the phoenix morphed back into Harry and the mechanic slipped off the table to stand on the ground again. "Yup."
"You can change into a bird?" Tony looked thrilled. "Is that how you flew to Germany?"
"You flew to Germany?" Bruce repeated.
"No," Harry looked at Tony before turning to Bruce. "And yes."
Tony crossed his arms. "Why won't you tell me how you got to Germany?"
Harry waved a hand. "I'll show you one day," And before Tony could protest, he gestured at one of the computers. "And I think you're decryption program's finished its work."
Tony shot him an exasperated look but dropped the subject and hurried over to the monitor. Bruce looked round when another set of footsteps drew near the room. "Harry, I think you should hide. Someone's coming."
Harry nodded and quickly pulled the cloak over him, settling back somewhere behind Bruce as the door slid open and an annoyed Nick Fury stalked in.
"What are you doing, Mr. Stark?" He demanded.
Tony didn't even blink at being caught in the act. "Uh... kind of been wondering the same thing about you."
"You're supposed to be locating the Tesseract," Fury grounded out.
"We are," Bruce cut in. "The model's locked and we're sweeping for the signature now. When we get a hit, we'll have the location within half a mile."
"And you'll get your cube back, no muss, no fuss." Tony's gaze turned accusing. "What is Phase Two?"
All three of them turned to look at the door as it slid open again to reveal Steve Rogers, holding what looked like a very big weapon.
"Phase Two is SHIELD used the cube to make weapons," Steve said bluntly, glancing at Tony. "Sorry, the computer was moving a little slow for me."
"Rogers, we gathered everything related to the Tesseract. This does not mean that we're-"
"I'm sorry, Nick," Tony's voice rose to wash over Fury's. He turned the computer screen around where weapon plans were clearly splashed across it. "What, were you lying?"
"I was wrong, Director," Steve said derisively. "The world hasn't changed a bit."
The door slid open a fourth time and Thor and Natasha joined them. Bruce shifted uneasily at the packed lab but relaxed a little when he felt a hand against his arm, settling the other guy once more.
"Did you know about this?" He asked instead, looking at the only S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in the room. He bristled when the redhead only gave him a wary but dismissive look.
"You wanna think about removing yourself from this environment, Doctor?" She said sharply.
Bruce scoffed. "I was in Calcutta; I was pretty well removed."
"Loki's manipulating you," She returned.
"And you've been doing what exactly?" Bruce shot back, a little stung. He felt fine, most likely because of Harry. Loki wasn't doing anything to him.
"You didn't come here because I bat my eyelashes at you," The agent snapped.
"Yes, and I'm not leaving because suddenly you get a little twitchy." He returned irritably before reaching for the computer screen and turning to Fury. "I'd like to know why SHIELD is using the Tesseract to build weapons of mass destruction."
Fury sighed before pointing at Thor. "Because of him."
Thor looked taken aback. "Me?"
"Last year, Earth had a visitor from another planet who had a grudge match that leveled a small town," Fury explained as everyone shifted to keep Thor in their sights. "We learned that not only are we not alone, but we are hopelessly, hilariously, out gunned."
"My people want nothing but peace with your planet," Thor objected, eyes narrowing.
"But you're not the only people out there, are you?" Fury countered. "And you're not the only threat. The world's filling up with people who can't be matched. They can't be controlled."
"Like you controlled the cube?" Steve challenged.
"You're work with the Tesseract is what drew Loki to it, and his allies," Thor spoke up. "It is the signal to all the realms that the earth is ready for a higher form of war."
"A higher form?" Steve repeated.
"You forced our hand," Fury defended. "We had to come up with something."
"A nuclear deterrent," Tony cut in, voice uncharacteristically sharp. "'Cause that always calms everything right down."
"Remind me again how you made your fortune, Stark?" Fury said coolly.
Bruce sensed movement to his left and saw Thor's gaze cut across the room. He knew if Fury went any further, Harry wouldn't take it lying down. Even spending only a few hours in the mechanic's presence, Bruce knew Harry wouldn't stand for anyone hurting Tony, emotionally or physically.
"I'm sure if he still made weapons, Stark would be neck deep in it." Steve jumped in.
Bruce took his last thought back. If Steve went any further, the Captain wouldn't be leaving the room unharmed. He really had no idea why the shield-wielder went to such great lengths to put down the billionaire.
"Wait, wait! Hold on! How is this now about me?" Tony stepped forward, shoulders squaring for another faceoff.
"I'm sorry, isn't everything?" Steve asked mockingly.
"I thought humans were more evolved than this," Thor interrupted pointedly. Bruce caught another brief flicker of the demigod's eyes in Harry's direction. He could just imagine what Thor was seeing to produce the hint of apprehension hidden beneath his words.
Unfortunately, Fury took this the wrong way. "Excuse me, did we come to your planet and blow stuff up?"
And the room promptly descended into chaos.
"You speak of control, yet you court chaos," Thor's voice finally cut over everyone else's, fed-up and scornful as he stared at Fury.
"It's his M.O., isn't it?" Bruce said bitterly. "I mean, what are we, a team? No, no, no. We're a chemical mixture that makes chaos. We're...we're a time-bomb." As always, he was ignored.
"You need to step away," Fury cautioned instead.
Bruce felt the other guy stirring and automatically felt for Harry. The reassuring hand returned and a wave of calm washed over him, clearing his head as the anger ebbed.
"Why shouldn't they guy let off a little steam?" Tony asked flippantly from across the room, clapping Steve on the shoulder.
"You know damn well why!" Steve knocked Tony's hand away, ire rising. "Back off!"
"Oh, I'm starting to want you to make me," Tony's voice softened with warning.
"Yeah, big man in a suit of armor," Steve jeered. "Take that off, what are you?"
"Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist," Tony returned easily.
"I know guys with none of that worth ten of you," Steve said coldly. "I've seen the footage. The only thing you really fight for is yourself. You're not the guy to make the sacrifice play, to lay down on a wire and let the other guy crawl over you."
"I think I would just cut the wire," Tony mused tersely.
"Always a way out," Steve sneered. "You know, you may not be a threat, but you better stop pretending to be a hero."
Even Bruce, from all the way across the room, caught the flicker of hurt surfacing briefly in Tony's eyes before it was covered up. The hand around his arm tightened momentarily at the same time and he honestly didn't know if he would try to stop him if Harry decided to tear the Captain a new one.
Tony's voice was sharp with scorn and intent to hurt when he spoke again, taking a threatening step forward. "A hero, like you? You're a laboratory experiment, Rogers. Everything special about you came out of a bottle."
"Put on the suit; let's go a few rounds," Steve dared. Bruce glanced to the side when he felt Harry stiffen.
Thor laughed mockingly from the side. "You people are so petty, and tiny."
"Yeah, this is a tee," Bruce interjected absently as he felt Harry shift. Was something wrong?
"Agent Romanoff," Fury started. "Would you escort Dr. Banner back to his-"
Bruce's head snapped around, resentment welling up inside him. Were they all blind? He was fine; better than fine. He hadn't felt this calm in a long time. "Where? You're renting my room."
"The cell was just-"
Bruce straightened, eyes narrowing in annoyance at the Director. He hated it when people lied to his face. "In case you needed to kill me, but you can't!" He spat out without thinking. "I know, I tried," The room was suddenly silent as he continued to ramble. "I got low, I didn't see an end, so I put a bullet in my mouth and the other guy spit it out. So I moved on, I focused on helping other people. I was good until you dragged me back into this freak show and put everyone here at risk, but I feel fine right now. Sending me to my room for a timeout; that's going to piss me off!"
Bruce stared defiantly back at them, concentrating on the glow of warmth at his side. The computer suddenly beeped and everyone was snapped out of the staring match as a signal appeared to locate the Tesseract. Bruce quickly made his way over to look, feeling Harry's hand slip from his arm, though the soothing warmth still stayed with him.
"Located the Tesseract?" Thor asked, voice a little calmer now.
"I can get there faster," Tony volunteered.
"Look, all of us-" Steve started.
"The Tesseract belongs on Asgard, no human is a match for it," Thor interjected.
Tony looked impatient and turned to leave, only to be stopped by Steve.
"You're not going alone!" Steve ordered.
Tony was in no mood to take any orders, especially from the Captain. "You gonna stop me?" He snapped back, slapping Steve's hand away.
"Put on the suit, let's find out," Steve snapped.
"I'm not afraid to hit an old man," Tony growled back.
Steve glared. "Put on the-"
A loud clatter cut him off and everyone wheeled around to stare at the cell on the ground by Tony's workspace. Bruce immediately recognized it as Harry's phone.
"That's mine," Tony hurried over to the device and picked it up. "Must have vibrated from an incom-"
He stopped mid-word, eyes glued on the screen, and Bruce frowned before moving over to look at the message. His breath caught.
SECURITY BREACH. UNKNOWNS BROKE PAST MY WARDS. BOMB AT ENGINE THREE. GET OUT.
"Everyone out!" Tony barked, and the urgency in his voice insured everyone's instant obedience. The lab's occupants cleared the room just as a distant rumble sounded and the lab exploded behind them, showering everyone with debris and glass.
"Dammit!" Fury spat out, staggering from the force of the explosion as he fumbled for his earpiece. "Hill!"
"Number three engine is down!" Hill called back loud enough for everyone to hear as Fury grimaced and pulled the earpiece out. "Turbine looks mostly intact but it's impossible to get out there to make repairs while we're in the air."
"We lose one more engine, we won't be," Fury said grimly. "Alright, Stark, you're up. …Stark, what the hell are you doing?"
Tony had completely ignored the entire conversation and was looking around almost frantically.
"Here!" Thor suddenly shouted, making a funny gesture to his left side before reaching up to scratch his nose. Fury, Natasha, and Steve all stared in utter bemusement at the demigod while Tony and Bruce relaxed somewhat.
"Well then!" Tony cocked an eyebrow at Steve. "Engine three; let's go."
Tony sped away with a slightly confused Steve at his heels. Fury sighed and shook his head. "Sometimes, I wonder…" He muttered, before glancing at the remaining people around him. "The rest of you spread out and make yourselves useful. Dr. Banner, are you certain-"
"I'm fine," Bruce said with a sigh. He flexed his hands before promptly morphing into the Hulk. "I'll head to the deck," He grunted as he stomped away. "More space."
"…Is it just me, or is he a little different today?" Natasha asked aloud.
"I don't know what's going on," Fury said, shaking his head. "But I'll question it afterwards. Luck seems to be holding up on our side; let's keep it that way. Go!"
With a nod, Natasha sprinted off in the direction of the detention lab. That would be where the enemy would head to break out Loki, and she would bet quite a bit that Clint would be there too.
"I will head for Loki as well," Thor announced, heading after Natasha. Fury raised an eyebrow at the demigod as he seemed to stare avidly at a patch of thin air before sprinting off, hammer in hand.
"Half the team's losing their minds," Fury muttered before replacing his earpiece. "Coulson, initiate defensive lockdown and then head to the detention section. I'll meet you there."
"Stark, over here!" Steve called from one of the platforms.
The billionaire flew over, hovering in the air to take in the damage. "I gotta get this super conducting cooling system back online before I can access the rotors and work on dislodging the debris," He observed before pointing to the side. "I need you to get to that engine control panel and tell me which relays are in overload position."
Steve blinked before leaping into the air and swinging himself over to the other side.
"What's it look like in there?" Stark asked over the comm link.
Steve stared at the panel and gave his best guess. "It seems to run on some form of electricity."
He scowled when he could almost hear Stark rolling his eyes.
"Well, you're not wrong," The billionaire told him dryly. "Alright, I'll talk you through this. What can you see?"
Steve stumbled through a rough description of the controls and followed Stark's instructions for a few minutes before the man finally gave him the okay. "Okay, the relays are intact now. But even if I clear the rotors, this thing won't re-engage without a jump. I'm gonna have to get in there and push."
Steve stiffened in alarm. "Well if that thing gets up to speed, you'll get shredded!"
"Then stay in the control unit and reverse polarity long enough to disengage mag-"
"Speak English!" Steve yelled. He needed to know exactly what to do or the arrogant jerk was going to get himself killed.
Stark heaved a sigh. "See that red lever? It'll slow the rotors down long enough for me to get out. Stand by it, wait for my word."
Steve spotted the lever and leapt over to it. "Okay, just tell me when."
Nick almost snarled when the remaining engine shut down and the entire aircraft tilted, losing altitude instantly. There was only one person capable of doing it without causing another explosion.
"It's Barton, he took our systems," Nick growled into his comm link. "He's headed for the detention lab. Does anybody copy?"
"This is Agent Romanov. I copy."
Harry appeared in the detention lab mere minutes behind Thor and at the same time as Coulson. He skidded to a halt and took in Loki at the controls to the glass cell and Thor inside said cell.
"Move away, please," Coulson ordered politely, hefting a Phase Two weapon at Loki.
Loki's attention was now firmly on Coulson as he took a few steps back, and Harry took this opportunity to slip further into the room, watching their exchange warily.
"You like this?" Coulson enquired, and Harry really wished the agent would just shoot. He did not like the calm expression on Loki's face. "We started working on the prototype after you sent The Destroyer. Even I don't know what it does. Do you wanna find out?"
Harry hadn't so much as blinked the moment Coulson engaged Loki, so as soon as the energy of the staff disappeared from the spot where the Asgardian appeared to be standing, Harry Apparated as well, leaving his cloak behind so it wouldn't get entangled during the jump and tackling Coulson to the ground just as the real Loki appeared behind them, the pointed tip of the staff missing them by mere inches as it was thrust forward.
"I suggest blasting him!" Harry shouted as he rolled off the agent.
To his credit, Coulson only wasted a second or so to blink at Harry before rolling into a crouch to face a startled Loki and pulling the trigger. The blast of energy that erupted from the gun hurled Loki across the room and through the wall, dumping the Asgardian amongst a pile of metal and rock.
Harry breathed out a sigh of relief and then froze when Coulson swung around and leveled the weapon at him.
"No!" Thor roared from his cell, hurling his hammer against the glass again. A moment later, the pane shattered and the demigod tore across the lab to glare down at Coulson, simultaneously positioning himself in front of Harry. "Harry is a friend. Lower your weapon immediately."
Coulson eyed the demigod but was already dropping the gun back down by the time he looked back at Harry again, one hand coming up in the universal I-mean-no-harm gesture.
"Well," He finally said. "Not that I'm not grateful to you for saving my life, but who are you and how did you get on the Helicarrier?"
Harry rose to his feet, gaze still glued on the gun in case the agent decided to get trigger-happy. "I'm Harry. Potter," He offered curtly. "Tony's friend."
"Mr. Stark didn't bring anyone here," Coulson frowned.
"He didn't have to," Harry adjusted his clothes. "I followed him. Now, let's save this discussion for later. I thought everyone was trying to prevent Loki's escape."
This seemed to stir both Thor and Coulson into action and both of them moved toward the hole in the wall. Coulson stared at Harry for a moment longer before placing the weapon on the ground and turning his back on Harry to follow Thor. Harry figured he couldn't possibly get a stronger thank-you.
"He's gone!" Thor's enraged shout sent Harry running, and indeed, there was nobody there amongst the rubble.
"What now?" Harry asked once they had scoured the entire detention lab and had discovered nothing.
"Let's head back up," Coulson suggested, tapping his earpiece. "Some of the explosions must have downed a part of the communication systems; I can't get through to the Director."
Thor released a frustrated growl but nodded reluctantly. Harry grabbed his cloak, not bothering to put it on. The secret was out, and while he had saved Coulson, there was no way the agent would keep quiet about him.
"Don't worry, Mr. Potter," Coulson glanced at him. "The Director likes yelling and threatening people but he only ever goes through with the latter if you're an enemy."
Harry shrugged. It wasn't as if he couldn't take care of himself even if S.H.I.E.L.D. decided to turn on him, but it was somewhat troublesome to deal with.
"Do not worry, Harry," Thor clapped him on the shoulder. "If necessary, I shall defend you with my dying breath."
Harry quirked a wry smile at the demigod. "Let's hope it doesn't come to that then."
"Stark, how did you know we had to clear the room?" Steve asked as they made their way back to the centre of the aircraft. It had been nagging at him since before the impromptu fight began.
Stark flicked a glance at him, helmet cradled in one arm. "Wouldn't you like to know," He grumbled, glancing disdainfully down at all the scratches on his suit.
Steve scowled. "I was a little busy at the time. I pulled the damn lever as soon as I could."
Stark grunted noncommittally and refused to say another word all the way back to the meeting room.
When they stepped into the room though, Tony froze in mid-step and Steve almost walked right into him. "What-" His gaze landed on a new face standing beside Thor and a de-Hulked Bruce. Fury, Coulson, Hill, and Natasha were standing only a few feet away.
Beside him, Steve could feel Stark tense even behind his armour. A moment later, the billionaire had crossed the room and stationed himself in front of the stranger and pinning Fury with a hard uncharacteristic glare.
Fury didn't seem at all fazed. He growled three words. "Start talking, Stark."
Finished! This was a lot longer than my usual chapters and I thought about chopping it in half, but I just couldn't find a good place to stop, so there you go.
Chapter 8: To Merge Two Worlds
Disclaimer: I do not own anything from Harry Potter or Avengers…
To address some queries:
So Harry's of age now which is why there won't be any Obliviators coming around when Harry uses magic.
I've always thought that if Bruce keeps a clear head, even when he Hulks out, he would be able to talk, even if not very long sentences. And people's reaction to him after he changes; since they are SHIELD agents/superheroes, I think that as long as Bruce doesn't lose it while he's the Hulk, nobody will react too badly.
Some people have wanted pairing, but this will stay GEN for the foreseeable future. I figure I'll concentrate on the war for now. I might put up a poll later on, but not right now.
I'm hoping that the Fury I'll be making won't come out a complete bastard so keep an eye out for that.
And I'm glad everyone thought a phoenix fitted Harry; I was aiming for the immortality angle.
I think that's it, so without further ado, enjoy!
Chapter 8 – To Merge Two Worlds
"Harry's here 'cause I brought him here-"
"Last time I checked, Stark, you came here in your suit-"
"Nobody asked you, Spangles-"
"Can someone just explain how no one's seen him aroun-"
"What do you think I'm trying to do? If you people would just shut up for a minute-"
"You know, this is just like you; breaking the rules and endangering civilians-"
"I'm a civilian! And does he look endangered to you?"
"That's not the point-"
"Then please enlighten us, Cap, what is the point? I mean what is with this personal vendetta against me anyway?"
"I don't have a personal vendetta! You're just too reckless and you're going to end up hurting someone-"
"Rogers, I swear to you, if I end up hurting Harry, I'll cut off my own arms, so back off-"
"Er, excuse me-"
"Since when did this turn into another verbal brawl between the two of you? You both need to stow it. Loki's missing and we've got an unknown who's been on this base for god knows how many days-"
"Agent Romanov, with all due respect, I don't need you reiterating everything we already know-"
"Uh, maybe we should-"
"She's only trying to get everyone back on track, Stark-"
"We are on track, Director. As I was trying to tell you before the American Capsicle butted in-"
"It was an obvious lie!"
"You didn't even let me get past seven words!"
"Because it was a lie!"
"You humans get pettier every time you quarrel. Can you not just listen-"
"Oh that's rich, coming from you, Thor. I seem to recall you were very much not listening when you went to retrieve your hammer-"
"Um, can we all just-"
"Good choice of words, Director. My hammer. Mjolnir was rightfully mine; I was simply getting it back-"
"When did we start talking about hammers? I thought we were here to-"
The sound of Bruce's hands slamming on top of the metal table in the room was enough to shut everyone up and half of them all went for their weapons.
Bruce snorted when Natasha pulled out her gun. "This again, Agent Romanov? I'm still in control. And that thing's not gonna do much if I'm not."
A muscle jumped in Natasha's jaw before she slowly stowed away the gun again. A few steps away, Fury let his hand fall away from his own weapon and Hill and Coulson followed Natasha's example.
"Now that I have your attention," Bruce clapped his hands together before sweeping an arm to the side in Harry's direction. "Why don't we let Harry speak? After all, I'm assuming this is actually supposed to be about him."
A long pause followed the pointed remark before Fury sighed, pulled out a chair, and sat down. "You're right. Mr. Potter, what can you tell us?"
Slowly, everyone took a seat as well, their gazes turning to focus on the only Briton in the room.
Harry had been silent so far, watching the Avengers snap at each other heatedly. If this was what planet Earth was counting on to save them, they were all in for a bumpy ride.
"Well," Harry started, looking around the room. "For anyone who doesn't know yet, I'm Harry Potter. I'm Tony's friend, and I got on the base by myself," He shot a withering look at Tony when the billionaire made to protest. "I don't mean anyone here any harm. I just came to protect Tony."
At Harry's blunt admission, Tony's expression turned a mix of indignation and smugness. Harry rolled his eyes at him.
"But how did you get in here?" Natasha demanded. "And you've been here for days, haven't you? How has no one seen you?"
"That would be my doing," Thor quickly cut in with a brief glance at Harry. "I have been helping."
"You snuck a civilian onboard without notifying anyone?" Hill asked with a frown.
Thor shrugged, utterly unrepentant. "Yes."
"But how did you get up here in the first place?" Natasha pressed. "Thor joined us halfway back from Germany? What, did you hitch a ride?"
Thor made a sound that sounded suspiciously amused. Harry shifted uncomfortably while Tony leaned forward in undisguised interest. Was he ready to just tell them all he was a wizard? Tony already knew, and Bruce sort of knew; he just didn't know what Harry was called. And Thor would accept it without batting an eye; magic was something he understood.
Surprisingly, it was Fury of all people who made the decision for him, leaning forward with focused intensity in his lone eye. "I think the question here is, Mr. Potter, what made you pick Stark of all people to protect, and why would you choose to in the first place? You, of all people."
Harry frowned. What…?
"Harry James Potter," Fury said softly, and Harry felt like he had been doused with a bucket of cold water. "Britain's Saviour."
All around the room, people straightened in their seats. Even Tony frowned, confused.
Harry just stared. "You know," He said at last, not quite sure how to feel about this.
"Of course I know," Fury confirmed. "This is S.H.I.E.L.D.. There aren't many things we don't know, and nothing we don't eventually find out."
Harry glanced away before looking back again when Fury continued. "Do you know Britain has sent out BOLOs for you? They contacted the American Ministry and the American Ministry contacted S.H.I.E.L.D.. Who knew you would be living it up at Stark Industries?"
Harry immediately stiffened, bristling as Tony half-rose out of his seat, obviously taking offense on Harry's behalf.
"First of all, I haven't been 'living it up' anywhere," Harry said coldly. "And second, the only reason there are BOLOs circulating out there is because the British Ministry never seems to have anything better to do than keep track of the whereabouts of their favorite poster boy. I'm no criminal. The American Ministry of Magic should know this. If they actually have even half a brain, they'll leave me alone, and if you, Director, have even half a brain cell, you won't so much as think about turning me in."
"Wait," Natasha interrupted the stare-down between her boss and Harry. "Britain's Saviour? Ministry of Magic? What are you talking about?"
There was a stilted silence as Harry closed his eyes for a moment before glancing back at Fury. "The Statute of Secrecy hasn't applied to me for a long time," Harry said with a humorless tilt of his mouth. "Comes with the benefits package of being the Saviour; I'm exempt from quite a few laws. It's your choice, Director."
There was another prolonged pause before Fury sighed and proceeded to give a short overview of the magical community living in secret beside the Muggle world, and of the two wars that had haunted Britain for the better part of four decades. To say that most of the room was stunned would be an understatement.
"So magic's real?" Natasha looked between Fury and Harry, and the mechanic just managed to catch a spark of childish excitement beneath the many layers the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent always stood behind. "Here on Earth?"
"Yeah," Harry nodded cautiously. "But there are laws against telling Muggles- I mean you people."
"So none of this leaves the room," Fury warned. "Or there'll be consequences, and not from me."
"So what's this about being Britain's Saviour?" Tony asked, looking back at Harry.
Harry grimaced. "It's a long story. The basic rundown is that I got rid of a really bad wizard bent on world domination. Several times, since the bastard kept coming back. They upgraded me to Saviour when I got rid of him for good."
"Huh," Tony raised an eyebrow. "Not much different than what we're doing right now then."
"You said several times," Thor was watching Harry very closely. "And yet you look no older than nineteen, perhaps twenty."
Harry' fought to keep his expression blank. He had two options. One wasn't even up for consideration here. "Wizards and witches have longer lifespans," Harry said smoothly. "We age more slowly."
"Damn that's lucky," Tony teased as Thor frowned. "So how old are you really?"
"It's rude to ask people their age, Tony," Harry shot back, pasting on a smirk. "Keep guessing."
"Back to the matter at hand," Fury interrupted as Tony settled back to grumble. "Why are you protecting Stark?"
"Do I need a reason?" Harry countered. "He's my friend. I protect my friends. I think everyone here can agree that we're about to go to war. I'm not about to let Tony walk into this alone."
"Your people are looking for you," Fury pointed out.
"Then they can keep looking," Harry said, voice frosting over again. "There's no law that says I can't live where I want, however I want, and if there was, I'd probably be exempt from it too."
"You don't care that your friends and family are probably wor-"
"I don't have family," Harry snapped so sharply that Tony seemed to be considering his options of shutting Fury up forcibly. "They're all dead. And I haven't talked to my friends from the Wizarding world for over eight years now. I highly doubt they're very worried about me."
Tony's head swiveled around again, looking a little thrown, as if he hadn't expected Harry to be so completely cut off from other people. Harry had to fight down a sudden urge to laugh. What did the man expect? Had he already forgotten how hard Harry had tried to push him away when they had first met?
"There are British Aurors out there-" Fury tried again. Harry wasn't sure why the Director was trying so hard to get rid of him, just that he was really getting on his nerves.
"And they'll do what, exactly?" Harry's voice became flat, anger clear for everyone to hear. "British Aurors? I bet I'll know at least two thirds of them. I went to school with all of them. I trained them. All the basics they've built their careers on? They learned it all from me. I taught them everything I knew after being fast-tracked through the Auror program when I was fifteen! If they come after me and try to drag me back for one reason or another, I can guarantee you they won't succeed. I could knock them back on their arses before they take one step through my front door, and that will only be if they've lost all respect for their goddamn general."
Dead silence met the end of his tirade as Harry paused for breath. He met Tony's gaze briefly and almost winced at the dismay staring back at him.
"You were a war general at fifteen?" Tony asked quietly. Even Fury looked surprised at the uncharacteristic sobriety in the billionaire's voice.
Harry shrugged, settling down again as he let his anger fade. "It was necessary. People were dying left and right, and I was… temperamental that year. I didn't want to just stay in school and the adults around me wanted me to train anyway so I agreed."
"You were fifteen," Bruce looked almost resentful.
"Technically, I was sixteen when I started leading people," Harry corrected.
"There's no difference," Natasha looked stricken and Harry remembered the things Tony had mentioned about this woman's past.
"I was pretty angry at the time," Harry sighed. "I had just… well, my godfather was killed that year."
"So they played on your emotions," Natasha's eyes narrowed. "That's despicable."
"That's life," Harry countered. "People do what they can to survive, and I was the only person who could defeat Voldemort for good. Besides, it's in the past now. No use dredging it up years after the fact."
"Then you have no intention of returning?" Fury spoke up again before Natasha could object.
Harry frowned. "I intend to live my own life."
Fury leaned forward again, expression determined, and Harry had a feeling he wouldn't like whatever the man came up with next.
"Perhaps as part of the Avengers then?"
Cliffie! Yes, I'm evil, but I'm off to class and I figured this was a good place to end it. No worries! I'm fairly certain I can get the next chapter up by the end of the day!
Chapter 9: To Come Apart
Disclaimer: I do not own anything from Harry Potter or Avengers...
-For now, NO PAIRING in the foreseeable future. Might put up a poll later though.
-Since Harry told them that wizards age more slowly, everyone will assume that the Aurors he trained will look around Harry's age. IF other wizards show up later, won't they be surprised that they look older?lol
-I know a few people thought Harry was a bit off in the last chapter and yeah, he did get more emotional, but I think that's still a part of Harry that people sometimes overlook. He doesn't get angry often, especially now that he's grown up, but he can and there will be places here and there in my fic that his temper spikes, especially when his past is brought up. Also, Harry is a pessimist; no point denying that, and he does get depressed. Just because he didn't try suicide again doesn't mean he doesn't think about it. It's only because of West and the fact that it doesn't work that he stopped, so from time to time, Harry will get somewhat moody.
-Some people have also brought up drabbles/oneshots for when this fic is over. I was already planning on something like that; I have a general idea that they will be about the Avengers and Harry's lives after this story. Just a thought.
-Anything I didn't answer will come up eventually. Don't want to give out spoilers.
I think that's it so on with the next chapter. Try to enjoy; this one will be... conflicting.
Chapter 9 – To Come Apart
Harry stared. "What?"
Tony glared. "What?"
Fury gave Tony a dismissive glance when the billionaire leapt to his feet. "Stark, stay out of this. This is none of your business."
"None of my-!" Tony spluttered. "Excuse me, but last time I checked, Harry's here for me and he's my friend, not to mention I'm part of this joke of a team you're trying to put together. If you're going to try to drag Harry into this monkey act, you've got another thing coming!"
"Tony," Harry spoke up before Fury could say anything again. "It's alright."
Tony's head snapped around to look at Harry with wide-eyed disbelief. "What? You're really going to-"
"I'm not going to join," Harry interrupted, voice clear as he looked back at Fury. "Like I said, I'm only here to make sure Tony gets back home alive and in one piece. Nothing more. Besides, I'm no superhero. Just because I can do magic doesn't mean I'm going to charge out there fighting for the good of all. Besides, how hidden do you think the magical community will be if I start crusading as an Avenger?"
Tony sat down, apparently satisfied that Harry wasn't about to pick up arms and join S.H.I.E.L.D.. On the other hand, Fury didn't look all that pleased.
"Potter, do you know how much good you could do for the world?" He demanded. "That's what the Avengers do-"
"No," Harry shook his head, glancing around the room. "That's what you want the Avengers to do. I've been on this base for days now and all I've seen are a bunch of separate individuals all trying to do things their way. One of you hasn't even been here the entire time."
"That's not his fault," Natasha cut in tersely. "And he's back now. He's in sickbay."
"Understandable and I'm not saying it's his fault, but can anybody here tell me, in all honesty, that the Avengers is anything more than a name right now?" His gaze took in all of them, even Tony, and not one of them managed to meet his eyes.
"And anyway," Harry continued, unrelenting as his gaze settled on Fury again. "How can any of them begin to trust each other if you're keeping secrets from them? You brought them together; you have the responsibility of giving them a reason to stay." He half-turned to take in the rest of the Avengers in the room. "And just by agreeing to come here, each of you have the responsibility of coming up with a reason to fight. I don't think I have to tell you that going into a battle without a reason usually ends with body bags, and it won't be the enemies inside them. Make up your mind; either you're in or you're not. Halfway isn't going to be enough anymore."
And without another word, Harry turned on his heel and headed for the door. He had said his piece; voiced his opinion. Whether they took it into consideration or not would be up to them.
"By the way, I still think you're a first-grade asshole," Tony piped up after a full minute of silence, looking evenly at the Director.
Fury sighed wearily. "You can think anything you want, Mr. Stark. Just stay quiet long enough to hear me out." He paused, and then snorted. "Never thought I'd see the day I'd get chewed out about the way I command on my own ship."
"He's got a point," Bruce eyed the rest of the room. "Nobody here trusts anyone."
"I trust you, big guy," Tony reached over to pat him on the shoulder.
Bruce quirked a slight smile in the billionaire's direction but it was half-hearted at best. Being chastised by someone like Harry wasn't the best of experiences and a certain tension remained in the air even after Harry had left.
"Look," Fury got their attention again as he rose to his feet and moved to the front of the room. "We're dead in the air up here. Our communications and location of the cube are lost and Barton's still down. We have no idea where Loki went and we've got a powerful wizard onboard whose only concern is Stark, not to mention he's not all that impressed with us right now. I got nothing for you."
He paused and looked at each of them before continuing in a grave tone. "Yes, we were going to build an arsenal with the Tesseract. I never put all my chips on that number though, because I was playing something even riskier. There was an idea, Stark knows this," All eyes turned briefly to Tony. "Called the Avengers Initiative. The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people, see if they could become something more. See if they could work together when we needed them to, to fight the battles that we never could." Fury's eye sharpened as he looked at Tony. "It seems your friend already knows this."
Tony shrugged unapologetically. "I tell Harry everything."
"It was supposed to be top-secret," Natasha frowned.
"And who's Harry gonna tell?" Tony challenged. "His cars? He's a mechanic. The only reason he's here is because of me."
"How did you even become friends?" Steve suddenly asked, honestly curious. "You two are nothing alike. Why would he come all this way, risking getting caught and revealed just to protect you?"
Tony frowned, expression pinching with annoyance. "And what's that supposed to mean? I'd do the same for him."
This was very reminiscent of what Steve had accused him of never doing and the Captain scoffed. "There's a surprise."
Tony shot up so fast his chair skidded backwards. "You know what, Rogers? You've been getting on my nerves since day one. Now I don't care what you say about me personally; I can take anything you dish out. But when you bring Harry into this, that's when you've crossed the line, so if your face doesn't wanna say hello to my fist, keep your mouth shut."
Tony's expression blazed with an alarming amount of hostility as he swung around to face all of them. "This is obviously not gonna work," He gestured at the room in general before looking at Fury. "So I'll just save you the trouble of printing out a dismissal form. I quit."
And with that said, he spun around and stalked out the door as well, steps loud against the metallic floor.
"Well, I guess I'm done here too," Bruce rose to his feet, hands clasped together. "You don't need me anymore; can't trace the cube without the staff. I'll see myself out."
As opposed to Tony, his steps were near silent as he exited the room, never looking back as he disappeared from view.
Thor heaved a disgusted sigh and got up as well. "You humans; sometimes, I find it truly a mystery that you have even advanced this far."
Picking up his hammer, the demigod left as well. No one noticed the uneasy frown on his face as Thor realized how heavy Mjolnir had gotten.
Natasha pressed her lips together before rising from her seat. "Sir, I'd like to return to Barton now. He hasn't woken up yet and the doctors said they'd give me an update when I got back."
Fury nodded once and watched as one of his best agents disappeared from the room at a near-run. Sighing deeply, he turned to the last member of the Avengers.
"Well, Rogers? What about you?"
Steve stared from the door to the Director. "How did you find out about Potter anyway?" He asked at last. "I mean, he was hiding fine before, right?"
Coulson cleared his throat. "He saved my life. Loki would have killed me otherwise."
"I thought his only priority was Stark," Steve pointed out.
"Apparently not," Fury shrugged. "Though I doubt many people would stand to one side while someone was killed if they could prevent it."
Another long silence descended before Fury prompted impatiently, "Rogers?"
"I want to talk to Harry," Steve suddenly said, getting up abruptly.
"Are you quitting?" Fury pressed.
"I'll let you know as soon as I do," Steve promised before speeding out of the room in the same direction Harry had headed in.
Fury turned to glance at Hill.
"What are we going to do now?"
Fury sighed again. "Nothing to do but wait."
"Wait for what?" Hill asked as she and Coulson followed Fury out of the room.
Fury frowned. "For the time when the Avengers prove to be strong enough to work together."
Now that the Helicarrier was no longer doing anything save hanging in the air, Harry could enjoy the scenery without people running back and forth on the deck.
"Mind if I join you?"
Harry stiffened at the voice, turning to see Steve Rogers hovering a few feet away. After a contemplative moment, he shifted over to make room for the man.
"So you're a mechanic," Steve said as he sat down. "Saw a lot more of those back in my day than I do now."
Harry shrugged. "It's a profession. I like working with cars."
They fell into a slightly awkward silence. Harry pretended not to see the quick glances Steve kept shooting at him every few minutes.
"...What do you see in Stark?" Steve finally spoke, frustration evident in his voice.
Harry shot him a long considering look. "What do you see in Tony?" He countered.
Steve frowned. "He's arrogant and reckless, and he has no tact. He's selfish too, and everything's a joke to him."
"You really think that?" Harry asked, keeping his voice neutral. "You fought with him just a while ago. You worked together to get the turbine up and running, didn't you?"
Steve hesitated and Harry waited patiently as he thought it over.
"He could've died," Steve offered at last. "He had to push the rotors to get them working again. And he trusted me to pull the lever..."
He trailed off, deep in thought, and Harry nodded. "All those things you say he is? I completely agree. I'll be the first to say he's nothing short of an egotistical bastard, but that's not all he is either. He doesn't have to be here; he doesn't have to be Iron Man. I mean, he has plenty of money and fame. He doesn't really need the added danger of being a superhero to get recognition. And at the end of the day, all the things he's done for S.H.I.E.L.D. so far? No one's going to know any of that, except us. He's here because he wants to help, no matter what shite he tells people, and that takes selfless courage." His gaze sharpened into a glare. "So if I ever hear you say anything to Tony even remotely like what you said to him back in the lab, you'll see exactly why no British Auror in their right mind would cross their magic with mine. Understand?"
Steve looked understandably shocked, but he managed a weak nod and Harry promptly dropped the fierce look. "Good, now was that all you came out here for?"
"Er, no," Steve shifted a bit on the spot. "...The team's kind of disbanded."
"Shocker," Harry deadpanned.
Steve scowled. "That was entirely Stark."
"Yes it was," Harry agreed shamelessly. "What about Agent Romanov?"
Steve shrugged. "She can't exactly quit. She's S.H.I.E.L.D., but I think she doesn't want anything to do with the Avengers anymore either."
"Well, it is a group of superheroes in this day and age," Harry shook his head. "You Americans; I almost laughed when I found out."
"There's nothing wrong with superheroes!" Steve protested indignantly.
Harry tilted his head. "It's a big job."
"But it's worth it," Steve insisted stubbornly. "No matter how hard being a superhero is, it's worth it in the end."
"I'm not saying it isn't, Captain," Harry rose to his feet, stretching out his limbs before turning to face Steve. "But then you've got to wonder: why aren't your colleagues jumping at the chance to be one?"
Slipping off the railing of the flag bridge, Harry turned and headed back inside, leaving a pensive Steve behind.
Harry glanced back and blinked when he caught sight of Natasha sprinting towards him, a desperate glint in her eyes. "Agent Romanov?"
"You wizards can heal with magic, can't you?" She gasped as she skidded to a halt in front of him.
"Er, well yes," Harry started. "But I'm not qualified-"
"Come on!" Unceremoniously, Natasha grabbed Harry by the arm and ran off again, this time dragging Harry behind her.
"Ma'am, what's going on?" Harry demanded, half trying to wrench his arm out of her grip. "I don't know many healing spells; they're not part of my skill set."
"There must be something you can do," She shot back determinedly.
"What's going on?" Harry tried again.
Natasha didn't even pause as she tossed an almost frightened look over her shoulder at him, only years of training and missions hiding her emotions from sight.
"It's Clint. I mean Barton. He's dying."
Another one finished. This one was a bit bleh to write, but it had to be done. Gotta throw some conflict in here.
Chapter 10: To Be Separated
Disclaimer: I do not own anything from Harry Potter or Avengers...
-A bit of Master of Death!Harry coming up next!
-Will Clint die? Maybe, maybe not. I'm evil:)
-I probably won't put characters from the other Marvel movies (ie. Jane, Darcy, etc.) into this fic; would complicate things too much and I want to stick with just the Avengers.
-The Master of Death has to work with a set of rules; even the Master of Death can't just raise the dead or someone like Harry would try to do that for a lot of people who had died in the war. But there just might be exceptions... won't reveal anything more or I'll be giving people spoilers.
-And for those who are wondering, I live in on the west coast of Canada; I guess my end of the day would be some of you people's beginning or middle or whatever. Bleh time zones.
-I'm not planning on killing Loki off but I won't say more than that. You'll just have to wait and find out.
-And lastly, this fic will extend to a little after the Avengers movie timeline, and then the drabbles/oneshots I'm planning on writing will focus on their lives afterwards.
I think that's it, so on with the next bit. Might hinge on the depressed side at the beginning, depending on what depresses you, but it'll get better. Enjoy!
Chapter 10 – To Be Separated
"Agent Romanov, what exactly do you think I can do? I'm no doctor," Harry had finally freed his arm but was walking at Natasha's hurried speed anyway as the woman swept down another corridor.
"It's not a doctor Clint needs right now," Natasha said grimly. "It's a miracle. The doctors can't do squat. They say he's perfectly fine physically, except that all his vitals are dropping. There's no reason for it at all."
"So if doctors can't find the problem, what do you expect me to do?" Harry protested as they rounded the corner. "I'm not being modest when I say I can't really heal; I'm literally crap at- GET AWAY FROM HIM!"
His voice echoed around the sickbay and everyone within hearing distance turned to stare at him, including the figure looming over a comatose Clint Barton.
"What is it?" Natasha looked back and forth between Harry and the space where Harry was engaging in a glaring match. Her hand drifted to her gun. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," Harry said curtly. "Clear the room; I reckon I might be able to help him after all."
Without waiting for an affirmative, Harry strode forward, sweeping across the sickbay to Clint's side. Behind him, he heard Natasha ordering the doctors out of the room but caught a glimpse of her as she remained in the background, watching him with wary, anxious eyes.
Ignoring her presence, Harry stepped up beside the bed, raising his eyes and wordlessly putting up a silencing charm around them at the same time before he greeted, "Hello Death."
Natasha started, surprised by both the arrival and the fact that she hadn't heard him come in. "Dr. Banner. Can I help you with something?"
"No, no," Bruce shook his head distractedly as his eyes darted to where Harry was standing. "I heard Harry yell so I came to see if anything was wrong. Did something happen?"
"I don't know," Natasha turned her attention back to her partner and the Briton, keeping half an eye on the scientist next to her. "Clint- Barton was dying and the doctors couldn't do anything so I went and got Potter. He said he only knew a few healing spells and that there wasn't a lot he could do but as soon as he came in here, he shouted for something to get away from- I'm guessing Barton?"
She trailed off, even more confused now that she had gone over the events in her head.
Bruce took a step forward, ears straining to pick up any sound as Harry's mouth moved. What was going on?
"You can't take him," Harry insisted.
"His soul is already half gone," Death intoned, one hand hovering over Clint's chest with a swirling forest green ball of pure energy under it, already partly removed from the archer's body. "Thus his hold on life shall be withdrawn."
"If it's half gone, then that means it's also half not gone," Harry said impatiently. "You can't just take him because Loki screwed him over. That's not fair."
Death frowned. "When Life is too much to bear, Death is always fair."
"Not this time," Harry said firmly. "You're the one taking his soul. Your job is to take the souls that have already been freed from their bodies. His hasn't; it's just been tampered with. But Loki has no hold on him anymore which means everything goes to you, so put it back. All of it."
Death was silent for a long moment before its eyes moved to Natasha standing by the door. Harry followed its gaze and blinked when he found Bruce standing there as well.
"The Master of Death should not be influenced by emotion," Death said softly, and its gaze was suddenly piercing and harsh as it looked at Harry again. "It will be your downfall, young Master."
"I'm not!" Harry retorted back defensively.
And this time, Death grinned, the action razor-sharp and ugly. "Death is honest, Death is fair. Thou are neither, oh Master of mine, so why, pray tell, must I obey?"
Harry's jaw tightened. "I am your Master," He said quietly, staring straight back at Death with all the defiance he could muster. "You accepted me as your Master the day I gathered the three Hallows, and you bound yourself to my service the day you refused to let me die. You don't need any other reason to obey me. Now put his soul back. Now."
Death stared down at him, expression twisting, and Harry knew it was angry this time. "This human is not worthy of your time," Death hissed. "A god you are compared to this mortal, and yet you lower yourself to his level."
"I said put it back!" Harry finally snapped. "I never wanted to be a god, I never wanted any of this, but you wouldn't let me go! Yeah, maybe I am influenced by my emotions, but so what? I'm human! I didn't ask to be your Master! So goddamn it, put his soul back! Don't make me repeat myself again!"
An invisible wave of power erupted from Harry and Death seemed to stumble back, releasing his hold on the soul. Harry watched in relief as the ball of energy sank back into Clint and the man himself released a deep breath before settling into a calm slumber.
A rasping laugh made him look up again, eyeing Death with caution as it started to disappear. "Oh Master, my Master, what will you do? When your dear ones depart and your fate rings true? Will you rise, will you fall, will you try and stand tall? Will you weep, will you cry, will you turn a blind eye? Human you are, and yet you are not. So I offer you this; a few words for thought."
And soon enough, it disappeared, but its voice echoed around Harry, loud and mocking and only for him to hear.
'Who telleth a tale of unspeaking Death?
Who lifteth the veil of what is to come?
Who painteth the shadows that are beneath
The wide-winding caves of the peopled tomb?
Or uniteth the hopes of what shall be
With the fears and the love for that which we see?'
"They do not know me, Master," Were Death's parting words, whispered in his ear. "But you do. They live in Life, you live in Death. They do not know your burden. Is it not better, then, to cut your ties with the land of men?"
And then it faded altogether, and Harry just wanted to run, run and never look back because it would be the easy thing to do, but he couldn't because he had been stupid enough to let people get close and he had other responsibilities now.
So he took a deep breath and pulled together the unravelling seams of his control before dropping the wards around him.
"He's alright now," Harry called, surprised at how shaky his voice was. He cleared his throat and avoided Bruce's searching gaze as Natasha moved forward. "He's just resting. He'll be fine when he wakes up."
Natasha rushed over to the monitors scanning Clint's vital signs, checking them anxiously before releasing a sigh of relief. She turned back to Harry, genuine gratitude in her eyes. "Thank you. Thank you so much. For whatever you did. He's my partner; I can't- can't lose him. Thank you."
Harry managed a strained smile, nodding once before vacating the sickbay with Bruce. He barely noticed the scientist's worried expression as he hurried towards the nearest door, needing the open space of the sky.
He fumbled twice as he tried to enter the code that would open said door, missing the right numbers by a mile before Bruce reached over and entered it for him. The door slid open and Harry didn't even pause to thank him before bolting out of the base, gulping down fresh air as he leaned wearily against the railing.
It was several long minutes later before Harry raised his head again and found Bruce still beside him, patiently quiet in a way one wouldn't expect someone who could change into the Hulk to be.
"Sorry," Harry offered weakly. "I'm usually better at keeping my emotions under control."
Bruce shrugged and smiled back wryly. "Don't worry; I know all about it. Strange thing is, I'm still calm, even though you're..."
"An absolute wreck, yeah," Harry sighed. "The effects of a phoenix doesn't go away just because I fall apart, don't worry."
"You're alright now, though?" Bruce was observing him carefully and Harry straightened completely, ignoring the last traces of fear still lingering in his mind.
"Yeah, I'm fine," He assured. "I was just a bit shaken up with Agent Barton back there."
Bruce didn't look like he believed him and his next words confirmed it. "I know a panic attack when I see one. I may not have a degree in medical science but I am rather good at it."
Harry looked away, frowning at the open sky around them. "What do you do," He asked softly. "When even death isn't an option?"
"You move on," There was no hesitation in Bruce's reply. "You find something else to keep you occupied and you keep living. I should know; I've been there, remember?"
Harry glanced sidelong at the scientist and felt himself relax. This was one of the things he liked most about Bruce; he never pushed and gave honest advice when someone asked for it. A complete opposite to Tony but Harry thought it was a good balance.
"Well let's go find Tony," Harry pushed away from the railing, leaving any depressing thoughts behind for the day.
"Mr. Stark?" Bruce looked puzzled as he followed Harry back inside.
"Yeah, we're leaving, aren't we? Are you finished packing?"
"Er, well yes, but-"
"Good. Knowing Tony, he's not. We can go help."
"Wait, Harry," Bruce stopped him with a hesitant hand on his shoulder, removing it quickly as if still not used to any sort of human touch. "What do you mean 'we'?"
Harry paused long enough to arch an eyebrow at the scientist. "You haven't forgotten, have you? Stark Tower? Moving in? Big lab for you to play with? Ring any bells?"
Smothering a grin at the stunned look Bruce had taken on, Harry moved away again, heading towards Tony's temporary room.
"Wait!" Bruce's footsteps picked up speed behind the mechanic. "I don't think-"
"Harry, Doc!" Tony exclaimed as he appeared in the hallway, stepping out of his room with a suitcase in hand. "Ready to go?"
"Yup," Harry said cheerfully as they both turned and ushered Bruce back down the way they had come. He and Tony had come to a silent agreement a while ago that the only way they could... convince Bruce to come with them was to not allow the man an opportunity to protest. "Bruce is all packed. We can stop by his room, pick up his things, and head out."
"Wait!" Bruce finally dug in his heels, and while Harry and Tony were both powerful in their own right, neither of them had the extra physical strength Bruce did. All three finally came to a mostly reluctant stop outside the scientist's room.
Bruce turned and crossed his arms. "I never agreed to this."
Harry and Tony exchanged a glance before Tony shrugged. "Well, technically, you never said no. You said it wasn't a good idea and that we wouldn't want you there and some other stuff I stopped listening to ages ago, but you never said no."
Bruce pinned him with a mildly ticked off look. "I seem to recall you answering me whenever I gave my reasons."
"Excuses, not reasons," Tony corrected. "And haven't you ever picked up the art of nodding and yes-ing in all the right places? I've had to do that all the time when people come and tell me how great their companies are. No?" Tony thought about this for a moment and then shrugged. "Well that's just adorable, big guy, now let's go."
"Mr. Stark," Bruce began objecting again as Tony attempted to push him into his room. Harry solved the problem by entering for him and coming back out with his luggage a few seconds later. "I think this is supposed to be my choice-"
"How about this then?" Harry finally cut in, leaning against the doorframe. "You can move in to Stark Tower or you can move in with me. I have enough space for even the Hulk to move around and Tony's place isn't that far away. You can go use the lab any time you want but you won't smack in the middle of the city either."
"Harry, your place isn't that big," Tony reminded. "And no offense, Doc, but I earned that guest bedroom at Harry's house. I'm not giving it up."
Harry shot him an amused look, wiggling the fingers of one hand. "Magic, Tony."
Tony blinked, wide-eyed, and then the usual excitement lit up his eyes. "So you can expand the place? Just like that?"
Harry actually laughed at that. "I don't need to expand it. I've got six floors above the ground floor hidden with magic. No Muggles can see them. I haven't used them since I built them; they were more a safety measure than anything else, equipped with the latest defenses to serve as a safe house, but I can open them again any time."
"And you never showed me!" Tony looked highly offended. "Nine months! What does a guy have to do around here to earn a little trust?"
"I showed you the basement," Harry reminded him. "And that I've never shown anyone before."
Tony sniffed dramatically. "You're apparently going to show Doc here and you've only known him for a few days."
Harry rolled his eyes at the outrageous pout on the billionaire's face. "Oh get over it. I'll show you both as soon as we get there."
Tony still looked disgruntled but he brightened at the prospect of seeing more magic and turned back to Bruce. "Well how 'bout it, Banner? You're a lot calmer with Harry around so there won't even be any of those accidents you're so afraid of."
Bruce stared from one hopeful face to the other, Tony's expression was more impatient than Harry's and he wondered absently how the mechanic managed to put up with Tony's antics on a day-to-day basis.
"Fine," He finally capitulated, feeling a glow of pleasure when both Tony and Harry immediately grinned. "But how are we going to get there? We're still in the air and none of us can pilot a jet."
Tony frowned, obviously not having thought of that particular aspect as he glanced down at his Iron Man suit-turned suitcase.
"We'll go by side-along Apparition," Harry announced, pushing off the doorframe.
"Side-along what?" They both turned to look at Harry.
"Apparition," Harry clarified. "It's basically jumping from one place to another. Instant transportation. Might be a bit uncomfortable but perfectly safe," Harry paused, and then amended, "Mostly. But I'm pretty good at it."
"Wait, if you can do that, why didn't you just jump directly to Germany?" Tony asked.
Harry shook his head. "One, I didn't know where you were going, and two, I have to know what the place looks like before I can Apparate there."
"So now that you've been to Stuttgart, you'll be able to jump back there any time?" Bruce asked this time.
Harry tilted his head. "Depends on the distance. I probably can, but I've never tried Apparating so far before. I'd rather not do it unless it was an emergency."
"Understandable," Tony nodded, slinging an arm around Harry's shoulder as all three of them started down the corridor again. "Wouldn't wanna jump halfway there and end up in the Atlantic. Puts a bit of a damper on things."
Harry snorted at the bad pun but he had to hide an affectionate smile. He had missed the easy camaraderie he had had with Tony before this entire fiasco happened, and even though he knew this wouldn't last, because both Tony and Bruce would never let the Earth fall at Loki's feet no matter how much they were currently thinking of quitting the Avengers, not to mention his own eventual departure, he was glad that they would have a little down time right now.
"They've left? All three of them?" Steve felt a little bewildered when he realized how empty the base suddenly seemed, never mind that the majority of the place's personnel were still around.
Fury nodded, expression unreadable. "Left a few minutes ago. I think Potter transported them away."
"Oh," Steve looked around the room. "What about Thor?"
"Still here," Fury waved a hand in the general direction of the guest bedrooms. "In his room."
"Oh," Steve said again, his shoulders slumping. He had been thinking about Harry's words, coming to the conclusion that perhaps he had been too hasty, too close-minded. He had automatically tried to take up the position of leader, having done it during the Second World War, but he hadn't taken the time to get to know the people he was working with. And that was the biggest difference.
In the war, he had been leading soldiers, people who had enlisted and were expected to follow their commanding officer's orders. But here, he was working with other people, each with their own strengths to bring to the team and each with the habit of working alone. How could he expect them to follow him if he didn't even make the effort to listen to them when they spoke?
Especially Stark. The billionaire had rubbed him the wrong way from the minute he had first met him because Steve had immediately thought Stark had been trying to insult him. But didn't the man joke around with everyone? If Steve had been Bruce, he would've gotten angry the moment Stark cracked the first Hulk joke, but the doctor had simply let it roll off him and, thinking back, he had to admit that Bruce had seemed a little more relaxed around Stark than he did around him or the others.
And Harry was right. Stark didn't need to be here. None of them did, and yet they had all come, perhaps hoping for a way to stop Loki for good. But they had all royally screwed that up and now the Avengers had scattered.
Steve had thought hard about Harry's parting question, and thought he might have the answer. Or answers; each person on the team would have a different one.
Bruce was perhaps the easiest to figure out. The scientist, being so afraid to hurt other people, wouldn't want to be stuck in such a closed environment surrounded by agents ready to shoot him at a moment's notice. He wasn't used to being accepted in any group, which would probably explain why Bruce was so much more at ease around Harry and Tony; neither seemed at all concerned about Bruce's temperamental state. Steve was wary as well, but he wasn't anywhere near as bad as Natasha or Fury, who seemed to go for their guns every time the scientist so much as twitched.
For Thor, well, Steve supposed anyone would be tense if they had to fight their own brother, blood-related or not. Being part of a team that didn't seem to be getting anywhere what with all the arguments would be frustrating for him at best. Steve remembered that one of Thor's friends, Selvig, was still under Loki's control, and that couldn't be doing anything to improve Thor's temper. With the Avengers looking to be somewhat useless against Loki, the demigod wouldn't want to stick around either.
He hadn't met Hawkeye yet but he did know of the Black Widow's reputation as a spy. Being a lone wolf or part of a tag team with Clint at most, it wouldn't be easy for Natasha to simply fall in with a much larger group of individuals, all with quirks of their own. And without the familiarity of her long-time partner who would probably act as a foil for the female agent's cold demeanour, she wouldn't have much to stay for either.
And Stark. Steve was starting to realize that the billionaire was more of a package deal than anything else. No Harry, no Stark. So used to the man's Devil-may-care attitude, he had been more than a little shocked at the sheer amount of protectiveness whenever Harry was brought up. And it wasn't just Stark either. It seemed Harry was just as adamant about defending Stark as the billionaire was about defending Harry. Neither gave an inch when it came to shielding the other from any type of harm, and it looked like neither would return to the Avengers without the other's approval.
Steve glanced up. Fury was still staring at him.
"What will you do?" The Director asked.
Steve stared at him before straightening. He had made up his mind already.
"I'm going after Harry," He announced. "He seems close to Thor and Banner and Stark won't come within a mile of the Avengers without him. Maybe he'll be able to convince Romanov and Barton as well. I think what this team needs most of all is someone to hold it together and that's not me. I can lead them into battle if they trust me enough and coordinate them, but I can't keep us together. I need Harry."
Fury didn't seem surprised, but then again, Steve had never seen the Director surprised before. Either way, Fury only nodded once. "Do what you think is best. At this point, any plan is a good plan."
Steve nodded sharply but before he could take even a step towards the door, Hill burst into the room, looking almost frantic.
"Sir, we just picked up a burst of energy coming from Manhattan!" She reported urgently. "The coordinates pinpoint Stark Tower as Loki's new base of operations. He's done it, sir. He's opened a portal directly above it. The Chitauri are pouring through now!"
Fury swore, already heading for the bridge. "Rogers, you need to get out there now! Hill, head down to sickbay and get Romanov and Barton. Tell Coulson to get Thor. I don't care what you have to do; if Hawkeye's not awake yet, dump a bucket of water on him if you have to. Just get all of them moving!"
Steve had already sprinted out of the room, heading for the nearest jet and yelling for Hill to tell the other three to meet him on the deck. As he ran to the hanger, he prayed that their other teammates hadn't jumped directly to Stark Tower. They needed to regroup before they could push the invading forces back.
Finished! Think I'll end it there. I think I mentioned some Natasha and Clint but I couldn't manage to fit them in. They'll definitely be in the next chapter though, so hope you enjoyed this instead.
Chapter 11: To Form an Alliance
Disclaimer: I do not own anything from Harry Potter or Avengers...
-Not much here this time...
A little action in this one and lots of interactions between different members of the team. Enjoy!
Chapter 11 – To Form an Alliance
They landed on the porch of the penthouse of Stark Tower, staggering as they tried to stay on their feet.
"Well," Tony said as he just managed to stop himself from face-planting on his floor. "That was-"
"Disconcerting," Bruce finished, shaking his head.
"I was gonna say different," Tony corrected. "But that works too."
"Told you it would be uncomfortable," Harry told them both cheerfully. "It's not my favourite way of traveling eith-"
He stopped abruptly, the colour draining from his face as he stared at something over Tony's shoulder. Both Tony and Bruce wheeled around, eyes widening when they caught sight of a familiar figure dressed in black and green, approaching with a confident smirk on his face and the staff in one hand.
"Only three of you?" Loki asked mockingly as Bruce and Tony simultaneously tensed and took a step forward. "Well, that's not much fun, is it? Then again, I have yet to repay you for your rude introduction. I'm not talking to you," He added sharply to the two closest to him before his gaze cut behind them to meet Harry's.
"Now who are you?" Loki circled them, eyes never leaving the mechanic in their midst. "Your Agent Barton very kindly told me all about your little team of heroes. The Avengers, wasn't it? But your team is scattered and your floating fortress is but a rock in the sky. I made certain of that. Yet he made no mention of you." His gaze seemed to sharpen and, unlike Thor, who had either not looked too closely or simply been polite enough to refrain from asking, observed curiously, "That scar you have; do you know of its meaning?"
Harry frowned, automatically flattening his hair over it. He hadn't heard mention of his scar for about a decade now. Even Tony hadn't asked about it, especially since one could barely see it now that his hair was slightly longer than it had been during his teens.
"To me? Death and destruction," He replied flatly, ignoring the puzzled looks from both Tony and Bruce.
Loki chuckled. "Does it? But in Asgard, the lightning bolt symbolizes power. It is the mark of our king. As I understand it, you humans do not gain such specific scars, nor do you have the power of teleportation, so who are you to bear this sign?"
"I'm nobody," Harry retorted, shifting to keep Loki in his sights. "And you're getting creepy. What kind of person waltzes into other people's homes and starts preaching about power?"
A flash of annoyance flickered across Loki's face as Tony snorted.
"Laugh now, human," Loki snapped, sweeping a hand upwards. They all followed the gesture. "But you shall watch as your world falls at my feet, your attempts to stop me futile!"
And to their horror, they caught sight of the Tesseract placed in a device, already glowing blue with the cube's energy.
"Sonofabitch," Tony cursed quietly. "He's using my tower."
And before Harry or Bruce could stop him, the billionaire had cracked open his suitcase, stepping into his suit within seconds as Loki shot a blast of energy at them. All three dove out of the way, Harry and Bruce scrambling inside behind the bar table while Stark all but threw himself over the edge of the building.
"Tony!" Harry shouted as Iron Man took to the skies and headed straight for the Tesseract. "It's not gonna work-!"
He ducked as Loki lashed out again, almost yanked off his feet as Bruce grabbed him and hauled him behind the counter again. The scientist's luggage on the other hand wasn't so lucky as the blast caught it head-on and burned right through the suitcase.
"It is too late!" Loki called out, a triumphant smirk on his face. "My army comes and a new era begins!"
They watched as a blue bolt shot into the air, narrowly missing Tony as the shot he fired off was blocked by the barrier around the Tesseract. A rumble shook the very foundations of New York and suddenly, the sky itself broke open, dark and ugly against the blue.
And from within that darkness poured hundreds of creatures, vaguely reptilian and wearing grey armour as they flew out over the city in what looked like hovercrafts. Behind them, they could just glimpse something much larger following the first wave through. Within seconds, the Chitauri had started their destruction, and even from high up in the Stark Tower, the screams and explosions were clear.
"This is so not good," Bruce muttered. "I can change-"
"And do what?" Harry asked tersely, eyeing Loki as the demigod turned his staff on Tony. "Right now, Loki's got the upper hand. Half your team is still back at the Helicarrier and Tony's suit isn't even working at maximum. The Tesseract is blocked off and we can't do anything to stop those Chitauri from up here. Best option right now is-"
Harry vaulted over the counter, ducking as Loki spun and hurled a blast of energy at him before throwing out a hand and sending the demigod flying, dumping him out one of the glass windows of the penthouse.
"Now's our chance!" Harry barked. "Tony, grab what you need! Bruce, help him! I'll buy us some time!"
Without waiting for an affirmative, Harry sprinted after Loki, throwing out a shield when the Asgardian appeared at the broken window again, balanced on one of the hovercrafts as he shot another blast at Harry. With a grimace, he rolled to the side as a second blast scorched the air above him.
"Reducto!" He barked, and the power of the spell doubled with the word, shattering all the nearby windows as his magic surged forward with a vengeance. It slammed into the hovercraft, shattering the front and sent Loki down in a nosedive, taking him out of Harry's line of sight once more.
"He really can fight," Tony remarked, pausing at the sound of shattering glass.
"Would you hurry up please," Bruce said through gritted teeth. The other guy was stirring and watching the narrow misses directed at Harry, he was hard-pressed to stay human.
"I'm done," Tony assured him, tapping a sequence of numbers into a number panel. "Just shutting down the building. Alright; Harry!"
The mechanic sent a jet of red light out one of the windows before spinning around and heading for them. "Tony, are you materialistic?"
Tony blinked. "What?"
"No? That's good," Harry grabbed both of them by the arm just as a dozen Chitauri zoomed through the floor-to-ceiling windows, staves pointed at them with obvious threat.
"Hang on!" Harry shouted. "Bombarda Maxima!"
And the last thing Tony and Bruce saw before they disappeared was the world around them exploding in a cloud of metal and debris.
"They just disappeared," Barton announced as he steered the jet into Manhattan.
"What?" Steve peered at the tracking device Fury had apparently tagged Banner's suitcase with. The signal had completely vanished and he doubted any of the invading forces would know to look for it. "They must have destroyed it or something. And Harry would've teleported them away once they found out Stark Tower's been taken right?"
"Looks like it," Barton agreed cautiously. He hadn't actually met this Harry Potter yet and being woken up to chaos and a tale about magic and wizards would overwhelm anyone. All in all, after only asking Natasha if she had hit her head and having Fury tell him to get his ass moving instead of wasting time asking pointless questions, he figured he had taken everything in rather well.
"But where do we go now?" Natasha cut in, scanning the skies ahead as the Chitauri came into view. "We can't stay up here. They'll shoot us out of the air."
"The Avenue of Lexington," Thor suddenly spoke up from the back. They all turned to look at him. "Harry said his residence is at the Avenue of Lexington."
Natasha caught on first, understanding dawning on her face. "You mean Lexington Avenue? Did he say anything about a street?"
Thor frowned. "Yes, he said the 86th East. I was not aware that the East had to be numbered."
"It's complicated," Natasha said briskly. "Streets are like that. Clint, East 86th on Lexington Avenue. Thor, did Harry mention a number?"
Thor shook his head. "No, but he calls his residence the Marauders' Den."
"Found it," Barton called back, eyes on the GPS. "415 Marauders' Den; we're close."
"Everyone okay?" Harry asked as soon as they landed on his front lawn.
"Fine," Bruce grunted, from his sprawled position on the grass. "But I've decided I hate traveling this way."
Harry offered a faint smile. "Like I said, I don't particularly like it either, but it's fast and efficient." He turned to Tony who was still in his suit and was sitting on Harry's doorstep, having removed his helmet. "Tony, you alright?"
Harry blinked when Tony turned an accusing expression on him. "You blew up my tower!" He exclaimed with an edge of disbelief.
Harry sighed while Bruce snorted beside him. "Technically, I blew up your penthouse," Harry corrected. "The rest of your tower's fine, err... besides the fact that it's been taken over by an invading alien force."
Tony groaned and dropped his head forward.
"Cheer up, Mr. Stark," Bruce said as he rose to his feet, dusting off his pants in the process. "At least you're alive."
"Big whoop," Tony muttered, but he got up as well, producing a key and pushing his way into Harry's house. "And by the way, what's with all the 'Mr. Stark' business? Even Harry dropped the Mr. on the first day."
Bruce shrugged, looking around as he stepped into the house. "You do the same."
"I call you Doc," Tony pointed out. "I don't go around saying 'Dr. Banner' all the time. What a mouthful."
Bruce peered at him, deadpanning, "Then would you like me to call you Miss?"
This startled a muffled snicker from even Harry as Tony took on a mock-affronted look. "Just call me Tony," Tony grumbled, shooting a scowl at Harry's back. "My handsome looks aren't portrayed as well in skirts."
"Just close the door," Harry said as he shook his head. "I'm activating the wards. They're powerful enough that you might feel a bit of a shock."
It wasn't exactly a shock, as Bruce found out a moment later. More like a warm tingling feeling that swept over him like a breeze before fading again. Judging by Tony's intrigued expression, he had felt the same thing.
"Alright, come on," Harry motioned them through the house. "SHIELD's probably sent someone out by now so the others are either on their way or already here. If we want to get out of this alive, we need a plan."
A minute later, Harry had led them through to his bedroom and to his walk-in closet. A wave of his hand and a whispered word later and the entire closet shifted, detaching itself from the rest of the room as it rose upwards. The clothes that had previously been on either side of them simply faded from existence as if they had never been there in the first place.
"This is an elevator!" Tony almost cracked his head on the wall as he tried to peer downwards.
"Yup," Harry nodded as the elevator came to a silent stop and let them out on the second floor. "Okay, listen up. There are six floors, seven if you count the one we just left. There's a kitchen and sitting room on every floor except the very top one. I built a hangar just in case I ever needed it and the ceiling opens to the outside. Bedrooms are a floor below that while this floor has the labs. The floor above us is where the training rooms are, as well as the... more questionable weapons. Guns and the like. I don't like using them but it's better to be safe. And the floor above that is for surveillance."
"And the last one?" Bruce asked as he peered into a room furnished as a lab.
"It's empty," Harry said. "I didn't know what to put in it so I left it as extra. I can just transfigure it into whatever I want later on."
"That's amazing," Tony said. "And you can fit everything on one plot of land?"
"Invisible Extension Charm, grandé-sized," Harry explained, and then stopped abruptly and tilted his head. "...Someone's above the house."
Both his houseguests tensed. "Chitauri?" Tony asked, already putting his helmet back on.
"I don't know; let's go check," Harry grabbed them both again and Apparated them to the surveillance floor, ignoring Tony's loud curses as he crashed to the ground again.
"It's S.H.I.E.L.D.," Harry announced as they gathered around a computer screen. The black jet hovering in the air filled the entire screen and they could make out the other Avengers' faces inside.
"Why do they look so confused?" Bruce asked, squinting at the screen.
Harry chuckled, reaching to his right. "My wards are up, remember? They can't see my house at all. All they're looking at is a plot of land overgrown with weeds."
He flicked a switch and tapped in a code sequence. "Well, let's let them in."
"Are you sure this is the right place?" Steve asked for the third time.
Natasha shot him an annoyed look. "For the last time, yes. The GPS pinpoints this place."
"There's nothing there," Steve argued back.
Clint simply stared at the plot of land as if looking at it long enough would suddenly make it appear. On the other hand, Thor didn't seem too concerned.
"Perhaps it is simply invisible," He suggested.
"That's im-" Natasha paused. "Actually, that might be possible. Does anyone here know exactly what a wizard can do?"
Shrugs were traded all around before they went back to staring at the GPS.
"Maybe there's a mistake?" Natasha finally suggested doubtfully. "And how do we even know they're here? The top of Stark Tower is practically gone. They could be buried in there for all we know."
"And we are wasting time here," Thor voiced, expression fierce. "If they are trapped, we must save them."
"Well we can't go check," Steve objected. "That place has turned into a nest. Even if we manage to evade all the sentries, they'll shoot us down before we get within a block of the place. It's a miracle they haven't moved this far yet."
"Well we can't just stay up here," Natasha tapped at the GPS. "We could-"
"Bingo," Clint interrupted, straightening in his seat and reaching for the controls. "He's letting us in."
The other three Avengers all turned, doing a double-take when they saw a plain-looking house where once there was nothing.
"What the-" Steve leaned forward as the air above the house seemed to shiver and then a landing pad appeared, melting into existence with liquid grace.
Quickly, Clint steered the jet forward, setting it down gently on the landing pad with experienced ease.
"How did you know?" Natasha asked curiously. "You were waiting for that, weren't you?"
Clint shrugged, unbuckling himself as he got up. "Not exactly that, per say, but you're the one who told me about magic and wizards, Nat. I just kept an open mind."
"Whoa, you have to come see this!" Steve's voice reached their ears from outside the jet. Exchanging a glance, the two S.H.I.E.L.D. agents vacated the aircraft as well, stopping in the doorway when an entire hangar, spacious and expertly-made, greeted them.
Natasha couldn't help the gasp that escaped her. "This is-"
"Amazing? Astounding? Remarkable? Unbelievable?" Tony Stark came striding in, arms spread and a grin on his face as if he was showing them his personal hangar. "You can stop me anytime."
His grin faded just shade when his eyes landed on Steve but there was nothing unfriendly when he clapped the Captain on the shoulder and gestured at the elevator. "C'mon; the others are waiting downstairs."
"Wait, Stark," Steve hung back as the other three went on ahead, still looking around. Tony glanced at him, expression unreadable even as he continued to smile, features light.
"Look, I'm sorry," Steve started a little awkwardly. "Some of the things I said; I was out of line."
Tony studied him for a long moment and Steve forced himself not to shift under the surprisingly penetrating gaze.
"Only some?" The billionaire finally asked, and Steve automatically scoffed.
"Definitely not all," He retorted, and relaxed when Tony grinned again, more genuine this time.
"Fair enough," Tony agreed as they started moving again. "Don't sweat it, Cap. And as a sign of goodwill, I'll even stop calling you the American Capsicle."
Steve sighed. "I'm touched."
"You're Harry Potter? Good to finally meet you. Heard you saved my life; thanks for that."
Harry nodded, shaking the hand Clint offered him. "Nice to meet you too, and it was no problem." He widened his attention to the other newcomers. "Welcome to my humble abode."
He quickly brought them up to the weapons room and Natasha headed for the nearest rack of hand guns, hefting a few with a pleased expression.
"Isn't this illegal?" Steve wondered absently as he studied a laser.
Tony rolled his eyes but refrained from saying anything as Harry shrugged. "Probably, but I don't use them unless it's an emergency and the police can't actually find anything anyway."
"Well, we have weapons," Thor said impatiently by the door, hammer in hand. "Now we must fight."
"How?" Bruce leaned against the opposite wall. "There are hundreds of those things out there right now and no way of getting to the Tesseract. I say we stop the ones branching out from Stark Tower as best we can and get the civilians underground."
"We can't possibly clear everyone," Steve pointed out. "Our main focus should be the Tesseract. We should set up a perimeter around Stark Tower; contain them-"
"There isn't time!" Thor cut him off. "My brother is already releasing the Chitauri on your city. And if the Tesseract keeps the portal open for much longer, it will stay open forever."
"Which is why we're trying to make a plan-" Steve tried again.
"All you do is talk!" Thor snapped. "If you recall, all that achieved last time was the fall of your fortress. It is time to act, before this world and my brother fall succumb to the Chitauri's onslaught!"
"You know, you've mentioned your brother quite a few times," Tony butted in, looking up from where he had been fiddling with the suit he had grabbed from Stark Tower. "I'm starting to wonder if you just wanna get him back to Asgard and leave us to deal with this."
Thor's eyes narrowed. "How dare you? I wish to protect this planet just as much as any person here! Perhaps more so then some."
Tony brushed this off easily. "Yeah? Have you forgotten about our almost-fight then, Point Break? If I remember correctly, you just wanted to take Loki and leave."
"I told him to give up the Tesseract!" Thor growled. "To give up that poisonous dream of his-"
"Yeah, how did that work out for you?" Tony challenged.
"You interrupted us!" Thor snarled, hand tightening around his hammer. "Had you not, perhaps he would've agreed to come home!"
"He's a psychopath bent on world domination, and frankly, after everything he's done and is doing right now, I'm not exactly in a forgiving mood. Chucking him back through the portal along with the Chitauri seems the best option at the mo-"
Several things happened at once.
With an enraged shout, Thor made to hurl Mjolnir at Tony, his intention clear in every line of his body. At the same time, Harry, Bruce, and even Steve shot forward, all three moving to block said hammer even as Tony started to duck and Clint and Natasha cried out in alarm.
None of them needed to bother. A loud crash of metal against metal rang out in around them and all eyes zeroed in on the demigod's weapon now embedded in the floor of Harry's weapons room.
A long astonished silence followed and even Tony looked surprised. Glancing up at Thor's face, Harry very nearly winced at the stunned shame surfacing on the demigod's features, but before anyone could think of anything to say, Thor had turned on his heel and disappeared from the room, red cape flapping behind him as he made a hasty retreat.
"Well that went well," Tony remarked but even Harry shot him an irritated look and he fell silent with a shrug bordering on contrite.
Steve heaved a sigh before glancing hopefully at Harry. "Mind talking to him?"
Harry blinked back. "Me?"
"You probably know him best at this point," Bruce pointed out.
Harry looked around the room but found no objections from anyone so he sighed and headed for the door. Tony would probably have to talk to the demigod as well; at least offer an apology, but Thor would more likely kick Tony's ass than listen to anything else the billionaire had to say right now.
Harry found the demigod on the empty floor, having already destroyed a chunk of wall. Well, he mused wryly, at least he had a use for this floor now. Emotional relief.
"I will fix that," Thor said as soon as he caught sight of Harry.
Harry shrugged, taking a seat on the steps leading up to a loft he had put in for no real reason. "Don't worry about it," He waved a hand at the wall and it instantly repaired itself. "There; good as new."
Thor stared. "That is… fairly irritating."
Harry quirked a brief smile before turning more somber again. "Want to talk about it?"
The demigod rounded on him. "Why would I wish to talk about this?" He demanded, an edge of hostility in his words.
"Apparently, it's supposed to help," Harry said dryly. "Honestly, it's never worked for me, but maybe I just tried talking to the wrong people."
Thor was silent for a long moment, gaze focused on the ground as if it was the most fascinating thing in the world.
"I told you about Loki," He said abruptly. Harry nodded but remained silent.
"I care for this world," Thor continued. "But Loki is my brother. Not by blood, but we were raised together. We played together, we fought together. I cannot just abandon him."
"...I can't say I understand a bond like that," Harry admitted after a few seconds. "Not completely anyway. I grew up alone and all the friends I ever had during my teens have moved on without me. It's not all their fault either; I take at least half the blame. Never bothered to stay in touch. But simply wanting to protect someone," Harry leaned forward. "That I can understand."
He studied the demigod for a while, searching for the shame that had been so clear back in the weapons room. It was still there, but the conversation with Harry seemed to have at least moved his mind away from it momentarily.
"We could... save them both," Harry suggested, and watched as Thor grabbed hold of this like a lifeline.
"You would be willing?" The demigod took a few steps towards Harry. "Even after Loki has wreaked so much havoc?"
"You told me about Loki," Harry reminded him. "I don't think he's a lost cause. And besides, I'm used to fighting impossible odds and coming out on top. It's sort of my thing." He rose to his feet, adding, "If the Earth and Loki are both important to you, then just save them both. Simple."
Thor blinked and then released a hoarse laugh. "'Simple'." He shook his head, a wry smile curling at the corners of his lips. "You humans."
Harry grinned, though he had to hide a trace of wistfulness as he led the way back to the elevator. "Not all humans. I'm just one of the ones who try not to complicate things when I don't have to. Life is hard enough as it is."
Everyone brightened when Harry came back with Thor, and breathed a collective sigh of relief when Mjolnir settled into the demigod's hand as if it had never left. Tony even managed a roundabout apology that had Thor's eyebrows rising almost to his hairline, but the demigod accepted it with a nod and offered one of his own, which was acknowledged in return and the entire thing was dropped without further incident.
"Okay, Cap, how are we gonna do this?" Tony prompted much to Steve's surprise.
Shaking out of his momentary astonishment, the Captain glanced around the room before nodding decisively. "Right then, until we can close that portal up there, we're gonna use containment. Barton, once we get out there, move up to the roofs, eyes on everything. Call out patterns and strays."
Clint nodded once, checking his arrows before glancing sidelong at Harry. Wordlessly, Harry held out a hand and Hawkeye passed them over, watching with undisguised interest as the wizard waved a hand over them and an orange glow settled over about half the arrows, fading again after a few seconds.
"Produces fire," Harry explained as Clint experimented with them, shooting one across the room and smirking gleefully when flames erupted from the tip. "And," Harry reached over to tap his quiver. "An endless supply of arrows."
"Thanks Potter," The S.H.I.E.L.D. agent strapped the quiver onto his back and picked up his bow.
"Stark, you got the perimeter," Steve continued when they all managed to drag their attention away from the spectacle. "Anything gets more than three blocks out, you turn it back or your turn it to ash."
Tony nodded briskly. "Got it, Cap." He turned to Harry. "Anything for me?"
Harry arched an eyebrow but moved over to Tony's side and placed a hand on the armour he was wearing. A flash of blue light glowed briefly under the mechanic's hand. "Reinforced with magic," Harry said. "Nothing short of multiple consecutive direct hits from those staves will dent this."
Tony grinned his appreciation and flipped his visor down. "Thanks Harry."
"Thor," Steve turned to the demigod. "You've gotta try and bottleneck that portal, slow them down. You've got the lightning; get somewhere high and light the bastards up. Then head for Loki. Get that staff away from him if you can."
Thor looked surprised but nodded without hesitation, offering a grateful smile when Harry muttered a few protective charms for him as well.
"You and me," Steve turned to Natasha. "We stay on the ground, keep the fighting there and clear as many people as possible."
Both were treated to the same protective charms as Thor, Harry charming an endless supply of bullets for Natasha's guns for good measure.
"And Banner," Steve said, turning to the scientist.
Bruce inclined his head, an ironic smile on his lips. "Just drop me off anywhere, Captain. I'll do what I do best. And it's alright; I don't need it," He added when Harry set about giving him protective charms as well. He was promptly glared down and then ignored.
"And Harry," Steve looked slightly uncertain.
Harry nodded in grim understanding. "I'm heading for the Tesseract. I know where it is. I can teleport straight there. I'll see if I can do anything to deactivate it."
"Good," Steve nodded, scanning the assembled team. "Then let's move out."
Finished! Bit longer this time. Lots of action next time. Hope everyone was in character.
Chapter 12: To Stand Together
Disclaimer: I do not own anything from Harry Potter or Avengers...
-I've decided that there will be NO PAIRING for this particular fic. I might fit it in some drabbles/oneshots but there's too many things going on in this story to fit romance in as well.
-My update speed is crazy, I know, but when the plotline is still fresh in my mind and I have new ideas for it, I just have to write it down. (I'm going to take a wild shot in the dark and say you people don't mind.:P)
-I hope nobody thinks this is too Mary Sue. I know I have a tendency to do that to characters so I've been trying to tone it down a bit, but Harry is Master of Death, and after the war, he's got to be a little paranoid, thus, the safe house. He's also gone through a lot of training for the war, but I don't think he's too invincible (ie. He can't just overpower Bruce; Loki gets in a few near-hits on him; etc). And the weapons already at his house would be because he's researched some of the superheroes in New York and he know Tony who would have told Harry some things about the Avengers so Harry would know Tony might be called in and he'd want to be prepared just in case something (like this) happens.
-I am planning for the Hulk to lose control (not in this chapter; probably next) but I won't tell you the trigger:P
-No nuclear missile in my fic, people. World Security Council's going to stay out of this one. For now.
-And lastly, magic and electronics would mix without damage when Harry applies it; he's been doing it for years with his cars.
That should be it so...
Lots of Harry-Loki interactions in this one and a cliffie at the end! *Grins evilly*
Chapter 12 – To Stand Together
Apparating to the top of Stark Tower turned out to be harder than Harry had expected. Nothing but a pile of rubble, he almost twisted his ankle as he landed by what was once the bar table of the penthouse.
Staggering to remain upright, Harry quickly looked around, taking in the lack of live Chitauri in the penthouse – there were plenty of dead ones hidden under the wreckage – and noting that Loki was nowhere to be found. The Tesseract device was in plain sight though and he hurried upwards to where it had been stationed. Almost immediately, he caught sight of an old man standing by the device and guessed this to be Erik Selvig.
"Shut it down, Dr. Selvig," Harry called out cautiously, not getting too close.
Selvig turned and Harry grimaced when he saw the eerie blue in the man's eyes. Natasha had told him that a hit over Clint's head had released the mind control but he couldn't help feeling plain rotten for even thinking about hitting a defenceless old man.
"It's too late!" Selvig shouted back. "It can't stop now. He wants to show us something! A new universe."
"Yeah, a new universe filled with blood and death," Harry shot back. "Great world."
Without waiting for a reply, he quickly Apparated behind Selvig and muttered an apology under his breath before stunning him and then cuffing the man over the head with a sharp blow. Needless to say, Selvig dropped like a rock and Harry gently eased him to the ground.
"Harry? How are things on your end?"
"I just hit an old man over the head, Tony," Harry said somewhat crossly over the comm link Clint had passed to him before they had launched into the battle. "So in terms of morality, things are pretty low for me right now."
"You got Erik?" Thor cut in as Harry bent over the astrophysicist, keeping half an eye out for Death. It was nowhere to be found and Harry assumed it had learned its lesson the first time around, not to mention it would be pretty busy with the rest of the city at the moment.
"Yeah," Harry examined the soft yellow colour of Selvig's soul still floating near the surface. Placing a hand over it, he felt it thrum against him before slowly settling back inside the man's body. "He'll be fine, don't worry. I-"
A flicker of movement out of the corner of his eye caught Harry's attention and the mechanic moved on instinct, shoving Selvig to the side while throwing up a shield around them for good measure.
Just in time too as blue energy curled around them, struggling to get through the barrier Harry had erected before fading away once more.
"I have been waiting for you, nameless warrior," Loki's voice sounded somewhere to Harry's right and, after placing a few protection charms and wards around the unconscious Selvig, he quickly rose to his feet, wheeling around sharply to face the demigod.
"Harry? Are you alright?"
"Fine," Harry said curtly. "I'm about to enter a meeting with our esteemed host. Talk to you later." And without waiting to hear another word, he promptly switched the ear piece off. He didn't need voices yelling in his ear while confronting someone like Loki.
"That sounded vaguely stalker-like," Harry informed the Asgardian, wondering how far he could push him until he would let his temper get the better of him. This man was not Thor, after all; Loki seemed to have a cooler head than his brother did.
Loki only tilted his head as he stepped off the skimmer hovering next to the building and approached Harry, stopping only a few feet away.
"Teleportation, destructive power, shields," Loki studied him with an almost curious air. "You have immense power at your fingertips, yet you stand alongside those humans, protecting a planet filled with people who slaughter each other in droves. What do you see in them that you find worth protecting?"
Harry stared back. "...Potential," He said after a long moment. "There's potential in all of us. To be better people, to live better lives. You're destroying that. You say that we slaughter each other, but you can't possibly tell me that there weren't conflicts like that on Asgard? What, were your people completely at peace with everyone on the planet? And what you're doing now; you don't count that as slaughter?"
"I am creating a better world!" Loki snapped, frowning now. "I mean to rule them, and with me as their king, they will become a superior race in the eyes of the universe! I have no intention of returning to Asgard. It is no longer my home; it never was. Of course there was conflict, but what I am doing here will make them great!"
Harry shook his head in disbelief. "You really believe that? You're killing innocent people, and that's not right no matter how you try to justify it. This isn't about making Earth great; this is about you and your personal grudge against the universe, against your brother!"
"You will be silent!" Loki lashed out again and Harry quickly deflected the blast with a flick of his hand, ignoring the slight burn when it grazed his hand. "I am above this primitive race! They should be grateful that I wish to rule them!"
"And that's why you'd never make a good king anywhere!" Harry barked back, ducking out of the way as another blast was sent at him before throwing back a Reducto at Loki. "'Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power'. A human said that once and from what I've seen, you're character's not turning out to be all that great. When you have power, you should use it to protect, not destroy. This?" He swept a hand around him at the devastation. "This will be nothing but a broken world if you succeed. The ruler of a dead planet. Is that really what you want?"
And Harry saw it. A flicker of doubt in Loki's dark eyes, brief and gone in an instant, but Harry had seen it and knew it to be there, even if it was pushed to the back of the demigod's mind.
"What are you?" Loki asked instead, voice barely above a whisper as he stared at Harry warily. "You are not like the others. You- How do you know-"
Harry waited with bated breath as Loki seemed to struggle with his words. He didn't dare look away, just in case whatever part of Loki he had managed to reach would disappear.
"You know war," Loki finally said, taking another step forward.
Harry inclined his head. "One of the things I know best."
"Yet you are still very young," Loki eyed him carefully. "In Asgardian years, you would be no more than a newborn. Even in human years, you must still be considered a child."
Harry tried not to grimace. "I haven't been considered a child in a very long time. And somehow, judging by how you've been saying 'they' and 'their' and 'them', you don't really consider me a human anyway."
Loki's frown deepened. "Then you are not human?"
"Not... exactly," Harry said carefully, gambling with the honesty card. He doubted Loki would want to be lied to his face right now and he didn't want to break the tentative connection he seemed to have made somehow.
"Then you are like my brother," Loki said flatly. "Protecting a planet not your own, for beings far beneath our notice."
"You sound like Death," Harry said without thinking. Fortunately, he had said it quietly enough that Loki hadn't caught it. Louder, he asked, "And how would you know that they're so worthless? I can tell you now: Earth is my planet through and through. I was born here, I was raised here, I fought here, and it seems I'm still fighting here. And through all that time, yeah, there've been people I didn't like, some I even hated, but that doesn't mean all of them are like that. I've met people who I liked very much, who became my friends. If you give this place a chance, if you give your brother and yourself a chance to fix whatever's broken between you, if you give lifea chance, instead of just bringing death and destruction down on everything in sight, maybe you'll see that too."
For a second, Harry thought he had managed to get through to the demigod. The brief glint of regret in his eyes at least was very real. But Loki only raised his head and stared up at the open portal where the Chitauri and Leviathans were still pouring through.
"It is too late," He finally said quietly, looking back at Harry. "You have picked your side and I stand by mine. They, you, will all fall before me."
And power erupted between them, magic against magic as blue and red clashed, the Tesseract's power against Harry's core.
Tossing spell after spell at Loki, Harry rolled to the side and sent a burst of fire at the demigod before scrambling over to the Tesseract device. Since peace-talks seemed to have broken down, his next best option was to shut the portal forcibly, with or without Loki's consent. Pulling up a shield around himself and the device, Harry proceeded to ignore Loki's increasingly frustrated attempts at breaking through, trying to ignore the strain of each burst of energy.
"Tony," He said, switching his ear piece back on. "Talking didn't work-"
"I could've told you that," Tony grumbled.
"At least he tried," Thor said sharply.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever. What do you need, Harry?"
"I'm looking at the cube," Harry reported as he tried to summon it out of the barrier. "But my magic has no effect on this thing. Any ideas?"
"Have you tried pulling the plug?" Steve enquired amidst the sound of explosions in the background.
"It's powered only by the cube," Tony reminded. "And we're not in the Stone Age anymore, gramps. Keep up with the times."
"Is right now really the time?" Clint joined in. "We need to turn that device off or none of this is gonna mean a damn thing. Every time we kill one of these things, half a dozen takes its place."
"Potter, try Selvig," Natasha's voice cut through the babble of voices over the comm link. "He's the one who built it. He should have an idea as to how to stop it as well."
"Right, give me a min- bloody hell!" Harry dove aside as his shields shattered from Loki's onslaught, a tongue of flame-like energy scorching his shoulder as he ducked out of the way.
Rolling to his feet, Harry quickly fired off several stunners, mostly just fend Loki off, and then, catching sight of several Chitauri trying to creep up behind him, he spun around and hurled several cutting hexes at them, ending with a powerful Sectumsempra.
He blew out a heavy breath as he watched the last Chitauri topple off its skimmer and plunge for the ground, a large bloody gash in his chest.
"Shouldn't have let Snape teach me that one," He mused grimly. Sectumsempra had become something of a signature in his arsenal of offensive spells, mainly because Snape had drilled that one into him without mercy. It could cause tremendous damage, depending on how powerful the wizard, and not many could perform it anyway.
"Harry, Thor and Banner's headed your way," Tony said in his ear.
"I can handle it," Harry shot back, blocking an actual swing of Loki's staff as the demigod bore down on him. "Loki and Thor isn't the best idea at the moment."
He stopped talking to duck under a blow before delivering a stinging hex that struck the hand Loki was holding the staff with. The staff clattered to the ground, rolling a few feet away as Loki staggered back, holding his hand. But before the Asgardian could retrieve his weapon, a green shape came flying out of nowhere, grabbing Loki as it passed by before crashing through the windows several floors below the penthouse.
"Too late," Tony told him lightly. "Leave it to them. Concentrate on the cube."
Harry blew out a frustrated breath but turned his attention back to the device, picking up the staff to examine it. With a muttered Rennervate, he crouched down and waited as Selvig's eyes fluttered open.
As Loki tumbled across the floor and crashed into the far wall of the room, the Hulk skidded after him, growling darkly as one thought floated through his mind. This trash hurt Harry.
Storming after the Asgardian, he pulled up short when Loki leapt to his feet again and snapped, "Enough! You are all of you beneath me! I am God, you dull creature, and I will not be bullied by-"
Swiftly grabbing Loki by the legs, the Hulk smashed him against the floor repeatedly before finally throwing him aside to the ground. There, that was a good way to shut him up.
"Puny god," He muttered as he stomped away, ignoring the whimpers of pain behind him.
"Banner, what-" Thor stopped short at the sight of his brother all but embedded in the ground and shot a dark scowl at the Hulk. "There was no need to-"
An abrupt fist crashed into him and sent him flying as the Hulk continued out of the building, irritation in every movement as he leapt out through the window again. First the trash, then the trash's brother. How annoying.
Thor sighed as he picked himself up from a pile of debris, none the worse for wear as he dusted himself off. Perhaps Tony could figure out a way to bottle some of Harry's composure and give it to Banner. Carefully, he made his way over to where his brother was still laying on the ground.
"Well brother," Thor crouched down beside him. "I can't say you didn't deserve it."
Loki shot him a withering look as he shifted upright, ignoring the hand Thor extended as he pulled himself up.
"Do you know how to turn off the Tesseract?" Thor asked quietly, retracting his hand.
Loki glared at him. "There is no stopping it. There is only war!"
Thor snarled, anger in his grip as he hauled his brother up and dragged him over to the open windows. "Look at this! Look around you! You think this madness will end with your rule? You think the Chitauri, a race known for destruction of the worst kind, would stop after you hand over the Tesseract? That they would leave you to sit on you throne and rule to your heart's content? They have no mercy, no principles, and after they get what they want, they will destroy you along with the rest of this world!"
"We have an agreement!" Loki snapped back, wrenching himself out of Thor's grip, but there was an almost desperate sort of defiance in his expression.
"An agreement I highly doubt they plan on honouring," Thor pressed. "They will betray you, brother."
"Like the All-Father betrayed me?" Loki's temper flared.
"Our father loved you like a son," Thor growled. "He adopted you and raised you as his own. Yes, he lied to you, but only to protect you-"
"Protect me!" Loki shouted. "I deserved to know the truth yet he kept it from me for my entire childhood! And you stand there and defend his actions, convinced he is right in his deci-"
"I NEVER SAID HE MADE THE RIGHT CHOICE!" Thor bellowed even louder than Loki, momentarily shocking his brother into silence.
"Don't think, for one moment, that I consider his concealment of the truth from you the correct decision," Thor said much more quietly though with no less intensity. "I am simply telling you why he made that choice. He did not want you to think yourself any less loved than I. He wanted you to know the love of a father without it being tainted by doubts that you were unwanted-"
Thor reeled back when Loki's fist crashed into his jaw, and he staggered back, more shocked than anything else. Even when they had fought in jest as children, Thor would be the one who used his fists while Loki, smaller but quicker and undoubtedly smarter, would weave his illusions and cast his magic. Very rarely would Loki resort to physical attacks.
Instinctively, Thor brought up his hammer in preparation for another assault, only to pause when he realized his brother had made no move to continue. Instead, Loki remained standing by the edge of the building, left hand still balled into a fist but his gaze averted to the world outside.
Thor hesitated. "...Brother?"
"...You've changed," Loki's gaze flickered back to him again. "Once upon a time, you would have struck back if only out of wounded pride."
"I have learned that pride does not matter so much," Thor replied easily. "There are more important things in life."
Loki scoffed. "That almost sounded profound."
Thor had to swallow a smile. This was the Loki he knew. He was relieved his brother wasn't completely gone.
"I will be imprisoned in Hel if I return to Asgard," Loki said abruptly.
Thor was quick to shake his head. "No, I will not allow it, and nor will our father," He took it as a good sign when Loki didn't immediately deny this.
Loki remained silent again, staring out at the destruction the Chitauri was wreaking. Thor took a chance.
"Come home, brother," He pleaded softly, and waited for Loki's reply.
"Stark, is Thor still chitchatting with Loki?"
"What do you think?" Tony shot back as he fired off several missiles at a Leviathan. "They're going through family reunion and the whole shebang."
"What about Potter?"
"Talked to Dr. Selvig, Agent Barton," Harry cut in. "He says that he built in a safety to cut the power source. I can close the portal."
"Then do it," Steve ordered. "Before anymore of them gets through."
"Roger that, Captain," Harry acknowledged. "It'll shut- what the-"
"Harry?" Tony immediately prompted. "What's wrong?"
"The scepter- damn, what the hell-"
"What's going on?" Natasha demanded.
"Shit! The staff's moving on its own! I don't know what's happening-!"
"What are you talking about?" Steve asked tersely. "Is Loki summoning it to him?"
"I don't think so or he would've done that already. Something's wrong. It's definitely going somewhere fast."
"Well which way is it going?" Barton asked.
"Down," Was the one-worded reply.
Thor saw movement over Loki's shoulder as his brother turned back to him, mouth opening, and he reacted on instinct. "Watch out!"
He tackled his brother to the ground just as the scepter hurtled through the broken windows, the glinting point narrowly missing both of them as it rushed past them and plunged itself into the far wall.
"What's going on?" Thor snapped out as he bundled Loki behind a large desk. "Did you summon it?"
"And asked it to try and take my head off; yes, yes I did," Loki shot back sarcastically. "Of course not! I don't know why it's doing that."
They both ducked when the scepter wrenched itself from the wall and took another shot at them, shattering the glass windows behind them.
"Harry!" Thor turned his ear piece back on, passing it to Loki as he threw the entire desk forward to redirect the staff. "Something is wrong with the scepter! It's attacking on its own. How do we stop it?"
There was a series of muffled voices through the comm link before Harry's voice sounded. "Dr. Selvig's studied the staff. It's basically powered by the Tesseract, which is currently holding the portal open at the moment. When Loki came through the first portal, he made contact with the cube's power. By stepping through the Tesseract's energy, he accepted its power and all of it was his. But-"
"But now that another portal was opened, the power was transferred to..." Loki trailed off, swallowing hard as he glanced at Thor before diving out of the way of the scepter.
"Transferred to the Chitauri, that's just wonderful," Tony finished. "And someone please tell me that wasn't Loki on the line."
"He's with us now," Thor said shortly, springing to his feet and deflecting the scepter with a mighty swing of his hammer. "Right?" He looked pointedly at his brother as they scrambled behind a couch.
Loki said nothing but he didn't refute it either so Thor took this as an affirmative.
"Well if he's with us, then the Chitauri must have sensed his sudden change of heart," Steve deducted. "They wouldn't take that lying down so they've gone after him."
"That's a fantastic conclusion, Cap," Tony said. "But what exactly are we going to do about the glowing stick of destiny?"
"Lead it back to the cube," Harry said immediately. "If it's following Loki, then he can lead it back up here. Jump out of the way when you're right in front of the Tesseract."
Thor looked over at Loki as the staff tore past them again. "How about it, brother?"
Loki stared back at Thor before looking down at the ear piece in his hand. "...The doors throughout this entire stronghold are all sealed," Loki finally said.
"No problem, Rock of Ages," Tony answered promptly. "I put the place on lockdown. Jarvis, turn everything back on. Unlock all the doors."
"Stark Tower back online, sir. All doors unlocked."
And on their left, the door leading out of the room slid open silently, revealing a long hallway branching outwards.
"Let's go!" Thor leapt forward first, repelling another strike from the staff before motioning Loki to go on ahead.
They were in the middle of a war and things were looking more than a little grim, but Thor couldn't have been happier when Loki nodded and hurried through the doorway, pausing only long enough to pick up a nearby lamp and hurl it at the scepter when the weapon tried to skewer Thor.
Harry waited anxiously by the device, Selvig standing several feet away and safely ensconced within Harry's wards. He had been very glad when he had heard Loki's voice over the comm link and hoped the younger demigod wouldn't turn again. He hadn't ever heard Thor so happy before.
And then both Asgardians were there, stumbling into the ruined penthouse and making a beeline for Harry. A glint of gold and blue caught his eye and Harry quickly shouted, "Aresto Momentum!"
The scepter slowed but didn't stop and Harry gritted his teeth at the sheer force fighting against him, digging in his heels as the staff pressed forward relentlessly. He wouldn't be able to hold it back for long. His magic just wasn't a match for the full power of the Tesseract; nobody's was.
"Hurry up!" He yelled, arm shaking from the effort of holding the weapon back, and both demigods picked up their pace, leaping easily over the rest of the debris and onto the balcony.
"Okay, stand here," Harry waved Loki over to the area directly in front of the Tesseract. "You have to be quick, alright?"
Loki sent him a bemused look. "I am Asgardian, warrior."
"Yeah, well, you'll be a very dead Asgardian if you don't get out of the way in time," Harry retorted, ignoring the searching look Loki threw him.
"Incoming!" Thor suddenly roared, and they all turned to find several Chitauri bearing down on them, already shooting off blasts from their staves.
Harry and Loki ducked as Thor hurled his hammer at the first few, knocking them off-course but making way for the next wave. A stray blast caught the balcony itself and sent up a shower of rubble, dangerously rocking the platform under their feet.
"No! Stay behind the wards!" Harry shouted when he caught a glimpse of Selvig scrambling away from the oncoming Chitauri and out from behind his protective wards.
Another blast rattled the balcony, snapping part of it away, and Harry watched in horror as Selvig lost his balance and started to fall.
"Erik!" Thor cried, and Harry automatically reached for the scientist, his attention wavering from the staff for a fraction of a second.
That was all it took.
The scepter broke through his magic and Harry's head snapped around again, distantly noting two things at once: one, Thor had dashed past him and caught Selvig instead, barely clinging on to the remains of the balcony, and two, the scepter was headed straight for Loki, who was still in front of the Tesseract, back turned as he followed his brother's movements.
Harry had always been exceptionally stupid when it came to his – as Hermione called it – people-saving thing and this time was no different.
Without hesitation, he shoved Loki out of the way, moving himself into the path of the staff in the process, and without fanfare or delay, the scepter entered his body with brutal ruthlessness, running him through and pinning him against the device as it rammed straight into the Tesseract behind him.
And all around him, the world fell silent.
Finished! I warned you about the cliffie; I'm evil, aren't I? Well, you'll just have to wait for the next chapter to come out to find out what happens.
Chapter 13: To When Winning Feels Like Losing
Disclaimer: I do not own anything from Harry Potter or Avengers...
This chapter ends the movie arc. Might be what you expected, might not. Enjoy!
Chapter 13 – To When Winning Feels Like Losing
"It's closing up! Great job guys!"
"These Chitauri must need an open link to the mother ship or something. They're dropping like flies. Looks like we'll only have cleanup to worry about."
"Clean up? Are you kidding me? Let's just not come in tomorrow. Let's just take a day. Have you ever tried shawarma? There's a shawarma joint about two blocks from here. I don't know what it is, but I wanna try it."
"We're not exactly finished yet, Stark. There's still the Tesseract and Loki. Thor, what's your status up there? ...Thor? Potter? Do you read?"
When an ear-shattering roar of unrestrained rage split the air of Manhattan, every single Avenger made for Stark Tower as fast as they could go. They all knew something had gone very, very wrong.
Thor barely remembered helping Erik back on flat ground, his eyes glued on the weakly struggling figure pinned against the Tesseract device. He barely even noticed Loki, so still he might have been a statue if the stunned expression on his face hadn't been so real. He most definitely didn't see the Chitauri dropping to the ground all around them.
"Harry?" He managed as he dropped to a crouch beside the wizard. His hands hovered helplessly over the scepter now embedded in Harry's chest. The barrier around the Tesseract faded within seconds and the mechanic abruptly slumped forward, no longer held up in a mockery of an upright position. Thor didn't know which was worse as he lowered him onto the ground, careful not to jostle the weapon and aggravate the wound.
"Loki, do something!" He demanded urgently. He didn't have the first notion about how to heal but Loki had done it before, had actually been quite adept with it too. "Loki!"
His brother started a little, looking the most uncertain Thor had ever seen him, before his gaze dropped down to the injury.
"There is nothing I can do," Loki said flatly. "This injury is fatal. It has punctured a lung and hit his heart as well," His jaw worked for a moment but no more words came out.
Thor could do nothing but stare. "But he will-" He started weakly.
A heavy thud behind them caught their attention and they both tensed when they caught sight of the Hulk standing only a few feet away.
"Banner-" Thor started, and he wasn't sure if his throat was tight with relief or dread. "Banner," He tried again. "Please change back. Perhaps you could try-"
The Hulk took a ground-shaking step forward and Thor rose to his feet, quickly summoning Mjolnir. Harry was dying, there was no denying that, but if the Hulk lost control here in the center of the city, they might as well have lost the fight against the Chitauri.
"Banner, calm down," Thor cautioned as the Hulk took another step forward, dark eyes focused on Harry's form.
One last step and Thor could actually see something snap in the Hulk's eyes, turning his expression from frighteningly calm to terrifyingly incensed in the span a heartbeat.
"Loki, take care of him!" Thor just had time to shout as the Hulk released a heart-stopping bellow and charged forward, features rabid. Thor met him halfway, crashing into Banner's monster form and forcing them off the balcony, disappearing downwards and through to the bottom floors.
Take care of him? How was he supposed to do that? Loki had a hard enough time taking care of himself.
He glanced down at the injury again and forced away the storm of confusion trying to cloud his mind. Involuntarily, his hands found the place where weapon entered body and pushed a wave of his own magic into it, trying to keep the damage from spreading.
"Leave it," A voice rasped, and Loki's eyes shot up to meet pained green.
"You will die," He said bluntly. He didn't know what to make of the bitter laugh that escaped this man – Harry, a part of his mind still functioning properly reminded. That was what his brother had called him – but it quickly turned into a wet cough that spilled bright red over his lips and sent a sliver of ice straight into Loki's heart.
"Wonder if I'll make it this time," Was the slurred reply. Loki honestly had no response for that.
"Do not be foolish," He retorted instead, sending more magic into the wound and trying not to notice how the blood stained his hands. "I thought you were better than this. You had me believe you to be superior to average humans."
A ragged breath. "Nah, 'm just as average as the rest."
Loki pressed down unconsciously around the wound at this, easing just as swiftly when Harry made a pained sound.
"You humans have doctors for this sort of thing, do you not?" He demanded. "Science where magic will not suffice? I will not accept your death, warrior. My debt to you is yet to be paid and I always pay my debts." He heard another crash behind him and muttered something derogatory under his breath as he looked around. "And instead of retrieving aid, my dear brother and that mindless beast decide to brawl. I am surrounded by incompetents."
Another shaky laugh found itself out into the open. "You remind me of a man I once knew. Called everyone... dunderheads. Couldn't stand it... when people didn't... didn't catch on as quickly as he could."
"Sounds to be an intelligent man, for a human," Loki carefully ignored the long pauses now punctuating Harry's words, still looking around. His gaze landed on Erik Selvig and he scoffed when the scientist shrank back just a little.
"Go acquire help immediately, human," He ordered with a sneer. "As you can see, he is in need of assistance."
"No, s'alright," Harry called out as loudly as he could. "S'alright, Dr. Selvig. "I know you injured your leg. Don't bother."
Loki didn't know who to glare at so he settled for pinning a resentful stare at the old man while directing his harsh questions at Harry. "You wish to die, warrior? Were you not the one who told me to give life a chance? Are you such a hypocrite?"
Harry's answer was lost in the whine of a familiar weapon charge, and Loki's head snapped around to find Iron Man hovering directly behind him, palm repulsor extended and pointed straight at Loki.
Strangely enough, moving away wasn't even a thought that crossed his mind so it was lucky someone else intervened just in time.
"Stark!" Captain America appeared, tackling Iron Man out of the air and forcing his arm upwards so that the shot the laser fired became harmless. "You heard Thor; he's on our side!"
They were all pretty sure Tony hadn't heard.
"Let go of me," In contrast to his usually loud behaviour, Tony's voice was dangerously soft at the moment as he struggled violently to throw Captain America off. "Let go right now. I'm gonna kill him, you hear me? He's as good as dead. Let go! Let go right now!"
With a tremendous heave, the billionaire threw the Captain off and was instantly on his feet again, surging forward with deadly intent, and Loki didn't need to see the man's face to feel the murderous rage seeping out from behind the armour.
"Stark, calm down!" And suddenly, Hawkeye and Black Widow were there, wrestlingTony to the ground as Steve picked himself up from the remains of the penthouse.
"I've got him," The Captain took Hawkeye's place, fighting to restrain Tony, who was now swearing up a storm. "You've got medical experience, right? Harry-"
Clint was already moving away, dropping his bow with careless abandon as he crouched down next to Harry. "Move a bit," He said curtly to Loki, stomach twisting when he realized that the weapon had gone straight through the wizard. "Unconscious. Was he awake before?" At Loki's nod, Clint grimaced and felt for Harry's pulse. Weak and thready.
Ignoring the loud crashes of the Hulk and Thor fighting, Clint turned to the scuffle occurring only a few feet away. "Stark!" He barked over the large range of curses Tony was spitting. "Stark, he's dying! I'm no certified doctor. What Potter needs right now are a hospital and a surgeon. You're the billionaire; call someone!"
Tony stopped struggling so abruptly that Steve and Natasha cracked heads as their momentum threw them forward.
"...Jarvis!" Tony's voice was hoarse and not too steady. "Jarvis, call the Presbyterian. Tell them if they don't have a surgeon ready by the time I get there, I'll tear the place down myself!"
"I have already done so, sir," Jarvis' smooth voice answered. "They are preparing as we speak."
Shaking his teammates' loosened hold off him, Tony was at Harry's side in an instant, flipping his visor up and unceremoniously shoving Loki out of the way.
"You cannot move him," Loki cautioned, and Tony glared at the demigod with every bit of contempt he could muster. Alien invasion he could forgive; he had never been big on patriotism – that was Cap's job, though he obviously wouldn't stand aside as the world went down the drain – but if this psycho ruler-of-the-Earth-wannabe killed the only friend he had, intentional or no, Tony would make sure there wasn't enough pieces left of him for even the sonofabitch's father to recognize.
"Then stabilize him," He hissed instead. "Do your magic voodoo and let me take him to the hospital!"
Loki only hesitated for a moment – and that was already a moment too long in Tony's book – before pressing bloodied hands to Harry's injury again. A blue glow shot around the wound and the staff before one of the demigod's hand extended and swiftly removed the scepter. The cry that tore from Harry's throat made Tony jerk forward, hands hovering helplessly over the mechanic as remained unaware.
"Was that really necessary?" Tony snapped.
Loki gave him a cursory glance. "You asked me to stabilize the wound. This is impossible; he is too far gone. I am freezing the area instead, for approximately five minutes. Get him to the hospital within that time or he will die."
No one voiced the fact that Harry could very well die anyway as Tony scooped the mechanic up and took off at full speed, thrusters at maximum as he raced to the hospital.
"So what the hell happened?" Steve asked, looking to Loki as Natasha helped a shaken Erik Selvig to his feet and escorted him away from the balcony. "And does anyone have a tranquilizer?"
Below them, furious roars and shouts punctuated the air amidst the loud crashes inside Stark Tower.
"None that would affect the Hulk," Clint sighed, absently rubbing at a patch of blood on the back of his hand. He didn't know Harry all that well but the wizard had saved his life and it just wouldn't sit well with him if he went and died now.
"Well he'll tear all of Manhattan apart if we don't stop him," Steve glanced down and just managed to catch the two figures of his teammates still wrestling around.
"Thor seems to have a pretty good handle on Banner right now," Natasha interjected. "And the rest of the city's gone underground, so let's just leave it to him for the moment. I wanna know what happened here. I thought Loki was supposed to lead the scepter to the cube?" She ended with an accusing look at the demigod.
Loki stared coolly back. "The Chitauri led a small platoon here and fired off shots. Several caught the balcony, Dr. Selvig fell and my brother went after him. I was... not paying attention when the scepter broke through your warrior's magic and he pushed out of the way."
"He saved you," Clint stared in disbelief. "Why?"
Loki didn't glare but he gave off an air of sullen irritation, snapping back, "How should I know? The workings of your human minds are beyond me."
A slightly stilted silence followed as Clint turned away with an angry huff, picking up his bow in the process. He had not forgiven Loki for playing with his mind and even if the demigod was on their side now, he still couldn't understand why Harry would sacrifice himself like that.
"Let's just go to the hospital," Natasha finally suggested wearily. "SHIELD will handle this..." She gestured at the mess around them. "And we need to find a way to calm the Hulk."
"Banner always seemed calmer around Harry," Steve recalled. "Maybe his magic had something to do with it? We could-"
They all jumped when Thor crashed back onto the balcony, shaking it precariously as he skidded to a stop near the edge.
"Thor!" Steve took a step forward, only to stop when the Hulk literally burst through the floor of the penthouse, expression feral.
Releasing a howl, the Hulk charged as Thor hauled himself up again and flung his hammer at it, throwing the green beast back.
"Run!" Thor shouted, but none of them could fly and they were on the edge of a several-hundred-foot drop. There was nowhere to run.
"Give me your quiver," Loki suddenly spoke up, hand extending to Clint.
Clint glared at him. "And what are you gonna do, shoot him? Sorry to disappoint you but my arrows won't work on the Hulk."
"No, you asinine human," Loki shot back with annoyance. "But I can sense your warrior's magic in your weapons and your Captain over there is the one who mentioned its calming effect. Throw it to the beast unless you want all of us to die right here!"
Clint blinked before hastily removing his quiver. Would wonders never cease; Loki was actually trying to help them.
"Throw it here!"
Clint tossed it to Thor who quickly slid it over to the Hulk. He winced when the entire thing was flattened under the Hulk's foot but just when he thought their gamble had failed, it came to an abrupt halt, still growling, still untamed, but unmoving.
"Is it working?" Natasha whispered, her gun held in front of her.
They all backed up a few paces when the Hulk took another step towards them, but it seemed to be struggling now, as if Banner had regained a footing and was fighting for control now.
And then, with an enraged roar, the Hulk turned and stormed away, crashing into furniture and debris as it headed further into the building and out of sight. They could hear its bellows lessen, decreasing in volume before ceasing altogether, leaving a ringing silence around them as it fell silent at last.
"Okay," Steve breathed out on a sigh of relief. "Alright, Romanov, get S.H.I.E.L.D. down here for cleanup. Barton, go get the chopper and come pick us up. Thor, you take care of Loki and the Tesseract. Dr. Selvig, just stay put until the jet gets here. Don't wanna break that leg. I'll take care of Banner."
The team, weary from war but still high on adrenaline, separated to their tasks, trying not to think about the wizard, now practically one of their own after the chaotic conflict, was still fighting his own battle miles away in an Emergency Room.
"How is he?"
Tony looked up at Natasha's voice, managing a half-shrug before looking back down again. He had removed his suit, which was packed away again into a scratched suitcase by his feet. "Still touch-and-go," He replied, voice monotonous. "...Where's Thor?"
"Accompanying the Tesseract and Loki back to the Helicarrier," Clint reported, taking a seat next to Tony. Natasha sat down next to him and Steve and Bruce both took up a portion of wall to lean against.
Tony arched his eyebrows briefly in acknowledgement before glancing over at Bruce. "Back with us then, big guy? Guess I'm gonna have to completely rebuild Stark Tower after this, huh?" He offered a weak smile but dropped it when Bruce just looked down at the floor.
Nobody said anything more for the next twenty minutes, the clock's second hand ticking by with annoying consistency until even Barton snapped and hurled an arrow at it, cracking the plastic and sending the clock to the ground. The nurses who witnessed this took one look at their grimy apparel and grim expressions and pretended not to notice.
Finally, the light above the ER blinked off and every Avenger surged to their feet as a doctor came out to meet them.
On hindsight, the grave lines on the surgeon's face was all the answer anyone needed, yet every one of them waited with bated breath as the man opened his mouth.
"I'm sorry," The doctor told them regretfully. "We tried everything we could but the injury was too deep and he lost too much blood. The weapon went straight through his left lung and part of his heart as well. He bled out before we could repair even part of the damage."
Stunned silence greeted his statement. The doctor looked around uneasily as Steve turned away, leaning an arm against the wall and resting his forehead against it. Bruce simply buried his face in his hands, fingers tightening in his hair until his knuckles were white. Natasha looked down at her lap, hands clasped together as Clint curled an arm around her shoulders, his own features blank as he frowned hard at the far wall.
It was Tony who spoke first, taking an almost wavering step forward. "That- That's not possible," He insisted, and the desperation in his eyes had even the doctor looking away. "Harry's a wi- he's strong. He wouldn't just-"
The billionaire stopped, mouth opening and closing but nothing came out. He finally swallowed and looked around, taking in the pity everyone seemed to be directing at him.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Stark," The surgeon said sympathetically, and that was the last straw.
Making an abrupt turn, Tony strode straight out of the hospital, feeling numb as he made his way out through the white hallways, ignoring the distantly alarmed voices calling after him.
He needed to get away. He couldn't stand another minute suffocating in a place so full of death.
"Thor's going to want to know," Steve said tiredly after they thanked the doctor for trying. "And... a funeral, I guess? ...Doctor?"
Bruce had risen to his feet, jaw clenched in restrained anger, but his voice was clear when he spoke. "I'll tell him. Does anyone have a..." He trailed off when Clint produced a phone, dialling a number before handing it over.
"That's the Director's number," Clint informed him. "If Thor's still there, Fury can get a hold of him."
Bruce nodded his thanks and headed outside as well. He needed some fresh air to clear his head. Or clear it as much as he could. The foil for his anger was no longer alive after all.
"Thor, call for you."
Thor turned from his brother, who was currently sitting in a cell with unspoken indifference, and warily accepted the communication device from Fury.
"It's Banner," The Director said with a shrug. "He didn't say what about. Are any of you gonna give me a full report on what happened anytime soon?"
Thor just brought the phone up and turned away from Fury, ignoring the annoyed sigh this got from the Director and waiting until he vacated the room again before speaking, absently noting the way Loki had leaned forward, eyes much more intent now.
"Banner," Thor greeted. "What news do you bring?"
"...He's dead," Bruce told him, and Thor felt as if he had swallowed Mjolnir. His brother must have read the answer on his face because Loki's shoulders slumped instantly though his face smoothed over into an expressionless mask.
"I see," Thor closed his eyes for a moment. He had lost comrades before and it never got any easier, but Harry's death somehow seemed... worse. After all, he had been there, he had been right there, only a few steps away, and if he had been just a second faster, if he had summoned his hammer just a heartbeat sooner, would Harry still be dead?
"Thor, you can't blame yourself for this," Bruce said from the other end. "It's just- just one of those things that happen because it's war. People die in war."
Thor swallowed. Yes, he knew that. He had been in plenty of battles himself and his father had taught him as much but it didn't stop it from hurting any less.
He drew in a fortifying breath and thought back to the conversations he had had with Harry, the suspicions that had been piling up for some time now, and the chance he had been thinking of taking ever since Harry had fallen.
If he was wrong, quite a few people would be upset with him for giving them false hope, but if he was right... if he was right, he owed it to himself to try or he would forever question his decision in this matter.
"Banner," Thor said urgently and caught Loki's frown as his brother heard the purpose in his voice. "Leave the body. Do not allow a burial to take place."
"What? What are you talking about? The Captain's gone to make preparations already."
"Then stop him," Thor instructed. "Harry might still make it."
There was a long pause on the other end. "...Thor, Harry's dead. He's not going to come-"
"He might," Thor said bluntly. "Please. Trust me on this."
Another contemplative silence fell before a resigned sigh echoed down the line. "Fine, I'll see what I can do."
"Thank you," Thor closed the device and met Loki's wide-eyed stare.
"I know of no race that can rise from the dead, brother," Loki murmured quietly.
"Perhaps," Thor acknowledged. "But I should think you would realize by now that you do not know everything."
"I don't suppose you'd be kind enough to just let me move on?" Harry asked conversationally.
Death stared back coolly, looking almost amused. "A futile thought since mortal you are not."
Harry sighed deeply and fell back onto his back on the bench. It was King's Cross all over again but there was no train forward, just one ready and waiting to take him back.
"You no longer wish to live?" Death asked in a mild tone, somehow sitting in the air. "Is that not somewhat counterproductive?"
Harry shot him a flat stare. "I will never see my mother or father or Sirius or Remus ever again. I'm cursed to watch the world go by as everyone I have ever cared about grows old dies. What kind of existence is that?"
"A higher form," Death informed him calmly. "What use are bonds to the world of men when compared to you they are merely ink from pen? Faded with time as they pass their prime, and when Death comes to call, nought but memories remain of them all."
"They may mean only that much to you," Harry said bitterly. "But not to me. It's just plain cruel to keep me alive like this."
Death laughed as it repeated, "Death is honest, Death is fair, but kindness – that I do not care."
"Yeah, no kidding," Harry scoffed, staring up at the ceiling.
"And what if I offer a way," Death mused aloud, the glint in its eyes sharpening when Harry involuntarily jerked up. "To see your loved ones day after day? If I give you the dead and they stay at your side, will you agree to your fate and take it all in your stride?"
"You can give me back Sirius? And Remus?" Harry couldn't help but blurt out, heart pounding. "And I can see my parents?"
Death just grinned, sly and dark, before sweeping a hand behind him, and Harry almost fell off the bench when the familiar form of his godfather, tall and handsome, and younger by far than Harry had seen him in life. With his hands in his pockets and a grin on his face, Harry's heart ached as he stared at the much-missed figure of Sirius Black.
"Sirius!" He stumbled to his feet and staggered forward, not quite believing his eyes. "How-" He half-glanced back at Death, not daring to take his eyes off his godfather. "How is he-"
"A visit," Death said smoothly, but there was a hard edge to its voice that hadn't been there before and it had dropped the playful rhymes it usually spun as it talked. "Did you forget, young Master? You possess the Resurrection Stone. As part of your magical core, you do have the ability to bring back the dead. Your deceased godfather is simply a shade at the moment, much like how he was during the final battle when you recalled him to your side, but with the stone," Its voice darkened. "With the stone, your power would be immense. With the stone, you could bring him back, right here, right now."
And for just a moment, Harry wanted to believe. To believe that it was this simple, that as the Master of Death, raising the dead would be no problem, that he would get Sirius and Remus back, and he would get his parents back. He could live forever if his loved ones were beside him.
Harry stopped just short of Sirius' now open arms, searching the welcoming smile on his godfather's face and swallowing hard once before forcing himself to turn away.
"What are you doing?" Death asked. "Do you not wish to greet your godfather? Is he not what you want?"
"What I want," Harry said in a near-whisper. "What I want is to live a good life and die a good death. What I want is to see my family again, my real family, not a shadow of one. Not this."
Death's expression was cold. "He is your godfather's shade. A single touch would bring him back and he would be yours."
"My godfather's shade," Harry repeated, shaking his head and taking another step away from the apparition behind him. "But I don't want a shade, nor do I want a living shade. That's not Sirius. Sirius loved me, that's true; there was a time when he loved me more than anything else in the world, which is why that is not him. The real Sirius would never want me to bring him back, no matter how much I wanted it or he wanted it. Truly raising the dead isn't possible, you told me yourself. And Death is honest, didn't you say? He's at peace now, and it would be wrong to drag him back. Don't use my emotions to try and trick me. I won't fall for that."
Death stared at him, long and hard, and it was several seconds before Harry sensed the shade's disappearance. It took everything he had to ignore the pain now gripping his heart after seeing his godfather's face.
"You are a strange one," Death said. "I will not release you from your duties as my Master. You have the option of walking the mortal world alone, or walking it with the shades of your lost loved ones. Your decision?"
Harry took a deep breath to pull himself together before looking Death straight in the eye. "I promised you a long time ago, when you first came to me and told me of my role, that I would never use the Resurrection Stone for any purpose at all," He tilted his chin out in a defiant gesture. "I stand by my word, so you can take your options and stuff it. It looks like I only have one choice, after all."
And with that said, he wheeled around and stalked off towards the black train waiting on the tracks.
If he had the choice of suffering or watching his loved ones suffer in his stead, he'd rather live alone, because the latter would only make him suffer more.
Stepping onto the train, Harry didn't see the smile on Death's face, no longer horrible or cruel, but approving above all.
"One test you have conquered, two more to go," It murmured to itself. "Oh Master, my Master, how long until you know?"
Harry couldn't be dead, he just couldn't be. Who was Tony supposed to go out for drinks with if the mechanic was dead? Whose house would he stay in when he just wanted to get away from Stark Tower for a while? He would have nobody to go to if Harry was dead.
Which was why, when he finally picked up Bruce's tenth call to his cell, Tony immediately pulled all the stops, paying off the hospital staff left and right to keep their mouths shut, closing down Stark Industries on the account of renovations, phoning Pepper to tell her to stay in DC on the pretense that he wanted the whole fiasco to blow over first, and ignoring any and all calls Fury or Coulson or any other S.H.I.E.L.D. member made, reinforcing Stark Tower with every technological defense he and Jarvis could think of until it was probably easier to break in to the President's White House in broad daylight, stark naked and through the front door on a Wednesday morning than it was to put a toe inside his tower.
And then he proceeded to monitor Harry's condition, day in and day out, ignoring the other Avengers' attempts to let them take over for a few hours. After all, Harry could wake up any moment. Tony had to be there.
"It's been a week," Steve said flatly. "This is ridiculous. We need to tell the Director and get a move on with the funeral before Stark does something drastic. This is killing him."
It had been a week since the battle against the Chitauri. The entire team had holed up in what remained of Stark Tower, each running interference with Fury and the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. every time the Director asked for a report on the fight. Harry's body had been placed in an empty observation room in one of the labs and Tony had barely left it since Thor had insisted on keeping the entire thing quiet.
Clutching at straws and not able to ignore the desperation on Tony's face, the Avengers had agreed, some more reluctant than others, but they had banded together, paid off any hospital staff that wouldn't remain silent, and spent the last week walking back and forth through the halls of Stark Tower waiting for a miracle. The only reason no one had given up earlier was because Harry's body, injury stitched up and cold, was not decaying. It was as if someone had placed it in stasis.
"At least let the body start decaying first," Bruce objected. "You suggest that to him right now when it looks like he's still alive-"
"He's not breathing," Natasha pointed out.
"-and he'll lose it," Bruce continued as if he hadn't been interrupted. "Humans decay when they die-"
"Maybe wizards don't," Clint muttered.
"-and there are no exceptions," Bruce said doggedly. "We know Harry's magic doesn't work anymore. Your arrows don't produce fire anymore and we even checked Harry's place. The safe house is gone, so it can't be his magic keeping his body in stasis. And a wizard without magic is just as human as the rest of us, so his body should be decaying, but it's not. We leave him."
"Doctor, are you sure you're not just grasping at straws?" Steve asked wearily, running a hand through his hair. "If he can come back, why hasn't he yet?"
"Perhaps it takes time," Thor cut in. The demigod looked tired, having run himself ragged splitting his time between Harry, Loki, the Tesseract, and Selvig and his attempts at making a device that would work in tandem with the cube to transport himself and Loki back to Asgard.
"But a week?" Natasha questioned doubtfully. "Surely he would've-"
"Guys!" Tony's voice cut the air and they all turned to look at the open doorway that led to Harry's observation room. "Guys, get in here!"
There was a moment where nobody moved, frozen to the ground as hope warred with disbelief because that hadn't heard Tony sound so alive since the hospital, and then there was a stampede for the door, most of them getting stuck in the doorway as they tried to shove through all at once, until Natasha huffed an annoyed breath and, being the slimmest of them all, managed to duck down and wriggle through, leaving the men to fight their way in.
"Stark?" Natasha came to a stop next to the billionaire, who was leaning over the monitor attached to the wizard. Her eyes widened when he moved aside.
There was a heartbeat.
"Are you serious?" She whispered before seizing a thin wrist and scrambling for the pulse. And there it was, faint but steady, as if Harry was slowly coming back.
And as the others assembled around the bed, they watched in amazement as Harry's chest began to move, slow and uneven at first before steadying, and they almost jumped when green eyes fluttered open, dazed and confused but very much alive.
"Harry?" Tony whispered leaning over the mechanic. "Harry, can you hear me?"
It took a few seconds but soon enough, Harry managed to focus on Tony's haggard features. "Where'm I?" He mumbled.
Tony released a relieved laugh that was almost a sob as the others fell into the chairs around the room, boneless with gratification as they slouched in their seats.
"You're at Stark Tower," Tony told him. "You know, you didn't need to go and die on me to get a free pass in here. I've been trying you to get you to come over for months."
Harry offered a vague smile so Tony assumed that Harry was still adjusting to, well, being alive again.
"You could've told me wizards could come back to life," Tony continued at a fast babble, not noticing the shadow surfacing briefly in Harry's eyes at those words. "I would've been a lot less worried. Not that we weren't all worried, we were. Very. But Thor was the one who guessed you might come back so we've kept you hidden for a week-"
"A week?" Harry's hoarse rasp interrupted him.
Tony blinked. "Er, yeah. You've been... dead for a week."
"...Oh," Harry shifted a little. "It wasn't that long last time."
"Last time?" Bruce jumped in, one hand resting against Harry's wrist as if reassuring himself that the wizard was indeed alive.
"Died before," Harry said tiredly. "Only took a few minutes to come back then."
"You were killed before?" Natasha frowned worriedly.
Harry quirked a humourless smile at her. "You could say that."
"Anyone still coming after you?" The female agent pressed, fingering a gun. "I could... discourage them."
Harry actually managed a chuckle at that. "No, don't worry. It's in the past." He coughed a little before struggling into a sitting position. Tony and Bruce immediately helped him up, cranking up the bed to support him.
"So, did we win?" Harry looked around.
"Yeah," Steve nodded, pulling his chair closer. "The portal closed, the Chitauri dropped like flies, and the Tesseract is inactive again. Fury's going crazy because all of us keep avoiding him or giving him a straight answer about the battle, and he doesn't know about you being dead and everything by the way. Oh, and Loki's in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody."
Harry jerked a little and found Thor's gaze. "What..."
Thor shook his head. "The Director has agreed to let me take both Loki and the Tesseract back to Asgard. He will face our father there." He paused and then offered a smile. "I believe he will be glad to hear of your revival."
Harry nodded silently. He had a feeling Thor wouldn't let anything too bad happen to Loki.
"But enough of that," Clint peered at him curiously. "How did you come back to life? Can all wizards do that? Are there certain circumstances to it or are you immortal?"
The gazes around him became expectant and Harry averted his gaze to the blanket laid out over his lap.
What could he say? This was a perfect the perfect opportunity to confess everything, to tell them about being the Master of Death and of the curse it brought. But to what end? He knew Tony well enough now that he could foresee the billionaire throwing himself into pointless research to try and find a way out for him, and he had a feeling Bruce would probably join him. It wouldn't be fair to either man because Harry knew they would never rest until they found a cure, but this wasn't something mere science could fix. Not even magic could fix it.
And both Natasha and Clint were, at the very least, contract-bound to inform S.H.I.E.L.D. of Harry's status. It was a miracle they hadn't told Fury about his temporary death but it was too much to hope that the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents would keep something as big as this from him as well.
Steve could probably be convinced to keep quiet about it but Harry didn't know the Captain well enough yet to place absolute faith in him. He didn't want to risk it and the last thing he wanted was to perform a memory charm on the super soldier.
Thor would probably understand. Hell, the demigod would take it in stride and probably invite him to Asgard in the process, but Harry would have to decline. As much as he hated the prospect of spending the rest of eternity in the land of the living, Earth was his home and he could never just leave it. And he still had his garage here, and his cars, and he'd miss Tony more than he would admit if he left. And now that he remembered, this would actually be a major problem in a few years' time when he had to leave.
And underneath it all was the gut-wrenching fear of getting too close. If he lied now, if he backed off from telling the truth, he would essentially be putting a lie between them all and that would be distance, distance he wouldn't have if he revealed his secret.
He raised his head and looked hard at each of them. Apparently, risking your life alongside other people tended to give you a sense of camaraderie with them. Somehow, he had come to care about each of these people, even Natasha and Clint and even Steve, whom he didn't know as well as the others. But that would have to stop. He couldn't do it. If he told them, even if all his aforementioned fears were unfounded, there would still remain the fact that Tony, if no one else, would ever let him go. Heck, the billionaire would probably follow him to Antarctica when Harry left, and the alternative, staying and watching the others grow old, outliving even Thor, was not something Harry could stand.
So, "All wizards can," He lied easily, ignoring the pain twisting his heart when he noticed that no one looked skeptical, only interested. "It's sort of a safety measure for us but it's not well-known and only the most powerful can do it. Not all the time either. Basically, my magical core placed my body in a healing stasis before I died, which then healed me while I was... well, dead. It's complicated to explain, but it takes a lot of energy and if I had shot off a few more spells during the battle, I probably wouldn't have been able to do it."
His explanation was met with smiles and questions and he did his best to fabricate answers for them. Let them think he was just a normal wizard. Let them smile at him without worry. It would at least give him a few more years to spend with the Avengers before he had to move on.
Finished! Stupid Harry, still keeping the truth from them, but I have a general idea as to where this is going and I can't have the Avengers knowing yet. Anyway, the *movie* is over so next chapter will start on the aftermath of it all. Hint: shawarma.
Chapter 14: To Relax Or To Not Relax
Disclaimer: I do not own anything from Harry Potter or Avengers...
Not finished yet people; that's why it doesn't say complete. From this point on, I'll be going off on my own storyline. It WON'T follow the comics because I haven't really read any of them, although I do know the gist of it.
-For those of you who don't know what shawarma is (I didn't either; had to look it up after watching the movie), it is a Levantine Arab meat preparation, where lamb, goat, chicken, turkey, beef, or mixed meats are placed on a spit (commonly a vertical spit in restaurants), and may be grilled for as long as a day. Shavings are cut off the block of meat for serving, and the remainder of the block of meat is kept heated on the rotating spit. Although it can be served in shavings on a plate (generally with accompaniments), "shawarma" also refers to a pita bread sandwich or wrap made with shawarma meat. Shawarma is eaten with tabbouleh, fattoush, taboon bread, tomato, and cucumber.
-Someone has already guessed what I'm planning to do with Loki but I won't say here and you'll find out in a few chapters.
-Some people have asked so I'll give a rough estimate: this fic will be about twenty chapters in total, give or take a few.
-I'll definitely include the scene when Thor and Loki leave and the Avengers see them off.
-For my fic, though the Hulk is crazy strong and almost impossible to kill, he can die, and will eventually since Bruce is still a part of him and he does age. The Asgardians also live long life times but they are not immortal. I actually looked that up: The Asgardian gods are extremely long-lived, but not immortal like the Olympians; they age very slowly upon reaching adulthood.
-Yes, Harry could've just said that he's a phoenix animagus which was why he could be reborn, but that would tell them that he's immortal, which he doesn't want. His explanation implies that he does have a way back but it doesn't mean he has to live forever. Bruce and Tony has already seen his animagus form and Bruce knows that phoenixes can be reborn but since Harry can change back to human, it's easy for Bruce to assume that this wouldn't apply to Harry, especially after he said that he wasn't immortal.
-Once again, this WILL NOT follow the comics' storyline.
-Some Loki-Harry interaction in this chapter.
Think that's it so enjoy!
Chapter 14 – To Relax Or To Not Relax
Harry was back on his feet within the next few days, although the usual lethargy he would feel after Death sent him back stayed with him for twice as long. Unfortunately, Tony had noticed this, which meant all the other Avengers also knew this, and Harry had quite a bit of difficulty getting time to himself. He had wanted to return home immediately but no one would hear a word of it and Tony had been inordinately pleased at being universally agreed with for once.
So, resigned to spend at least the next week at Stark Tower, he had given Natasha a key to his house so she and Clint could pick up his things. Somehow, this twenty-minute retrieval had turned into a six-hour trip when Clint had found Harry's no-longer-magically-hidden basement and called him immediately to beg some time with the motorcycle. Harry had agreed and he hadn't seen either one of them again until that evening.
Inside Stark Tower, repairs had started at last. Once Tony had realized just how unorganized an easily-distracted inventor, a still-recovering wizard, a scientist who still had bursts of anger management issues when aforementioned wizard wasn't around, a demigod who couldn't tell a phone from a fax machine, a super soldier who found literally all the technology in Stark Tower a novelty, and two master assassins who were better at breaking things than fixing them could be, he had called up Pepper and begged for her immediate return.
So Pepper had come back, promptly returning some order to the chaotic mess inside Stark Tower. The entire team had been impressed with the secretary's efficiency and had no problem obeying her orders when she directed them to different parts of the building for maintenance.
Four days after Harry had woken up, his magic had finally settled enough to work properly, and Tony had very nearly cried when Harry had walked into the penthouse one morning, waved a hand, and the walls and furniture had all began fixing themselves. By late afternoon, the penthouse was as good as new.
But while repairs were being made all over Manhattan and Stark Tower was no different in that aspect, any stranger walking by the place would most likely wonder at the most obvious change to the building, or rather, the people within it. Where before they had only seen Tony Stark, his secretary Pepper Potts, and a handful of other employees coming and going from the building, now there were six other people, each noticeably different from each other, coming around the place more often than the repairmen working on the ground floor.
It had started with Bruce Banner. After learning that Harry would be staying at Stark Tower for at least a week or two, he had finally accepted Tony's invitation to move in, and as the billionaire had promised, he had felt right at home in the tower's labs, not even needing to worry about losing complete control again with Harry so close at hand.
Consequently, this had also placed Harry, Tony, and Bruce all in the same area, and Fury had swiftly hoisted the study of the Tesseract on them, giving orders that a teleportation/containment device was to be made in conjunction with the cube. This had led to Thor sticking around more often than not, stubbornly insisting that he was simply observing the progress they were making with the Tesseract while he spent most of his time there helping out with maintenance, exploring Tony's 'empire', and taking most of his meals there with the three scientists.
Then there was Steve's sense of responsibility; the super soldier had claimed it was his duty to assist with the repairs as well, his superior strength coming in handy when Harry wasn't there to levitate something. With how big the tower was, that was actually a lot, but the Captain had also ended up staying for dinner one night, a storm had rolled in, and Tony had generously offered up another guest bedroom. Somehow, Steve had neglected to vacate the tower since then and the billionaire had conveniently forgotten to kick him out, so the arrangement was settled.
And of course, with their correspondence with S.H.I.E.L.D., Natasha and Clint also came around more often, apparently in charge of giving frequent updates to Fury, only to find their way to the weapons room and the garage respectively and spending several hours experimenting. Seeing no need to go out for food when there was plenty at Stark Tower, they had also stayed for breakfast and lunch, and needless to say, Tony had invited them to dinner as well.
So one way or another, the entire team had found their way back to the very place the battle of New York had ended in, and everyone had pretended not to notice the glaring fact that Tony-with-the-Russia-sized-ego Stark had yet to put his name back on his tower, even though a wave of Harry's hand would fix the damage in a heartbeat.
So the 'A' remained, and the city of New York, whispering of monsters and heroes, some believing, some not, wondered exactly what had taken place during the alien invasion.
"Hey Stark, this one says that you were rock-climbing in Alaska when the whole invasion took place," Steve announced from one of the chairs in the lab as he scanned the latest newspaper. "Says that your 'arrogant attitude and flair for dramatics' wouldn't allow you to stay silent if you really did have a hand in stopping the attack," Steve looked over at the billionaire with a grin. "Well what do you know? A tabloid I actually agree with!"
Tony shot him wry look before pulling out his iphone. "And here's one that says Captain America doesn't even exist in this day and age and that even if he does, he is nothing but 'a war hero long past his prime and should be looking into retirement'," Tony looked up again, smug. "At least I was rock-climbing in Alaska. You don't even exist, T-Rex."
Steve scowled and leaned back in his chair again as Tony smirked triumphantly and returned to his work. He and Tony had reached something of an understanding after the war, and their bickering was always taken with a pinch of salt now.
"If you two are finished flirting with each other, mind sending me the next set of calculations, Mr. Stark?" Bruce's polite voice came from across the room.
Tony sent him the data, along with a very giant unhappy face as he peered over the top of one of his computer screens at the scientist. "I did not need that mental image in my mind, Doctor, but I suppose congratulations are in order since you actually managed to give gramps over there a heart-attack."
Heart-attack was quite a bit of an exaggeration but Steve was certainly more than a little red as he spluttered wordlessly at Bruce.
"If all three of you are finished acting like children, Thor and I are going to do a food run to the Quiznos down the street. Anyone want anything?" Harry stood in the doorway, Thor at his shoulder looking mildly amused at the exchange.
The lab's occupants sheepishly gave their preferences, Steve last after going over the menu Harry produced from thin air.
"Right," Harry said briskly as he turned to go. "We'll be back soon."
While Harry was technically going to Quiznos, he was also making a detour before that.
"Why does your brother want to see me again?" Harry asked as they made their way down one corridor of the grounded Helicarrier.
Fury had decided to use the Helicarrier as its main base from now on just in case another incident like Loki occurred again and they would be able to react much faster, especially since the Avengers were now literally a call away.
"Well, he did not state he wanted to see you in so many words," Thor hedged. "But he implied it. Vaguely."
Harry gave him a sardonic look. "So basically, he really didn't say anything of the sort but you decided to bring me over here anyway."
Thor blinked and then shrugged. "Basically," And at Harry's sigh, he added, "But I do think he wishes to see you. He is my brother; I know him better than anyone. Even if he doesn't say it aloud, I can guess quite accurately."
Harry sighed again but nodded nonetheless. "Let's just get this over with then."
He wasn't particularly looking forward to a conversation with Loki. For one, even though the demigod had been stupid enough to try the whole world domination thing, he was actually a pretty smart individual in general. The problem here was that Harry couldn't really remember what had been said during his last moments alive back on the balcony, only that Loki had been the last face he had seen, the last person he had spoken to, before he had lost consciousness. He fervently hoped he hadn't given away anything too important.
"In here," Thor led him through a door and down to a glass cell much like the one S.H.I.E.L.D. had placed Loki in the first time.
As Harry stepped into the room, eyes adjusting to the brighter lights, he noted that there was actually a chair and a bed inside the cell, as well as a side door that probably led to a bathroom.
"Comfy," Harry observed dryly.
"Absolute paradise compared to last time," Loki's equally sardonic voice agreed as the side door opened and the demigod himself stepped out. "Hello again, warrior. I see my brother was telling the truth. Your recovery is truly... miraculous."
The version they had all agreed on, and one that Thor had anxiously pressed Loki to stick to if asked, was that Harry had been badly injured during the battle and had spent a week recovering in Stark Tower. Knowing how protective Tony could get over Harry, it hadn't taken a lot of convincing on their part to get Fury to believe it. And once Fury believed something, the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. pretty much followed without question.
"Leave us, brother," Loki continued as he waved a dismissive hand. "I see enough of your face every day during your normal visiting hours as it is."
Thor just released a long-suffering sigh before glancing at Harry, though a smile lurked just behind his eyes. Harry nodded, and the demigod left the room, leaving Harry alone with Loki.
"So," Harry drew closer, conjuring a chair from thin air before settling in front of the glass cell. "I hear you wanted to talk to me."
"Did you?" Loki sounded faintly amused as he sat down as well. "And here I was under the impression that you wished to talk to me."
They stared at each other for a moment before Harry snorted and Loki shook his head.
"It seems my brother simply wanted to acquire company for me," Loki arched an eyebrow. "Though why he thought bringing you of all people here would be a sound idea is beyond me."
"Beats me," Harry settled comfortably back into his chair. "But now that I'm here, we might as well kill some time. How are you? I hear you weren't injured but Agent Barton's not your biggest fan at the moment."
Loki blinked at him, that same searching gaze Harry remembered the demigod giving him before he had been injured surfacing again.
"I was uninjured for the most part," He said abruptly. "You know of my heritage? A war against humans would hardly deal damage to my person."
"Right," Harry shifted a little, feeling slightly embarrassed. He knew that from Thor, of course, but it had seemed only polite to ask.
They fell into a noticeably awkward silence as neither were terrific conversationalists nor were they accustomed to making idle small talk. Surprisingly enough though, it was Loki who broke it first, expression determinedly indifferent even as he asked, "As strange as you humans can be, I do wonder if all of you have that distinct lack of self-preservation you showed during the battle?"
Harry flushed a little but he flicked up a few privacy wards around them just in case before answering steadily, "You would've died if that staff had run you through, even if you are from Asgard. I wouldn't have; didn't, obviously."
"I highly doubt anyone else would've saved me even if they knew they wouldn't die," Loki pointed out sharply.
"Thor would've," Harry immediately refuted, frowning when Loki scoffed. "He would. He loves you. Before I talked to him, just after the Chitauri came through and we were all at my house, Mjolnir stopped working for him," He paused for a moment when Loki's eyes widened. "He didn't know what to do. He wanted to save Earth, but he wanted to save you more. I think he was planning on simply grabbing you and the Tesseract and somehow returning home, regardless of what would happen to this world."
"Earth means everything to my brother," Loki said in a clipped tone. "He would never have-"
"But you're his brother," Harry said resolutely. "Family. There was never a chance of him leaving you behind."
Something flickered across Loki's face, an emotion too fast for Harry to identify, but he knew the demigod believed him.
"Very well," Loki continued stiffly instead. "Thor I understand, but you I do not. We were enemies."
"Technically, at that point, we weren't," Harry pointed out.
"Semantics," Loki dismissed impatiently. "We were strangers then, circumstantial acquaintances at most, yet you-"
"I take it you're not sorry?" Harry interrupted. "Look, it wasn't as if I stopped to consider whether or not you were worth saving. I did it because you were clearly in danger, and it wasn't as if I really ever considered you an enemy in the first place. I promised Thor that we'd save both you and the Earth; kind of pointless if you ended up dying right after you came over to our side. And it isn't just you either. If some little girl or a random stranger on the street was about to be shot or cut down, I'd do just as much to save them."
Loki was silent for a long while after this and Harry stared back stubbornly, refusing to let the demigod believe he thought his own actions to be wrong.
"Tell me, warrior," Loki finally said. "Would that stand true for all people? Should Earth be threatened again, you would fight to the death if need be for 'random strangers'?"
"Don't know about the death part," Harry tried not to let the bitterness seep into his voice. "But yeah, I suppose I would. I'm not someone who would just stand by while someone is killed in front of me."
"Then why do you not join the Avengers?" Loki challenged. "My brother has told me of your numerous refusals to officially ally yourself with S.H.I.E.L.D.."
Harry shrugged. "I don't like following anyone's orders, and Fury would be able to send me on all sorts of missions if I join. No, I'd rather just help out when a real crisis comes around. I don't have the best experience with adhering to organizations."
Again, Loki considered him with assessing eyes for a long minute before finally gesturing around them. "No one can hear us?"
Harry blinked at the sudden change of topic. "Err, yes. Can't see us either. I could walk across the room and they'd still see us sitting here."
Loki nodded, leaning forward with a more sombre expression this time. "A word of warning then, warrior: there is a being in this universe. He goes by the name of Thanos and he is the one who provided me with the Chitauri army. Beware of his cunning, his intellect, and his thirst for war, for he is approaching, and nought but the strongest will be able to stop him."
Harry gaped at him for a moment before demanding, "Wait, are you serious? Why are you telling me this? You didn't even want to talk to me in the first place. What if I hadn't agreed to come?"
Loki shrugged. "I had not decided until this moment to reveal this threat. While I no longer wish to rule this world, I am not my brother either. If this planet burned, the most I would feel is passing regret as it seems you provide the only minimally intelligent conversation I have come across in years."
Harry wasn't sure if he was supposed to be offended or not so he ignored this and pressed, "So why now? And why me?"
Loki tilted his head. "I was not certain earlier; the Tesseract's energy was interfering with my senses, but I am quite convinced now. You have Death's mark on you."
Harry instantly froze, mind already to racing to find a way out. How did Loki know? How could Loki know? Thor didn't know! Did he?
"My brother does not know," Loki assured him, and Harry guessed some of his panic must have appeared on his face. "He has never held much stock in sorcery. But I have spent many years studying it, and there is only one other being so touched by Death, rumoured to be legends only. They call him the Master of Death. Would that be you?" Harry knew Loki had to swallow a triumphant smile when he winced at the accusation. "Do not worry, warrior. Only the most adept at magic can sense it, especially since I have come across it before."
"Before?" Harry stiffened. "On... Thanos?"
Loki nodded. "Both of you have shaken Death's hand. Both of you know Death like no one else. Thanos is a Titan, fascinated with nihilism and Death. There are whispers throughout the universe that he has even fallen in love with her, and she is the reason for his destructive rampage. He kills many, all without mercy, perhaps to impress her."
"Death is a she," Harry said faintly. "Well you learn something new every day," His gaze sharpened. "But if he's coming here and you obviously had no intention of telling anyone, why tell me? You should know I'll tell the Avengers."
"Do what you will with this information," Loki rose to his feet, half-turning away. "But I believe it will be interesting," The demigod's eyes glinted. "Two beings touched by Death, standing on opposite sides of the battlefield. Death's Master against Death's Champion. I wonder: who will remain standing in the end?"
Harry stood up abruptly, swallowing hard. He had fought basilisks and dragons, acromatulas and dementors, dark wizards and a dark lord, and now he could even claim to have faced extra-terrestrials, and always, he had come out on top. But somehow, the prospect of facing this Thanos, also touched by Death and quite probably liked by her more, he wasn't sure he could win.
"Thank you for telling me," Harry said abruptly, turning to leave. An immediate scuffle from inside the cell made him look back, and he just managed to catch the flash of alarm cross Loki's face before it was hidden away again.
"You are leaving?" Loki asked, and Harry was struck by how alone and caged the demigod must feel, never seeing anyone save his brother a few times a day and perhaps a SHIELD employee who delivered him meals. Perhaps Thor had made the right call in tricking Harry here.
"I'll be there to see you off when you and Thor head back to Asgard," Harry offered a slight smile.
Loki nodded and Harry made to leave once more when the demigod spoke again. "I will see you again after that? Perhaps one day?"
Harry paused, contemplating his options for a long moment before making up his mind. A secret for a secret, even though he knew Loki would most likely never tell anyone what Harry was about to show him.
He turned back fully, strengthening the wards around them before letting his animagus form take over for a few seconds, enjoying the astounded expression on Loki's face as he dropped a single feather on the ground.
"Here," Harry picked up the feather after he changed back, laying it flat on his palm as it burst into a ball of ghostly blue flames, disappearing and reappearing inside the cell in front of Loki. The demigod plucked it out of the air after a hesitant pause, an almost reverent look in his eyes. Harry smiled again when Loki glanced back up at him.
"A promise," Harry told him, nodding at the feather. "I'll definitely see you again, even after you return to Asgard."
And Harry knew Loki believed him.
"We should go for shawarma tonight."
Natasha raised an eyebrow at Tony's suggestion as she swallowed another bite of her sandwich. "Really, Stark? I thought you were joking. Do you even know what shawarma is?"
"Do you?" Tony countered, unperturbed by the lack of enthusiasm all around. "No; exactly, which is why we have to go try it. The teleportation device is almost finished and Thor and his brother have to leave tomorrow. There won't be another time, so it's tonight or never."
"I vote never," Clint mumbled around his sub. "Shawarma sounds like some branch of yoga, not a food. I mean, if you've never even been there, how do you know it's a restaurant?"
"I've driven by it before," Tony leaned forward. "So how 'bout it? Shawarma for dinner?"
Gradually, grudging consent was given from the rest of the team, if only to stop Tony's wheedling. Satisfied, the billionaire finally turned to their unofficial Avenger. "Harry? Shawarma? It'll be fun. The restaurant's not even one of those extravagant places you hate so much. ...Harry?"
The wizard started a little, turning startled eyes at Tony. He hadn't touched his lunch. "Hmm?" Harry looked around distractedly. "Uh, shawarma? Sounds good. Great," He cleared his throat and pushed his sub away. "Look, I think I'm going to go have a bit of a lie-down. Didn't get much sleep last night. Just wake me before dinner." Flashing what was probably supposed to be a reassuring smile at them all, Harry rose and disappeared from the room, footsteps quiet as he hurried away.
Tony waited until Harry had gone before rounding on Thor. "Alright, what happened?"
Thor blinked at him, though there was worry lurking underneath his confused expression. "I'm afraid I do not know what you mean."
Tony scowled. "I usually send Pepper or one of the grunts around here to get me food but even I know a trip to Quiznos doesn't change someone into a walking zombie. He's been out of it all day, so what happened?"
Thor looked down at the table while the rest of the team stared at him. "I took him to see Loki," He finally admitted.
There was an immediate reaction. Tony's scowl darkened, Clint, having just taken a sip of beer, inhaled at the same time and ended up choking on it, and even Bruce frowned. Pounding Clint on the back, Steve demanded, "Why would you do that? What did he say to him?"
"I do not know. Loki wished to speak to Harry alone and Harry agreed."
"And you just did that?" Natasha glanced at the door Harry had left through.
"They wished for privacy," Thor said loftily. "And my brother would not hurt Harry. He would not even be able to."
"How would you know?" Clint asked, still a little red in the face. "Your brother was hurting people not two weeks ago."
"Loki owes Harry a debt," Thor said sharply. "And he will honour it. I understand that a person's word is more easily broken here, but on Asgard, a life debt is sacred. It is a promise, and only those without self-respect, without a shred of dignity, would disregard it."
This sufficiently shut them all up for a moment, but Tony spoke up again within seconds. "Well Loki said something to him. I highly doubt Harry would be this distracted if they were planning afternoon tea."
"Let's just wait until Harry tells us," Bruce suggested, reaching out for Harry's sandwich and heading to the adjoining kitchen to plastic-wrap it. "If it's something important, I'm sure he wouldn't keep it to himself for long."
"And what if he doesn't?" Tony called after him.
Steve snorted. "Then we set you on him. There's only so much whining even Harry can take."
He would tell them after Loki was gone, Harry decided as he flopped back on his bed. He knew Loki had told him all he knew of Thanos and there was no point giving S.H.I.E.L.D. a reason to keep the demigod locked up for any longer than necessary. Before he had left, he had asked Loki to tell Thor once they were back on Asgard so the thunder god would know to come back. After some back-and-forth debating, Loki had sighed and agreed, leaving Harry the responsibility of telling the other Avengers.
"How many wars do I have to go through before I can finally get some peace?" Harry asked the room in general. Not surprisingly, there was no answer.
"Here we are!" Tony swept an arm at the restaurant in front of them. "It looks great, doesn't it?"
"It looks like a bomb site," Natasha pointed out bluntly.
And indeed, the restaurant was almost half-gone, though the part that was still there seemed to be open to public.
"Don't be ridiculous," Tony led the way inside. "Bomb sites don't have shawarma."
The rest of the team looked doubtfully at each other but twenty minutes later, they were seated around a wooden table, each with a plate of shawarma in front of them.
Tony, of course, tried it first, while the other Avengers and Harry all sat back waiting for his verdict.
"It's..." He chewed, and Harry swore there was a moment where the billionaire wanted to spit it back out. "Different."
This already seemed to put Natasha and Clint off the food as both assassins stared down at their dinner with wariness usually reserved for a nuclear missile.
Steve mustered up his bravery next and took a bite, chewing as everyone else watched him with trepidation.
"It's not bad," Steve finally announced, taking another bite. "Just a lot of meat."
Natasha looked a little sick. "Fat?"
"Some, yeah," Steve nodded, unconcerned.
Natasha swallowed and continued staring at her dinner.
Harry was beginning to feel a little sick himself. He was no vegetarian but he was used to lighter foods and this was so heavy it was visibly greasy.
"It's okay, I suppose," Bruce said as he munched on his shawarma. Thor was also chewing on one, an odd expression on his face.
Harry sighed and picked his up. He had already paid for it; he might as well try it.
It took one hard swallow and several deep breaths to not throw up after the first bite. Placing it down, he automatically reached for his water. Glancing up, he caught Natasha's eye and she promptly lowered the shawarma that had been halfway to her mouth. Beside her, Clint was chugging down water like it was going out of style.
Harry supposed that for someone like Steve or Bruce or even Thor, the shawarma would be nothing to their systems, but he knew there was no way he could finish it. Looking around, he spotted salvation across the street and looked back at Tony.
"Tony?" He started carefully. Natasha and Clint immediately perked up hopefully.
"Yes Harry?" Tony asked in a strained tone as finished another bite. Harry was silently impressed.
"There's a pizza parlour across the street," Harry pointed out, and even Thor brightened. Pizza was one of the foods the demigod knew and liked.
"What about it?" Tony took another stubborn bite.
"Well, it's open, but it looks even worse off than this place, so it'll probably close soon, if only for repairs. Maybe even permanently," Harry continued.
"And?" Tony finally put his shawarma down, gulping down some water after it.
"And, well," Harry scratched his head. "It would be a shame not to try it before it renovates, and I haven't had pizza for a month."
Natasha instantly caught on. "I haven't had it for two months," She announced, already half out of her seat.
"I can't remember the taste of pizza," Clint added with feeling, also leaping to his feet. "And it would be so sad to see the place go without trying it first."
"Exactly," Harry beamed brightly at the rest of the table. "So Agent Romanov, Agent Barton, and I will just have simple pizza for dinner while you gentlemen wine and dine here. Don't get up on our account."
And with that said, all three of them sped out the restaurant without a backwards glance, leaving a very disgruntled Tony behind.
"...I believe pizza is what I would prefer as well," Thor said as he lowered his half-eaten shawarma. "I have not had it since the last time I came to Earth and I wish to eat it before I return to Asgard tomorrow. If you'll excuse me," The demigod rose and disappeared out the door before any of them could call him back.
The remaining three Avengers looked at each other.
"I think it's pretty good," Steve said after another mouthful. Beside him, Bruce nodded, completely serious.
Tony looked from one to the other before releasing a defeated sigh and rising to his feet as well, pushing Natasha's plate over to them. "Knock yourselves out, Cast-Iron. I'm going for pizza."
And then the billionaire hurried off as well, leaving two puzzled Avengers behind to enjoy their shawarma.
"'Til later then," Tony clapped a friendly hand on Thor's shoulder as the Asgardian prepared to leave. "Don't forget to write."
Steve rolled his eyes and elbowed Tony out of the way to shake Thor's hand. "Until we meet again," He glanced at Loki standing quietly next to his brother, mostly unbound after giving his word that he wouldn't do anything dangerous. "Be safe."
Thor smiled, looking around at the team of humans he had become familiar with. All of them had come to see him off, and as his eyes landed on Harry, he wondered just how different things would be if Harry hadn't stepped in when he had attacked Tony, or when he had contemplated taking Loki and the Tesseract and simply left.
He didn't miss the loaded exchange between the wizard and his brother, and his mind flashed back to the heaviness that had stayed with Harry ever since his conversation with Loki. He hoped it wasn't anything too bad, and that if it was, his brother would tell him soon.
So, with a slight inclination of his head, he held up the device now connected to the Tesseract and felt a thrill of pleasure when Loki grabbed it without hesitation. As the cube's blue energy swirled around them, he wondered if Odin would let him come back, even if there wasn't a crisis about to hit Earth. He would certainly miss the company of these people.
"Well then," Tony clapped his hands together. "Back to Stark Tower?"
"Don't you mean Avengers' Tower?" Steve asked, amusement colouring his voice. "You still haven't fixed it."
Tony waved a hand. "Haven't had the time. And really, all that money-"
"Potter's magic," Clint coughed and beside him, Bruce couldn't hide a faint smile.
"-would be a huge waste," Tony finished, ignoring the interruption. "I might as well just leave it like that."
"Whatever you say, Stark," Natasha brushed past him and headed for the S.H.I.E.L.D.-issued car with Clint. "Clint and I will go report in to the Director-"
They all turned to Harry, who had been very quiet all day. They noted the tired bags under his eyes and the grim tilt of his mouth and instantly straightened, giving the wizard their full attention.
"I need to talk to you," Harry continued. "There's another threat coming to Earth. Very soon."
Finished! A bit of a bridge between arcs this time.
On a side note, for those of you who like shawarma, no offense was meant if any was taken, but everyone has their tastes and I thought I would just split it amongst the team.
Chapter 15: To the Next Arc
Disclaimer: I do not own anything from Harry Potter or Avengers...
Alright, so here's the kick-off to the next arc. This will be the LAST CHAPTER in Finding Home. I'll be starting a sequel very soon leading on from this.
My exams are coming up as well so updates won't be so close to each other either.
Chapter 15 – To the Next Arc
"And you couldn't have told us this when Loki was still somewhere on the planet?"
Harry shrugged unrepentantly, facing down Fury's glare expression with ease. The S.H.I.E.L.D. Director was nothing compared to Snape.
After Thor and Loki had left, Harry had quickly laid out all the things Loki had given him about Thanos. The team had acted quickly, without any doubt that Harry might be wrong or deceived. Clint and Natasha had contacted Fury immediately, and now they were all assembled in the Helicarrier once again. Needless to say, Harry was being chewed out about keeping vital information to himself.
"We have no way of contacting Thor!" Fury continued to rant. "He's-"
"Don't worry, Director," Harry interrupted. "Loki will tell Thor."
"And you know this how?" Fury demanded.
"He told me he would," Harry responded.
Fury snorted. "Yeah, 'cause Loki's a regular boy scout."
"Look, does it matter?" Harry finally asked sharply, fed-up with the dressing-down. "You've got bigger worries right now. Thanos, remember? Let's try to stay on topic here."
Fury glowered for a while longer but he turned his attention on the rest of the team anyway, gaze hardening when Tony couldn't quite hide the open amusement at their exchange fast enough.
"Alright; Thanos," Fury motioned at the holographic screen where all the information Harry could divulge was displayed there. "We know he's coming, we know his goal. How do we stop him?"
"If Loki was telling the truth, Thanos has a far greater knowledge of technology than we do," Bruce started. "It wouldn't be possible for us to fight him that way, though what we do have will help. I think the best way to beat this guy is to find his weaknesses and go from there. Tackling him head-on is suicide."
"Great plan Doc, but I think we're gonna have a few problems with the whole 'find his weaknesses' part," Tony was sitting beside Harry, head propped in one hand. "I mean we know he's big, purple, and thinks he's better than everyone else. Say that to any kid and they'll point you in Barney's direction." The billionaire shot Steve an exasperated look when he raised a hand in question. "Star of a kid's show, gramps. Seriously, you need to soak up some modern American culture. Now what can Thanos do? The Chitauri could shoot energy blasts out of their glowing sticks of doom. Does our new bad guy have x-ray vision or super strength or what?"
"We have absolutely nothing on him," Clint confirmed. "All we know is what Loki knows, or at least what he told Potter. Beyond that, we're flying blind."
"He'll head straight for New York," Natasha was staring unblinkingly at the screen. "Any decent strategist will stick with what he knows. The Chitauri that managed to escape would've reported back to him."
"Why would he care?" Steve objected. "He's out to destroy the Earth. He can start on any piece of it."
"But if he's as confident in his own power as Loki said he is, chances are he's also arrogant," Natasha countered. "And the first thing he'll want to do is wipe out the people who managed to stop Loki and the Chitauri. Us. He'll want to show the world that unlike them, he can't be stopped. Trust me, he may be alien but I've profiled dozens of people with his personality. He'll come straight to Manhattan."
"Then we need to be ready when he gets here," Fury pulled up a map of New York. "If there's gonna be a fight, I'd rather it not take place in the middle of the city again, but it doesn't look like we've got much choice. We'll have to send out a warning to get all the civilians underground."
"They won't all listen to us," Bruce interjected. "Some of them don't even believe there was an invasion, and they're looking at the proof right now."
"We still gotta try," Steve leaned closer to the map. "We could clear out the taller buildings, get them into the subways or even quarantine a part of New York off for them." He turned to Harry. "Think you can set up wards to protect them?"
Harry frowned thoughtfully. "I could. That's a good idea. But I'll set the wards to hide as well as shield. I don't know if Thanos has something that will work against magic."
"Good," Steve nodded. "We could get them underground and just ward all the exits."
"It's not going to be that simple, Rogers," Fury cut in grimly. "S.H.I.E.L.D. isn't very well-known. People will just think we're a bunch of lunatics if we go out there and announce the next apocalypse."
"Then tell the government," Steve persisted. "The President-"
"-Won't want to cause nationwide panic," Fury shook his head. "If the President broadcasts news like this on TV, even just New York, there's no telling what will happen." He turned to Harry, eyes sharp. "I was thinking more along the lines of… suggestion. Is there a spell you can use that can make the people evacuate at the right time?"
Harry was silent for a long time, gaze distant even as the rest of the team looked at him as well. "There is one," Harry said at last. "But it's illegal."
Fury raised an eyebrow. "Seeing as we're trying to save people from the end of the world, I think we can forgive a little criminal activity."
Harry's jaw tightened and he glanced down at the table for a moment. "They won't have any free will," He continued flatly.
"Will it hurt them?" Fury countered.
Harry's lips thinned. "No, they'll think it's the most wonderful feeling in the world, even as every thought and worry in their head is wiped away. It leaves nothing but a vague, untraceable happiness. They'll barely be aware of anything going on around them."
"Then that's what we need," Fury said briskly. "You can-"
"And the more one uses it, the more they would want to do it again," Harry interrupted, his eyes unnaturally cold. "You could get drunk on its power, and it's even worse being on the receiving end. Imagine not being able to control your own body-"
"So you would let them all die instead?" Fury challenged. "Is that it? Because that's the only alternative, Potter. You don't force them underground and they'll all be dead. It's better to shut them all in one place than have them all die."
Harry stared back blankly before finally releasing a sigh and averting his gaze. He said nothing more, and Fury nodded, satisfied.
"Slow down, Hitler," Tony snapped, gaze focused on Harry. "Can't you see he's not comfortable with this?"
"This is war, Stark," Fury said irritably. "If we were planning a slumber party, I'd worry about how comfy he is, but we're not."
"He's right, Tony," Harry nodded, features smoothing over again. "Don't worry about it. I just don't like that curse much. I can do it. I'll need a transmitter though; something to send the curse through so that it'll affect a large crowd. Like sending sound waves but different."
Tony frowned but said nothing more as Fury nodded. "Stark, Banner, you two can get on that. In the meantime, the rest of you will spread out and outline a perimeter around Manhattan. Thanos will probably head for Stark Tower when he gets to Manhattan so make the tower your centre. Understand?"
A chorus of affirmation answered him and the meeting was adjourned. Harry stood up abruptly and swept from the room without waiting for anyone. Exchanging a look, Tony and Bruce followed.
"Harry? Hey, c'mon, wait up!"
Harry didn't stop until he was on the deck of the Helicarrier, half-turning to face the two Avengers.
"You don't have to do this," Bruce said immediately. "Trust me; I know how bad the Director can be about this sort of thing. I mean he got Agent Romanov and half an army to drag me all the way back from Calcutta after all."
Harry shook his head. "It's fine. I'm fine. Controlling them for a short while is better than leaving them to die. Besides," His gaze moved to the open air around them. "I need to do whatever I can in the upcoming war."
"Why's that?" Tony was frowning at him. "It's not really noticeable or anything but you've been more invested in Thanos than you were with Loki. Your magic picking something up?"
For just a second, Harry was tempted to tell him that magic didn't work that way, that only seers could know things before they happened, but the questions that would lead to weren't ones he even had the patience to deal with at the moment. So he shrugged and nodded, giving a vague answer before Apparating them back to Stark Tower so they wouldn't have time to grill him some more.
"I'm going to bed," He announced. "It's been a long day."
And he was gone before either of his friends could call him back, never noticing the worried glanced they shared.
"I really don't have the patience for iambic pentameter today so cut the rhymes and tell me what you're playing at," Harry growled irritably at the figure in front of him. He still thought she was rather genderless since he couldn't describe her out loud if he wanted to, but Loki wouldn't lie about something like this.
Death stared back, calm and unruffled. And Harry hated her in that moment. Oh, he had always resented Death a little, for roping him into the Master of Death business, but he also knew that his own actions had been a large part of it, no matter how little a choice he had had when he had gathered the Hallows.
But this time? This time couldn't possibly be his fault. Death's Champion? Death's would-be lover? As Death's Master, didn't he have a right to know these things before the world exploded around him?
"...Thanos has oft been called the Mad Titan," Death said eventually.
Harry snorted. "Trust me, there isn't a single person out there who tried to rule the world or destroy the world or rule and destroy the world that wasn't at least somewhat mad."
"He wishes to court me by offering up the souls of the Dead," Death continued as if Harry hadn't spoken. "He has done so for many, many years."
"And here I thought Death was all about being fair," Harry said derisively. "What's so fair about millions dying because of this psychopath?"
Anger flared in Death's eyes, distinctly visible for the first time since Harry had met her. "I do not have the power to stop him," She snapped stiffly.
Harry was in no mood to be sympathetic. "So just because you couldn't do anything about it, you let him get away with literally universal homicide?"
"Watch your tongue, Human," Death hissed.
Harry stood up. He hadn't felt this type of anger, icy and contained, for a very long time. "So I'm a human now?" He was vindictively satisfied when he saw Death take a step back. Somewhere behind him, a lamp exploded as his magic lashed out around him. "Human was all I wanted to be but you wouldn't let me go. So you watch your tongue. I've had it with your riddles and games. I don't care if you think humans are a waste of space and not worth saving. You'll tell me everything you know about Thanos, everything that could be remotely useful to us, and you'll shut up about everything else. Understand?"
Death stayed silent for a long time after under Harry's unrelenting glare. To Harry's surprise, she acquiesced with a careful nod, launching into a detailed, albeit monotonous, explanation of Thanos, and Harry found his glare ebbing as he took in the true extent of just what Thanos was capable of.
"Humans are no match for him," Death concluded bluntly. "He will destroy you as he has every other world."
Harry rose, already cataloguing the information so he could pass it on to the Avengers. "We'll see," He said grimly. "But we were supposedly no match for a lot of other things too. Funny how we're still here." Harry shot Death a sharp look. "You don't think too highly of humans because we're not as strong or not as advanced. And yeah, maybe you're right. We're probably not as powerful in terms of weaponry, definitely nowhere near the level of Thanos."
He headed for the door, only looking back to throw Death a determined smile. "But the thing is, we haven't survived this long by being weak. When we fight against impossible odds, that's when we shine."
"Where are you getting your information, Potter?"
Harry shrugged, ignoring the frustration in Fury's expression. "It doesn't matter. Thanos will attack in three weeks. I've given you everything I can about him. What are you going to do?"
The Avengers had assembled for yet another meeting and most were giving him odd looks as he stood across from Fury.
"We stick with our current plan, build up so weaponry," Fury waved a hand. "But that's beside the point right now. If there's someone out there who's giving you such detailed information, we need them here."
Harry heaved a sigh. "It doesn't matter how many times you ask or insist or demand. Where I get my information is my business and my business alone. All you need to know is that every word is true."
"So you don't trust any of us enough to tell us where you got this intel?" Fury persisted. His gaze flickered to Tony. "What about Stark? He not trustworthy enough for you-"
"Now that's just childish, Nick," Tony cut in, voice light but eyes hard. "I know you've lived in paranoia for most of your life, guess it comes with the job, but let's try to remember Harry's on our side. There's no need to accuse him of lying to us or keeping anything important from us."
Fury shot the billionaire a dark look. "You don't find the fact that he knows more about Thanos than any of us strange? I wanna know where he's getting his information-"
"Or what?" Bruce joined in, frowning heavily. "You'll lock him up for interrogation? Director, all I'm seeing here is you trying to put a rift between Harry and Mr. Stark. Is that really the best idea right now? I think we all know that's not gonna work and the only thing that will happen is the Avengers splitting again."
"I don't expect you to understand, Dr. Banner," Fury said tersely. "But as an organization that values its intel, we-"
"-Need to be in control, we get it," Tony rolled his eyes before rising to his feet. "But if Harry's not gonna say, then there's nothing you can do to force him to reveal his informant. Now if you don't mind, Doc and I've got a transmitter to build. If I have to stay here and listen to you rant on about how S.H.I.E.L.D. is all-knowing, I'll die of old age. Coming, Harry, Banner?"
Neither Harry nor Bruce wasted any time in vacating the room, leaving a fuming Fury and three weary-looking Avengers in their wake.
"You know-" Steve started.
"Rogers, if you say he has a point, I'm hauling you in for a psych evaluation," Fury said irritably.
Steve raised his hand in a placating gesture but it was Natasha who spoke next.
"Look, just leave Potter alone," She shrugged at Fury's raised eyebrow that all but screamed his disbelief. "Normally, I'd be all for hauling him in for questioning, but there's no doubt Harry's on our side and we're all entitled to our secrets. Mostly. So long as he's telling us everything that he can about Thanos, I've got no problem with it. Besides, he's still a civilian. It's not exactly our place to force it out of him."
"You're placing a lot of trust in a basically unknown man, Romanov," Fury growled. "All we know is that he's a wizard and a damn powerful one at that. Nothing else."
"Personally, I don't care all that much about his life story," Clint spoke up, getting to his feet and stretching. "My gut instinct says I can trust him to watch my back in a fight and that's good enough for me. Now we've got a war to fight in three weeks; let's get back to work."
As the three Avengers made their way out of the Helicarrier, Steve muttered, "I supposed it doesn't hurt that Harry lets you play with his motorcycle too, huh?"
Clint pulled an innocent face as Natasha muffled a laugh. Behind them, Fury threw up his hands and stalked away. At least working with the new intel he had been given would take his mind off this issue.
The days passed and the atmosphere in New York grew tense. Everyone felt it, from businessmen to police to normal everyday civilians. They didn't know why, of course, but that didn't stop the anxiety from rocketing as they went about their daily lives.
Those who witnessed the invasion or simply believed it had happened knew to look for the signs. Their eyes were entirely focused on Stark Tower, watching men and women coming and going from the building with a sort of grim purpose and determined resolve in their stride. Those who were more cowardly but perhaps smarter immediately phoned family and left town, not willing to get caught up in another crisis. Those who were braver but perhaps more stupid stayed and kept watch, observing the activity that never seemed to cease no matter what time of day within Tony Stark's home.
Some people whispered of another invasion, some insisted on a government conspiracy, and still others scoffed and brushed everything off as a hoax.
There were warnings put out of course, of a terrorist attack that might hit Manhattan. People were to stay indoors as much as possible and if they heard an alarm, they were to vacate their homes and head underground, to the subway stations, cellars, anywhere that wasn't above ground.
Some heeded the advice and prices soared when store owners noticed all the extra food people were buying, but others didn't, and sometimes, they would find a man with brown hair dressed all in black staring bleakly at them as they joked about the paranoia, or a woman shaking her head and wearing a resigned expression as they laughed at the people returning to their driveways with bags of canned foods, or another man with black hair, features hard as he watched them make fun of the broadcasts on TVs in shop windows or restaurants, or even a blond with anger lining his face as they gossiped about the latest news on the media and did nothing about it. They never stopped to tell them off or challenge them on their views though, hurrying by with a sense of purpose around them as they glanced up at the sky from time to time. Most surprisingly of all, even Tony Stark stepped out in a press conference, confirming the terrorist warning on television and pressing for all of them to heed it. Some did, some didn't.
The days passed and when the worst finally struck, those who were alive in the aftermath would remember the forewarning and think if only.
Two weeks before Thanos would attack, Jarvis cheerfully informed them of Thor's return, and Tony gladly let him in. It was one of the rare times that the Avengers were all assembled at Stark Tower, and Thor was greeted warmly as he stepped into the penthouse, hammer in hand and a worried expression on his face.
"Loki told me of Thanos," Thor said after the greetings were finished. "What can I do to help?"
The demigod was filled in, telling them in return of Loki's sentence. His brother had been stripped of his magic for the present, though still free to roam Asgard as long as a guard was with him. All things considered, it wasn't a very harsh sentence at all.
"He says hello," Thor added to Harry. "Something about decent conversation and being stuck on a planet with nothing but simpletons who are only good for swinging weapons."
Harry bit back a chuckle as Tony snorted.
"He sounds like a charming guy to hang out with," Tony decided. "Remind me to send him flowers when all this blows over. Maybe it'll brighten his mood."
Nothing on Loki was further enquired, and Natasha quickly picked out some clothes for Thor to change into so he wouldn't stand out as much before they led him out on a tour of Manhattan, pointing out the weapons and defenses they had set up all over the city, now cloaked with Harry's magic so no one would see them or bump into them.
Hopefully, she explained. This would include Thanos.
With Thor's return, the Avengers were fully assembled once again, and as the invasion drew closer, every one of them as well as SHIELD threw themselves into preparation for war. Attack plans were drawn up by Steve, perimeters were scouted by Clint and Natasha, the strongest of weaponry SHIELD had to offer were checked over by Tony, any new technology that could help but were still being tested were advanced by Bruce, shelters cloaked with Harry's magic and built around subway stations and even sewers were reinforced with metal ore from Asgard by Thor, and everything, from weapons to shelters to Stark Tower and the Helicarrier, were all meticulously strengthened by Harry.
"We might lose," Tony remarked one night during one of the rare times they could rest. The billionaire was sitting out on the porch with Harry perched on the railing as everyone else was getting some shuteye. Pepper and the other employees had been flown out to D.C. yesterday, even though Pepper had tried to refuse.
"We might," Harry agreed sombrely. "But we have to think we'll win or we'll be defeated before Thanos even shows up."
Tony nodded silently, swirling the beer he was drinking in one hand. "Well," He said at last, tossing a smirk in Harry's direction. "I'm not dying until I get all your secrets from you. I'll find out eventually."
Harry rolled his eyes at him, idly reading the label on his own beer. "You probably will. But I'm not saying anything anytime soon so you better keep your promise."
Tony nodded and raised his bottle for a toast. The clink of the two beers was loud in the night air but it rang of promise and resolve.
"Big Ugly will regret ever putting a toe on Earth. If nothing else, we'll make sure of that."
Finished! Complete! Look out for the sequel I'll be posting in a couple days.
Chapter 16: AN
Finding Home Sequel - Falling Skies