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Harry Potter and the Aftermath

Story: Harry Potter and the Aftermath


Storylink: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8282970/1/
Category: Harry Potter + Avengers Crossover
Genre: Adventure/Friendship
Author: CJaMes12
Authorlink: https://www.fanfiction.net/u/2638541/
Last updated: 10/29/2014
Words: 92726
Rating: T
Status: Complete
Content: Chapter 1 to 22 of 22 chapters
Source: FanFiction.net

Summary: Who can walk away from a title like 'The Master of Death?
*Chapter 1*: Prologue
Disclaimer: I own none of the characters in this story, they all belong to thier relevant creators

Harry looked across the crowd before him. He stood before them on the shore of Hogwarts Lake, next to the memorial
that bore the names of all those that had fallen in the war. A brilliant white, glowing orange in the setting sun, it was a
testament to all those who'd given their lives battling against Voldemort. Harry was watching their family and friends, all
of whom were waiting for him to speak. He'd had a speech prepared, but the words seemed contrived now that he was
actually standing in front of those meant to receive them. Hermione was sitting in the front row, leaning against Ron, her
eyes imploring him to speak, her eyes flicking down to his pocket, which she knew contained his plan. Ron in turn was
with his family, Ginny by his elbow and Percy beside her. George sat between his parents, having been pulled into a side
hug by his father, his hard eyes set on the dais on which Harry stood. He recognised other faces in the crowd; Neville
Longbottom, determinedly meeting Harry's eyes and giving a small nod, the look mirrored his Grandmothers; Luna
Lovegood, one hand holding her father's, who refused to look at Harry; Lavender Brown, her eyes red, sat between her
parents; Seamus Finnegan; Dean Thomas; the list went on, all war torn, all sat with their families and all waiting for him
to speak. His gaze travelled from the crowd, past the tent in the distance which had been housing all those who hadn't
returned to their homes after the war. The tent had been necessary as the castle's integrity could be called into question,
large chunks having been ripped from the towers by giants, dust and debris still scattered throughout the corridors from
ricocheting curses and flung objects. Hogwarts stood, bedraggled but proud, upon its hill, the remaining towers shining
against the blue sky. From this distance he could barely see the damage inflicted during the final battle, the missing tip
of a tower here, a blown out chunk there and it looked like there had never been a south tower. Harry lowered his eyes
from his beloved home and opened his mouth to speak.

"The war is over. After many long years of fear and fighting, Voldemort is dead and this could not have been done if it
wasn't for those who laid down their lives for us. We have all lost someone, whether they are friends or family, as they
gave their lives so that we should live in peace. So we shall remember them, and thank them as they have given us the
foundation for peace and we can honour their memories by building upon this to create the world they fought for."

There was a quiet, hundreds of eyes upon him, many of them damp or crying and could think of nothing else to say.
Luckily, McGonagall took a step forward from behind him.

"Let's all have a moment of silence to remember those lost to us." She announced in her lilting accent and silence
ensued, disturbed only by the sound of waves lapping the gravel shore.

That evening Harry sat on his bed in Ron's room, his roommate suspiciously absent with Hermione. He was glad for his
absence though. It gave him time to examine the objects that had appeared in his possession two nights previously. He
unfastened the clasp of the mokeskin bag that Hagrid had given to him and pulled from its depths the wand on the stone
that had returned to him. He'd been emptying out his pockets before bed two nights previously and found next to his
phoenix wand, Draco's wand and the remnants of the diadem, the Resurrection Stone and the Elder Wand. Ron had
been stumbling about behind him and Harry had instinctively hid the items in the pouch. He now examined the cracked
stone and crooked wand, both of which he had hid with the intention for them never to be disturbed. Magic had a different
plan apparently. He knew instinctively that they would continue to return to him, he was the Master of Death after all. A title
like that had to have other repercussions.

The repercussions themselves didn't become obvious until several years later. In the meantime, they decided to travel
for a while themselves, to escape the wizarding world and the stragglers of the war. They went with Hermione to
Australia and while she spent time with her parents, they rented a small house in Sydney, giving her space and time to
talk with them. Much to her relief, they understood, and welcomed her back, inviting her to stay for a while. She joined
them a month later, happier than she'd been in a long time. Her parents had decided to stay in Australia but made their
daughter to promise to keep in touch, waving them off at the airport. They flew to America and stayed for a while in some
of the major cities, DC, LA, New York. It had been mostly down to Hermione and Harry to explain to the others the
Workings of the Muggle world, apparently, the Weasley's found it more interesting when it wasn't their father trying to
explain it.

Hermione revealed a whole other side to herself, insofar as none of them knew that she'd been continuing to study
Muggle science in the holidays, alongside magic.

"It's just fascinating." She told them as she dragged them through a convention she'd seen advertised in New York, "just
what can be managed without magic." Ron did his best to appear unimpressed, but he eventually admitted that
Hermione may have a point. Ginny had shaken her head, sharing a smile with Harry before heading towards a display
on Astrology.

"Where's she gone now?" Ron complained, scanning the crowd for Hermione while Harry looked around bemusedly,
eyes settling on Ginny who was listening to a scientist discuss his star charts with an intense look of interest on her
face. He nearly fell over when Ron grabbed his arm and began to drag him through the throng of people. He looked
where Ron was headed and spotted Hermione talking animatedly to a man by a display on the finer points of Nuclear
Physics. She spotted the pair of them.

"Oh, Ron, Harry. This is Bruce, he knows quite a lot on the 'Microscopic Origin of Quantum Chaos in Rotational Damping'
theory. We were just discussing it."

"Er..." was Ron's intelligent response. Harry on the other hand looked up at the guy, and held out his hand.

"Nice to meet you."

"Um, yeah, you too." Bruce looked apprehensively between the three of them, leaving Harry with the feeling that there was
as strong likely hood that Hermione had been steamrollering over him in her excitement over this branch of Physics.

"Yeah, I'm afraid I have no idea what she was talking about," Harry admitted with a straight face and Hermione blushed.
Bruce put his hand back in his pocket and replied,

"Well I've got a paper on it due by the end of term, so..."

Harry nodded. "Makes sense then. I'm afraid science was never in my repertoire." Bruce looked around the fair obviously
and raised an eyebrow, so Harry continued; "Hermione dragged us here. It was her turn to choose."

He nodded and then Neville said from beside him, "Harry you've got to see this. It's really cool!"

And so Harry bid his goodbye to Hermione's new acquaintance and followed Neville to the far side of the building, far
away from the nuclear physics to a piece on the finer points of aerodynamic flying, most specifically in planes.

"Flight without magic," Neville grinned, he had been one of the more impressed by the plane they'd used to fly there, "it is
really amazing, isn't it?"
*Chapter 2*: Prologue II
AN: Essentially, this is the second half of the prologue, thinking that it may be too long I split it. However, after
recieving some advice (Thank You Lydia-Hood) I've decided to post the rest now. I plan to keep up with chapters of a
decent length, so I will probably only post once a week, and because of various commitments (ie holidays) not at all
in August and early September. I have been overwhelmed by the alerts so far, and now feel the pressure of
producing something worth the interest currently shown. I hope this chapter lives up to any expectations, hopefully
it will set a clearer premise.

Thank you for the reviews so far.

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

All in all, they seemed to be recovering from the war. At least during the day, in the sun, it could almost be seen as a
distant past, a dream, the shadows, spells and blood seeming unrealistic under the bright summer sun. At night
however, the slept fitfully, often coming together in the early hours of the morning to talk over hot chocolates in the
communal lounge. Harry's were often accompanied by phantom pains in his scar which vanished moments after he
woke up, leaving him feeling shaken and disoriented. To their surprise, Neville actually had it worse than as they'd
expected, but they soon realised that his blasé descriptions of the Carrow's punishments hadn't actually scratched the
surface of what had really happened. They went through it together however which seemed to lighten the load and
Hermione's excessive research into PTSD and other such conditions that there was 'light at the end of the tunnel' so to
speak. They couldn't keep bouncing around living off Harry and Neville's inheritance forever however and they returned to
England back to their lives, feeling overall a lot more light hearted than they had when they'd left.

Harry, Ron and Hermione were streamlined into the Ministry, Harry and Ron trouncing the Auror exams while Hermione
went into the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, much to Ron's amusement. Neville
decided to continue studying and entered into a Herbology course while Luna and Ginny returned to a refurbished
Hogwarts to finish their education.

He told Ron and Hermione about the Hallows pretty soon after their return and was right in his guesses about their
reactions. Both were annoyed that he'd kept it from them, "Isn't what we went through together worth a little honesty
mate?" before Hermione started worrying for him and the implications while Ron played the part of stoic best mate,
making wise cracks about possible outcomes and the title itself to lighten the mood.

For the first few years, a fair portion of Harry's work was devoted to rounding up Death Eaters that had evaded demise
during the Final Battle. Those that had been captured required trial many of which Harry testified in, each with a severe
sense of satisfaction. He settled into his job, finding the decreasing list of known Death Eaters decreasing cathartic.

He started a relationship with Ginny once she left Hogwarts, just before she was signed to be a chaser for the Holyhead
Harpies while Luna decided to explore the world for at least a couple more years before settling into anything.

A year later, Harry attended Ron and Hermione's wedding as best man, grinning broadly as Mr Granger walked his
daughter down the aisle to where Ron was fidgeting with his cufflinks, an early gift from Hermione that she'd found in
DC. Hermione looked beautiful in a simply designed, fitted dress with a train and veil, the back laced as one would a
corset. The dress would have meant nothing though, had she not been radiating happiness, her smile transforming her
as she walked the aisle. They were married outside, in the late afternoon in early August. There was a full turnout.

Pretty soon after that, Hermione changed departments at the ministry, much to Harry's consternation. She had already
worked wonders in regards to both House Elf and Goblin rights, making herself a recognised name in several circles.
She transferred into the Department for the Study and Application of Obscure and Unusual Artefacts, a fairly unknown but
surprisingly active department. Harry was surprised to hear how many different types of jobs Hermione was called for,
especially after she worked her way to the top of the food chain. She even interacted with the Muggle world on occasion,
they found just as many odd items and Hermione often went to identify whether they were under the Ministry's
jurisdiction, if so she would claim them and if not possibly stay to help identify them.

Her reasons for her transferral became apparent a year later. Four years after the Battle, Harry looked into the mirror and
realised that he hadn't aged a day. In examination of his friends, he could see that they had all changed, their faces
leaner, their bone structure more prominent, their stances emanating the air of someone older. Whereas Harry looked
just as he had at the memorial service all those years ago. And it was becoming noticeable. Hermione admitted to
having noticed a while ago and that she was studying what she could about the Hallows and other objects which
interfered with growth but was coming up empty.
Pretty soon after that he broke it off with Ginny. How could he justify being in a relationship with someone who would
grow old while he didn't? Sure there wasn't an age difference now, but before long there would be and what would
happen then? He told Ginny this, quite bluntly and while she protested, he stuck to his guns, stopping her by asking how
it was fair on either of them. She'd cried but accepted it eventually. They kept in touch, but it was awkward.

He stayed at work for another year, but soon, people started asking questions. Not wanting to face the theories and
speculation, or any of the publicity, he quit his post. With his friends support he began to extricate himself from the
wizarding world "You more than anyone," they told him, "deserve a quiet life." So he made an arrangement with Gringotts,
set himself up with Muggle credentials and left for America.

A gaggle of people stood around him by the airport check in, the largest of which was Hagrid, who refused to not see him
off. He ignored the baffled gazes of muggles and wrapped him into one of his trademark bone crushing hugs. The
Weasley's were there, even George who gave him a pat on the back and a bag from Weasley Wizards wheezes before
making way for his wife, Angelina to give Harry a hug. Mr and Mrs Weasly too were present adn Mrs Weasley bustled
around him, checking he had everything adn asking if he was sure. He smiled wryly and assured her that he was,
thanking her for everything. Neville, the newly appointed Herbology professor at Hogwarts had come without his fiancée,
Hannah and stood to the side until Luna pulled him closer to say goodbye properly. Ron gave him a pat on the back and
a travel set of Wizarding Chess, he looked sad but gave Harry a tight hug and a pat on the back before he was mugged
by Hermione who flung herself on him, wishing him luck and promising to continue her research.

"I will find something, I promise."

It was easier, not seeing them age around him while he started into a new life. Harry made sure that he kept in touch
with them, even if it was only by letter. He moved around for a few years, doing odd jobs here and there to earn cash to
support himself. His vault could keep him going for many years had he wanted it to, but he realised that if he continued to
remain the same age, over in the future his account would dry up with no sustenance.

One day, four years after he had left England, he stood a queue at the bank to deposit a cheque. He watched the people
around him, idly going about their lives. There was a shift at the corner of his eye and a man pulled something from
under his coat, held it above his head as two sharp sounds rang out. His actions were mimicked by five others around
the room. Around him people screamed and ducked to the floor, someone grabbing his arm to pull him down with them.
Harry looked up to see the only standing people in the room were the tellers and the six people toting what he now
recognised to be guns.

"Just keep quiet and keep down and none of you will be hurt." The man barked, grinning through balaclava that he'd
pulled over his face. Suddenly the hand on Harry's arm was pulled away and the woman it belonged to squealed as she
was pulled to her feet by one of the robbers who was pointing a gun at her head.

"Stay where you are or I'll shoot her!" her captive shouted, and Harry realised that he'd surged to his feet and was glaring
at the captor. He hadn't even realised that he'd moved. Now, as everyones eyes were upon him he had a moment to
access the situation. HE knew that he couldn't draw his wand, not in a building full of muggles, but a part of him, the very
stupid, Gryffindor part wouldn't let him stand down. So first he had to remove the woman from harm.

"Take me instead. Leave her be." The captor didn't move a muscle, "I'll do what you say."

The man who seemed to be leading the operation turned towards them and took a few casual steps in their direction,
his heels clicking menacingly on the floor. His voice, when he spoke, came silkily, his words dripping with menace.

"Ah, but that's be concession, and concession is weakness." He turned to the room at large, raising his voice, "An
example of why you shouldn't be brave!"

He span quickly and there was a bang. His body shut down the moment the bullet hit his heart. Faster than any spell
he'd encountered, and completely unexpected, he had no chance to avoid it. The blackness consumed him before he hit
the floor.

He came to on the marble floor, his eyes flickering open to look across the monotone stone. HE expected to see the
numerous bodies he knew were sprawled across it. He sat up in surprise when he found the room empty. The room
echoed around him as he stood, looking around. It was the bank, just as he'd left it, including the papers littered across
the floor, dropped by one of the customers, but there was not a soul in sight.

At least there wasn't. A man suddenly appeared in the centre of the room, looking around with a cheery grin painted on
his face. He saw Harry and the grin widened as he raised a gloved hand to pull of the deerstalker cap he wore.

"'Allo."
The man walked towards him, pulling of the brown leather gloves before proffering his hand for Harry to shake. "Good t'
meet ya? Call me Death."

Harry did a double take. "Sorry what?"

The man scrunched his face in understanding, "Yeah, it's a new title. Still settling int' it."

And so Death was Cockney.

Death proved to be cheerfully enigmatic, answering all of Harry's questions, while successfully evading certain details
that he wished to. After teasing him about how it was blatantly obvious that Death wouldn't let its master die, he made it
quite clear that he was skirting around certain topics but refused to delve further into it. One of which most annoyingly
was the subject of how to solve Harry's little problem. Death made it sound as if there was a solution but wouldn't say
more than,

"Now I am afraid that I am not at liberty to tell yeh. You've got ta figure it out for youself."

He put great emphasis on random syllables, and had slung his arm around Harry's shoulder. At Harry's glare, Death's
grin had widened and he patted Harry on the back.

"I think I like you Mr Harry Potter. Lord knows there can be worse Masters. May I be excused?"

Harry realised that he wasn't going to get any more from the man and nodded permitting Death to vanish from sight.

The bank around him faded in a haze to be replaced by blackness and heavy sense of his body as he lay on the cold
floor, surrounded by whimpering people. He opened his eyes to slits, glad that his head had fallen at an angle that gave
him a view of the room as a whole. Then leader had turned away, his follower dragging the woman with him in his wake.

"Tell the police that there is nothing to negotiate!" The man was shouting in the direction of the door, still making sure that
there was an obstacle between him and the window.

"I'm just here to talk." A police representative's tentatively bold voice sounded from out of Harry's line of sight. "There's still
a chance for you to get out of this. You haven't harme-"

"You're a tad late for that spiel," the leader grinned while the captive woman whimpered slightly. The man holding the
woman was must have been a little too confidant at this point, as he was close enough for the negotiator to lunge for the
woman, pulling the gun free and shielding her with his body armour as all hell broke loose.

Shots rang out, shattering glass and clipping or taking out all but the leader who'd moved a moment sooner and ducked
out of the way. He skidded into motion, trying to make a run for it and in a moment, Harry was on his feet. The leader
raised his gun to shoot behind him as he ran, levelling it with the hostages on the floor rather than anyone armed. He
pulled the trigger and instinctively, Harry felt magic leave him, forming metal shields where he aimed, that reverberated
as they reflected the bullets. Luckily for him, the intended victims were turned away, and saw nothing. Harry had barely a
moment to marvel at his wandless magic before the noise brought him back to himself. Bullets continued to fly, but the
leader had taken refuge behind a counter. Harry crept towards him, keeping low to avoid bullets. In the confusion no one
had noticed the fact that a supposedly dead man had risen, but now that he was moving, he was more likely to be
noticed. He got as close to the man as possible without being seen but still with a line of sight and on instinct levelled
his palm and whispered "Stupefy."

A beam of red shot towards the man, covering the foot in a beat. It was barely noticeable but resulted in the man
crumpling to the floor. He moved from the scene quickly, muttering as he went to various people that the man was out for
the count and the word spread until the police, who'd ceased fire when the man had been out of the line of sight, rushed
into the room. At this, Harry made his quiet disappearance. Too many people had seen him shot; he could deposit his
money some other day.

From then he experimented with his wandless magic. It was easier if his wad was on his person at the time, but he was
capable of doing it even when the conduit was nowhere near him. It helped he found to focus on the wand when he cast,
especially when he wasn't holding it in his hand. This resulted in a much subtler form of magic, made identifiable only by
his need to speak the words of the spells when he cast them, except those that he already knew silently, such as
Levicorpus. He did actually call for Death at some point and asked for the logic of having one of the Hallows be a wand,
which was later rendered practically redundant. Death had laughed, clapped Harry on the shoulder and said, "You know,
I never thought of that. Good one."

Ten years after the war, Harry decided to settle for a more reliable job. Not wanting to be tied down in one place, he
settled on a freelance job. His history set him up for law enforcement, leading him to become a PI. It suited him well to
be fair; it allowed him to exercise his 'Saving People Thing' and he could move around in the future, so his age wouldn't
be too noticeable, he could continue to renew his paperwork with updated dates through Gringotts. The goblins were the
height of discretion. He was good at the job, so after his first few cases and word started getting around, clients began to
overlook his age and see merely the results.

He had to start again four years later when he moved to Chicago, but with his more conventional experience, he built his
reputation in certain circles quicker. He did however resign himself to having to set himself up anew every so often. Sure
enough, he moved to cut all of his ties, sooner than he planned as he packed up to move away from his flat. One of the
problems with his system was the contacts necessary to be an effective PI took time to build. But magic made up for a lot
of these shortcomings, and he allowed himself to call his contacts from his old cities as they wouldn't really notice
anything amiss from just his voice.

He apparated from Chicago to land in New York. He looked about the city with a smile and the sense of new beginnings
as he hailed a cab for the nearest estate agents.

AN: Hope it didn't disappoint. I will adapt with constructive criticism.

CJames
*Chapter 3*: When Harry met Tony
A/N I'm not one for massive long Author's notes, but I must say that I've been bowled over by the interest in this
story.I have recieved over two chapters more reviews than I have in any of my other stories, so thank you all. I hipe
this chapter lives up to any and all expectations.

I must thank FrisComyns, who had acted as my Beta reader.

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Despite Harry's growing list of contacts and acquaintances, he lived quite a solitary existence. He realised that his
apparent age unnerved most people as he tended to act older than he looked. Maybe there was a preservation instinct, a
subconscious nag that set him aside as different, close to Death. He didn't mind this though, especially as he kept in
correspondence with his friends. He'd even flown back to England for Neville and Hannah's wedding. He used several
spells while in attendance, to make himself appear older, at Hermione's suggestion, but found them surprisingly tiring
and was relieved when he dropped them later, surrounded by his closest friends. George continued the line of jokes
he'd set up before Harry had left; scooping firewhisky away from him, commenting on his inability to grow a beard in
relation to his maturity... It provided a sense of comfort; he knew his friends accepted him. At the same time, he started
noticing the beginnings of receding hairlines, small wrinkles and changes in them which showed their age, and he
knew that before too long, they would move on, while he would be left behind, alone.

Before he left, Hermione took him aside, pulling him away from the rest of the group who were listening to Luna's
accounts of her travels. He looked into her brown eyes which were scanning him nervously.

"Harry, I'm sorry I've not found anything yet!" her voice rose on the word anything, reminiscent of when they were children
and Hermione was frustrated in her research. He smiled fondly at the throwback to the past.

"It's okay Hermione." And it was, to a degree. While saddening, he'd adjusted to his new way of life and had accepted it.
He didn't want Hermione to feel guilty for something that wasn't her fault.

"No, it-"

"Seriously. I'm getting over it. Besides, I don't know if there's anything you can find. Death might have hinted at something,
but he's being deliberately vague. It seems to be more of a 'he'll let me know when I'm ready', rather than a..." He trailed
off at the look on Hermione's face. "You okay?"

"Death!" she squeaked, her hands over her mouth, "You've seen death?"

"Uh... yeah? Nice chap really. Cockney."

His light hearted response didn't seem to quell her anxiousness however.

"Don't worry I'll tell you everything." He assured her as someone called his name. He was about to rejoin the group when
Hermione grabbed his arm.

"Wait, there was something else. Harry." He looked at her expectantly while she smiled softly.

" Will you be our child's Godfather?"

Harry stared at her for a moment and suddenly the fact that she'd been stroking her stomach throughout the
conversation, which he'd noted but not paid attention to, made sense. He grinned, happy for her, but then her query
registered.

"Are you sure, I mean-"

"Yes I'm sure. Don't be a fool." She sniped affectionately.

He grinned, "Then I'd love to."

Hermione had hugged him, all of her relief and worry transmitted through the action. Ron had cheered and clapped him
on the back with a "good on ya mate". Hermione was teary eyed when he left again, hands folded over her belly.

"Keep yourself out of trouble," she warned him as he went through the barrier at the airport.
"You keep me posted and give me a shout if you need anything," he replied, making no promises.

As it was, he did stay out of trouble, minor cases, a couple of stalkers but nothing he couldn't handle even without use of
his magic.

And as luck would have it, he did make a friend... of sorts.

"This astonishing announcement from the Stark heir-" Harry flicked off the TV, rising to his feet as there was a knock on
his door. He pulled the door open to reveal a man, mid forties, permanent frown line, absentmindedly stroking the
wedding ring on his left hand. Harry figured him to be worried about an affair and stepped aside to let the guy enter
hesitantly. He sat in the proffered chair looking around anxiously before his eyes settled on Harry.

"You're a bit young aren't you?"

"I'm older than I look," Harry stated smoothly as he took his own seat.

The man nodded, still looking unsure, but tied up in his problem. "You were recommended to me by a colleague... Look,
Mr Evans, I'm not a paranoid man. I trust in my wife. Of course I do. But..."

"Some of her actions aren't matching up." Harry filled in for the man only to have him nod wearily, deflating once the
words were out. "Well I can help you there. Can you tell me what makes you suspicious?"

What followed was the stereotypical list, late nights, unaccounted for purchases and tales that didn't sit right. Harry
nodded, taking note of the specifics.

"So can you help me?"

Harry nodded once more, "Yes, I shall do what I can,"

That's what led to Harry entering the Annual Stark Benefit Dinner, shadowing his target, a Mrs Harrow. Mrs Harrow, or
Marie as her husband called her had arrived in a splendid green dress on the arm of a man most definitely not Mr
Harrow. Taking advantage of her husband's business trip, she'd worked off the ring and the man had picked her up from
the doorstep.

Harry had transfigured his clothes into something more suitable for the occasion and made his way in. He could only go
back to his client with absolute proof and while the circumstances were incriminating, they were still explainable. He
watched across the room as they ate together, chatting and laughing. He snapped a picture with one of the tiny camera's
common amongst PI's when they kissed and began to make his way out, job done. Spying wasn't his favourite part of the
job, he definitely preferred the taking down of proper baddies, but Mr Harrow deserved to know.

The electric gadgets he'd bought when he'd started out had originally faulted in the presence of his admittedly powerful
magic. Out of necessity however, as he needed legitimate evidence for his work, he'd learnt to curb his effect on
technology, and only rarely killed a device nowadays. He was nearing the entrance when a voice broke through his
reverie.

"Leaving already? Party a bit dull?"

Harry looked up to see a face he'd come to recognise all too well from the news in the past few weeks. Tony Stark had a
devious smile on his face as he eyed Harry.

Harry floundered for a response momentarily, he didn't have an excuse prepared after all.

"Wha- No. I have-"

Stark clapped a hand on Harry's shoulder, "Nah, I understand. Now I'm gonna go change that. Stick around. Fun's just
starting."

With that Stark left, leaving Harry to continue making his way out of the party, leaving Stark to his benefit.

Stark grinned to himself, and to the world as he tore Hammer to pieces in court. Buoyed by his victory he turned to look
around the courtroom to fully appreciate the admiration of his peers. He looked past Pepper and let his eyes roam over
the crowd recognising people from the different factions who wanted his suit and the reporters that were regularly
assigned to all things him. His gaze lingered over a boy that he knew from somewhere, but not in connection to anything
relevant to the trial. It took him a moment to place the lean face and dark hair, but those green eyes and scar were
distinctive. He could have sworn that the boy, who barely looked to be in his twenties had been at that benefit that
Obadiah had tried to keep him from, over sixth months earlier. The boy met his eyes and grinned in Starks direction,
giving him a lazy salute as he stood and left the room. Tony smirked but then the boy was forgotten in the heat of the
moment as he was surrounded by people asking questions and calling his name. It wasn't too long before they saw
each other again.

"There's a lot more to this whole thing than you think." Harry had told the woman who was currently his client. The
recently fired young scientist had leant forward.

"What do you mean?"

Dana McRow had asked him to research a Justin Hammer, to find proof that she had been fired unjustifiably, based on
some files that she shouldn't have seen. Harry had, in his perusal of information had come across a file of greater
importance, relating to Starks Iron Man project.

"Essentially, the project that you stumbled upon involved more than just Hammer's company."

She'd nodded and gave him information regarding the facilities layout once he explained that he needed to be onsite for
his little doo-hickey to work. Now Harry wasn't and never would be a techie, but he was acquainted with one who'd
adapted a pen drive into a device that'd download the contents of a server in a flash. And it was this that he planned to
use on Hammers network once he found a compatible terminal. He quickly found a suitable room and ducked inside.
He crossed to the desk and turned on the computer. He waited for the login screen before plugging in the drive. He
watched with amusement as various numbers and letters flickered across the screen. He sat back to let the device work
it's magic, completely oblivious to the fighting that was happening across the other side of the facility.

He found out about the battle of that night and Hammers consequent arrest the next day. Regardless, he scoured
through the files and found the evidence for his client. During his search however, he came across several files that
looked as though they had been hacked directly from another server, Starks, apparently. He figured that he might as well
do the man a favour and copied all of these, plus any other Stark related files to a disk to return to the man.

The next day, he rang the bell and found himself admitted into the tower that was the home of Tony Stark. At least, where
he seemed to spend the most time. According to the news, he seemed to travel anywhere and everywhere on a whim.

"Hello, I'm Miss Potts." Stark's ex-CEO greeted him, holding out a hand. Harry shook it with a smile,

"Harry Evans. Sorry for disturbing you, but I have some files belonging to Mr Stark that I wish to return."

Potts eyebrows rose in surprise. "Sorry?"

"I'm a PI, I was asked to look into Hammer Industries and found something's that didn't belong there." He held forward
the disk. "Everything's on here."

"And for what do we owe this Good Samaritan act?" came a voice from above. Stark himself was descending the stairs,
coming up from behind Pepper to look down at Harry with an eyebrow quirked in interest.

"I simply came across it and thought that you might be interested." Harry shrugged and stepped away. "That's me on my
way now."

"You were at the trial." Stark commented.

"So was Hammer, I was keeping track of him. Well played by the way."

"Thanks."

Harry was just about to say goodbye when Tony spoke, "Bit young for a PI, surely?"

"I'm older than I look," came the rehearsed reply.

"Old enough to drink?"

Harry raised a sarcastic eyebrow and nodded slightly. "Why?"

"Come join us for a drink sometime. I'd gladly buy a round for anyone who gets around Hammer."
"Sure." Harry waved good bye and left, not knowing that Stark would indeed chase up the promise and that they'd keep in
contact from then on.

Harry Evans fascinated Tony. The casual PI had dropped into his life; well Tony had forced his way into Evans', believing
that three chance encounters was a sign and the man had proved good company. His dry wit didn't quite match Tony's
own, but was fair competition, especially over a good beer. There were just so many mysteries around the boy. That scar
for instance, he'd asked Harry where he'd got it and he'd made an offhanded remark about a car crash when he was
younger, which Tony didn't buy for one second. No way was such a specific scar a remnant of chance.

Then there was his age. He could claim that he was older than he looked until he was blue but that didn't change the fact
that he was inordinately good at his job, even for a man in his early twenties. There was an aura, for lack of a better word,
around Harry that emitted age, or at least wisdom beyond his years. There were times when Harry thought that Tony
wasn't looking, that his shoulders would fall and an intensely world weary expression would cross his face. And yet there
was a strange... 'goodness' about him. Tony had been around a while, seen the worst in a lot of people from reporters to
competitors. One could probably say that he was jaded. For that reason, Harry's perspective, his Good Samaritan act
bemused him. As a PI, Harry probably saw more of the darker side of life that Tony did but he still maintained his strange
morality that could be labelled as naivety. It probably would be, if not for Harry's matter of fact assessments of the cities
under life.

The boy was incredibly lonely, Tony realised. He didn't seem to talk to many people outside of his job aside from Tony
and occasionally Pepper. He found this strange; he remembered fondly his times around that age, the parties, the girls,
the drinking... Not that Harry showed even the slightest interest in any of those things. The Brit's isolation had been
another factor that piqued Tony's interest, almost seeing it as a challenge to make Harry enjoy company.

Harry was always careful to avoid publicity. Tony being Tony, he was often surrounded by reporters and fans, but
whenever they popped up, Harry seemed to melt away, sometimes with a quick whispered farewell, but often without.
When questioned on it, Harry had grimaced and asked how Tony could stand it.

"The appraisal and pretty girls? What's to stand?"

Harry had shaken his head and muttered something about "Each to their own," and continued his filing, a process which
Tony had rather rudely interrupted when he unabashedly flounced in and plonked himself down on Harry's desk.

Tony had found a picture album tucked into one of Harry's shelves while Evans was in the kitchen. There was a collection
of Harry with the same five people next to different landmarks around the world. They appeared to be happy, but
something was wrong with the pictures, Tony couldn't quite put his finger on it. While he flicked through the album, he
kept looking about him; sure that someone was watching him. There were pictures from weddings that Tony skimmed
over, noting that they appeared to be of Harry's friend's older siblings.

Before the holiday pictures came two pictures that stood out from the other. They were quite serious looking pictures,
group shots, each with at least thirty people in each. One of them was set in a grand stone room and filled with what
could only be students at a school, all in uniform. Harry was in the centre, looking younger than he was now. Tony spotted
the other five in the picture, two of them, the brown haired girl and the red headed boy by his shoulder, the other three set
further away, amongst the others. All of them shared a grim determined air that unsettled Tony, especially as it came from
children.

The other was a collection of adults, Harry stood to the side this time, under the arm of a man with shaggy black hair and
a boundless grin. His red headed friend was there as well, along with what could only be his family, all of them with
flaming hair and awkward smiles. The other people in the picture were a mismatched bunch, one of them even
appearing to be wearing an extremely old fashioned version of a false eye.

He heard Harry returning from the kitchen and quickly replaced the album. He straightened quickly when Harry entered,
making it look as if he'd been examining a strange bronze spinning top lying on the counter.

One night, after he'd been at a party that had been liberal with alcohol, he'd had the fantastic idea to drop by Harry's. He
had to say, after breaking into the flat with the key Harry provided him with a few weeks previously; finding one of his few
friends in the throes of a pretty violent nightmare was extremely sobering. The drunken haze had slipped away as he
rushed forward to shake Harry awake. The boy woke, and sat up quick as a shot, making to attack Tony. Tony had ducked,
looking back to see Harry's green eyes, still hazy with the dream, even as they stared back.

"Wha- Tony? What are you doing here?"

"Thought I'd come and annoy you, and you repay me by lashing out. Are you okay?"
Harry had frowned at him for a moment as he registered his question before nodding his head and making to get out of
the bed. "Fine. Bad dream. "

"No shit Sherlock."

Harry chuckled as he left the room, shadowed by Tony.

"And why would I be grateful of you annoying me?"

Tony merely scoffed while Harry made a beeline for the kitchen and poured himself a glass of water. He offered a glass
in turn to Tony who accepted it, suddenly aware of the sandpaper that had taken up residence in his mouth.

"So, want to talk about it?"

Harry raised an eyebrow in Tony's direction. He appeared to be considering it before saying, "Nah. All's good."

Tony opened his mouth to complain before Harry cut across him, "You tell me your nightmares and I'll tell you mine." This
effectively shut Tony up. How Harry could know about the dreams of his imprisonment he didn't know. Maybe the lad
made an educated guess? Either way, Tony didn't want to talk about it. He got the point Harry was trying to get across
though. Everyone was entitled to their own privacy. For now at any rate. Tony would get Harry to spill eventually.

That's when he noticed the scar. Scars, plural. Wearing a short sleeved baggy shirt with a low collar, Tony could see
marks that had been hidden until now. Two stood out, a large oval appeared to have been branded onto his chest, next to
a knotted scar that looked reminiscent of a bite. Both looked old, but must have been incredibly painful. Most worrying
however was the long, thick line that travelled down his wrist. It couldn't have been self inflicted... Harry didn't seem like
the type. But that was now. There may have been a time in the past that Harry had felt the need to. The thought of such
action repulsed Tony but he couldn't stop the possibility from nagging at his mind.

Harry saw where Tony was looking and smiled grimly. "It's not as bad as it looks. I'm just incredibly clumsy."

Tony raised an eyebrow. "Clumsy. That's what you're going with?"

Harry pointed at the bite mark, "Pissed off snake," the oval, "hot coal," and then his wrist, "crazy guy with a knife. I just
have a lot of bad luck."

Tony didn't know whether to believe him. There was one scar that remained unaccounted for. One that Tony had noticed
pretty soon after he'd met Harry, but he'd never felt it the right time to ask. Tony wasn't known for his tact, but even he
found it awkward to try and slip in the question, "So why'd you have 'I must not tell lies' carved into the back of your hand"
into casual conversation. But this had drifted outside the realm of casual.

"And the back of your hand?" Tony asked over the rim of his glass before taking a sip.

Harry looked down at the writing before his mouth twisted into a smirk, "A pretty sadistic teacher." He shrugged at the
look of surprise that slipped through Tony's carefully placed mask. "She's been dealt with."

That statement piqued Tony's interest, but Harry's tone said that that was where the topic ended and one thing that Tony
had learnt about his friend was that Harry could be extremely bloody minded when he wanted to be.

There continued to be a mystery around Harry, though Tony believed that he knew him better than most. He hesitated in
just throwing the intrigue out of the window by doing a thorough search on him through Jarvis, he had a feeling that Harry
would react badly to such an intrusion of privacy and Tony, to his surprise, found himself unwilling to risk it. Good friends
were hard to come by, and in the past few months, that was exactly what Harry had become.

He invited Harry to the opening celebration for his new Eco-Friendly tower, but strangely, the man never showed. He put
off flying into action for as long as possible, but Harry remained absent, and out of contact. Everything was in place
however and he need to go ahead that night, or waste a fair sum of money, but the celebration felt off as Tony was left to
wonder.

A/N People have enquired about the timeline for the story, so here's a brief idea, I must confess to moving the battle
of Hogwarts forwards a few years to that the timelines would mesh,

1992- Battle of Hogwarts

-Meets Younger Bruce later that year


1997- Harry leaves Wizarding World

2002- Harry becomes a PI in LA

2006- Harry moves to Chicago

2009- Harry moves to New York

2010- Iron Man

-Harry meets Tony for first time at Benefit

2012- Avengers and now up to date.

I hope that this answers any questions amd makes sense.

CJames
*Chapter 4*: Saving Hermione Weasley
A/N, I must say that I have been blown away by the interest shown in this story. Thanks for all who have reviewed,
and kudos to the guest who just sent me a smilie; it made me grin.

To those who have asked, this story will not be slash. I've always been a fan of canon pairings, so unless the slash is
canon, I tend to steer clear. That said, I did mess up Harry and Ginny...

Disclaimer: None of the characters are mine, even the plot is starting to stray into that of Joss Whedons.

No sooner had Harry entered his office then there was a tapping at the window. Harry crossed into his study and saw a
small auburn owl perched outside on the ledge. He slid the window open allowing the bird to hop inside, a scroll of
parchment tied to its leg. The bird stared at Harry, proffering its leg. Harry untied the letter, stroking its smart plumage
before digging into a drawer for the owl treats that he kept for just such an occasion. Leaving the owl to munch happily on
its prize Harry broke the seal and read his mail.

Dear Harry,
I just writing to tell you that I have b een called to America for a research project as a ministry representative . As I'm in the
neighb ourhood I thought I'd drop b y, you could show me around New York and we could catch up. Send Rapier b ack
with a note, I should b e wrapped up here in a couple of days. I hope to see you then.
Hermione.

Harry smiled to himself. He ran the dates through his head. Tony's tower opening was the day after tomorrow; Hermione
would be arriving after that. That just meant he had to clear his schedule for the following weeks, probably stay away
from Tony. Hermione looked old enough to be his mother, and even Tony would find their firm friendship strange, and
Tony was nothing if not curious.
He quickly scribbled a reply and tied it to Rapier who'd been waiting patiently. The owl gave a low hoot and swept out the
window into the night sky. Harry watched him vanish before remembering the tip that was the apartment above his office.
He had a few days to sort it or face the disapproval of one Hermione Weasley.

Hermione Weasley nee Granger examined the cube with amazement. It rippled with blue energy, not unlike that of a
Patronus. It wasn't magic; she had known that the minute that she'd seen it. She could feel its power, but she couldn't tap
it. It evaded her efforts, shifting like fog in a breeze.

"We're inclined to think that it has a personality," commented the scientist who'd greeted her, a Dr Eric Selvig, a man truly
enthusiastic about his work.

"Oh, definitely, " Hermione breathed as she stood, eyes still upon the cube, "but while I am fascinated, it's outside of my
area of speciality." She looked back at Selvig, "If possible, could you please keep me up to date with anything you
discover. It truly is amazing."

Eric bobbed his head, "Of course. This leads me to ask however, what is your speciality?"

Hermione smiled, "I afraid most of it is classified, but we can discuss what I can over food, if you want."

A grin lit up her fellow scientists face, "I'd love to."

Together they left the warehouse-style lab. Before walking from the room, Hermione took one last look around the room,
taking in the scurrying scientists and their armed guards, including interestingly enough, a man sitting on a walkway at
the far side of the room, watching. She passed her gaze over the Tesseract one last time before turning and following
Selvig from the room.

Eric, who he invited her to call him, proved to be interesting conversationalist. He indulged her questions, placing a few
of his own which she answered to the best of her ability. It was a shame when their conversation was interrupted by
Eric's pager, waiving it he smiled apologetically,

"Sorry, Director calls."

She nodded and bade him farewell. It was after a few minutes of picking at her food that she realised it had grown cold
during their talk and the already unappetizing food was now inedible. She grimaced and turned her thoughts to her
upcoming plans.
She would leave tomorrow and apparate to New York as soon as she was out of military sight. Her partner, Cadman,
would take her notes back to England for her, so that was all sorted. Having determined that the cube was nothing to do
with them, they were withdrawing from the project. She'd checked with Cadman before coming to the dining room, and
he agreed with her.

Hermione had begun to doubt that her research would ever turn up something to help Harry. Fifteen years, and still
nothing. Not that she wasn't enjoying her job, she loved the puzzles and the travelling, but she continue to feel
disappointed. Harry had done so much for her, for all the Wizarding World, and she couldn't help him with this one little
thing. He seemed to be enjoying his life in America though, he'd seemed so happy, so much more relaxed at the
Wedding, and his subsequent visits to see his Goddaughter, Rose.

Suddenly alarms started to blare, pulling her from her reverie. Everyone around her sprang into life, the higher ranking
starting to bark orders over the shrill wailing. The next five minutes was chaos. Hermione helped by shift metal
briefcases to an armoured vehicle before being advised to evacuate with the others civilian scientists.

Hermione nodded when the colonel gave her the direction, but then found herself torn between running and helping.
Evidently, Harry's 'saving people thing' had rubbed off on her. Being a key player of the Wizarding War had left her with a
sense of responsibility. She could at least help ensure the other scientists got out. For members of a military agency,
they seemed unprepared for the emergency evacuation. She began to weave through the crowd towards the Tesseract
room, coming across a room of freaked scientists on her way. They were trying to appear unperturbed, but their actions
were strained, fumbling with their equipment as they tried to pack it away.

Hermione took charge, calming them and getting them out of the room. They were fleeing towards the exit; they were
nearly there when an explosion rocked the base. Hermione twisted to see the tunnel behind them cascading towards
them. The roof above collapsed, she never had time to draw her wand.

"Dammit."

Harry threw his coat onto his sofa as he made a beeline to his bedroom to change into fresh clothes. His client's
entrapped wife had thrown a tantrum, tipping the contents of a neighbouring diners plate over him. While he'd managed
to get most of the solids off his shirt, that didn't change the fact that spaghetti cabonara sauce was a bugger to get out of
cotton. Not to mention he was running late. He was supposed to have been at Tony's ten minutes ago. He could send a
text as he left.

He'd just ripped his filthy shirt off when he felt the back of his neck prickling. He paused, trying to pinpoint the cause of
his discomfort. The needles pain spread to his gut, bringing with it a deep sense of unease.

He was just pulling a fresh shirt over his head when it hit him. A blazing pain shot through him, erupting from the centre
of his chest and spreading across his torso.

It was gone as soon as it struck him, leaving him doubled over and breathing hard, a lingering sense of 'wrongness'.
What the hell- Just as he was beginning to get over the first wave, another blasted through him and drove him to his
knees. He rested his head on his bed as he tried to collect himself, his breathing strained. The only thing that he could
liken the pain to was his scar, when Voldemort was at his angryist, but the horcux was gone, the connection dormant.

It was something to do with the Hallows. He couldn't pinpoint exactly where that certainty came from, but he knew it to be
true. He stood shakily.

"Death." He said, or tried to. His voice came out croaky, breaking towards the end. He tried again, louder, "Death"

"I heard ya the first time."

Harry turned to Death who looked more serious than Harry had ever seen him.

Death had come without his coat, dressed instead in all black, the only colour in the Morris-patterned waistcoat he
sported.

"What was that?" Harry got out through gritted teeth, still shaking from the aftermath of the pain.

"Unnatural," was Death's enigmatic reply, his dark eyes trained on Harry's. He didn't wait for Harry to complain at the
briefness of the reply before he continued, "Someone, or something, is defiling the laws of nature."

"And because of the whole Master of Death thing..." Harry gestured to himself,
"You are more attuned to it. Correct." Death's eyes were narrowed, and for the first time, Harry could see the usually
cheery gentleman as who he purported to be.

"What can I do, what can you do?"

"You could go hunt down the thing and do something about it, I on the other hand, find myself surprisingly useless. He is
twisting nature and as a part of nature, without a truly corporeal form, I find myself... ineffectual."

"So how can I do anything?"

"You control my power. But you have a physical form to back it up. Not to mention your remarkably strong magical ability."
He smiled wryly, "At least you're trying to be proactive."

"Are you kidding, that hurt like hell! The sooner I put a stop to it the better."

Death nodded at Harry's implication, "I can give you advice."

"Harry!"

Ron's voice took Harry by surprise and he swivelled to look into his living room. It was lit with a flickering glow that hadn't
been there before. Harry spared a glance to Death whose gaze was in turn trained on the firelight.

"Harry!"

Ron's voice, tinged with fear spurred Harry into action. He sped into the room and knelt by the fire, meeting the gaze of
his old friend, whose head sat in the fire.

"Thank Merlin, Harry, you're here. Where's Hermione?"

Harry frowned at Ron's tone, worry starting to worm into him.

"She's working for the ministry isn't she? She didn't tell me where. Why?"

"The clock Harry, the clock! She's in trouble!"

With a flash, Harry remembered the clock that Mrs Weasley used to have hanging in kitchen that told the conditions of the
family members. He vaguely recalled seeing a similar one in Ron's house.

"What's it say?" Harry asked urgently

"Mortal Peril." The words cracked as they were spoken, Ron's despair apparent on his face.

"Do you know where she is?"

Ron shook his head, "Just that she's in America. What can we do Harry?"

The gears were whirring in Harry's head and clicked as an idea struck him. A coincidence was just too unlikely,
especially as Hermione was in the States to study a possibly magical artefact. He glanced at Death who seemed to also
have come to this conclusion as he nodded.

"Look, Ron, hold tight. I'll contact you soon. Don't worry. "Harry paused, weighing his words, "I'll find her." "He muttered as
he grabbed his jacket. "I can follow this feeling, whatever it is. Track it."

Ron nodded and vanished while Harry surged to his feet.

"I need to find her,

"It's moved. " Death informed him, "I doubt Hermione would have moved with it."

"But I can figure it out."

Death nodded and gave him a casual salute as Harry span out of his apartment, out of New York. Once out of sight of
civilisation, he pinpointed the direction from which the uneasiness came and began to apparate, instinctively gauging
the distance. Flying would have taken too long.

He undershot, but the feeling had increased tenfold with proximity, and he knew he was close. He apparated again, a
shorter distance, but now he could see lights and a fire. He ran towards the lights and could make out ambulances and
medical helicopters as he got closer. As he ran he pulled his invisibility cloak from the pouch at his belt and slung it over
his shoulders, flipping the hood up to conceal him completely.

It was turmoil, people running and shouting, machines trying to shift debris, bodies being pulled from the wreckage
which proved to be a large crater. Harry slipped through the scene, looking for something, anything of Hermione. Then he
saw it, a flash of familiar bushy hair. He ran after the gurney, his eyes upon Hermione's battered face, blood caking the
side of her face, her hair coming loose from its careful ponytail. Her eyes were closed and a paramedic was putting an
oxygen mask over her face as she was loaded into a helicopter.

"We're good to go," a man yelled from inside the copter as the door slid closed and men began to evacuate to give it
room to take off. Harry too was driven back as the blades began to beat the air. He barely waited before it was safe
before taking to the skies, trailing behind the aircraft.

He landed next to the hospital that the helicopter landed at and stowed his broom away, back in the extended mokeskin
purse. He watched the traffic coming to and from the building for a moment before making his decision. He sent off a
message Patronus, barely pausing to watch it streak across the sky before shedding his cloak. He tucked it away with
the other Hallows before crossing the street and entering the hospital.

It didn't take him long to find the ER. He was disallowed entry and was told to wait, they'd keep him informed. He fidgeted
in his seat, tempted just to pull the cloak back out and sneak in, but the fragility of muggle medicine held him back. He
didn't want to complicate things accidentally, for anyone in the ER whom he may accidentally contaminate.

And so he was stuck, sitting, twiddling his thumbs in the waiting room. He'd been there and hour, his mind racing, trying
to figure out what he knew in regards to this foreign power, taking in the damage at the site and possible motives, but he
didn't have anywhere near enough information. He was growling in frustration when he heard someone call his name.

"Harry!"

He looked up from the floor to see Ron charging down the corridor, looking dishevelled and sooty, he'd clearly rushed a
floo trip. Harry stood to greet him and was enveloped in a quick hug before he was held at arm's length.

"In your message, you said- do we know anything?"

Harry shook his head, "Not yet. It shouldn't be long."

Ron sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Mum's got Rosie. I couldn't bring her. Not if it's..." he left the sentence trail
off, looking worriedly towards the ER.

Harry placed a placatory hand on his oldest friend's shoulder, "Don't worry, she can visit when Hermione's awake and
transferred to St Mungo's. "

Ron slumped next to Harry, "What actually happened?"

"I don't know." Harry murmured, "But I'll find out."

Hermione was moved to a ward a few hours later and allowed visitors. Ron was at his wife's side in an instant, while
Harry hung back to talk with the Doctor.

"What's her condition?"

The Doctor threw a look towards the bed's occupant before turning to Harry, "She's in better shape than some of the
others from the same sinkhole site. There was a minor skull fracture, but aside from a possible concussion there
should be no further repercussions. Her left shin was also fractured, and there were numerous contusions, but our
worry is for two of her lower ribs. They were broken in the fall and we worried that in may have torn some of her internal
organs. We had to go in and remove some of the floating fragments. They've been bound, but recovery will be painful and
take at least six weeks. We've got her on pain medication for now; it may be a few hours before she wakes up."

Harry nodded, "Thanks Doctor."

The man nodded and left, heading back into the ER to treat another patient. Harry relayed the information to Ron, who
nodded but never took his eyes off of his wife. Harry shifted a chair so his friend could sit down without releasing her
hand.

He was still holding it three hours later, even as tiredness overcame him and his head drooped onto Hermione's bed.
The hospital was quiet, it was late at night and the turmoil from earlier had calmed and was under control. For the past
few hours of worry, something had been nagging at Harry's mind. He'd passed it off to be the fact that he was in a
hospital, death in the air. Harry was lucky insofar as he wasn't tuned into every death that occurred, that would be torture.
But when in close proximity to those dying, part of him was aware of the passings. However, again, unless he focussed
on it, it was a mere buzzing in the background.

This wasn't the cause for his unease however. In a flash of realisation, he remembered. Tony. Merlin, he was way too late
for his opening night. With everything... he'd just completely forgotten. He glanced at the time, it was probably too late...
But then again, Tony would have been celebrating, and he had no qualms about waking Harry up at any godforsaken
hour of the night.

Looking at the no cell phone sign, he left the room and walked out of the hospital. He pulled the phone from his pocket
and switched it on. He'd kept it off during his client meeting, out of politeness, and then in the kerfuffle off the spilled food
and his rush home, he'd forgotten to turn it on again. He dialled Tony and got passed onto Jarvis.

"Mr Evans, we were worried. Good to hear from you."

"Ah, Jarvis. Thanks, umm, how's Tony?"

"Working, he was given some important files to look over. Shall I send you through?"

"Um, no. Don't bother I wouldn't want to disturb him. Look something came up, don't expect me to come by for a few
days. Just tell Tony when he's finished whatever he's doing."

"Of course. Good night Mr Evans."

"Harry, please."

"Harry." The A.I acknowledged.

"Good night."

Harry hung up, turning off his phone and pocketing it as he walked back into the hospital.

When he entered the room, he was surprised to see that Ron was awake and on his feet, leaning over the bed. He
turned to Harry, grinning.

"She woke up!" He looked back at Hermione, whose eyes were now closed, "At least, she was awake. But that's good,
right!"

Harry smiled, "Yes Ron."

"We can look into a transfer as soon as she's capable of travel."

Harry nodded, but part of him was annoyed that he'd missed Hermione's moment of lucidity. He couldn't do anything
about the culprit until he knew what happened, and Hermione was his best bet on that score.

Early that morning, Ron had fallen back asleep; there was a knock at the door. Harry, who'd been tied up in thought s of
what he needed to figure out, looked up to see a man, some sort of suited official, standing in the entrance.

"Hello, sorry for disturbing you, I'm Agent Coulson, from S.H.I.E.L.D." He proffered a hand, which Harry rose to shake.

"Harry Evans, PI. Can I help you?"

Coulson looked across to Hermione, "I was coming to check on Dr Weasley, she was under our facilities jurisdiction
after all."

Harry sharpened at that, "She looks like she'll pull through. What happened?"

Coulson's eyes were shielded as he replied, "An extremely unfortunate accident, a review is being conducted as we
speak." Harry stopped himself from narrowing his eyes; it wouldn't do to show that he didn't believe a word coming out of
the Agent's mouth.

"I am curious though," Coulson continued, "How did you hear about the incident so quickly, we hadn't contacted family
before you showed up."
Harry found himself on guard, mind whirring as he came up with a plausible reason.

"Hermione and Ron were coming to visit me after her stint of work over here. I was in the city when the medical vehicles
began to stream in; someone mentioned a government facility, so I thought I'd check it out. When I found out, I called Ron
and he came straight from the hotel."

"Very lucky." Coulson commented.

"It'd have been luckier if it hadn't happened at all." Harry stated, levelling his gaze with Coulsons.

"Of course," the agent conceded, "Of course, we'll cover the medical costs. Have a good day Mr Evans."

Harry nodded, "You too."

Agent Coulson left the room, leaving Harry with a distinct sense of unease.

It wasn't until early afternoon that Hermione came round again, lucid enough to give information. Harry had spent the day
as runner for Ron, getting food and drink, calling Death to discuss further the attacker. Unfortunately, they drew blanks,
leaving Hermione as Harry's best option to proceed. If push came to shove, he'd track down Coulson, but he didn't see
the man being particularly forthcoming with information and Harry didn't want to force the information out of him unless
he had no other option.

"Harry?"

Harry turned and saw Hermione's clear eyes focussed on him and he rushed forward grinning. He shook Ron awake,
and the red head exclaimed excitedly, buzzing with relief.

"I need to ask you something." Harry said, cutting through Ron's chatter, "What actually happened?"

Hermione frowned, "I'm not entirely sure... Self destruct sequence... I think... The base was ... breached." Her voice was
quiet and sore and she took deep breaths, her brow wrinkled as she tried to remember. "That's all I can tell you."

Harry scowled, that wasn't nearly enough to go on, "Was there anything unusual there. A weapon? Something someone
may have broken in for?"

His tone was urgent and Ron looked as though he was about to bring Harry up on it but Hermione spoke first.

"Well, it's not a ...weapon, but someone may... have wanted it... I was there to study... It's called a Tesseract... source of
energy... not magic though. Wait, Eric... is Eric okay?"

A Tesseract? "I don't know any Eric I'm afraid. I could ask for you. Can you tell me anything else?"

Hermione shook her head and Harry sighed, "You just rest then." He looked at Ron who was tucking a strand of loose
hair behind her ear, Harry was determined to find the ones responsible for this, for the more personal reason of
vengeance now, over just duty.

Just then, a flash ran through him. Whatever the unnatural technology was, it had just been used again. Much further
away, barely a tickle at the back of his mind, but he caught the feeling and focussed on it. He could track it.

"Harry?"

His emotions had obviously been showing on his face as his two friends were looking at him curiously. He brought
himself to the present and nodded in their direction.

"I've got to go. Work on getting better, okay Hermione?"

"Wait, but-"

"No, this is something I need to do. Don't worry. Just... get better."

With that he left the room, pausing only to give a casual wave. He tried to ignore the concern on his friend's faces as he
wove his way through the medical staff and patients, making his way out of the hospital. Once outside, he pulled the
cloak on and began his chain of apparations.

After two jumps, he came to the East coast. He was only now appreciating all of the travelling in his younger days;
apparating was so much easier if you knew something about where you were apparating to. However, jumping over the
sea was risky, even Voldemort had had to fly a good distance over it to get close enough to apparate to Malfoy mansion,
all those years ago.

However, Harry had the Elder wand. It boosted the rest of his magic, why should this be any different. He pulled the wand
and its holster from the bag and strapped it to his arm, physical contact made the magic so much easier, took a deep
breath and spun on the spot.

A/N I'm afraid I'm off on holiday now, so updating from now on will be sporadic.
*Chapter 5*: Where Harry Dares
A/N Thanks to my Beta, Fris Comyns, for all the work she's done to get this and my previous chapters presentable.

Disclaimer: I own none of the characters.

He gasped for air upon arriving in... Germany, looking at the street name, Königstraβe, King Street, he thought. It'd been a
while since he'd been in Germany. He turned on the spot, looking around at the bright shop fronts, taking in the cars
flashing past and the people walking around him. It was a minor miracle that no one appeared to have noticed his
arrival; his cloak didn't hide the crack of apparition. That was when he heard the screams. Some of the people around
him reacted, but most ducked their heads and continued along their way.

The nagging feeling was nearly overpowering, and only grew stronger as he ran through the crowd. He skidded to a halt
when he saw what they were running from. A group of people were on their knees, surrounded by figures holding a
glowing sceptre. Each of these was a copy of one man, he realised, their features clouded and less defined than the
original that was stalking amongst the kneeling people, revelling in his power.

He was dressed in green and black robes, bound with leather armour and a helmet with large horns that curled into the
sky, reminiscent of the sacred bulls of Egypt. It was without a doubt one of the weirdest outfits he'd ever seen, and he'd
witnessed wizard's attempts at dressing as muggles.

"You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel."

The man was good, telegraphing his power, his sly charisma reminiscent of Voldermort's when he was gathering men
to his side, especially after Harry's 'death'. Like Voldermort, this man radiated power, but not magic. This man's power
came not from this worlds magic, nor was it the energy that had been disturbing Harry. No. That effect was coming from
the staff in the man's hand. It glowed a mysterious blue that seemed to reverberate through him, creating a sense that
Harry couldn't put into words. Though Harry had to wonder why the oppressor was continuing in English, considering the
fact that they were in Germany.

And as there had been all those years ago, there was a dissenter. An old man stood slowly, glaring at the man,

"Not to men like you."

Neville's defiance of Voldemort leapt to Harry's mind and respect for this man surged through Harry just as he realised
that he'd been standing for too long. He'd paused to allow himself to assess the situation, but now he ran the risk of
losing a life, as the elderly man continued to defy his captor.

The crowd was too packed for him to risk apparating, so he began to run. Luckily for him, this man was going to do
another Voldemort and try to make an example, and as a result, draw out his attack. Not knowing the type of his new
enemies magic, he didn't want to risk throwing spells directly at him, not when surrounded by civilians.

He wasn't going to be there in time. He raised a palm with the intent of throwing a protego in the old man's direction. The
sceptre was in line with the elderly gentleman and a blast of blue light erupted from the end, simultaneously sending a
spike of awareness through Harry.

"Pro-"

Before he could finish the spell, a figure in blue and red had leapt in front of the gentleman and the blue light ricocheted
off the large circular shield he was holding. It bore a pattern reminiscent of the American flag and was angled in such a
way that the blast was deflected straight back at the attacker.

"You know, the last time I was in Germany and saw a man standing above everybody else, we ended up disagreeing."
The man was dressed in a blue body suit that was clearly to make a statement judging by the mutterings that ran around
the crowd.

"The soldier-"the attempted oppressor started to say, but Harry took the opportunity the moment his clones vanished to
start shifting civilians out of the line of fire. The soldier seemed to know what was going on and Harry wasn't bigheaded
enough to believe that he needed to be in the limelight to be useful.

He pulled off his cloak and started pulling people to their feet as an aircraft he didn't recognise descended over them,
something that looked suspiciously like a weapon folded from its underbelly. The people around him ran where he
directed them as an announcement echoed around the square,

"Loki, drop the weapon and stand down."

Loki. Like the Norse god. At least now he had a name for the guy. Loki shot another blast at the ship and members of the
crowd ducked and stumbled. They started running again as the two figures began to fight again. Harry had just reached
the side of the ederly rebel who seemed unable to move quickly when the American was knocked to the ground. Harry
raised his palm to shoot a stunner in Loki's direction but the American surged to his feet and continued on. From then
on, Harry couldn't risk shooting without hitting the soldier. He was a good shot, but he didn't want to risk taking out the
one who could reliably fight Loki. He still didn't know how their magic's would react when pitted against each other.

The square was now clear but for Harry and the warring two, not including the aircraft, which wasn't technically in the
square. Just then, music began to blast through speakers, echoing through the air, some modern muggle rock that
Harry didn't recognise. Then he saw a flash of red and it suddenly made sense. The music was so Tony. Oh Dammit!
Tony!

"Make a move reindeer games." Harry's friend said to Loki who raised his hands and allowed his outfit to flicker away to
the somewhat normal clothes he had underneath. It wasn't a form of magic Harry recognised.

Loki had dropped the sceptre and Harry found his eyes drawn to it. That was the cause of the accident that had hurt
Hermione and was making Death and by extension, Harry, uneasy. He'd barely taken a step towards it when,

"Harry?"

He looked away from the blue glow up into Tony's face. He'd pulled the mask back, giving Harry a full view of his frown.

"Ah, Tony!"

Harry knew that the nonchalant tone was pointless, considering, but it slipped out. He needed to find out what he could
about what was going on, but not say anything about the whole wizarding thing. Like that was going to be possible.

"What are you doing here?" Tony's eyes were narrowed as they scanned Harry who in turn became acutely aware that he
was wearing day old clothes and feeling fairly ruffled from the constant apparitions over the past 24 hours.

"You know him?" asked the soldier, coming over after depositing a restrained Loki at the landed aircraft with a woman
who was now guiding him inside it.

Tony didn't answer but raised an eyebrow, indicating that he was waiting for an answer. Harry toyed with saying
something about being there for the Gala that was being advertised on the building behind them but knew that that
wouldn't hold any water. And Tony's tone gave weight to the implied seriousness of the situation and his worry. So,
something closer to the truth.

"My friend is in hospital because of him." He pointed in Loki's direction. "I want to know what's going on."

"And you just managed to catch up to him in Stuttgart?" asked Tony, incredulously.

Harry shrugged, "Well that's my job, isn't it? "

Tony was revving up to snipe back when the soldier spoke again.

"Tony?"

"Evan's a PI. He's a friend." Tony muttered. Last name terms, that wasn't a positive sign.

"In Germany?" the soldier's incredulous reaction seemed to annoy Tony,

"Yes, yes, we've done that. Keep up." He stated, fluttering his hand in a dismissive gesture.

"You two, we've got to head back." Called the woman from the aircraft.

"Look, can I come with?" Harry asked, stepping forwards. He needed to keep up with the sceptre, find out what it was
and most likely destroy it.

"No." Tony said, in unison with the soldier, much to the latter's apparent surprise.

"It's not safe." Tony growled looking down on Harry, the extra few inches the suit gave him emphasizing the height
difference between the two of them. Even the soldier was two heads taller than him.

"You're a civilian." The soldier added, "I'm sorry for your friend."

"We," Tony pointed between himself and Harry, "Need to have a talk. Later. Not least about how you managed to fly to
Germany at a moment's notice."

With that Tony stomped towards the craft, followed by the soldier who threw a look back at Harry. Harry watched after
them as they paused on the ramp to talk to the red head whose eyes were narrowed at Harry. Harry met her gaze, sliding
his hands into his pockets as he debated his next course of action. He could track the sceptre again, but with it not in
use, he didn't know if he would be able to trace it as easily. He could fly behind the craft, but he didn't know how far they
were going and that could be uncomfortable, especially as there was a storm in the air. Then again, the inside the craft
itself was cramped. There was no way he could hide in there in his invisibility cloak and not be noticed. All it would take
would be one of them stretching and he would be at risk of being jostled. So flying it was.

Harry stood watching the craft as Tony and his companion walked up the ramp, turning to look back at Harry. Harry met
his gaze and held it as the ramp closed, knowing that he had to wait before moving. He stood in the centre of the plaza,
watching the craft as it took off, the rotors creating winds that tore at his clothes.

As the wind died down, he walked away, taking note of the direction that it was flying in before ducking around a corner.
He pulled on the cloak and rooted out his firebolt, shooting up into the sky a moment later. The cloak rippled around him,
but while the invisibility wasn't perfect, it provided the basic cover he needed. It was less likely that someone would spot
bits of a person on a broomstick than they would a whole person on a broomstick.

He caught up to the craft, letting it cruise a hundred metres ahead as he settled in for what would likely be a very boring,
cold and by the look of those storm clouds, wet ride. Sure enough, from the moment they hit the clouds, he was soaked,
a quickly spelled Impervious keeping his glasses clear. He stayed high; he figured that the all encompassing
dampness was better than being pelted by rain, but soon lightning began to flash through the sky, giving him second
thoughts.

He swooped lower, breaking through the cloud cover in time to see a large object hurtling from the craft. His seekers
eyes managed to pick out what looked like two figures, one was definitely Loki, sans staff. A moment later, in a flash of
red, Tony, followed, his jetting flares standing out in the dark as he shot after Loki. Harry hesitated. The staff was still on
board the craft, he could just keep on course to finish what he was there to do. On the other hand, he may be able to help
Tony, who knows what may have flown off with Loki.

He forced the nose of his broom around and shot after his friend, following the lights from his suit. He came down past a
rocky crag, spotting Loki standing, looking out over the edge into the surrounding forest. Tony was nowhere to be seen.
The uneasy feeling that Harry had had last time he'd been in close vicinity to the man was gone; it appeared to be tied to
the sceptre.

"Stupefy." He muttered as he flew past, slowing only to make sure that he collapsed; there was no point leaving him with
an opportunity to escape. He could wake him before Tony came back that way. He flew over the forest and spotted Tony
standing in a clearing, his visor raised. A few metres away stood another man, tall, broad and dressed strangely for
muggles. Power radiated from him, similar to that of Loki's but with subtle differences.

Harry landed as Tony slid his visor down, causing his next words to come out robotically,

"Stay out of the way. Tourist."

Of course Tony would try to anger the guy further. The power built around Tony's opponent as he raised a large hammer
that Harry hadn't noticed before and threw it at Tony.

"Repulso!" Harry whispered quickly, pointing his palm at the hammer, sending it over Tony's shoulder into a large tree.
The wood splintered upon impact with a resounding crash; it was a miracle that the tree remained standing. Goodness
knows what would have happened if it had hit Tony, even if he was wearing his 'all powerful' armour.

The other man threw his gaze around wildly, settling unnervingly close to where Harry stood. Tony on the other hand was
staring at his opponent in disbelief.

"Really! And I thought Pepper was a crap shot." He raised his hand, a whine filling the air, "Let me show you how it's
done."

The beam shot from Tony's palm, burning across the clearing and hitting the other man who was still distractedly looking
in Harry's direction. Tony flew at him, kicking and punching. The man took the hits, raising his arms to block them before
he found an opening and hit back. Tony was sent backwards, allowing the man the opportunity to summon the hammer.
It flew back across the clearing, only narrowly missing Tony. Harry raised his hand again, but the man acted first. He
pointed the hammer to the heavens, acting as a lightning rod as lightning came from the skies, striking the hammer
before shooting off on a tangent at Tony.

It struck him, blue sparks rippling across his armour. Harry swore, and made to attack but Tony didn't seem to be
detrimentally effected. In fact the lights in his chest and eyes appeared to be shining brighter than before.

"How 'bout that." Said Tony, his voice leaking that smug grin he often wore, before flying once more at the other man;
quite possibly Thor, taking into account Loki, and their similarities, the fact that he had a hammer and used lightning and
what details he could remember from past lectures from Hermione regarding Norse Mythology. It seemed the best fit.

Harry, who hadn't dismounted his broom, flew after them, deciding to watch from a distance as they tumbled across a
cliff. He didn't want to risk hitting Tony, besides he was holding his own. The hammer didn't actually seem to be doing
much damage to Tony; he'd taken several hits by this point and seemed relatively unharmed. The same could not be
said for their surroundings.

Harry hovered over the carnage, watching the pair have at it, knocking each other around a newly man made clearing.
Movement out of the corner of his eye attracted his attention and he saw the soldier from before parachuting into the
woods.

He vanished under the tree cover and Harry scanned the area for movement. A moment later there was a blur of colour
as the soldiers shield shot across the clearing, hitting Thor and ricocheting into Tony before flying back to the soldier.

"That's enough you two!"

The soldiers' voice brooked no argument as he jumped into the clearing, echoing up to Harry. His next words were
inaudible but directed at Thor. They conversed, but whatever was said obviously didn't impress the Norseman as he
struck Tony swiftly with his hammer, sending him flying. Harry swooped closer as Thor leapt at the soldier, his hammer
poised to strike. The soldier ducked behind his shield as Harry prepared to intervene.

The hammer struck the shield, Harry was too slow, and an explosion of force washed over him, sending him tumbling
backwards and away, higher into the air. It took all of his attention to keep his grip on the shaft of his broom.

He regained control, several hundred meters higher than before, shaking his head to clear it. He began to dive before
seeing Tony take to the air, followed shortly by Thor. It appeared that they'd made up and were headed back to Loki. Harry
diverted his dive and went to Loki, still unconscious where Harry had left him. One quick Enervate later and Harry
retreated as he watched the soldier pull a bemused Loki to his feet in order to take him back into custody. Loki's eyes
scanned his surroundings before turning in Harry's direction. Harry's insides twisted, could he see through the cloak?
No. His eyes weren't looking at him as much as through him. He knew someone was there. And so did Thor, if his
glances in Harry's general area were anything to go by. He was able to sense their power, it wasn't too much of a stretch
to imagine them able to sense his.

He trailed after them, resigning himself to another long stretch of flight with little to do but ponder how rusty his reactions
had become in such a high paced situation.

Harry was beginning to feel the last two night's lack of sleep. With his worry over Hermione and his tracking of the
sceptre, he hadn't had a chance to rest and he was becoming more aware of this as time passed and the adrenaline in
his system had long since gone. That was when a large shape broke through the clouds in front of him.

Harry couldn't help but stare in amazement. He always found himself impressed by muggles and their ways around their
lack of magic. Tony's tower in itself fascinated him. But this, this was something else entirely. It was a floating facility.
Held aloft by propellers, it put all other aircraft to shame. He knew enough about physics from Tony to understand the
forces at work on the structure and the power needed to keep it aloft.

The smaller craft landed on its roof and Harry touched down a moment later, just as the ramp was being lowered and
the inhabitants descended to be met by a contingent of soldiers. Loki was traded and the sceptre taken by another man
who slipped away while Loki was secured. Tony made his way to a door into the larger craft, followed shortly by the
soldier, the woman and after some hesitation Thor, who kept throwing glances at Loki before he was ushered from the
deck.

Amongst the armed escort, none of them noticed the door stayed open a moment longer than it should have done. Harry
stood in the corridor, watching Loki being led away. In such close vicinity, Harry could feel the sceptre, Loki was being led
in a similar direction to it, so Harry followed the men further into the complex.

They passed rooms with windows, filled with faces watching the prisoner on his walk of shame. And then, in one of the
rooms, the door opened and a man carrying the sceptre entered the lab. That was his destination. He broke off trailing
Loki and followed a corridor that looked like it should head in the right direction.

As an obviously military facility, there was a certain logic to its layout, and so, Harry found himself directly by the lab door,
just as the delivery boy was leaving it.

Harry caught the door and let himself into the room. And there was the sceptre, sat on the table at the far end of the room.
A man was bowed over it, examining it closely. Harry came up to it, as close as he could be without touching the man,
focussing on the sceptres power. He shivered, repulsed by the intrinsic nature of the sceptre, and what it's power was
being used for.

"Dr Banner sir?"

Harry took a quick step back to avoid the man, Dr Banner, as he straightened and turned in response to the speakers
call.

"Yes?"

"Director Fury wants you all assembled on the bridge."

Banner nodded. "I suppose he would. Thanks."

The other man inclined his head and left the room. Banner took one last, studious look at the sceptre before following
him out of the lab. This was his chance, Harry could take the sceptre and be done.

"For how long have Warlocks been immortal?"

Harry spun on the spot. He hadn't even heard the man's entrance which seemed impossible, Thor wasn't a small man.
He was standing in the door, having caught it before it had swung shut after Banner, looking in Harry's general direction
before taking a step forward, a grin on his face.

"My people have not been in contact with yours in many years, it is good to meet you friend."

Harry didn't speak, his mind whirring as he tried to think of a way out of this situation. He was painfully aware of the
cameras trained around the room as he went through his options.

Thor frowned, "I know you are there friend, why do you not reveal yourself?"

"I'd rather not be caught on camera." Harry admitted carefully.

"The recording devices?" Thor asked uncertainly, "Why do you not wish to be seen? I thought you were here to help. You
assisted the man of iron earlier."

"I am I suppose," Harry mused, "But I'm not here for the same reasons as the others."

"You have the same goal though." Thor asserted, "To protect your world from damage regarding the tesseract."

The what-? "Uh, yes?" That wasn't the sceptre was it? Harry didn't think so. HE probably shouldn't act until he knew all of
the facts

"Then you should reveal yourself." stated Thor confidently.

"It's not quite as simple as that." Harry muttered.

Thor frowned, "If you wish to be any use in this fight, then they need to know that you are here to fight with them. A team
cannot function well if it doesn't have all the information. This is common knowledge amongst soldiers."

Harry grimaced. That was true. He knew as much from his days as an auror. That still didn't change the fact that he had
to be careful.

"I understand-"
"If you are unwilling to reveal yourself, how can I be sure of your intentions? I will tell them myself." Thor warned.

"No! You don't have to do that. I will. Just give me a bit to figure everything out. "

Thor nodded, smiling once more, "That I shall. Now I was called, I must be going." He made to walk from the room.

"Er, wait a moment." Harry called after him, "Er, the immortal thing, how did you-?"

Thor shrugged, "Age hangs about a person as a mantle. Yours has seen many more years than most on Midgard and
Asguard."

Unknown to Thor, Harry frowned. Even though he looked to be 19, he was only 39 years old. That wasn't beond the
realms of normal for a human. It must have something to do with Death itself. "Erm, any chance you could keep the
'immortal' thing quiet. It's just, well, it isn't normal for wizards, and it's kind of... personal."

Thor seemed to consider it before, "Of course friend, I can understand. Now I must take my leave."

And with that the god left, leaving Harry quite bemused. He'd seen a lot in his career but that was new.

Realising that he needed to know more about the situation he currently found himself in, he left the room, throwing one
last look back at the sceptre, before heading after Thor to eavesdrop on their meeting.

A/N Thanks for all the support so far.


*Chapter 6*: The Usual Avengers
A/N

I altered something in Thor's conversation with Harryin the last chapter that was grating at me. It isn't anything
major, it is refernced in this chapter however, so for continuityk I thought I should point it out.

This chapter was actually a bugger to write, I may come back and rework it in the future, but for now I hope that it
goes over well. If I have missed any glaring grammar or spelling errors in my troubleshooting feel free to point them
out. Enjoy.

Disclaimer: Don't own any of this.

Harry trailed after Thor, who in turn followed one of the ships personnel who'd been waiting for the Asgardian at the end
of the corridor. After a few minutes of navigating the complex's corridors they came to a sliding door which opened to
admit Thor and his guide. Harry darted forward quickly to get through the door which closed smoothly behind him.

He was standing on a platform which looked onto rows of computers, their operators buzzing around them. Beyond that
was a great expanse of glass, disrupted by a hexagonal frame structure, that looked out into the dark sky

He was standing on a platform which looked onto rows of computers, their operators buzzing around them. Beyond that
was a great expanse of glass, disrupted by a hexagonal frame structure, which looked out into the dark sky. Closest to
him, in the centre of the platform was a large round table around which stood faces that he recognised. Sat at opposite
sides of the table were the red head and the Soldier. Banner stood between them, behind a chair, his arms crossed, his
attention on a screen lying on the table. Or one of several screens. At each seat there was a screen, each showing the
same picture of Loki, standing in a cube of glass and metal, a fancy cage. Thor barely glanced at the screen before he
averted his gaze, choosing instead to stare out of one of the nearby windows. Harry stood beside him, his attention,
however, was on the closest screen.

"We thought you'd want to be present." a woman commented from her place next to the biggest and only horizontal
screen showing the camera feed on the platform. Thor nodded but kept his gaze trained on the black glass.

"In case it's unclear,"

The deep voice came from speakers around the room while Harry watched the dark skinned man face Loki. Broad-set,
in a long black coat and eye patch, the man radiated power, much like Kingsley; Harry suspected that he was in charge
on this vessel.

"You try to escape- you so much as scratch that glass-"

The man push a button on the console next to him and Harry's eyes widened as with a whirring, the floor beneath the cell
folded away. A whistling came through the speakers as the microphones picked up the wind that the aircraft was cutting
through.

"Thirty thousand feet straight down in a steel trap. You get how that works?"

The man held Loki's gaze for a moment longer, gesturing to the control panel for emphasis before he hit a button to
close the hole.

"Ant. Boot."

"It's an impressive cage." Loki's voice was silky and for some reason unnerved Harry, who'd now edged closer to the
screen to get a better look. "Not b uilt for me I think."

"Built for something a lot stronger that you."

Banner stiffened, drawing Harry's attention. He glanced at the man, puzzled before Loki spoke again, in that tone
reminiscent of Draco, one that had always made Harry want to hit the blonde boy.

"Oh, I've heard. A mindless b east, makes play he's still a man."

The red head turned her head to look at Banner and Harry looked between them, intrigued. The doctor met her glance
with a quick self deprecating smile before looking back at the screen, but Harry could read the tension in him, despite
his casual manner.

So this man, like the others; Tony, Thor and the Captain, was special. A beast masquerading as a man so, a werewolf?
Or something along those lines. People like that were often misunderstood, he'd heard many of Hermione's rants in
regards to their rights, it would explain some of the personnel's actions around the man, he'd noticed that they seemed
to be slightly more on edge in his vicinity. But that cage... if that was dropped with a person inside it, that would be
devastating. The idea of inflicting such a fate upon a person purely for being a shifter unsettled Harry and caused him to
look at the people around him in a new light. He looked back at Banner. Just how willingly was he involved in
proceedings?

This could also mean that the red-head had some sort of ability as well, in theory. On the other hand, she was the only
one dressed in the same uniform as other military personnel, so perhaps not. He looked back at the screen to realise
that he'd missed the guy's response. Loki was now talking again.

"Ooh. It b urns you to have come so close, to have the Tesseract, to have power- unlimited power, and for what? A warm
light for all of mankind to share? And then to b e reminded what real power is."

Harry frowned, Loki's words stirred something in the back of his mind, but he couldn't pinpoint what.

"Well, let me know if 'real power' wants a magazine or something."

Harry watched Fury leave the room, his mind whirring. Around him, the other room's occupants began to stir.

"He really grows on you doesn't he?" Banner said to the room at large looking about at his companions.

"Loki's going to draw this out so," the soldier drew his eyes from the screen to look through Harry at Thor. Even after all
these years, the whole thing was somewhat unnerving, "Thor, what's his play?"

Thor continued to look out the window as he replied, "He has an army, called the Chitauri." He turned to look at the
others, sparing Harry a glance as he went, "They are not of Asguard or of any world known. He means to lead them
against your people. They will win him the Earth, in return I expect for the Tesseract."

"An army. From out of space." Harry couldn't tell whether or not he was detecting cynicism in the soldiers' tone or not, but
he himself found himself slightly shocked. But then again, what right does he, a figure who by muggle beliefs shouldn't
exist, have to argue against aliens?

Banner took off his glasses and folded them up as he addressed his word to the soldier, who appeared to be the leader
here, "He's building himself another portal. That's what he need Eric Selvig for." The doctor gestured towards Thor but
the statement rang bells for Harry as well. Didn't Hermione ask him about an 'Eric'? what were the chances that this was
the same man. Knowing his luck, higher than average.

Thor also perked up at the mention of the name, "Selvig?"

"He's an astrophysicist," Banner clarified.

"He's a friend," Thor countered.

"Loki has him under some form of mind control. Some kind of spell. Along with one of ours." The red head added. Mind
control? Like the imperius curse? Or something to do with this twisting of nature he was here to investigate. However it
was done then, it was even more 'unforgivable' than the mind curse. It's not as if he was aware of every time that
particular spell was cast.

"I wanna know why Loki let us take him. He's not leading an army from here." The soldier cast a cursory glance around
the room, to exaggerate his point. Which was a very good one.

"Look, I don't think you should be focussing on Loki." contributed Banner, "That guys brain is a bag of cats. You can smell
crazy on him."

Harry let a wry grin cross his face, reminded for some inexorable reason of Mrs Figgs. Thor was less impressed though
as he took an offended step forwards.

"Have care how you speak! Loki is beyond reason but he is of Asguard and he is my brother."

"He killed eighty people in two days," the redhead commented blandly, rolling her eyes to look up at Thor who thought for
a moment before replying carefully.
"He's adopted."

"I think it's about the mechanics." Banner asserted, "Irridium. What do they need the irridium for?"

Movement caught Harry's eye and he froze as he saw Tony, complete with suit, saunter through the door and into the
room, just in time to cut over Banners words.

"It's a stabilizing agent." Tony then turned his attention to the man next to him whom Harry recognised as Agent Coulson
and muttered something to him about flying him somewhere. Coulson replied and Tony conceded that it was the other
man's love life before he turned his attention back to the room at large. "Which he needs, so the portal wont collapse
itself like it did as S.H.I.E.L.D."

He made a placating gesture at Thor, "No hard feelings big fella, you've got a mean swing." He pated the man on the arm
before walking on. Harry had to move to avoid his friend as he strutted to the edge of the platform as he continued, "Also,
means that the portal can open as wide and stay open as long as Loki wants."

He gave an order to the people at the terminals and they stopped to look at him.

"That man is playing Gallagah!" he exclaimed, pointing to a man on the far side of the room. "Thought we wouldn't notice,
but we did." He added at a lower volume, cavalierly eyeing the screens. Before frowning and covering one eye.

"How does Fury even see these?" He asked the agent to Harry's right, pointing to the screens closest to the covered eye.

"He turns." supplied the Agent in a matter of fact tone.

"Sounds exhausting."

Harry rolled his eyes, the whole thing was so typically Tony, the whole 'cock of the walk' attitude, commanding the
attention of the room. Fury must be the man who'd been interviewing Loki.

He fiddled with something on the screens, not looking at the audience that he knew were hanging on to every word.

"The rest of the raw materials he can get his hands on, pretty easily. The only major component he needs is a power
source of high energy density. Something to…" He clicked his fingers, "Kick start the cube."

"When did you become an expert in thermonuclear astrophysics?" the agent asked cynically.

"Last night." Tony replied and when he got a confused look he continued, "The packet. Selvig's notes. The extraction
theory papers? Am I the only one who did the reading!?" He asked in disbelief of the room. Of course his serious
demeanour wouldn't hold for long.

"Does Loki need any particular kind of power source?" asked the soldier, having turned his charit to follow Tony as he
strolled around the room.

It was Banner who answered however, still fiddling with his glasses, "He'd have to heat the cube to a hundred and twenty
million kelvin just to break through the cooling barrier."

Tony directed his 'that's-obvious-class-how-couldn't-you-know-that' attitude to the others and countered, "Unless Selvig
has figured out how to stabilize the Quantum tunnelling effect."

"Well if he could do that, he could achieve heavy ion fusion at any reactor on the planet." Banner replied, stepping in
Tony's direction.

"Finally, "Tony exclaimed, striding towards Banner, "Someone who speaks English.", Holding out his hand for the other
scientist to shake.

"Is that what just happened?" asked the soldier.

Harry was inclined to agree with him, he'd been lost the moment 'kelvin' had been brought in to the conversation. He took
comfort in the fact that should he ever have to enter into a discussion in the uses of murtlap essence, Tony would be just
as lost as he was.

"It's good to meet you Doctor, "Tony greeted, "Your work on anti-electron collisions is unparalleled. And I'm a huge fan of
the way you lose control and turn into a enormous green rage monster."

Green rage monster? That was new, and obviously the reason for all of the sidelong looks from the red head.
Banner didn't seem to know quite what to make of Tony's words but settled on a "Thanks."

"Dr Banner is only here to check the cube." Stated the man from the interview, Fury, as he strode into the room. "I was
hoping you might join him."

The two scientists looked at each other appraisingly while the soldier spoke,

"What about that stick? It may be magical, but it works an awful lot like a HYDRA weapon."

The stick had power, yes, but it wasn't anything like magic.

"I don't know about that, "Fury replied, "But it is powered by the cube. 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?" asked Thor, "I do not understand."

"I do!" exclaimed the soldier excitedly. The others exchanged glances while he shifted slightly. "I understood that
reference."

"Shall we play doctor?" asked Tony.

Bruce nodded and gestured out the door Harry had come through, "This way sir."

Harry watched his friend leave the room, trying to decide what to do next. His decision was made for him as Thor
stepped past him, muttering, "With me."

Harry followed him out of the room only to be shooed down a side corridor where threre weren't any people. The
Asguardian turned on him.

"Do you not plan to reveal yourself?"

"Erm," Harry hadn't considered it. On one hand, he now knew that he had to stick around until they found the cube, in that
he was useless. He could only track it through use and it was fairly dormant at the moment, just a faint prickling at the
back of his mind. And point me spells were only good if you were in a close vicinity. He also wasn't looking forward to
Tony finding out about his presence on board.

"There is nothing trustworthy about a man who hides in the shadows." Thor remarked, a brusqueness to his tone that
didn't bode well for the man keeping his secret. Thor fixed his gaze a foot or so above Harry's head. Although not directly
pointed at him, it had the desired effect. Plus it was probably better for him to reveal himself rather than have it done for
him.

"Fine." Sighed Harry. "Lead the way."

A triumphant grin spread across Thor's face as he bowed his head and brushed past Harry back onto the bridge. He
paused before entering the room to remove his cloak; there was no need for him to pull an appearing act, no point in
unduly startling the armed soldiers; and tucked it away.

He was hidden by Thor's bulk as the Asgardian spoke to the room beyond.

"We have another ally in the search for the Tesseract."

Thor half-turned to look back at Harry, still smiling. Now that he was visible, was incredibly conscious of how diminutive
he was compared to the big man. As predicted, the military personnel, basically the agent and the red head had their
weapons out. The soldier came to his feet in surprise, his body tensed for action. His eyes widened in recognition after a
moment and his mouth opened in an 'o' of surprise. Coulson had the least obvious reaction, surprise appearing on his
face only temporarily before being replaced by what looked like self-satisfaction before that was in turn was covered by
an impassive neutral expression.

"Wha- You're Stark's friend!"

Harry gave an awkward wave, "Yeah, that's me. Nice to see you again."

"How'd you get on the carrier." Spat the red head, her weapon still trained on Harry.

"Uhm-"
"How about," Coulson smoothly overrode whatever answer Harry was going to formulate, "we page the others. I think
Stark especially will want to hear this. You can lower your weapons."

The women did, albeit hesitantly while the soldier remained standing.

"Please do take a seat." Coulson gestured towards the table, before speaking into his earpiece, summoning Stark,
Banner and Fury to the bridge.

Harry knew what was coming, but that didn't make him any less nervous as he waited for Tony to show up. He didn't think
that the man would take kindly to finding out that his friend had kept such a massive thing from him for the past few
months. Tony was his friend, the only one to reach out to him once he'd essentially isolated himself. He hadn't known
him as long as say, Hermione or Ron, but he really liked him what with his snarky wit and eccentric personality. And now
this fundamental secret risked destroying everything. But he needed to get to the Tesseract and this was the best option
all around. Hopefully he and Tony could work past it, Merlin knows Tony was stubborn enough to get to know Harry, the
least he deserved in return was the same persistence to keep it going.

It suddenly hit him that while he considered Tony a friend, he was just another person to watch grow old and sooner or
later die. And that's how it would always be. Feeling like he'd been punched in the stomach, he contemplated anew his
immortality and the relationships that he could form, all of the ups and downs and the futility of them. It had hurt enough
to lose his friends in the war, could he really stand doing the same for the rest of his abnormal life?

On the other hand, what if he adapted? Got used to losing those he loved. What sort of monster would he be, to look
upon the loss of life with indifference?

While Harry wallowed, the silence in the room was deafening, no one moving as they waited for the summoned. Too
soon, the door slid open.

"Honestly, we're not miracle workers- well I am, but even Moses would be pushed to... Harry?"

Harry stiffened and turned to look at his friend.

"Hey Tony. What are the chances?" the words slipped out a moment before Harry realised that blasé probably wasn't the
best tactic at the moment.

"What's going on?" Tony asked tersely, his glancing at Coulson, "Why were you brought here?"

Harry opened his mouth to answer when the soldier cut across him.

"Actually I'm under the impression that he brought himself here."

Tony's brow crinkled into a frown, "What...?"

Harry decided to break in here. "I have talents, Tony, and I want to find out what happened to my friend." He wasn't happy
with his wording, but if he could sidestep around the whole 'society of magical people' thing, it would be better, at least
less illegal.

"Talents." The word fell heavily, "Like what?" There was a hardness to Tony's tone that didn't bode well.

For some reason, the word magic was hard to say, especially surrounded by all of these people. Harry hadn't found
himself so tongue tied since he'd tried to ask Cho to the Yule ball. The secrecy of magic had been ingrained in him, over
many years, and here he was trying to tell a room of strangers and Tony about it.

Tony took the silence that accompanied his internal struggle as unwillingness to talk and sighed, instead he looked at
Coulson.

"A well connected PI's parlour tricks can't stand up to Loki. I'd suggest you take him back. He's no use to S.H.I.E.L.D."

Harry frowned. The Tony he knew would usually be pestering him for the truth at this point, not dismissing him. And then
he realised, 'no use to S.H.I.E.L.D', he was trying to protect him from this military body that had so far rounded up five of
the most powerful muggles in the world. But Tony didn't seem to think that whatever Harry was capable of would be
helpful in the grand scheme of things, otherwise he would have considered letting him help. As it was, he probably
thought that Harry could just appa... teleport, looking at his ability to show up on the other side of the world all too quickly.

"On the contrary, a Warlock could turn the tide of battle against Loki." Thor interjected, either defending him or possibly
fed up with Harry's impression of a mute. He couldn't tell.
The room did a double take,

"I'm sorry, a what?" the soldier sputtered, "A warlock?"

Banner scoffed while Tony snorted.

"I actually call myself a wizard."

Harry's words were quiet but cut through the others disbelief. Suddenly all of their attention was back on Harry. There
was a pause before,

"You're serious."

Harry met Tony's eyes and nodded, "I wouldn't joke about this. Not now."

"Can you prove it?"

Harry tore his gaze from Tony's enquiring, hurt eyes to look at the redhead who eyed him suspiciously.

Possibilities flitted through Harry's mind and settled on flicking his fingers in mimicry of the wand movement and
murmured,

"Incendio."

A flame alit upon his fingers, hovering over his palm and the other occupants reared back in surprise, or shifted, if they
had a good poker face. The redhead's hand twitched towards her weapon. He didn't look at Tony, instead focussing on
the flame before extinguishing it. He continued to stare at where the flame had been until,

"Can you just conjure flames? Or is there other stuff." Scepticism was retained in Banners's voice. Of course, he was in
a room of super powered people, who's to say there wasn't one out there that could create flame, it didn't necessarily
mean magic.

He looked around but saw nothing that wasn't well secured down, or safe to levitate in a cramped space with so many
people. He was tempted to try transfiguration, but that was never his strong suit and unfortunately he'd never learnt
Hermione's nifty bird-making trick. Not to mention, it had to be something that couldn't be passed off as a random super
power. He could try his animagus, but that would leave him having to explain about phoenix's. He stood slowly.

"Okay, so just, remember, it won't hurt you." And before any of them could speak he raised his hand. He thought about
introducing Tony to all of his friends, everything out in the open.

"Expecto Patronum."

The silver stag erupted from his hand, landing lightly on the floor in front of him. It rolled it's head, looking around as it
stood amongst them all in resplendent silver.

Nobody spoke for a moment, and it was the soldier who broke the silence.

"What is it?"

Harry stroked the patronus' flank, as it wasn't carrying a message, it was perfectly tangible and answered the soldier.

"A patronus is the embodiment of a happy thought or memory. It's for protection," he nearly mentioned the messages, but
stopped himself when he realised that that would imply that there were others to send messages to. He refrained from
motioning Dementors for much the same reason.

Banner stepped forward, holding his palm out, as one would do when approaching a horse. The stag nuzzled Banners
palm and the man smiled gently,

"It's beautiful." He murmured as the stag dissolved, the light fading.

"So what, magic's real?" the soldier tried to clarify.

"They say that magic is merely science we don't understand yet." Tony contributed. Was his tone actually sullen, or was
Harry just projecting?

"That's all very well," the soldier stood, asserting his leadership, "but these... tricks, can they be used in battle? Not to
mention, no offence meant Mr Evans, but you look a little young to be involved in such a fight."

There was a small scoff from Tony's corner accompanied by something that sounded like, "Pot meet Kettle," while a door
slid open and Director Fury stood on the threshold. His eye took in the scene before him, and settled on Harry.

A smile more akin to a smirk graced his mouth, "Ah, Mr Potter. How good of you to join us."

Harry stiffened at hearing his surname, eyeing Fury warily even as a handful of the others started in surprise.

"You were expecting me." Harry noted, trying to portray none of the unsettlement that was roiling in his gut.

"Potter? I thought his name was Evans." questioned the soldier as he looked between Harry and Fury. Tony didn't
comment but continued to watch the scene impassively, quiet for the first time that Harry had known him.

"You are younger than I expected." Fury commented offhandedly, and Harry had to catch his surprise before it shown on
his face.

"How do you know me?"

Fury let a small half smile cross his lips before he answered wryly, "What kind of Intelligence expert would I be if I didn't
recognise the Chosen One of the Wizarding World?"

Well that's his attempt at a degree of subtlety dead. On cue, the others in the room began to speak.

"Chosen one?"

"Wizarding World?"

And the more simple exclamation: "What?"

Fury silenced hem as he spoke again. "While this has been a nice diversion, I don't believe that we have time to address
the topic now. We need to find the Tesseract, so get to it. Potter, with me." And with that, Fury dismissed the room, leaving
with a bemused Harry in his wake.

Harry shot a glance backwards at the rooms occupants, all of whom were staring at him with different levels of interest
and defensiveness. Tony was leaning against the far wall, arms crossed, staring at him as though he were a new
problem to solve.

"You enjoyed that." Harry shot at Fury upon entering a room that must have been Fury's office. Fury walked behind his
desk and raised an eyebrow at Harry, who scoffed.

"Yeah, don't give me the eyebrow. I know your type; outwardly impassive while laughing at everyone on the inside. So
what was the point in that? What did you gain?"

Fury put his palms on his desk and leaned forward.

"You can be useful. They needed to know that and as you strike an unassuming persona, they needed to know that
quickly. The great war is a bit too large a kettle of fish to be tackling at this stage of the operation."

Harry had to concede, the move made sense, but it left him with a major mess to clear up.

"What about the Statute? As a muggle in the know, you just broke the law."

"I'll square it with your Minister." Fury stated as he straightened. "Is that all?"

It took a beat for Harry to process the man's sheer confidence that he'd be able to gloss the whole thing over with
Kingsley, as well as the basic concept of the man knowing Kingsley to that extent before he answered.

"No. All that's left is to find the Tesseract. Loki's locked up, you have the staff. You have the means to find the device and
settle the matter. Why am I so important?"

Harry knew why he wanted to be there, but he needed to know why Fury wanted him, especially enough to out him.

Fury looked at him, "What do you think?"


Harry sighed, "I think that capturing Loki was too easy."

Fury nodded. "My men are still under his thrall. It's never over that quickly."

Harry nodded and received a small device that Fury held out for him. It was one of the earpieces that the others were
wearing.

"I need to talk to Loki."

Fury nodded.

"Hermione Weasley," Harry started, watching for a flicker of recognition. It was hidden, but Harry was not disappointed,
"The artefact she was examining, it was the Tesseract wasn't it. She mentioned Eric Selvig."

Fury nodded.

"What happened?"

Fury gestured towards the door," I suggest that you talk to Agent Coulson for details on that matter Mr Potter, these are
busy times and I have matters I must attend to."

Harry accepted the dismissal and left the room, nodding at Fury as he did so before walking away to assess what he
knew.

Fury wasn't telling him everything, that was for sure, but on the other side of the scale, Harry wasn't telling him everything
either; like how he planned to destroy the staff and most likely the Tesseract when the time came. Then again, he was
expecting Harry to show up, so maybe he was... no, it must be his connections to Tony that had alerted Fury to his
presence. The only other thing connecting him to the case was the staff's effect on Death and the natural order, which
Fury couldn't possibly know of.

As the former Head Auror, he knew the importance of a functioning team and the decisions the leader had to make and
for that reason, he was hesitant to just blast his way through Fury to find out what he needed, and risk messing up the
entire affair and so he was happy to follow Fury's direction until it suited him to do otherwise or Fury gave him a reason
not to. Harry knew Fury would know that, and had seen firsthand what Fury had prepared for one he didn't feel that he
could control.

Harry came to a halt beside a door. His gut told him that this was where Loki was stashed and he was inclined to agree
with it. He walked into the door's sensors and it swept open, letting him into the room he saw earlier on screen. He
spared a quick towards the camera in question before looking at the God.

Loki was staring at Harry with a strange smile on his face.

"Warlock." He acknowledged, with a tilt of the head."

"Murderer." Harry returned, casting a quick Muffliato once Loki was in range.

Loki's eyes twinkled, "It's not murder if it's cattle."

"You remind me of someone I knew." Harry remarked casually, "Powerful, in control, criminally insane. He's dead now. I
killed him."

"Interesting attempt at power play," Loki conceded, nodding, "but completely useless. We both know where the real
power is."

"The staff, right?" Harry checked, not waiting for Loki to respond before continuing, "It's not your power though. Is it?
Where did you get it?"

Loki didn't answer but continued to observe Harry.

"You see what I think," Harry continued, "What I think is that someone gave you that power. I think that if they find out what
is going on down here, they won't be happy. Trust me when I say that the price dealt out by someone with that much
power... well you can see how that'll go. On your own, you won't stand a chance,"

Loki sat forward, a sly grin on his face, "And what about the price for your power Warlock?"

Harry allowed a ghost of a smile to cross his lips even as his stomach clenched, "You can call me Potter."
He regarded Loki for a moment longer but felt only traces of the Tesseract energy clinging to him, probably a connection
to the staff. Having hopefully given the man food for thought, and recognising that he wouldn't get anything out of the god
without resorting to other methods of persuasion, he nodded good day, cancelled the spell and walked from the room.
Outside, he tried to figure out what to do next. He was right in his suppositions, he knew it. The Chitauri didn't sound like
more than foot soldiers, and something about Loki screamed 'pawn', though Harry couldn't place his finger on what.

He walked the corridors back to the original lab with the staff, figuring correctly that that was where he would find Banner
and by extension Tony, who had at some point found time to change out of his suit. When he came to the door, they were
deep at work, words from a conversation just ended hanging between them. The tension was palpable.

"Ah, Mr Evans, or should I say Potter?" Tony quipped with a flourish when he saw Harry, "Good of you to join us."

Harry nodded and murmured a quick "Hi" to Banner who nodded in acknowledgement before ducking back into his work,
his eyes flicking between Harry and Tony at regular intervals.

"So, a wizard." Tony stated, looking at Harry.

"Yep."

"A real, God-honest, wand twirling, broom riding wizard."

"We have robes too."

Tony let out a bark of laughter which grew, setting Harry off. That was when Harry knew that he and Tony were still friends,
despite the lie.

Tony quietened into a deep chuckle as he looked at Harry, "So there's a whole world of you? Oh I know, is every Brit
secretly a wizard?"

Harry shook his head, "We're all over the world, but there's not actually that many of us. The wizard:muggle ratio is more
than slightly weighted."

"Muggles?"

Tony peppered Harry with questions as he and Banner continued working, mostly about the basics of the wizarding world
that had amazed Harry when he'd first been introduced to it. None of the questions were too personal which Harry noted;
realising that it be would be a long time before Tony's curiosity was truly sated. As it was, Tony's questions were backed
by a scientist's pure fascination with something hitherto unexplored. Banner too let his curiosity get the better of him, and
was soon as involved in the discussion as Tony.

"There are all sorts of magical creatures," Harry found himself saying half an hour later, "Probably just as many breeds
as there are Muggle I would imagine. Centaurs. Hippogriffs. Grindylows."

"Are you sure that you're not just making up words." Tony piped up.

Harry smiled, "A Hippogriff has the head of a bird and the rear of a horse. Grindalows are spindly creatures that lurk in
bodies of water and drag people to their watery graves. Then there are Boggarts or Blast Ended Skrewts, Bowtruckles
and hundreds more that I don't know. A friend of mine once bought Flesh-Eating Slug Repellent and I still haven't figured
out whether it repels flesh-eating slugs or whether it repels slugs by eating their flesh."

"What about the more conventional mythical creatures?" Banner asked while Tony sputtered over the concept of flesh
eating slugs."

"Well I mentioned, Centaurs. There are also Giants, Dragons, Trolls, and Vampires. Not to mention Werewolves. "

"Have you ever met any?" Asked Banner the excitement of new discovery tinging his voice.

"Well, the forests at my school had I believe the largest herd of centaur in the UK, and I ran into them a couple of times,
one of them actually became a teacher at one point. A troll was released at Halloween once and attacked a friend of
mine. I was set up against a Hungarian Horntail once in the Tournament, that's a breed of dragon… Most of my
interactions with vampires happened when I was with the Aurors…" He suddenly realised that if he spoke too much of
his time after he left Hogwarts then they would notice the age discrepancy. "And, uh, I've met several werewolves. My old
professor and a good friend was one."

"You were friends with your teacher? Nerd." Tony snorted.


Harry recalled tales of the Marauders and smiled ruefully, "I think you'd have liked him."

"So people don't care that they turn into wolves?" Banner asked, curiously.

It suddenly occurred to Harry why Banner was taking this line of questioning.

"Not completely." Harry told the scientist honestly. "There were some pretty nasty Anti-Werewolf Legislations and a fair
degree of prejudice amongst some groups and it can be difficult for them to get jobs. My friend, the one I'm here for was
involved in overturning several of the unfair laws and fighting for the rights of Half-Breeds all over the UK. The Minister of
Magic is very pro such movements at the moment, so is most of the country. Anything to rebel against Voldemort's
regime."

"Okay, so everything you say at the moment brings up at least a dozen more questions." Tony informed him while Banner
mulled Harry's words over, "So I've decided that the easiest thing to do is make a list and tackle each thing once at a
time. You mentioned a school?"

Harry nodded, "Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Speaks for itself. It's the British Magic Academy, but there are
others all over the world.

"What sort of name is Hogwarts?" Tony snorted.

Harry shrugged, "You'd have to ask the founders. Or Hermione." He added as an afterthought figuring that the answer
was probably somewhere in 'Hogwarts: A History'.

"What about the Dragon Tournament."

"Ah, that's between three Wizard Schools. Each has a champion and they go through three trials to win the cup which
comes with money and great prestige." Harry pushed aside the flash of green light and Cedric's dead eyes as he forced
a smile. "Hogwarts hosted it for the first time after a century. It'd been cancelled because too many champions died."

"You have to wonder why when they pit you against dragons." Banner commented wryly, "So you were one of the three
champions?"

Harry grinned with a nonchalance he didn't feel. "Nah, I was the controversial forth."

Tony chuckled, "Always a rebel then?"

"You've no idea."

A computer beeped and Tony's head jerked in the direction of the noise. Banner in turn looked towards the screen
nearest the sceptre making his way towards it even as Tony reached the device and began tapping at the screen.

"What's going on?"

"I put a bug on Fury's system." Tony explained, eyes not leaving the screen. "There's something he's not telling us."

Banner left his monitor with a nod of confirmation and went around the desk to Tony's side.

Fury marched into the room a few minutes later to find the two scientists still there while Harry perched on the desk next
to them.

"What are you doing Mr Stark?"

"Uhm, "Tony prevaricated, "Kinda been wondering the same thing about you."

Fury's expression if possible became even less impressed.

"You're supposed to be locating the Tesseract."

"We are." Banner chipped in, "The model's locked and we're scanning for the signature now. When we get a hit, we'll
have the location within half a mile."

"Yeah, we'll get your cube back. No muss. No fuss."

Harry looked away from the screen in question as Tony's beeped.


"What is Phase 2?"

Harry noticed the soldier he now knew to be called Rodgers enter the room, carrying something he likened to a large
gun. He placed it heavily on the table.

"Phase 2 is S.H.I.E.L.D uses the cube to make weapons." He looked over at Tony, "Sorry the computers were moving a
little slow for me."

"We gathered everything related to the Tesseract," Fury started to placate Rodgers, "it does not mean-"

"I'm sorry Nick." Tony swivelled the screen, "What were you lying?"

"I was wrong Director," Rodgers asserted as Thor and Romanov entered the room, "The world hasn't changed a bit."

"Did you know about this?" Banner asked of Romanov, gesturing to the weapons. Harry slid to his feet as he felt the
tensions rising in the room.

"You want to think about removing yourself from this environment Doctor?" the Agent asked condescendingly in Harrys
opinion. It was more likely to get Banners back up than calm him. He looked round to Banner who chuckled.

"I was in Calcutta. I was pretty well removed."

"Loki is manipulating you."

"And you've been doing what exactly?"

"You didn't come here because I bat my eyelashes-"

Harry found himself in-between them and could see where this was going.

"Look bickering won't help anyone."

"I'm not leaving because she'd getting a little twitchy." Banner asserted and Harry accepted this. "What I want to know is
why S.H.I.E.L.D is using the Tesseract to build weapons of mass destruction."

His eyes flickered between Fury and Romanov. Harry stepped back, unsure of whether to meddle in muggle affairs here.
He was on unfamiliar ground here; a Wizard's weapon was more often than not his wand, how dangerous it was
depended on how skilled you were with it. Dangerously enchanted objects influence weren't as wide spread as was
suggested by the term mass destruction, and he'd been somewhat detached by muggle politics, even during his recent
emersion in their world.

The silence was held for a moment before he raised an arm and pointed it at Thor with the damning words "Because of
him."

Thor looked startled, "Me?"

"Last year earth had a visitor from another planet who had a grudge match that nearly levelled a small town. We learned
that not only are we not alone, but we are hopelessly, hilariously outgunned."

"My people want nothing but peace with your planet." Thor interjected.

"But you're not the only people out there are you? And you're not the only threat. Your war," He directed his gaze at Harry,
"Killed nearly as many humans as it did your kind. If not more. And we couldn't do anything to defend ourselves." Harry
stiffened, also noting the implication that he wasn't human.

"We did what we could." He retorted.

"What you could wasn't good enough. Your government toppled at the first sign of opposition and it was the rest of the
world that suffered, for the whole merry year during which you vanished." He didn't leave Harry time to respond before
ploughing on. "The world's filling up with people who can't be matched, that can't be controlled."

"Like you controlled the cube?" Rodgers questioned.

"Your work with the Tesseract is what drew Loki to it and his allies. It is a signal to all the realms that the Earth is ready for
a higher form of war."
Rodgers looked at Thor in shock, "A higher form?"

"You forced our hand. We had to come up with something-"

"A nuclear deterrent." Tony cut across Fury's argument, sounding unimpressed, "cause that always calms everything right
down."

"Remind me again how you made your fortune Stark?" Fury directed at Tony. He was obviously getting riled up if he was
getting personal with the jibes.

"I'm sure that if he still made weapons, Stark would be neck deep."

"I'm sorry how is this now about me?"

"I'm sorry isn't everything?"

Blood was rising, everybody getting worked up. This was what Loki wanted. Harry pushed down the bile that had risen at
Fury's comment regarding the war and tried to calm himself, but the annoyance was catching and it was tricky.

"I thought humans were more evolved than this." Thor remarked to Fury who closed his eyes and drew in a breath before
rounding on Thor,

"Excuse me! Did we go to your planet and blow stuff up?"

In a matter of moments the room had detiorated into a mass of bickering. Each person with a strong personality and
own way of doing things, thrown together and told to play nice, none of which willing to completely share the reigns.

Unease was rising within Harry and he wasn't entirely sure if it was the situation. Death had materialised beside the
sceptre and raised an eyebrow at Harry who shot him a look back. He shrugged and bent to examine the sceptre and
Harry turned his attention back to the fighters.

"Shut up!" he shouted over the others, who seemed not to hear him.

"Sonorus." He muttered before bellowing, "SHUT UP!"

That got their attention.

"Quietus." Harry muttered as the others stared at him. "Trust me when I say fighting doesn't help. It just causes chaos
and if we want to beat him we need to work together."

"For all he speaks of control, he causes chaos." Thor stated, looked at Fury.

"That's his MO isn't it?" asked Banner, drawing the room's gazes. He ploughed on, "I mean what are we, a team? Ah, no
no no. We're a chemical mixture that makes chaos. We're- we're a time bomb."

"You, need to step away." Fury walked towards Banner.

"Why shouldn't the guy let off a little steam?" Tony asked nonchalantly, placing his hand on Rodger's shoulder only to
have it batted away.

"You know damn well why! Back off!"

Tony met Rodgers glare, "Oh, I'm starting to want you to make me."

Rodgers circled Tony, "Oh yeah, the big man in a suit of armour." Harry watched warily, knowing that Tony could handle
himself. "Take that off, what are you?" Rodgers challenged.

"Genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist." Tony riposted. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Romanov acknowledge
the statement.

"I know guys with none of that worth ten of you." Rodgers continued, "I've seen the footage. The only thing you really fight
for is yourself." Harry gritted his teeth on Tony's behalf while his friends face remained blank. "You're not one to make the
suicide play, to lay down on a wire and let the other guy crawl over you."

Harry was brought back to the forest, with Voldemort's quavering voice, the hateful eyes and the green light. Rodgers
didn't know Tony. Beneath his brash exterior, Tony cared. Harry could see him dying for people, especially ones he cared
about, like Pepper. It's one of the reasons he stopped making weapons and donned the suit himself. Even so Tony
would probably come up with option number three if he could.

"I'd rather just cut the wire." Tony confirmed Harry's thoughts.

Rodgers smirked as if he'd proved a point, "Always a way out. You know you may not be a threat but you'd better stop
pretending to be a hero."

Harry took a step forward and opened his mouth to protest but Tony beat him to it.

"A hero. Like you, you mean? You're a laboratory experiment. Everything special about you came out of a bottle."

The niggling feeling was increasing in the back of Harry's mind, like an annoying buzzing that wouldn't settle. He shook it
off as they continued to square off against each other.

"Put on the suit. Let's go a few rounds."

Next to him, Thor started a deep throated laugh, "You people are so petty. And tiny." He added as an afterthought.

"Yeah, this is a team." muttered Banner behind Harry as Fury ordered Romanov to escort Banner from the room.

"Where?" Banner asked, "You rented my room."

Fury began to defend the cage as Harry remembered with a sickened feeling that it had been meant for Banner. He'd
known that before, but now that he had gotten to know the man, and his genuine curiosity, the whole thing seemed more
barbaric. Like executing a hippogriff for being provoked.

"In case you needed to kill me!" Banner asserted, "But you can't, I know, I tried."

Harry felt the room freeze and direct their attention on Banner, even Tony's bravado deflating. He took in their gazes and
ploughed on, "I got low, I didn't see an end, so I put a bullet through my mouth and the Other Guy spit it out. So I moved
on. I focussed on helping other people, I was good."

A cold nugget rested in Harry's belly. He understood to some degree the feeling of hopelessness, of not seeing an end.
Maybe he didn't turn into a monster, but he still feared his connection with Death, on some level. But any thoughts of
escape were futile so he focussed on doing what he could to help people with his experience, just like Banner. Could the
other man simply not die by outside means? Or had he stopped aging as well? Had Harry found someone in the same
boat as him?

"Until you dragged me into this freak show and put everyone here at risk." He looked at Romanov, "You wanted to know
my secret Agent Romanov, you want to know how I stay calm."

The room shifted, those with weapons reaching for them, except Harry who remained where he stood ready to react if
need be but willing to give the man before him the benefit of the doubt.

"Dr Banner," Rodgers murmured, "Put the sceptre down."

Banner looked at the device as if he hadn't even noticed that he'd picked it up. He looked back up to the group, a
questioning look in his gaze when a beep sounded across the room.

The tension broke.

"We got it." Fury stated while Banner placed the sceptre back on the table and walked over to the console.

"Sorry kids, you don't get to see my party trick after all."

"You've located the Tesseract." Thor asserted while watching Banner check the screen.

Bickering started up again, Thor stating that the cube belonged on Asguard while Tony and Rodgers argued about who
could get there faster. Harry realised that Thor may have a problem with Harry's plan to somehow destroy the Tesseract-
he was currently toying with the idea of tossing it through the Veil in a curse box- but then again, if it was pure energy, was
it safe to have it floating around whatever realm lay on the other side, or would it be possible to destroy in the first
instance?

Rodgers reissued his challenge and Tony, being Tony didn't back down.
A quiet exclamation from Banner drew Harry's attention.

"Oh my god."

The Helicarrier shook and a mushroom of fire erupted in the centre of the room , throwing Harry into a metal table while
crashes and yells echoed around him.

He lay there for a moment before raising himself on his elbows to look around . Tony and Rodgers who hadn't been as
close to the explosion were already up.

"Put on the suit."

He watched the two scramble from the room as he too stood, assessing the damage, while he listened to Fury and Hill
on the Comms. Fury left the room, as did Thor, leaving Harry by himself in the wrecked lab. Wait, that wasn't right. Where
were Banner and Romanov? He glanced around and saw a shattered window. He strode up to it and looked through it.
He glanced down and saw that a section of mesh floor and fallen through, beneath which he could make out the fiery red
hair of the S.H.E.I.L.D agent in question. She didn't appear to be moving.

Avoiding any particularly sharp shards of glass he manoeuvred himself through the window and perched on the edge of
the hole.

"Agent Romanov, are you okay?"

She looked up at him, which was a relief but her gaze didn't linger for longer than a moment before it darted back down
to something beyond Harry's field of vision.

"I'm fine, but trapped. Dr Banner…"

Harry was through had slid through the whole in a moment, using a quiet arresto momentum to ensure that he didn't
land to hard. He came to a crouch next to the Agent, turning his head to follow her gaze towards where Banner was.

The man had his back to them, his head in his hands, trembling.

"Dr Banner, it's okay."

Romanov tried to calm the man, but Harry could hear the underlying fear in the woman's voice as she pulled at the
cylinder trapping her leg. Harry put his hand in her shoulder to still her before raising a couple of fingers and exercising
the unforgettable swish and flick. As he muttered the incantation, the cylinder rose and the agent pulled her leg free. She
stared at him for a moment as he lowered it to the ground, before her eyes flicked back to Bruce.

A growl came from Bruce's direction and Harry turned to see the man start to grow, his spine becoming more prominent
as it pressed against his shirt.

"Go," Harry told Romanov without looking at her, "Help the others, I'll keep him occupied."

Romanov murmured in assent and left Harry's side. Before him, Banner turned his head and Harry could see the virulent
green seeping into his eyes, masking the sorrow in the man's expression. It was dangerous to interfere with magical
transformations, so Harry felt reluctant to try and jinx the man as he expanded, ripping his shirt to shreds, revealing the
green skin beneath.

Adrenaline pumped through Harry, more than it had in a long time, as he faced the creature, slipping his wand into his
hand. It didn't notice him at first, looking around and taking in its surroundings before it lumbered about and saw Harry.

Remembering a time long since gone when he'd faced a mountain troll he pointed his wand, "Stupefy!"

The red light shot at the creature and dispersed over its green mass. It had no apparent effect aside from angering the
creature as it snarled and began to charge. Harry backed away, keeping his wand pointed towards what was once
Banner. What did he know about the Other Guy?

He fired a couple of distracting spells at the Guy, to keep him occupied, allowing Harry to avoid the thing and think. Spells
didn't affect it, making what he was doing no more than a pretty light show. Bullets didn't work either, according to Banner,
the Other Guy had spat out a bullet to the brain, so it could probably survive anything. Even then, he didn't want to risk
hurting Banner.
Harry had to leap to the side as Banners fist narrowly missed him, landing winded next to a pile of crates. A voice was
speaking in his ear, but he tuned it out as he scrambled out of the way of the creature. A dragon's hide was resistant to
spells. Cedric had gotten around that by going for a weak spot, its eyes. Anywhere not protected by its hide was
vulnerable.

Spells that affected the body wouldn't be viable in this situation. So… Having reviewed his repertoire he knew which was
one of the only spells that would affect the mind directly, which was why it was considered illegal. He thought of all the
people on the ship, and how they were at risk if Banner continued, Bellatrix's words echoing in his mind, "You have to
want it…"

He wanted to protect those people.

"Imperio."

He felt the spell rush down his arm, connecting him to Banner. Harry hadn't used this spell since the war, his main
experience with it being during the Gringotts break in. But even he could tell that something was different with Banner's
mind. The Other Guy had a mind of its own, an oversimplified but resistant one. He could also sense Banners, pushed
to the fringes, only occasionally flickering from dormancy. He focussed his efforts on the dominant mind, creating a
mantra of "Sleep, go to sleep". The creature shook its head as if to rid its self of an annoying fly and AHrry recognised
attempts to throw the control off. He put more pressure behind the instruction and it stumbled, but it didn't seem to be
enough. Harry needed more, which was when he realised that the elder wand was still strapped to his arm. He pulled
on the natural power granted by the Hallow and layered it through the spell he was already casting.

The creature came to a halt and fell to his knees. Its eyes rolled up into its head and it fell to the floor with a sizable
crash. Harry found himself staring at Banner's Hyde, breathing hard. Drawing upon the energy of the wand without it
actually being in his hand was always trickier and that was no simple spell. He was wondering how long he'd have to
keep the control up when suddenly the figure began to change. Before his eyes, the Other Guy shrunk and drained of
colour, leaving Banner in his place.

The man's clothes had been shredded and what remained did nothing for the man's dignity so Harry conjured a blanket,
a rich red with gold trim- old habits die hard, and lay it over the other man. He also shrugged off his jacket, enlarged it
slightly and placed it next to the man for when he awoke, figuring that it was better than nothing.

It the moments of calm, he became suddenly aware of the niggling that had been growing for a while now. After placing a
couple of protection charms over Banner lest anyone unsavoury trip over him, he followed the ominous feeling. He ran
through the complex and came to a storage room, near control and found Romanov, standing over an unconscious man,
looking down on him and breathing hard.

She looked up when he entered, immediately on guard. She relaxed slightly when she saw Harry.

"Banner?"

"He's fine. Who's this?" He gestured to the man who he identified as the source for the irritation.

"Agent Barton." Romanov replied shortly. Death was standing by her shoulder examining the man with a bemused
expression on his face.

"Do you mind if I-" He gestured to the man. Romanov watched him warily but shook her head. Her eyes never leaving
him, he knelt by the man and thumbed open an eyelid. The iris was glowing electric blue.

"Now that's not right." muttered Death.

Harry hummed in reply and looked back at Romanov, "Did he say anything before you knocked him out." When she
shook her head he continued, "Right I may be able to do something, I'll have to wake him up first but bear with me."

He then turned to Barton and pulled out the Elder Wand.

"Enervate," he muttered and the man's eyes flickered open. Before they could properly focus Harry cast his next spell.

"Legilimens."

And like that he was in Barton's mind. Images threw themselves at him, Natasha, missions, the Archery range, the
Circus. Harry delved through all of these, trying to ignore them and focus on the poison that ran through the man's mind.
He soon found what he was looking for; a blue parasite nestled deep within him. Contrary to what he had originally
though, it wasn't so much that the sceptre had infected Barton, but that it had taken part of him; which was why he had
retained a sense of self but changed allegiance. This was unlike the Imperious which took controlled their will. It's
impossible however to completely separate only part of a person from themselves without their conscious decision to do
so, i.e. Horcruxes – even the Dementors took all or nothing rather than trying to split the soul- and so the sceptre had
rooted part of itself here to keep the connection alive.

To give it a physical description would be to liken it to an electric blue human nerve coiled around a distorted silver
elastic, pulling it through its centre away to its original core while the nerve endings were latched to the tissue the elastic
was drawn from.

"That's just wrong that is." Death commented from Harry's figurative elbow. "Pretty much on a par with making 'orcruxes,
except worse, 'cause you're forcing it on someone else, rather than inflicting it on y'self."

Harry nodded, "What do I do?"

"Uproot the leech and coax the soul back to its vessel. The second part shouldn' be too 'ard. It wants to be 'ere."

Harry nodded and started trying to figure out how Death meant. He wasn't using his magic at this point, but some other
power that came with the Hallows and Death's guidance. Bind by bind he detached the unnatural structure from its grip
and watched it slip away, fading to the distance, back to the sceptre from whence it came. As it was, once the grip had
been released the soul flowed back to its home and Harry flew from the man's mind.

He found himself once more crouched by the man's side, his muscles stiff, though he could not have been in there long,
judging by Romanov who was exactly where he'd left her.

The blue had fled Barton's eyes, returning to their natural green before flickering closed. Harry sat back, to gather himself
after an extended and unfamiliar use of the Hallows.

"What did you do?" breathed Romanov.

Harry pushed himself to his feet, "I released him from Loki's hold. He'll need to rest, It wasn't exactly pleasant." He
gestured to her comm, "Any news on the battle? How long was I out of it?"

"Maybe a minute, slightly more," her eyes were back on Barton, "He'll be ok?"

Harry nodded.

"Go." She said, "I'll deal with him, you go see if you can help."

Harry nodded and left swiftly. Wait, Loki. In all this confusion, he'd be trying to escape. Harry ran to the cage room. The
doors were already open, but he came to a halt at the sight before him. Thor was pressed to the glass staring at Loki
who was by the control panel facing off against Coulson who was toting a huge gun.

"Even I don't know what it does," he was saying.

Loki seemed to shift, a shade of him appearing behind Coulson, empty, invisible and intangible. Harry spotted the
sceptre in Loki's hand and knew what Loki was about to do. Before Loki could complete his teleport, he flicked his wand
and cast the first battle spell that came to mind.

Sectumsempra

He felt the energy from the spell fly across the room, make contact with Loki… and rebound. Loki had seen in coming
and raised the sceptre in defence. It reacted with the spell and caused it to expand across the room. He felt a searing
pain across his chest, and everything went black.

Thor yelled in distress as gouges spread across the room, cutting the metal, the grill, scratching the glass and the flesh
of his teammates. He saw the warlock crumple, his life flickering as blood seeped from him. The mantle of centuries
dimmed and faded. Just like that, a person who must have seen so much history was dead. The Son of Coul was fairing
little better. He'd collapsed against the metal side, blood seeping from a multitude of cuts. He was alive but did not have
long for this world.

He barely paid attention as Loki, his b rother flicked the switch and sent him tumbling, trapped in a glass box, through the
sky.
A/N

I'm afraid I have no idea when I can next update, but I know where this story is going, so it's just a matter of finding
typing time. I know some of you aren't fans of long chapters, but there was nowhere in here that I wanted to break
and still have chapters of a decent length. The next one shouldn't be nearly as long.
*Chapter 7*: Two Funerals and a Battle
A/N Compared to my last chapter, this is short, despite the delay in posting. No Excuses, truth be told, I'm having
difficulty writing at the moment. In response to those who have commented that what I am writing is just The
Avengers with Harry stuck in, that is true to a degree, he is changing somethings, maybe not drastically, yet. This
story is mainly going to focus on what's going to happen after the Assembled movie is over. Speaking of which, I've
stumbled into a complication in what I had planned. I'm afraid I have no idea when I'm going to untangle this difficulty
but I'll try to update up to that point sooner rather than later.

I feel I must also say that I am bowled over by the response so far, I am feeling truly guilty for not being able to
provide better updates, but I will continue to plough on. Happy New Year.

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Steve and Stark exchanged glances and grinned to each other over the bodies of the men now lying between them as
the all clear sounded over their comms.

"Cutting it a bit close there, eh?" Stark said as Steve slid down the ladder to stand next to him. Steve grinned and
prepared to reply when Fury's voice came through the earpiece.

"Coulson and Potter are down. "

The grin froze on Starks face.

"We'll send a medical team to your location." came the voice of a faceless controller over the comms.

"They're here." Fury replied. "They called it."

There was a moment of silence, the ugly feeling that always accompanied the loss of a fellow soldier settling in Steve's
gut. He snatched a glance at Stark, he knew that the man was close to Potter, but his face was unreadable.

"Initiative to Control."

They walked in silence down the wreckage of corridors that led to the control room. It could have been worse, Steve
noted. At least they were still in the air. Waiting for them in the shadowed control room was Fury, standing at the head of
the table, with Agent Hill who looked slightly worse for wear and finally there was Dr Banner, looking somewhat
withdrawn, wrapped in a red blanket, his gaze fixed on a somewhat familiar jacket folded before him on the table. He
looked up upon Steve and Starks entry, focussing on Stark.

"What happened?" Starks voice was clipped and Banner looked away.

"Barton's attack took us by surprise, he had gained the allegiance of several of S.H.I.E.L.D's enemies. We have
managed to regain Barton but we took on some heavy casualties. As well as a dozen S.H.I.E.L.D personnel, Thor was
released in Loki's cage and both Agent Coulson and Potter were killed in action."

"What happened?" Stark repeated forcefully. Steve open his mouth to try to calm him when Fury elaborated.

"We don't know, the cameras in the cage room were damaged and they shorted out."

They sat in silence for a moment before Fury continued.

"These were in Phil Coulson's jacket," he held up a set of cards that i recognised with an uncomfortable certainty. Fury
only confirmed it with his next words, "I guess he never got you to sign them." Fury tossed them onto the table, a small
mist of blood flying from them as they landed. Steve walked slowly to the table and picked one up as Fury continued.

"We're dead in the air here."

It was one of the main cards, a picture of him saluting and grinning towards the card holder. Blood now covered the top
of the card, trickling down its face.

"Our communications, the location of the Cube, Thor, Potter. I got nothing for you. I lost my one good eye. Maybe I had that
coming."

He remembered the annoyance he'd felt when he'd been asked to sign the card, the embarrassment. Looking back he
remembered how excited the agent had been. Something worse than just loss stirred in him.

"Yes, we were going to build an arsenal with the Tesseract. I never put all my chips on that number however because I
was playing something even riskier. There was an idea, Stark knows this,"

Steve looked at Stark who was now refusing to meet the gazes of anyone in the room, not even reacting when his name
was said.

"called the Avengers Initiative. The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people to see if they could become
something more. To see if they could work together when we needed them to, to fight the battles that we never could."

At this, Stark did look up, to glance at Fury, something simmering in his eyes.

"Phil Coulson died still believing in that idea. So did Harry Potter. In heroes." He seemed to be directing his words at
Stark who turned and left the room.

He glanced at Banner who met his gaze before pulling the blanket tighter around himself.

"Well," Fury said, in the gap left by Tony, "It's an old fashioned notion."

I looked back at the blood stained cards. He hated those cards. Before, they were a reminder of his popularity and
shows during the war; he knew that they had been necessary for morale but even now he still blushed slightly at the
posturing he'd done. Now they were a sign of how they'd failed. He rose to his feet and followed Tony's footsteps. As far
as he knew, the man hadn't suffered the loss of a companion in arms before, and he owed Howard that much.

Steve found Stark in the cage room, looking at the monitor that he'd apparently managed to get working again. Steve
couldn't help but note as he walked up to the man that while the bodies had been moved, no one had made any effort to
clean up the remains of the two red dried puddles of blood that coated the mesh he now walked beside.

He came to a halt at Starks elbow and looked at the screen that showed a feed from the room they were in. He
recognised Agent Coulson pointing a large gun at Loki who'd trapped his brother in the cage. He watched Potter run into
the room assess the scene and then wave a stick in Loki's direction. Green flashed around Loki and the camera picture
dissolved into grey. Steve gave a sideways glance at Stark as the clip began to run through once more.

"I'm sorry Stark. I know he was a friend."

For a moment he thought Stark was going to ignore him.

"Stupid kid. He shouldn't have gotten involved."

Steve looked back at the screen, watching as Potter acted without hesitation. "He seems to have had quite a reputation."

"Yeah, well, look where that got him." Stark turned his head to look at Steve. "He was an idiot. They both were."

"Is this the first time you lost a soldier?"

"We are not soldiers." Stark's words were forceful. "I'm not marching to Fury's fife."

"Neither am I. He's got the same blood on his hands that Loki does. But right now we've gotta put that behind us and get
this done." He watched Stark's eyes slide to the blood stains and spoke to bring his attention back to the situation at
hand. The best way to get over loss is to act.

"Loki needs a power source. We can put together a list-"

"He made it personal." Starks's gaze snapped back to Steve and he cut off what he was saying.

"That's not the point." Steve said carefully. The desire for vengeance was all very well but it could hinder operations.

"That is the point." Stark contradicted. "That's Loki's point. He hit us all right where we live. Why?"

Steve recognised this fervour from Howard, when he was right on the edge of a breakthrough.

"To tear us apart."

"Yeah, divide and conquer is great, but, he know he has to take us out to win, right? That's what he wants. He wants to
beat us; he wants to be seen doing it. He wants an audience."
Stark was moving around the room now as Steve began to understand what the other man was driving at. "Right! We
caught his act in Stuttgart."

"Yeah, that was just previews. This is opening night. And Loki, he's a full tilt diva, right?" He nodded, somewhat
unnecessarily as Stark just continued without acknowledging, "He wants flowers, he wants parades. He wants a
monument built to the skies with his name plastered..." Tony's tirade ground to a halt as realisation lit up his face. "Son of
a bitch."

He left the room quickly, Steve following. "We need to go."

"Quite a predicament Mr Potter, want to tell me what happened?"

Harry looked around to see a familiar figure, standing a metre away with a small smile on his face.

"Kingsley." Harry greeted, standing and stretching out his hand which Kingsley shook warmly. The other man raised an
eyebrow, "I must confess Harry, you're looking somewhat younger than when I last saw you."

Harry paused a moment, remembering that the last time he'd seen Kingsley had been at Neville's Wedding, during
which he'd taken an aging potion. So used to not worrying about people from his past, he'd forgotten to take any
precautions. At least he'd taken a moment to repair his shirt, a gaping slash, lots of blood and no wound would have
raised some eyebrows, wizard hospital or no.

"Uh..." Harry said intelligently, his mind blank for plausible explanations.

"Don't worry Harry. I understand, The War left its mark on all of us in some way or another. How is your friend?"

Harry took a moment to digest what Kingsley had said and upon registering the fact that Kingsley obviously assumed
that Harry's condition most likely had something to do with Voldemort, he looked back to the door he'd been waiting
outside of.

"I've not heard anything yet. The Healers are still at work."

Kingsley nodded. "Want to tell me what happened?"

Harry shook his head, remembering the moment when he's come round.

The first thing he'd noticed was that Loki and his alien magic was gone, as was Thor, a space where the cage had been.
That was when he saw Agent Coulson, lying on the mesh, blood leaking from wounds that covered his body.
Recognising his own spell Harry had sworn and begun to cast the basic field healer spells that he knew. But he wasn't a
trained Healer and aside from staunching the bleeding there wasn't much he could do. Unwilling to let the man die for
his stupidity, he'd gripped the man's shoulder and apparated away, his last view of the ship being of Fury, standing near
the door having just entered. He'd appeared in St Mungo's lobby, shouting for help, allowing the healers to whisk the
man away before fixing his shirt and following.

"It appears that you still fail to stay out of trouble." Kinglsey observed. When Harry merely hummed in response, he
continued, "Mrs Weasley and her husband are here as well. She arrived earlier today. She's in the Cliodna ward on the
Ground floor. It's better than wasting away here."

Harry sighed and ruffled his hair, rising slowly in agreement. He couldn't help but notice that Kingsley took it as read that
Harry knew about Hermione's condition.

"Thanks." He muttered before walking past him, sparing a glance at the door of the Healers Theatre before making his
way to the stairs.

Ron was sat with Hermione who in turn was sitting up and engaging in the conversation. This was such an
improvement that Harry couldn't help but grin as he watched from the door way. He rapped the door and the couple
turned.

"Harry!"

"Harry! What are you doing here mate?"

Harry pulled a spare seat closer to the bed and sat down, "I was coming to see how Hermione was. Why are you here?"
Ron took on a disgruntled expression. "You know what I meant. Did you find out what happened?"

"Oh, it was some Norse God." Harry said offhandedly, "The Tesseract was a gateway. Of sorts."

"A Norse God?" asked Ron.

"Yeah, Loki."

"The Trickster?" Asked Hermione. At Harry's confirmation, she launched into an explanation of Norse mythology for Ron's
benefit. "Not that I knew they were real, but who are we to comment on what's real and what isn't. What did he want?"

Harry summed up what he'd found out so far, finishing by telling them about Coulson.

"Oh, it's not your fault Harry!" Hermione tried to reassure him, backed by Ron. "It's interesting though. Why our magic
reacts badly with it. Maybe it's due to..."

"Hermione?"

"Well, I was just thinking. Our magic is a child, compared to that of say, the Old Religion. And the Tesseract, well that's
old. I mean I could tell by looking at it. So old that it's alien to us."

"Well it is from out of space-Oi!" He failed to duck when Hermione clipped him over the head.

"Not that sort of alien! You're powerful Harry, but it's like tossing stones at a boulder. Or a mountain."

"So what, we're screwed?"

Hermione looked at him pityingly. "Oh Harry. Think about it. You have access to an ancient power as well. What is older
than Death?"

"But Death says that the Tesseract feels just as unnatural to him as it does to me. I feel it whenever the staff is used."

"Yes, as a warning, the powers being twisted in ways it shouldn't be. But Harry, it wasn't your normal magic side that felt
it! You wouldn't have known that it was different if the Hallows hadn't told you! It's too completely different types of magic."

"But I used the elder wand-"

"To do our magic. That may have been more like throwing a larger rock at the mountain. Stronger, but still not enough."

"What else can I do then."

Hermione looked at him. "You really need me to spell it out?"

"Aside from turning invisible and summoning the dead, just how am I supposed to-"

"Tap into your powers as The Master of Death, not just as a wielder of the Hallows. In my research, I have come across
references to such abilities."

"And just how am I supposed to harness that Hermione?"

"Sanskrit."

Silence.

"Sorry, what?"

"Harry, haven't you read any of my notes?"

"Course I have."

"Well, our magic is controlled by variants of Latin, because it was refined during a time that Latin was prevalent. Myths of
the Master of Death continue well back into the Archaic times."

"But the Peverell Brothers-"

"They were the first of our kind to receive the Hallows from Death, Ron." Hermione told him, "They were around long
before that under other names, but since it was pre-wand magic, it's hard to research it thoroughly. My point is the first
language was Saskrit. So that is probably the language of Death. Treat it as you would Latin."

"There was a large part of your notes in another language..." Harry mused.

"Yes! Sanskrit! I also gave you the lexicon. So you could translate it!"

The gears were turning in Harry's head. "I need to get back to the Helicarrier. They'll be facing Loki soon."

"We'll watch out for your friend." Ron told him.

"Thanks."

"He's going to live."

Harry looked up to see Death leaning against the wall. Harry nodded in appreciation before standing.

"See you then."

They called farewell after him as he ran to the foyer, drawing the elder wand as he went. He'd barely crossed the
threshold before he'd turned on his heel and he was being forced down the tube. He arrived in his living room, still just
as he had left it what felt like ages ago.

He strode into his bedroom, crouched by the bed and pulled a box of papers from underneath it. Now that there was a
glimmer of a possibility, it took on an urgency that belied the situation really. He flicked through pages of Hermione's
writing, placing them on his bed. It was at the bottom of the pile that there were pages of another language and beneath
that a thick sheaf that resembled a dictionary. This he grabbed eagerly.

He flicked through the pages, taking note of possibly useful words that may be able to turn into spells.

He stopped at one he could test without causing too much damage. He held up his wand before remembering that
Hermione had said that it had been pre-wand era. Instead he raised his hand, palm up, focussed on it and sounded out
the word.

"Prakaza." Nothing happened. He shifted and noticed that there was an emphasis drawn on the second 'A'.

"PrakAza." He tried again and this time, a bright white light flared brilliantly in his palm suddenly, nearly blinding him. He
shielded his eyes and exclaimed in surprise as the light faded, leaving him blinking spots. Harry straightened his
shoulders and tried again, this time focussing on controlling the amount of power he directed at the spell.

He smiled as a small light appeared in his palm and slowly grew as he trickled more power in. At that moment, a surge
of the foreign power rushed through him, physically knocking him to the ground and sending papers flying. The shock
caused his chest to constrict and he had to collect himself before he could pull himself up and stumble to the window. It
was active, the Tesseract was active and he knew it. As though doused with water, he suddenly realised that the feeling
was coming from the direction of his friend's tower and, taking all things into consideration, that was probably exactly
where Loki was. The awareness of the power was still with him, pulsing as a small ache in his ribs but he found it easy
to ignore as he prepared to apparate to Tony's tower.

Envisioning Tony's tower, he turned on the spot and left his apartment.

With a crack, he appeared on the top floor, near the bar, the Tessearct pulsating away but 10 metres from there. He
opened his eyes to see Loki, standing by the window, grasping Tony by the throat. Both gazes were drawn to him and
both widened in shock.

"You're alive!" Tony gasped. Harry barely had time to ponder this statement before Loki, who had turned his attention back
to the man in his clutches, threw him out the window. Harry ran after him, but was stopped when a projectile sped in front
of him, after Tony. Harry recognised the colours as one of Tony's suits and turned to face Loki, levelling his palm. The
Asgaurdian looked at him, sneering.

"You're puny magic-"

Harry cut him off by snarling, "Agni," and watching flames blossom from his palm. Loki drew up a shield quickly, but
through the flames, Harry could see him sweat. He closed his hands and the flames stopped.

"How-"

""There's someone else you've pissed off." Harry glanced sideways to see Tony, clad in a new suit hovering in the
window. "His name was Phil."

And with that Tony blasted him with a repulsor, and Loki, still off guard from the flames went flying.

Just then a blast of energy erupted from the Tesseract and Harry, now in such close proximity, felt it to his bone. He
doubled over, hand on his chest, trying to force it away, much as he had with his scar all those years ago.

"Harry!" He felt Tony at his side, a hand on his shoulder.

"I'm okay." Harry panted, straightening. After the initial eruption, the feeling dulled back to only a marginally more
noticeable annoyance at the base of his ribs. "I'm fine."

He looked up, out of the window and saw a black hole opening in the sky, the sky peeling back to allow the blue light
from the Tesseract through.

"Harry, how-"

"I think we've got a problem." Harry cut across Tony as he saw small figures flying from the hole, members of the Chitauri
army.

"Shit" Tony muttered, diving out of the window, shooting off blasts to repel the enemy. Harry pulled out his firebolt and
joined him, finding in his pocket the S.H.I.E.L.D earpiece that he'd removed at the hospital and putting it in.

He sent another blast of fire upwards,

"What about turning off the Tesseract?"

He asked Tony through the comms having noticed the device directing the light below them.

"Impenetrable barrier." Tony filled in for him, "How are you still alive?"

"Shouldn't I be? Pavana!" he sent a handful of them blowing back into the hole from whence they came, sending them
careening into other machines which in turn blew up, but still more slipped through.

"Where were you?"

"I took Coulson to St Mungo's. It's a magic hospital." The use of this new magic was draining, using and therefore
straining an underused muscle. It wasn't going to affect his performance yet, but he could feel the extra energy needed to
control his new found abilities.

"Coulson's alive?"

Harry paused here to look at Tony who returned his gaze, "Yes. He was injured though." They continued to try and stem
the flow.

"Fury said you two were announced dead by a medical team."

"Fury? But he saw me apparate."

There was a sardonic chuckle over the comms. "That manipulative bastard."

"It's no use." Harry looked down at the destruction that those who had escaped were wreaking on the city. Loki was
walking out of the tower, surveying the destruction and Harry prepared to fly down to meet him when Thor landed on the
tower. Harry pulled up, something told him to leave the brothers too

it.

"I'm gonna have a look at the Tesseract." He told Stark, who hummed in acknowledgment as Harry flew off. What he
found was a mixture of magic and machinery. He tried for a second to let his magic try and mess with the machinery, but
the Tesseract magic interfered with that. He reached out a palm.

"I wouldn't do that."

Harry turned to look at Death, "Why not? I though the whole point was that Death's magic was stronger."

Death smiled, "At this point that," he pointed at the sphere of energy, "Is like an egg. Have you ever tried to break an egg
by putting pressure in the tip and base? It's impossible. Or very difficult. You need to find the weak spot. Blasting away at
it won't help. Why not ask him?" Death pointed at a man lying several feet away. "He built it."

A/N Tada
*Chapter 8*: Sweet Ajambha
A/N I own nothing.

Harry withdrew from Selvig's mind, panting. He sat back on his heels, taking a moment to assess the situation. The city
was screaming.

He stood slowly and scanned the destruction around him. Creatures were scuttling up the skyscrapers, chattering and
breaking windows, eliciting screams from those inside. Sirens were wailing and untended flames wreaked their own
destruction, licking around cars and lighting the petrol. The battle had obviously been waging for a while.

He looked at Selvig, the Eric that Hermione had been concerned about. He couldn't just abandon him.

"I'll watch him." He turned to see Death, sitting on a ventilator, his brown eyes tracing the scene for himself. He looked at
Harry, "I'll tell you when he wakes up. You go kill things."

With a nod Harry apparated, appearing in the building that he'd just watch Chitauri overrun. He barely paused to take
stock of the civilians cowering in the corner, being menaced by the aliens before he let loose another wave of fire. The
aliens turned to the new threat only to be toasted a moment later.

He blew the remainder out of the window and looked at the terrified people. He realised that he didn't know what to say,
or what advice to give them. Whether to stay put would be safer than to find somewhere to hide.

He settled on, "Stay safe," though he winced at the awkwardness before turning on the spot to appear on the roof.

He became aware of a chattering in his ear and found the S.H.E.I.L.D headset.

"We got him,"

Tony replied and Harry picked him out in the sky, a flash of red and flame, followed by what Harry could only liken to a
giant millipede or blast ended skrewt, minus the stinger.

"Banner? "

Rodgers reply was approving, "Just like you said."

"You'd better tell him to suit up, I'm bringing the party to you."

Harry ran to the edge so he could keep Tony insight, watching as a tiny figure erupted into the green mass he recognised
from the helicraft to meet the skrewt head on. It crumpled and Tony finished it off with a quick blast, resulting in a colourful
explosion that set shrapnel flying. Was that thing a machine?

He apparated down to join them.

"I wondered when you were gonna re-join us." Tony quipped, his expression unreadable thanks to the mask.

"Potter!? What- How-?"

"Fury's a manipulative sod." Harry supplied by way of explanation to the shocked faces that were now staring at him.
Even the Hulk appeared to be shocked.

"Wait does that mean Coulson-"

"Alive and out of surgery, "Harry cut across Barton, "It's nice to meet you now that, you know, you're not evil and I'm not
'dead'!"

"Tasha told me about you."

"Er, guys. Not to break up the reunion but-" They directed their gaze skywards and saw more skrewts, as Harry had
decided to call them, escaping the portal.

"Captain, call it."

Rodgers took control, "Until we can close the portal our priority is containment. Barton I want you on that roof, eyes on
everything. Call out patterns and strays. Stark, you got the perimeter, anything gets more than 3 blocks out, to turn it back
or you turn it to ash."

Harry interceded, "I've seen to Selvig, and I'll know when he wakes up. Maybe he can tell us something about the portal."

Rodgers nodded in acknowledgement, waiting for Tony to fly off with Barton before continuing.

"Thor, you gotta try and bottle neck the portal. You've got the lightning to lay the bastards out. You and me," he continued
as Thor was pulled into the sky, pointing at Romanov, "We're going to stay on the ground keeping the fighting here.
Potter-" Harry looked at the man, "I don't know what you're capable of, so kill as many as you can."

Harry nodded, "I can get them off those blasted scooters for you as well."

Looking at the critters flying about wrecking destruction, he realised that he had a very effective method of killing them.
With a small smirk he took out his earpiece and slipped it into his pocket as he triggered his animagus transformation.

He barely paused to hear the other exclaim in surprise or the Hulks bellow before soaring into the sky as a streak of
flame. He figured, as the whole MoD magic didn't need a wand, he should be able to- he mentally shouted the Sanskrit
word and opened his beak allowing billows of flame to erupt and torch the Chitauri.

He swooped amongst the buildings, repeating this feat, occasionally deciding merely to rip them from their scooter with
his claws and throw them at their counterparts.

He saw a skrewt bearing down on him. He soared up to meet it, but his flames seemed to have little effect. So instead
he landed atop it with a clatter of claw on metal and shifted back. He placed his hand on it and growled, "Ajamb ha."

Suddenly he was falling. One moment there had been a writhing, but at least solid mass beneath him the next he was
poised to become more acquainted with the Manhattan pavement than he would like.

"Arresto Momentum!" he yelled, coming to a jarring halt half a metre from the stone. He released the spell and caught
himself before he smashed his face. He puzzled for a moment on what had happened before he saw, spattered on the
pavement next to him, the remains of what looked like a frog. He supposed it could have been a coincidence, but
something was telling him…

"What?"

"You meant Askanda." a familiar voice commented wryly, "Not Ajamb ha. Two completely different things. You know, you
might as well just say it in English, I know what you mean. Only the purists really stuck to the rules. Even then, you
needn't both using it against these things. The Tesseract sure, but this guys aren't affiliated enough for a good reducto
not to blast them to pieces."

Harry glared at the man's out of place cheerful tone, "Weren't you supposed to be watching Selvig?"

"Oh, he's a wake, I'm came just in to see you, well, fall."

Harry continued to glare before slipping in the earpiece he had retrieved from his pocket.

"Guys, Selvigs awake, I'm going to see if there's anything I can do about the portal."

"I'm already on my way," came the response from Romanov, "Just keep fighting."

"Gottit," Harry acknowledged, taking note of Deaths pointed look at his sleeve where he'd stashed his wand and slipped
it into his hand. Truth be told, he was beginning to feel the strain of the unfamiliar magic and it was a good feeling to slip
back into something more comfortable.

From there he entered into a familiar pattern, turning on his heel and shooting spells in all directions.

"Incendio Maxima!" he exclaimed, pointing his wand upwards. The cloud of flame exploded from its tip to engulf the first
of a chain of Chitauri. Its fellows swerved to avoid the flaming mass but they too were incinerated. The intense heat was
causing Harry to overheat so he wasted no time upon the death of the last alien in cancelling the spell.

"I can close the portal." Romanov's voice came over the comms and Harry paused after casting a silent Sectumsempra
on a Chitauri that was chasing after a young couple.

"What are you waiting for?" he asked in over Rogers making a similar point, before basting several more attackers with
an impetus. He watched them get knocked back into several vehicles and crumple to the floor.
"No, wait."

Harry looked up at Tony's statement in time to see the flying figure streaking across the sea towards the city. The
silhouette was bulkier than it should be.

"Stark, these things are still coming." As if to support the Captains remark, a new wave of Chitauri came soaring towards
him. He was so occupied with fighting them back that he nearly missed Tony's reply. It took him a moment longer to
process it as he froze a couple of the blighters mid-attack. A nuke? It clicked. A nuclear weapon. Images he'd found when
researching muggle history ran behind his eyes.

"I know just where to put it."

Harry looked up and found Tony in the sky. He could pick out the shape of the missile. He then saw where it was headed.

"Stark, you know that's a one way trip."

"Ignis Avis." Harry a flame erupted out of his wand and unfolded into a large bird which soared through the hoard. He
turned and found himself atop a sky scraper, but Tony was still too far away. He couldn't spell the thing reliably and while
he had stronger magic, a nuke wasn't something to be experimenting with. The secret of broom-less flight had died with
Voldemort. He was about to get the firebolt out, but he realised that there was nothing he could feasibly do.

"Tony!" he yelled, just before his friend went into the portal.

Everything went eerily still as he waited with bated breath for Tony to appear again. Part of him was riling against his
uselessness. What the hell was the point of being here if he could do bugger all? Suddenly a wave of death rolled from
the portal. He felt it sweep the city and saw the Chitauri fall as it touched them. He turned back to the portal, his seekers
eyes searching for that flash of red. He felt a presence next to him. Death was by his shoulder, holding the brim of his
cap as he peered into the sky.

"This can't be it for him." Harry implored the older man who tilted his head to look at him.

"That's not for me to say." He replied diplomatically.

"Captain?" Romanov's question was implied.

"Wait." But Harry was ignored as Rodgers gave the order for the portal to be closed. Harry was about to protest but
deaths quiet voice stopped him.

"You can keep it open yourself."

Harry spun on his companion, "How?"

Death gave him an incredulous look. He spread his arms then pointed his fingers at himself.

"Right." Harry turned to the portal, "What do I say?" His mid was churning, he couldn't for the life of him remember a
suitable phrase form his skim through of Hermione's notes. The pillar of light was quickly vanishing, as if rushing back
into the portal.

"We've covered this."

Harry cursed himself and threw his hand out into the direction of the portal.

"Commoror!"

He felt his power latch onto the opening just as the Tesseracts power dissipated. The opening tried to force its way
closed but Harry strained to keep it open. He used his power as a wedge while at the time sending a tendril through to
try and find Tony. There was some sort of screen in the opening, almost a denseness of air. Probably to stop all the air
rushing into the vacuum he reasoned, without interfering with physical entities. Or his magic, he thought as he slipped
past it to find Tony floating in the vacuum, just a flicker of life, separated from the Earth's gravity just as the vacuum was
from Earth's air. He gripped at the man with magic and towed him towards the portal. As soon Tony had passed through
the wedge he'd formed with his power he released the spell.

The portal rushed closed and Harry felt the relief spread through him as the strain vanished. He hadn't realised how
much power he'd been using until he fell to his hands and knees panting.

"Commoror?" asked Death dryly, kneeling down next to him.


Harry twisted his head to meet Death's gaze. "I'm comfortable with Latin."

That was the moment that he realised that upon releasing the portal he'd also lost his grip on Tony.

"Dammit." The roof he was kneeling on had a low railing so his view of his friend falling was unimpeded.

"Sun of a gun!"

"He's not slowing down."

Harry raised his hand again, his muscles complaining as he drew on the power once more.

"Arresto Momentum!"

Tony's descent slowed and Harry let himself calm slightly, the flicker of life he could feel in Tony offsetting his worry at his
friend's lack of movement.

Tony was past the edge of the building now, steadily lowering toward the ground. There was massive crash and a flash
of green and Tony was barrelled out of the air by the Hulk. Harry grabbed the edge of the building and leant forward, to
keep track of his friend. His pulse slowed once more when he realised that the Hulk meant him no harm and was
getting him to the ground the only way he could. In fact, he mused as Death pulled him to his feet, it showed that Banner
was in there somewhere. He grinned and saluted Death wearily who inclined his head.

"Have fun with the clean-up. Don't forget to deal with the Tesseract. I'll leave it up to your discretion how."

"Okay. Thanks. For everything."

Death vanished and Harry apparated to the group on the road. It was lucky he didn't splinch himself, he supposed, he
was magically drained enough. He stumbled as he appeared near his fellows to find them crouching by Tony. Hulk had
ripped his friends mask off and Tony's face was impassive. The light in his chest was flickering. Harry stepped forward in
concern, life was still flickering in his fiend, but if the light went off, there would be problem with the shrapnel in his chest.
He was no scientist, but perhaps the healers at Mungos would help? Then again the magic concentration there may just
cause the device to react dangerously. Tony had practically destroyed his lab in creating the element that runs it. Harry
had seen the room before it had been reconstructed.

Harry's thoughts were interrupted as the Hulk roared. Harry jumped, but more importantly, so did Tony, the e light in his
chest flaring back into life.

"What the hell?" He exclaimed, "What just happened? Please tell me nobody kissed me?"

It was just so… Tony that Harry couldn't help but laugh.

"We won."

Clint was making his way slowly but surely down the stairs. He'd tried the elevator, sure but buildings like these have
such annoying safety protocols. He'd bashed himself a fair bit when he'd swung down from the building, and at that point
he could feel every bruised muscle, every scratch.

"We won."

The words came over his headset and something that had been tight in his chest loosened, just a notch. The guilt that
had been bearing down on him since he woke up was alleviated slightly now that it was over. He came to a landing and
saw through a glass window in the door that led to the rest of the floor a woman. Half of her was blocked by a desk, but
he could see the blood pooling around her, matting her hair and staining in her suit. She was clearly dead, her lifeless
eyes obvious from here. He turned away and continued his stiff trudge down the stairs. No matter what, he reminded
himself, all the lives lost today, he had had a hand in. The pit was back in his stomach.

He heard footsteps coming up the stairs. He automatically went on guard only to see a head of scruffy black hair come
around the corner. The owner of the hair he recognised as Potter, the reputed 'wizard'. Well he couldn't argue that now,
he'd seen the guy fight with coloured lights and fire. He looked battered but happy and a smile broke onto his face.

"Ah, there you are. Figured you were somewhere in this building. The others are going to confront Loki. Coming?"

Clint nodded and commenced walking. He was surprised when Potter came up to meet him and offered him a hand.
"I'd use magic," the other man told him, but I'm saving it up to apparate up to Starks, where Loki is. It's easier with line of
sight. Don't worry I won't splinch."

The last bit was said with a trace of humour that was lost on Clint.

"Splinch?"

"Leave something behind."

Clint hovered over the image conjured by this idea for a moment before asking.

"That happen often then?"

Harry smiled, "Not as often as we may think, but it is a risk. Don't worry, as long as we keep in mind the three 'D's we
should be fine."

"And what are the three 'D's?" Clint asked in the same light hearted tone.

"Destination, determination and… I forget the other one."

"That's encouraging."

"Isn't it just."

Potter was quiet for a few moments before he drew in a breath and began to speak. "There's a spell, in the Wizarding
World. The Imperious Curse. It's an Unforgivable. Casting it on another human being lands you a life sentence in
Azkaban- that's the Wizard Prison. This spell gives the user the ability to control another's mind. The victim is aware of
what they are doing, but it's like..." Potter paused, apparently searching for the words to describe what he meant, "like
nothing matters. Nothing but obeying the voice, cause what else makes sense?"

Clint was silent, not entirely sure what to say in response to this stream of information. He wasn't entirely sure where this
was going, but he had an inkling and he was uncertain as to whether he wanted to hear any more. It sounded like Potter
was talking from experience.

"I was involved in a war a while back. It was vicious, lasted for years. Clean-up is still going on today. A fair number of
Voldermort's army had been Imperioused. Forced into doing some truly horrendous acts, entirely against their will. I
refused to harm anyone I knew was acting under the curse. Once the war was over and the spell broke, by our laws, the
victim wasn't guilty of any of their crimes. Their family and friends loved them no less. If you have no control over your
mind it's not your fault."

Potter looked across to Clint who didn't meet his gaze, "I'm not saying that it'll be easy, I know that there will be guilt. But it
is important for you to know, on some level, that your team, and Romanov, Natasha, don't blame you."

They had come to the ground floor and the wreckage of the entrance hall lay before them. They began the obstacle
course carefully, keeping an eye out for jagged shards of glass and twisted, makeshift dangers that were once chairs.

"You were under its influence once then?" Clint asked softly.

Potter paused in thought, "A long time ago." He supplied, "A couple of times because a crazy guy masquerading as our
teacher decided to give us a taste of the Unforgivables. And once by Voldermort himself, who wanted me to bow." He
trailed off obviously thinking back to those times.

"Bow?"

"Yes he was that puffed up."

Clint forced a smile, "What is it with evil that creates such arrogant bastards?"

Harry laughed as they came out into the street. They turned and saw Starks Tower at the far end of the street.

"Right, you might want to take a deep breath." Potter warned before turning sharply on the spot. Clint only just had time to
obey for the weirdest sensation overtook him. It was like being forced down a tube. He was glad he'd taken a breath, but
it soon felt like it wasn't going to be enough. He needed to breathe-

He took a deep breath as soon as the constriction around his chest faded. It was only Potter's grip on his arm that
stopped him stumbling away.

"What the hell?" he gasped.

"And that is your introduction to Wizard Transport," Potter grinned cheerfully, "And neither of us is splinched. Brilliant!"

"Who would choose to travel that way?" Clint asked somewhat superfluously he realised, because obviously wizards
had been doing so for years.

Potter didn't bother to dignify his spluttering with an answer and instead directed him with an outstretched arm off Stark's
balcony. It was the long one, the one that removed Tony's suit as he landed, but now the machine was dormant. Either
way, it meant more walking.

They entered what was once a nice room, the penthouse of Tony's building, to see the Avengers huddled near a figure
lying in the floor. Not on the floor. Loki was lying in a full length crater, courtesy of the Hulk, Clint would have guessed. The
creature did seem uncharacteristically smug.

"Ah, Robin Hood, you've decided to join us, you too Merlin. He's gonna wake up soon. Wanna make a show of it?"

Clint grinned, his eyes tracked on the one who'd caused all this misery. "I'd be glad to."

They were due to gather in the main control centre on the helicarrier which for now was settled somewhere in a 'top
secret' location, just outside of Roswell for repairs. They'd cleaned up and Harry for one was feeling refreshed in a loose
T-shirt and jeans. Even Thor's armour had a new shine. He walked up to the god in question, the only other Avenger to
appear thus far.

"I know what you intend to ask." The god rumbled.

"The Tesseract is dangerous." Harry countered, "It's against nature."

"I'd disagree." Thor replied, "It is a part of nature. It was twisted to defy it through my brother's wishes. It belongs back on
Asguard."

Harry was inclined to concede the point. He had a better idea, "You don't require the sceptre however?"

Thor looked down at him, "That you may have Warlock. You plan to do what I think you do?"

"Yup." Harry popped the 'p' as Steve came into the room. The room filled quickly after that, Tony being the last to arrive yet
again. He took the seat next to Harry and struck up banter about the schwarma place they'd been to the night before until
Fury called for quiet.

"We need to decide how to proceed." He told the room at large.

"What, no congrats?" Tony asked belligerently, "No Thank you?" Fury eyed the other man before continuing.

"Loki-"

"Will be coming home and suffer the punishment decided for him." Thor immediately supplied.

A couple of protests sprang up around the table.

"He committed the crime here, we deserve justice."

"It's his family, what's he expecting? A grounding?"

"Actually," Harry commented, breaking through the impending argument, "From what I've read about the Norse Gods,
they could be more inventive than we could ever be. That said… I wouldn't mind seeing him pitched against a
Dementor…"

"Dementor?"

Harry opened his mouth to explain but Thor cut across him.

"He is of Asguard. He has broken our laws as well. He will not be punished lightly." He glared around the table and no
one spoke up, but several people looked disgruntled. "And I'll be taking the Tesseract."
Another uproar. Thor had to shout to make himself heard. "It belongs on Asgaurd!"

"It was stolen from there in the first place!"

"We were able to guard it for centuries. You held it for barely a year."

It wasn't long before Fury conceded. Harry was about to speak when Thor made his final point.

"The sceptre will go with Warlock Harry Potter."

Fury raised an eyebrow.

"I don't see why that should happen. If you do not want it on Asguard. It shall stay with us."

"No."

"The sceptre is actually one of the reasons I'm here in the first place." Harry decided to add, his Head Auror mask sliding
into place. He met Fury's gaze. "You must have realised that something like this was the case."

The other Avengers were looking between Harry and Fury, obviously aware of the friction between them.

"You wizards have all the power you need," Fury said, a inflection that could be interpreted as a sneer entering his voice.
"Why would you need the sceptre?"

"To destroy it." Harry said evenly. He rose his voice to cut through the protests before they started. "As long as the sceptre
exists, there is a conduit to the Tesseract. You don't have the Tesseract, so all you'll have is a shiny beacon screaming
'steal me' to any passing megalomaniac who wants the power it offers. You might as well taunt people to try again. Just
look at the destruction around you!"

He gestured at the dishevelled room.

"What gives you the right to make that decision?" Fury asked levelly.

Harry smiled grimly, seeing Death making silly gestures behind Fury's head.

"Trust me, I have a powerful backer."

"What do you suggest?" Harry asked Death as he looked at the sceptre on the floor in front of him. It had taken a healthy
debate to get past Fury and even then, Harry had had to sneak the thing out before Fury could secrete it away and
barricade him with tape, paperwork and excuses. He'd seen Thor and Loki off-world before apparating away with the
sceptre to the roof of his apartment building. Death was lying on the cement next to him, looking up at the sky using his
coat as a pillow.

"What do you think?"

Harry glared at the figure that'd closed his eyes and appeared to be dozing with a cat-who-got-the-cream grin.

"Well MoD powers are my only option aren't they? So what, to I just say for it to be destroyed?"

"You can't destroy energy." Death lectured him, with his most patronising voice. "You can only change it.

Harry grimaced, "What about magic? You can break wands."

"The wands are a conduit. Did you not learn anything at school?" Death peered incredulously at him from under one
eyelid before closing it and settling back into his coat. "The energy comes from you- you form it into spells and send it off
it does what it does, transforms back into some form of magical energy and joins the cycle once more. Very like Muggle
energy, Light bulbs and all that jazz."

"So if I drain this of energy, then destroy the conduit…" Harry suggested slowly.

"Pretty much."

"So, wise one, how do I do that, and where will this energy go? Especially when it's spent the past week causing so
much havoc."
"Nothing comes back from beyond the veil." Death answered pulling his cap down to cover his eyes.

Harry remembered the archway, the tattered veil and its podium. He'd been back a couple of times since his first
encounter with it, but unless his duties had forced him to enter the department, which was a rare occurrence anyway, he
gave the black door a wide berth.

"What's beyond the archway?" He contemplated, looking at death curiously.

Death lifted the peak of his cap. "What? Master of Death not enough for you? You ain't the master of Any-and-all-things-
mysterious, you know." He grinned at Harry's glare, "Life needs some unanswerable questions don't you think?"

"You certainly seem to have an unending supply of them." Harry retorted.

Death merely chucked, "Where's the fun in sticking around forever if you can't cryptic every now and always. You'll learn."

Harry grumbled for a moment before standing and stretching.

"To London it is then, I can set up that meeting Kingsley wanted as well."

Death nodded before looking up with a sudden idea. "You couldn't get some jelly babies for me could you? The sweets.
From one of those old sweet shops in the little paper bags? Nothing beats the classics and I have a bit of a sweet tooth."
He sat up defensively when Harry raised an eyebrow in his direction, "It's not as if I can walk into a shop and buy them!"

Obviously the thought of just nicking them didn't occur to his companion, something which made Harry smile. Despite
being Death, Death was just so…

"You can eat?" Harry asked dubiously, thinking of a ghost's method of 'eating'.

Death scoffed, "Course I can! It's not as if I need to, to exist mind you, but you don't eat candy floss for survival do you?"

It was with this odd request in mind that Harry bid a temporary farewell to Bruce, who'd taken up residence in Tony's labs,
Pepper who was minding the reconstruction and finally Tony who threatened Harry with questions upon his return. An
hour later he was stepping out of the chimney in Grimmauld place, ready to close the chapter on the Tesseract.

A/N
This is not the end, I just wanted to get the movie out of the way. The next chapter is already partly written and
planned and I have solved the crux that was tripping me up. I apologise for the lack of an update schedule, or an
ability to stick to one, but in return I promise longer chapters.
Credit for the 3 D's quip goes to Lunabell Marauder Knyte, as I can honestly say that if I hadn't read something similar
in her HP/A Fic 'Trouble Finds Him' it would never have occurred to me to refer to them.
*Chapter 9*: The Wizard and I
A/N Enjoy,
Disclaimer: I own none of the verse's brought together in the creation of this fic.

Summary: Harry, Wizard, Master of Death, New York PI and friend of Tony Stark has left for England to destroy Loki's
scepter. Tony has been left to ruminate on the Wizarding World.

It had been a week since Harry had left for England. Bruce was enjoying himself a couple of floors down in some of the
labs while Pepper was overseeing the renovations. Tony couldn't stand watching the builders tramping over what he saw
as his building so he'd made his excuses and secreted himself away on some of the lower, undamaged levels. To while
away the time, he was on a secure database, trying to find out more about his elusive friend and the new world at his
fingertips. And failing, quite miserably. With his real name, he found traces of Harry in the public system when he was a
kid. All information however stopped when he was 11 and removed from the public school system. He supposed it was
to be expected of a technology shy society. Now to hack S.H.I.E.L.D.

"Hey, sir."

"Tell Pepper I'm off saving some civilians or something."

"She said you'd say that." Happy said, walking into the room and up to the desk.

"Really, those exact words? She's getting better."

"Harry Potter? What are you researching Harry Potter for?"

Tony swiveled to look at Happy, annoyed, "Haven't you learned that it's rude to peer over people's shoulders?"

"Well... wait. Mr Evans is Mr Potter isn't he!"

"Maybe he is." Tony muttered, back to tapping away at S.H.I.E.L.D's defenses "Maybe he's also a wizard." He continued to
tap away until he realized that Happy hadn't responded to that last statement. "Wait a sec. You know about Potter?"

Happy shrugged. "I'm just surprised I didn't recognize him. Then again he wasn't such a big thing over here as he was
across the pond. I knew the scar was familiar."

"You know about wizards." Tony stated, sipping his coffee, trying to wrap his head around Happy knowing something so
amazing that he didn't.

Here Happy looked slightly shifty, "Well yeah, I'm a squib aren't I? I'm more surprised to find that you know! What with the
Statute and everything."

Tony frowned, "Squib?"

"Magic parents, no powers meself. Hey, if you want, I could turn up some old articles from the war. Some of the British
ones too if you're interested. The archive's not that far from here."

"That." Tony started, "would be great. Specially as it seems that Fury discovered my bug. Dammit." Happy left quietly,
leaving Tony to try and find another way into S.H.I.E.L.D's database. Fury had obviously been expecting to be hacked
however, so his efforts were to no avail. It was a few hours later that Happy returned, finding him muttering at his monitor,
his coffee forgotten and cold.

"Err, sir? I have the papers you wanted."

Tony spun in his chair to face Happy who was holding a fair sized sheaf of newspapers. He handed them to Tony who
dropped all but one of the papers on his desk. He flicked the other one open with a flick of the wrist before nearly
dropping the thing in surprise. On the front cover was Harry, which in itself wouldn't be that unusual seeing as these
were supposed to be articles on him, except for the fact that he was moving. His friend was glaring at him, eyes roving
around in such a way that Tony had the impression that picture Harry couldn't actually see him. He scanned the rest of
the page. The paper was the Daily Prophet and the headline was "Harry Potter "Disturbed and Dangerous!" He began to
read the article, his eyes flickering over the words of this 'Rita Skeeter'.

… regularly collapsing at school…


… scar on his forehead (relic of the curse with which You-Know-Who attempted to kill him)…

…Potters b rain affected b y the attack…

"Parseltongue?"

"The language of snakes. It's very rare, and associated with dark magic." Tony looked up at Happy who was still lingering
a couple of feet away. "These articles are actually before the war broke out but I figured you would be interested."

Tony turned back to the paper, "They aren't very Pro-Harry are they?"

"Well that's when the smear campaign started. After the war, the Prophet didn't even retract its slander or apologize, just
got on the Potter train and continued on its way."

"Huh, they're journalists, what would you expect?" Tony snorted, diving back into the article, "Thanks Happy."

He continued through the papers for the next couple of hours drawn in by the story and world of his friend. Part of him still
rebelled when it came across some new form of wizardry that seemed ludicrous, but he pushed it aside knowing that at
this point that there was little that should surprise him. Occasionally he would flick through a paper to examine other
articles; accidents with love potions that went wildly out of control, the threat of uprising from Goblins that apparently ran
the Wizarding banks and match reports of a game called 'Quidditch' which was played on brooms. One match had
apparently lasted five days. His main attention however was on following the progress of his friend as he went from
being slandered a dangerous liar to being heralded as the possible savior and Chosen One to then being labelled as
'Undesirable No. 1' and finally being lorded about as a champion and slayer of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Annoyingly
enough, the actual name of this You-Know-Who wasn't mentioned, something which began to grate a couple of papers
in. He found upon reaching the end that he still knew very little about his friend. He knew no how others saw him, or
wanted him portrayed and it left a bad taste in his mouth. Knowing the surface of what Harry had gone through was
difficult enough to digest, facing dragons and evil mazes at fourteen, fighting and winning a war at seventeen was more
than Tony would wish on anyone. Not only watching someone die in front of you but also enduring speculation that may
you'd killed him yourself? These wizards were morons,

Tony told Jarvis to get the jet ready. He had someone to talk to.

Harry needed a walk to clear his head. He was strolling through London when he heard a beeping noise. He recognized
the tone and scrambled for his phone. He looked down at it and noticed that he had over a dozen missed calls. He taped
at the keys to bring up a list and saw that they were all from the same number, Tony's. Or rather JARVIS on Tony's behest.
He pressed redial and held the phone to his ear.

It was picked up on the third ring.

"You managed to fall off the radar."

"Well yeah, magic does that. What do you want?"

"Can't a guy contact a friend for no other reason than to say hi?"

"Not quite so persistently, no. Wait," Big Ben was tolling in the background, and was being echoed towards him from
down the line, "Where are you?"

"Around."

Harry sighed. "You have GPS, meet me at Grimauld Place, in the park."

He hung up and continued his stride, walking quickly now that he had somewhere to be. Tony obviously didn't want to
appear too eager as Harry got there first. He leaned against the fence, looking at number 12, where he'd been staying
upon coming back to England. Hermione had kept the place in order in his absence with the help of a certain couple of
House Elves.

His mind was just wandering to the meeting just then with the Minister when he saw a familiar figure walking towards
him.

"Tony."

"Good to see you too, how's the scepter " his friend grinned, removing his sunglasses with his signature grin. Harry
returned it.

"Gone. How're the tower renovations going?"

Tony shrugged, "Peppers got them all in hand. What are we doing here then?"

"Before we do anything, I have to ask. How dependent is your arc reactor on electricity?"

Tony frowned at him, obviously trying to figure out why the question relevant. "It isn't It's powered by a whole new
element."

"I'm asking because magic tends to mess with electrical things. I wouldn't want the reactor to start faulting, for obvious
reasons. That said, if you feel it going at all fitsy, you need to tell me, and we'll get out of there."

"Fitsy?"

"The point stands."

"I understand. What are we doing here then?"

"My home is Number 12, Grimmauld Place."

Tony glanced around, "I know this may come as a shock, but there is no- whoa. Do all wizard's houses do that?"

Harry grinned and clapped Tony across the shoulders, "Only the cool ones. Come on, I'll get you a cup of tea."

Tony followed him up the steps as Harry let him into the house.

"So is this always here, or does it vanish, some sort of alternate dimension?"

"It's always here I guess, as long as you are on the top step you're invisible to the street. But you can apparate onto it, so
it's got to be a fixed location."

"So I can see it because..."

"A secret keeper, in this case me, told you it was here. It's a protective charm."

The door opened smoothly and Harry crossed the threshold, pulling off his jacket as he went.

"Paranoid?"

"The previous owners were."

"I trust you had a good day Master?"

"Yes thanks Kreacher, could you put the kettle on?"

"What is that?"

"Winky is doing just that Master."

"What is that?"

"Thanks, Kreacher, this is my friend Tony, he'll probably be staying with us for a while."

"I'll set up a room."

"Hello, right here!"

"Sorry," Harry turned, "Tony, this is Kreacher. He's a house elf. He's served in this house for years. When I inherited the
house, he came with it."

Tony was looking in disbelief after Kreacher who'd left up the stairs. "So he's a servant?"

"Yes, though he and Winky react violently to being paid, they just take a couple of days off a month. I tried to pay them in
the beginning but the galleons would just show up under my pillow the next day. It's all very well Hermione changing the
laws, but it'll be years before the elves accept them. "
"So they were slaves then?"

"Indentured, but their quality of life depended on their family. When I first met Kreacher he was a miserable old sod.
Hermione, being a muggle born was outraged when she found out about them and formed SPEW, the Society for the
Protection of Elfish Welfare."

"Spew?"

"Yeah, we magical folk seem to have a tendency towards slightly silly acronyms."

"Your tea is ready sirs! Will you have it in the sitting room?"

Harry looked down at the tiny elf, clad in a small pinafore and apron.

"Thanks Winky, we'll come into the kitchen. Lead the way."

Tony paused to look at some of the pictures lining the hall. As the pictures in the newspapers had been, they were
moving. He examined the faces, and realised that he recognised them from Harry's photo album, only in this they were
waving at him. He spotted Harry, who was being nudged by the large bearded man who then pointed out at Tony. Mini-
Harry waved, and Tony, without thinking gave a small wave with two fingers back.

"That was taken just before their wedding," said Harry, indicating a tall red headed man and a stunning blonde woman
by his side. The man had three large red scars running across his face, but he smiled regardless and clutched his
fiancée closer to him. A cheeky looking red headed man in front of him, standing next to someone who was obviously his
twin stuck his tongue out while his brother doffed his ear. Tony felt his eyes widen.

"He just took his ear off."

Harry just looked bemused, "Yeah, It's become a party trick of his. The kids love it. You coming?"

Tony followed his friend into the small kitchen. He looked around, taking in the old fashioned style and the bronze pots.
His eyes were drawn to another 'House Elf' that he was going to assume was female because of the hair and the slightly
pointier face.

"Good Day Master Harry." She squeaked as she took cups down from a shelf. She slipped off her foot stool and placed
them on the table before bowing to Harry.

"Winky, this is my friend Tony."

"Good Day Mr Tony sir."

"Uh, just Tony please."

A whistling filled the air and the elf darted past the pair of them to lift a kettle off the stove. As she set about preparing the
tea- Tony just nodded when Harry asked if the beverage was okay- he sat at the table as Harry took a seat opposite him.

"So what are you doing this side of the pond?"

Tony accepted the empty cup presented to him before looking back at his friend.

"I found some newspapers," Harry merely raised an eyebrow and gestured for him to continue, "about you, from the War."

Harry sat back, looking contemplative, "That's a fairly cumbersome topic. Still have that list of questions?"

"It only grows."

"Shoot."

Tony was looking straight at Harry's face as he spoke, so naturally the first question that came to mind.

"Your scar, the one on your forehead. Apparently not a car crash."

Harry laughed, shifting to allow Winky to pour the now brewed tea. "Thanks. Yeah. No, not a car crash. That was what my
Aunt and Uncle told me growing up. Well if you've read the papers, you've heard of Voldemort?"

"So that's the guy's name! What's with the whole You-Know-Who business?"
"His name is feared. The scar was a result of a killing curse that failed. I'm the only person to survive the curse, the first
time when I was only one year old." He grimaced, "That's why I was famous."

Tony in turn was frowning. "That was mentioned in the papers. One year old? Why would anyone, even a crazy tyrant try to
kill a baby!?"

Harry sighed, "Tom was a twisted man." And with that Harry launched into the story, describing the life of a boy named
Tom Riddle who grew up to be an evil tyrant. Such stories had been debated in the newspapers but the facts mentioned
were obscure and conflicting. Harry's on the other hand was surprisingly rich in detail, from his descriptions of how the
man changed physically to how the Wizarding world was altered by him and the journeys that the man made. It ended
with an extremely vivid description of the man's attack on his parents. Harry's voice changed slightly as he finished the
story, growing slightly terser, tipping Tony off to his unsettled-ness in speaking of the events.

"And the curse failed, rebounded everybody thought. Voldemort was gone and I was left with my life and a scar. All
because of a prophecy."

"So prophecies are real? Seeing the future and all that jazz?"

"Yup. It's not a highly regarded magic though. Real ability is rare. I took Divination as an O.W.L and that was just a farce.
The teacher as capable of real prophecy occasionally but she didn't even realize she did it. The rest was just posturing."

"Like 'muggle' fortune tellers?"

"With candles and incense to boot."

There was a tapping at the window and Tony turned to see a small b ird of all things on the ledge outside. Its large amber
eyes seemed to be impeaching them to open the window which surprisingly enough Kreacher did, lifting the latch with a
crack. The, what he identified to be an owl, hopped into the room before fluttering over to Harry. It set down on the table
with a clutter of claws before proffering a leg to Harry. Tony watched with a mutely raised eyebrow as Harry retrieved what
appeared to be an envelope from the bird and pet it on the head.

"Thanks Rapier, Tony this is Rapier." He lent back and grabbed a morsel from the jar on the counter behind him and gave
it to the owl which promptly gulped it down before making its way to a perch that Tony hadn't noticed previously by the now
open window.

"And there is an owl called Rapier because…"

Tony asked as he watched the bird preen itself. Harry had cracked the wax on the envelope, how archaic were these
people?

"He's Ron and Hermione's, they named him after Ron's late brother."

Tony had the sneaking suspicion that Harry was enjoying Tony's clueless-ness and decided not to deign the ribbing with
a response.

"Sorry for being rude, one moment." Harry scanned the letter, looking up at Tony briefly before reaching some paper from
a drawer underneath the owl food jar.

"I shall fetch a quill for sir." Kreacher croaked, darting from the room.

Harry leaned forward, "You know that friend I told you about, the one who was caught up in the S.H.I.E.L.D base when
Loki attacked?" He barely waited for Tony to nod before continuing, "Well she's out of the hospital and her in-laws are
having a celebration. Any excuse to gather everyone together. Do you want to come? They won't mind. Molly loves an extra
mouth to feed and Arthur loves Muggles."

"Sure," Tony replied smoothly and Harry grinned as he took a genuine quill, feather and all from the elf and scribbled a
note on the paper that Tony now noticed was too think to be normal paper. Was it parchment?

Harry called Rapier over and tied the note to its leg and released it out of the window. Tony watched it flutter off into the
sky.

"You use birds for post."

Harry nodded, "Yup. Every morning at school, hundreds of owls would come to deliver the post. It was a spectacular
sight."
"I can imagine," Tony muttered his attention on the window," The impossibility… This house squeezed itself from
between two connected houses, how can there be windows? And visible space?"

"I must confess, I know it happens, but I don't know why. You kinda have to accept the unbelievable when magic
involved."

That was unhelpful. "Are there no limits?" Tony asked. When he'd found out about magic, his whole world had shifted,
everything he knew was solidified in science with its rules and limits. No matter how impossible something seemed,
there would always be an explanation because it had to be achievable somehow, even if the methods may be somewhat
impossible. But Magic defied all of that. It was the house that brought it home to him. He hadn't really seen this side of
magic before now. Rubbing it in was a duster brushing down the shelves by itself in the corner of the room.

"Yes." Harry sat down, "There are many laws, both magical and ministry that govern our people. For example, Food
cannot be conjured out of thin air, which is the first of Five Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental
Transfiguration."

"What are the others?" Tony asked curiously

"Money," Harry asserted, his brow furrowed, "I think. I must confess, I can't remember. It's been years since then. I only
remember the first one because it was extremely annoying."

"You are very helpful." Tony sniped. "So do you wizards use normal currency? Or do you just use the cash of the country
you're in?"

Later that afternoon, after several refills of tea and quite a number of biscuits, Tony was still asking questions about the
semantics of the wizarding world. Occasionally Harry would release snippets of his past in his explanations, a centaur
that had been banished from his tribe because he dared to help humans, books which could react violently and take a
hand off and so on. It was a while before Tony realized that the conversation had drifted away from the topics he had
originally planned to confront Harry about. That was the problem, every answer to a question only raised more and it was
easy to get lost in the knowledge.

"So wait, let me get this straight. You can use magic to: Tear people to bits, cut them to ribbons, blow them up, turn them
into a menagerie of different creatures, set them on fire, drown them, mutilate them, wipe their memories etc. All very…
dangerous, let's say and all horrible things, but only the one that kills you quietly, no pain or anything is the only one that
is outlawed, considered 'Unforgivable' next to the torture and mind control ones? There are worse deaths at your wand
tips, that do a lot more damage and apparently aren't illegal! What kind of society is this?!"

Harry smiled wryly, "I suppose it's because all those spells can be used for other reasons, non-violent reasons. If you
were to use them on a person, then yes, you'd go to Azkaban. Avada Kadavera is very… final. There is no doubt as to your
intentions."

Tony hummed to himself and he tapped the table contemplating the information he'd just been given.

"It's nearly time to go." Harry commented, looking down at a pocket watch, a curious gold thing with stars on the dial and
a dent on the back. "Come on, I want to show you something."

Tony rose and followed Harry though to a room just off the hall. The first thing he noticed was how empty the room was.
Green wallpaper, wooden paneling and an oak floor, Tony would have pegged it for a dining room, except it lacked a big
table. He noticed that Harry had turned to the wall behind them so Tony followed his gaze and saw what could only be an
intricate family tree.

He let his eyes travel across the names and dates, headed by small stitched portraits. The dates around eye level were
recent Tony realized. Well, as recent as the 1900's were. Some of the older pictures looked newer than the surrounding
fabric however and he hovered over these. Isla Black, Phineas Nigellus, Cedrella… where did they get these names?
These were strange even for Brits!

"They were burned off." Harry informed him, from his shoulder, "Hermione recreated and once fixed it extended." He
gestured to Cedrella and traced his finger from her name as it became that of the 'Weasley family. Tony looked ahead,
"Hermione, that's your friend right?"

Harry nodded, "Most of the pure-blood families are all inter-related." He informed Tony- "It was all about keeping the
blood pure. Septimus Weasley was a 'blood traitor' though, that's why Cedrella was blasted off. Sirius ran away, and his
uncle, Alphard was blasted off for giving him gold."
"Tough family."

"You have no idea. Be glad we managed to get Mrs Black's portrait down. A muggle setting foot in her house would be
too much to bear, curtain or no. It was stuck with a permanent stick charm. Hermione said she had to get someone to cut
away the wall and repair it later."

Harry must have been aware of the look he was receiving from Tony, but was casually ignoring it.

"We've marked the known followers of Voldemort here," He indicated the stitched black "DE" in Bellatrix Lestrange's
portrait.

Tony spotted other such stitched figures on the Tapestry, the majority close to the main Black branch.

"I presume there's a lot of general Wizarding politics that I'm missing."

Harry nodded. "Just a few. I'd explain, but we have to head off now. I can give you your first taste of apparition!"

The unmasked anticipation in his companion's voice made Tony's stomach twist unwillingly.

"Nice try, Legolas has already explained your little teleportation trick."

Harry grinned, "Fine, we can floo instead ."

"Wai- wha-? You're doing this to annoy me!" Tony called after his friend as he was left alone in the bare room. He
scanned over the carefully designed faces; set in a variety of different expressions that he assumed represented their
personality. He found Harry's face beneath two people that he presumed were his parents. Why had Harry shown him
this?

"Coming?"

"Don't get your robes in a twist!" Tony threw back at him, turning to leave, but not before noticing a small list of dates
under Harry's name. He frowned; the last one had been ten days previously. His brow remained furrowed as he left the
room and followed the sounds of Harry's moving about to what he presumed was the lounge. He was standing next to a
roaring fire, a small pot in his hand.

He proffered the pot to Tony how raised an eyebrow at it.

"Take a handful," Harry explained, "and toss it into the fire."

Tony did so cautiously. He managed to maintain a stoic facial expression as the fire exploded into green flames. He had
to stop expecting anything normal of this world.

"Now step into the fire." Wait, what? "And say clearly as you can 'The Burrow'."

"You want me to step into a fire?"

"And say 'The Burrow". Yes."

"Is this supposed to be some ironic statement to the witch burnings?"

"Just trust me okay. And try not to swallow any ash. That's what I did my first time. Ended up in the wrong grate."

Tony drew in a deep breath.

"The Burrow?" Harry gave a quick nod and without further ado, Tony stepped into the grate. He nearly flinched, expecting
the flames, but was instead greeted by a faint tickling sensation. He marveled at this for a moment before enunciating,
"The Burrow", and suddenly he was spinning. Views from what were obviously other peoples fireplaces flashed past
him. He was just wondering about privacy issues that could arise from such arrangements when he came to a sudden
stop. Eh took a moment to orient himself before stepping out into the lounge of what he presumed must be called 'The
Burrow'.
*Chapter 10*: Meet the Weasleys
A/N Tada.

Disclaimer: I own none of the characters.

Summary: Harry; Wizard, Master of Death, New York PI and friend of Tony Stark has taken his friend to visit The
Burrow.

It was one of the strangest rooms he'd ever been in. It wasn't the clutter that gave him this impression, although he didn't
think he'd ever been in a room in such disarray before. It was the magic. Just hints of it here and there, reminding him
that in this house magic was a fact of life.

A pile of books that shouldn't be able to hold their precarious position.

A pair of knitting needles, clicking away at a scarf which was forming over a ginger tomcat that seemed unperturbed by
the garment that was falling in folds over him.

A spoon absently stirring one of the many cooking pots on an old fashioned stove.

At the same time there were elements of a normal household such as armchairs and a battered old radio that sat on a
side table.

"Well get out of the way, dear! Make some space for Harry." A plump ginger woman bustled towards him from the sink,
shooing him from the fireplace. He scurried out of the way just as the fire flashed green and his friend Harry unfolded
from it. His friend barely had time to brush some ash from his jacket before he was enveloped by the woman.

"Oh Harry! It's so good to see you! Oh look at you! Are you even eating over there? You haven't been a fight have you? Ron
did say you were looking into Hermione's accident. And your hair! Have you still not found a way to tame it?"

Tony watched his enigmatic, all-powerful friend being mothered and grinned in amusement. He actually looked like the
teenager you'd assume he was as he grinned and ruffled his hair.

"It's good to see you too Mrs Weasley! I've gotta say, I'm really looking forward to your cooking!"

Mrs Weasley patted him on the arm affectionately, "Well someone needs to feed you. And your friend," she turned to Tony
who felt smaller under her scrutiny," He looks like he eats just as little as you!"

"This is Tony, Tony this is Mrs Weasley."

"Call me Molly." She said, still examining him, "Well I'm busy in here, everybody else is outside- No I can manage by
myself, go greet everyone, they are so excited to see you again." She headed off Harry's proffer of help, pushing them out
of the room towards a rickety looking backdoor. Tony looked over his shoulder to see Molly flicking her wand, causing
potatoes to jump out of their skins and levitate into the sink before following Harry out of the house.

He just had enough time to register a long table spread across the lawn of a rustic garden, and the people busying
themselves with laying it before said people noticed the newcomers. There were a chorus of yells and greetings as they
abandoned their tasks to walk over to Harry, hugging him and patting him on the shoulder. Harry was disappearing in a
mass of people. A majority of them red-heads.

"Oi! Let him breathe!" someone shouted over the noise and the crowd began to part.

"Still not shaving eh?" said one tall redhead that Tony recognised as one of the twins in the photo, ruffling Harry's hair.
Harry batted the hand away looking disgruntled before a grin spread on his face.

"Whose your friend?" The one with long hair and a scarred face asked, his arm wrapped around a stunning blonde
woman Tony felt his eyes drawn to immediately. His gaze was broken when someone, Harry, elbowed him hard in the
side.

"This is Tony. Tony, this is everyone." Harry gestured at the group as a whole.

"Helpful." Tony muttered, looking back at the woman.

"That's Bill and his wife Fleur," The couple waved, "George and Angelina, Neville and Hannah, Ginny, Charlie, Mr
Weasley, " they all looked familiar, from the photos on Harry's wall, and that's when he realised that what had been
unsettling him. Harry had gone to school with several of these people, yet they were all in their late twenties, early thirties,
the changes were subtle but there. Meanwhile Harry looked exactly as he had in the photos. Suddenly George's shaving
comment made more sense. He looked where Harry was pointing to a brunette sat at the table who was grinning in their
direction.

"-his wife Hermione, the woman he are here to celebrate the health of!" Hermione blushed and used the table to push
herself to her feet.

"And you Harry! I'm glad you're okay!" She gave him a hug. Tony had to restrain the smile that threatened to rise to his
lips. It was strangely satisfying to see Harry, who lived as seemingly solitary existence surrounded by friends. He couldn't
start looking like a sap though. It made him wonder why Harry apparently cut himself off from them however. His attention
on Harry he missed Mr Weasley walking in his direction.

"Nice to meet you." The man said with a broad grin on his face.

Tony returned the sentiment and the grin if possible grew wider.

"Would I be mistaken in my knowledge of you being a muggle?" he asked.

"You mean a non-magic person?" Tony asked, to double check the terminology.

"Yes, yes, that's right!"

"That's me."

Tony asserted and the man's eyes widened.

"Well that's just brilliant! I find muggles so fascinating. Would it be okay if I discussed some things with you?"

Tony shrugged. "Sure."

Harry grinned at his friends. He's missed them.

"So you managed to find out happened to Hermy then?" George asked, drawing the attention of those closest to them.

Harry shrugged. "Sod with a 'God- Complex. Quite literally. Don't worry, he's been sorted." He added as Hermione's brow
creased.

"Oh we never doubted you!" Charlie shouted from his perch on the table."

"Mum was freaking though. That clock of hers spent that week oscillating between Danger and Mortal Peril." George
grinned. Harry found himself touched to learn that he'd been added to the infamous clock.

"Not to mention the Muggle news. Am we wrong in thinking that the mess in that city was you?"

Harry stared in surprise at Ginny. "You watched the Muggle news?"

She shrugged, "My friends were making a big deal of it." Harry frowned slightly.

"Ginny's taken an interest in the Muggle World," George confided in him. "Dad has finally corrupted her!"

Harry smiled bemusedly as Ginny scowled, "I met some people in a Muggle coffee shop and we decided to stay in
touch. They think I'm 'eccentric'" she put the phrase in air-quotes," but they're interesting. Not to mention Muggle Music!
There is so much variety."

"Trust me, I know some interesting Muggles." Harry looked to Tony who'd been sequestered by Mr Weasley.

"So, you're a technical sort of fella! Maybe you could explain something to me."

"Fire away."

"Well you see, I've taken apart no end of plugs, but I still can't figure it. How do they actually work?"

Harry laughed, wondering whether or not to try and save Tony from Mr Weasley. He instead turned to Ron.

"Hey, where's Luna and the kids?"


Ron shrugged, "Luna has taken them into the woods with Teddy and Hagrid."

Harry grinned, "Hagrids here!"

Ron looked affronted, "Of course! He wouldn't miss it. We had to persuade him to leave Grawp out of it."

"Food's ready!" came a cry and they began to make their way to the trestle table. Harry saw that Tony was still hanging
behind with Mr Weasely, looking somewhat baffled.

"But how is electricity created?"

"Er- wait a sec, you have a radio!"

"Yes."

"But, doesn't it run on electricity?"

"No, why should it?"

Harry took this as an opportunity to intercede before Tony exploded.

"You weren't kidding about being 'technologically stunted'." He muttered in Harry's ear as they sat down.

Harry was still chuckling when there was a small yell of excitement.

"God children ahoy." George crowed and Harry rose again to greet the tornado that was Teddy.

"God children?" Tony asked, twisting in his seat to look at the teenager who was hugging Harry.

Harry ruffled Teddy's ginger hair.

"You're taller. He commented idly.

"You're not!" Teddy grinned happily, "I'm gonna catch up soon." As Harry watched, the eyes upturned to him shifted to
green and the ginger hair rippled to black. Harry ignored Tony's poorly hidden gaping to continue his conversation.

"You're getting more control then." The boy grinned and nodded, before setting off on a babbled tale of something that
had happened at school. He heard Ron explain to Tony what a metamorphagus was as dishes began to float towards
the table.

"-and the teachers thought that I was Regin, so he got in trouble."

"Your teacher is sitting right here." Neville commented midly.

Teddy blushed, "Well he deserved it for being mean to Marcus. I don't get why they beat on their own hou-"

"'Arry!"

Tony realised that he should really stop being surprised by magic. He's thought that he was doing okay, not even blinking
as serving dishes began to arrange themselves on the table. But the kid changing his appearance without even blinking
had been another level of strange.

"It's genetic." Harry's friends Ron was telling him. "He got it from his mother, Tonks." What sort of name was Tonks?
"Unfortunately his parents were killed in the war." The last part was said quietly, presumably so the kid wouldn't hear. He
raised an eyebrow and glanced at the boy in question. "He knows, but it can be a sore topic." Ah, by telling him now, it
stopped a possibly social blunder later int eh evening.

"'Arry!"

Tony looked around at the yell and saw the huge bearded man that had been in several of Harry's photos. He was bigger
in person.

The man was carrying a toddler in his arms and Ton couldn't help must think that the giant man might actually crush her.

Harry turned to look up at the man.


"Hey Hagrid."

The man's black eyes creased as he grinned down at Harry and his young friend. "It's been too long."

"It has." Harry agreed, "How's Grawp?"

Grawp?

"Hagrid's half-brother." Ron told him quietly, watching the exchange. "He's a giant." Tony's head shot around.

"Giant?"

Ron nodded, "Yeah. Hagrid's half giant. On his mother's side."

"Is that even possible?" Tony asked incredulously.

Ron looked at him as if he was an idiot before indicating in Hagrids direction.

Tony glared at him, "Well yeah… but what about the logistics? How would that even… actually I don't want to know." He
pushed several theories out of his mind.

Ron laughed.

"This can't be Rosie!" Harry was saying to the little girl who was giggling at Harry, hiding her eyes beneath her fringe.
"She's much too big."

"It's me!" the girl insisted. She held out her tiny hands for Harry to pick her up which he did, swingin her around easily.

Ron grinned at the pair fondly.

"She's your daughter?" Tony asked.

Ron nodded, "First brunette in the family. You may have noticed, as a family, we're fairly ginger."

Tony snorted. "I never would have guessed."

"We've got a blonde in the family too." Ron was commenting, "Victoire, but that's probably the veela genes-"

Veela part of his brain pondered briefly before pushing it aside to focus on the main thing bugging him. He was sitting
next to Harry's school friend. He'd seen a picture of the two of them looking the same age.

Yet here was one, married, with a two year old daughter, head of some group called 'the Aurors', whatever those were, a
full life around him. The other looked as though he had barely graduated college. Harry was the youngest here, bar the
children, yet he was on a level with all the adults, he wasn't spoken down to, or treated as young, except maybe by Mrs
Weasley.

Tony put his elbows on the table, trying to figure out how to broach the topic.

Ron saw his change of demeanour and his face became one of professional seriousness. He was obviously expecting
the question.

"How old is Harry?"

It was the simplest way to phrase it. Harry was still occupied with the newcomers, they had been joined by a woman with
messy blonde hair who was hugging Harry tightly. He wasn't paying attention to Tony.

Tony wasn't expecting the response he got.

"Ha, that's 10 Galleons Ronnikins!" cheered George from the other side of the table.

Ron's schooled expression broke into one of exasperation and he pulled a small pouch from his pocket.

Tony watched in rising disbelief as Ron pulled ten gold coins from the pouch and pushed them across the table. George
scooped them up grinning. He looked over at Tony.

"Ron thought you would hold out 'til after the meal. I thought you would be way too curious."
"You shouldn't bet on stuff like that!" Hermione exclaimed from the other side of Ron, leaving her conversation with Fleur
and Bill to glare at the boys disapprovingly.

"Oh c'mon Hermy, don't be a spoilsport!" George complained.

Ron's face had become serious once again. "What has Harry told you about the War?"

The other two ceased bickering, and even George's face fell.

Tony looked at the trio. "Not much. Mostly Moldyshorts background."

His play on the guy's name didn't crack a smile as he hoped it might.

"It's mostly Harry's business to tell." Ron admitted. " But his dealings with Voldemort really did a number on him."

Tony looked back at Harry who had been joined by Mrs Weasley. He figured that she had gone over to them to berate
them for not sitting down to the meal but had got sucked into Rosie's charm because she was now fussing over the little
girl in Harry's arms. Harry was grinning at her bemusedly, playing with Rosie's hair.

"So what. He doesn't age?

Glances were exchange.

"Not physically. No." Hermione conceded.

"What could cause that?" Tony asked, implications running through his head. Was Harry immortal? Would he just stay
the same for decades, or would he have a normal lifespan, but just look the same as he did so.

"Trust me. It was some truly messed up shit." George swore darkly, eyes flickering to Harry. "I think he's doing pretty well,
considering."

"That's why he left the Wizarding World actually." Ginny entered the conversation. Tony did a quick glance around to where
Harry was, feeling very self-conscious that he wasn't that far away. Satisfied that he had actually moved out of earshot
when he'd gone to talk to Hagrid, he looked back to Ginny.

"He was such a public figure, he didn't want to deal with all the questions and rumours."

"It was a shame really. He was a fantastic Auror." the brunette, Neville commented before taking a mouthful of potato
salad.

"Auror?" Tony asked and conversation was effectively dragged away from the topic, leaving Tony with a lot to brood on.
Just in time too, a moment later, Harry took his seat having been dragged away from Hagrid who was now sitting on a
huge stool at the other end of the table.

He learned a lot during that meal, if mostly just corroboration on the bizarrity, if that was a word, of the Wizarding World.
Mr Weasley was having difficulties with items such as tea-strainers, which ended up in the Muggle world and beat the
crap out of their unsuspecting owners. There was a disease called 'Dragon Pox', a more dangerous form of Chicken
Pox, he gathered, that was running rife throughout the country, prevelant in the South. Ron told a story which involved a
deviant of the law that got his revenge against the Aurors by finding a way to spike their food with some kind of Love
Potion.

"So Zabini was all over McGregor, which is when we first began to suspect something, 'cause Zabini is straighter than an
arrow." He chortled over his food.

"He could have just been in the closet." Ginny commented as she buttered some bread.

"In the closet?" George queried, looking at his sister in bemusement.

"Not admitting that he's gay." Ginny clarified, dipping the same piece of bread into her soup.

"Muggles make up such strange terms," Mrs Weasley mused.

"I think the wizards have the monopoly on strange terms." Harry chipped in with a chuckle.

"How'd you mean dear?" Mrs Weasley asked and now all attention was on Harry.
"Well, uh-" Harry replied, his mind clearly having gone blank when he was put on the spot, "The exam names for
starters," he supplied, "Nasty, Exhausting, Wizarding Tests?"

Tony quirked an eyebrow in Harry's direction, "Seriously?"

Harry nodded, mouth full of potato salad. "NEWTS. The previous set of exams was called OWLS, Ordinary Wizarding
Levels."

"I see what you mean about acronyms." Tony muttered and Harry chuckled. "Spew." He clarified at Ron's querying
expression. The red head chortled while Hermione glared daggers.

"S.P.E.W."

She corrected them hotly, causing the table to erupt with laughter. Hermione looked abashed whilst Ron wrapped an
arm around her shoulders. He muttered something in her ear before giving her a quick kiss. Tony noticed Harry's slightly
forlorn expression as he watched the couple. Taking it as his duty as Harry's friend to distract him, Tony stole Harry's
steak.

It was later that evening, the kids had been taken inside by Hannah and Angelina. The night sky was lit with paper
lanterns that drifted around them. He had taken a proper look at The Burrow during the meal, but had taken its
precarious build, made more forbidding in the nightly gloom, in his stride. It was now hard to think that he'd spent his
whole life oblivious of such a colourful culture.

"No, it's back to school tomorrow." Neville was saying, he'd discovered earlier that the man taught Herbology- the study of
magical plants. He hadn't originally pegged the man as a teacher, while he obviously had the confidence that would
come with having control over a class of brats, Tony had noticed faint scars on the man's face and neck. Not as stark as
Harry's, but still telling of a life slightly more dangerous than what he would associate with teaching. It didn't take him
long to connect them with the war.

"I still think it's strange." George mused, "Who wants to go back to school."

"Well he's obviously good." Hermione commented, she looked at Harry, "I was going to tell you when I visited, but since
you're here, Neville might as well."

Harry looked over at Neville curiously who was blushing.

"Spit it out, man." George coerced, "I don't get it, you can shout at Voldemort, but you can't tell Harry about your
promotion?"

"Promotion?"

Neville grinned, "I'm the new head of Griffindor House."

Tony watched Harry's face break into his own grin, "Neville, that's amazing!"

"Isn't it! He's the new McGonagall."

"Hagrid, actually." Neville corrected, looking over at the big man.

"Yeh, that's right. I didn't have the time to look after the students and the animals."

"So Minerva asked me." Neville shrugged, trying to make out like it wasn't a big deal, which by the others expressions,
Tony could assume it wasn't.

"Griffindor was our house." Hermione informed him while Harry continued to ask Neville questions. "Except Luna, she
was a Ravenclaw."

Tony was about to comment on the strange house names when the conversation that Percy, Bill and Charlie had been
carrying on drifted over to the rest of the group.

"The Ministry has been trying to keep it under wraps." Percy was saying, louder than he probably realised. Tony noticed
Ron stiffen and Harry turn his head slightly in their direction.

"Not very well." Charlie contested, "they should make a public announcement so that people are aware. With nothing
concrete, the public are going to blow everything out of proportion."
"Is it out of proportion though?" Bill asked quietly, seemingly unaware that the rest of the table had quietened and were
looking in their direction.

"They'll freak out more if they act on whispers than if the Ministry reassures them. Hiding the problem only exacerbates
it." Charlie reasoned.

"Is this really an appropriate dinner topic?" Ron asked mildly, interrupting the group which then became aware of their
audience. The atmosphere was suddenly very tense and Tony could feel the unspoken words dampening the evening.
The group shared glances amongst themselves.

"What's wrong?" Hermione was the first to ask, confusion creasing her forehead. When none of them answered her, she
looked up at Ron, who clearly knew something. Ron's eyes flickered between the group and Harry, Tony's eyebrows rose
when he realised that whatever it was, Harry knew.

"Ron?"

Ron sighed and looked back at his wife. "I didn't want to worry you."

The brunette's eyes narrowed, "Ronald!"

"Hey, it started when you were on your American Tour last year. It didn't seem important enough to mention during your
brief visits. And then you had your accident…" he trailed off when she continued to stare at him. "There have been a
number of attacks on muggle villages over the past year."

Tony was able to figure out who had been in the know by who reacted to the news. Aside from the four red-heads, only
Harry, Luna and Arthur seemed unsurprised. Neville's eyes narrowed in what Tony identified as confirmation but the
others all looked shocked.

"Remnant Death Eaters?" George asked, suddenly very focused on his drink

"As far as we can tell." Ron acknowledged, "We have no concrete names, no Dark Marks, just terrified muggles."

Hermione started, "Ron, my parents-"

"Don't worry." Ron cut across her. "They're fine. I warded their house just in case. If it ever came to anything more, I would
tell you." She nodded, her thoughts clearly racing.

"How bad as it?"

"Not as bad as it was during the War, but bad enough that the Ministry has been working overtime to try and keep on top
of it."

"The Goblins know." Bill told him, "They are getting protective of their own settlements, should the attackers change
direction."

"I agree with Charlie," Ginny asserted, "One of the scariest things about the lead up to the War was not knowing what the
Government was covering up."

"We thought that if people associated the attacks with the Death Eaters, it would cause waves of panic." Percy stated,
"The Aurors and Muggle based departments know, obviously. Harry was told as a precaution, but outside of that…" Percy
shrugged. "Discussions are on-going. We don't want to send other sympathisers to them."

Tony looked at his friend, who'd stayed quiet through the discussion so far. "What were you told?"

Harry shrugged, "Not much. Just that it was happening. I may be considered a target, but as I've effectively gone into
hiding by leaving the Wizarding World, it's unlikely that anything would happen."

"It's more of a courtesy really." Percy decided to add, "What with Harry's standing in the Ministry."

Discussions continued for a few minutes, the hushed tones indicative of the groups underlying anxiousness.

Back in the Burrow, the tables cleared and people dispersing, Harry tracked George down.

"Hey, George."

The red head turned with a grin, "You on your way then, ikkle Harikkins?"
Harry shook his head at the nickname, "Nearly, I just wanted to ask for your help with something."

"Fire away."

"Well, I have an acquaintance who suffers a problem similar to lycanthropy in some respects and I was wondering if you
may be able to develop something like a Wolfsbane potion for him."

George, who had been leaning casually against a counter straightened.

"Obviously it's not as simple as that. His condition wasn't magical in origin and is triggered when he gets angry, but I
thought that it might be a possible avenue to explore."

George was frowning to himself, his mind clearly whirring over the possibilities.

"And you're asking me because…"

We don't need to look far to see evidence of your proficiency with experimental charms and potions." Harry grinned.

George, let a small smile cross his face, "Sounds like a challenge. Obviously, I'll need to gather research on the original
development of Wolfsbane, supplies… I'll need to meet this fellow."

Harry nodded, "You can stay with me in Manhattan if you want. I'll have to talk the possibilities over with Bruce-"

"I can do that." George interceded, "I don't doubt that I already know more about the subject than you do." He grinned to
lessen any possible sting from his comment. "When do you leave?"

"The end of the week. I'm also organising the transition of a patient from St Mungos to America."

"I'll be ready by then." George nodded thoughtfully, "I can leave Angelina with the shop..." He clapped Harry on the
shoulder, "I'll see you later this week then."
*Chapter 11*: George and the Potions Lab
A/N Tada

Disclaimer: All characters belong to their respective creators.

"There's a department purely for Creature Injuries? Are they really that common?"

Harry looked over at Tony who was scanning the hospital floor plan.

"More than you may think. Mr Weasley was a guest there for a while."

Tony looked back, "Really? Why?" Harry smiled. Despite Arthur's persistent questions on muggles, the two had
appeared to get on. To the extent that Harry had found Tony responding to an owl the older man had sent. Apparently Tony
answered queries on a pro rata basis, for every answer he gave, he expected a question about the wizarding world to be
answered. Arthur had a better technical knowledge than Harry had, and Tony had all but given up on expecting complex
answers from Harry.

"Snake bite."

"The same snake that bit you?"

Harry started in surprise. He hadn't expected Tony to make that connection- it wasn't as if there was really a connection to
be made, the incidents were separated by a couple of years.

"Where did you draw that conclusion from?"

"From what I've heard about the magical world, out of all the things that could be biting you, a snake seems kinda
unlikely. Let alone twice."

Harry laughed, "I've actually come across several snakes. And a Basilisk. Which is basically just a huge snake." He
paused briefly, but before Tony could ask him about the Basilisk he continued, "But yeah, Voldemort had a snake called
Nagini. She attacked us at different times though."

He began to lead Tony to the Rackharrow Ward of Artefact Accidents, ignoring his pursed lips and considering
expression on his friends face. At least he wasn't gawking at some of the patients they passed, not even the purple
woman with blue polka dots covering her skin. They arrived at the hospital room in question and Harry knocked.

"Come in!"

Harry pushed open the door and smiled at the man seated in the bed.

"Agent!" Tony acknowledged loudly as he slid into the room.

Coulson smiled at them as they stood at the end of his bed. He had bandages strapped around his chest but otherwise
looked no worse for wear. He marked the page in the book he was reading and set it aside. Harry recognised Great
Wizarding events of the Twentieth Century.

"Interesting read?"

"Facsinating. Interesting bit about you in there"

Harry smiled wryly, "Glad you're enjoying it. We'll be arranging you're transfer to America in the next couple of days."

"Of course." Phil acknowledged. He smiled but his eyes betrayed a disappointment. If the stack of books stacked by the
side of his bed were anything to go by, all about the Wizarding World, the man found Harry's old world fascinating. Which
meant that maybe Harry's get well present would be better received than he'd originally thought.

"Fury gave me theses for you." Harry started, pulling Coulson's collection of Captain America cards from his pocket,
Scourgified and now signed. He handed them to the older man whose eyes widened as a grin stretched his face.

Harry cut him off before the rising tirade of Captain American facts could gain momentum,

"And I thought that you might find these interesting," he gave him a stack of Chocolate frog cards. In his time, he'd
collected duplicates of every card. It was these that he gave to Coulson who flicked through them in the amazement,
tilting the cards to watch the figures move.

"I'd have given you the frogs instead, but it was brought to my attention that that much chocolate isn't good for anyone, let
alone a man in recovery."

The meeting ended amicably and Harry went off to find the necessary personnel to facilitate Coulson's transfer. The day
after the move, George arrived at the doorstop with his bags and they too travelled to the States.

"Why don't you live here!" George's tone was one of disbelief as he stared about the foyer of Stark Tower. Harry directed
him to the lift. They had just dropped the bulk of George's things at his, and where now meeting back up with Tony who
gone back to his tower while Harry had got George settled

"I have my own flat." He pointed out as he pushed the button for the top floor.

George looked at him incredulously, "But why?"

Harry chuckled as the lift drew them up the building.

"I have announced your arrival." Jarvis informed them as the lift slowed.

"Wha-"

"That's Jarvis. He an AI, artificial intelligence, that Tony designed."

George nodded, Harry had mentioned such inventions to him previously but his eyes flickered around the lift, still looking
for the source of the voice.

"He's wired throughout the building. You can ask him any questions you have."

The doors slid open and they stepped out into the living room. The renovators had done a good job he noted, and
quickly. There was barely a trace of the battle that had happened here only a fortnight earlier. Tony was sprawled on a
couch engaged in a conversation with Bruce. It didn't appear that anyone else was there. Tony grinned at their arrival and
Bruce turned to look at the pair.

"Harry." He nodded, before turning to look at George.

"This is George." Harry introduced, "He's-"

"Here to annoy Harry." George grinned, "And possibly help you out. We'll have to see which comes first."

Bruce looked between them, "You're a wizard as well then?"

"Born and bred." George conceded, dropping down onto the sofa, next to Bruce. "I understand that you have a green
problem." Straight and to the point.

His eyes widened in surprise before Bruce looked accusingly at Harry.

"There's no need to look so shocked my good man," George cajoled, clapping Bruce on the shoulder, "Harry here knows
that I'm a bit of an inventor of potions. I mostly use it for pranks but I'm more than capable of work of a serious nature."
Harry had to restrain the snort of disbelief that rose in him. He knew George would be completely capable of what Harry
had asked of him. If it was possible, George could do it. He also knew for a fact however that there was no way that he
would approach the task with a straight face.

"Has Harry told you about the 'Wolfsbane Potion'?"

Bruce considered, "He mentioned it once."

"Well essentially, it was a potion developed to allow Werewolves to keep their minds upon transforming. I propose trying
to recreate a similar potion that would allow you to maintain your faculties upon shifting into Big, Bad and Green."

Bruce's face slackened in shock for a moment before his eyes narrowed and his mind whirred through the possibilities.

"I'm not saying that it will be easy," George continued, "or quick. It'll involve research and experiments. I don't even know if
it's possible, but the inventors of Wolfsbane didn't either. Of course, we only have one subject in this case, and you need
to be sure that you can and want to proceed."
Bruce thought the proposal over quickly. Less than a minute later he met Georges gaze.

"How do we begin?"

Harry entered the lab that George had claimed. Compared to Bruce's next door, it was one of the strangest juxtapositions
of magic and science that he had seen. While the harsh white surfaces of a muggle lab were still visible, they were
covered with a clutter of parchment, small cauldrons and old fashioned vial stands. Claiming that the walls were too dull,
they were covered with moving posters; Ginny of the Holyhead Harpies, Various Dragon Breeds, the Limited Edition
Chocolate Frogs Card poster which depicted all of the Card Names and Pictures, cycling through them and their
achievements. There was even one for Weasley's Wizard Wheezes.

In the past week, Wolfsbane had been made, taken apart, tinkered with and tested in a variety of different ways. George
swore that once he understood the principles of Wolfsbane then figuring out the necessary components for Bruce would
be child's play.

"You see, while wolfsbane is in the potion, it isn't the main component," a charred George had told them over a Chinese
takeout. "The potion just has the same name 'cause it sounds cool. Even the most inconsequential thing can drastically
alter a potion, like how quickly you stir it! Just ask Harry. I hear that in his sixth year he became a potions genius." George
had raised an eyebrow and Harry had ducked his head in embarrassment. He then outlined the basics of the Half-Blood
Prince's book with them.

"You cheated!" Tony guffawed, "And here was I thinking that you were some sort of 'Golden Boy'."

Harry was amazed at the professional way that George approached the task. Harry couldn't help but remember the
pranks that the twins had been devising as children and the complexity of their creations. This reminder was partly
brought about because once George and Clint had been introduced, no one was safe.

Clint had been somewhat withdrawn since the Loki incident, understandably so all things considered. It was worrying
Natasha, Harry had noticed during their short interactions before he'd left for London, she felt that there was little she
could do. A few days after Georges arrival, they dropped by the tower. They made out that they had free time to spare; they
hadn't been cleared for other field work yet. Or rather Clint hadn't and Natasha refused to let him wallow. With nothing to
do and slightly bored, they had come to the tower.

They'd found the four of them in George's lab and had stared incredulously at the chaos. Harry was perched on a side
watching Tony poke at various multi-coloured potions while George and Bruce discussed Potion semantic while various
ingredients floated around them.

"The Beazor," George was saying, floating the small stone between the two of them, "is in case something goes wrong.
It's the failsafe cure for pretty much any poison."

"Who are you planning on poisoning?" Natasha asked from the doorway.

Introductions went underway. Clint's attention during the explanation of what was going on had wandered to the posters
on the wall. George had noticed his interest in the Wizard's Wheezes one and had explained his role in it, mentioning his
twin's input and outlining some of their pranks.

Later that day, when a group had them been watching the news, during a report on the outbreak of Cholera in Albany, the
room had gone pitch black. Harry recognised the Darkness powder and had sat back while the others shouted in the
shadows. Since then there had been several Decoy Detonators released, clouds of smoke that changed the victim's hair
colour and a swarm of birds that wouldn't leave Tony alone. Nothing violent, they just perched on his shoulders or on his
work. They would flutter away when he waved at them, but then set back down once he'd moved on. All in all it was an
eventful week.

"Well I'm done for the day!" George exclaimed stretching. "Harry, I am long overdue a tour of this city. Lead the way."

Bruce couldn't help but glance at the clock. It was early afternoon.

George noticed his glance, and clapped him on the shoulder, "All work and no play makes George a dull boy." He
confided in the older man before hooking his jacket from a chair and grabbing Harry's arm. With a farewell wave George
tugged his friend from the room.

Neville hummed happily as he watched his class try to prune Flutterby Bushes. He grinned at a couple of Ravenclaw
lads that were trying to persuade the other to have a go at the plant once more. It reminded him of when he'd been a
student here, all those years ago.
He looked up at the castle, visible through the roof of the green house. It was strange how much things changed and yet
stayed the same. He'd spent so much of his youth here terrified, both of Voldemort and other students, and yet it had
become a place of cherished nostalgia and now comfort: despite all those who had died here, the names memorialised
on that new standing stone at the entrance.

Stranger still was being a teacher, seeing things from the other side of the system. Who'd have thought when he was a
lad that teachers had, Merlin forbid, social lives. He'd been surprised to learn that Pomona, Professor Sprout was
actually married. She was one of several teachers that he hadn't known about.

He scanned the students again, walking to a Slytherin couple that seemed to be struggling and corrected their method.
Their expressions upon their success made him grin. He did enjoy teaching.

He was casually watering some rue when he noticed little Marcus, working quietly. This wasn't strange; he was one of
the more withdrawn Slytherins, but at the same time, one of his best students. He had a feeling he that his fellows may
give him a difficult time of it. He had come across a group of them around Marcus a couple of weeks previously. He'd
managed to break them up, but with no actual sign of bullying and none of them talking, he couldn't do much else. It was
incredibly frustrating. However, later that week, he heard from Horace that a number of his students had had the gall to
hand in blank scrolls in lieu of their essays. The students happened to be the same ones ganging up on Marcus and
were swearing vehemently that they had done the work. Neville had looked over at Marcus who'd noticed, seen who he
was talking to and smirked. He recalled vaguely that Teddy had mentioned helping him out with a couple of bullies at Mrs
Weasley's dinner. He found that he liked the fact that two people from such drastically different houses were getting
along. It was what the Wizarding World needed after the War.

That was one thing he'd also noticed as a teacher. Not all Slytherins were inherently evil. Sure there was a new 'Malfoy,
Parkinson and co.', but there were also those who kept to themselves and seemed to be nice people. They just hadn't
interacted much with Griffindors however, so he hadn't noticed them when he'd been at school. As a teacher though, he
had to start seeing students and individuals, not as their House. There were a couple of asses in Griffindor as well,
ones he was more aware of as he was their Head of House. When he'd received the position at the start of the year, he
almost couldn't believe it. It was just so… inconceivable. That the snivelling coward that had often been told that he'd
been put in Griffindor by mistake was now the Head of House and considered a representative of its values. McGonagal
had smiled at him when she'd appointed him, a genuine smile that lit up the usually stern face he used to associate with
reprimand.

Marcus was looking conflicted, his brow creased with worry and his eyes ringed with lack of sleep. Neville made a note
to question his co-workers on his behaviour, to see if there was a pattern and if he or Horace needed to intervene. He
checked his timepiece, and called his class to attention. He summed up what they needed to know from this lesson and
assigned them their homework piece. He had to confess to a sliver of mirth at their groans.

He'd always suspected it, but now he knew for certain that Professors got a sort of sadistic glee from the homework
assignments.

The students filtered from the Green House, grubby and complaining about the essay. Neville watched them go, about to
start preparing to set up for the next lesson when he noticed that Marcus was lingering near the doorway. The lad looked
torn, unsure of what to do.

"Can I help you?" Neville asked.

The boy opened his mouth to talk but then hesitated.

Neville moved to sit on the edge of the table, hoping to make himself seem shorter and less intimidating without being
condescending. He'd always been somewhat more casual with how he appeared to his students than Pemona had.

"Is everything alright?"

"You're a friend of Harry Potter aren't you, sir?"

Neville's eye's widened in surprise. He had been recognised fairly quickly when he'd started working at the school
because of his role in the final battle. He was one of the 'Legendary Six', one of Harry Potter's five main companions. The
One who had led the Hogwarts rebellion and still had the scars to prove it. It was strange to walk through the halls with
the whispers and gained a whole new appreciation for Harry and what he had gone through while at Hogwarts. He'd
been deflecting questions from 'fans' for years, the insistent boys and giggling girls. More than once he'd received
bunches of flowers and boxes of chocolates from those grateful for his actions in the war and those girls who'd
developed, dare he say, school girl crushes. These he had shared with the other staff, at the dinner table who teased
him for his following. Most of the current First Years had been born after the War had finished, but had been greatly
influenced by their parent's descriptions of the war, so while Neville had been hoping for a respite from the stares, he'd
been greeted by a wave of new adulation. It usually took several lessons for students to stop looking at him as if he had
singlehandedly defeated Voldemort's best lieutenants. It wasn't as if he'd done anything anyone else wouldn't have in his
position.

Marcus had never been one of his ecstatic fans. He had initially been one of the very impressed Firsties, an occasionally
rare trait in a Slytherin, several of them hated him in his role against harming some of their families, but he was now an
adjusted second year, showing no interest in his relationship with the 'Boy who Lived', as others did. Which is why this
was quite peculiar.

He acknowledged this cautiously. "But you know that." He added.

"I- uh, I heard something the other evening." The boy forced out, looking around as if someone would over hear them.

Neville leant forward, his curiosity peaked and concerned for Marcus' unease. He didn't say anything, in case he put
Marcus off saying anything else.

"I know that Harry Potter has kinda gone into hiding," he continued, "but Bl- uh, someone mentioned that he'd been
found, and that er-"

Neville had to stop his brow creasing in confusion. Admittedly, there had been a flurry of stories and reports when Harry
had left for the Muggle world to hide the fact that he wasn't growing older. One story was that he was on holiday to escape
the press. The most scandalous was that he'd caught Ginny cheating, which was why he'd dumped her and left so
suddenly. It hadn't been sudden, he'd planned it for several months, but the press didn't know that. Luckily that story was
mostly disregarded. Neville's favourite was the Quibblers cover story; Harry had just grown fed up with the Wizarding
World and the Paparazzi, said 'Sod them' and left on a whirlwind tour of the world. However, a common, romanticised
idea was that Harry had fled to hide from those who wanted to kill him having had enough of always being on guard.

"This person was boasting that, well, his brother had joined a group, and that they were going after him."

Neville felt something clench in his stomach. There were still Death Eater sympathisers. Most of them were in Slytherin.
He tried to shake off his worry, it could be mindless boasting. It probably was. Getting worked up would be pointless.

"Can you tell me anything else?" Neville asked, as Marcus seemed to have come to an end.

The boy met his eyes, "I know that it seems like he was making things up, but that happens all the time. This was
different!"

"Did he say how he found out about his brother?"

"He said he overheard it during the holidays, when his brother was talking to one of his friends. They mentioned that a
Death Eater had recruited them!"

Neville suddenly thought of Harry's meeting with Kingsley and Percy's recent anxiety. Not to mention those attacks on
Muggle towns that the Ministry were trying so hard to keep out of the news. He was kind of out of the loop now as a
teacher, the Order somewhat disbanded. But Hannah heard things as an Innkeeper which she had passed onto him.
The picture wasn't a good one.

"Did they say a name?" Neville asked.

The boy looked shifty.

"Marcus." Neville said warily, "It's a good thing that you have come to talk to me about this, but I need all the facts before I
can do anything."

The boy looked to the side before turning back to Neville. He'd gained a sense for people, both in the War and as a
teacher. He didn't need this sense to read the boys nervousness and to see the truth in what he believed. It didn't bode
well.

"They spoke of a guy called… Rudolphus, I think, Rudolphus Lestrange."

Neville's blood froze.

The name had never been released to the press, but Rudolphus had never been caught after the war and his body had
never been discovered. It was the only name that Neville had followed up. His escape had been something that had
soured the victory. That the man was free after what he had done. He'd managed to push it aside after a while, with the
support of his friends and his relationship with Hannah. She knew everything and she supported him, but most helpfully,
she helped him move on.

The wall he had built cracked when the second year Slytherin said the man's name.

"Uh, Professor?"

Marcus' voice cut through the blood rushing in his ears. He snapped back to the present and looked at the small lad
looking up at him with concern.

"Marcus," Nevile tried to maintain a measured tone, "I'm afraid I need to take this to Professor McGonagall," the boy's
eyes widened, "I'm sorry, I hoped we wouldn't have to, but this could be quite serious. None of your classmates will
know."

The boy nodded.

"Follow me."

He strode from the room. Years of the trip to and from the Green Houses to the castle kept him physically fit and he
climbed the hill with ease, Marcus scurrying behind him. He crossed the New Bridge quickly; casting a quick
disillusionment charm on Marcus, as he'd promised and led him through the castle. He felt people stare as he
practically ran to the office, muttering about his urgency. He had a reputation as a fairly mild-mannered teacher, so his
thunderous expression and purpose seemed to unsettle those who saw him. He took a secret passage shortcut to cut
out half the journey, ignoring Marcus' exclamation of surprise. He practically spat the password at the Marble Chess
Bishop that had replaced the old destroyed gargoyle. It inclined his head and let him onto the spiral staircase.

His blood pounded as he had to stand stationary as the stairs turned. He undid his charm and saw Marcus' look of
wonder as they rose into the Headmaster's tower.

He rapped the door which opened for him as Minerva invited him in.

"Neville." She greeted. She looked up at him and she frowned, "Is everything alright?" she spotted the student and raised
a quizzical eyebrow.

"Headmistress," Neville acknowledged. He licked his lips, "Marcus here may have come across something important."

He quickly summed up what Marcus had told him, watching Minerva's lips grow thinner and her eyes narrow.

"This is a serious matter." She concluded when he had finished and turned to Marcus. "I'm sure you can understand that
we need to verify your claims."

Marcus gave a small nod. "Veratiserum?" he asked, his voice squeaking. He was nervous.

"No." McGonagall dismissed his words, "That would never be sanctioned for use on a student. The quickest and easiest
way would be a Pensieve. Have you ever heard of one?"

Neville found himself growing agitated as McGonagall ran Marcus through the principal of the Pensieve and requesting
his consent. Marcus did so nervously, despite McGonagall's assurances that he could refuse if he felt uncomfortable.
Marcus successfully extracted the memory and McGonagall tipped it into the Pensieve she had removed from a
cupboard.

She entered the memory, leaving Neville and Marcus anxiously watching her.

"Are you okay, sir?" the boy asked, seeming a lot calmer now that his part was essentially done.

Neville looked down at him. "Yes, thanks." He wasn't of course. Far from it. Feelings he had kept supressed for years
were broiling inside him. When he was younger, he hadn't been as hung up on those who had committed the crime.
He'd missed his parents and he'd hated those responsible, but he never thought anything would come of this hate. Then
they'd escaped from Azkaban and they became more than just shadowy figured in his imagination, but solid people that
he could blame. However, he had such a low view of himself and his abilities that he never saw himself being able to
have any impact on them. Bellatrix's mocking of him at the Department of Mysteries had cemented this.

Then he'd led the rebellion. He'd been cursed, he'd been tortured and he'd seen horrific things done to innocent children.
He became of leader, the wellbeing of others his responsibility. He'd killed during the battle. With each Death Eater he'd
become more confident, a vicious side of him that after the battle scared him slightly. He'd seen Bellatrix, and suddenly
killing her had become a possibility.

He saw Mrs Weasley kill her, watched her fall and while he felt an intense gladness that she was dead, part of him, a
very small part of him, felt sorry that he hadn't been the one to do it. That was the part that he hid from his friends, which
only Hannah knew about.

"Sir you don't look alright. Do… do you know the Death Eater I mentioned?"

The boy was perceptive. Not that Neville had done much to conceal his reaction to the name he realised. Even
McGonagall hadn't maintained a completely straight face during his recount.

"We've heard of each other." Neville confessed.

McGonagall started as her mind left the penseive. Neville looked up at her.

"The memory is clean." She informed him.

"I have to go." Neville asserted, "May I use your floo?" He made towards the fireplace in question.

"No you may not!" McGonagall said firmly.

Neville met her glare. "Fine." He said finally, "I'll use my own."

"No. Despite what you seem to think, Potter can take care of himself. We shall alert the Aurors. I'm sure Mr Weasley
would be glad to take a team there."

"But that will take time!" Neville cried, "This was being discussed last night. About an earlier conversation! We may
already be too late!"

"Professor Longbottom-"

"Most of his friends are Muggles." Neville threw out. "You know what Lestrange is like."

A heavy silence hung in the office, young Marcus looking wide-eyed between his teachers .

Neville met McGonagalls gaze. She sighed.

"Go on ahead and warn him Professor. A team will follow."

Neville nodded curtly. He went back to the fireplace and grabbed a handhold of Foo powder from a pot on the
mantelpiece.

"Neville."

He turned back to her.

"Take care."

He nodded and threw the powder into the fire. It blazed green and he stepped into the flames. He said Harry's address
and away he went.

Banner was tidying up the lab, at least as much as he could without disturbing George's experiments. He'd been
spending a lot of time around the wizard while he worked, and while he was now more familiar with magic, he was left
with a wariness as to how delicate it could be. The time Steve had knocked a cauldron had cemented that. A drop had
slipped over the pewter side, dribbled down the edge and dropped onto the table. The moment it made contact with the
surface, a purple smoke had begun billowing out. George had managed to fix it, but not before half the lab, the ceiling,
and any part of a person that didn't escape the mist were stained bright purple. Luckily, as the smoke had risen, it hadn't
interfered with any of the other experiments. It had been a couple of days before Bruce felt that his skin no longer held a
lilac tinge.

He became suddenly aware of how quiet it was. He knew Harry and George were out in the city while Tony had gone to
find Pepper. Steve was on one of his extended motorcycle tours. The agents were off doing whatever it was that they did
when they weren't at the tower.

Bruce had gotten used to being quiet when he'd been on the run. He would go weeks without speaking to another
person. But since returning, he was always in the company of at least one other person. Even when working in the lab,
Jarvis would contribute information to his work. He realised that Jarvis had been quiet since he had informed Bruce that
Harry and George had left the building. That had been several hours ago. He was about to speak when the lights
flickered out.

"Jarvis?"

Bruce waited for a response. There wasn't one.

Unease was rising in him. He successfully navigated the room in the dark and put his hand on the light switch, so rarely
used as Jarvis usually controlled the lights. He flicked the switch a couple of times. Nothing changed.

"Jarvis?" his tone was wary as he mentally assessed the situation. Silence. He cracked open the lab door and poked his
head out. The corridor was empty and cloaked in darkness. He took a breath and stepped out of the lab, checking on the
Other Guy as he went. He was barely stirring. It was Bruce accepting his anger that summoned him, not anxiousness.
Content that the monster wouldn't rise, which was the last thing he needed, he took his first step down the corridor.

The back of his neck prickled. He had barely begun to turn when there was a flash of red light and everything went black.
*Chapter 12*: Revenge of the Professor
A/N I must apologise for further delays, I am writing as the scenes come to me in disjointed segments, but you will
be pleased to know that I have planned to the end .

Disclaimer: None of the characters are my own.

Neville clambered out of Harry's fireplace and scanned the room. Harry wasn't here and though he could see evidence of
George scattered around the room he wasn't there either. The tower that Harry had mentioned at dinner came to. Harry
had dubbed it the 'Avengers' tower to which his new friend, 'Tony' had protested genially. Neville apparated to the roof of
Harry's building, the height affording him a view of the city. He looked past the signs of repair still going on in the city and
made out in the distance a tall, glass tower, the letter 'A' lit up on the side. With a crack he vanished from the gravel roof.
He arrived at the base of the tower. He looked up at it for a moment, marveling at its size and complete Muggle-ness,
before crossing the pavement and pushing open the front door.

He came to a darkened foyer. He glanced around, it wasn't that late, and the place wasn't locked. He had been under the
impression that Muggle buildings stayed lit with their electric lights when open. The door he was walking away from
opened.

He spun, his hand on his wand which was tucked into the green, slightly scruffy robes he wore when working in the
Green Houses. Two figures stood in the entrance, hands at their sides in a similar position to Neville's that made him
certain that they were armed.

"Who are you?" the female one asked, obviously looking at Neville's form of attire, somewhat out of place in Muggle
society.

"Neville Longbottom." Neville decided to be upfront, "I'm a friend of Harry Potter's." He stayed poised for action. He knew
that these two weren't Wizards, and that no self-respecting Death Eater would stoop to involving Muggles in their plot. But
there was something about their stances that kept him on edge. Part of his mind offered the possibility that these two
were part of the team that Harry had mentioned at the party. It would make sense.

The man was looking at him carefully, "George mentioned you." He said finally. "What are you doing here?"

"I have a warning for Harry." Neville revealed, part of him relieved that he wasn't about to run foul of two hostile muggles.
The American's Ministry were funny about spells being cast on their muggles by foreigners.

The pair exchanged a glance. "Something's wrong." The woman admitted. "Stark never has the lights off at this time."

"Not to mention the distinct lack of people." The man commented.

Neville frowned. He'd come here with a warning, but now his blood quickened when he realised that he may be too late.
That he might get a chance to fight. Rudolphus' face flashed in his mind, sneering at him.

"Come on then." He muttered, pulling his wand out in preparation.

"Jarvis, what's the situation?" the man asked. Neville frowned at him. Jarvis didn't sound androgynous, let alone a
female name. But the man's companion didn't answer. The silence stretched for a moment.

"Looks like there's no power."

"No shit." The man muttered.

They were discussing further possibilities when Neville, who'd been scanning the room as he walked, noticed
something behind a desk. It was a foot, wearing a high heel.

"Here." He said, striding towards the foot. A young woman lay on the floor, her eyes frozen open and her face stricken.
Despite knowing already, he pressed to fingers to her throat.

"She's dead." He announced, recognising the cause as he rose. "Avada Kadava."

"What?"

"The killing curse." Neville said shortly. He nodded at the stairs. "Let's go."
They made their way up the tower. Barton, as he found out the man was called, commented that the lifts wouldn't work,
so past a certain floor where the public stairs ended, they searched out the emergency stairs. Neville preferred this he
found, who knew whose attention would be drawn by the moving lift.

They moved quickly and quietly. Neville had been correct in his original assumption that the pair were fighters. They
moved with experience, the woman, Nat, as Barton called her, pulling a pair of knives from Merlin knew where. Barton
had a collapsible bow, and a quiver that had been previously hidden from view. Neville tested each floor with a quick
spell for life signs, but came up empty.

"Wait, the lab." Nat murmured several floors up just as Neville had said the floor was devoid of life. Barton nodded and
they left the stairs and went down a corridor. They came through a door into a darkened room. Neville could see evidence
of experimental potions littering the sides and moving posters on the walls. Aside from that the room was empty.

"Shit." Barton commented eloquently.

"What about Banner." Nat asked, "Surely he would have hulked out if they were attacked."

Hulked out?

"Maybe he never got the chance." Barton suggested darkly.

"The guy can spit out bullets!" Nat protested quietly.

"This is magic." Barton pointed out, "We can't know anything for certain." He met Neville's gaze. Neville looked back up
the corridor. He guessed the pair was glad not to have found a friends body there.

"We'd better get moving."

They reached the end of the staircase.

"We've got life." Neville informed them as his wand let out a cloud of orange vapour. They nodded and tensed in
preparation. The entered the floor and found themselves in a corridor. They tread its length carefully, passing bedrooms
as voices became audible from the only light they'd found so far.

Neville recognised a mixture of firelight and Lumos.

They stopped at the corner and took a head count. Harry wasn't there, Neville noted, but Tony was, kneeling next to
another man who was lying on the wooden floor. Neville saw the rise and fall of his chest. Both men were bound with
ropes, as was the ginger woman trapped next to Tony. She was glaring angrily at her captors with tear tracks on her face
while Tony engaged them in conversation. There were six wizards, most of them young, younger at least than the man
who led them all, who made Neville's heart freeze in his chest.

It was worse than seeing that sneer in pictures. Rudolphus was taller than he remembered, his appearance more
disheveled, making him look more deranged. It was reminiscent of his wife, his black hair dank and tangled, his dark
eyes crazed, noticeably so, even from Neville's less than ideal vantage point. His skin was pale and flaky, he'd not seen
the sun for a long time while twisted, yellow teeth showed through a ratty beard.

Hatred blazed through Neville, exacerbated by the monsters taunting voice. He found himself angrier than he would have
been had the man been perfectly groomed. The bastard had wasted the life that he had bought with his parents
sacrifice.

"You get the prisoners while I distract them." He ground out quietly, his eyes on his target.

"There's six of them!" Nat argued.

"Wizards. You'd be useless, I know what I'm doing."

They were unprepared for an attack. Neville took advantage of their distraction in Tony by stunning the one closest as he
stepped out from behind the wall. His fellows reacted, spells began to fly and it started.

Tony was lying on the floor bound by ropes that had sprung around him. Pepper was bound next to him, a fact which
angered him. These bastards could do what they liked with him, but as soon as she was harmed something ugly in him
rose its head. He was struggling with his bonds when he saw a limp figure levitating before him. It was Bruce.
The other man was dropped unceremoniously on the floor and Tony manipulated himself onto his knees to examine the
other man. He couldn't put into words the relief he felt when he saw the rise and fall of his chest.

"What did you do to him?" Tony asked, in the most cavalier tone he could muster, but even he could hear the restrained
anger in his words.

Their boss, an unkempt man who knew nothing of dental hygiene, or any hygiene at all by the look and smell of it, leered
at him. "We did our research."

Tony realised that the man meant in regards to the Hulk. When he lent in to Tony's personal space, Tony was met by a
solid wall of noxious odor.

"Well it's good that you are capable of something, 'cause seriously? First impressions, not your thing."

The man's lip rose in a sneer. "God knows what Potter sees in things like you. But then, he always was a muggle loving
blood traitor."

"Who killed your boss and stopped your take over." Tony quipped, guessing that this man was one of the Death Eaters
that had been mentioned, "I don't see what all the fuss was about if people like you were his competition."

"Crucio."

All he knew was agony. It was as though he was drowning whilst on fire, his nerve endings inflamed. He couldn't
remember a time when there wasn't pain and someone was screaming. After what felt like hours, the sudden absence
of it was shocking, as if he had been drenched in cold water. His body still tingling with the aftermath, he took his
bearings as he gulped down lungs of fresh air. He was lying on the wooden planks, covered in a layer of sweat. He
became aware of Pepper, sobbing behind him. Pepper. He wiggled to get a better vantage point, he had to know what
they had done to her. She was crouched over him, he eyes flickering between him and the threat. He still had a thin stick
pointed in their general direction as a cruel smile stretched his face.

"I don't tolerate impertinence. Especially not from vermin." He sneered, allowing his wand to trace small circles in the air.

Tony's mind caught up with events. I recognised the spell as one of the Unforgivables that Harry had mentioned in
London. Tony had taken the information in at the time, but only now did he have a full appreciation for how much power
this man with a wand had over him. He remembered his question about one of the other Unforgivables, the Killing curse.
He realised that his life depended on this bastard's whim. He managed to pull himself to his knees again, to a chorus of
laughter from their captors. He cursed his Iron Man remote bracelets, which were sitting on the far counter and Jarvis'
ominous silence. Roger's words from the helicarrier echoed through his mind.

Take away the suit, what are you?

He'd answered flippantly at the time, but now he found himself relying on his friends return to get out of this alive. He
hadn't felt this helpless since Afganistan. It also threw Harry's battle experiences into perspective. Harry would be
walking into a trap, he thought, eyes running over the Death Eaters. They looked young, one was looking slightly nervous
even as he joined in his companion's laughter.

Tony needed more information, and to buy time. His body recoiled at the possibility of being subjected to the curse again,
but with more ego then self-preservation, he began to look for an angle. A genius billionaire philanthropist… with a knack
for pissing people off. Now annoy him enough for him to lose focus, but not enough for him to start throwing around
curses.

"Why keep us alive then?" Tony asked, gambling with the hope that he had no intention to kill them. He could have done
so several times by now after all.

The man's eyes narrowed as he lent in. Tony held his breath so as not to breathe in the rank air that came with him.

"Potter is going to see his friends suffer, his new life disintegrate and be reminded of what he took from us." There was a
cold chill laugh, "Then he'll die with the knowledge that his family are next." He straightened, "With Potter's death, all
those that waver at joining us will know that we have the true strength and they will join us in our revenge."

Tony scanned the other men and decided that his captor was delusional. Just to add that extra layer of fun. Sure, while
the six wizards here were threatening to a group of muggles and maybe their single-but-extremely-powerful wizard, most
of them looked like they were just out of college. Surely no match for the Auror's that he had heard so much about during
the barbecue, the survivors against a war with Death Eaters not quite so green about the ears.
"Good luck with that." Tony remarked meeting the dark eyes.

"You should be proud that your Death has meaning." The nut job said imperiously.

A red light shot from the corridor to Tony's left, striking the man just behind their leader and he fell to the ground.

The Death Eaters spun on their heels, raising their wands. Tony was surprised at who stepped around at the corner. The
school teacher blocked three spells with a flick of his wrist and sent a couple in return. Tony watched as Neville went on
the defensive, spending more time blocking spells then he was sending off his own. Tony recognised it as the only
course of action, but he couldn't help but wonder how long the man could keep it up.

He was so absorbed in the light show that he didn't notice the two spies until they cut his ropes. He looked around at
Romanov as she cut Pepper's bonds and Barton checked Bruce's pulse.

"We gotta get you out of here." Barton muttered.

"If you cover me, I can get my remotes and repulsor those bastards." Tony pointed out. Barton paused in consideration
before nodding once.

He stood and in one smooth action notched and released an arrow. It soared into the fray and struck one of the
unsuspecting attackers in the back. He crumpled.

Buoyed by the success, Barton let another arrow fly, but this time the wizard was prepared. He conjured a solid shield
and directed a blue dart of light at Barton who dove out of the way. The spell left a small smoldering crater in the pine
wood floor and Barton swore. Romanov had pulled Pepper up and pulled her from the battle, leaving Tony and Barton
with an unconscious Banner. Tony looked back at the wizard who'd blasted a new hole in his living room as he raised his
wand again, having left the onslaught of Neville to his companions.

Just as he began to mouth a spell there was a flash of light and he crumpled. Tony grinned as he recognised the mop of
black hair and green eyes that flashed with each spell. George joined him; a steely look on his face that Tony thought
was out of place on the usually cheerful man.

Neville felt his heart rise as Harry and George joined him and the spells he had to block decreased, allowing him to take
more offensive action. He instead focused his attention on the figure of his nightmares.

Lestrange noticed his particular attention and Neville saw the moment that the monster recognised him. A slow, evil
smile revealed his teeth and a gleeful glint entered his black eyes.

Regardless of the other fights, Neville pursued Rudolphus, fire fueling his actions, making up for his recent lack of
fighting practice. Then he saw his opening.

"Expelliarmus."

Neville saw Rudolphus' wand fly into the air and a surge of glee that surpassed all else passed through him. The man
tripped backwards and ended up sprawled on the ground while Neville stood over him, towering over the creature that
had helped ruin his childhood.

Neville regarded him dispassionately, the shell of a man lying helpless beneath him. The sneer had gone and Neville
thought he could see a trace of fear creeping into the soulless depths of those eyes. He couldn't explain the emotions
roiling within him, but they rose until he could hear only the pounding in his ears and see only the decrepit faces of his
late parents.

A sudden calm came over him. Without considering his actions he slowly raised his wand and pointed it.

His voice was strong and deliberate as he spoke the curse.

"Crucio."

The battle continued with much better odds, except the wizards still in the game appeared to be a lot more talented than
their fallen companions, Tony felt a new appreciation for Harry's spell casting ability as he battled two of the remaining
Death Eaters, dispatching one as Tony watched.

Then his gaze was caught by Neville who was fighting with a vengeance. Tony had known that he had fought in the war,
but had still only seen him as the bashful school teacher. That preconception was shed now as the man fought with a
fury against the boss, pushing the man back with his onslaught of spells.

Tony looked back at Harry whose demeanor was cool and focused, almost as if visiting a friends and being forced into a
deadly light show was a common place event.

The battles end was sudden, but difficult to place. Tony just became aware that no more spells were being flung; no
more Latin words were being shouted over the cacophony. But in the absence of battle, a long, drawn out scream filled
the air.

All gazes turned to Neville, standing over the boss who was writhing on the ground, emitting a terrible screech He was
barely drawing in gulps of air to keep up with his yells. With a cold certainty, Tony identified the curse as the one that had
been used on him earlier.

He looked up at Neville's face, it held a simmering fury beneath the surface and Tony realised that their would-be killer
had done him some great wrong.

The other wizards had been standing as if frozen for a moment that seemed to stretch an indeterminable length of time
while their friend tortured the deranged man. It was Harry who moved, striding up to Neville and placing a hand on his
shoulder. He murmured something into the taller man's ear. Neville showed little sign of having heard him, so Harry
spoke again, this time a word that carried across the now silent room.

"Enough."

A/N And on that I must apologise for further delays, I am writing as the scenes come to me in disjointed segments,
but you will be pleased to know that I have planned to the end .
*Chapter 13*: Men in Robes
A/N

A wild chapter appeared...

Yes, almost a year later, we have an update, one that I hope lives up to expectations.
I have been working on this story on and off for the past few months, spurred by the reviews and the daily favourites
to pull something together that would be worth the time spent reading it. This is where I confess that when I started
writing this, I didn't have a clear plan for where it was going. Then the complexity of what I was attempting required
that I keep checking and altering early chapters to make sure that there was continuity, build up and a lack of plot
holes. Just last week I revisited chapter 12 and made a change which would have been a pain to work around had it
already been published...

From now on, there shall be one update a week as I do final edits and one last read through and continuity check.

A quick summary of everything since the film arc:


Harry went to London and heard about a series of Death Eater style attacks. He was followed by Tony who then had
a crash course in the Wizarding World and the Weasleys. They then returned to America, George in tow to start
experimenting with potions that may help Banner with the Hulk. Then, at Hogwarts, Neville finds out from a young
slytherin boy that a group of wannabe Death Eaters led by Rudolphus Lestrange have planned an attack on Harry
and he goes to help. Meanwhile the tower has been shut down, the muggle inhabitants captured. The wizards arrive
and there is a battle. Neville finds himself face to face with the man who tortured his parents and finally gets some
of the closure I felt the books denied him.

Disclaimer: All characters belong to their respective creators.

It was with a subdued atmosphere that they regrouped after the fight. George bound the Death Eaters while Harry
brought Bruce around. The man was groggy- he remembered the red light, but after that… He was shocked to learn of
the attack. Tony investigated the power outage in his tower as Harry gave him the barest bones of who the men were and
what they were after.

It didn't take long. As a self-sufficient tower, the energy was still there, building up in the strategically placed emergency
storage units around the tower. What the wizards had done was stop the electricity getting to the rest of the building.
Whether that was because they'd breached their prejudices enough to use a tech savvy-muggle or because of a
concentrated use of magic in the area he couldn't say immediately. He needed Harry, or perhaps Hermione to outline the
exact effects of magic on electricity, but Harry had said that it didn't seem to impact the reactor in Tony's chest, which
would explain why energy was still being channelled at them.

"Do you mind if I use your fire?" George asked from by his shoulder. Tony raised an eyebrow but gave him the go ahead.

He surveyed the room. The spies were lumping the unconscious bodies together in one place with more force than
strictly necessary. George was striding to the fire after snatching a pouch from the satchel that had been sat next to the
couch since that morning. Harry had finished getting Bruce up to speed and had taken a seat next to Neville.

The other wizard was sitting with his head in his hands. He hadn't spoken since stunning the boss man, a wizard that
both Harry and George had called 'Lestrange'. Harry looked up as Pepper offered him a tea from the tray of hot drinks
that she had knocked together. She had been flitting around with the restlessness of someone who needed something
to do when George had gently suggested beverages.

"And the hot chocolate." She murmured, handing Harry a second mug. He thanked her and in turn proffered the mug to
Neville. The other man straightened and sat back with a shaky breath, his eyes looking suspiciously shiny. Even so,
there was a steely mask over his features as he stared at the Death Eaters. He only turned away when Harry waved the
polka dot mug through his line of sight and nudged him. A pale hand retrieved the mug but didn't raise it to his mouth.
Harry spoke to Neville quietly.

A flash of green light lit the room. George, who'd been quietly minding himself, by the fireplace, was now kneeling next to
a roaring green fire. The other muggles all exclaimed in shock when George proceeded to stick his head into the flames.
Bruce looked in askance at Tony who just shrugged, sipping his coffee. He found it difficult to be surprised anymore.
Though he was enjoying the use of the word muggle, it was much more succinct than 'non-wizard'.
Pepper had placed the tray on his coffee table and come over to him. He wrapped an arm around her, savouring her
closeness. She rested her head on his shoulder allowing him to kiss the top of her head, trying to convey how much her
being safe meant to him.

Harry rose from Neville's side and crossed the room.

"Are you both okay?"

Tony nodded, "Although that is the second beating this month that this building has undergone. You couldn't have made
your magical battle a little less destructive?" I glanced meaningfully at the charred walls and broken glass piled around
the room.

"I'll keep that in mind." Harry let a small smile cross his face. "Though we can do something about the mess."

"They did something to Tony." Pepper spoke up.

Tony rolled his eyes, "I'm fine!" But Harry was now looking him over critically.

"What happened?"

"Cruciatus." Tony said shortly, not wanted to dwell on events. He felt fine now and that was what mattered.

Harry put a hand on his shoulder, "Are you sure that you're okay?" Tony read the concern in those green eyes.

"I am more pissed at what they did to my tower." Tony answered. This wasn't quite true, he was more concerned with
Pepper and Bruce's welfare , but that wasn't what Harry was asking.

"Is he okay?" Pepper asked, nodding at Neville who was now staring out over the city, his brow creased in concentration.

Harry sighed and ruffled his hair. "He'll be fine."

"What's going to happen?" Tony asked curiously, "Unless I'm very much mistaken, that was an Unforgivable." He
remembered clearly the punishment for such a curse. He couldn't see the otherwise mild-mannered teacher surviving in
prison.

Harry looked to his friend. "I doubt charges will be brought against him if it comes up. There are extenuating
circumstances."

"Circumstances that explain torture?" Tony raised an eyebrow. It wasn't that he wanted the man to go to Azkaban, but he
was trying to understand a legal system that could choose which crimes to prosecute and which to let slide by.

Harry sighed again, "It's- it's complicated. For starters, Neville is one of the key figures in the war."

"Just cause someone's a war hero doesn't mean that they get off scot-free from crimes." Barton supplied, having
approached the small group.

Harry shot him a tired look and Tony recognised Barton's residual guilt for the lives he'd taken under Loki's control.

"I've used Unforgivables you know." Harry informed them to Tony's surprise. Despite having seen Harry fight, and
knowing his role in the war, he had difficulty identifying Harry as a caster of the spell that he had endured. Harry saw his
enquiring gaze and clarified. "The Imperius, a couple of times, when I had to. The Mind Control curse. He clarified for
Barton and Pepper's benefit, "We were trying to break into Gringotts and we were going to get caught and killed
otherwise."

"What about the other two?" Tony asked, morbidly curious.

"I've never cast the Killing Curse." Harry said firmly, surprising Tony, who thought that Harry must have cast it at least
once, possibly when killing Voldemort. "I did attempt Cruciatus once, many years ago." A sadness crossed his features
as he thought back to that time.

"Attempt?" Barton queried, almost surprised that there was a spell Harry couldn't do.

He smiled grimly, "I didn't mean it enough. Didn't have enough hate."

Tony was surprised at the slight bitterness in Harry's voice. They were obviously encroaching on buried territory.
"But your friend does." Barton prompted.

Harry's eyes narrowed. "That man over there," he indicated the body of Lestrange, "Is Rudolphus Lestrange. He, along
with his wife and another Death Eater, used the Cruciatus curse to drive Neville's parents to insanity."

Tony felt sick to his stomach. Suddenly Neville's transformation made sense. He glanced over at the other man, glad that
he was out of earshot as they dredged up his past.

"The others?" Barton asked, his expression carefully blank.

"Barty Crouch Jnr received the Kiss years ago. He died in Azkaban. Bellatrix," the name was said with a certain venom,
"Lestrange was killed in the Final Battle."

Tony tuned out as Harry explained Dementors to Barton, George had pulled his head out of the fire and was walking
towards them.

"Yeah, Crouch Jnr was a real piece of work." He contributed to the conversation, "But he was one of our best DA teachers.
Not a patch on you Harry." George tipped an imaginary hat in Harry's direction, smiling wryly when Harry narrowed his
eyes. "Ron's on his way, he's bringing a clean-up team."

Harry nodded.

Tony broke the prolonged quiet that followed that statement.

"So what do we do until then?"

"Good to see you're alright mate." Ron said, clapping Harry on the shoulder, "not that I thought you'd gotten soft or
something."

Tony was sat on the sofa with an arm around Pepper watching Harry interact with his friend. He noticed the spies
narrowed gazes from the other side of the room and guessed that they'd picked up on the age discrepancies that Tony
had yet to ask Harry about.

Bruce was sitting next to Neville. The older man had succeeded in getting the Herbologist to talk, about magical plants of
all things. Bruce was asking questions in a low voice and, slowly but surely, Neville was answering, occasionally with
hand gestures to illustrate a point.

Another crack echoed through the room. It was the last in a succession which had brought small groups of Aurors, each
with some kind of hand sized object. The portkey principle had been explained to the room at large by George. This time
however, it was Hermione that appeared in the centre of the room. Her hair was loose and she, unlike the Aurors
surrounding them who were wearing dark robes, was dressed casually.

"Hermione!" Ron exclaimed, emphasising the second syllable, "I said everything was okay."

She rolled her eyes, "I came to see Harry and Neville." She strode to the pair, and pulled Harry into a hug. They spoke
quietly as a small group, and Hermione looked back at Neville, who had quietened upon her arrival. She tucked a stray
strand of hair behind her ear before crossing the room and taking a seat next to Neville.

Tony gave Pepper a quick kiss on the temple before rising and joining Harry and Ron. It was then that Captain Good-
Timing decided to show up.

Steve looked around the room in barely disguised surprise. He'd arrived back in New York and figured that it was only
courteous to tell the other Avengers that he was back. Not that the spies wouldn't already know. He'd pulled his
motorbike up to the curb outside Stark's ego-pillar, looking at the darkened building. The lack of light was the first sign of
something being off. Not even the ostentatious 'A' of 'Stark' left from the battle was lit. He tried to brush it aside as Stark's
eccentricity, but his gut churned with a certainty of something being not right. This was only confirmed by the body he
found in the reception.

He couldn't identify cause of death; there wasn't an obvious mark on her, but now on guard, he tread carefully but quickly
through the building, his training ringing through his head. It didn't take him long to reach the top floor and a darkened
corridor with light that didn't look to be electric at the far end, the room he knew to be Stark's penthouse lounge. He could
hear voices muttering to each other and he walked softly down the corridor. He paused at the corner, poised to come out
swinging if necessary, but was halted by the sight that met him.
The fight was already over, there were men clad in what appeared to be dark blue dresses, or cloaks, he amended,
trussed along the wall opposite him, and men in similar attire were swarming around them, each holding a slender stick
that looked familiar. The room was littered with broken glass and he thought he could see burn marks indenting the
floors and walls. Standing to one side, he could see Harry, conversing with a tall red-headed man, dressed just as
strangely as his fellows. There was another man on the couch in the same getup but in a deep green who was
accompanied by a brunette and Banner. Another ginger man was standing, talking with the spies, who were watching
the going's on with curious expressions. Stark and Pepper were sat on the other couch, but as he watched, Stark stood
and walked to Harry and the red-head.

No one was fighting or dying so he rounded the corner to enter the room, still cautiously assessing his unfamiliar
surroundings.

"Nice timing pops!" Stark quipped from his spot next to Harry who looked around in concert with his companion.

"Stark." Steve acknowledged him with a nod, "Potter." He knew that Tony was waiting for him to ask the obvious and so he
bit his tongue as Potter seemed the type who would explain and put him out of his misery. Not immediately apparently.
There was obviously a reason he and Stark got on so well.

"This is Ron." Was all Potter saw fit to clarify, pointing at his companion who grinned and put out a hand to shake, "Ron,
Steve Rogers."

"Nice to meet you mate," Ron said easily, and Steve was unsurprised to hear a British accent, before looking at Stark.

"So what's with the excessive clean-up crew?" Stark asked, waving a finger at the number of cloaked men, and woman
Steve noted, waving sticks that he recognised as wands over the unconscious figures.

Ron grimaced slightly, "We want this cleared up and out of America as soon as possible."

As if on cue, there was a crack and one of the wizards and two bodies vanished from the room.

"Any particular reason? Isn't there and American Wizarding Government"

"There is…" Ron hedged, "but this was an attack on Harry, not America. The yanks didn't want anything to do with the War
at the time, so there's no need to bother them now."

"And…"

"And, if we made this incident public to the Americans, Harry would have to officially declare himself as a Wizarding
resident and his anonymity in this country would be shot." Ron finished, smiling at Potter.

"Cause the massive televised battle didn't do that already." Stark commented dryly and Ron chuckled slightly.

"That was a muggle affair. They know he's here, but they don't know he's here, if that makes sense. Harry's made a big
name for himself, across the world in fact. The Americans are well aware that if not for him, Voldemort could have gone
after them next, so as favour, they keep his name off public records. As soon as a magical-muggle incident of this nature
goes down with him involved, such courtesy gets shot by procedure. Freedom of information and all that."

Steve bit down on asking exactly what had happened, aware that Tony was still waiting to pounce with another annoying
comment. Instead Steve looked around at the destruction and decided to pick at what he knew would piss Tony off.

"And you only just got the builders out." He commented wryly, letting a grin that he knew was annoying to cross his face.

On cue, Tony's eyes narrowed in annoyance as the brunette leapt from the couch.

"I can help with that!" She exclaimed and a pale wand appeared in her hand. She made a swift gesture that
encompassed the whole room, ending it with a flick. On command, the room began to shift. Fragments of glass swept
as a wave back to their perches, clicking together to form the once destroyed ornaments, the jagged lines glowing
slightly before vanishing. The scorch marks rubbed themselves out and splinters flowed back into the floor, leaving
smooth, pristine wood. A tear in the sofa stitched itself up with an invisible needle and thread. Steve watched the display
around him, marvelling at the beauty of it.

He'd seen Potter's magic, had been taken aback by the stag that had been conjured. The beauty of that moment had
however been overshadowed by the magic he had seen during the battle- the vicious, destructive side in fire and death.
He'd seen Potter soaring through the city, killing hoards of the aliens, and while Steve had admired the skill and use in
battle, he'd found himself disillusioned. This act of creation was causing him to question his views again.
The room stilled, everything back in its place, the last remaining body the only sign of anything having happened. That
was whisked away a moment later, leaving an astounded room. Stark rounded on Potter.

"You had me letting builders stomp over this tower for weeks!"

Potter shrugged, not looking at Tony but grinning at the brunette.

"That's one of Hermione's specialties. I've never had cause to practise that spell, while she has to clean up after him."
He nudged the redhead, who responded with a profound,

"Oi!"

Hermione laughed, a clear, ringing sound which seemed to echo in the now uncluttered room.

"Well if you're wont to hit a bludger into the house…" She left the sentence hanging with a raised eyebrow and no
explanation as to what a 'bludger' was.

Steve spotted the wedding rings on the couple's fingers and surmised that they were married. There was another crack
and one of the dark robed wizards appeared by the window. He glanced around the room to orient himself before making
a beeline to Ron.

"Mrs Longbottom will be arriving shortly." He muttered to Ron who nodded. The man put his hand in his pocket and
vanished with a small crack.

Steve looked at Potter appraisingly. He'd always said he was older than he looked, but now seeing him with his school
friends, he realised what a discrepancy there was in their ages. And it wasn't just due to magic affecting his aging; as his
friends had demonstrated several times now, they were wizards and witches as well. He tried to think about how to
phrase the question. It was more awkward than he thought. Maybe that was why Stark hadn't asked. Or maybe he had.
Lord knew, Stark didn't care about awkward questions. That didn't mean he had shared his knowledge with everyone
else.

"I can't help but notice," he began, drawing the attention of the others in the vicinity, but he ignored them in favour of
meeting Potter's sharp green eyes. "there's a bit of an age discrepancy." He was expecting the customary flippant
variation of 'I'm older than I look'. What he wasn't expecting was the momentary exchange of glances between Potter and
his two friends, a flicker of acknowledgement that something was amiss.

"I'm aging incredibly well." Potter grinned, "Better than this sod at any rate." He nudged Ron in the side who in turn
adopted a mock-peeved expression. He was about to retort when Barton interrupted.

"Bull." Steve looked over at the archer who had an inscrutable expression, his eyes focussed on their magical teammate.
"There is some magic that messes with ages right. George mentioned aging potions."

"That's not quite it." Potter admitted after a moment's pause. He looked across at Stark. "I know you asked about it at the
barbecue, what do you know?"

Starks voice was uncharacteristically measured when he replied, "I know something happened during the war. Some
seriously messed up magic."

Steve felt his spine stiffen, as it always did at the mention of battle.

"You could call it that." Potter conceded for a moment it looked like he wasn't going to add anything more.

"Voldemort killed Harry." Steve looked over Potter's shoulder and saw the green robed man had stood and approached
the group.

"Wait! What?" Steve was sure that his shocked expression would be echoed on the others' faces, but he was too
focussed on the other man to pay them much attention.

"It wasn't quite-" Potter started but his friend cut across him.

"Yes it was. Hagrid told me what happened in the clearing." The man asserted.

"I was playing dead. It was kinda the point."

"To be fair," Ron cut across the pair of them, "it's impossible to know exactly what happened. You blacked out mate. It's
not like we know what the spell did."
Steve got the distinct impression that there was something not being said between them all. Potter had narrowed his
eyes at Ron who shrugged.

"What spell?" asked Stark, his voice low. Steve suspected that the man somehow had a very good idea what the spell
was.

"Avada Kadavra." Potter replied and confirmation flashed across Tony's expression.

"Damn. How is that possible?"

Potter wore a bemused expression that seemed somewhat forced. "Boy that Lived. It's sorta my thing."

"Anyone wanna fill us in?" Barton asked slightly impatiently.

"The Killing Curse." Ron supplied.

"So what, since then, you haven't aged?" Tony asked.

Potter drew in a deep breath and nodded. "Pretty much."

"Is there anything you can do" Banner asked, having come closer to listen to the conversation.

Potter's eyes narrowed, "I'm working on it." He assured them. "He looked over at the man in the green robe who ducked
his head.

"It was easier just to tell them." Steve thought he heard the man mutter to Potter who nodded. Steve reflected on what he
had just learned. To have come that close to death at that age… It hadn't been uncommon during the war, but that didn't
make the idea any easier. And the spell had hit him if what the man had said was anything to go by. Steve briefly
remembered crashing into the ice. He'd been sure that he was dead in that moment as well. As it was, he had lived, only
to find out that his friends were dead and his love aged. He looked at Potter and his perpetually teenage face. Would he
wake up in sixty five years, looking exactly the same but having lost all of his current friends and loved ones?

There was another crack in the centre of the room and a pretty if harried blonde woman appeared in the centre of the
room. She was with a man in black robe, but she was wearing in a simple cream dress with rolled sleeves.

"Hannah." The green robed man muttered, moving towards her with a small lurch. She met him half way and wrapped
her arms around him.

"It's okay Nev. It's going to be okay." She was muttered as she wrapped her fingers in his hair.

"There's a room down there. If you want some privacy." Starks girlfriend and CEO stated, slightly awkwardly as she
realised she was interrupting a private moment.

The woman, Hannah nodded her thanks and led 'Nev' away, keeping a tight hold on his arm while her other hand
wrapped around his waist.

They watched them go, quietly.

"We can put you all up for the night." Potts offered, looking around at everybody. "Lord knows we have enough rooms."

They exchanged small grins.

"Might just take you up on that, mate." George stretched with a yawn, "Nothing quite takes it out of you like a good old
battle of life and death." The red head ignored the good natured glares directed at him.

"While I appreciate the offer, I can't just leave Molly with the kids."

"She loves the brats." Ron opined and Hermione swatted him over the head.

"She doesn't know what happened. I just called her as soon as I heard, said it was an emergency. She's probably
worrying, poor thing."

"Since when is mum, a poor thing!" Ron retorted indignantly. His wife narrowed his eyes.

"Don't you have paperwork for this whole incident?" Ron wilted slightly. "Oh yeah." He looked over at Harry, "You never
mentioned how much bloody paperwork headship entailed!" He moaned. Harry smiled knowingly and shrugged.

In the end Steve accepted the offered bed. He hadn't intended to, but the prospect of driving to his flat didn't appeal to
him. Ron and Hermione cracked home after a swift but fond farewell with Harry with a promise to visit soon. The other
Avengers claimed rooms and quietly circumvented the one that the Longbottoms were occupying, so not to disturb them.

He realised when he lay down in one of Stark's overly modern bedrooms that no one had actually explained to him what
had happened. He punched his pillow in frustration and sat back to think through what he knew and what he guessed.

Mmm Mango Sorbet is good for the creative faculties…


*Chapter 14*: Back to Hogwarts
A/N Here is the next chapter, I hope you enjoy it.

I have re-read this numerous times and think that I have managed to catch all the typos and grammatical issues. I
would like to point out, as it has come up multiple times now, that I am British and that some of my spellings differ
from American ones. I didn't realise quite how many there were until I tried to write an essay on an American
computer but there we are.

Disclaimer: None of the characters are mine: they belong to their respective creators.

"Do you know how to fight?" Steve asked indicating the ring in the centre of the room.

Harry shrugged, "I can throw a punch as well as the next person, but it's not something I've really learned."

Steve looked incredulous. "You're telling me that you fought in a war" he stressed the word, "without learning how to
fight."

"A Wizard war," Harry emphasised the word in turn, "we had magic battles."

"What if your wand snapped? It's just a stick of wood." Steve asked. Harry thought that Steve may have expected him to
declare the wands unbreakable, but the question silenced him. He thought back to Lucius Malfoy and his uselessness
during the war, and other wizards during his time as Auror who had had their wands snapped as punishment.

"I thought so." Steve muttered, "So you are going to learn."

"Pardon?"

"We aren't fighting Wizard Wars now. If you end up disarmed, then we'd have to protect you. So I'm gonna teach you." He
dug into his bags and drew out a handful of fabric. "Go get changed, I'll meet you back out here in five."

Harry looked at the baggy white shirt and trackie bottoms in his hands.

"Now." Steve said in a tone that brooked no argument. Resigned, Harry ducked into a nearby room and changed. Upon
returning, he found Steve in the ring, holding pads in his hands that Harry recognised from Muggle movies which
involved training montages.

"Great." He muttered, climbing into the ring. Steve showed him how to strap his hands up to protect his knuckle and
wrists while practising, explaining that they weren't using gloves as he wouldn't get those in a real fight, and got him into
a ready stance.

Harry wasn't unfit, but even so, he could feel the exertion after a few minutes of the exercise Steve was having him do.
Sometime during the session, Harry missed her entrance; Romanov had come into the room, and was leaning against
the wall idly watching them. Self-consciousness crept up the back of Harry's neck as he hit the pads in the directed
sequence.

It had been a few days since the encounter with Rudolphus and Steve had since learned the whole story about what had
happened and subsequently left a message for Harry to meet him here. So they could fight. Harry could see why it would
be useful, but he was was extremely aware of his lack of skill in the area under Romanov's critical and expert gaze.

"He's too small for your style of fighting.' Her light voice cut through the sounds of Harry grunting and his fists hitting the
pad. Steven signalled for a halt and Harry took advantage of the moment to rub his fists and clench and unclench his
fingers.

"Excuse me?" Steve looked over at the spy with a raised eyebrow.

"While he needs to learn how to throw a punch, he's too small to be able to rely on strength alone unlike you, big man."

Harry didn't bother pointing out that he was standing between them as they argued over him. He began thinking of the
trip he was setting up for a fortnight from now, back to Hogwarts. Neville had invited them. Or rather he had invited Bruce.

He and Hannah had ended up staying the night at the tower, awaking the next morning when Jarvis announced that
breakfast was ready. Pepper had put Tony's waffle machine to good use, and they had all tucked in, neither Neville nor
Hannah having had such a treat before.
Bruce had helped keep the mood light, asking more questions about the healing quality of various wizarding plants until
Neville had extended an invite to his greenhouses. If Bruce was interested. He had been, and once Tony had realised
that these greenhouses were at Hogwarts, he had bugged Harry until he had agreed to take him too. The others though
disappointed realised the impracticalities of such a large muggle group at a wizarding school. They left the matter alone
on the promise that they would get another chance to visit the now infamous castle.

He'd have to have some disguise of course, probably some sort of aging potion or glamour. That was something to look
forward to. He looked between his two instructors- they had come to the conclusion that they would both teach Harry how
to fight- Steve focussing on fitness and stamina while Romanov, Natasha, took over form and style. They were now both
assessing him and what promise he had shown so far, mostly his speed and reaction time.

This was going to be a fun couple of weeks. As much as he was anxious about going back to the magical world, he was
beginning to appreciate it would be his only chance to get a break from what sounded like a rigorous training regime.

"I knew it was going to be archaic, but I honestly didn't expect this." Tony quipped, staring at the wrought iron gates.

"You haven't even seen it yet." Bruce said tiredly from his place by George's shoulder.

"You can learn a lot from a places front gate, let me tell you." Tony retorted.

"Oi," Harry cut in. He looked over at his friend. "You do know that it's an ancient castle, right?"

Harry didn't quite know what to feel, standing at the gates of a place that held so much meaning for him. Hogwarts lay
beyond that wall. They'd flooed straight to the Three Broomsticks to avoid the anti-muggle precautions and followed the
path to arrive here. The pair had been fascinated by the small wizarding village, though Tony wouldn't shut up about how
typically British it was. Bruce had called it quaint.

His skin was itching slightly under the ageing glamour he wore. It was more in anticipation of discomfort, the glamour
hadn't been on long, but Harry knew that it would become irritating as the day wore on. He realistically had several hours
before that set in.

He could see a figure coming from the distance. He would recognise that brown coat anywhere. The size was a bit of a
giveaway as well. Hagrid was coming to unlock the gates and let them into the school. They couldn't just waltz in. He
wasn't a student any more. Not that he should have been able to come and go as he pleased as a student. Harry
remembered their thestral journey over the walls.

"It's not all ancient now." George commented, "They did some serious reconstruction y'know."

Harry did know. He wasn't certain what to make of the possible changes to Hogwarts.

So here Harry stood, watching Hagrid start waving as he came closer.

"'ello 'Arry, George. Tony, yeah?"

"That's me, big man." Tony grinned as Hagrid slid a giant key into the gates lock. It turned smoothly for such an old gate
which in turn opened swiftly and silently. "This is Bruce."

"Good t'meet you." Hagrid grinned offering one of his huge hands which Bruce took, obviously intrigued with how his
hand was barely half the size of Hagrid's. "I'm Rebeus Hagrid, though mos' jus' call me Hagrid. I'm the Care of Magical
Creatures Professor and the Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts."

"Good to meet you too." Bruce, "I'm just a scientist."

"Your underselling yourself Doc." George laughed, clapping his shoulder, "How's about we go take a look around."

Harry felt nostalgia rolling over him in waves as he walked up the main drive to the castle. Its profile was so ingrained in
him that he could see past the new extensions and pick out the original form from the turrets and towers.

"Wow." Bruce muttered as it came into view, and Harry grinned at him. "You went to school here?"

"A for-real castle. How British." Tony quipped and Harry rolled his eyes.

"Yeah. Trust me I know what you mean. When you arrive in your first year, they take you in boats across the lake. I'm pretty
sure it's just so they can show it off from its best angle."
Hagrid laughed with a deep throaty chuckle.

There was a green robed figure awaiting them by the stone circle. He was casually leaning against one of the pillars and
waited until they were within a few metres before pushing himself off the stone. Neville greeted them with a smile. It had
been a couple of weeks since Rudolphus had attacked, and Neville ostensibly looked as cheerful as he had before but
Harry recognised the shadow behind his features that had haunted all those that had participated in the War. Harry
understood. The last two weeks nights had been filled with revisions of old nightmares.

"Long time no see." Neville grinned.

"Yeah, it's been so long now. Like what, a whole… two weeks?"

"Sounds about right- wouldn't guess that to look at you though." Neville clapped Harry on the shoulder and turned to the
others. "Thanks for escorting them Hagrid, it took me longer than I expected to dismiss the sproglets."

"Not a prob." Hagrid grinned at them, "Sorry to run out on you guys, but I have some skrewts that need feeding. I'll see
you all for lunch."

Harry watched Hagrid amble away down the hill in the direction of his hut.

"Has he really-?"

"Yup."

"Sheesh." Harry shivered. "Blast-ended skrewts," Harry clarified for their muggle companions, "Nasty little buggers."

"You chose to come on a good day." Neville changed the subject, "It's match day, Griffindor vs Slytherin."

Harry grinned, "Awesome. You're going to get an introduction to Quidditch." He told Tony and Bruce, "And it is going to be
spectacular."

"That's not until the afternoon though." Neville added, "Plenty of time to show you around the greenhouses."

Bruce acknowledged this fact with an anticipatory smile and rub of the hands but Tony cleared his throat.

"If you don't mind, I would prefer a tour around the medieval castle to staring at a load of shrubs all day."

"I've seen it all before." George added, "I'll catch up with you guys later."

"Meet up for lunch?" Neville asked Harry who nodded. "I'll save you all spots on the staff table."

With that they parted and the two pairs set about finding their own ways to amuse themselves. Harry started in the
courtyard and walked him through the castle. He passed the Great Hall, but thought Tony could wait until lunch when it
would be busy and he could get a better sense of the atmosphere. Instead he took him around a few of the courtyards
and introduced him to Sir Nick who floated across their path.

Harry had spent a few minutes idly watching the occasional 7th year cross the yard, or situate themselves on the grass
to study in the sun while Tony quizzed Nick at a quick-fire pace. They parted company with the ghost when the bell rang
and the corridor filled with students.

Harry noticed the occasional eye turn his way and heard mutters spring up around him. He should have really expected it
since he hadn't put on some sort of disguise.

"Huh, you weren't kidding about being famous." Tony said, seemingly mildly surprised. Harry had just clipped him over
the head in jest when a small voice spoke up.

"Hey, excuse me. Sir?" Harry turned to meet the face of a young Hufflepuff girl. She was probably a first year, with curly
blonde hair and a round face. She looked familiar, but Harry couldn't place why.

"Yes?" He replied, with a small smile down at her. She looked slightly timid at his response. She seemed to be working
up the will to ask a question.

"Um, are you- Harry Potter?"

Harry managed to reign in the old familiar resignation. He heard Tony chuckle beside him.
"Yes I am." He said evenly and a grin broke out on the girls face.

"I thought so! You're like how Daddy described you!" Ah, so she was the child of an old school mate.

"Did he?" Harry acknowledged politely.

"Yeah!" She replied eagerly, grinning and showing a gap between her two front teeth. "He told me about how you grew up
together!"

Harry nodded with a small placatory smile as he tried to match the girls face up to the boys he'd know back when he was
a student. She stuck out a small hand for him to shake, practically bouncing on the balls of her feet.

"Violet Dursley!" she introduced herself, her voice bursting with excitement.

Harry froze in the act of accepting her hand. The name echoed through his head as he stared at the girl in shock. He
could see Dudley in her he supposed, she carried less weight, but her face was a similar shape and her hair the same
colour. Her eyes were a startling blue and sparkled up at him.

"Uh-" he found himself at a loss for words. Yes he had supposed Dudley would have gone on with his life after the war,
maybe he would even have got married. But he'd never pictured him with children. Let alone a daughter. Let alone one
standing before him in the corridor of a magical castle, surrounded by moving portraits and wearing a Hufflepuff robe.
"Dudley Dursley?" he managed to stutter out.

Her smile grew impossibly wider. "Uhuh, that's my daddy."

"Wha- um, what are you doing here?" Was the first thing that slipped unfiltered from his mouth.

She gave him a bemused look that was so like Dudley's old 'you're an idiot' look that he had to shake himself out of his
shock induced stupor.

"I'm at school." She replied matter-of-factly, "the real question is what you are doing here."

"I'm showing a friend around." He gestured generally in Tony's direction.

"So you can come back for that, but not to see daddy?" The girl asked her previous buoyant mood seemingly deflated.

Harry was stumped, "I never thought that he would want to see me." It wasn't that he hadn't thought to contact his cousin
after the War, but he was ashamed to realise now that he'd never made the effort.

"So you're a witch." He stated, still slightly hung up in the fact that his anti-magic raised cousin had sired one.

"Yup." The girl, Violet, popped the 'p', "On my mother's side."

Wait, Dudley married a witch! Vernon must have loved that. But,

"How did they meet?" He realised after he asked that she might not know, but the smile just grew.

"When Dad was under Order protection." Violet stated, "He stayed at my mum's house for most of that last year. She was
kept away from Hogwarts cause her mum was a known Order member."

"Who's her mum?" Harry asked, running Order members through his mind to try and figure out the connection.

"Granny Hestia?"

"Hestia Jones!" Harry exclaimed, remembering the young, black haired woman who'd taken the Dursley's from Privet
Drive all those years ago. "Wow." He was still reeling under the idea of Dudley having a child with a witch. He found a grin
stretching across his face. "Brilliant."

"I can't wait to tell him that I saw you."

Harry looked down at this girl who was technically his first cousin, once removed. Dudley had kept up the flower names
he noted.

"Tell him- tell him I'll send an owl his way." Harry decided, with an assured nod.

Violet grinned, "I think he'll like that. He seems ever so fond of you."
Harry had to hold back a small choking sound when he heard that. Dudley? Fond? He pulled a smile together to try and
cover up his smile.

"I'm pretty sure you have to get to class." Indeed the corridors bustle had calmed to a couple of sixth and seventh years
who probably had frees. "We shall be seeing each other again."

The girl nodded, her blonde hair bouncing and slid past him. He followed her with his gaze and at the end of the corridor,
she turned and waved. He mimicked her with a smaller gesture before remembering that Tony was standing by his
elbow.

"Dudley, that's your cousin right?"

He nodded.

"I never saw him settling down and having a kid with anyone. Let alone a witch."

Tony clapped him on the shoulder. "Well, people can surprise you. Shall we go check on Bruce? Fury will be pissed if he
manages to get himself eaten by a plant."

They stopped by the greenhouses to find Neville demonstrating the running of a Herbology lesson while managing at
the same time to introduce Bruce to a range of magical plants. He fit so well into the role of teacher that Harry felt a well
of emotion stir in him. In the role of professor Neville seemed to be free of his demons. He flitted between explaining the
plants to Bruce and instructing the Gryffindors how to hold the shrub they were working with. It looked familiar, but Harry
couldn't for the life of him identify it. Bruce for his part was getting caught up in a tidal wave of new information, so much
so that his earlier professed nervousness of being in a room with a load of kids had vanished. He had been terrified of
accidentally turning amongst children.

He and Tony left the greenhouses and Harry had led him towards the great staircase. After several questions that Harry
couldn't answer and multiple discussions with paintings- including Sir Cadogan who challenged Tony to a duel- they
made their way to the Great Hall for lunch.

"Huh." Tony muttered as he stared at the open ceiling and floating candles, "That's cool."

Harry grinned and walked amongst the filling House tables to the teachers table. Neville and Bruce weren't there yet, but
Professor McGonagall was.

"It's good to see you well, Potter."

"You too, Professor."

A small smile crossed her face, "I'm sure we passed the 'professor' stage a long time ago."

"Habits are hard to break." He replied with equal humour, "this is my friend, Tony. Tony this is Minerva McGonagall, she
was my Transfigurations professor and Head of House. She was also a member of the Order. She's now the
Headmistress."

"Ah, Minnie, nice to meet you. I recognise you from the pictures."

McGonagall raised at thin eyebrow and Harry was about to comment when Neville took the spot on the bench next to
him.

"You know, there's a rumour going around the students. Did you hear? Harry Potter is back!"

"Hmm, I wonder where they got that idea from." Harry replied wryly.

At that moment a cheer rose in the hall. They looked up to see a handful of figures standing in the doors of the hall. The
Griffindor table had risen upon their feet upon their entrance and were applauding and whooping at them as they walked
down the hall to take their places at the table. Harry found himself caught up in nostalgia as he spotted the smallest
figure amongst them, standing between two broader blokes, probably the beaters, watching out for the seeker.

"The Griffindor Quidditch team." He informed the muggles, as he started filling up his plate.

"So what is this game?" Bruce asked, eyeing the team as they greeted their housemates joyously and settled on the
bench to eat.

"Harry should probably tell you." Neville admitted as cut up his steak,
"So, basically, " Harry started waving a skewered bit of sausage in the Gryffindor teams direction as he began to explain
the ins and outs of Quidditch for the layman. George joined them and they walked down to the pitch with the crowd, which
were too caught up in the festivities to take note of Harry. He went into further detail when the match took off. The teams
were equally matched, and the competitive tension only grew.

Meanwhile, in an old English garden on a bright summer's day underneath the boughs of a tree, a tanned young man
was drinking tea with an elderly lady. She laughed at something he said and with a grin he replaced the cup on its
saucer, leaned over and kissed her on the cheek.

"Thank you Rosie. You know how much I enjoy coming round for tea,"

He bade her farewell and stood, pulling on his brown, leather coat. With a small bow, he turned and left her heaven. He
crossed the border to the living world and found himself standing over Manhattan, where his Master currently resided.

He paused and a look of concentration came to his face. He cocked his head, eyes closed, as if listening to something.
After a moment, his eyes snapped open.

"Oh… Bolshevik."

Lets take a moment to appreciate the versatility of actor Tom Riley...


*Chapter 15*: The Strange Encounters
A/N Sorry for the delay I realised that I said I would update once a week, but I was in Amsterdam, having too much
fun to find a computer. As such, the next update will be on Sunday.
I must confess I'm slightly nervous about this chapter, but it is essential. I hope you enjoy it.

Disclaimer: I own nothing, but I admire a lot.

Harry idly drummed his fingers of the counter as the server pulled his order together. The Caffinator was a small but
beloved coffee shop less than a block from the tower. It was a favourite of Tony's and as a result, Harry had been dragged
here a number of times since they had met. It had quickly grown on him; the place had a comfortable atmosphere and
could be credited with fantastic hot chocolate.

He grinned as Stacy tipped a spoonful of marshmallows on his order without asking him. He had clearly frequented this
place much too often.

"What would you recommend?"

It took him a moment to recognise that the question was directed at him. He swivelled to face the source and found
himself looking at a young, smartly dressed red head. Her green eyes were fixed on him and a light grin was playing
around her mouth.

"You seem like a regular." She added, shifting the grip on her briefcase.

"What gave it away?" He replied, leaning back against the counter slightly. She considered the question, idly tucking a
short strand of her cropped hair behind her ear.

"The marshmallows." She replied decisively and Harry chuckled. "Yeah, I figured."

"So, in terms of what's good..." she let the question hang. Harry started slightly.

"Oh, yeah. Um, I have a friend who swears by their espresso shots, but if you want something more flavoursome, I hear
the caramel macchiato is fantastic." She considered, her gaze running over the menus boards.

"I should warn you, this will be the make or break drink. This place is close to my workplace, so it'd be convenient, but if
the drinks aren't up to scratch," she shrugged, "I'll have to continue searching elsewhere."

"You won't be disappointed." Harry promised her. "My friends swear by this coffee. I'm more Hot Chocolate myself. I never
got into coffee and, no offense; but you yanks can't make a decent cup of tea."

She laughed and it was a full rich sound. Harry grinned.

"Harry, your order is ready." He turned and accepted the cardboard tray holding four travel cup. "Thanks, Stacy." He
dropped the standard tip in the jar and turned back to the woman.

"Harry, eh?" She stretched out a hand that had elegantly tapered fingers. Harry switched the tray from to his left hand and
met her handshake. "Robin."

"Nice to meet you Robin."

"You too. You know, if this coffee meet's its recommendation, I might just become a regular."

Harry smiled, "I'll probably see you around then."

He left the coffee shop with a grin on his face and a bubbly feeling in his gut. It had been a while since he could say that.

He could see the tower in the distance and his glee was dampened somewhat. There was the same problem he had
had with Ginny. Sure, they appeared to be around the same age now, but give it ten years and then what. Not to mention
she was a muggle. Tony's old playboy persona rang in his head but he dismissed it. The whole thing was stupid. But
then, how long until the whole thing got creepy? He was going to be decades older than girls that were around his
physical age.

The whole thing was a bit depressing really.


Then again. He'd begun to piece the things that Death had mentioned together and an idea was forming. He'd need to
talk to him though, to confirm his suspicions.

Something was wrong.

There was something… it was a taste in the air, a tingling in his gut that pushed away all thoughts of Robin. He looked
around at the faces pushing past him but couldn't place the source of his sudden awareness. It wasn't wrong. It was
different, important, but he didn't know why and his made his skin itch.

It was rush hour, and both the roads and pavements were packed. Harry forged ahead, trying to identify where the
sensation as coming from. It was like trying to identify one note in an orchestral movement. Someone knocked into his
side hard. He turned to see who it was but they were gone- a blur in the crowd. He continued twisting his head, looking
for the source of the sensation which had settled into a light buzzing in his ears. For some reason he felt that he should
know the entity it belonged to.

Everything seemed very distant all of a sudden and suddenly a scream broke though the cacophony he'd been trying to
distinguish the figure from. He was brought back to the customary sounds of Manhattan suddenly and he noticed that the
stream of people had slowed and was beginning to clot around him. One woman was staring at him with horror in his
face. People were talking at him and he opened his mouth to reply when he realised he didn't know what they were
saying.

Something was heavy in his hand and he looked down to see four travel mugs in a cardboard tray. He'd bought those for
people. He should probably get back to them sooner rather than later, or else Tony would be more of an arse than
normal. A splash of red caught his attention. It was spreading across his pale green shirt from an epicentre in his
abdomen. When he saw it he became aware of a dampness in the same area. He realised that the feeling was
spreading across his back as well. He knew what that was.

The drinks tumbled from his hand and suddenly he realised he was closer to the pavement then he had been a moment
ago. He could make out the discolouration of the cement in the cracks between the stones. There was a hand on his
shoulder and suddenly he was turning and he was facing the sky, another hand on his back. He had the sensation of
being lowered to the ground.

Something pressed against his stomach and suddenly pain exploded in the same location. He gasped and felt his body
writhe in an attempt to get away from the force but more hands held him down. He stopped struggling. It was just too
much exhausting.

The voice increased in volume and urgency as he let his eyelids close. But that didn't seem to matter anymore.

Blood, two espressos, one caramel macchiato and a hot chocolate ran together into a drain, pulling a small train of mini-
marshmallows with them.

"You have a visitor." Jarvis informed him as he messed with a program on his desktop.

"Is Harry back from his walk?" Tony asked.

"Not yet, sir."

"Huh, he's taking longer than he said he would." Tony grumbled.

"Sir, your visitor."

"Send them up." He was feeling in a less belligerent mood than normal, but was too lazy to go down and knew that
Jarvis had already vetted them scanned them for threats.

It was about a minute later that Jarvis announced there imminent entrance into the room. Tony looked up when the
elevator door slid open, then had a double take.

The woman took a swaying step into the room. Her blonde hair was messily gathered round her head and her clothes
were unusually compiled, but strangely suited her. She had fine features and pale skin, freckled and protuberant, dreamy
blue eyes. Despite her overall unusual appearance and stoned manner, Tony could see intelligence in her eyes as they
drifted over her surroundings. She looked familiar.

"Can I help you?" He was the one to break the silence. Her gaze came to him and she smiled lightly.
"Yes. I think you can. Well, I figured, you've met all the others- you may as well tick off the last name on the list."

"Wha-?" And Tony realised where he'd seen her before. She was standing next to the red head- Ginny from the
Barbeque- in the picture of the DA members. She extended a hand.

"Luna Lovegood." She met his eyes as he shook it.

"Tony Stark."

She smiled. "It's good that Harry has made such a good friend. We worry. But he's good at interacting with people,
making new friends. That's going to be important. Later." She turned away and started wondering around the lounge
leaving her last statement hanging as he watched her. "You have an amazing view." She commented off-handedly,
coming to a stop by the windows. "is it possible to go out onto the balcony?"

"Of course, miss."

Jarvis apparently liked her, because he slid the glass door open. Tony studied the girl as she meandered with purpose
towards the opening and stepped through. Tony followed her.

"So what do you do?" He asked curiously as she leaned against the railing. Her eyes were closed and she seemed to
be enjoying the slight breeze that played across the pair of them.

"I travel." She replied vaguely before looking across at him with a surprisingly astute gaze. "Father used to tell me about
all these wondrous creatures whose existence was dismissed by those not open minded enough." She looked back out
across Manhattan. "People used to say he was crazy. Me too. I wanted to prove him right." Her next pause was so long,
Tony was just about to speak when she turned to him fully, a small grin on her face, "I'm beginning to think that maybe
some of the things he told me might not be true."

Tony raised an eyebrow. "Seriously? The wizarding world already has so many fantastical creatures creature beyond
belief, why do you expect there to be more?" She pursed her lips.

"Beyond belief by your standards." She corrected, "Wouldn't we wizards be arrogant people if we believed that we had
discovered everything. And how boring would the world be if there was nothing left to find."

Tony had to concede the point. That was the point of science after all. He'd begun to become accustomed to the idea that
magic had solved everything, that it filled the gaps that he didn't realise that science had left. But maybe they weren't so
different after all. He was just about to tell her this when Jarvis interrupted him.

"Sir, there are some policemen at the door."

Tony looked in the direction of the elevator reflexively.

"What for."

"I don't know, sir. They haven't discussed anything since entering besides the size of the foyer."

"Something's not right. I'll go down to them."

"Right you are, sir." Jarvis agreed.

"Sorry about this. You can wait here if you want." Tony told the woman who had gone back to serenely surveying the
skyline. She nodded.

Tony crossed the room and boarded the elevator. A moment before the doors closed, Luna slipped through them and
joined him.

"I said you could wait." Tony reiterated.

"I thought it was an option." She replied with a smile and Tony had to shake his head at the logic of the statement.

It was a short ride with a comfortable silence. This was broken upon disembarking the elevator. The expressions on the
cops' faces and the tension in their demeanour put him straight on edge.

"Good day gentlemen. How can I help you?" Tony forced a grin and a casual demeanour. It became more of an effort
when the two men glanced at each other.
"Mr Stark, I am Detective Bell and this is my partner, Detective Eames." The older, gruffer of the two started. His
moustache twitched with each word.

"We are sorry to have to inform you of an attack earlier today on Mr Harry Evans."

"Is Harry okay?" Tony cut across them sharply. Another shared look.

"An ambulance was called, but Mr Evans was dead when they arrived. We are sorry. We're doing what we can to catch
the culprit, but no one seems to have seen anything."

There was a roaring in Tony's ears. He kept his face neutral, but his insides were thundering.

"-all overseas, we are going through channels. But for now we need a formal ID, you were listed as his medical
emergency contact. Could you come down to the station with us?"

"Of course." Tony replied. He acted without really thinking about it, following the cops to their vehicle, putting on his belt
and watching out the window as the car set off. It wasn't until near the end of their journey that he noticed Luna had
managed to get into the car was well.

His mind was running possibilities, scenarios, reasons- anything that could help make sense of what seemed a
completely pointless, sudden act. Maybe it was a Death Eater, finally accomplishing his goal. Maybe they had wised up
and realised wizardry wasn't the way to go. Or maybe it was, and they had had a wizard battle but this time, Harry had
lost. There was a memory spell wasn't there? Maybe the people who had seen anything had been wiped- that's why
there was no witnesses.

It wasn't a random attack; it couldn't be- a mugging gone wrong, Harry was fully capable of defending himself. So if it
wasn't magic it must have been a surprise attack, or something!

He closed his eyes and quietened his thoughts. It was useless speculating without all the data. It might not even be
Harry, part of him futilely pointed out that was the point of this positive ID business.

It wasn't long before the car rolled to a stop and Tony found himself standing outside the station. He walked calmly in,
vaguely aware of Luna following. He matched the pace of the cops, barely giving a glance to the desks and other officers
that made up the rooms they passed. Despite this, he retained details of those he passed. It was second nature. They
passed a small group of cops chatting with large cups of steaming coffee in their hands. One said World's Best Dad.
There was a sullen gangster sitting in a chair being processed by a short tempered brunette cop. There was a small
group gathered around a board covered in photos and writing. Two of them, the only woman and the tallest man, were
bickering while the other two exchanged glances and money. Someone returned from a doughnut run.

Bell turned through a set of doors and led them down a set of stairs to a corridor that screamed morgue. The sterilised
feel was permeating the air, spreading from a room half way down the corridor. Suddenly he didn't want to go any further,
but Luna overtook him, with surprising vigour. She had been Harry's friend longer he realised as he followed her.

"This will be shocking, we understand if you need a moment-" Eames filtered off at the look Tony sent him and pushed
the door open.

There was a woman by the sinks, scrubbing at her hands. She looked up when they came in and grabbed a handful of
paper towels to dry her hands.

"This is Dr Parish." Bell introduced her as she came towards them, her face carefully blank upon meeting possible
relations of one in her care. "This is Mr Stark, he is here to see Mr Evans."

Dr Parish nodded, "Of course."

She led them to the only occupied table where a figure lay, under a white cloth. Tony tried to make out Harry's features in
the contours formed by the sheet's folds but the action was in vain. Dr Parish took a place by the head and looked up at
him. He nodded in response and she pulled back the cover.

It was Harry. His green eyes were closed, the dark shadows under them making them seem sunken. This was
emphasised by his shocking black hair that fell as untamed in death as it had in life only partially covering his lightning
scar. The other scars that Harry had described to him that night so many months ago stood out against his unmoving
chest.

He realised that the officers were waiting for him to speak.


"It's him." He confirmed and the men shifted. "What happened?"

"He was stabbed." Bell said quietly, "Unknown assailant. We are doing what we can."

Tony didn't respond.

"We'll uh, give you a moment." Bell signalled to the other two and they filed out of the room, leaving him and Luna. The
woman pulled herself up to sit on the side and started swinging her legs.

"I can't quite believe it." Tony muttered. And he couldn't really. Even with Harry on the slab in front of him he couldn't accept
that Harry, as powerful as he had proved himself to be, could be dead.

"I know." Luna replied, "He does get himself killed quite a lot doesn't he. More than the average person."

His head turned so sharply that his neck cracked.

"What?"

She slid of the counter with a bounce.

"Oh I wouldn't worry. He'll probably wake up soon. Death wouldn't dare lead away his master."

She started humming.

Tony looked between her and the body, aware that that cops were waiting just outside the room.

Deciding, he pulled out his phone. He dialled. As soon as the call was picked up he spoke sharply.

"This is Stark. I need a favour."

A/N Essential knowledge: Knowing the difference between a Cafe and a Coffee Shop in Amsterdam...
*Chapter 16*: Potterland
A/N This chapter ran away with me and I just hope that it meets expectations

I should say that I am loving all of the reviews and theories that you are coming up with. I have written the next set of
chapters, and know where this is going, but I enjoy seeing what you think might happen.

Disclaimer: These are not my characters or worlds.

Bruce hadn't been unduly worried. When he'd gone up to the penthouse to find Tony and instead found the place
deserted, he'd shrugged his shoulders and decided that he'd show his fellow scientist his equations later. He'd settled
down in the lounge with a couple of slices of toast and decided to see what was on TV this time of day. He wasn't
expecting anything thrilling or life changing, just something interesting to while away the time.

But when Tony strode into the room followed by two men pushing what looked like an occupied gurney into one of the
spare rooms he was immediately put on edge. He pulled himself to his feet and followed them. He got the door just as
Tony chivvied the men out, gurney and all to come face to face with his friend as he stood in the doorway.

"What's going on?" He asked warily, watching the men enter the elevator. He looked past Tony's shoulder and saw a very
familiar form lying motionless on the bed.

"Harry!" He pushed Tony out of the way and crossed the room. The doctor part of his mind noted several things at once.
He was too pale and too still, his chest wasn't rising and falling as he breathed and his abdomen was covered in a dark
red-brown stain. Without thinking he checked for a pulse and felt his stomach drop when it wasn't there. The skin was
cold under his fingers.

"It's not as bad as it looks, doc." Tony said from his place in the doorway.

"Not as bad-" He spluttered in disbelief, "There's no pulse, no sign of life, he-he's dead! And judging by the rigor
mortis…" He trailed off, unable to continue. "What happened?"

"He was stabbed in the street by an unknown assailant. I have Jarvis checking security cameras."

The wrongness of this statement jarred in his gut. This whole thing was wrong. He'd seen a lot of death- too much. It
was worse when it was someone he'd grown to like. Over the past few months when Bruce had been living in the tower,
Harry had become somewhat of a permanent face. Especially when George was working with them. Oh, George. All of
Harry's friends. To have already lost so much, to have got through the worst of it, to have built lives after the way… and to
lose it now, to some stranger in the street. It was just so senseless.

Just as worrisome was Tony's apparent inability to accept the death. He realised that as sad as he, himself was, Harry
had been one of Tony's best friends. One of his only friends.

"Tony…" He started, trying to figure out the best way to continue, pushing aside his grief so to best help the man who had
become his friend.

"I know what you're going to say, and seriously, there is an explanation that fully makes sense." Tony was quick to assure
him.

Bruce couldn't stop the concerned gaze he directed at the other man. Tony's face was carefully schooled. Bruce couldn't
help but notice how Tony's gaze stayed directed away from Harry's body.

"It's not the first time he has died apparently." Tony commented dryly.

"Sorry what?"

Tony stepped into the room, "During the final battle, something happened. Lord Voodoo used some sort of weird magic
on Harry. He stopped ageing. Maybe it did something else! Look at what his friends said, or didn't say. I don't think Harry
can die."

"Tony-"

"Stay dead, even. Luna as good as said it."

"Luna?"
Tony waved a hand vaguely, "One of Harry's friends. She's probably on the balcony. Taking in the view."

Bruce looked at the man he now saw as a friend. He didn't know what to say. He'd dealt with loss before. He knew that
Tony had. He'd read the S.H.E.I.L.D file on the man- His parents, the man in the cave, Yinsen… It was possible that
cumulative loss and survivor's guilt was resulting in a delusion. A part of his mind muttered that maybe it was possible,
especially looking at everything else that magic was capable of but this thread of thought was quickly rejected. Harry had
said that magic wasn't capable of resurrection.

He needed to talk to this friend of Harry's. He looked at the unmoving body then at Tony. He wasn't equipped to deal with
this. He shook his head.

"This isn't right, Tony."

"Trust me Bruce." Tony said with such conviction that Bruce really wanted to. But he shook his head again and left the
room. Tony didn't follow him.

The weight of what had happened hit him as the left the stifling room. Harry…

"Jarvis, contact the others." he muttered, trusting the AI to hear hi.

"Of course, sir." the smooth British voice replied. Now it just reminded him of Harry.

He spotted a head of blonde hair being tousled by the breeze attached to a figure that was leaning on the rail on the
balcony. Bruce took the educated guess that the aforementioned Luna had indeed gone outside and moved to confront
her.

"It's concerning, but I hardly think that it's a matter for S.H.I.E.L.D." Clint complained as he took his first sip of the new
coffee flask.

Natasha shrugged, examining the data that had been collected, covering the last few months.

"It's just a babysitting job."

She kept her face blank. It was true that they'd been assigned this fanatic research to ease her partner back into things
after Loki, but she didn't have to know him as she did to read his frustration. She was amazed that it took him this long to
start bitching.

"The rising numbers are worrying though. They all seem to be congregating-" She said in an attempt to appease him.

"Yeah, but any analyst can do this. It's a religious fad, it's nothing new."

She swivelled to look at him.

"It's just checking boxes. Deal with it."

The look of consternation directed at her was worth it. It was good to see him being him again. Even it did mean
returning to his whining when it was just the two of him. He was sitting back with two feet on the table, he wasn't even
looking at his monitor.

"This is more than just a fad. We are talking thousands. Coming from all over the world!"

"Yeah, yeah." He idly waved a hand. "I'm just looking forward to our next mission. Maybe in Budapest."

He flashed his grin at her and the in-joke had her returning it lightly.

"You want Budapest, finish the assessment reports."

"Fine. But you know, even the investigation of that Bio-tech facility break-in would be more interesting than this. As it is
these Dooms-dayer's shall riot and the world will implode from sheer boredom of the fanatics repeated record."

She rolled her eyes.

Her earpiece buzzed at the same time as Clint's. They answered in unison.

"Agents."
The recognised Stark's AI on the joint call.

"Dr Banner has requested your presence at the tower."

"What's up?" Clint asked, removing his feet from the desk and sitting up. There was a pause, almost as if the machine
was deciding what to tell them.

"I believe he want's your help with Master Stark."

Natasha realised that it was actually edging around an issue. Stark had given the AI too much of a personality. She didn't
really mean that- she usually liked Jarvis' sardonic wit, but in that moment, something was off.

"Out with it." was her mature way of extracting the information.

If the machine could have sighed it would.

"Mr Evans was attacked and killed earlier today. Dr Banner is concerned with Master Stark' rather… unorthodox method
of coping."

It took a moment for Jarvis' sentence to register fully. When it did it did like a tonne of bricks. In that moment she
recognised, or rather accepted that she had begun to care for her ragtag group of teammates . Having one cut away hurt
more than she'd expected it to.

She met Clint's eyes. The grey irises were hardened and flinty.

"On our way." he growled and the call cut out.

They had packed up their operation in minutes and were gone.

Steve had taken a tourist day. He had decided to look around the city in all it's 21st century glory. Fury had been making
motions to include him in S.H.I.E.L.D missions, so he was making the most of his unemployment Truthfully he was
looking forward to having something to do. He didn't like drifting.

He'd just purchased a pastry from a Magnolia's Bakery and was considering where to head next; just how touristy he
wanted to play it.

"Hey, big man!"

Maybe not the Empire State building- all the adverts had pictures of couples and that honestly seemed a bit depressing.
It wasn't a bad pastry actually.

"Big man! Steve."

He turned to see a grinning freckled face. It was familiar. It was a moment later that he made the connection with the
young wizard helping Banner with his Big Green problem.

"Uh, hi-"

"George."

"-George. Sorry."

The man chuckled and waved it off.

"Not a problem. We haven't really interacted." Steve nodded, "probably cause you avoid the Tower. What's your problem?"

"Problem?"

"With the Tower, and the Avengers. Ooh, is that a stuffed croissant?"

"Uh-" he settled for the easier question, "I don't know… maybe?"

"I want one."

Somehow, despite his superior strength, he was herded back into the building.
It was nearly ten minutes later, after George had proudly paid for the miscellaneous pastry with dollars that he seemed to
find very amusing-passed off as a Britishism- and they had begun to walk down the street that the wizard followed up on
the question.

"So, Tower. Problems."

Steve looked over at a man yelling at a growing crowd in the park next door in lieu of answering. He'd come to a stop.
George apparently got fed up of waiting and poked him in the side.

"Oi. Hey, you are really over muscled! Tower. Problems."

Steve looked down at the man as he continued stripping away at his pastry. He sighed.

"I was friends with Tony's father."

"Howard?"

"Yeah. He was a good man. A genius actually, and a brave one at that." He died, while I was in the ice."

George chewed his mouthful thoughtfully.

"And Tony reminds you of him."

"Something like that."

He didn't fell like elaborating with the shorter man. His feelings on the matter were really too complex to put into words.
On one hand there was the similarity that George had noted, both physically and in attitude. He'd misjudged Tony when
he'd first met him, comparing him to his father who fearlessly flew into enemy territory. He had felt almost…
disappointed… on Howard's behalf. The younger Stark had proved him wrong of course and the terms between them
had improved, but there was still tension there. Partly because of Tony's vocal dislike of his own father. Tony had begun to
dissociate Steve from the figure that taken up most of his fathers time, but his disdain of the man that Steve had
considered a close friend set him on edge.

There was nothing easy about the situation.

"That's gotta suck." The younger man put succinctly, looking up at Steve. "I can understand that. What are you going to do
about it?"

Something in Steve's pocket buzzed. A tinny rendition of the national anthem started a moment later and Steve fumbled in
his pocket.

"Original." George snorted.

"Not my choice." Steve retorted, taking the phone out of his pocket and flipping it open.

"Rogers."

George occupied himself with routing for crumbs in the pastry bag. Steve was surprised when the British voice of Jarvis
came out of the speaker.

"Mr Rogers, Dr Banner has requested your presence at the tower."

"When?"

"As soon as possible I believe."

"On my way."

Steve snapped the phone shut.

"I've got to head to the tower, but it's been… nice talking."

George screwed up the packet and tossed it into the nearest trash can.

"I might as well head back myself. You have no idea how much trouble Harry can get into with out my very good self there
to regulate him."
Steve sighed a wry grin, "Why do I doubt your ability as a regulator?"

The red head grinned, "'Cause you know better. Harry is always attracted to trouble, no one can change that."

Hermione was just putting the finishing touches to a report on some artefacts that gave the owner the ability to speak any
language- without say on which language- when she got the message.

It was late in the evening and the kids were tucked away in bed, Ron as well. It had been a long week for him. There had
been a rising number of muggle fanatics in the past couple of months, mostly out of the public eye, which were causing
concern with some Government bodies.

Normally the Ministry wouldn't have anything to do with the muggle authorities, but Ronald had been pulled in when
wizards had got involved. There had been a number of attacks on wizards who'd been disarmed and physically beaten
by the muggles. They were physically helpless after their wands had been snapped. Hermione was thinking about
putting a proposal in for some sort of physical education program at schools like Hogwarts, but that wouldn't help in the
here and now.

Infuriated, Ron had thrown himself into the investigation but magical methods of investigation were surprisingly
unhelpful in non-magic crimes and so found himself trying his best to navigate muggle police politics. He was convinced
that there were wizards involved in the attacks- the muggles snapping the wands each time seemed too coincidental.

The message announced itself as a flash of silver by the window. It shone against the night's shadows and Hermione
watched as it slipped like smoke into the room through the open window. It billowed against the floors and coalesced
into the form of a rabbit. She knew it was Luna's before it began to speak.

"Harry's got himself into trouble again. Too many witnesses. A friendly face to help explain would be good."

The rabbit dispersed, leaving Hermione sat with a forgotten report and a forming plan.

If it was what she thought, the sooner she pitched up the better; she'd need the full story from Luna. She scribbled a note
for Ron and left it on his bedside table, leaving him with a kiss on the forehead. He grumbled in his sleep and she
smiled. She stopped to kiss Rose and Hugo before finding the floo and preparing for international travel.

"Luna, I take it." Bruce commented, his forced good-natured tone belying his contained anger. He was good at that.

The woman looked over her shoulder at him. He noticed that she was twisting a wand between her fingers.

"That's me."

There was a lazy smile on her face.

"What's wrong with you!" He demanded, cutting to the chase.

"Depends who you ask."

Her reply was light and airy but there was an icy undercurrent beneath her words that in other circumstances would have
given him pause for thought.

"Tony lost a good friend-"

"He is my friend too." She said, cutting across him with a sharper tone that he would have expected from her.

He scoffed, "Why are you playing these mind games then! To screw with someone suffering from loss with such a
twisted-"

"It's not a game."

Bruce halted his tirade. There was a sharpness in the pale blue eyes behind the wind-twisted strands of blonde hair.

"Harry considers Tony a friend, it would have come up eventually. I wouldn't have said anything but death has such a final
way of ending friendships. Not to mention, I doubt it waking up in the morgue is a pleasant experience."

That was when Bruce realised that this woman believed every word she'd told Tony. And maybe it was possible.
But…

"Harry said magic is incapable of resurrection."

"It is."

"You are making no sense."

A small smile that could be described as wry crossed her face.

"I do. People just don't see it."

Bruce pointed a finger at her, "You are being deliberately cryptic."

There was a faint crack from inside the tower and Bruce turned in surprise to see a familiar figure standing with her back
to them in the middle of the lounge.

"Hermione."

He'd closed the door after him when he'd come outside, so she didn't hear his vocal recognition as she glanced around
the room. She looked around when Jarvis opened the door for Bruce, who had stepped towards the frame. He caught
the tail end of the AI's greeting to the witch as he crossed the threshold.

"Hermione?"

"Bruce." she acknowledged before looking over his shoulder. "Luna. What happened?"

"It's nice to see you too," Luna replied dryly.

"Well that goes without saying!" Hermione exclaimed, "You need to tell me about your travels! But later. What about
Harry?"

Bruce got the impression that Luna had summoned the other woman without breaking the news. He remembered
hearing that Hermione was one of Harry's oldest friends and wondered if he should make himself scarce.

"Some coward stabbed him. The muggle aurors were involved. It was all rather public."

That was blunt. Bruce stared in disbelief at the blonde woman, shocked by her callous delivery of the news. He looked at
Hermione who had dropped her head into a hand. He opened his mouth to offer words of comfort.

"Well that's all he needs."

Hermione's groan startled Bruce. It wasn't sad, more exasperated. Almost as if-

The brunette looked at Bruce.

"Sorry for dropping this all on you like this. It's not the easiest pill to swallow at the best of times."

Bruce was warring between hopeful relief and reality.

"I'm sorry-"

"The agents have arrived." Jarvis' cool tone cut across him as the elevator doors slid open.

Barton and Romanov stepped into the room.

"Nice to have you join the party." Tony's commented sardonically from his position in the entrance to the room.

"Stark." Barton growled at the same time as Bruce cautioned the man.

"Tony."

"Seriously, you need to lighten up!" Tony responded and Bruce noticed, probably because he had been living in such
close proximity to the man for several months now, how thin the veneer of his humour was. Beneath the snarky quips
and outward confidence, Tony really needed what Luna had said to be true.

Tony nodded at Hermione. "Good to see you again."


"Likewise." Hermione replied automatically."

"Circumstances could be better."

"That they could be. Can I see him?"

Tony nodded and stepped aside, "Third door on your right."

Hermione left the room swiftly, the carpet muffling her hurried steps.

Clint broke the silence.

"What the fuck is going on. Jarvis said-"

"I doubt Jarvis told you the whole story." Tony said, looking at the ceiling with a glare clearly intended for the AI. "He likes
Bruce too much."

"Sometimes he's the only one with sense in the building." Jarvis quipped, "Mr Rogers and Mr Weasley have arrived."

The elevator opened again and the Agents stepped aside to allow the new arrivals, still on guard.

"What's going on?" Rogers asked, assessing the assembled group. The tension was palpable.

"You could cut the air with a spoon." George commented, looking around at everyone . "Who died?"

He could have phrased it better. Even Tony reacted, his stance stiffening. The shift didn't go unnoticed and Rogers paled.

"Harry." Luna supplied, training her eyes on her fellow wizard. "Someone attacked him in the street, possibly a muggle.
Hermione's here."

Bruce shouldn't have been surprised by her cavalier stating of facts. He seemed to be the only one who didn't appear
shocked by it, most likely because he'd been there when Hermione had been informed. And like Hermione, George
didn't react as expected.

"Seriously!" George exclaimed loudly. Rogers moved to place a comforting hand on the small mans shoulder.

"Now he's just getting careless!"

The indignation was clear in his voice. Roger's hand froze mid air and the others reacted with expressions of disbelief
with hints of confusion. Except Tony, Bruce noticed, who was wearing a small smirk. He was taking the wizards handling
of the news as corroboration of Luna's story.

"I don't think he can be blamed for this one. He wasn't even trying to save anyone."

"It was a coffee run." Tony added.

"Wait, so someone just attacked him?"

"Anonymously from the crowd." Tony supplied. "Stabbed."

"The cowardly bugger!" George exclaimed, outraged.

Bryce had begun to give serious consideration to the possibility of Harry waking up. It was that or a mass inability to
accept loss. The others were looking confused and angry, Bruce half expected them to start shouting over each other but
none of them interrupted as the two wizards continued.

"How long has it been?"

"Several hours."

For the first time a flicker of uncertainty crossed George's face.

"That's longer than normal."

Luna shrugged.

George strode across the room and ducked past Tony who in turn narrowed his eyes at Luna.
"You didn't mention that." He accused.

"Nothing's changed." She replied, "There are no hard and fast rules."

Tony digested this for a moment before turning and following George.

"What is going on?" Steve asked looking at Bruce. His expression was one of resignation.

"Harry's dead." Bruce clarified, in case it wasn't obvious, bringing his practiced calm as a Doctor to the fore, "Tony, Luna
and by the looks of it Hermione and George are convinced this is temporary."

Three battle-tempered faces hardened. Bruce knew that they were all thinking the same thing as he had earlier. That
Tony wasn't mentally prepared to deal with the loss of such a close friend and that possibly the wizards, after their many
losses in the war, were in the same place.

"This isn't healthy." Rogers muttered and was the first to go after Tony, Bruce and the others on his heels.

It was a good thing Tony had a thing about spacious rooms, Bruce found himself thinking, otherwise this would be
claustrophobic.

Hermione was sat on the bed, holding Harry's hand while George leant against the bedside table on the body's other
side. Tony was behind Hermione, by the tall window while the remaining five were arranged around the end of the bed.

"Tony." Steve started, a low, ,sympathetic quality entering his voice that Bruce hadn't heard before.

"Don't." Tony cut across him warningly. "You were saying."

"It's hard to explain." Hermione said, repeating her statement from when they had entered the room. "Ever since Harry
came out of the forest…he'd been different. We knew in broad strokes what had happened, because Voldemort was
lording his body in front of us, gloating over his victory. But, Harry woke up." A small smile graced her lips. "We thought it
was over, it was the last surge of the battle, spurred by Neville's defiance and killing of that bloody snake. We started
overwhelming them until it was just Voldemort and Bellatrix left. Most of us were watching the two battles. Then Molly
killed Bellatrix and Voldemort retaliated. We were too slow to react. But the spell was deflected and then Harry appeared
in the middle of the hall. He always had a flair for the dramatics. He fought Voldemort and he won."

For a moment she paused, seemingly lost in the memory. The other two wizards were wearing harder expressions than
he had seen before. He recognised the look from times that Rogers had worn it, on the rare times he talked about his
time before the ice. The expression looked especially out of place on George who was staring away from Hermione and
the rest of the group,instead training his gaze on a mirror by the door. Bruce found himself intrigued to be offered an
insight into the Wizarding War which remained an abstract concept he'd never felt comfortable delving into.

"At first we thought it was a complex part of Horcrux magic. It's a long story but it basically meant that Voldemort couldn't
kill Harry." Hermione looked down at Harry's pale face and brushed his hair off his forehead and not for the first time,
Bruce saw the lightning bolt scar, usually obscured by his fringe. "That may have been part of it, but since then, Harry
hasn't stayed dead. We… we know why. But it's another, really long, story, with some complex magic and mythology."

Tony, who had stayed quiet during the explanation found Luna.

"You said Death would never lead away his master."

Hermione sent Luna an aggrieved look, but the woman just nodded.

"What did you mean?"

"Exactly what I said."

"But that-"

Tony stopped short. They all froze. They had all seen the same thing. With all the tension in the room, a pin dropping
wouldn't have evaded their notice. As it was, none of them missed it when Harry's chest rose.

And then fell.

And then rose once more.


A/N Running on sugar and energy drinks is not conducive for motivation.
*Chapter 17*: Death Can Wait
A/N And here we go...

Disclaimer: All of the characters belong to their respective creators.

People bustled through the streets, heads down, ignoring those walking around them. Life. As healthy as it comes. Well
almost. A child with a cold chased after it mother and her pram. An elderly man with cancer was making the best of his
remaining time with his close friend. A student was trying to ignore the onsets of flu.

She walked down the street, her finger tips itching with anticipation. She bumped into a man, brushing the back of his
hand, feeling the rush leave her. She ran her fingers along the exposed arm of a woman sitting outside a coffee shop,
gossiping with a friend, barley noticing her attacker.

She continued like this, loving the sensation of her power spreading through her, out into the world, to grow, to infect, to
kill. That was why that man had been so unnatural. He was immune, she felt it the moment she saw him and she hated
it. He was unnatural and wrong and oh so familiar. She knew why that was, and for her saviour she will make him pay.
For her, and the balance of the world. She'd had made her point, but with hindsight it wasn't as satisfactory as she had
hoped. There was nothing subtle about a grunt with a knife. This, now, was what she needed to lift her spirits though.

It was with a smile that she knelt to look into the face of the child that had run into her. He apologised, his big blue eyes
looking into her own. She ran her fingers down his chubby cheek, brushing off his apology. She could almost see the
ripple of power leave her fingers and infect the boy. She waved off the mother's apologies and watched them leave,
disappearing into the crowd. It was silly. They couldn't escape. Tuberculosis was persistent.

Harry had a headache. It was more pronounced than other times he'd come back. He swore. He remembered the pain
in his gut and falling to the pavement. He was lying somewhere a lot more comfortable now. He groaned and opened his
eyes.

Light burst through the crack between his lids and he was able to make out fuzzy forms crowded around him. Shit.
Witnesses never made things easy.

"That's not possible." one of them was saying. Was that… Steve?

He opened his eyes fully and heard his name. He started to sit up slowly, his muscles protesting, and looked around.

He was on a bed, most likely in Tony's tower judging by the decor and the Avengers gathered around him. All with varying
expressions. He had a brief moment to see the wizards in the room before he was engulfed in a hug

"Harry!" Hermione exclaimed, her arms wrapped around his neck which he reciprocated.

"Hermione. What are you doing here?"

She leaned away and thumped him on the shoulder.

"I'm here to see you, you idiot! After you got yourself killed!"

Harry's hand went went from rubbing his shoulder to the hem of his shirt. It was crusted with dried blood. He pulled it up
and examined the bare skin beneath. True to form it was unblemished. Not even a scar.

"That's amazing." Harry looked up to see Tony examining the area as well. Unable to think of anything to say, Harry just
hummed, pushing his shirt down.

"But how?"

Harry glanced back at Tony who had fixed him with a pointed stare. His gaze trailed over the other occupants of the room
who had now quietened down, all looking at him for answers. He felt surprisingly vulnerable and overwhelmed by the
number of people who had had a violent introduction into the secret he'd tried to keep firmly away from the people in his
new life. The sensation wasn't helped by his position on the bed.

He looked back at Tony.

"How about we move through to the other room. I need something to drink. I never did get that hot chocolate."
They all exchanged looks and began to move out of the room. Harry pushed himself up further, wondering at the stiffness
of his muscles and joints. HIs discomfort must have showed on his face because Hermione looked at him concerned.

"Are you okay Harry?"

He nodded, swinging his legs of the bed.

"Just stiff."

"You were dead for several hours." Luna informed him idly from her spot next to Bruce who had paused in the door when
Hermione had spoken.

Surprise filled him.

"What?"

In the past he had been gone for an hour at most, it was usually minutes. What had happened? He'd have to ask Death
when he next saw him.

"There are some spare shirts in the closet." Tony commented, "Sorry, I didn't really take a change of clothes with me to
the morgue."

Another surprise.

"Morgue?"

"Uhuh." Tony nodded and left the room.

"You are getting careless my friend. Careless." George tutted at him as he followed while Hermione said, patted him on
the shoulder and also left with her own parting words.

"See you in a minute."

Harry was left in an empty room. He fumbled with is shirt, deciding that he didn't feel like cleaning it in that moment. He
held it up and examined the slit by the fifth button. Someone had stabbed him. 'Why' was such a loaded question in this
situation. Why a knife. Why not magic. Why him. He supposed that last one wasn't too obscure, he had lots of enemies.
But then again, pretty much all of them were wizards, and purebloods at that. This was unlike them both because it had
offered them no opportunity to gloat and because it meant that that would have lowered themselves to a muggle means
of attack.

His thoughts whirred as he grabbed a green shirt that was slightly too big for his frame and pulled it on. There was blood
on his trousers, but the hem of his shirt covered most of it, so he could ignore it for now.

He heard them before he walked into the living room and found the group. They noticed his arrival and silence fell across
the group.

"Hey." He said inadequately.

No one deigned him with a response. Harry noticed a distinct absence of Hermione but decided to plough on.

"So, I know you all have… questions. I suppose to answer them, I'd have to give you some background on what
happened." He coughed slightly, finding his throat dry.

"Hermione told us about the final battle." Steve said.

"She mentioned something about Horcruxes." Tony added.

"Ah, well Horcruxes are kinda part of it, but indirectly. They were why I was there."

Luna seemed to take pity on him and his slightly scratchy voice because she pushed a newly conjured glass of water
into his hands.

"Thanks Luna."

She smiled. "It's strange don't you think, that Gamp's Elementary Law of Transfiguration doesn't cover water. Maybe we
summon it from somewhere else."
Harry looked in surprise at the water. "Huh, maybe."

"Or maybe as an element it follows different rules." Luna mused.

There was a clearing of a throat.

"You were telling us about the whole you not-staying-dead-thing." Clint said and Harry started.

"Sorry! So yeah. It starts a bit before the final battle. Well actually about a year beforehand." He loosely explained
Horcurxes. Natasha concealed a blanch when he explained that murder was the act that split the soul. He couldn't offer
her any condolences beyond the fact that to split the soul there had to be intent to do so.

"And the bastard split his soul into seven pieces?" Steve asked incredulously. They'd all taken seats when Harry had
started detailing the story and were looking at him with looks of disgust.

"Technically eight." Luna added from her perch on the arm of Bruce's sofa.

"Well yeah, all of them items that were significant, which probably made it easier to track them down to be honest. Except
the first one, which was a practice, if you will. He killed at girl at school and put part of his soul into his diary."

"I'm torn between commenting on the fact that your Big Bad kept a diary and the fact that he started young." Tony said
looking past Harry thoughtfully.

"Yeah, that's a whole other story, he found a way to attack a load of students, muggleborns, when he was at school.
Paralysed most of them, killed one."

"And people didn't realise he was evil?" Steve asked.

"He framed another student. Hagrid." Harry added for Tony's benefit.

"The big man?"

"Yes. They snapped his wand and would have sent him away but Dumbledore, who was a teacher then got him the job
of gamekeeper. But we are getting off track."

"Just a little bit." Hermione commented having reentered the room with a collection of mugs hovering around her. She
sent each to a different member of the room. Harry plucked his out of the air and grinned at the smell of chocolate.

"Don't spoil it!" George complained, "I didn't know much about any of that. You guys never explained everything about the
basilisk."

Harry shrugged, taking a sip from his mug and savouring it before continuing.

"So my… mission during the war, was to track down the Horcruxes and destroy them. I had destroyed the Diary in my
second year and Dumbledore had found the Gaunt ring and destroyed it at the cost of his hand. He basically taught me
about Voldemort's history as Tom Riddle and what he guessed the Horcruxes were." Harry remembered the night they
went after the locket, an event that continued to pain him and occasionally give him nightmares. "He took me one night at
the end of the year to go and find Slytherin's Locket… An example of the possible defences Voldemort would have left. He
knew he was going to die and wanted me to be as informed as possible. The locket wasn't there, someone had already
removed it at the cost of his own life to try and destroy it. We found that later. The cup we broke out of Gringotts-"

"It was amazing!" George enthused. "Gringotts was supposed to be impregnable, especially the old family vaults. The
one previous theft in my third year was a scandal. But those three broke out on a bloody dragon!'

"A dragon?" Clint rose an eyebrow at them and Harry shrugged while Hermione crossed her arms.

"They were torturing the poor thing!"

"And Neville killed the snake." Harry concluded.

"Horcruxes could be living things?" Natasha clarified.

Harry exchanged a glance with Hermione.

"Yes. In fact, the reason Luna mentioned the eighth part of his soul was because, the night he killed my parents and tried
to kill me the curse rebounded and killed him. I think I was supposed to fuel his last Horcrux. His soul was so fractured
by that point a fragment latched onto me, making me the seventh Horcrux."

"And for Voldemort to die, all the Horcruxes had to be destroyed." Tony finished slowly. And the people in the room stilled.

"Didn't even tell us he was going." Hermione said, "Voldemort had demanded his presence in the forest and he'd
promised us he wouldn't be so stupid."

"I'm sure that went to plan." Barton muttered with a wry expression.

" I wasn't initially going to go, but then I found out about being the other seventh horcrux and what had to happen.
According to Dumbledore it had to be Voldemort that did it"

There was a moment in which the other digested this and it's implications.

"Did he know you'd come back?"

Harry though back to his old Headmaster and the mission of the Hallows he'd been sent on.

"I think he tried to orchestrate it so that I would." He said thoughtfully.

"And how did he do that?" Bruce asked.

"Yeah, so far you are yet to tell us how exactly you are… you know."

Harry waved a hand in Hermione's direction, "Hermione, you're better at this than me."

And so Hermione launched into the story that she had memorised all those years ago.

"A long time ago there were three brothers.."

Harry remembered the first time he heard it in Luna's house, her father trying to hold them up until the Death Eaters
arrived. Then he was listening to it for the story. After that he reread it several times to help fuel his obsession with the
Hallows. He'd reread it later after he'd reunited the Hallows and he'd found out that Death was indeed an entity. Not that
Death had ever matched the loose impression given by the book. Except the bit where Ignotious and Death went to the
afterlife as friends. That he could imagine.

Now he listened to it in the light of what he'd learnt recently and became more certain in his earlier conclusions. Not that
he could act upon them now, not with this new possible threat.

"Pretty story." Tony commented, as Hermione concluded the story with the previously unproved theory about the uniting of
the Hallows "Are you trying to tell us that these… Hallows exist?

"Yup." Harry replied, "I don't have them here with me now, or I'd show you. The cloak I received from Dumbledore, who in
turn had it from my father, a descendant of Ignotius, the youngest brother. The stone Voldemort accidentally turned into a
Horcrux, which Dumbledore gave me in his will disguised as a snitch. And the wand… is complicated, but I disarmed
the last owner, making it mine and claimed it after the final battle."

"And these three items mean that you can't die."

"Yes." Harry nodded to Tony, "Or rather, don't stay dead."

Tony opened his mouth to ask another question, but Rogers cut across him.

"Not that I'm finding all of this fascinating, but I feel that we can keep asking questions for hours and only be scratching
the surface and we might have something more demanding of our time on our hands." He continued before Tony could
snark back. "Someone killed Harry, yes he's fine now, but that doesn't change the fact that someone tried. Isn't anyone
concerned about who this was, or their motives? Was it an attack on the Avengers, Tony or Harry? If the latter was it
muggle or a witch or wizard being sneaky? Did they know it wouldn't be permanent or will they try again if they think it
failed? We are working with an unknown. I think we should focus on that. I'm sure we can pick away at wizard lore at a
more secure time."

"He has a point." George conceded, his expression set seriously. "Especially so soon after Rudolphus' attack.

"Well it's not going to be an attack on the Avengers." Romanov asserted, "We managed to keep Harry's face out of the
news, the public don't know who he is. They call you 'The Sorcerer' by the way." she added for Harry's benefit, "as your
superhero name."
Harry's face fell, "You have to be kidding! Sorcerer isn't even accurate!"

He looked at his fellow wizards but all they had to offer was a shrug, a grin and from George, a snicker.

"You have a superhero name." George chortled.

"Helpful."

"So it could either be a personal attack on Harry, or an attempt to get to Tony." Bruce surmised, looking at the genius how
had a carefully schooled expression as he looked out over the city.

Clint who had been checking his phone waved it in their direction.

"Prelim from Fury. The attack was caught on camera. They found the guy."

"Wait, what?" George exclaimed, "Since when?"

"I just received the report."

"Who was it?"

"Well, he appears to be a non-entity. Benjamin Harvey, undergrad at NYU. No seeming connection to anything. They are
going to dig deeper, but they are working on the assumption that he was working for someone. Why him though, we don't
know."

"Thats strange." Bruce admitted.

Harry was debating whether to mention and try to describe the presence he'd felt before his attack, but his musings were
cut off by the arrival of a familiar face.

"I know who it is."

"Who?" Harry asked immediately, worried by the saddened expression on Death's usually cheery face.

"Sorry?"

Harry looked at the others, specifically at Rogers who had asked the question and realised that they couldn't see Death.
He looked between the living and the dead, trying to decide how to explain.

"One moment." He told Death who shrugged and sat on a free sofa. Harry noted that his weight didn't affect the cushions
at all.

"Harry?"

Harry sighed.

"Right, so you know the whole 'Master of Death' thing."

"We have been talking about it for the last twenty minutes." Tony replied bluntly, "What about it?"

"Well Death isn't a metaphor. He actually has a physical, or rather non-physical presence. And he just showed up and
said he knew who attacked me."

The whole room stilled except for Hermione who jumped slightly and and squeaked.

"Death is here!"

Harry nodded. "He's sat over there at the moment." He waved in Death's direction. He saw some of the looks of disbelief.
"Seriously, make your minds up, you either believe me or you don't. For the record I'm not crazy."

He looked back at Death. "Who was it?"

Death gave a pained grimace.

"Pestilence. Or rather her master."

Harry gaped in surprise. "Seriously?"


Death shrugged, "Ya didn't think there was jus' little old me out there did you?"

Harry was still gaping at him when Hermione cleared her throat. Harry looked over to see everyone giving him very
strange looks.

"What did he say?" Hermione asked, still giving Death's general direction strange looks.

Harry blinked, "Oh, that the person who attacked me was… well, Pestilence's Master."

Hermione had much the same reaction as him while the others all started and made exclamations of disbelief- whether
it was at the statement or whether they were still hung up on Death's presence Harry wasn't sure.

He noticed again that Death was looking weary, his usually cheery persona somewhat muted.

"You okay?"

Death looked up at him with a wry smile, "'Course I am. It's just unsettling is all. Sorry I took so long to get to you after the
attack. Things have been.. hectic."

Well that answered some of the questions about his resurrection, but that still left him concerned for what was going on.

"If this is… Pestilence's Master, she's of the same ilk as Harry. She was so determined to get to Harry. Why would she
target him?"

"Erm, I may be able to explain that as well." Death mumbled, scratching the back of his head.

Harry glanced at him, "What do you mean?" he asked ignoring the puzzled looks he was getting from a couple of the
others. Steve seemed about to answer, but Hermione stopped him with a couple of words in his ear.

"Well," Death prevaricated, "The current Pestilence and I, we may have been supposed to court each other. Many years
ago."

Harry stared at Death dumbstruck. "You have to be kidding me!" Death shrugged. "Is that even possible?"

"Of course it is!" Death exclaimed. "There isn't one Death or Pestilence that lasts forever. We are allowed to retire you
know, for which we need an heir."

Questions exploded in Harry's mind, but he shook them away. He had time to learn about the semantics of the
supernatural hierarchy at a later date. For now he only needed to know one thing.

"What happened then?"

"Well I wasn't interested was I? She was dull, no sense of humour! And not to mention the pustules!" Death's tone had
become defensive.

"Are you planning to explain any time soon Merlin?" Tony asked wryly, obviously tired of being left out of the loop.

"Apparently, Pestilence is a spurned lover." Harry reported back, enjoying the looks of consternation that spread over his
companions faces.

"Oi!" Death complained, "We never actually got together. It was an arranged thing!"

"What, of Death?" Clint asked, frowning in the direction that Harry had been talking to.

"Apparently he reneged on an arranged marriage."

"They do that?" Tony asked with an raised eyebrow.

"Apparently so."

"You know, this one sided conversation thing is getting tiring." Natasha commented dryly.

Harry was about to shrug it away before Death snapped his fingers. "I have an idea! I'll be right back!"

Harry relayed the message and sat down.

"You know, I still can't get over Death being a physical being." Bruce commented, his brow furrowed in thought.
"It was a surprise to me too." Harry acknowledged.

"But think about it, hundreds of thousands die every day. How can one physical being control that? He can't be
everywhere at once!"

"Maybe he can, he is some sort of spirit." Hermione added thoughtfully.

"Maybe he has reapers do his dirty work." Tony suggested before letting out a manly yelp when Death appeared in front of
him. "What the-"

"You can see him?" Harry rose to his feet bewildered while Death merely stood there with a massive grin on his face,
clutching a small cage in his right hand.

"Why shouldn't I- this is Death?"

Harry nodded and the others started in surprise, but none seemed to dare speak. Death sauntered to the closest table
and placed the cage down upon it gently before turning to Harry with a big grin.

"What no black cloak and scythe?" It was Tony who broke the silence, looking Death up and down.

Death shed his brown coat and removed his cap. "Nah, that look died out centuries ago."

A pin could have dropped in the silence that followed.

"Geez, people, you don't need to be so alarmed!" Death exclaimed exasperatedly.

"You really are cockney!" Hermione replied in surprise. Harry raised an eyebrow in her direction, "Sorry Harry, I thought
you were joking." She muttered abashedly.

"Is that a mouse?" Steve asked, eyeing the small creature that was sniffing around the cage.

Deaths grin returned, "Yup! I found a loophole!"

"Loophole?"

"Yeah. That is, if Death sets foot in a house, someone will die. It's the way of nature. Calm down, calm down!" he hurried
to add as the others stiffened, "That's what the mouse is for! Genius if I do say so myself."

"What about all the times you visited me?" Harry asked.

"Well you're my master which means A, I don't need to be corporeal for you to see me, so I haven't technically set foot in
your house and B it wouldn't affect you even if I did."

"I guess that's also why you can't buy your own jelly babies."

"Well that and I have no money." Death grinned.

"Right, I hate to break up the bro-bonding," Tony broke in exasperatedly, "Now that we've ascertained that we'll all live
another day-"

"The mouse won't." Death corrected with a tilt of his head in said animals direction.

Tony glared at him, "We need to figure out what we can do about Pestilence."

"Well for her to be affecting the physical world as she is, she'll have a Master." Death said, looking at Harry.

"So what, someone has gathered the … 'Pesty' Hallows?" George asked incredulously and Hermione rolled her eyes.

"Truth be told, I'm not sure how it works with Pestilence. I've been avoiding them for a while now." Death admitted. "Well
you would!" He exclaimed at Harry who raised an eyebrow at him, "Her dad wasn't particularly happy with me either. It's
not like she knows about my Hallows."

"How would she know about Harry then?"

"She knows I have Masters, but she doesn't know how I choose them."

Harry's head darted round. "Wait. 'Choose'?"


Death waved his hand, "Not important, what's important is figuring out her endgame."

Harry opened his mouth to protest the importance of the last statement but Death overrode him.

"Look, earlier this week it came to my attention that the balance is off. There have been a surge of deaths attributed to
illness- That makes them Pestilences domain."

"The Dragon Pox!" Hermione exclaimed, and the room turned to look at her. She looked around her at the bemused
faces before clarifying. "There's been a massive outbreak of Dragon Pox in the last couple of months. Ron said that it
has severely impacted the Ministry and Neville mentioned that it's effected a fair number of students."

Harry remembered the surprisingly empty corridors of Hogwarts and frowned.

"There's been outbreaks of various diseases all over the world." Bruce added, " I'm pretty sure theres been a surge in
cases of tuberculosis locally. It's been on the news." He added when Tony sent him a look.

"That's her?" Steve asked.

"Her master, yes. She can't have this much impact in the mortal realm without one. Anann can start outbreaks obviously,
but nothing to this scale. Those normal outbreaks help maintain the balance. But this… this is destroying it."

"And she attacked Harry because of her grudge against you?" Steve clarified. "How did she know who he was?"

"We can inherently recognise each other."

Harry nodded. " I felt something. I knew something was there I just didn't know what."

"But why a knife? Especially with what she's capable of."

"That's a point! A scorned woman knows no limits. Why didn't she give him, I don't know, some kind of cursed syphilis?"

George let out a short laugh while Harry shifted uncomfortably and Death shook his head.

"It doesn't work like that. She can no more Infect Harry then he can Take her life. In fact I doubt she wielded the blade
which means she had someone do it for her. When you face her, you will have to find another way to fight."

"Shouldn't be too hard, what with Harry being a big badass wizard." George chuckled.

"It won't be as simple as that." Death pointed out.

"So." Bruce sighed, looking around at the other people in the room. "What do we do now?"

A/N When you realise that you are losing your day to Cracked video's and articles..
*Chapter 18*: Pestilence: Patient Zero
A/N So, 1000 reviews.

I am absolutely astounded that one of my stories has such a following and I am incredibly grateful to all of you who
have followed and enjoyed the story, the reviews spurring me back into writing after what I realise was quite a long
break. Digi Bonds PM-ed me and asked for an early update in honour of the 1000th review. This is only one day early,
so what I plan to do is update now and update again tomorrow when I was planning to anyway.

There is one last note I would like to make. I have had a number of messages now telling me that I have made a
mistake as the Marvel Death is female and mine is obviously not. There is a very simple reason for this. When I first
started planning the story, I wasn't really in the know about the "Marvel Death" and was instead inspired by a
representation of Death from one of my favourite series. A few people have recognised this character and while I
always intended to clarify what series he was from, I wanted to see how many people would notice him. I was very
careful in my disclaimers not to claim responsibility for him. Everything you need to know about his his history is
explained within this story, with a couple of references for those who watched the original series. Pestilence is my
character, but I crafted her from tidbits revealed in Death's parent series.

I hope you enjoy this chapter. I'll update again tomorrow.

Disclaimer: I now own two of the character. The rest are the creations of others.

Sweat laced her brow and tremors shook her fragile body. She lay as one of the many groaning figures in the hut, the
latest caught in the surge of the illness that had already decimated her village. The air was thick and humid with the
remnants of the monsoon season and it stuck in her throat with each desperate gasp for breath.

She was going to die.

She was under no illusions about that.

The man was. He replaced the cold cloth on her brow regularly and swat away the insects prematurely settling on her.
He talked in a low voice, his accent barely decipherable. Yet, she appreciated his presence. She didn't want to die alone.
Part of her had liked the idea that when you died you would join your loved ones, but now staring into the abyss, having
already seen her parents ravaged by the illness, her faith was wavering.

He coaxed her mouth open and placed something on her tongue. He said something but the words were muffled. Some
sort of remedy. She swallowed it reflexively when he trickled water into her mouth. It hadn't helped her parents… why
should it her?

Nature buzzed around her, the rustling of her fellow dying people and the movement of those trying to change fate. She
could barely make it out over the rushing in her ears. Time passed her while her body burned. Then it froze. Then the fire
blazed again. The foreigner remained by her side. If he wasn't directly next to her, he was by one of the other figures in
the room. His presence enabled her to ground herself. She drifted when he wasn't there. When she was aware she
would strain to see him. She would be able to make him out, with the other victims. She was aware of them distantly,
conscious of when they slipped away. The woman would stand over them and they would stop moving. The man would
growl and the corpse would be taken away. When the world wasn't spinning she would wonder where they went. She
was going to follow them after all.

And then her fever was how he described it. The time she spent lost in the colours and the heat lessened and she
remained conscious enough to drink her own water. It scratched past her throat and the first time she choked. All the
while, all she could ask, all she could think about, was why she was still alive. The man was sure the worst was past, he
smiled when he looked at her and spoke to her kindly. He would bring her food and wait patiently while she struggled to
force it down, helping her if she was struggling too much.

Bruce, he named himself, and she didn't know whether to be grateful or not. What did she have to live for? Without her
parents, she had nothing. She would be sucked into the faceless shadows, powerless and with no control on her own
life.

She opened her eyes.

It was night.
Standing at the foot of her bed was the woman. She looked past the lanky hair to the gaunt, pocked face.

"But I'm not dying." She breathed.

The woman's thin lips pulled up in a small, lopsided smile.

"I know. That is the problem." The woman's voice was hoarse but clear.

Problem? Her breath hitched. Was this it? Would she die after all?

"You weren't supposed to live. If not for that creature, you wouldn't have. You were suppose to be mine, but you cheated
me."

"I didn't mean to." Maybe her fate was to be worse than that of death. This woman had power. She could feel it
permeating the air. That was her life, passing ownership from one person to another.

"I know you didn't, child." The smile continued to play about the woman's lips as she walked around the cot and
gracefully knelt next to her pillow. "But the fact that you did is very important."

She twisted her head to watch the woman's face. Her eyes apparently conveyed her fear, because the woman put a bony
hand on her cheek and spoke in a low voice.

"You don't need to fear me, child. I can help you."

The smile twisted and grew until it transformed the woman's face.

"And you can help me."

"Wow." She breathed, looking out over the city from their perch. "It's beautiful."

"It is." Her companion agreed, sitting on the railing with a supernatural balance. "You humans are capable of some truly
amazing feats. We can travel over to Egypt next if you desire, we can see the pyramids."

She turned her eyes to the woman in wonder and fascination. She had never thought that she would leave her village let
alone be standing in a foreign city looking out over more people than she had ever thought existed.

"What is that?" She asked, pointing to one building that stood out from the others around it.

"That, my child, is the Colosseum."

"Colosseum?" She asked, trying the foreign word in her mouth.

"Yes. In Ancient times, it was where men would fight to the death. It was a grand show, thousands would sit in the
Colosseum to watch the spectacle."

"Wow." she murmured again, trying to wrap her mind around the sheer number of people se that were implied and
imagining the fights that might take place.

"Sometimes they would flood the arena and orchestrate sea battles." The woman added thoughtfully. "I never witnessed
it, but my parents did. Sometimes fighting and Death is necessary. The only way to justify your existence."

She looked up into the pale grey eyes and rather thought that they were smiling at her.

"But before that, you must learn. And before that, you must live."

She opened her mouth to ask what was meant, but she was second guessed.

"Go down into the city child and explore, enjoy yourself and live a little. You have a hard road ahead of you, and I will help
you as best I can. Here."

She received a small bag. She opened the drawstrings and found a roll of strange paper.

"Euros. I will find you later."

She couldn't restrain her thanks and scrambled away to the stairs, with a glance back before she descended.
Barely a week ago she had been lying on what she had thought would be her death bed. Now she was exploring a city
full of colour and life. It was like nothing she had seen before; the density of the buildings, the striking architecture and
the vibrant atmosphere that filled the streets. There was a couple, one playing an unfamiliar stringed instrument with
other strings held taut by a long smooth piece of wood, the other with a long wind instrument. A young girl apart from
them was keeping the beat with a drum. She lost time while she watched them, caught up in the music and the joy that
emanated from them as they played, smiling into each others eyes when they stole glances.

The sun was high overhead and she bathed in it's glow; it was dryer, and kinder than the sun she was used to and it
seemed to feed the spirits of people rather than relentlessly stripping it away.

She couldn't read, and she didn't understand the language but neither of these things mattered during her exploration.

Several hours later found her sitting outside a small cafe, under small twinkling lights held aloft by wooden posts with
leaves growing up the stem. She was sipping at a sweet, fizzy drink brought to her by a smiling waiter who was able to
understand her broken english when she asked for just anything. She showed him her handful of euros and he came
back with a tall glass and a bowl with a small pile of multicoloured glace. It was cold, which she found surprising with
her first mouthful, but began to appreciate when she risked a second spoonful.

Lying on the table in front of her was a large sheet of paper that she had unrolled when she'd sat down so that she could
continue to appreciate the beauty of it.

The woman had been kneeling on the side of the street surrounded by multicoloured cans filled with paint that she
would spray on whichever sheet of paper lay before her at that time. It was stunning, the skill with which the woman,
roughly dressed and paint covered, worked with the colours captivated her and she had stayed longer than anyone else,
watching the woman create new worlds in minutes. It didn't take long before noticing that she had several different
designs that she repeated, but even then, each was individual.

She had seen one with a stunning blue and green sky divided by a red craggy mountain with plant life and trees climbing
up it's slopes. A small waterfall cascaded into the pond at it's feet creating ripples that ran to the edge of the page. She
had held out some of her notes and the man helping the young woman took a few and gave her the picture she was
pointing at.

She looked at it now.

Had she seen it just last week, she would have thought of it as a part of world she would never seem out of her reach.
But now… There had to be somewhere with this tranquility and beauty in the world and now she had a chance of finding
it.

"It's beautiful isn't it."

She looked up to see the frail woman who had changed that had wrought so many changes in her life.

"Yes. She replied softly.

A half-sided smile crept up the woman's face, but after a moment it fell and she looked grave.

"Come with me, child."

She paused to roll up her picture and slip the band around it and scurried after the woman, remembering last minute to
leave the euros on the table. She noticed that the woman's tread didn't affect the world it passed. She was led down the
roads away from the light and music.
After a while the atmosphere became heavy. A nervousness fluttered in her chest, despite the woman's presence and
the darkened shadows seemed to lurk in the corners.

"Here."

The woman stopped and she nearly tripped into her in her anxious distraction. She looked where the woman was
gesturing and saw a huddled figure, a skeletal man dressed in rags. His breathing rattled through his chest, his ribs
visible through rips in his clothes. The smell of him caused her throat to contract. He didn't react to her presence.

She looked up at the woman.

"What?"

At her words the man looked up and she saw stained eyes that once upon a time had probably been full of life, shining
out from above and filthy, mangy beard. She tried to swallow, finding her throat to be dry and looked back at the woman
who had yet to answer the question.

"He is one of the homeless." the woman finally started, her thin hair hanging across her face as she looked down upon
the man. "They are the most susceptible to me. To us."

"Por favour…."

"The world is out of balance. There are four of us… Death, Famine, War… And Pestilence." The woman turned her head
to me. "I am Pestilence. While the others thrive, I dwindle. Thanks to modern advancements in medicine, souls that
should be mine are living on, and disrupting the balance. You are one such a soul." The woman's fingers brushed my
face, feeling cool against my skin.

"Por favour…"

"As such, you can help me, help the world. If the balance isn't righted, it will fall into turmoil and destruction. It is not an
easy burden I lay upon you, but I know you are the only one capable of fulfilling it."

Her mouth fell open in shock at the declaration.

"You are my hands on earth. It is only through you that the world can be righted. Otherwise it will fall. And we are running
out of time."

Her heart was pounding gin her ears and her breathing quickened as she tried to wrap her head around this knowledge.

"This man is the beginning." The woman continued. The woman knelt and unbidden, she mimicked her. "Take his hand."

She did as she was told, finding the mans hand among the rags. The skin was rough and dirty ,the nails thick, yellow
and cracked. She looked up and met his confused gaze.

"Alcuni denaro, o cibo, por favour"

"Now, feel inside for the power. You will know it."

She closed her eyes and attempted to 'feel' the power. She hadn't known what to expect, but she'd seen so much the
past few days that she was open to anything. She found the flickering power dancing around her conscious thoughts
and it entranced her. She reached for it and suddenly was lost in the rush of pure power. It hurt. But it was beautiful.

She could still feel the mans hand clasped gently in hers. She directed the surge towards him. She didn't know what her
logic was. She knew she was important. The woman-Pestilence- had told her so. He was in such a pitiful state, maybe a
small part of her thought that the power would invigorate him as it was her. Maybe she knew that the direction of power
was natural. The way it had to be.

It left her in a rush and she gasped as the alley came back into focus. The power hadn't left her, it was still there, twisting
at the edges of her mind but it wasn't enveloping her now that it had achieved it's purpose. She was aware of it now and
it left her giddy.

She looked back at the man, with a grin, but his pale eyes were still staring confusedly back at her.

He hadn't felt it!

Such a thought bemused her.

"Well done child. You are a natural."

She looked up at the woman.

"But nothing happened!"

The woman took the hand that was still grasping the old mans and gently unclasped the fingers before standing and
drawing her up with her.

"More happened than you realise now." The woman said. "You are untrained but you shall learn and be able to identify
the nuances of your power." The woman cut her off before she could say anything else. "Come child, I shall explain later."

"What about him?" She pointed at the man who had returned to huddling his head on his knees.
"He has not long left to live. You have done him a kindness."

It took a moment for her to process those words.

"What? You mean…" horror robbed her of speech.

The woman looked down on her and for the first time, she felt belittled by her gaze.

"That man's life-" The woman pointed imperiously at the huddled figure, "was in tatters. All he had left was a long, slow
and degrading death. You have done him a favour!"

She looked down at the man but the woman took her chin and forced her to look up into her eyes.

"He is the result of the worlds heightening injustice as it spirals into deeper depths of imbalance. By helping him and
others like him, you are taking the first step. My influence has been forgotten - I need your help to demonstrate my
authority and bring the world back into balance."

She nodded.

"Good." Pestilence said. "Come."

With one last look at the man who had curled further in on himself and started to tremble, she followed in the woman's
wake.

She was sat in a small but cosy room, cluttered with papers and lit in an orange light that cast shadows on the
complimentary brown and red furniture. Under Pestilence's tutelage, she had learnt to read, in English no less, both
feats she had used to think beyond her, and was making use of her new skill to read through the small library that
Pestilence had presented with her.

The door opened and she looked up from the text she had been leafing through to see Pestilence standing in the
doorway.

She rose to greet her, inclining her head slightly. Pestilence's eyes glinted and she stepped into the room.

"How are you finding your reading?"

She looked around the room at the collections of accounts on Pestilence, and it's role amongst the Horsemen, the
scrolls about it's different representations thought out numerous religions and events attributed to it through the
centuries. And it was an 'It'. Though it resides in a female figure at the moment, the power could take any form. The faces
were irrelevant, only the power mattered, and it's place in the balance.

"Informative." she decided on, levelling her gaze back upon Pestilence who nodded.

"Come with me."

She inclined her head and followed Pestilence from their residence and into the streets of the city they were staying in. It
was crowded and busy and full of life. But not life that interacted with itself. The people who pushed past them never
spared a glance to anyone around them. Since she had begun her work with the homeless, she had become more
aware of how they were ignored by the more affluent. She pitied them in the way that one who used to be in such a
situation did, but unlike thousands of others in that position she was spurred to do something about it. With each new
city there were hundreds of such people which she had helped, and the more she did, the more the need to grew.

She stopped behind pestilence to and followed the taller woman's gaze up to the glittering tower. She had grown used to
such a sight and merely regarded it to try and figure out what her mentor might have in mind.

"You have been doing well child." Pestilence rasped and she glowed at the praise, "but at the end of the day, you have
been treating a symptom. Homelessness is a symptom. You need to attack the disease at it's head."

Pestilences gaze drew her to look back at the shining building, the pinnacle of wealth and prosperity in this country. Her
mouth went slightly dry.

"How…"

"You know how, my child." Pestilence chided me. "That man there. He is responsible for thousands of peoples suffering.
To use on him your gift is not only what reserves but will right the balance more than anything you have done so far. They
were but grains of sand to his sea glass."

She had heard the beach metaphor before, many times, the peaceful calm of the sea's mass was the balance while she
was the tide lapping sand and debris into it's depths. Pestilence had adapted it many years ago on a balmy day by on
some island rocks. She had never seen such an expanse of water and the salty air had entranced her, the rhythmic pulls
susurration of the water calming her. Pestilence had stooped and drew up a hand of sand and small rocks, letting it
trickle into the breeze which caught them and dragged them playfully into the sea.

She looked at the man. He was in the prime of his life, defying the silver in his hair while holding an assertive stance.
There was a phone to his ear which he was holding a conversation with, trading glances with the young good-looking
man at his elbow. He was dressed sharply and laughter lines stood out on his face

"You must move now, before he enters his car."

She started moving down the pavement. A flutter was rising in her throat but she pushed forward. Pestilence knew best.
The woman always did. She had been but an ignorant child before Anann had found her and pulled her off her Death-
bed, given her power and a purpose. A reason to be that she had never had before. The man was near now.

He was stern, she decided, a slanted brow and furtive eyes. He wasn't speaking down the phone but snapping down it
at whoever was quaking at the other end. When he glanced at the younger man, it wasn't with humorous camaraderie
but with frustration with the youth and jealousy of his looks and time yet to be had. His suit wasn't just smart; it was crisp
and severe and had cost enough to feed many of her past cases. Those lines weren't from laughter but from false
smiles and disdainful smirks.

But he wasn't near the end of his life. He had a job, his life was in full flow. Maybe he had a family. Maybe he was having a
bad day, or the man on the end of the phone had wronged him.

But Pestilence had directed her to him.

There was a jostling of shoulders and she brushed her hand against his leg. The rush surged through her and she
embraced the flow of colours, indulging in that fleeting moment in her power before it was over.

It was done.

Heart still fluttering, she kept her head down as she walked away, looking back once as he ducked into his car, followed
by the young man.

She came to a halt and watched them drive away. Soon he would begin to notice an increase in temperature. This would
be followed by sweats and sore throat. A rash would start in the night and a fever would over take him. If he was lucky he
wouldn't live past the end of the day. She had wanted it over quickly.

A hand appeared on her shoulder.

"That was good. Soon you will learn more finesse, and understand the value of long acting diseases as well as the
quick acting. But that will be another time."

She looked up at her teacher's pale feature and Pestilence looked down at her approvingly.

"Come. You still have much to do."

It had been several months since she had started working against the corrupt in the world and she had grown so much
since then. She looked into the mirror and found herself comparing herself to how she had been. A frail child. Now, she
was strong, her build still slight, but there was a confidence in her. Her features were strong and her cheekbones while
defined, didn't look hollow. Her dark eyes unwavering and quite possibly attractive instead of starring out of the hollows
she had been accustomed to. Her hair, which she paid special attention to, now that she had access to the means to do
so, gleamed in the candlelight, falling across her shoulders. Her clothes didn't hang loosely offer her, but accentuated
her budding figure, coming in belated due to her early malnutrition. The colours glowed against her tanned skin and as
she looked at herself, she felt strong and in control.

"You should take on a new name." Pestilence said from her place across the room, watching her evaluation of herself.
"You have come far, and a new name would be fitting."

She found her eyes again and looked into their golden brown depths, brightened by knowledge.
"Edrea."

Pestilence smiled approvingly.

"It is a good name. Powerful."

"I know."

"There is too much for us two to do alone. We need followers. With your power we can show them the way. I can tell you
how."

Her first time was the hardest. She had started with the disenfranchised, a small group at first, and had them bring one
they believed needed to learn a lesson. The man they had brought was terrified. Begged that he had a wife and child
waiting for him. But his death was for the greater good, the balance of the world.

He audience hadn't expected a girl. She could see it in their faces. They were shifting on their feet, some were looking to
leave. There was no point talking until they had seen, so she didn't hesitate. She crossed the empty space that was her
stage and with little ceremony touched the man they had brought on the forehead. Within seconds he was doubled over
in pain. Moments later he was coughing up blood. This was when she started speaking, raising her voice over his
hacking to try and explain to them the Balance. Pestilence's words flowed over her lips: she had taken on her lessons
well. She had needed to speak louder when the man started vomiting and explain how these peoples troubles were a
result of the loss of balance.

He died sometime during her speech. Had he been autopsied, they would have discovered that his stomach had
shrivelled up. She had needed something fast-acting and flashy.

Any who left as un-believers took a strong case of influenza with them.

"That man there." Pestilence showed her, "You'll need him. To plan. He has been wronged by this world, and he will do
anything to put it right."

Ian Gready was a government man. Once she had relayed Pestilences' needs to him, he had taken them in his stride
and run with them.

"This facility here." He had circled a building on a map. "This, is one of their bioweapon research facilities." His voice had
cracked on this statement. He has lost his daughter several years before to a sudden and unexplainable infection that
matched a bio-research project he had been involved with at the time. At first he had blamed himself. Then he had
blamed the government.

"This is the one you will want to hit."

Her crowds grew bigger and once she was sure of her foothold, she moved on to another city, leaving a lieutenant in
charge to continue spreading the word, but with instructions to do so discretely. Pestilence took her back to Europe, to
England and introduced her to a new kind of human. One with magic. She wasn't surprised. In fact she took joy in
discovering the new illnesses that their kind offered. She began to introduce contagious diseases, to continue her work
in her absence. Pestilence explained to her that the wizards hid in secret because of their unnatural ways and that they
upset the balance more than humans with their indulgences in power. She also hinted that one of their biggest threats:
one she was not yet ready to know, was a wizard, bound to that world. She took great pleasure in infecting their people.
She was warned not to infect them all however. Aware that one of her future targets was a wizard, she began to gather
them to their cause. Not quite as impressed with her normal display of power, inflated with their own importance, and
less than willing to work with muggles, she had to think bigger. Dragon pox had been a rush greater than some of the
ones before them. Not quite as good as that first time in Rome, but as close as she had ever gotten. They had come to
her later, once they had realised that true to her word, she had infected many of their enemies, in particular their children.
Bloodtraitors they called them, and mudbloods. Having infected many of their kind, she could have told them that there
was nothing different about their blood. They were just as depraved and puffed with self-importance as each other.

She began to build up more followers, in this country. Showing them how to make a difference. How to identify the plague
amongst them and how to disarm and teach them a lesson. And so her followers grew.
It had become quite a military operation. Now that they had started gathering weapons especially.

She rolled out of her bed, leaving her late night distraction sleeping on the other side, pulled a robe about her shoulders
and walked out onto her balcony.

Edrea surveyed the city, waiting patiently for the woman to make herself known. She felt in the tickle of her skin the
moment it happened.

"You need to tell me everything." She said, without preamble and without turning to look at the woman. There was a
silence and she turned to look at Pestilence. "Beyond the righting of the balance. We are nearly ready, but I need to know
our true target. You have mentioned him before."

She spoke with the authority garnered after years of leading a following and being in charge and a flicker of what may
have been pride went through the woman's eyes. But still she didn't speak. She seemed to be deciding what to say.

"I am not a child." She declared, "for you to withhold information from. Not any more. I may server you, but we are equals,
you and I and I shall not be led by the hand."

Pestilence's expression did not appear to change, but something shifted in her demeanour and the air grew colder.
Edrea didn't react, but continued to hold her gaze.

"Our opponent is Death."

At this Edrea's eyes narrowed.

"Your fellow horseman?"

Pestilence snorted, "We are hardly' fellows'. But yes. He has grown arrogant in his power, more so than our other mutual
horsemen. But, as we cannot attack him directly, as he is a spirit like me, we go after his hand on earth. A wizard. His
arrogance is apparent in his choosing of an already power-drunk vessel."

She nodded.

"I understand."

"But even then, it is not that simple." Pestilence continued. "As the Hand of Death, he cannot die. The wizard is blessed
with immortality."

Edrea frowned. "But so am I."

Pestilences laugh was like cracked glass.

"No my child, you do not age, but you can die. He does not stay dead. Death will not take his soul, so it returns to his
body. And you cannot infect him, because a hand cannot directly use their horseman's ability against another."

"Then how can we defeat him?"

A smile cracked across her face.

"Why have you amassed an army of mortals and wizards? Why have you created this great following, now poised and
ready to strike? We shall destroy those nearest to him, while you occupy him with the spirit magic I have been teaching
you. Come."

They moved in an instant to be standing on a building roof, in amongst other towering pillars of obstinate wealth. Before
them was a great tower a large 'A' tacked to the side.

"We are far enough away that he cannot sense you." Pestilence said, and handed her a pair of binoculars. She
recognised them as one of the dozens amassed by the military team she had created to attack the facility.

She pressed them to her eyes and peered through them at the lit windows on the top floor of the tower. So sure in their
security they were that they hadn't even fitted curtains.

There was a group sat around on couches, talking and enjoying each others company. She fixated on a dark haired
youth wearing glasses . He opened a bottle of what she presumed to be beer but an older ginger man removed the
drink, waving a condescending finger in his direction before taking his own swig.
"You recognise him." Pestilence breathed almost gleefully. Edrea didn't know how she knew that it was this man, but she
did. "Do you recognise any of the others?"

She found that she did, but for a different reason. Their faces had been spread across the television screens after the
battle that had given War a fresh throng of souls. She recognised then the kind of battle that she had ahead of her and
found herself wondering if she were truly prepared. They weren't just any military group.

She watched them for a bit longer. They were relaxed an apparently happy, enjoying each others company: secure in the
arrogance of their safety. They had no idea what was coming.

It was nearly time to act. Pestilence had said to leave the other hand alone but she wanted, no, needed to make a point.
She wanted him to know what he was dealing with. To pull him out of that idiotic indolence. She knew the moment she
was close enough for him to sense her, because knowledge of him exploded in her senses. It nearly staggered her, but
having been prepared for it, she pushed through, dragging one of her followers with her. She wove through the crowd
towards him. She pointed him out to her boy, who was eager to please, eager to gain a spot in her bed for another night,
slipped towards Him. He was looking for her, but he didn't seem to know it, turning slowly on the spot, his stupid coffee's
clutched in one hand. He certainly didn't see her as she slipped closer, his attention so caught up in her that he didn't
notice the boy jostle him. From her vantage point, with her sharp gaze, she saw the knife slide under his ribs. It went in
smoothly but the boy tensed, putting pressure behind his thrust before he pulled it out. It only required a small tug to pull
it out again, coated with a red sheen before the boy melted away, into in the crowd. She heard the scream, but only
spared them a single glance, revelling in the group that had begun to gather around the prone form.

She was turning to leave when she saw the red head that he had been flirting with leaving the coffee shop she had spied
him in. She was holding her coffee and was obviously rushing to get to which ever obnoxious job required a business
suit.

She wasn't necessary. Not really. Even if he had flirted with her, the chances of him ever seeing her again were slim,
even if she wasn't planning to destroy his world by the end of the week. But she wanted to any way.

Unable to harm the hand herself, she had a pent up energy that needed release.

She sped up and overtook the woman on her way, brushing her as she did.

It was so needless, but it felt so good because of it. Pestilence had been right all those years ago: she had learnt the
importance of long acting illnesses. It allowed the receiver a chance to suffer, to contemplate and realise that they were
going to die long before they did. That one had been a taste of what was to come once the bio-weapon was released.
When the curtain fell, that woman was just going to be one of the many who had fallen victim to the terror attack.

But when that curtain had fallen and closed its velvet folds over the scene of destruction, balance would finally have been
achieved and Pestilence would have taken it's place on the pedestal with Famine, War and Death.

A/N Anyone who recognised the paraphrasing of Dr Horrible take a virtual cookie.
*Chapter 19*: Battle of Manhattan
A/N Slightly later than I intended it to be... But I hope you enjoy it.

Disclaimer: None of the characters are mine.

"So what do we do now?"

"We can't just wait for her to act." Steve said immediately.

"And the cookie for stating the obvious goes to Gramps." Tony snarked, ignoring Steve's glare in response.

"Harry, you said you could sense her?" Clint asked.

Harry nodded. "When she was nearby."

Clint made a gesture. " I am willing to stick Harry on a bike and drive him around the city."

"There has to be an easier more efficient way." Bruce said over Harry's small squawk of protest.

"I'm all ears."

"It may not be as hard as we think." Natasha commented from where she stood looking out over the city. She looked
back at Clint "The Doomsday-ers are rioting."

They all looked at the pair of them as Clint was off his chair in a moment, standing at her side looking out the window.

"Shit."

Harry crossed the room, reaching the window just as JARVIS slid it open. He stepped onto the balcony and looked down
at the rising tide of destruction.

There was a crowd, one that would be fairly innocuous from this height except the roaring cries were reaching them even
at this distance. It came as a dull roar building into a crescendo as they moved towards the tower. Faint screams joined
the cacophony accompanied by explosions and short, sharp cracks they all recognised as gunshots.

"Shit." Tony echoed for lack of anything better to say.

"We'll deal with it." Clint said, contacting S.H.E.I.L.D, even as he made for the lift, Natasha in his wake. Steve also left the
window.

"Me too." He declared.

"Come on," Tony said rubbing his hands together, "not you big guy." He added pointing at Bruce. "You're somewhat
overkill."

Bruce shrugged and spread his hands. "Call me if you need me."

There was a moment of tense calm before the fight. Most of the others had elected to go down in the elevator through the
building but the wizards and Tony stood on the balcony.

"Ready?" Harry checked with his friends. They had copied Harry in transfiguring their jackets into hoodies without
comment, showing their willingness to get involved with a fight that really had nothing to do with them.

"You think its her?" George asked, looking at Harry evenly.


Harry shrugged in response, "It doesn't matter, I need to help."

George nodded and tweaked the hood to make sure that it obscured his red hair before giving an affirmative while Luna
hummed and Hermione nodded, her face pale and tense.

"Off we go then." He looked at Tony who had donned his suit. "See you down there. Don't splinch!" The last comment was
a throwback to his time as an auror, a lighthearted way of wishing his team luck before they apparated into battle without
jinxing the outcome.
He picked a spot in the street and turned on his heel, disapparating with a loud crack.

He was squeezed out at the edge of the crowd. He wasn't immediately noticed and the rioters surged around him.

He started stunning them. Unfortunately there wasn't a mass version of the spell. He had tried to develop one during his
time as an auror but it was too complex and there were too many impracticalities to be able to use the spell in a combat
situation.

It wasn't long before he was noticed and attention was drawn to him. He started conjuring tangible shields to defend
against bullets flying his way.

He caught a flash of green light in the corner of his eye and dived out of the way instinctively. An armed muggle fell to the
ground with him, eyes wide and unseeing his surprised face and pallor indicative of the Killing Curse. He was on his
feet in an instant, turning on his heel to face the caster. He was faced with a hooded man, slight in stature. The hood
shaded his eyes but didn't mask the snide grin that crept up his face.

He was but a youth, Harry realised in duelling him; real battle was unfamiliar to him. He was talented though and Harry
didn't have the time for an extended duel. He was cut down with a loud and flashy reducto which sent him crashing
through the crowd. When he fell, another opponent took his place. And there were others. This was not just a targeted
riot, this was an army and the person who had built it knew that there would be wizards and had prepared for it.

Steve was cutting his way through the swaths of armed men when he saw the first flash that he identified as a spell light
up in the crowd.

"There are rogue wizards." Harry said down the line. "Expelli-!" the comm cut out mid-spell, but the point had been made.

"Are we trying to take them alive?" Hermione's voice asked in his ear. Steve could hear the proficiency of a soldier in her
tone.

"If you can." Harry replied, "but don't risk an extended duel. There are too many of them."

Steve focussed on the enemies that he was equipped to deal with. They had some rudimentary training, but nothing to
challenge him. Their strength came in numbers. He realised that this night had been in the works for several years.

He had just disarmed a woman and knocked her out with his shield when he turned to come face to face with a hooded
figure holding a now all too familiar stick. He waved it in a slicing motion and a yellow light sped towards him. He was
about to leap out of the way, his muscles tensing for the action even as his shield rose in front of him, but a familiar voice
cried out.

"Protego." The yellow light broke over an invisible barrier.

"Stupefy!" A red light not dissimilar to a laser shot past him and struck the rogue wizard who stood still in shock at the
failure of his own attack. He crumpled to the ground and Steve spun to face George who gave a small bow before forging
his own way through the crowd.

"We have a problem."

"You mean besides the obvious?" Steve bit back to the voice over his comm which he belated recognised as Agent
Coulson.

"Good to hear your bland tones Agent." Stark quipped in response.

"Thanks." Coulson replied dryly, "you'll wish you hadn't when I tell you that we have traced the missing bio-weapons."

"What missing bio-weapons?" Banner asked, apparently keeping track of the battle from his spot in the tower.

"A facility was raided about a week back." Barton provided, "See Nat, I told you it would be a more interesting case."

"Your boring case happens to be causing havoc in the streets of New York." Romanov reminded Barton. "How is the
weapon relevant?"

Coulson coughed, "It is going to be released in the city."

Multiple voices swore in Steves ear.


"We have found the machine being used as a dispersal system. It looks to be a localised gaseous release, and it has
been designed to be transportable and realise multiple bursts of the bioweapon. It's guarded."

"I'm there." Stark declared, "Send me the coordinates."

Steve saw the red form rise above the crowd and shoot away down the street, deliberately flying low enough to send
some of the crowd jumping for safely. A few spells shot after him but he deftly manoeuvred around them.

"What's the weapon?" Banner asked, "I can start to manufacture an antidote should the need arise."

"I'll send you the details."

Steve took a gun from one the fallen rioters and shot into the crowd, using up the clip before tossing the weapon aside. It
was never a good idea to be dependant on an enemies weapon: you had no guarantee on it being in a good condition or
on how many bullets it had left. He was raising his shield against the attack of another only for his opponent to take an
arrow in the chest and fall sideways. Not wasting a moment he turned his defensive movement into an attack, striking a
man with the edge of his shield and knocking him down. Steve spotted the blonde witch, Luna he thought it was, fighting
with a fluid grace . She paused after downing an enemy with an ice blue light as if in thought before conjuring a silver
light out of her wand. Steve thought he recognised it from Harry's demonstration all those months ago but it took a
different form. It was smaller, and he couldn't make it out clearly but it looked to him like a rabbit. After a moment during
which he thought she spoke to it, it bounded away, becoming like smoke mid-leap and spiriting away. He thought about
asking about it but decided against it when she engaged another wizard and he too put his full attention into the
surrounding hoard.

"I think I have something, I've seen something similar before." Banner said, "We have the basics here so I can make a
prototype, but if I need to mass produce it I'll need a hospital and it's supplies."

"That may be a good idea." Tony's voice was tense and hard, "it looks like this system has already been used once
today."

"Shit." Steve's eyebrows rose slightly, even as he too swore internally. Swearing seemed out of character for Agent
Coulson who had so far handled everything thrown at him with a straight face and dry humour.

"What's the range on this thing?"

"Around a half mile."

"So people are already running around with this thing?" Steve clarified.

"We need to set up stations for the infected to go to, around the city." Coulson said, "We have no idea where this thing
was set off, and those infected will have spread out by now. We'll set up a broadcast telling people where to go once
locations have been decided. Bruce get to the nearest hospital and start working. Look around, there is already a panic!"
He added after a pause, to some Agent on the base with him. Steve could imagine them scurrying away to carry out
orders after the way Coulson had snapped at them.

"I can help." Luna's said lightly.

"I think we need all the wizards we have on the street." Coulson contradicted.

"The others have arrived." Luna said.

Steve looked afield his circle of battle and saw other cloaked figures, this time wearing navy blue robes taking up arms
against the rising tide of black-clad forms.

"Ron says there aren't as many as he would like because of political matters with the Americans. Kingsley would only let
him bring so many. 'Besides, the yanks should get off their magical arses and supply some fire power themselves.'" The
last bit was reported by Hermione with a wry tone that gave Steve the impression that it was quoted word for word.

"The American Ministry should be here before too long." Harry added, "They seem to have a lot more red tape than we
do. I remember trying to work with them in the past involved a helluva lot of paperwork."

"It's hard to believe," Hermione replied, "That there could be more than we are required to fill out. I thought oodles of
paperwork was the British stereotype."
Bruce tuned out Harry's reply as he gathered his equipment and made sure he had everything he needed. He had a
moment of wondering how exactly he was going to get to the nearest hospital through the battle which had come to a clot
around the base of the tower.

"Ready to go?" He turned in surprise and realised what Luna had meant when she said 'help'. She was watching him
with intelligent eyes, holding an arm out for him to grasp. He remembered briefly Clint's reaction to apparating. He threw
these thoughts aside and before he lost his nerve took her arm. She smiled and, with surprising strength, pulled him
into a turn.

It was like being squeezed through a tube. When he stumbled out the other side, he doubled over, feeling as though he
was going to retch. He felt a small hand on his back.

"You get used to it." Luna said with empathy.

"Can't say that I want to. Where are we?"

Luna looked around, "I don't know it's name, but it's the nearest hospital to the tower. I passed it on my walk there
earlier."

Earlier. As in earlier today. It felt so long ago since he had first met Luna in the wake of Harry's albeit temporary death.

"We need to use your lab." He said to the shocked nurse standing a few meters away gaping at them. We are with the
government, a bio weapon has been released and we need to set up a triage for those infected. Our agency will contact
your director with details." She just nodded and Bruce sighed. "Which way to the lab?"

She pointed down a corridor and Bruce spotted the 'Medical Personnel Only' sign.

"Thanks." he said, walking swiftly in that direction. He spotted Luna's lazy wave to the nurse who returned it still looking
gobsmacked, before the witch in turn followed him.

Tony had deactivated the machine and taken the prime components from it. It had been harder than he'd anticipated as
he'd had multiple buffoons with machine guns firing at him. The weapon had been very highly guarded, it was apparently
key in Little Miss Scorned-Lover's plan to attack Harry.

Whoever she'd chosen as her Master was a good tactician he noted wryly, or had access to one, and had been planning
this attack for a long time. The sheer numbers of her army, because that was what this was, was staggering, and not all
of them were inexperienced kids handed guns and told where to point. Several of them were mercenaries or had at least
seen battle before and survived, not because of luck, but skill. And they were prepared for him and his suit. There were
sturdy shelters scattered around the machine on which his repulsers dispersed over the surface. They took shots at him
from around the rim of these shields, or carried full sized shields reminiscent of Police riot shields that took the heat of
his strikes, meaning that his attacks only pushed them back or if he was lucky and caught them unbraced, knocked them
over.

This level of preparation didn't bode well. They had somehow predicted that he would be the one who would come to
tackled the dispersal device and unless they had set up the shelters at each of the dispersal points, they had figured out
that it was here that S.H.I.E.L.D would find it.

He instructed Jarvis to run a scan for similar layouts, so he could determine which it was. One of those theories was
more unnerving than the other.

There was a rally of gun shots that weren't directed at him and Tony spotted some S.H.I.E.L.D agents at the fringe of the
battle hidden in the park's tree line.

"We found the first dispersal site." Coulson announced, "Bad news, it was near a fringe subway station with trains
inbound to the city centre. The infected could be anywhere."

"We've already got some coming into the hospital." Bruce said, "I think I nearly have the first batch of the antidote ready.
I'm not sure how we are going to get it to the other hospitals."

"Neville and I can do that." Luna said.

"Neville's here?" a voice that Tony identified as Ron asked, evidently he had been given a comm.

"I sent him a message when I realised an antidote may be needed."


"Luna, the bio-weapon is muggle-made." Hermione said with an air of tired patience, "the cure will be muggle, not
magical."

"I didn't think it would do any harm." Luna replied, slightly stiffly.

"Actually he's been useful as an assistant. I guess some potion-making principles carry across into chemistry." Bruce
offered.

"See." Luna pointed out and he could hear Hermione's huff.

"Hey," Tony said when he realised how dominated the comms were by the magic members of their group "I thought
magic messed with electric stuff, how are you all on working comms."

"We have a telly-box." Ron supplied for himself, "Hermione would have got frustrated if I hadn't learnt how to use magic
with out messing with minor electric stuff."

"Television, Ron.' Hermione said, exasperated.

"Sorry." Ron replied, in a tone that had Tony think he wasn't sorry at all, and only mis-named the TV to annoy his wife out
of habit.

"As lovely as this conversation is," Phil contributed, "please concentrate on the battle and stop blocking the comms."

"Gottit." Tony affirmed, "So what about you Luna?"

"I travel." she replied slightly airily.

He grinned as Phil's sigh could be heard.

Bruce finished splitting the first batch into enough containers for the hospitals designated as cure centres. He knew that
an announcement had been relayed over the media and that everyone would have seen it, as glued to the news as they
were to track what was still being referred to as a riot. He had begun to create a vaccine a well, but Tony had declared the
disperser unusable so he had refocussed his attention on the cure.

Neville and Luna were both examining a map with the hospitals marked.

"You guys ready?" he asked and they both nodded. "They are expecting you and have people on hand to give the shots
out. I would try and apparate out of sight: no need for them to know how you are getting there."

"I think magic may be out of the bag, we are beyond an inter-relation nightmare." Luna commented wryly, referring to the
magic battle outside. "Even then, with all the technology around, and Norse Gods we aren't going to be out of place and
you muggles all love rationalising magic into something more mundane."

She still pulled her hood up to obscure her face, an action copied by Neville. They each took their box of vials and
vanished with a crack.

With nothing he could do to speed up the creation of the next batch which was running through the necessary machine to
get it up to scratch, he grabbed the remaining vials and met the nurse they'd crossed earlier who led him to the rooms
set up to deal with the crisis. They had cleared out the walk-in clinic for the purpose, redirecting those not infected to
other areas of the hospital. Gurneys had been brought out and the inhabitants of the nearest ward relocated to other
areas of the hospital. There were patients waiting desperately for a cure with rashes already spreading on their skin and
the beginnings of nosebleeds. Bruce got to a young boy first, lying down and coughing weakly, his mother sat by him,
stroking his sweat drenched hair, ignoring her own rash which was evident on her wrist.

Harry took his latest opponent with a swipe of his wand and a swift sectumsempra. And then a chill spread through him.
He recognised that 'd been expecting it, and as a result, it didn't shock and disorientate him as it had before.

For a moment he wasn't part of the battle. It was going on around him, but it was as if someone had muted it. He turned
and saw through a gap in the fighting a young woman and he knew that it was her. The gap widened, as if she had
parted them and it was just them facing off in the middle of a circle of warring people. The situation seemed all too
familiar.

A sneer twisted her face and she spoke in heavily accented english.
"We meet at last."

The muted sounds from the raging battle clearly weren't Harry's imagination as her words were picked up by the open
line on his mike.

"Seriously?" Tony said incredulously in Harry's ear, "That's the opener she went with?"

A/N Ahhhh... all the walking...


*Chapter 20*: I am Edrea
A/N And now... the next chapter.

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Harry turned his comm off, putting all of his attention on the woman in front of him. He supposed that she could have
been pretty with out the concentrated glare and if the hard lines of her skull weren't jutting out from beneath her taut skin.
Her hair hung loose around her face in waves, it was obviously well cared for, more than her body at any rate which was
made up of angles and anorexic lines which were only accentuated in her loose clothes which in themselves could have
been a models. Her painted lips were thin and drawn up in a sneer while her almond eyes were narrowed in his
direction. She had make up that made them stand out against her faded olive skin. He met the woman's gaze, running
through his options.

"Hey, I'm Harry." He began, " Didn't really have a chance to introduce myself earlier. You know, when you got someone to
stab me."

Her eyes narrowed.

"It's not as if you can die." She sneered dismissively, "Cockroaches can't."

"You know if you are going to be insulting me, I should at least know your name."

She rose a superior eyebrow. "You don't?"

"S'why I asked."

The look of hate intensified further, "You think you are so superior." She spat.

Harry was about to point out her hypocrisy when she drew herself up.

"I am Edrea. Hand of the Great Pestilence." Harry frowned when he heard the proclamation, "I am here to right the
wrongs you have helped inflict. To save the world."

And with that she attacked.

She hissed something in a foreign language and threw out a hand. White shards formed in mid air and shot towards
him.

Death's advice flashed in his head.

Envisioning a shield in his head he focussed on the cold flame of power he had been building an awareness of and
brought his hand up in a defensive motion.

A great shield not unlike those belonging to knights that stood at Hogwarts came into being in front of him, hanging in the
air between them. The shards thudded into the surface.

"To b e honest you don't need say anything." Death said munching jelly b ab ies as he looked out over the city.

"What?"

Death proffered him the b ag and Harry ab sently took one of the sweets.

"To use Death's magic. I only told you to use words b ecause that was what you were used to. Figured with a b ig b attle
coming up you'd prefer the familiar rather than trying something new, which needs focus anyway."

"You said that you shaped the magic!"

"Gave you the confidence to b e throwing the magic around didn't it?"

Harry threw the jelly b ab y at him.

"Oi! That was an orange one!" Death squawked as he watched it spiral to the street b elow.
Harry ponder what Death was saying and what it meant for him.

"So, you're saying that I can perform it as wordless magic."

"Yup. You humans only use words to 'channel'" he put the word into air quotes, "magic as it gives your thoughts focus. It's
all to easy to loose a train of thought which is risky in magic. The trick will b e separating your human magic from your
Death magic."

"How do I do that?"

"Meditation. Clearing your mind. All that jazz." Death replied with a full mouth. Harry glared at him.

"I'd offer you another one if I thought you weren't gonna waste it." Death pointed out.

"I do all the meditation I need for Occlumency b ut it's not exactly my forte."

"Fine." Death shrugged, "Continue to flounder ab out in your magic, I'll just stand at the side and laugh."

Harry sat b ack to look at the sun setting over the Manhattan high-rise.

"It's easier than it looks."

"Ever teach someone to do it b efore?" Harry asked curiously and Death scoffed.

"Me? Lord, no. You Hallowed don't come along all that often you know."

Harry digested this, slotting this information with what he had already gathered.

"Well that's me gone." Death declared, standing and licking his fingers. "Start meditating, ask your Brucey-friend. You'll
know what you're looking for when you find it."

"You can't tell me?" Harry asked twisting around to look up at his friend.

"Nah, where would the fun b e in that?"

With a cheeky grin he was gone.

He'd been right, he'd recognised the black fire the moment he'd found it. Now familiar with it, it was simple to stoke it and
bring it to his fingertips. He was buzzing.

Bruce was busy with the infected, his mind only partially on the transactions over the comms. But he froze in the
treatment of a young red head when the unfamiliar voice came across the comms. It was slightly faded: it was clearly
being picked up by Harry's headset, but the tense feeling that had been building as the battle went on solidified. This
was it.

"Is everything okay?"

Bruce brought his attention back to the young woman in his care. Her symptoms were more advanced than any he'd
seen so far. She was pale and sickly, her hair falling from its once neat grip to be plastered to her head by sweat. Blood
was splattered on her business shirt having fallen from her nose in streams, the napkin she was holding to it doing little
to stem the flow. He idly recognised the 'Caffinator' logo through the blood. He met her nervous green eyes and smiled.

"Yes. Forgive me."

She smiled and he took the distraction to inject her with the antidote. He put a plaster on the wound and put a comforting
hand on her shoulder.

"That's that. You stay here, one of us will keep an eye on you. I would advise you to lie down."

"Thank you." Her voice was fervent and he smiled and nodded before moving on.

"She wasn't at the release site." He turned to see Luna looking at the woman with a curious expression.

"What do you mean?" He asked as he prepared the next injection, passing a comfort to the man he was about to inject.

"I'm not sure, but her infection is different to the others."


"Is that important?" Bruce asked concernedly, looking over at the young lady who had curled up on her gurney.

Luna shook her head. "Just odd."

"Then we'll come back to it later." Bruce said applying a plaster to the injection site and passing on the basic follow up
advice before walking to the next bed.

"Can I help?"

Bruce looked at Luna who was watching the new needle as he prepped it.

"'Fraid not. You really need training before you go around injecting people. What about the deliveries?"

"All done." She replied still watching as he pushed the plunger to get rid of the excess air. "Neville should be back soon
as well. I could do what you're doing now, then you can do the stabbing bit."

Bruce looked at the seemingly increasing number of infected crowding the ward. It would help speed the process.

"Okay. Once sec."

He finished with his patient and turned to Luna who had picked up the jar of antidote and a clean needle. He noticed that
she had already put on a pair of sterilised gloves.

"Right then." He smiled wearily.

"Isn't it glorious."

Death looked around to see his childhood friend standing next to him on the ledge, looking out over the chaos.

"That's not quite how I would have phrased it." He responded stiffly, feeling souls pass into his domain below them. He
watched his reapers dart into the crowds to collect the souls and take them to War. His fellow horseman would have
been there herself but Death had outlined the situation to her and she had gracefully bowed out on the promise that all
resulting souls would be directed to her domain despite her and her followers Horsemen together would be too close
for comfort.

"An antidote has been created to the bioweapon." He said, pointing out what she already knew, "You won't be getting any
souls from it."

"I know." She said, a happy lilt to her voice that he hadn't heard before. Vindictive. " That's not the point of this."

He looked at her in disbelief before following her gaze to Harry. With a flash his friend had thrown his opponent into a
building with an explosion of dust and glass.

"You never did get more upset than when other people were hurt." She gloated.

Worry twisted in his gut which he pushed away. Harry could take care of himself. Death looked sadly at Pestilence.

"Haven't you held onto this for long enough?"

Her eyes flashed.

"Thirty years is nothing to you and me. You humiliated me!"

Death shook his head.

"It wouldn't have been fair. To either of us."

"Fair! You chose a human! A weak mortal who even now is wasting away."

Death knew that he had let his surprise show on his face at the mention of Jocelyn and he tried to use it in making her
see sense.

"I never chose her. I haven't chosen anyone."

She snorted and her expression turned vindictive.


"You'll be collecting her before the decade is out- will you do this one personally as well?"

His eyes narrowed. She wasn't going to listen to reason. He tried to measure this woman against the young spirit he
had played with before they had matured and taken on their titles and could see little of her besides her inherent
stubbornness. It saddened him.

"Father was right, there is too much of your mother in you."

She spoke of his mum with a venom that riled him just as much as her dig at his treatment of Rose had. She was right,
he had too much of his mother in him to remain as impassive as his father would have had he been in this situation. He
wasn't violent, never had been, but in this moment he he found himself hating a spirit's inability to act directly against
another spirit. He turned his attention to Harry, who was stuck in the holding pattern that Death had predicted for the
confrontation. The victory of the battle wouldn't be dependant on the Masters, as ruled by the Laws of Balance, it would be
actions of their companions that would end the day. He knew that for them to break out of the stalemate the scales
needed help tipping.

Harry was breathing hard, the exertion of the spells cast getting to him. They were matched. Evenly. It hadn't taken long
for him to realise that. He had tried to turn the tables by throwing sectumsempra at her, but she had brushed it off with
barely a glance. It wasn't that she was blocking all of his Death spells, far from it, but they weren't as debilitating as he
was hoping. He had noticed when a few of her attacks had got through his defences that they didn't hurt as much as they
should. He could put that to adrenaline, but that soon became obviously impossible. He came to this realisation when a
shard she had conjured to come from behind him slid under his ribs and out through is abdomen. Adrenaline or no, it
should have killed him. It occurred to him then that there was some kind of twisted magic keeping him from dying from
her attacks and plausibly vice versa. He briefly wondered if that was why she had used a lackey to attack him earlier that
day. It felt like a lifetime ago. A small part of him mused how crappy he was going to be feeling when it was all over.

Fatal or not, it hurt. He had a hand over the wound as he sized his opponent up.

"What good do you hope to come from this?" He asked in the lull of attacks.

"To put Death in his place." The reply was backed with a certainty that could only come from complete belief. He
recognised it from Death Eaters of his past. Harry tried to figure out what she thought she knew and how to reason with
her but couldn't see where she was coming from.

"I don't know what you mean." He said, honestly before twisting away from the fire she sent his way in retaliation.

"Like Hell." She growled. "You believe you're so much better. But guess what, your quest in greed and power is
destructive. You are destroying the balance."

"What?" Harry was left flummoxed by the rubbish that was being spouted.

"Like you don't know." She sneered, her expression disdainful.

He couldn't find the logic in her statements so Harry decided to try a different tact.

"I don't know if you've noticed, but we are in a holding pattern, we can't hurt each other. What's the point?"

A conniving smile spread on her thin lips.

"You can't die." She corrected and voice in his head that sounded strangely like Tony's muttered that he could die, he just
didn't stay dead. "But you can be hurt." Her eyes flickered to the raging war around him and focussed briefly on a figure in
the fighting. Harry glanced that way and saw Steve surrounded by crazed rioters. He let his gaze travel further and saw
Ron and Hermione surrounded by a blaze of spells.

"They can die." Edrea said smugly as he looked back at her.

He wasn't in control of his actions when he reached for the blaze of black fire and stoked it, letting it grow, fuelled by his
need to defend his friends and anger at the one who dared threaten them.

The resulting explosion of power destroyed the road he stood on.

Tony had successfully cleared the area with the menial assistance of the S.H.I.E.L.D agents. And all without too many
dints to his suit. He took a moment to note a particularly deep one near his central reactor before shooting into the air,
leaving the agents to take care of the machine and the resulting paperwork. Soaring over the city, he could make out the
field of battle from the moment he crested the high-rise.

The fighting in the street was still in full force, lined by fires which shone off the moving figures. The enemies numbers
had been depleted he noted, but how many of their own had it taken to do so. Jarvis hadn't announced any of the
Avengers being down for the count, which was promising.

He set his visor to zoom in on the scene and found Harry. He wasn't hard to find, the crowd having parted to allow a
clearing for him and Pestilences' girl to fight. He'd heard the comment when she had made herself known, and had let
his retort mask his anxiousness about Harry's upcoming fight. Since then they had had radio silence. So, seeing his
friend standing, albeit crookedly, was reassuring.

They seemed to be having a conversation. He saw Harry glance off to one side and something in his stance shifted. The
arm that had been clamped to his side rose with the other one and Tony could see something back building in their
palms. His heat sensors could detect it from here as it built and it exploded out, encasing his friend, his opponent,
several meters of street and a number of enemy forces in a great ball of what he identified as black fire.

"You're doing good." Bruce said to Luna as she presented him with a new syringe that had been quickly and efficiently
prepped for him to insert in the next victims arm.

She smiled at him.

"So are you.' He looked confused at the praise and turned to treat the man sat on the floor in the corridor. They had run
out of chairs and gurneys. She looked around the muggle hospital. She could see traces of it's imposed order even
under all the chaos. Nurses who weren't handing out antidotes were registering the patients or trying to make them
more comfortable, keeping track of their condition and other muggle medical stuff.

She did have a great measure of respect for how muggles had managed to make functional lives for themselves without
magic. It was fascinating. Almost as fascinating as the strange new friend of Harry's. He wasn't quite what he seemed.

"Hey Luna."

She turned to see Neville looking on edge and read to act.

"Neville." She greeted.

"That's the last of the deliveries." He informed her and she nodded. Bruce glanced up at her friend and nodded in
acknowledgement as well.

"Thanks." he said gruffly, "I don't know where we would be without you. Without both of you."

His second comment was expanded to included her as well and she smiled as she filled the next syringe for his use.

There was a loud bang.

Suddenly the fighting that was somewhat muted by the hospital doors wasn't muted anymore as the fighting came
inside the hospital. There were sharp cracks as the muggle weapons were fired and the shouting echoed down the
corridor.

She immediately started cursing the intruders, defending patients as they scrambled away. She felt Neville join her and
remembered the last time they had fought together.

A shrill scream ripped through the air and she spared a glance to it's source, a young woman, crouched on the floor
instead of running. She was about to advise she run before her gaze followed the woman's downwards into the lifeless
face of a young boy. He couldn't be anything other than dead, half of his face had been ripped away by those bullets
muggles were so fond of.

She still had to get the mother out of the line of fire.

"Come on." She said to the woman, guiding her up and away from the body, "He won't come to more harm." The woman
seemed to be too in shock to resist. Luna trusted Neville to cover her and he did without needing to be asked. Luna shut
the woman, the last of the patients into the adjoining corridor. After confirming that all the innocents that hadn't been
killed in the initial onslaught were out of the corridor, she locked it with a quick charm and put up an impervious charm to
protect the door from bullets.
She looked back to see something unexpected. She was able to take the time to focus on Bruce who was standing
frozen in the middle of the corridor, his eyes focused on the young corpse. His expression was one of anger and pain.
This was a man that took each death to heart, taking some of the guilt with it. She had seen that expression on Harry in
the past, the time she remembered most keenly had been that time, in the Great Hall, during the reprieve just before he
snuck out to meet Voldemort in the forest.

But then Bruce did something Harry never had. He began to grow as his eyes flashed green.

Neville reached for his wand as the otherwise gentle man's form rippled out, the skin dappling to a bright green. She put
a hand on his arm to prevent him drawing it or doing anything foolish as Bruce grew. It was amazing, unlike anything she
had witnessed in magic before. It could be likened to a werewolf she supposed, but this had so much more power and
beauty in its individuality.

"He won't hurt us." She said watching his muscles tense before he charged into what was left of the intruders. He
barrelled through them, creating a new entrance to the hospital as he did. He left none of them conscious, something he
didn't need to check before he gave a great roar and tore into the battle in the streets.

"Wow." Neville breathed. "What was that?"

"A sad man." Luna replied simply.

The fire had billowed about him but hadn't touched him. It had however caused the tarmac to crack and disintegrate
beneath him and he had lost his footing. He regained it before the smoke cleared however and stood in the base of the
newly formed crater he was in watching for his opponent, his anger still tight in his chest.

There were still traces of black fire flickering in the periphery of his vision which he ignored in favour of the crouched
figure in front of him. There was a stillness from the rioting as well as those at the edge of the destruction paused to look
at him and quite possibly the charred remains of their companions that had fallen to lie amongst the twisted wreckage.
He realised that she wouldn't have been fatally wounded by the attack and he used the pause in fighting to think his
options through.

He couldn't kill her. But she had been able to kill him earlier that day. It had to be through an intermediary, someone else
to strike the killing blow. He spotted something moving out of the corner of his eye and a plan began to form.

He turned his comm on.

"Tony can you get Bruce here?"

"On it."

He saw the red and gold streak in his periphery his gaze now focussed on Edrea, pulling herself out of the curled up
position amongst the twisted metal of the piping system that had once run under the street.

She was shaky as she pulled herself up, her clothes charred and her once beautiful hair singed.

She swung around to face him, her mouth curled in a grin.

"Did that make you feel better?" She asked, her accent thick. "Do you realise how impotent you really are?

Harry started to walk to the right around the base of the crater and she matched him, the same smile twisting her face.

"Dont you see?" he tried once more, "You are loosing! Your forces will be beaten back and all this," he waved an arm to
gesture at his surroundings, "will have been for nothing."

"You delude yourself." she declared, not even looking at her diminished fighters, "the balance of the world wants to be
righted. You will see!"

"It is you who is deluded." he exclaimed, seeing how eschew her view of the world was. "What Pestilence has been
telling you is wrong. We are not 'hands' on earth. We are their Masters-"

"Ha! That is your arrogance." she spat, vindicated, "Master indeed. Like we could ever order their great powers, bind
them to our bidding."

"It should be a partnership." Harry tried, he had stopped walking now, and could see down the street towards the
hospital "You should work together."

"And we do!" Edrea shouted, "to right the balance. You must learn-"

Harry realised that there was no reasoning with her. She was lost. When he had killed Voldermort he had been
triumphant. Now a sadness washed over him for how this girl had been twisted.

She was but a girl. She must have been young when she was chosen. He looked past the blood and destroyed clothes,
taking in her eyes which beneath the deranged sheen were young and truly unexperienced.

"Tony, now." He said, simply and did not tear his eyes away as Tony flew up over the Hulk's head, leaving the path
between him and Edrea clear.

There was a clear sense of vindictiveness in Tony's next words.

"Hulk. Smash."

And the Hulk did.

With the intelligence that Harry suspected belonged to Bruce which was belied by his current demeanour, the Hulk
targeted the girl, leaping into the crater to grab her.

She had seen where he was looking and had turned in surprise, but not in time. She fit in the Hulks fist. If that hadn't
crushed her then the throw into the ground certainly did, one of the pipes that cracked through the earth impaling her
chest, leaving her broken on the ground.

Assessing his target as dealt with the Hulk moved on to other pickings.

Harry stumbled over to where she lay.

She wasn't quite gone he saw, her small chest still gasping painfully against the pipe.

"I'm sorry." He murmured taking her small hand. Her eyes narrowed.

With the last of her strength she spat at him one last insult, but it was in a language he didn't understand.

A/N Wow it's weird to be near the end of this. By the way, all of the Chapter Titles are derived from films. I'll be
interested to see how many people picked up.
*Chapter 21*: And Now For Something Vaguely Similar
A/N Wow, it's weird to think that I'm so close to the end. Thank you for those who took guesses at the chapter titles. I
will get back to you the moment I have some free time to myself that isn't work-oriented. The full list will be at the
end of the next chapter, but for now: the clean up (and some banter).

Disclaimer: None of the characters are mine.

"Are you happy now?" Death asked, dismayed by the display below. He looked at his old friend who raised her nose and
sniffed.

"No. You can't understand what you did to me."

Death gaped at her.

"You have to be kidding! After everything? She died for you!" He pointed down at the young girl Annan was supposed to
teach and support lying crumpled at the base of the tower.

Pestilence gave him one last sneer.

"She was always going to."

And she was gone.

He sighed. That was a fight for another decade. Perhaps he could approach her father and ask him to intercede. He
heard that his father and Old Pestilence bonded through gossip over the disappointment that was their children and
joined each other for bridge on a regular basis. Maybe he would see sense.

Now there was something more important. He could explain to War about this one soul.

He alighted on the street, or rather, just below the street next to his Master. He remained on his own plane so young
Harry couldn't see him and knelt by the small corpse of his rival's mistress. Really it was Her place.

He waved away one of his reapers and knelt by the girl, a hand on her cheek, waiting for her eyes to open.

A few moment's later they did, a bright hazelnut colour filled with a momentary fear. They flickered about, focusing on the
pipe twisting out of her chest and her breathing quickened. Not that she needed to breath. It was a reaction borne of
habit.

Her gaze flitted onto him and he smiled gently.

"'Ello."

Those eyes widened.

"You- You're-"

"Yes," he acknowledged. "I'm here to take you somewhere better."

"What about Her?" She asked, her voice high and confused. "Annan. She said…She promised…"

He didn't want to tell her that Pestilence had abandoned her.

"It's my turn now." He told her gently, taking the hand Harry held and helping her to her feet.

She slid out of her body easily, sitting up in her corpse. He helped her pull herself to her feet and she stood looking down
on her broken body.

"That's me." She commented.

Death looked between the shell of what she had become and what she was now, slighter, with full cheeks and bright
eyes. He noticed a gap between her teeth. She was so young. She was as she was at her happiest.

"Come with me." He invited holding out a hand, which she took trustingly and so he led her to her heaven, a place that
shared a remarkable similarity to Rome.

Harry felt the moment her soul truly left her body and sighed. It was over. Nearly. All that was left now was to deal with the
rest of her army.

Even then the fight was nearly done. The fighters that saw their leaders passing on the news and many stopped there
and then. The rest either fought with a lacklustre air or with a determination that wanted to disprove the truth.

"Nice fire," Tony commented idly as he landed next to Harry who stood watching as the remnants either laid down arms
or were taken out.

"Yeah." He replied, noncommittally.

"I thought you said you were going to try and be less destructive next time around." Tony said, kicking at a stray lump of
tarmac. When Harry didn't respond, still caught up in his thoughts, he put an arm around the younger man's shoulders.

"Know what we need?" Tony asked rhetorically, "Schwarma."

Harry closed his eyes and collected himself before allowing himself to chuckle.

"What I could really do with is a good chippie. Fish and chips." He clarified after a moment of silence. Tony played along.

"You mean fries."

They settled into the familiar argument. Harry spotted Bruce, de-hulked and already wearing clothes conjured for him by
Luna if the Ravenclaw colours were anything to go by. His friend was talking to the bigger man, idly repairing shop
windows as they passed. Would Bruce remember Harry wondered, flinching as he realised the guilt Bruce would feel for
killing so many, especially a young girl. No matter how twisted she had been. Then again, the manipulation that put her
in that position could increase his guilt.

"Look, I can probably find a place that managed fish and fries." Tony was saying but Harry waved him off.

"Nah. There's no point if they aren't good old British ones. Preferably from the Lake District. Slathered in vinegar and
ketchup for good measure."

S.H.I.E.L.D agents swarmed the scene to clear up and after a brief call to the Avengers and Wizards alike they left it to
them, assisted by a team of American Cover-up wizards which helped with repairs and… other clean up issues.

"So do you heal quickly from all wounds?" Tony asked as Harry finished taping a bandage to the already considerably
smaller wound in his abdomen. He shook his head.

"No. I think it is because she caused them. Nothing I did put her down either."

The answer seemed to dissatisfy Tony, a frown creasing his forehead as he responded incredulously.

"So all of this," he gestured at the destruction visible from the balcony they stood on, "Was just for the sake of
destruction?"

Harry looked down at the road, where he had fought the girl, now repaired and shook his head again.

"She wanted to kill you. All of you. She knew she couldn't kill me, so she figured she would target my more mortal
friends."

Tony snorted and Harry looked around to see a contemptuous expression on his face.

"Bitch."

Harry sighed, ruffling his hair.

"It's not like that. She…" he paused to find the right words, "she was failed by Pestilence. Used. She truly believed in what
she was doing. That it would 'right the balance'. She was so young."

Silence reigned for a moment before Tony joined him, elbows on the railing looking out over the scurrying people on
clean-up.
"Will she be trying anything else?"

"I won't know 'til I talk to Death. I've not seen him yet."

Tony checked his watch.

"Shouldn't be too much longer now, then we can go out for food. Is the blood supposed to be a fashion statement?"

Harry looked down at his charred and bloodstained clothes and straightened. He was about to head inside to change
but he stopped. There was something he needed to say.

"Thanks." He said shortly, "for getting involved with a battle that effectively boils down to Master of Death drama."

Tony snorted, looking over at him lazily.

"I don't know if you noticed, but it was slightly bigger than a small scuffle. Nobody was going to sit out of that."

Harry nodded.

" I don't envy you." Tony grinned. At Harry's bemused look he continued, "Sifting through supernatural politics. Wonder if
your buddy 'Death' has any other skeletons in his closet. Maybe literally."

Harry let a grin come to his face automatically, then considered what he planned to do next. His grin faltered.

"What if I didn't have to?" It was Tony's turn to look bemused. "I may have a way to get out of it." Harry confessed.

"Out of the whole 'Master of Death' thing?" Tony clarified and Harry nodded.

"I haven't confirmed it yet, but I'm pretty sure."

"And you want to." Tony prompted, an inscrutable expression on his face.

Harry nodded and Tony considered.

"Which means no coming back from the dead, and no bad ass black fire?"

"And my own magic will be slightly weaker, without the elder wand." Harry confirmed. "But, I'd get to age again. I'll get to
grow old, with my friends, and not have to watch everybody go on without me." It had been harder that he'd like to admit
watching friends who'd he'd once been like grow and change without him. More than once knowledge that they would die
while he would remain the same had plagued his dreams.

"Sure that's a good idea?" Tony asked wryly, "Aside from the wrinkles, you've died what, three times in the last few
months alone?"

"Twice." Harry correctly slightly heatedly.

"More than any of us. Point still stands." Tony waved his reply away.

"If I die again, then it's time." Harry decided, "you can only avoid Death for so long, and I've had more brushes with him
than I've had any right to."

Tony's face was stone but Harry could tell that his mind was whirring away.

"As long as you are careful." He finally said with a small nod, moving past Harry to enter his penthouse living room, Harry
drifting in his wake. He crossed the room to the bar, reaching the counter to pull a bottle to him. He looked over to Harry
who was still loitering in the door.

"You might want to get cleaned up." Tony pointed out as her poured himself a glass. "Want one?"

Harry accepted and quickly ducked down the corridor to find the room Tony had set aside for him to get changed.

Tony sipped at his bourbon, eyes following Harry's exit. He poured his friend a glass and let it sit on the counter as he
returned to the window to survey the damage.

If he had immortality, would he surrender it?


He thought how far he went to avoid death, the glow from his arc reactor shining through his Metallica shirt and reflecting
on the glass in front of him. It wasn't the same argument, he knew; fighting for survival even when life was short and
giving away the chance to live forever. It was effectively a slow suicide. Was it?

He hated philosophical arguments. Empirical science and certainty all the way. But the world wasn't that black and white.
It had never been, but he'd been ignoring that up until he'd discovered magic. Or maybe until he'd discovered Harry's
secret.

When Harry had died, it had hurt. He hadn't realised how important his visually impaired friend was to him. Not really.
Until he'd seen him lying out on a slab. It had been different to the first time, when Fury had told them that he was dead
because this time they had a real, tangible body. It gave the whole thing a finality that he hadn't felt when he'd heard the
news from Fury. He knew that the way he had acted, expecting him to rise again was crazy, but his need for it had
seemed all consuming at the time. Like one of his projects. Next time though, if Harry went through with this, he wouldn't
be coming back. He'd just be dead. Maybe if he didn't have the immortality as a safety blanket he would be more careful.
Or one of his apparently many enemies would finally be successful. Then again, even when he'd thought he was mortal
he'd gone walking into that forest expecting to die.

Tony disregarded the shudder that threatened to run down his spine by downing the rest of his drink. He tried to imagine
being told at seventeen that he had to die to save the world. He couldn't, not really. Sure he could make that choice now,
but he was an adult, on borrowed time. Harry had been a kid who had selflessly gone unarmed to his death to a man
who then proceeded to taunt his friends with the body if what Hermione hadn't said was anything to go by. From the
sound of it, this 'Dumbledore' had been planning it for years, grooming Harry to die. Was that why he had gone? Because
he'd been systematically brainwashed to do so?

No. That was a stupid idea. Harry was just that person. The person who would do what ever he could to save his friends.
Harry spoke of that man fondly. It was his tone of voice when the name came up. Tony was sure that there was more to
the story that he would never know, but he didn't think he could forgive or like a man that could send a child to the
slaughter. If he wasn't dead, Tony would have made his displeasure known, whether it be by some robot havoc or, if that
failed due to magical and electricity incompatibility, a good right hook. Simple and to the point. And muggle enough for
magic to be taken by surprise if the inherent arrogance he read about wizards from the stories he had heard held true.

It would be selfish to ask Harry to not do it. But he was selfish. It was one of his defining attributes. Or so most people
thought.

He sighed, downing the rest of his glass. He could no more ask Harry to continue as the Master of Death than he could
let the nuclear weapon hit Manhattan. Or abandon Pepper when she needed him.

"Are we ready to go?"

He turned to see Bruce, now appropriately dressed in a blue shirt and tan trousers, coming out of the lift. Tony hadn't
seen him after the battle, but Harry had mentioned that his friend Luna was taking care of him. Said witch was standing
next to him looking no more ruffled than normal. Her hoodie had been changed back to her brown jacket and she was
idly examining the stitching in the sleeve.

"Clothes transfiguration isn't as easy as it looks." she informed him airily.

Tony remembered seeing her fight and had to shake his head at the marked difference between the two attitudes. He
recognised the stick she had twisted her hair up with and raised his eyebrow at the casual use of her wand. He looked
back at Bruce to answer the question.

"Not yet. Natasha still doing her make up probably."

"If by make up you mean reporting to Fury." the agent in question said wryly, entering the room in casual attire from the
balcony, followed by Tony's favourite archer and less favourite soldier boy.

Tony looked at her incredulously.

"What's this about a report? Last time we just went straight for schwarma, kit and all!"

"There is a protocol." Rogers pointed out and Tony just tutted.

There was a series of cracks and a cluster of wizards now stood in the centre of his living room.

"You Americans are a pain in the arse to deal with." Ron huffed, flopping onto a couch to the admonishment of
Hermione, who batted him affectionately around the head.
Two of the wizards were still wearing their hoodies.

"May want to get rid of those." He pointed out. "Little point wearing disguises if you then wear them out with your face
uncovered.

"Good point." Hermione said, "Finite Incantatum."

She repeated the charm for George who grinned.

Tony looked around at the nine other people in the room.

"The restaurant is going to hate us." He observed with a devilish grin, which was reciprocated on George and Clint's
face. Hermione just looked anxious.

"Oh, I don't want to be any trouble. I should get back to the kids anyway-"

"Don't be silly 'Mione." her husband chastised. "I already dropped them off with Mum. She'll only just have got them to
sleep and into bed herself. It'd just be plain ungrateful to wake her up twice in one night."

"I suppose." Hermione fretted.

"We could just get take-out." Bruce pointed out.

"Spoilsport." Tony returned and Bruce shrugged.

"Take-out sounds good." said Harry from the entrance to the corridor. His friend was looking a lot better for cleaning up,
not quite so beaten up, though there were still some faint red lines on his face.

"Hey mate!" Ron grinned, pulling himself up from the sofa to clap Harry around the shoulder. "Nice-going."

Harry's smile was small. "Yeah."

"So take-out, what do we have?" Bruce said, sitting on the arm of a sofa.

"We have take out all the time!" Tony protested.

"But if we go to a restaurant," George said, "we won't be able to do this." With a flick of the wand, the various take-out
menus Rogers had collected came flying out of their prospective drawer and onto the low table in the middle of the room.

"But waiters do that for you." Tony pointed out dryly.

George tutted and turned to Harry.

"We spoil these muggles you know. Not even impressed by an act of simple levitation anymore. I ask you!"

"We can't really talk about magic in a public restaurant." Clint pointed out, "Or any of the battle really. I still want to know
what happened on your ends."

"Fine." Tony conceded, taking a whole sofa for himself. "Your drink is over there." he told Harry who thanked him.

It was at that moment that he realised what was sitting on the table next to the collection of menus.

It was the small cage Death had brought with him, containing a small, white and very dead mouse.

"What are we going to do with the ex-mouse?"

A/N Has anyone ever played the 1970's game Sorcerer's Cave? Cause I created my own 'Tardis' card that really
screwed me over at the end...
*Chapter 22*: The Hallows Thief
A/N First off I would like to apologise for the delay in getting this chapter out. I have no real reasons other than stuff
happened and Aftermath took a bit of a back burner.

This is the final chapter. I will have completed what this story set out to do in the initial story summary. Some of you
have asked about sequels which is something I am seriously considering. However, I don't want to run half-cocked
into a sequel and mess it up which is what I nearly did with this story in the first place. So to sum up, if I start
creating a sequel it will be with what I think is a well thought out plot with intentions and a goal.

Disclaimer: None of the characters are mine.

"Your obsession with roofs is unhealthy you know."

Harry turned to smile at Death.

"Hi yourself."

"Heyup." Death greeted, swinging himself down to dangle his legs over the edge of the roof.

It was early morning, the sun just beginning to mark its journey across the sky. Harry had woken early and apparated to
his flat. He then made his way up to the roof. It wasn't long before he sensed Death's arrival, but he hadn't turned around,
continuing to train his eyes on the city.

"Is Pestilence gone?" He asked.

"For now." Death confirmed, "I'm going to try and calm her down through other channels, but with women… you never
know."

Harry let out a dry chuckle.

"Tell me about it." He paused. "So these channels…?"

"Our dads." Death said. "Turns out they've become best buds since retiring."

Harry shook his head, "I seriously can't get over that. So if Death is your dad, your mother…?"

He looked around and caught the soft smile on Deaths face.

"Springtime."

"Sorry?"

"Mum. Is Springtime. I've got a younger brother out there preparing to take on that role."

Harry sat back and considered the man before him.

"Huh."

"Yeah." Death chuckled, "I think Mum let Dad choose the name this time. Cypress. Just like him to be subtle."

Harry remembered suddenly that Death had referred to Pestilence by another name.

"Do you have a name?" He asked, "I mean, beyond 'Death'?"

Death rose his eyebrows incredulously.

"Of course!"

Harry waited for a moment but Death was apparently going to string him along and make him ask the question.

"Well?"

"Well what?"
"What is your name?"

The trademark grin appeared again.

"Mulberry. Nice to meet you."

He put a hand forward that Harry shook, dumbfounded.

"Mulberry…seriously?"

Dea-Mulberry let out a bark of laughter.

"Yeah. I had friends who used to puzzle over whether it was Mulberry-Something, or Something-Mulberry."

"That wasn't what I found strange." Harry commented wryly.

"I know. " He spread his hands in the universal gesture that read 'what-can-I-say' and added, "Son of Springtime."

Harry laughed.

"You never said before."

"You never asked!"

Harry let silence fall again.

"There's a way out of the Master of Death thing isn't there."

Dea-Mulberry smiled, but it was a sad smile.

"Yup."

"It's really simple isn't it."

The smile grew into a grin.

"Yup."

"In the Three Brothers," Harry began, wanting to run his logic through out loud, "The Hallows were given to each of the
brothers and separated. I was the first to unite them."

"Yup."

Harry sped up, picking up steam.

"But you said that "purists had used sanskrit", which implied there were other Masters, who would have in turn had to
unite the Hallows, but were no longer in possession of them.."

"Yup."

"Otherwise, Death wouldn't have had them to give out, and there aren't other Masters running about so… I can't throw
away the Hallows. But if I give them to you…"

"Yup."

Mulberry's grin was proud.

"I'll be free." Harry finished and Mulberry nodded.

"That just about sums it up."

"Why didn't you say before now?"

"You never asked. Besides, Dad always said it was better for you to figure it out. Then again maybe I made it too easy.
Last guy took a century to figure it out. Another decade to actually act on it. I suppose you want to do it now."

Harry nodded.
Mulberry sighed.

"It's a shame, I like you. Next guy I get may be a prat."

Harry laughed, his chest feeling light.

He took the Hallows out of the bag sitting next to him, that he'd packed when he'd arrived in his flat that morning. He
pulled them into his lap. The stone, the wand and the cloak. He ran the cloak through his fingers. It had been his for so
long…

"You know it's only in moments of imbalance that we can hand those out." Mulberry commented and Harry looked at him.

"Sorry?"

"It kinda mentions it in The Three Brothers. They used wand magic and cross the stream. They "cheated Death" using a
method new to the world. The Old Religion was more common before then, but that was dying out."

Harry vaguely remembered the term from History of Magic, but Mulberry didn't pause to clarify,

"Time before that was when Humans began to harness natural magic, and so on. When ever something drastic
happened. I reckon Annan was given access by the sharp improvement in Modern Medicine, she just waited until
someone malleable survived what she otherwise wouldn't."

He fell quiet at the thought of the young girl who'd just been a pawn in events.

"What happened to her?" He asked.

"Annan? She left to go sulk somewhere."

"And Edrea?"

"Heaven." Death replied with a sigh, leaning back on his hands.

"Heaven?" Harry asked, "But… she killed a lot of people."

Death huffed. "Yeah. My dad would probably have sent her South, but…" Mulberry paused, looking out over the skyline,
"We are in a position of power, and I don't mean supernatural power. Annan took a young girl and destroyed her, when
she was supposed to look after her. Teach and guide her. She took something special and twisted it. And I didn't want the
girl to suffer because of a childish feud."

Harry couldn't think of anything to say in the silence that followed.

"Do three brothers always crop up?" He asked dryly and the tone lightened as Mulberry chuckled.

"Nah. Usually they would be dispersed over time, or, if the Death Cheater was worthy of being a Master, they would be
chosen. But there is always a choice."

Harry nodded.

"To unite the Hallows."

"No."

Harry looked around sharply.

"What?"

Death gave a small smile.

"The choice to return to life after their first Death. To keep fighting."

Harry remembered the empty train station and Dumbledore.

"But-" He stopped, thinking the encounter through.

"Dumbledore is a good man." Mulberry commented, "When I asked him to talk to you, he didn't hesitate."
"Why him?" Harry asked, "Why not you?"

Mulberry shrugged. "I thought it would be best to have that sort of conversation with a friend."

Harry nodded and held out the wand and stone clasped in hie right hand. Mulberry took them with a nostalgic smile.
When Harry held out the cloak however Mulberry shook his head.

"Nah. You can keep hold of that. I can pick it up from you later. I know where you live."

"But, what about-"

"Don't worry, you are no longer the Master of Death." Mulberry grinned, "It really is that easy. The Hallows are no longer
united."

Harry nodded, letting the cloak slide through his fingers like he had all those years ago on Christmas Day in the
common room with Ron. He'd been so young then.

"If you don't mind, I may pop in occasionally." Mulberry said, stretching, "It's not often I can have honest conversations with
decent, living blokes. Don't worry, I'll always bring a mouse or some other rodent to take the hit."

Harry grinned, "Yeah… where did that idea come from?"

Mulberry grinned cheekily. "Ah, now that's a funny story and a 'alf. Not that I found it funny at the time. So it was before I
took over from Dad…"

The sun was high in the sky when Death had left with a smile and a casual wave. Harry stood on his doorstep looking
around at the busy street, bustling on as if a war hadn't raged in the city only a few days ago. He set off, meandering in
the direction of a tower, not feeling like apparating, deciding to enjoy the forty minute walk.

He didn't feel all that different. He supposed he could say that he felt lighter, but reasoned that this was due to the mental
relief and weight off his shoulders rather than due to an actual physical change.

He didn't feel nervous. He had wondered if he would feel paranoid once he could actually die that anything could happen.
But now, on this sunny afternoon, he just felt at peace. He knew it wouldn't, couldn't, last long. Not if he continued with the
Avengers, which he intended to do. There would be battles, and life threatening situations, but wild thestrals wouldn't be
able to keep him away. He supposed that Hermione had always been right about his 'hero-thing'. At least now he wasn't
alone.

He thought about his PI business. It had taken somewhat of a back burner after the initial attack on Manhattan and he'd
cut down on his number of cases since he'd gotten involved with the tower. He'd been able to cheat and use Jarvis for
quite a substantial part of his legwork but his customers had been left hanging the last week or so, since he died and he
figured that he should really catch up. But that was work for another day.

And of course he had that dinner with Dudley waiting for him next week. They'd set it up a fortnight ago, with plenty of time
for them to mentally prepare for meeting each other after all these years. Harry wondered now if he should mess with his
physical age for this meeting or just grit his teeth roll with it. He couldn't really find it in him to get worked up over it at the
moment. Not now.

Harry found himself in the shadow of the tower. He looked up at the shiny 'A' still standing proudly on the side. The street
was quieter than maybe it would normally be on a weekday, but the road and the surrounding buildings had been
repaired by a 'crack wizard squad' as Clint had termed it. It wasn't quite as simple as that of course. They had only gotten
involved because of the heavy wizard presence in the battle and were now kicking up stink about how public the whole
thing had been. Ron was apparently caught up in the bureaucracy, backed surprisingly by Fury, who was representing
the S.H.I.E.L.D side of things. Both were determined to keep Harry away from the heat of it, for very different reasons, but
Harry was still appreciative.

He was standing where he had last died he realised, though the blood was long washed away. It was a fairly normal
section of pavement, nothing that particularly stood out. It was maybe cleaner than it had been last time he'd stood here
since it was art of the area the cleaning crew and blasted through. There was a distinct lack of chewing gum adhered to
it.

He glanced around, letting his gaze settle on the coffee shop across the street. He spotted a familiar looking red head
sat in the window; head down over some papers on the table before her. He glanced back at the tower. As long as he
was back in time for the Lord of the Rings marathon, it should be fine. He still hadn't had that hot chocolate.
A/N Thank you for following me on what I realise is a two year journey. Seriously your reviews and follows and
favourites which on one hand were... really quite terrifying were also kicks to get a move on and giving me an insight
on how you viewed my work. This was written through one of my major developmental stages as a writer which is
probably obvious if you go back and read the first chapter.

Also, those who took shots at guessing the titles, you are awesome, take a virtual cookie! For those who are
interested, here is the full list:

When Harry met Tony

When Harry met Sally

Saving Hermione Weasley

Saving Private Ryan

Where Harry Dares

Where Eagles Dare

The Usual Avengers

The Usual Suspects

Two Funerals and a Battle

Four Weddings and a Funeral

Sweet Ajambha

Sweet Alabama

The Wizard and I

Withnall and I

Meet the Weasleys

Meet the Fockers

George and the Potions Lab

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Revenge of the Professor

Revenge of the Sith

Men in Robes

Men in Black

Back to Hogwarts

Back to the Future

Strange Encounter

Brief Encounter

Potterland

Zombieland

Death can Wait


Heaven can Wait

Pestilence: Patient Zero

Biohazard: Patient Zero

Battle of Manhattan

Battle of New York

I am Edrea

I am Wrath

And Now for Something Vaguely Similar

And Now for Something Completely Different

The Hallows Thief

The Book Thief

Seriously guys, you've been great. And this closes the longest piece of fiction I have ever finished.