A/N: I do not own Harry Potter. Nor any of the Marvel Comics Characters mentioned herein. But you knew that.
A/N2: This is an extremely AU fic starting with 1st year (actually it starts earlier than that, but that will be shown in a chapter or three). This Harry is not the compliant little protoweapon of canon. He has been exposed to the Heroes, Gods, Mutants, Magic users and all the men and women of mystery that the Marvel Universe has to offer. Needless to say Hogwarts and the British Wizarding Society may not know what hit it.
Harry Potter and The Invincible TechnoMage
Chapter One – Year One
“I’m guessing this is the place.” The tall well dressed man scanned the entrances between Platform Nine and Platform Ten of London’s Kings Cross Train station. He checked his watch “half an hour early.”
“If you’re not early, you’re late” said the young boy quoting one of the man’s own truisms back to him. The man was getting a continuous stream of appraising looks from the women in the station. The man was oblivious to the female attention he attracted, something that amused the boy to no end. A small group of oddly dressed people walked briskly up to the wall dividing Platform nine and Platform ten, pushing trolleys laden with old fashioned luggage, and seemingly walked straight through the wall.
The tall man knelt and pulled the boy into a hug. “Take care of yourself Kiddo. I’d go with you, but Stephen said I’d be about as welcome as a skunk.”
Most boys his age would be mortified by the idea of being hugged by his father in public. This boy was not most boys and put all his strength into returning the hug. “I know. Please thank Stephen, Steve, Clint, Wanda and Mistress Harkness for helping me get ready for this. Make sure Jarvis, Pepper, Happy and Rhodey know I miss them already. I love you Dad.”
The tall man ruffled the mop of hair that several dozen of the world’s best (read most expensive) hair dressers all declared totally beyond control. “If you love me you’ll email Pepper, Jarvis and the Power girls as soon as you settle in. That might keep them off my back.”
“I will Dad.”
“And remember what Agatha said about this culture. Keep your batteries charged. I wish you’d let me armor up that Techsuit of yours.”
“Armor’s your thing Dad. After I see what I’m up against I might reconsider, but for now, I’ll take mobility over armor.”
“I had the same discussion with Steve once or twice. But he let me armor him up a couple of times before he rejected the idea out of hand.” He smiled. “My own fault for raising a smart kid.”
“That and not locking the lab better.”
“Pffbt! When I built the security for that lab I got Reed to test it out. It took him 6 hours, an uplink to his Cray-II mainframe AND Ben to get in.”
“Wow. I beat him by 5 ½ hours?”
“He still doesn’t like talking about it. Ben teases him about it all the time.” The tall man smiled, “I don’t know if it would bother him as much if you hadn’t been nine at the time.”
“I’d better go Dad. Wouldn’t want to show up early and miss the train by clinging to Daddy. That would mark me as being pretty lame.”
The tall man stood smiling. “We can’t have anyone thinking you ‘lame’. Well, go on then. We’ll see you at Christmas.”
“Bye Dad.” The boy reached down to grab the handle of his trunk. He lifted one side and a pair of wheels allowed it to roll effortlessly. Promising himself not to look back, he approached the hidden entrance between Platform nine and Platform Ten, and passed through, vanishing from sight.
“Goodbye Harry.” The tall man said as his son disappeared through the barrier.
It hurt to see him go. Really hurt. Worse than the time the shrapnel from the landmine had nearly killed him. Feeling rather older than his 38 years, he turned and left the station, catching a cab to Heathrow, where a quinjet waited for the ninety minute trip home.
The boy exited the barrier onto the hidden platform. A scarlet steam engine was waiting next to the platform. People crowded everywhere, younger children running to and fro, older kids just acting stupid and goofing off, and a very few of the oldest on the platform making out in secluded corners. A sign overhead said Hogwarts’ Express, eleven o’clock.
He looked back at the barrier and saw a wrought-iron archway with the words Platform Nine and Three-Quarters on it.
The first few carriages were already packed with students, some hanging out of the window to talk to their families, some fighting over seats. Harry pulled his trunk down the platform in search of a seat. He passed a round-faced boy, who was saying,
“Gran, I’ve lost my toad again.”
“Oh, Neville,” he heard the old woman sigh.
Something gray and hoppy passed his feet. The Boy reached down and grabbed the gray hoppy thing, and it was indeed a toad, he returned to the round faced boy.
“I heard you say you lost a toad? This him?”
“Trevor!” the other boy was ecstatic. “Thanks so much, I thought I’d lost him.” He extended his hand “I’m Neville Longbottom.”
Taking the offered hand the Boy said “Harry Stark.”
“Gran, Trevor’s found. Gran, this is Harry Stark, Harry, my grandmother, the Lady Longbottom.”
“Ma’am.” Said Harry bowing slightly.
Augusta Longbottom shook his offered hand. “Thank you for helping Neville Mr. Stark.”
“Mr. Stark is my dad Ma’am. I’m just Harry.”
“Is that an American accent I hear Harry?”
“Yes Ma’am. I’m British born, but my guardians were killed in the US while on a business trip, I didn’t have any other family to come to here, so I was adopted and stayed in the US.” He shrugged. “You could have knocked me over with a feather when Professor Dumbledore came by this last summer and told me I had a place at Hogwarts.”
“You’re a first year then? So am I.” Neville seemed overjoyed at having someone to talk to, his relationship with his grandmother seemed to Harry to be awfully formal. Perhaps he was intimidated by the woman. She did come off somewhat imperious, but Harry knew all about imperious. After all he had told Namor to get his feet off the coffee table at the age of 8.
“Cool, wanna try to get a seat together?” Having someone to talk too sounded good to Harry as well.
“Yes, please,” Neville turned to his grandmother. “Thank you Gran, see you at Christmas.”
The woman pulled Neville into a hug. “I expect an owl at least once a week young man. Have a good year, make us proud.” She released the boy. “It was nice to meet you Mr. Stark, Harry. You have a good year as well.”
“Thank you Ma’am.”
Deciding to avoid fighting the crowd, Harry and Neville made their way to the last car on the train, together they got both trunks tucked away in a corner of the last compartment in the last car of the train.
They sat making small talk, waiting to see who if anyone joined them. Neville informed Harry that an average year at Hogwarts was around 50 students. That surprised Harry though he wasn’t really sure just why he was surprised at the small size of the school. At 350 students on average, Hogwarts wasn’t as large as an average small town high school in the States. This offered one of two explanations, first that Hogwarts was extremely exclusive and took only the best of the best with those not making the cut going to other less prestigious schools, or second the magical population of the UK was extremely small.
Since he hadn’t be tested in any way for magical ability, and he had been told that he had been on the list for Hogwarts since he was born coupled with his memories of having nothing to his name during what he thought of as ‘the bad times’, led him in the extremely low population conclusion, which was unto it’s self disturbing. Was a population producing an average of 50 children per year viable? Was it self-sustaining? So much to research.
It was then Harry spotted Trevor making another break for it. Snatching the toad up from the floor, Trevor was again returned to Neville.
“Thanks. I don’t know why he keeps doing that.”
“Just a sec, let me see if I’ve got something in my trunk for him” Harry went over to his trunk, allowing a second for his Techsuit to interface with the locks, opened it and started digging. Ah, perfect, he pulled out a small cardboard box containing a prototype gyroscope he had been playing with (there were certain advantages in being Tony Starks adopted son when it came to electronic and electrical toys). From the bottom of the trunk he found a truly horrid pair of hand knitted socks from one of Jennifer Walters’s maternal phases. Honestly, purple was a horrid color for socks. He had worn them exactly once, just long enough for her to see him wearing them. They would make an excellent toad nest. He removed the gyroscope and its foam packing from the box, and stuffed the socks into it; he then closed and locked the trunk.
“This ought to work as a Toad Hole.”
“Thanks Harry.” Trevor was introduced to his new temporary home, and appeared to happily settle in for a nap (though with a toad, who could tell?) Carefully setting the box aside, Neville returned to Harry. “What’s a gyroscope?”
“Gyroscopes are tools. They’re used for stabilization. Really useful.”
The Compartment door slide open. There stood a girl, already wearing her Hogwarts robes; she evidently had come to the station wearing them. “Do you mind if I sit here with you? I can’t find anywhere else.” She seemed a bit sad for some reason. Harry quickly evaluated her as being fairly cute with lots of bushy brown hair, and rather large front teeth. Compared to Julie Power, she was fairly plain, but then as far as Harry was concerned most girls were fairly plain compared to Julie Power.
“Grab a seat, lots of room.”
“Thank you.” She sounded dejected.
Harry and Neville exchanged a look. They both rose and took the trunk she was dragging behind her, putting it in the corner with their own.
“Homesick already?” Neville asked.
“No.” she said in a quiet voice. “I already had a seat up front, behind the prefect carriage; some older students came in and threw me out, calling me horrible names. I’m not sure what the names meant, but I can guess.”
“You’re Muggle born then?” asked Neville
“Yes.” She said, looking like she expected them to turn on her now.
“Idiots.” Neville spat. The girl brightened.
“Uh, hating to sound like a clueless schmoe idiot, but what’s a Muggle?” Harry hated not knowing things.
“Someone born of non-magical parents.” Neville looked to his new friend. ”What’s a schmoe?”
“It means ‘A stupid or obnoxious person.’ It’s from Yiddish.” The girl recited, and then looked embarrassed.
“You’ve got an interesting vocabulary Harry.” Neville turned to the girl “So do you. Who your parents are doesn’t matter at all. Magic is magic; your bloodline doesn’t mean anything. Look at me, Pureblooded as you can get, verified at least 20 generations back in every branch and I’m practically a squib. What about you Harry?”
“I don’t know. Professor Dumbledore told me that my Dad was a pureblood, though I wasn’t sure what that meant, and I’m still not all that clear on it. He also said that my Mom was the first witch in her family, and was very powerful. What does that make me?”
“The idiots who care about that sort of thing would call you a half-blood.”
“Well, hey look at us, one of each.” He turned to the girl “Hi there, Harry Stark, Half-Blood, pleased to meet you.”
She dimpled when she smiled. Harry’s estimation of cute spiked to interesting. “Hermione Granger, Muggle-Born, how do you do.”
Neville bowed to the two of them “Neville Longbottom, scion of the House of Longbottom, upon turning seventeen I will be made Lord Longbottom of the Ancient and Noble House of Longbottom. Pureblood of course, you may grovel before me.”
That broke the three of them up. They were still laughing when the door slid open again and a pair of girls were at the door.
“Can we sit with you? It’s getting kind of crowded up front.” Asked the Blonde.
“We’re first years too.” Added the Redhead.
“Come on in,” Neville laughed, “as long as you don’t mind the conspiracy in here.”
The train jolted as it started to move.
“Harry Stark, Half-Blood, welcome to the last compartment of the last car.”
“Hermione Granger” she smiled at the new comers “Muggle-Born, come one come all.”
“Neville Longbottom, Pureblood, you may grovel.”
The new girls joined in the laughter.
“Susan Bones.” The red head said “Pureblood, send some of that groveling over here.
“Hannah Abbott, Half-blood. I only grovel if I get paid.”
“Hey!” Harry said, noticing the scenery of the train moving through the city at a fairly high rate of speed, “I just thought of something. Hannah, if you and I get together, we’d stop being a pair of oppressed Half-bloods and become one oppressing Whole-blood. Then we could start a reign of terror that would make Ivan the terrible look like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm!”
Hannah and Hermione joined him in laughing at his silly joke, Susan and Neville just looked perplexed.
“Ivan?” Susan asked.
“Ivan the Terrible, Tsar of the Russians in the 16th century, horrible man, hence the nickname” Hermione said.
“Rebecca?” asked Neville.
“Fictional character, she was all sweetness and goodness.” Harry explained. “I’m guessing you don’t read a lot of world history or classical stories?”
“No, mostly Wizarding history and stories” Neville admitted.
“In all fairness, we don’t know those.” Said Hermione.
“I’m guessing that Hogwarts will teach both sides of the histories.”
“So, does anyone have any preferences as to what house you get sorted into?” Hermione asked. “I think Gryffindor sounds the best. They say Dumbledore himself was a Gryffindor.
“Our parents were all Hufflepuffs together, that’s how we know each other” Hannah offered.
“They say that houses tend to run in families, but not always.” Added Susan.
“My parents were Gryffindors” Neville said. “I don’t know if I’ll qualify though, I’m not all that brave.”
“Brave enough to befriend an ignorant stranger with a yank accent, then go on to make that horrible ‘Grovel before me’ joke.” Harry laughed. “As for me, I have no idea what these ‘houses’ are all about, I don’t even know which one my birth parents were in. I’ll just take it as it comes.”
The conversation carried on as conversations among pre-teens will, after about three hours after leaving London there was a great clattering outside in the corridor and a smiling, woman slid back the door and said, “Anything off the cart, dears?”
They all went out into the corridor to inspect what was available on the snack trolley. Harry had never heard of any of the items on the cart. There were Bettie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum, Chocolate Frogs. Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, Licorice Wands, and a number of other strange things. Every thing available appeared to be some variation of a sweet. Harry’s snacking had always tended toward salty, and frankly nothing appealed to him, he returned to the compartment empty handed. He noticed that Hermione also came back without anything, shaking her head.
“My parents are both Dentists, they pretty much trained me to avoid sweets. How about you?”
“I’m more of a salty snacker myself. That and my Dad made sure I had a big lunch while he was saying goodbye.”
Hannah and Susan returned each with an emergency supply of sweets; Neville came back in with most of a lifetime supply. Harry assisted him in getting to his trunk to stow his stash. When they returned to their seats they found Hermione staring at Trevor’s new toad hole.
“Neville, why do you have a gyroscope?”
“My toad Trevor’s in there. He was always running off, Harry gave me the box to keep him in.”
“Ok, Harry, why do you have a gyroscope?”
“Just a little project I’m working on. I’m trying to stabilize a suspended platform on battery power.”
“It won’t work at Hogwarts you know. Magic does something to electricity.”
“All my toys are geared toward magic, it will be fine.”
She gave him an odd look. Then peered more closely at the box. He saw her mouth ‘Stark International’ she suddenly looked at him with a questioning look. “Harry Stark?”
“As in Tony Stark?”
“Do you know Iron Man?”
“Sure. Nice guy. Kinda stiff, but nice.”
“Wait, wait, wait, back that up. You’re related to Tony Stark, as in the 6th richest man on the planet?” Hannah was suddenly very intense.
“4th. some of his newer inventions just went on the market.”
“Harry, have I mentioned how attractive you are?”
“Have I mentioned that I don’t inherit any of it?”
“Then I hate you and every thing you stand for.”
The compartment again dissolved into laughter.
Exiting the train in their new Hogswarts robes the five new friends heard the call:
“Firs’ years! Firs’ years over here!” The man speaking was huge. Larger than Thor, but small than Hank Pym at his largest Harry thought. Looking at how the man carried himself Harry doubted he shared the Thunder God’s strength, but he was still a sight to behold. The first years were settled into boats “No more’n four to a boat!” Neville, Hermione and Harry piled into one boat, Hannah and Susan got into another with another two girls, all of the boats sailed away from the docks on command.
“Heads down!” the giant yelled as the first boats reached the cliff; they all ducked as the little boats carried them through a curtain of ivy that hid a wide opening in the cliff face. They went through a long dark tunnel, which went underneath the castle.
The door swung open at once. A tall, black-haired witch in emerald-green robes stood there. She had a very stern face and Harry’s first thought was that this was not someone to cross. For all the world she reminded him of much younger Agatha Harkness.
“The firs’ years, Professor McGonagall,” said the giant.
“Thank you, Hagrid. I will take them from here.”
She led them inside. The stone walls were lit with flaming torches like the ones in a horror movie, the ceiling towered high above them, and a glistening marble staircase facing them led to the upper floors.
Following Professor McGonagall Harry could hear the drone of voices from a doorway. The upper classes must be waiting, but the first years were shown into a small alcove off the hall.
“Welcome to Hogwarts,” said Professor McGonagall. “The start-of-term feast will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your houses. The Sorting is a very significant ceremony because, while you are here, your house will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your house, sleep in your house dormitory, and spend free time in your house common room.
“The four houses are called Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each house has its own noble history and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn your house points, while any breaking of the rules will lose house points. At the end of the year, the house with the most points is awarded the house cup, a great honor. I hope each of you will be a credit to whichever house becomes yours.
“The Sorting Ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the rest of the school. I shall return when we are ready for you,” said Professor McGonagall. “Please wait quietly.”
“How does one get sorted into a house?” A tall boy in the back asked in cultured tones.
“Some sort of test, I think. My brother Fred said it hurts a lot, but he might have been joking.” Offered a red headed boy.
Harry frowned. A test seemed unlikely, from Agatha Harkness he knew that the majority of new students were not allowed to do magic under Magical Britain’s system. Most of them only got their wands when their school supplies were purchased about a month before. Professor Dumbledore the Headmaster of this school hadn’t mentioned anything about a test. Harry concluded that the red head’s older brother had been having him on. He then noticed Hermione Granger, was whispering to herself, and mouthing the words very quickly. On the train she has spoken about committing her class books to memory, and now it seemed that she was running through all the spells she’d learned and wondering which one she’d need. Harry smiled. She was quickly becoming more and more interesting. He had never gone through the ‘girls are icky’ stage that a lot of boys seemed to, and he was really looking forward to getting to know this bushy haired girl.
“Come along now,” said a sharp voice. “The Sorting Ceremony’s about to start.”
Professor McGonagall had returned. “Form a line,” Professor McGonagall told the first years, “and follow me.”
Harry got into line behind a boy with sandy hair, with the red haired boy with the brother named Fred behind him, and they walked out of the chamber, back across the hall, and through a pair of double doors into the Great Hall. This was an amazing place. Lit by thousands of hovering candles the huge room had four long tables, where the rest of the students were sitting. At the far end the hall was another long table where Adults (presumably the staff) were sitting. Professor McGonagall led the first years to near the staff table so that they came to a halt in a line facing the other students, with the teachers behind them. The hundreds of faces stared at them in the flickering candlelight. Scattered among the students, were ghosts shining in a misty silver haze.
Professor McGonagall silently placed a four-legged stool in front of the first years. On top of the stool she placed a stereotypical pointed wizard’s hat. This hat was patched and frayed, but even at a distance, Harry could feel the magic in it. He wasn’t sure that Mistress Harkness would have approved, the hat felt like it was… Alive.
Everyone in the hall was now staring at the hat, expectantly. For a few seconds, there was complete silence. Then the hat twitched. A rip near the brim opened wide like a mouth — and the hat began to sing:
In every fic with a sorting scene,
The Author includes a song.
With prose abused cruel and mean,
And they go on much too long.
The smart ones just include
The hat’s libretto from the canon.
The others, well they’re just rude,
And quite abusive to the fanon.
For this fic, let’s just assume
The hat was verbose and quite witty.
Because my poetry will clear a room,
It really is that shitty.
For you purists who need the fic to have a sorting song,
And lacking the same would drive you to try to pick a bone.
I would suggest you should please yourself and surely do no wrong,
If you were to reread the verse from the book about the stone.
The whole hall applauded as the hat finished its song. It bowed to each of the four tables and then became quite still again.
“So we’ve just got to try on the hat!” Harry heard the Redhead whisper. “I’ll kill Fred; he was going on about wrestling a troll.”
Professor McGonagall now stepped forward holding a long roll of parchment. “When I call your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be sorted,” she said.
Hannah left the line and put on the hat, which fell right down over her eyes. She sat down for a moment until the hat shouted “HUFFLEPUFF!”
The table on the right cheered and clapped as Hannah went to sit down at the Hufflepuff table. Harry noticed a fat ghost that looked like a medieval monk waving merrily at her.
The rest of the first years were sorted in a similar manner, they would place the hat on their heads, the hat would decide what house they would go to, and announce the selection at the top of its nonexistent lungs, then the student would go to his or her new house to the thunderous applause of that house. Susan went to Hufflepuff to join Hannah, Hermione joined the Ravenclaws at their table, and Neville went to Gryffindor house.
Harry was taken completely by surprise when his own name was called:
Harry stepped forward; ignoring the whispers suddenly broke out all over the hall.
“Potter, did she say?”
“The Harry Potter?”
He didn’t understand why almost the entire hall full of people was suddenly craning their necks to get a look at him.
“Yes Mr. Potter? Hurry up, sit down and put the hat on.”
“My name is Stark, not Potter. Harry Stark.
Harry sat on the stool and lowered the hat over his head. He waited.
“Hmm,” said a small voice in his ear. “Difficult. Very difficult. Plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind either. There’s talent, oh my goodness, yes — and a nice thirst to prove yourself, now that’s interesting… So where shall I put you?”
Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought, I want to learn! I want to be with my friends!
“Learning is important to you, eh?” said the small voice. “Are you sure? You will be great whatever house you go to. Your friends are scattered in three different houses. Ah, you don’t care. Are you the one I’ve been waiting for? The one destined to unite the houses? Let’s see now. Slytherin would help you focus that anger I see in you no doubt about that. Gryffindor would let you revel in your courage. Hufflepuff would reward the loyalty to those your trust and believe in. Maybe. Ravenclaw would challenge your mind hmm. I don’t recall any student as hard to place as you since I got this responsibility Mr. Potter.
My name is Stark. I’m Harry Stark.
At the Staff Table Dumbledore was becoming concerned. This sorting was well into its tenth minute, longer than any sorting in living memory. He was about to intervene when the hat spoke again.
“Well, if you’re sure Mr. Stark — better be RAVENCLAW!”
Following the sorting, the evening meal was served. The meal was interesting unto it’s self. Dishes he dimly recalled from what he thought of as ‘the bad times’ were in front of him along with dishes he didn’t recognize at all. He sat with Hermione to his left and Padma Patil on his right. Both the girls were frighteningly intelligent. Upper classmen sat across from them and explained how things in Ravenclaw house worked.
There was a three hour study session for first years every night in the common room, where uppers were available to answer questions and guide the firsties in their studies. These sessions were mandatory until such time as the 7th year prefects judged that the student’s where capable and motivated enough to study on their own. The quality of the student’s work was of utmost importance to Ravenclaw house.
The Head of House, a diminutive man named Filius Flitwick (who despite his size carried himself in a way to spoke of competence and… danger. Flitwick reminded Harry of Eugene Judd) came by to greet his new first years, and asked each of them to meet him in the Ravenclaw Common room following the feast. The Gray Lady, Ravenclaw’s resident ghost, introduced herself to each of the first years.
Finally the meal was done, the Headmaster made some comments, mentioning among other things that the Forbidden Forest was forbidden for a reason, and that exploring a certain third floor hallway would likely result in a painful death. Then the ‘school song’ was sung. It was sung to whatever tune the individuals happened to like; only the words stayed the same.
The students were then released to go to their dormitories, with the first years told to follow their house’s prefects. The Ravenclaw First years were led away on a circuitous route. Harry suspected that this was an intentional way to getting the firsties completely lost. As a bit of good news, he confirmed that his Techsuit was working perfectly, even in the magic field of the castle. He had tested it with his own magic, around Mistress Harkness, at New Salem and even around Wanda when she was tossing her chaos magic around, but it was always possible that Hogwarts might overwhelm it. His Techsuit’s onboard inertials were plotting their path (which did indeed include not one but three circles that caused retracing of their path), mean while the suit’s optical pickups were identifying landmarks. A few trips around the castle, the Techsuit would be plotting him the fastest path from anywhere in the castle to anywhere else.
The first years with their prefect escort arrived at the entrance to the Ravenclaw dorms. Standing guard was a suit of armor. When approached by a Ravenclaw (it ignored all others) the armor would ask a logic question, upon the proper answer, the wall parted and entrance was allowed. If you got the answer wrong, you had to wait for another person to come along; one question per person per day was the rule.
The actual dorms were in the vertical tower with the common room at the base. Access alternated with the girl’s stairs opening to the odd floors and the boy’s stairs opening to the even floors. Each room was a single, with a bed, wardrobe, and desk. There were four rooms on each level, with a common bath. Harry’s dorm was on the tenth level. He located his room, unpacked, then grabbing his datapad, headed down to the common room for his interview with Professor Flitwick.
The common room had assigned study carrels around the walls, with long tables in the middle. The fireplace had a fire going in it, giving the room a pleasant temperature. Hermione had beaten him down and had her nose buried deep in a large tome. Hearing him approach, she looked up.
“Hi Harry, isn’t this great?”
“It’s definitely different.” Harry grinned at his friend. “I wonder if there are places where we can hang out with Neville, Hannah and Susan.”
Hermione looked a little worried about that. “I don’t know, these houses seem awfully insulated. I’ve been looking you up.”
“You didn’t tell me you were Harry Potter.” She huffed.
“I’ve been Harry Stark since I was five. The only thing I remember about being Harry Potter was being hungry and being punished a lot. Why is everyone so interested in me?”
“Harry, you killed the last Dark Lord.”
“Yes.” She smiled at him.
“I killed a Dark Lord.”
“Right.” She had to be having him on. “What’s a ‘Dark Lord’?”
“An evil wizard Harry. According to Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century you defeated the Dark Lord Voldemort when you were 15 months old by reflecting his Avada Kedavra after he killed your parents.”
“Wait, he killed two Adult wizards, and I killed him as a toddler? That’s just stupid.”
Hermione looked a bit offended. “That’s what the book says.”
Padma Patil approached her study carrel, which was in between his and Hermione’s. “It’s true Harry. Everyone knows your story in the Wizarding world, except for where you disappeared to. There are even Harry Potter dolls; they look just like you, only with shorter hair.” She blushed “My sister and I both have one.”
“That may be the story ‘everyone knows’ but it makes no sense. I mean, I’m 15 months old. The two adults in the house are killed. This ‘dark lord’ clown is defeated, and believed killed. My little squalling baby talking self is found. The sole survivor. Who knows what happened? Who came up with this story that ‘everyone knows’?
“But Harry, your scar.”
“Yes Padma, I’ve got a curse scar on my forehead, believe me I know. But the Avada Kedavra kills without leaving a mark, right? I mean that’s how it’s written about. I’ve got a scar, so whatever it comes from is certainly isn’t the unblockable, unstoppable, kills every times its tried Avada Kedavra.”
Harry shook his head; this was crazy, pure and simple. Dolls? There are dolls that looked like him? They all believe he survived the Killing Curse. Insane. He set the datapad on the desktop of his study carrel, extended the keyboard and turned it on.
“That won’t work here Harry.”
Turning he found the young woman who had introduced herself at dinner as Penelope Clearwater, one of the fifth year prefects. Harry still wasn’t clear on exactly what a ‘prefect’ was, but understood her to be an authority figure.
“Muggle Electronics don’t work around magic.” She continued.
“These do.” Harry said. “My dad found a way to shield them from magic’s chaotic influence, and to draw energy from it.” He pointed to the screen, which had just lit up as the datapad processed through its startup sequence. “In fact, most of my tech gets its power from my magic. My dad did an in depth study of how my magic was trashing his systems. It took him almost a year to figure out how to shield for it, then another 3 months to develop the Powertap technology that powers all my systems.”
Penelope frowned. “Wizards have been trying for years to make electronics work around magic.”
“No, they tried to make electronics work despite magic. Dad figured how to make them work WITH magic. Very different things. That and he’s one of the smartest guys around.”
The datapad spoke with a male monotone voice. “Good Evening Harry Stark.”
“Access Starknet” Harry instructed. He noticed he suddenly had a crowd of fellow first years and Penelope crowding around.
“Resolving signal lock.” The screen of the datapad produced an animation of a radar antenna sweeping back and forth. “Achieved signal lock. Signal strength nominal. Accessing Starknet.”
There was a short pause while a small arm extended from the datapad. “Ready for Identity Verification:”
Harry moved so that the red tip of the arm was level to his left eye and about 4 inches away. “Scan.”
The red tip of the arm lit up suddenly. “Retina scans complete. Harry Stark confirmed.”
Harry sat back as the email application opened on the screen.
“That is amazing. How big a vocabulary does it have?”
“The command table has a vocabulary of 200 words. For most functions, it’s still a keyboard interface, but what more do you need for a smart terminal?” He smiled at Hermione’s reaction, wondering what she would say if he showed her his Techsuit.
20 minutes passed before Professor Flitwick came to the Common room. In that time, Harry had written to both Edwin Jarvis, and Julie Power to tell of his adventures so far.
Harry was the third new Ravenclaw to be interviewed by his head of house. The small man explained the house policies and his expectations of student behavior. Harry was attentive and took notes, which the teacher seemed to appreciate.
“So, do you have any questions for me Mr. Stark?”
“Yes sir, I do. I was hoping you could explain all this ‘killed a dark lord as an infant’ silliness to me.”
“Well Mr. Stark, it’s what happened, it’s well documented.”
“Documented? By who? I mean I’m the only survivor of the attack; no one else was there and survived. Who came up with this story? And why?
“And that covers the announcements for this morning.” Dumbledore idly stirred his tea. He always allowed Minerva to run these staff meetings, when he did it they tended to veer off on odd tangents.
“So Filius, What can you tell us about young Mr. Potter?”
The diminutive Charms Master looked up from his notes. “Well, to begin with Minerva, as he told you last night, he wants to be known as Harry Stark. He is quite devoted to his adoptive father, and has few memories of being a Potter. He is a startlingly intelligent young man.”
“Wonderful, another year of yammering children, and a celebrity to make it all the more memorable.”
“Severus, if he is a celebrity that is the doing of others, not Mr. Stark. He was introduced to his own legend last night by a fellow first year. Miss Granger is Muggle-born who after noticing the reaction to the Potter name, looked him up.
“And what was his reaction to learning his ‘legend’ as you put it?” Dumbledore looked up from his tea.
“Disbelief actually. Mr. Stark is blessed with an exceptionally logical outlook. He immediately questioned the story and wanted to know its source. He actually asked me to explain the documented history of the events in Godric’s Hollow when he pointed out that there was a single surviving witness of the event, himself. He asked where the account had come from. He also questioned the reasonableness of the account, pointing out that his parents, two powerful and fully trained magic users died at You-Know-Who’s hand, and that the story had a mere infant destroying their killer. He was most adamant that this made no sense.”
“Did you explain his mother’s sacrifice?” Poppy Pomfrey asked.
“Yes, and he scoffed at that. He asked if Lilly Potter was the only mother to sacrifice herself in an attempt save her child from the Death Eaters. The longer we discussed that night, the less sense it made.”
“He’s just looking to stir up trouble. What do you expect of the spawn of James Potter?”
“Severus, he may look somewhat like James Potter, but Harry is nothing like him. James was highly intelligent, but lazy. He didn’t apply himself to his studies until he decided he wanted to impress Lilly Evans, as you well know. I know I’ve only spent 20 minutes speaking with young Mr. Stark, but I can tell you. The boy is very intelligent, and is driven to impress someone. But whoever that might be, he or she is not in this castle.” Flitwick shook his head. “There’s something else about the boy. He’s brought Muggle Electronics to the castle.”
The Potions Master barked a harsh laugh. “Some of the Muggle-born or Muggle-Raised always do. Is the boy pouting because his toys don’t work?”
“His toys DO work, otherwise why would I mention it? He has something he calls a ‘Datapad’. With it, he accessed what he called the ‘Stark International Corporate Data Base’ and pulled an amazing amount of cross referenced information about this area, including what he called ‘Satellite Images’ of this Castle.”
“That’s not possible.” Snape spat. “The boy is trying to pull something; all magical structures are invisible to Muggles and their Technology.”
“I think you mean it used to be Severus.” Flitwick sipped his tea. “After my conversation with Mr. Stark last night, I did some research of my own. Harry’s adopted Father is a certified genius, with more patents in the field of Muggle Electronics than any other living soul. Given that his adopted son is magical, and the boy’s mere presence would disrupt his technology, why is it surprising that such a man might find a way for his technology to work with magic and be able see through our wards?”
A murmur swelled from the table. “I’m afraid there’s more. Hogwarts will not be young Harry’s first foray into magical education. He has received extensive tuition in chaos magics by Wanda Maximoff no less.”
“Chaos magic? That’s what killed Selene Lovegood last year” gasped Poppy Pomfrey
“Potter’s lying.” Snape was building to a rant. “There is no way for an eleven year old to have access to that kind of magic. Maximoff publishes her books and disappears. There are those who doubt she even exists.”
“She disappears to the Muggle world Severus. That’s where she lives. The Muggle press reports her to be in regular contact with Harry’s adopted father. When he told me of his exposure to Chaos Magics, and his other education he was seemingly unaware of how rare it was for a Hogwarts student to receive such tuition.”
“You said ‘other education’ Filius?” the normally robust Pomona Sprout was looking pale. “What ‘other education’?”
“During the accident that killed his blood relatives and for some weeks following Harry exhibited prolonged bouts of accidental magic. Not knowing what it was, but somehow recognizing it for magic, the elder Stark contacted an associate for help. From the age of five years until last month, Harry has received periodic training from Stephen Strange.”
A shocked silence filled the chamber. Relations between Wizarding Britain and the Sorcerer Supreme were testy at best, ever since an 8 man Obliviator team responded to a battle Strange was fighting against a horde of demons in London and attempted to remove the former surgeon’s memories of the event on the justification that he was a Muggle. When the Obliviator team called for help, a 12 man team of Special Tactics Aurors responded.
Strange had deposited all 20 men, bound and senseless on the desk of the Minister of Magic and instructed the man in no uncertain terms to not involve his provincial wand waving fascists in the business of those wielding true magic.
The Minister of course (immediately after making a change of robes) issued an arrest warrant for the Sorcerer Supreme, accompanied by a ‘don’t bother to take alive’ order. Oddly no Auror ever found Stephen Strange, though he often was seen by common Wizarding folk in the streets of several of Britain’s major cities. There were suggestions that the Aurors weren’t trying all that hard to find him.
“Alright Filius, Mr. Stark has had instruction in Chaos magic and has been a Sorcerers apprentice, anything else?”
The small man hesitated. “Yes. Harry tells me his principle teacher since he was six years old was Agatha Harkness.”
A gasp ran through the assembled staff.
Dumbledore stood. “Several of you will have Mr. Stark in your classes. I would like to have reports on his abilities and his progress in your class through the year. I thank you for your attendance at this meeting. Our next meeting will be at 7am Monday next. Minerva, if you would stay?”
McGonagall waited until the rest of the staff had filed from the room. “How could this have happened Albus?”
Dumbledore removed his glasses and pinched his nose, attempting to ward off a headache. “I don’t know Minerva, the Dursleys go on a business trip taking Harry with them and they drop out of existence. It was only when the enchantments that drive the Hogwarts letters enacted that I could find him again. Minerva, I need to know where he is in his education. Would you consider contacting your Great Aunt?”
Classes started the next day. The Ravenclaw’s first class was double transfiguration with Professor McGonagall. Just as he has assumed, McGonagall was not a teacher to cross. Strict and exacting, her first words in the class room set the theme for the year.
“Transfiguration is some of the most complex and dangerous magic you will learn at Hogwarts,” she said. “Anyone messing around in my class will leave and not come back. You have been warned.”
She then demonstrated her talent by changing a desk into a pig and then back again. The combined Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff class were dazzled by McGonagall’s display, and couldn’t wait to get started, but it did not take long for the class to realize that none of them would be changing the furniture into anything, much less a living animal any time soon. The Professor presented them with a long involved lecture. After most of an hour and a half of note taking, they were each given a match and started trying to turn it into a needle.
Sitting at the table in the front row with Hermione to his left and Padma to his right, Harry noticed the looks of strained concentration on both their faces. He did not notice Minerva McGonagall watching him.
“Don’t try and force it, just let the magic flow.”
“What do you mean Harry?” Padma looked up at him.
Harry ran his hand through his mop of hair. “Ok, look at the match,” they were both still looking at him. “I mean it, really look at the match. Get a complete image of it in your mind; does the stick have a flaw? Is the head unsymmetrical? Pretend you need to be able to identify your match stick out of a box of 500. Got it?” Both girls nodded, still concentrating on their matches. “Now take the hand you don’t use for your wand, and cup it behind the match. Put your wand just over the match without touching it. Got it?” Again they nodded. “Close your eyes. Picture the matchstick in your mind, after you can see it, picture the one of the ends as coming to a point, and the other flattening and having an eye. Ok, keeping that image of a pointed matchstick with an eye in your mind, start imagining made of some metal. Think of a metal you’re familiar with. Think about how it feels, how it smells, what that metal tastes like. Complete the image. The image in your mind should be your needle now right?” Both girls nodded. “Open your eyes.”
Both of the young Ravenclaws opened their eyes to see a needle where the match stick had been. They both gasped excitedly. Professor McGonagall had been watching the entire time, her eyes wide in amazement.
“Well done Miss Patil, Miss Granger. Five points to Ravenclaw, each.”
The girls squealed happily as the bell rang ending the period. “Everyone turn in your matches. While you’re up here, take a look at Miss Patil and Miss Granger’s work. I would like 12 inches on the practical application on transmutation of wood to metal by Wednesday. Mr. Stark, stay behind if you would?”
The class filed out. Harry finished stowing his text in his book bag. After the last student had left the classroom she turned to Harry.
“Mr. Stark, it was nice of you to assist your classmates like that and with an interesting technique as well, but you didn’t do your own work. I would rather not give a student who knows what he is doing a zero for the day, would you care to stay here and do your assignment rather than go to lunch?”
Harry nodded and picked up the match, then handed it to her. “Here you go Professor.”
Minerva McGonagall looked into her hand and found a silver needle. She couldn’t have done a wandless transformation that effortlessly.
“You didn’t use your wand.”
“No Ma’am. I’m still getting used to using a wand. My teachers didn’t use them or teach using them.”
“And one of your teachers was Agatha Harkness?”
“Yes Ma’am. Mistress Harkness has been my principle magical teacher for as long as I can remember.”
“Thank you Mr. Stark. Run along to lunch now.”
“Thank you Ma’am.” The boy left the classroom.
Harry entered the Great Hall, and spotting Hermione made his way to join her.
“Nev! How’s Gryffindor treating you?”
“Ah, nobody grovels to Purebloods in Gryffindor. Woe is me.”
“Don’t worry; your purity will see you through. Have you got this place figured out yet? Is there someplace to study with people from other houses?”
“Not a clue, after the feast last night, it was unpack and straight to bed, then this morning was Herbology and Charms. Double Transfiguration this afternoon with our head of house.”
“Had her this morning. She’s strict, but she knows her business. Hopefully there’s somewhere we can get together and hang out. I’m starving Nev, see you later.”
Harry slide onto the bench next to Hermione and started filling his plate. The bushy haired girl smiled at him.
“Thanks for the help in class. I don’t know if I’d have gotten it without your help.”
“You’d have gotten it, both of you.” Harry nodded to Padma across the table. “McGonagall teaches a good lesson, but I think she wants us to discover the flow of magic for ourselves.”
“You talked us through the transfiguration Harry, but I’m still not sure what we did.”
“Look Padma, think of it like this; when you pick up a fork, do you have to think about what every muscle and ligament has to do in order to pick up the fork? Of course not, you just do it. Magic is the same way. For some reason the people who teach like to make you think about every step along the way, when all you’ve got to do is do it.” He took a bite of the meatloaf on his plate, after swallowing he continued. “Magic really boils down to 4 steps. 1. Recognize what you want to do. 2. Visualize what you want to do. 3. Intend to do what you want to do, and 4. Do it. The wand waving and incantations are all just focusing exercises that teach you to use your intent and your will to make what you want to happen, happen.
Hermione looked perplexed. “There must be more to magic than that.”
“Why? Is there more to moving your arm than that?”
The first class following lunch was Defense Against the Dark Arts. The lessons were a bit, well, odd. The classroom smelled strongly of garlic, Harry felt like he was in a bad Italian restaurant. The rumor was that Quirrell was attempting to ward off a vampire he’d met in Romania and was afraid would be coming back to get him one of these days. The man’s turban, he told them, was supposed to be a gift from some unnamed African Prince as a reward for getting rid of some Zombie, but Harry wasn’t sure he believed this story, knowing that most of what remained of Africa’s royalty would be far more likely to call on T’Challa than some stuttering Englishman. In the unlikely event that T’Challa needed help he would call on Stephen Strange. Besides that, Harry was hard pressed to think of an African tribe that would award a turban. Whenever someone asked about the Professor’s adventures, Quirrell would go all pink and started talking about the weather.
But here something not right here. Harry felt his mental defenses tested time and again, particularly when Quirrell’s back was turned to him. He instructed the Techsuit to scan Quirrell. The results of that scan indicated two separate entities in the Teacher’s body. This was odd… A familiar perhaps. Harry wasn’t aware of any familiars capable of mind magics, but that didn’t mean that there weren’t any.
Potions lessons took place down in one of the dungeons. It was quite cold in the lower levels of the castle, which struck Harry as odd, being below ground as they were. The walls of the classroom were lined with pickled animals floating in glass jars. The overall effect was 1950s movie mad scientist chic. Hermione and Padma sat together at one of the tables. Harry sat at the table behind them and was joined by one of the Hufflepuffs, Justin Finch-Fletchley.
Professor Snape started the class by taking the roll call, he paused at Harry’s name.
“Ah, Yes,” he said softly, “Harry Potter. Our new — celebrity.”
“Harry Stark sir. I’m hardly a celebrity.”
“Two points from Ravenclaw for your cheek boy. In this class you are Potter.”
Snape finished calling the names and looked up at the class. His eyes were black, cold and empty. Harry thought about arguing with the twit, but decided that an official complaint would probably be more profitable.
“You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potion making,” Snape had the gift of keeping a class’s attention with little effort. “As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses… I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even stopper death— if you aren’t as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach.”
More silence followed this little speech. Harry and Justin exchanged looks.
“Potter!” said Snape suddenly. “What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?”
“Asphodel and wormwood make a powerful sleeping potion known as the Draught of Living Death, sir,” said Harry.
Snape’s lips curled into a sneer. “Lucky guess Potter? Let’s try again. Where would you look if I told you to find me a bezoar?”
A bezoar is a stone taken from the stomach of a ruminant animal, usually a goat and it will save you from most poisons sir.”
“What is the difference, Potter, between monkshood and wolfsbane?”
“Monkshood and wolfsbane, are different names for the same plant, it is also known as aconite. There are more than 250 species of aconite. Aconites are herbaceous perennial plants that are chiefly native to mountainous parts of the northern hemisphere, growing in moisture retentive but well draining soils of mountain meadows. They have dark green leaves that lack stipules. They are palmate or deeply palmately lobed with 5–7 segments. Each segment again is 3-lobed with coarse sharp teeth. The leaves have a spiral or alternate arrangement. The lower leaves have long petioles.“ ‘Take that asshole.’ He added silently. For the first time he was thankful for an assignment from Mistress Harkness. This ass thought he was intimidating; he was nothing next to her. Still, why had she required him to produce a 2000 word essay on Aconites just last month? It had nothing to do with the potion she had been teaching him, it had puzzled Harry at the time. Was Mistress Harkness some kind of seer?
Well?” Snape turned on the rest of the class. “Why aren’t you all taking notes?”
There was a sudden rummaging for quills and parchment. Over the noise, Snape spotted Harry’s Datapad and said,
“50 points will be taken from Ravenclaw House for bringing your filthy Muggle toys to class, Potter.”
“There doesn’t seem to be any point to my remaining in your class Professor. I believe I will be leaving.”
The entire class stared at Harry as he stood up from his stool, and began to gather his things into his book bag.
“Do you actually believe I will allow you to leave Potter?”
“My Name Is Stark Professor.” Harry said, making sure to emphasize each word. “You verbally attacked me as soon as you saw I was in your class. I don’t know why, but I don’t have to put up with it. I’ll drop your class and take potions with another instructor. If one isn’t available then I will employ outside tutors.” Harry shrugged. “It doesn’t matter to me either way.”
“Sit down Potter. A week’s detention might teach you your place.”
“What did you say Potter.” Snape hissed threateningly.
“STARK. My name is STARK. I said no. I will not attend any detention you assign. I do not recognize you as having any authority over me. I have no time for bullies sir, nor for any system that gives them power. There is nothing you know that I wish to learn.” He shouldered his bag and turned his back to the Potions Master, making to leave the room.
In a smooth motion Severus Snape drew his wand and he was sub vocalizing the stunning spell that would teach ‘Potter’ a lesson when four tentacles suddenly sprouted from the boy’s robes. The class gasped when they saw four spots of light on Snape’s body, one between his eyes, one over his heart, and two on either side of his navel. Harry stopped as soon as the tentacles had manifested, and slowly turned around. The tentacles maneuvered about his body to allow the movement, never dropping their focus on Snape for an instant.
“Professor, your hostile act has triggered the defensive protocols of my Techsuit. Lower your wand before you get hurt.”
“What are those things Potter?”
“They are the weapons module of my Techsuit. The one aimed between your eyes is currently set to disable and will deliver a milliliter of a very painful blinding agent. The one over your heart is a Stark International Series 12 pulse laser, which will kill you. The two targeted on your abdomen one is a Stark International Series 4 taser unit, which will disable you with 250,000 volts of electricity, and the other a Stark International force beam projector, commonly known as a ‘repulsor’, which depending on its intensity will either knock the wind out of you, cut you in half and everything in between. Which of the weapons used is decided by the Artificial intelligence of the Techsuit, in proportional response to any offensive act on your part.” Harry smiled ruefully. “I know that the weapons I have described are probably outside your experience, but allow me to assure you that you do not want them to be used on you. Lower your wand, sir.”
“Idiot boy!” snarled Snape, “do you really think you can scare me with your filthy Muggle toys?”
Harry felt the telltale tickle of someone testing his mental defenses. “Ah, you are a legimens. That won’t do you any good Professor, the Techsuit’s AI will respond whether I am conscious or not. Do I think I can scare you? I guess that depends on whether you are smart enough to know that there are things you do not know.”
“I will have you expelled for this Potter.”
“You will try Sir, I suspect that it will come down to who the Headmaster wants here more, you or me.”
Snape lowered his wand, and the Techsuit’s tentacles lowered, and then retreated back inside Harry’s robes.
“Class is dismissed. Potter you will accompany me to the Headmaster office. Say good bye to your little friends, you won’t be seeing them again.”
“I am not overly concerned about the threats of a coward who attempted to hex me in the back Professor.” He smiled at the rage on the man’s face. “Nor one who cannot seem to learn my name.”
Harry followed the fuming Potions Master into the Headmaster’s office silently. The aged wizard looked up at the pair in surprise.
“And to what do I owe this visit?”
“Headmaster, this idiot boy threatened me. I demand his expulsion.”
“Professor Snape was abusive and derogatory toward me for no reason Headmaster. He began the class by docking Ravenclaw two points when I told him my name was no longer Potter, and insisted on calling me Potter for the rest of the time I was in his class room. He saw my Datapad calling it, and I quote a “filthy Muggle Toy” and docked Ravenclaw 50 points. Recognizing that I was in a hostile environment, I gathered my things to leave. When my back was turned the coward in your employ pulled his wand and started to hex me in the back, triggering my Techsuit’s defensive protocols. After I explained how much damage my tech could and would do to him, he dismissed the class, and escorted me here.”
“The boy’s a liar Headmaster.”
“Somehow I thought a gutless coward might try the ‘boy is lying’ gambit, so I have the recordings my Techsuit made available for you Headmaster. Techsuit. Display time in Potions Classroom. Audio and Visual.” One of the tentacles extended from Harry’s robes and a hologram projected from it to the desktop of the headmaster’s desk. The recording ran from the time Harry entered the classroom until he left it following Snape.
When the recording was done playing. Harry looked to the pair of silent adults. “Headmaster, Now that we have established beyond a doubt that this man is a liar, and a coward, I refuse his punishments. For whatever reason, he has a grudge against me. If my refusing his punishments is not acceptable, I will be leaving. Remember Headmaster, you came to me speaking of fulfilling my destiny by coming to Hogwarts. If the destiny you have in mind involved dealing with this cowardly bully, I’ll leave you to it. Professor Snape, that Datapad you objected to is perfectly allowable under school policy. I specifically asked the Headmaster if I could use such a device for note taking before I accepted my place here.”
“Actually Harry, when I said that I had no idea that your device would work.”
“Ah, your little joke for the Muggle raised then? I guess the joke is on you. Headmaster, I also expect the points taken from Ravenclaw by this man be returned. If he is to remain employed here despite his obvious moral and character flaws, I will want a public apology in the Great Hall, at Dinner, as well as a public promise to stay out of my mind.”
“Do you feel it appropriate for a student to dictate terms Mr. Stark?”
“No, I don’t Headmaster. I leave it to you to dictate terms. I simply outlined the terms in which I am willing to stay here.”
“And what of your punishment for threatening a teacher Mr. Stark?”
Harry smiled. “I will gracefully accept that punishment as soon as Professor Snape is arrested for attempted assault with a deadly weapon. If the school isn’t interested in justice, perhaps the Aurors are. Also, are you aware he carries a protean charm on his left arm? Isn’t that the marking of the terrorist group that people seem to feel I beheaded as an infant.”
“I am aware of the mark, yes. I might ask how you are aware of it.”
“My tech is sensitive to magic, especially the magic of those who are displaying hostile intent toward me. For example are you also aware that Professor Quirrell has some sort of entity under his turban?”
“No, I didn’t know that.”
“I don’t appreciate legimancy being used on me. Professor Snape has tried it, whatever it is under Quirrell’s turban has tried it, and you are trying it right now Headmaster. Mistress Harkness showed me some rather unpleasant defensive charms for mind magics, the people who trigger said charms can be easily identified by the way they lay on the ground screaming while clawing at their own eyes. Like I said, most unpleasant. Was there anything else Headmaster?”
“No Mr. Stark, you may go.”
“Thank you Headmaster. Good day Professor Snape.”
May 9 1985:
Stark Industries Project Achilles facility
French Lick, Indiana.
“Well,” said the large man with yellow eyes, his body covered in blue fur. “I can state categorically that this field is not a product of a mutation. There is no energy signature on file that matches this, and there is no indication that this field has any basis in biology.” He had made his observations while hanging upside down from the over head pipes. The small boy was no longer frightened, and seemed to find Hank McCoy, PhD. M. D. and several other initials to be quite amusing.
“Then what is it Hank?” Tony Stark was deliriously happy to have found a survivor, but to find him in an unassailable force field was disconcerting. Especially since said force field was far and beyond anything his technology was capable of producing. McCoy was one of the best in his field, well versed in Avengers Secrecy protocols and less than an hour away when the call went out.
The large blue man did an extremely complex dismount from the pipe over the boy and his force field, that involved a wide swing, tucking into a double summersault, before landing before the boy, who clapped happily. McCoy bowed deeply to his appreciative audience of one before turning to Stark with a shrug, “Magic?”
This worried Stark. Magic made no sense, it couldn’t be measured or quantified. He hated magic, though he had to admit it had its uses. “Should I call Wanda?”
The blue man shook his head. “This isn’t Wanda’s kind of magic. I’m not sure who would be best to call for this one, but when it comes to magic of whatever kind, you usually can’t go wrong by calling Stephen Strange.
The handheld screen flickered into life. The picture blurred as the tape fast forwarded to a few seconds before the explosion that had killed so many. When the picture stabilized it showed a view of the control room. There were 2 technicians, 3 in the French companies group (Madam Trouseau, her husband and son) and 4 in the British (Mr. Dursley, his Wife, son and nephew) Tony Stark touched the controls to freeze the display.
“Happy, I count nine people on screen. We’re missing a body.
“Yeah, the Brit’s nephew. Sweet little guy, nothing at all like the rest of the family.”
The display started again. The technicians were demonstrating control room functions, when the Dursley boy jumped forward and started flipping switches and turning remote valve operations. The tech attempted to stop the boy when the elder Dursley prevented the tech from doing so. The boy continued to manipulate the control panel. Stark froze the display again.
“Right there. The little shit just opened the feeds full open and shut down the overpressure relief system. Nine dead because that fat moron let his kid play with the controls.”
The display started again. Suddenly alarms started (the silent display showed the flashing lights of the alarms.) The techs threw the fat man out of the way and seized the fat little boy to move him. Standing next to his aunt, the tiny boy in spectacles looked around fearfully and tugged at the sleeve of his aunt, who promptly backhanded him across the room. From the area of the room where the little boy had been thrown, the display rippled, then all of the electronics in the room failed simultaneously.
“Odd, why did the display fail before the explosion?”
“I don’t know Tony, like I said we just got it back online, we had to replace…”
“Happy! Over here!” one of the Emergency Response team called out.
Stark and Hogun ran to the man. The team had lifted some of the largest pieces of debris from this corner and found a shimmering electric blue sphere of force. Inside that sphere was a terrified crying raven haired little boy.
Hermione and Padma came down the stairs looking forward to their second day of class. It would be interesting to see if the concepts Harry had shown them the day before would be useful in their other classes. Padma stopped at the foot of the stairs and gasped.
It was Harry. He was in a lotus position, floating three feet off the ground cloaked in a golden aura.
“My great grandfather does that” Padma whispered. “I didn’t think that any westerners even knew about it. It’s a meditation technique combined with magic. Only the most powerful can do it.”
“So they don’t teach it here?”
“I don’t know if any of the teachers can do it much less teach it. Dumbledore probably, he’s a legend. But no, they don’t teach doing that.”
“Should we tell him we’re going to breakfast, or just leave him?” Hermione looked conflicted.
Padma pondered for a second. “When Great Grandfather does it he tends to lose track of time. We probably ought to tell him we’re going.” The dark haired girl approached Harry, stopping just outside of his aura. “Harry?”
The boy opened his eyes, displaying a black void.
“Harry, we’re going to breakfast. Hermione and I thought you should know.”
Harry nodded. He slowly settled to the ground, aura fading and he stood. “Thanks. I always loose track of time when I do that.”
“What exactly were you doing Harry?”
“It’s a meditation technique Hermione. One of my teachers showed me how to use it to organize my thoughts, and to do so without emotion. He gets mad because he needs his levitation cloak to float. When we do it together, I orbit around him, tics him off something awful. I usually do it about once a week, but if yesterday was any representation, I’ll be doing it every night here.”
“What did you figure out?” Padma asked as they went down the first staircase.
“That I was an ass yesterday with Snape. He was an ass too, but I let him make me angry and I went all search and destroy on him”
“He attacked you as soon as you walked into the classroom Harry.”
“He definitely has a grudge for some reason. I did a little research last night in the library. He was a class mate of my biological parents. There was a group back then called the Marauders, and James Potter was one of them. From the descriptions they were a sadistic bunch of pranksters who would abuse anyone who they felt didn’t measure up to their standards. Professor McGonagall mentioned how much I resemble my biological father, maybe Snape and he had a history that I don’t know about. At any rate I’ve got to do something about the situation.” He smiled at the girls. “But first, I’m hungry. Mind if I join you for breakfast?”
The morning class was charms with Professor Flitwick. Once again Harry found himself to be embarrassingly ahead of the rest of his class. He levitated his feather almost instantly, and coaxed Hermione and Padma through doing their own. Both the girls were capable, but really didn’t believe they could perform at the level they were capable of. Belief was as much a part of magic as any other function. As Mistress Harkness had stressed to him far too many times, if you don’t believe you can do something, you can’t.
Once class was over, he excused himself as the girls went to lunch, and headed down to the potions classroom. Make this right stupid he told himself. Winning a stupid battle that sours the entire war is dumb. Control yourself. He knocked at the door and opened it to Snape’s “Enter.”
The Potions Master was at his desk at the head of the classroom grading papers. His eyes widened in surprise when he recognized the boy at the door. “What do you want Po... Stark?”
“Professor Snape. I came to apologize for my behavior in your class yesterday. I am here to let you know that I am withdrawing my complaint to the Headmaster, and I am humbly requesting that I be allowed to rejoin your class.”
The sallow man’s eyes narrowed. “What are you up to Stark? Between your recordings and my loss of self control, you stand every chance of making your case.”
“Yes Sir. That is a probability. But what would that win me? If you remained at Hogwarts it isn’t like you would forget what I did, and our every interaction for the next seven years would be tinged by it. If you left Hogwarts, I would lose access to the man who is noted as being one of the 10 best brewers in the world. It is unlikely that whoever they could get to replace you would have your skill.”
Severus Snape continued to stare at the boy. What was his game? Albus had spent several hours making the point that Snape had gone too far with the boy. Now James Potter’s son was here apologizing to him? Would that arrogant ass have apologized for anything?
“I accept your apology Mr. Stark, and I expect to see you in class.”
“Thank you sir. I appreciate this.” The boy turned to leave, and seemed to hesitate.
“Was there anything else Mr. Stark?”
“Yes Sir. I’m just not sure that my asking would be appropriate. May I ask a question about our class?”
“You may. I will let you know if it is appropriate.”
“Thank you Sir. I was wondering why you took such an immediate dislike to me. I’m told that I bear a strong resemblance to my biological father. Is that the source of our conflict?”
“I am ashamed to say that it might be Mr. Stark.”
Harry nodded. “When I was trying to understand what happened yesterday I dug into the library, where I found that you and my biological parents were classmates. I also found references to a group of pranksters known as the Marauders, which had my biological father as a member. These ‘Marauders’ were reputed to be vicious in their ‘pranks’, and I assumed that you were the victim of their ire.”
“I am not James Potter, Sir. I have no memories of the man. I hope we can get through this, so that I can learn from you. When would you like me to report for the detentions sir?”
“I believe we will be forgetting about the detentions this time, Mr. Stark. Perhaps it will be best if we start fresh in the next class. And your Muggle device?”
“I was thinking that I should have cleared the uses of my Datapad with you before bringing it to class. I believe I can chalk it’s destruction up to an accident. Am I correct to assume that you would prefer I not bring my spare to class?”
Snape paused. “Actually, I had an interesting conversation with Professor Flitwick on the potential of your device. I was thinking that it might be interesting what you might be able to do with it in potions. You had best get to lunch Mr. Stark. You will need your wits about you in the green houses.”
“Yes Sir. Thank you for your time.” Outside the door, Harry leaned against the wall of the corridor and wondered if he had repaired the situation between Snape and himself or made things worse.
At his desk, Severus Snape reflected on what had just happened. The boy was most specifically not James Potter. Nor was he anything like Lilly. Perhaps it would be wise to treat the boy as if he had just fallen from the sky. Albus, at least, would be pleased.
“He forgave me Padma. Life is good.”
“Forgave you? He attacked and insulted you.”
“And I responded like a pavlovian dog. I have to be better than that.”
“I don’t understand why you backed down after yesterday. You had won.”
Harry took out a Muggle notepad. “Look.” He drew stick figures of himself and Snape. “I carry out with my threats. He gets a reprimand, I’m still in his class, but he’s wary of doing anything TO me. BUT.” He added stick figures with Rs on them, “Every other Ravenclaw in the castle is now a target. There are ways that someone in a strong position can destroy someone in a weak position without actually doing anything to the actual person.” Harry took a drink from the goblet in front of him. Pumpkin juice? Vile stuff. He switched to water to get the taste out of his mouth. “This way, I’ve apologized to him, mentioned that I’ve discovered that my father was a contemporary of his in school, and hoped aloud that James Potter having been an ass to him isn’t going to interfere with his teaching me to brew potions in his inimitable way. I stroke his ego, talk bad about someone he obviously dislikes, and ask him for forgiveness. He was surprised, and gave his forgiveness. To test if he meant it, I asked when I should report for detention, he told me we would have a fresh start in the next class. Bingo, Bango, Bongo, the problem is, if not solved, then at least managed. After all, he IS one of the premier potions brewers in the world. If this works, and I can keep my temper under control, then we get to learn from one of the best, with only minor conflicts.”
Hermione looked shocked. “That’s so calculated. Did you plan this from the beginning?”
“No, I got angry yesterday and was stupid. Today I did damage control. I learned this watching my dad. In business he says it’s important for the other guy to not actively hate you, and anything that you do to make him not hate you is good business. That philosophy just seemed to fit this situation perfectly.”
“Well hurry up and eat oh Master Manipulator” Padma laughed at him. “Herbology starts in 15 minutes.”
Herbology was a class where Harry started on a par with the rest of the class. Madam Harkness had never covered it, explaining that it was too resource intensive for a single student and tutor to cover effectively, and that if he needed or wanted to learn it, the subject was amply covered in any formal school of magical instruction.
Professor Sprout (Sprout. A teacher of plants named Sprout. That was almost a bad joke. Of course the Arithmancy teacher was named Vector(!)) Professor Sprout was a large woman with wild hair who was very serious about her plants. The class was fast paced, intensive, and fun. It was also dirty. Harry found it amusing that a part of him enjoyed that most of all.
After Herbology (and a quick shower) it was time for dinner. The meal was excellent as usual, the three friends dawdled over there deserts, joking and having a good time, when Harry was approached by three boys.
“No, Stark. And you?”
“Cool name. Family name or your parents fans of astronomy?”
“Family tradition on my mother’s side. I wanted to talk to you about your place in Pureblood Society. I can help you Potter.”
Ooh ooh. One of those. “My name is Harry Stark, has been since I was 5 years old. I’m not sure I qualify for ‘Pureblood Society’ seeing as I would be classified as a half-blood.” He winked at Hermione. “I guess I should have been more careful choosing parents.”
“True, you aren’t a Pureblood, but your children will be, assuming of course you marry properly.”
“Ok,” said Harry. “Pull up a chair; tell me the advantages of being a Pureblood.”
Draco looked startled, and then sat down. Neither boy notice the attention paid them by the Headmaster and their heads of house.
“Oh, this is Crabbe and this is Goyle,” said the pale boy carelessly, noticing where Harry was looking.
“Hey fellas, cop a squat. Let’s brainstorm this thing.” Draco Malfoy looked at him oddly.
“Purebloods are the superior faction of Magical Britain due to our breeding. We are superior in magic, superior in Quidditch, superior in business. It’s all self evident.”
“Wow.” Harry was smiling. “That’s impressive. How far back can you trace your magical lineage?”
“Over 500 years.”
“That’s a long time. Is that all branches or just the Paternal line?”
Draco was stumped by that question, he didn’t know. “The Paternal line most certainly, my mother is from the Black family, an ancient house.”
“Cool. So that puts your mother’s line at a thousand years or so, but Paternal is what you knew off the top of your head, so that’s the important line. Padma here has a demonstrated pedigree going back 5000 years in every branch. I guess that makes her superior to you, right?”
“But I thought that you were saying that Purebloods were superior? If that’s true, then the longer a line runs, the more pure the line becomes. If your 500 years of purity makes you superior to anyone else, based on that alone then Padma having ten times as much purification must be superior to you, based on that alone. Q.E.D.”
Draco didn’t go red, but a pink tinge appeared in his pale cheeks.
“Ok, let’s ignore the levels of blood purity for a moment. You said purebloods were more magical. Hermione? Show Draco what you were doing with your plate.”
Hermione nodded. “Ok Harry” with a swish and flick of her wand, the plate rose from the tabletop and hovered for a second, then orbited around the group before settling back down to the tabletop before Harry.
Harry pushed the plate toward Draco. “Your turn.” Draco stared at the plate for a second then glanced up at Hermione. “Hermione’s a first year like us. She’s a first generation Witch, first in her family.”
“You mean mu… Muggle-born.” Offered Goyle.
“No, I don’t like the term ‘Muggle. I mean why start insulting people right out of the gate? The proper term for the general population should be Normals or Mundanes. Perfectly descriptive without being insulting.”
“Are you saying that wizards are abnormal?”
“Draco, there are more than 6 billion… sorry, I keep forgetting the Brit numbering system, 6 thousand million people on the planet, a very minor fraction of them are magic users. Yes. Wizards are abnormal, in that aspect. There’s nothing wrong with the word, it doesn’t mean inferior. Anyway, can you do what Hermione can do?”
Draco pulled his wand. The plate quivered on the tabletop, rose about an inch, and then fell back down.
“From my point of view, magic has nothing to do with your breeding; it has to do with a lot of different things. Some people have a lot of natural talent, others study and practice and get through on old fashioned hard work. I’ll let you in on a badly kept secret. The most powerful magic user on the Earth isn’t a wizard. He’s a Mundane who grew to adulthood with absolutely no magic, and after an accident discovered a kind of magic that allow him to heal himself, after years of study he has become the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth.”
“That’s impossible. My father says that Muggles are backward weaklings.”
“Draco, that’s silly. You’ve been here as long as I have, have you seen any stupid weaklings among the first generation witches and wizards? I haven’t. I look around this place and I see people, some jerks, but mostly nice people, all of whom can use magic. This is great. As far as what your dad has to say, it could be that he’s never really met all that many Mundanes, just ask him if he’s ever heard of Stephen Strange, he’s the most powerful magic user I mentioned before.”
Draco was looking confused, and a little upset that his point wasn’t being made. “Draco, guys. Hermione, Padma and I have been talking about forming a study group open to all the houses, would you guys like to join in?”
The three Slytherins were surprised at the invitation; they shared a glance before Draco spoke. “That might be fun. We would have to see how it fits with our schedules…”
“I’ll drop you a note when we have the times firmed up.” Harry promised and watched smiling as the trio moved away.
“Why did you do that Harry?”
“What better way to subvert a bigot Padma? It’s hard to hate someone when they help you with your homework. When you find out she is at least as smart as you are, actually bathes and looks pretty cute when she chews on the nib of her quill…”
Padma blushed and pulled the quill from her mouth.
“Thank you Hermione. No I’m serious. He came over here convinced that you two weren’t really human, Padma because she isn’t white, Hermione because she is a first generation witch, I twisted his little beliefs right back at him, with his own arguments. If he joins us, he’ll either have to redefine his beliefs or be the biggest hypocrite since ever.”
“Why didn’t you use yourself as an example?”
“Because he was trying to recruit me. I was letting him know I hang with my friends.” He smiled at them. “You guys, Susan and Hannah, Neville, you’re the important ones to me.” He frowned for a moment.
“What’s wrong Harry?” Hermione asked.
“I was just thinking. It’s Neville and me, and you four girls. That’s not right. Oh well, only one thing for it.”
“What’s that Harry?”
“We’ve got to find more girls. Hey Padma, your sister’s kinda cute…”
Hermione looked to Padma.
“He thinks he’s funny.”
“Yes he does. He wants to do the Twins joke.”
“There’s only one solution for this.” Hermione admitted sadly.
“Yes. We will have to hurt him, badly.”
Hermione woke slowly. Saturday morning. Her birthday. She wasn’t surprised at all that she was feeling a little down. This was her first birthday away from her parents. She rose and made her way to the (thankfully empty) bath, and treated herself to a long hot shower. Returning to her room, she dressed, then dug out this week’s letter from her parents, along with the small package labeled “Happy Birthday!” Not having access to any of the normal Wizarding postal facilities, and not having the time to deal with an owl, the Grangers had pre-written a letter for each Saturday until the Christmas Hols, and would write letters weekly to send on return flights with the school owls that Hermione used to send news home, still for a girl used to having Mum and Daddy around all the time, it was very hard to get used to being away from them.
Reading the letter first, she read her parents words of love and understanding. She then opened the small package and found a lovely golden heart on a chain. Her mother always knew what jewelry she liked. Hermione quickly fastened it around her neck. She then made her bed and straightened her room, then descended the stairs to the common room.
Would her friends know it was her birthday? There had been a discussion at the beginning of the term about dates of birth to determine who was the oldest. Hermione was the first to turn twelve. It was time to offer the wisdom of her years to the children. She smiled to herself.
When she entered the common room she heard the strangest sentences said to her in her entire 12 years of life:
“Yarr! Avast there Cap’in Granger! Heave yer self o’er here to receive your booty! Yarr!”
Sitting at one of the tables with several wrapped packages were Harry and Padma. The pair was dressed in outlandish outfits. White shirts with puffy sleeves, eye patches and black tricorn hats with skull and crossbones on them.
“What are you loonies doing?”
“Yarr! Ye wound us Cap’in” said Padma.
“Yarr! Here we be, yer loyal crew, with offering of booty to celebrate yer birth, and ye be callin’ us loonies? Cut to the quick we are. Yarr!” Explained Harry helpfully.
“What is all this?”
“Yarr! This, Cap’in, be International Talk Like a Pirate Day, so Bo’ sun Padma and I figer, why not celebrate the Cap’in’s birthday as Pirates? Yarr!”
The corners of Hermione’s mouth twitched into a smile. “Alright then. Hand over me booty! Arrr!”
“Not ‘Arrr!’ Yarrr!”
“Whatever. Presents. Now.”
The largest of the boxes had her very own pirates outfit, shirt, eye patch, and hat. From Padma she received a scarf that she immediately tied around her neck.
“No Cap’in, that there scarf goes on yer’ head!” Padma took the scarf from her and placed it on Hermione’s head to hold her hair back out of the way.
From Harry she received a small stuffed parrot to go on her shoulder as part of the pirates theme and a pair of gold hoop earrings.
During the silliness of their dressing up and their gifts Hermione’s mood immediately lightened. The Pirate trio made their way to the Great Hall for breakfast, just being kids, calling “Yarr!” every few meters. They found their seats in the Great Hall and enjoyed their breakfasts. The Weasley Twins third years from Gryffindor house actually came over to discover what they were doing and why, they like the idea so much that they too were soon in eye patches proclaiming “Yarr!” to everyone in sight.
Harry and Padma kept it up all day and into the evening. Many if not most of the first years joined in at some point during the day. Several joined them on the lake for mock battles with the giant Squid. Perhaps most disturbing of all was when Dumbledore was spotted wearing a lavender eye patch and holding a faux hook in his hand. Who knew the Headmaster would be a fan? Finally at 10 pm Hermione was almost too tired to keep her eyes open. She stood and pulled Padma into a hug. “Thank you.” She then leaned down to kiss Harry on the cheek. “You made my birthday.”
With that she headed up the stairs to her room.
“Well done Bo’ sun.”
“Thank you Harry. Anyone could see she was getting more and more depressed about her first birthday away from her parents.”
“Yeah, but you’re the one who suggested we do something silly enough to shock her out if it.”
She threw a pillow at him. “Like I had any idea that a ‘Talk like Pirates Day’ existed, oh fount of useless information.”
“Ok, so we’re both heroes. Yay us!”
The Halloween Feast was in full swing. Thousands of live bats fluttered from the walls making the candles in the pumpkins stutter. The food appeared suddenly on the golden plates, as it had at the start-of-term banquet. The Hall fell into a sudden hush as Professor Quirrell came sprinting into the hall, his turban askew and terror on his face. Everyone stared as he reached Professor Dumbledore’s chair, slumped against the table, and gasped, “Troll — in the dungeons — thought you ought to know.”
He then sank to the floor in a dead faint.
There was pandemonium throughout the Hall. It took several cannon blasts from Professor Dumbledore’s wand to bring silence.
“Prefects,” he rumbled, “lead your Houses back to the dormitories immediately!”
At the Ravenclaw table, Penelope Clearwater performed a quick headcount. The result terrified her. She rushed to the Head Table.
“Professor Flitwick, I’m short three first years. Granger, Patil and Stark.”
The diminutive professor nodded. “Escort the rest of the house to the dormitories Miss Clearwater. I will find our lost lambs.”
Flitwick made his way to Minerva McGonagall. “Min, three of my first years are missing, late for the feast it seems. If I recall they were working on an astronomy project.”
“Albus, we’ve got three missing Ravenclaws. Filius and I ware going looking for them.”
“Everyone else lets go looking for this Troll. Severus, keep an eye on Quirrell.”
The Ravenclaw Trio were heading to the Great Hall from the Astronomy Tower. “I told you that you had the stars in Orion’s belt mislabeled.”
“Yes Hermione. Thank you Hermione.” Harry sing songed. He lived for the day she was wrong. He suspected it might be a long wait.
“I’m amazed he labeled the Horsehead Nebula as the Orion Nebula and vice versa.”
“It’s the cross I bear hanging out with two hypercompetitive geniuses. Lucky me. I still don’t see why we can’t use a planetarium projector and do this stuff during the day instead of the dark of night missing dinner.”
“Poor baby.” Hermione mocked happily.
“Can you smell something?” Padma stopped in her tracks.
Harry sniffed and a foul stench reached his nostrils, a mixture of old socks and a summer time public toilet that no one seems to clean.
And then they heard it — grunting, and the shuffling footfalls of gargantuan feet. Padma pointed — at the end of the passageway, something enormous was shuffling toward them. They shrank into the shadows and watched as it emerged into a patch of moonlight.
It was a ghastly sight. 4 meters tall, its skin was dull, granite gray, its great lumpy body like a boulder with its small bald head perched on top like a coconut. It had short legs thick as tree trunks with flat, horny feet. The smell coming from it was unbelievable. It was holding a huge wooden club, which dragged along the floor because its arms were so long.
“What is that?” Hermione gasped.
“A mountain troll. They’re vicious.” Padma said.
The troll stopped when it spotted them. It wiggled its long ears, as if making up its tiny mind, then slouched slowly toward them.
“Back the way we came,” Harry muttered. “We can out run it.”
Turning they saw that the moving staircase was beginning its latest move. They were trapped.
They backed up to the wall. “Stay behind me!” Harry said. He took four paces toward the Troll. “Techsuit. Translation suite.”
The disembodied voice of the Techsuit whispered in his ear. “Translation Suite online. Language?”
“European Mountain Troll.”
There was a short pause, the Techsuit whispered. “Language module online. Proceed.”
“Hello friend Troll.” Harry said, pausing so that the Techsuit could render his words into the grunts and squawks of the Trollish language. “How might we help you tonight?”
The huge creature stopped. “Gorlog Hungry.”
“If you will follow me Friend Gorlog, I will take you to our food.”
“No. Gorlog want meat. You meat. Gorlog eat!”
“Friend Gorlog, if you attack, I will kill you. Come with me, eat of our food, we can be friends.”
The troll began its slow shamble toward them.
“Crap. Techsuit, full defensive measures, remove fatality interlocks.” The tentacles exited his robes, targeting the Troll.
“Target analysis complete. Techsuit weapons suite is not capable of termination of target. Probability of disabling target twenty percent.”
The girls shrieked as the troll got closer. “Techsuit, Engage target.”
All four weapons pods went to work. Repeated pellets of the blinding agent hit the troll in the eyes, it only served to infuriate the creature. The tazer leads rebounded off the rock hard skin, the Pulse laser couldn’t penetrate. And the repulser opened small cuts.
“Crap!” Harry said to no one. Techsuit backup target specs to upgrade file. Techsuit. Release Limiters.”
A silver sheath fell from each of Harry’s forearms. “Ladies, turn your back to me, no matter what you hear, do not turn around until I tell you to. Please, just do it.”
“Techsuit. If chaos magic attack does not stop target, self attack, destroy target using power pack discharge.”
“Understood: Self attack target if Chaos Magic attack fails.”
The troll towered over Harry, raising it’s club.
With a gesture Harry released the sum of his Chaos magic. It poured out of him via both arms and impacted the troll square in the chest with a deafening SQUARK!
After a few seconds of silence Hermione and Padma shared a look from where they huddled and turned around to see what was happening. It took but a glance for both of them to begin screaming.
May 9 1985:
Stark Industries Project Achilles facility
French Lick, Indiana.
“Well,” said the large man with yellow eyes, his body covered in blue fur. “I can state categorically that this field is not a product of a mutation. There is no energy signature on file that matches this, and there is no indication that this field has any basis in biology. Not to mention the damned thing keeps burning out my sensors.” He had made his observations while hanging upside down from the over head pipes. The small boy was no longer frightened, and seemed to find Hank McCoy, PhD. M. D. and several other initials to be quite amusing.
“Then what is it Hank?” Tony Stark was deliriously happy to have found a survivor, but to find him in an unassailable force field was disconcerting. Especially since said force field was far and beyond anything his technology was capable of producing. McCoy was one of the best in his field well versed in Avengers Secrecy protocols and less than an hour away when the call went out.
The large blue man did an extremely complex dismount from the pipe over the boy and his force field, which involved a wide swing, tucking into a double summersault, before landing before the boy, who clapped happily. McCoy bowed deeply to his appreciative audience of one before turning to Stark with a shrug, “Magic?”
This worried Stark. Magic made no sense; it couldn’t be measured or quantified. He hated magic, though he had to admit it had its uses. “Should I call Wanda?”
The blue man shook his head. “This isn’t Wanda’s kind of magic. I’m not sure who would be best to call for this one, but when it comes to magic of whatever kind, you usually can’t go wrong by calling Stephen Strange.
Hermione and Padma screamed at the sight they found when they turned. The troll had been cut in half, everything above the waist was utterly gone, what remained of the below the waist portion of the Troll was lying before a kneeling Harry Stark. Both the girls choked off their panic and ran the few paces to their friend.
What they found was horrifying. The clothing on his upper body had completely disintegrated. His torso was covered in a dark gray silk like garment to which the tentacles were attached. The flesh on his arms was for lack of a better term cooked. Meaty portions were cracked open and oozing… grease? His face was horribly burned, his left eye swollen shut, his right, milky.
“te… te… Techsuit. Phone.” The boy said between split lips, in painful gasps. A small plastic device fell to the floor. “Techs… Techsuit. Shutdown” The tentacles drooped to the floor lifelessly and the dark gray garment split along his breast bone to show his chest, which was just as horribly damaged as his arms and face.
“Can’t see.” He whispered, his breath coming in pants. “Hur… Hurt bad. Use phone outside wa… war… WARDS!” he slowly fell back. Padma caught him from the back and eased him to the ground. “push 2 until phone dials. Te… tell Jarvis, Ch… Ch… Chaos magic problem. Hurt… hurt… hurt bad.”
Padma picked up the phone. “Do you know how to use this?”
“Yes.” Hermione looked into her friends eyes. “We’ve got to get him to the Hospital Wing. We’ve got to find a teacher, to get Harry help and to let them know about that.” She gestured at the troll’s remains. Then her eyes widened. “Oh my god.”
Hermione pointed beyond the remains of the troll to the huge hole punched through the side of the castle.
“Miss Patil! Miss Granger! Mr. Stark!” the call came from behind them. They turned to see the staircases realigning again, Professor McGonagall and Professor Flitwick were hurrying toward them. “Are you alright? What was that horrible sound?”
“A troll had us trapped here Professor.” Padma said, trying her hardest not to look at Harry and not to be sick. “He… Harry saved us.”
Minerva McGonagall looked at the remains of the troll and damage to the castle in shocked amazement. “Mr. Stark did this? His Muggle weapons are capable of this?”
“Minerva!” Flitwick barked “We can worry about how he did it later, first we need to get him to Poppy so she can keep him alive.”
“Of course Filius, You levitate him to the Hospital Wing; I will bring your Ravenclaws along so that Poppy can ensure that they are unharmed.”
“Professor McGonagall. Harry gave us this.” Hermione displayed the miniature telephone. “He asked us to use it to contact his father and inform him of Harry’s injuries. We have to go outside the wards to use it.”
“Surely that can wait Miss Granger. I can’t see what his father could do in this situation.”
“Harry said that his injuries were due to ‘chaos magic’. He was in a lot of pain and going into shock. Harry’s done a lot of things that don’t make any sense, but work anyway. Maybe his father does have some insight into this situation. What could it hurt to tell him?” Padma asked.
Minerva McGonagall reflected for a moment, and then nodded. “Alright we’ll go outside the wards and try that Muggle device. Do you know how to use it Miss Granger?”
“Yes. It’s just a smaller version of my parent’s cellular phone. Harry seemed to think he’d get service out here. I don’t know how, but it can’t hurt to try.”
It took almost 15 minutes to make their way out of the castle and down the path to the school gates. The gates opened to McGonagall’s touch.
“We are outside the wards now Miss Granger. You can try to use the Muggle device now.”
Hermione nodded, wondering how she knew where the wards ended. She pushed the power button on the keypad of the tiny phone and watched as it displayed its startup functions. After several seconds the handset chirped and ‘Satellite Signal Acquired’ appeared on the screen. She pressed and held the number two, releasing it when the tone changed. The display changed to ‘Dialing’ and she raised the handset to her ear. She listened to the odd single tone ring sound she recognized from American television and Movies. On the third ring, the line was answered on the other end.
The instant recognition of the man on the other end that it was Harry’s phone calling startled her for a second.
“No sir. I’m a class mate of Harry’s named Hermione Granger. Harry asked me to call and ask for Mr. Jarvis.”
“This is Edwin Jarvis Miss Granger, how can I help?”
“Harry’s been hurt. He said to tell you it was a ‘Chaos Magic’ problem, and that he’s badly hurt.”
“I see. Could you hold on please?”
She looked to Padma and Professor McGonagall. “He asked me to hold on. I think he’s getting someone who can tell us what to do.”
“Amazing device. Instant communications. Where are you speaking too?”
“I don’t know Professor. Somewhere in America. Harry lives in New York City, probably there.”
“Miss Granger?” Came the voice on the phone.
“I have located Miss Maximoff, and we are arranging transportation for her. Could you stay where you are with this phone line open for a few more minutes?”
“Yes Sir, but…”
“Please don’t worry Miss Granger.”
“What is it Hermione?”
“He said he’s found someone named Maximov or something and is arranging transportation. Then he asked me to hang on some more.”
There was a quiet pop, like someone opening a jar sealed at a higher pressure. Standing in front of the students and professor were two women.
The younger of the new pair was perhaps in her mid twenties, with dark red hair. She was dressed in Muggle clothing that emphasized her sheer femaleness. The other woman was clearly older than McGonagall, tall and white haired she held herself with a regal-ness that spoke of learning and not suffering fools gladly.
“Miss Granger?” asked the older of the pair.
“May I use the telephone please?” The shaking girl handed over the handset. “Thank you. Jarvis?” She said into the phone. “We have arrived. We will keep you appraised as to young Mr. Stark’s condition.” She smiled at something the man said. “Yes, I’m sure she is. Thank you.” and she broke the connection.
“Why did Harry use chaos magic?” asked the younger woman, her speech had an odd inflection as if English was not her first language.
“Harry, Hermione and I were attacked by a Mountain Troll. Harry defended us.” Explained Padma.
“He is in the Hospital wing?” Asked the older woman. Both girls nodded. “Wanda, this is where he is.” Padma had the feeling that something passed between the pair. “Make haste, the wards shouldn’t inconvenience you.”
The younger woman disappeared with a pop.
“But you can’t apparate into Hogwarts.” Protested Hermione weakly.
“There are many kinds of magic Miss Granger, though Hogwarts won’t teach you this. It is true that Wizarding Magic will not allow you to apparate into the grounds of Hogwarts. Several of the other types of magic have no problem with Wizarding wards at all. Introductions I think. You are Hermione Granger. That means you must be Padma Patil.” Padma nodded. “I am Agatha Harkness. I am an alumnus of Hogwarts, Hufflepuff class of 1680.” She smiled. “And how are you Minerva? It has been a few years.”
“I am well Aunt Agatha.”
Poppy Pomfrey was running every diagnostic she could think of. The boy was dying, that much was evident, but precisely how he had gotten so injured still eluded her, supposedly he had been attacked by a Troll, but his injuries didn’t seem to have any relationship with any troll Poppy had ever heard of. He appeared to have been… cooked, from the inside out. Harry’s body was shutting down, and there was nothing she could do about it. Every potion she tried failed to work. Every spell she cast to heal him seemed to work for a second, and then the injury regressed. It was as if his magic was actively fighting any repair attempted on his body.
She turned when she heard the pop of apparition. A statuesque young woman in Muggle clothing stood before her.
“I am here to help Harry Stark.” She said simply.
Waving the woman to the dying boy was an automatic gesture on the Healer’s part. If this stranger could help, great, perhaps Poppy would learn something new.
“This damage is due to exposure to Chaos Magic. I will try to pull the remaining Chaos from his body so that you can heal him.”
“Who are you?” asked the Healer.
“I am Wanda Maximoff. It was by watching me that Harry discovered his access to Chaos Magic. His body is not ready to deal with the power he has access to.” She stood over the boy, spread her arms and started to mouth the words of a chant silently. Sickly yellow tendrils rose from the boy’s body to coalesce into a sphere of the same color. Her chanting went on for more than thirty minutes, the sphere of unhealthy energy continued to grow.
May 9 1985:
Stark Industries Project Achilles facility
French Lick, Indiana.
“Hello little friend.” The man wearing the red cape with gold trim “What kind of magic are you using here?” Stephen Strange activated the Eye of Agamotto. The All-seeing eye told him what he needed to know.
“Any luck Stephen?”
“Indeed Tony. Your little friend here is a wizard.”
Stark’s brow furrowed. “But he’s no more than five years old, how could he possibly have learned this level of magic?”
“You misunderstand Tony. Little Harry here is a wizard. Wizards are a subset of humanity with a biological access to magic. They do need training in the use of their magic, but as children they often have bouts of what they call ‘accidental magic’. This ‘accidental magic’ tends to be sporadic, uncontrolled and as the name indicated accidental.”
“This is sporadic? This is uncontrolled?” Stark gestured toward the force field surrounding the boy.
“Like any natural ability, there are those gifted beyond what passes for normality. Little Harry here is the Michael Jordan of Wizards. He is expending enormous amounts of magic and doesn’t seem to be tiring in the slightest. Amazing really.”
“Can you break it?”
“I’ve had dealings with British Wizards before. They don’t like me much, I’m afraid. This shouldn’t be too difficult.” Strange began to gesture with hand signs while calling on various demons and minor deities. Bands of energy leapt from his hands to the electric blue bubble that was the shield for young Harry Potter.
Stark stepped back to watch. None of this made the slightest bit of sense. Which of course was only one of the reasons he hated magic in all its forms. Strange kept at his assault for another 15 minutes until the shield dissolved to nothing.
“Thank you Stephen. I’ve been terrified that we would loose this youngster as well.” The waiting medical team rushed to the boy to bundle him away for medical attention. “I’m surprised it took so long.”
“I was trying to break the shield without injuring the boy inside.”
“Well it worked. Well done.”
“I didn’t do anything. I tried but couldn’t make a dent.” Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme looked a tad embarrassed. “The shield dissolved when he fell asleep.”
The four women had made their way back to the castle. Agatha Harkness found herself under a barrage of questions from the bushy haired young girl. Her Indian friend did not ask questions of her own, but listened intently to the answers Agatha provided. It pleased her to no end that Harry had found friends such as this pair.
“Aunt Agatha, why did you come here? You know what the Ministry will do.”
“I know what the Ministry will try to do Minerva. They might be a bit surprised. Why did I come? My favorite student in most of a century needed my help. You would do the same Minerva. The teacher is strong in our line, always has been.”
They approached the Great Hall and Dumbledore’s voice rang out, there was a fury in that voice that neither of the first year girls has ever heard before, and one Minerva had heard only rarely.
“You’ve gone too far Tom. The troll you let loose in the castle had hurt one of my students!”
They were now in a position to see into the Great Hall, where Dumbledore was dueling with Quirinus Quirrell. Snape was on the floor, stunned, and Quirrell was facing away from the Headmaster, his turban removed and his head at an odd angle. Where there the back of Quirrell’s head should have been, there was a face, the most horrifying face either of the girls had ever seen. Chalk white with glaring red eyes and snake like slits for nostrils, it mocked Dumbledore.
“Hurt him Albus? I intend for young Mr. Potter to die, slowly and painfully for what he had done to me. Perhaps I will kill those he cares for in front of him to prolong his suffering. Look at me! Reduced to vapor and memory, I only have form for as long as I possess another. Once I have the Stone you will never be able to stop me old man!”
Dumbledore never answered; rather he began a chain of charms and hexes that flew at the possessed DADA professor at blinding speed. Every single spell was dodged, deflected or diffused.
“Idiot.” Murmured Agatha Harkness. “There’s only one way to deal with a possession.” The older woman made a few gestures and a black band of magic leapt from her body and impacted on Quirrell’s body, where it pushed a hazy black mist from the professor’s head. Quirrell dropped like a puppet with its strings cut. The haze hung motionless in the air for a moment before rocketing straight up with a horrible wail.
Dumbledore raged at the aged woman “What did you do?”
“The only thing that could be done. You had already killed the host.” She gestured toward Quirrell’s body. “The only thing that will defeat a possessed corpse is to expel the possessor. You were wasting time and energy.”
“You shouldn’t even be here. You were banished for all time!”
“No Dumbledore, the old fools tried to banish me. I left of my own free will, and I return the same way, to see to an ill student. Is that a problem?”
“I will be calling the Aurors to deal with you.”
The woman shrugged. “They are your Aurors, if you don’t care what happens to them, why should I?” She peered into his eyes for a moment. “You asked Minerva to contact me, and get angry when I appear? Does your hypocrisy know no bounds Albus? You were much easier to deal with when you were younger. Back then you didn’t let things that happened before you were born and that you do not understand inspire you to righteous indignation toward one of your teachers.”
Dumbledore paled. No one had made it past his occlumency shield for more than a century, and this woman did it without his even noticing.
“You know of course any attack against me will lose you Harry for all time.”
“If he knew about it.” Hissed the wizard.
“Threats Albus? And in front of so many witnesses.” She smiled ruefully. “Call your Aurors if you must, I am going to the Hospital wing to see young Mr. Stark. I believe these young women should be looked at as well; it has been a rather stressful night for a pair of first years. Come along ladies.”
Padma and Hermione shared a glance between themselves, then in succession the faces of their Headmaster, Deputy Headmistress, and Agatha Harkness, then each other again. Padma shrugged and Hermione nodded. The pair followed the aged witch to the Hospital Wing. They wanted to see how Harry was doing.
May 10 1985:
Stark Industries Project Achilles facility
French Lick, Indiana.
“Tony, I swear to God, I am going to fly to England and kill a woman.”
“Calm down Pepper.” Stark looked up from the estimates for rebuilding the control room. “What’s wrong and who do you need to kill?”
“I tracked down little Harry’s only surviving relative. Turns out she isn’t a really a relative, she’s the sister of the Uncle. No blood relation. I told her that Harry was alive and she said, and I quote “Drown the little bastard, he’s always been nothing but trouble.” And the bitch hung up on me.
“You’ve got to be kidding.”
“I wish. Tony the child services are telling me that with no living relatives, he’ll end up being sent to an orphanage. Do they actually still do that?”
Stark’s brow furrowed. “Damn. He’s no more than five years old. I can’t let that happen.”
Pepper Hogan, nee Potts blushed. Tony, he’s such a sweet kid, I asked if I could adopt him. They told me that since Happy and I have divorced, I can’t offer him a stable home.” Tears formed in her eyes. “We can’t let the little guy get lost in the system like that.”
Stark thought for a moment. He had always taken care of his people. If someone was hurt or killed on the job, he had always taken care of the family…
“Pepper, get me Stewart, Myers, and Stuben out of Gotham City on the phone. They’ve handled both of Bruce Wayne’s adoptions, Oliver Queen’s as well. They’ll handle this one too.”
“Tony, they won’t let me adopt.”
“Not you Pep. I’m going to adopt him. But you’re going to help me. He’s going to need a mother figure.”
Not for the first time Stark International’s highest paid employee hugged her boss.
Wanda still stood over the boy, with her arms spread wide, chanting the incantation to remove the remnants of the Chaos Magic from his body. The yellow sphere of magic pulsed over the boy, as the last of the tendrils separated from his body.
“I need something made of metal to put this in.” The redhead said, holding the beach ball sized sphere of magic suspended in the air with some effort. “Iron would be best.”
Minerva McGonagall had been watching since she had followed her Aunt and students to the Hospital Wing five minutes before. She took a porcelain bedpan and transfigured it into an iron bucket and placed it on the ground next to the strange witch. The sphere of magic was carefully lowered into the bucket. The magic fused to the iron and the entire bucket glowed for a second.
“Your potions should work now, your healing charms as well.”
“Thank you. I was terrified I was going to lose him.” Poppy immediately poured the first vial of healing potions down the unconscious boy’s throat.
Wanda collapsed into one of the chairs. “He should be alright Mistress Harkness.”
“I don’t understand.” Hermione spoke up. “What happened? What magic doe he know, and why did it hurt him like that. I was never so frightened in my life.”
“That was Chaos Magic. Harry knowing it is my fault I’m afraid.” The redhead said. When it first manifested for me, I was practicing with it. Harry was watching me. It never occurred to anyone of us that he might be able to access that kind of magic before his body was capable of channeling it without destroying it’s self. We almost lost him at 9 years old. His father developed the limiters that keep him from accessing the Chaos Magic. For this to happen he had to choose to disengage the limiters.”
“He knew what would happen.” Said Padma. “He dropped those silver things and told us to turn away.”
“He did that to save your sight and to keep you from getting burned.” Wanda shook her head sadly. “His immature use of the magic creates a lot of heat and light, as you can see from his body, more than enough to burn or blind someone close. I’m afraid we were not the best example for Harry. Sometimes I think he is too willing to sacrifice himself to protect others rather than run and lead others away.”
“No!” Hermione almost shouted. “His first instinct was to run from the troll, he tried to lead us away. But the staircase moved and we were trapped. He did that to himself to protect us.”
“I’m sorry; I wasn’t trying to denigrate Harry. He’s been my friend for more than 5 years. He’s a wonderful boy.”
“We were just up in the Astronomy tower working on a project. We were teasing him about mislabeling some stars and nebula, and then that troll showed up and now Harry’s all hurt, a professor was possessed, and… “Padma started to cry. Hermione clung to her and started crying herself.
Minerva looked to Poppy who was still working on Harry. She nodded. Minerva reached into the cabinet next to the door to Poppy’s office and removed a pair of vials.
“Ladies.” The pair of girls looked up into the eyes of their transfiguration teacher, blinking away tears. “This has been a rough night for the pair of you, and you’ve held up better than many witches twice you age, but its catching up to you now. Drink these.” She handed each of them one of the vials. “Those potions will help you sleep. Get into those beds. You’ll still be here in the morning; Harry should be a bit better then.”
Dutifully the pair climbed into the beds and drank the potions. They were asleep before they finished lowering the vials to the side tables.
May 11 1985:
Orange County Child Services
French Lick, Indiana.
“Mr. Stark, the child is… well, different. We aren’t really equipped to care for him.”
In the corner of the room the tiny black haired boy sat quietly. There were blocks and crayons with paper on the table he sat at, but he most studiously avoided touching them. Tony really didn’t understand that, in his entire life he had never seen a child so young sit so quietly. Outside the door to the office something happened, causing a loud noise that startled the boy, and once again the electric blue dome formed over him.
“He does that all the time.” The woman said, Tony couldn’t recall her name. She leaned forward conspiratorially. “I think he may be a mutant.”
“May I speak with him?” Tony Stark asked, pushing all of his charm into the question. As usual, the woman reacted to his patented bachelor vibe and nodded.
Tony moved over to the small table where the boy sat, still quiet as a mouse. Collapsing his tall frame to fit in the tiny chair, he met the boy’s gaze. Startled again, the boy looked away. What had his life been like to be this cowed at such a young age?
“Hello Harry. My name is Tony. I work at the place where your Aunt and Uncle got hurt.”
A look of terror filled the boy’s eyes. “I didn’t do it. I didn’t do anything.”
“We know that Harry. It’s ok that you’re scared. When I heard about what happened I was scared, and I wasn’t even there. I’ve called your Aunt in England.”
Again the fear showed. “Aunt Marge?”
“Yes Harry. Your Aunt Marge told my assistant that she couldn’t take you because she is too old to care for a young man like you.”
“Aunt Marge doesn’t like me. Nobody likes me because I’m bad. I try real hard, but I’m always bad.”
“From what I’ve seen, you’re a good boy Harry. As far as I can find out, you don’t have any other relatives. Do you know of any?”
“No sir. My mum and dad died in a car crash. My Uncle said they were drunk.”
What a horrible thing to say to a child. What kind of man had that bastard Dursley been in life anyway?
“I was wondering if you would like to live with me Harry?”
“With you? Yes Sir. I could do that. I’ll work hard. I can make breakfast, and I can weed the garden and I can clean bathrooms. Uncle Vernon said I could start mowing the lawn this summer. I don’t eat much sir, and I don’t need much space.”
“Harry, I’m not looking to hire a servant. I was asking if you would like to live with me. If you would like it, I would like to adopt you. You would be my little boy.”
The morning after the Troll incident, breakfast was served as usual. Albus Dumbledore was seated at the head table radiating peace and serenity in that way he did that calmed almost everyone in the room. He was well aware that Minerva and Filius were not among those calmed by him this morning, but the students were amazingly unaware of the details of the previous night’s adventure.
Dumbledore’s serenity was suddenly shattered when something, no two extremely powerful somethings crossed the wards. What ever they were, they were flying and moving at very high speed. He had barely risen from his seat when the doors leading to the Entry Hall slammed open.
The Headmaster turned to see three people standing at the doorway. An extremely tall blonde man, an ethereal blonde woman clad in green and wearing nothing on her feet, and a man he recognized. A man who couldn’t possibly be here without Dumbledore’s specific invitation.
“Dumbledore, what the hell have you allowed to happen to my son?” The tall dark haired man strode to the head table to stand directly in front of the Headmaster. “You swore that this was the safest place in Britain, that nothing could happen to Harry as long as he was here, and you let a damned Mountain Troll into your school?”
Dumbledore’s eyes drifted to the Hufflepuff table where Agatha Harkness was sitting, holding court as the most famous living Hufflepuff. She smiled and saluted him with her goblet.
“Mr. Stark, you are understandably upset, perhaps we should retire to my office where we can discuss this calmly.”
“Your office? Are you insane man? My son almost dies because you can’t do your job properly and you want me to go to your office? I’m going to see Harry.”
“Mr. Stark, I assure you all is well…”
“All is well? I’m interested in how you decided that. You let a troll get, not on to the grounds, but inside the school it’s self. My son was forced to defend him self, almost dying doing so. The only reason he is still alive is he presented a pair of classmates with the means of calling for help. You have yet to notify me of his status, I’m suspecting that the Grangers and the Patils also have yet to be notified of the dangers their children found themselves in. Harry still hasn’t wakened, and you’re assuring me all is well?”
Dumbledore was taken aback at the man’s vitriol. Did he not know to whom he was speaking? Giving no outward sign he concentrated and applied a calming compulsion to the man. Tony Stark’s eyes dilated for a second and he smiled, then his brow furrowed, and the fire returned to his eyes. He leaned over the table, putting himself inches from the Headmaster’s face.
“Old man, you know the circles I deal with. You made that clear when you decided to visit us this summer. I am a technologist. I build things. My friends encounter cowards who try to control the minds of others all the time. Try to control my thoughts again and I will rip your mind from your body. If I ever find out you used your mind control on my son, and not a single stone of this lovely castle will be left standing. Do I make myself clear?”
“What I do is for the greater good Mr. Stark.” Did this Muggle really think Dumbledore would be frightened by his threats? Though his unexplained ability to throw off a compulsion did give the Headmaster pause.
“’The Greater Good’? That has been the refuge of bullies since time began old man. Everyone believes what he does is right or justified. What makes you special?” The man stood back “I want to see my son.”
Dumbledore watched as Filius led the elder Stark out of the Great Hall on his way to the Hospital Wing. He turned his attention to the Muggle’s two companions.
“I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave the castle. You have no family here and are not allowed to stay.”
The broad shouldered man smiled down at Dumbledore. “I am Merlyn’s representative in this reality little wizard. My mission is to justice, not your nebulous ‘greater good’. You lack the power to remove me, as your amusing wards told you when we arrived. Normally I wouldn’t have anything to do with your kind, as Merlyn advised, but this is a favor for a trusted friend. We will be staying until Mr. Stark is ready to leave.”
“Merlyn really doesn’t like you or what your people have been doing with his heritage” the bare footed woman said. “Now that I’ve met you, I can understand why the land here is so unhappy.”
At the Hufflepuff table, Agatha Harkness was surrounded by delighted ‘puffs. The sheer glee of having the acknowledged ‘most powerful witch in the world’ turn out to be a Hufflepuff was only slightly dimmed by the knowledge that she was banished from Britain for life and was liable to be arrested at any time… Though any Aurors who attempted to make such an arrest on Hogwarts grounds might suddenly discover they lived in interesting times and that was before Mistress Harkness (as she let the ‘puffs know she preferred to be called) cast a spell. Not to mention that finding Aurors to make that arrest might be chancy given the number of ‘puffs in the service.
Those who claimed that the badger house was a dumping ground for near squibs and dullards could choke on it.
“Mistress Harkness?” Shy fourth year Cedric Diggory spoke up. “Since we heard you were here, we looked you up in the house records. Those records tell us that you didn’t finish your seventh year due to being banished.” He blushed. “The records do not record what you were banished for. Is it too rude to ask what it was you did?”
“Never shy away from asking questions young Badger.” Agatha smiled at the blushing boy. “If I view your question as being too personal or too forward I will not answer it. I have been a teacher for a very long time, I live for questions.”
“Why the old fools attempted to banish me and why they still pretend that they could is actually a story that is both amusing and sad. Are you sure you want to hear it?”
There was a chorus of affirmatives.
“During my seventh year there was a Dark Lord on the rise. Do any of you know of Dark Lord Derkholm?”
“Derkholm was an especially nasty Dark Lord who reined from 1672 through 1680. He was noted for his use of Magic Stealing rituals on young girls.” Supplied Penelope Clearwater. She had come from the Ravenclaw table as soon as she realized that there might be something to learn.
“Very good Miss?”
“Penelope Clearwater ma’am.”
“You have an excellent grasp of recent history Miss Clearwater.” She smiled when she saw the looks on their faces. “Recent for me at any rate.”
“At any rate, Derkholm’s forces captured me and 12 other girls on a Hogsmeade trip. We were added to the four girls he already had. Derkholm did his rituals in groups of seven. I was selected for the second set of seven that afternoon. Number 6 actually. Doing the ritual 12 times in a row was evidently somewhat intoxicating. He inverted the transfer rune on the cluster.”
“So instead of your magic going to him, his went to you?”
“Quite right Mr. Diggory. His magic, his life, and the magic he had stolen from 236 other girls. In one fell swoop, I became the most powerful witch in the world. The old fools of the Wizengamot decided that since I had the power of a Dark Wizard, I must be dark. They ordered my death.”
“I didn’t feel the need to cooperate, so I defended myself. 23 Aurors later, the Wizengamot decided that perhaps I shouldn’t be killed. I believe my standing in their chamber threatening to flay the skin from all their bodies may have had something to do with that decision. After I left they decided to banish me for life. I ignored that as well, until my betrothed broke it off with me. That was when I left for the Massachusetts colony, vowing never to return.” She smiled again. “It took my favorite student in over a century to get me to return.”
“But Mistress Harkness. What if someone calls the Aurors?” asked Susan Bones making a mental note to ask her Auntie Amelia about this injustice.
“As I told your headmaster last night, if who ever sends them after me doesn’t care about their Aurors, why should I?”
Harry hurt. He hurt all over his body. It was better than his last memory though. And he was warm. That was good. His eyes hurt too. Could magic cure blindness? He couldn’t recall Mistress Harkness having anything to say on the subject. But then it wasn’t really likely to have come up.
There was a light murmur of conversation in the room. He girded himself and opened his eyes. He found his father looking down into his eyes.
“Hey kid. What did I tell you about leading with your chin?”
“When did you get here?”
“Here in the infirmary? About three minutes ago. I’ve been in the castle about 20 minutes. I got into the UK about two hours after Agatha and Wanda got her. The delay was finding Brian and Meggan to help me find this place. Even with the GPS coordinates, I kept missing.” He ruffled the boy’s hair. “Wanda told me what you looked like last night. Madam Pomfrey is quite the healer. Think I could hire her away for the Avengers?”
“Jarvis might get jealous if you got someone else to patch people up.”
“True enough. Your friends here have been telling me that you saved them from a huge troll.”
Harry looked over to see Padma and Hermione both sitting in beds, eating from trays and smiling shyly at him. “I’m sorry Dad. I didn’t mean to worry anyone. We tried to run, but we were trapped. Then I tried the weapons in my Techsuit, but all they did was make the troll mad.”
“Did you archive the target specs in your upgrade file?”
“Yes sir. After the Techsuit didn’t work, I really didn’t have much choice. You’ve seen the specs on a troll. If it had been just me, I would have tried to dodge around him, but with three of us, someone was going to get hurt.”
“And you decided, better you than them?”
“Yes sir.” Harry couldn’t meet his father’s eyes.
“You did the right thing Harry. Would I prefer you didn’t get hurt? Most certainly.” He looked around to see if anyone was paying close attention to their conversation. “Am I surprised that you put your body between danger and your friends? No. Look at the example you’ve been given. Steve, Clint, Ben, Jennifer, Wanda, hell, even me. What do we do? You’re a good kid Harry. You did the right thing.”
“Thank you Dad. I’m not sure I believe it, but thank you.”
“Are you still set on staying here?”
Harry nodded. “Yes sir. I like being with people like me.”
“Yes?” When Tony and Harry had started talking she had moved away to near the door of the infirmary. The man who approached her was tall with a hooked nose, dressed all in black.
“My name is Severus Snape. If you had a moment, I was hoping I could escort you to breakfast in the Great Hall, that we might discuss your work in Chaos Magic.”
“I’m surprised Mr. Snape. I was under the impression that most wizards viewed my work on the theory of Chaos Magic as something just short of heresy.”
“You are correct, and until last night I was one of them, but after seeing an example of the practical application last night…”
“Are you one of Harry’s teachers?”
“I am. I teach Potions.”
“Breakfast would be nice.”
May 15 1985:
New York, New York
“And this is your room Harry.” The rotund man showed him to a huge room, with a bed, bookcase, desk, dresser, and a lot of things. This room was bigger than the sitting room back at #4 Privet Drive.
“All this is for me?”
“Yes, this is your bedroom. When you’re ready I’ll show you around the rest of the family rooms.”
“There’s more? Wow.”
“Yes Harry the house is quite large. Would you like help unpacking?”
“Oh, no Mr. Jarvis, I can do it.” The small boy opened the single very cheap suitcase he had brought with him. From the case he removed a pair of jeans and two shirts, those three items, like the shirt and pants he was wearing, appeared to be brand new. “I love these clothes.” The little boy murmured to him self.
“It’s just ‘Jarvis’ Harry. Please no one calls me Mr. You love those outfits do you?”
“Oh, yes sir. They are the first new clothes I can remember. I got them special for the trip. Uncle Vernon didn’t want me to come, but there wasn’t anyone to take care of me for six weeks. So I got to come.” The boy’s eyes so bright suddenly dimmed “Then the accident happened.”
Three shirts and two pair of pants were the first new clothes he could remember? “Well Harry, that’s behind you. Mr. Stark wants you to stay with us from now on.” Edwin Jarvis was wishing he could have met this ‘Vernon Dursley’ while he was alive. Perhaps a short lesson in how bullies were dealt with in Brooklyn would have straightened the man out. “It seems to me that you could use a few more outfits. Perhaps tomorrow we can go shopping for a few things.”
“I don’t want to be a burden Sir. Don’t worry about me.”
“Harry, you could never be a burden.”
“Yes Dad. I need to stay here. I need to be with others like me.”
“Alright kiddo. You cook yourself again, and your butt will be back in New York before you can say Brighton Beach. Jarvis is likely to kill me as it is.”
“Make sure you tell Jarvis I’m ok Dad.”
“He knows. Brian, thank you for your help, I’ll be hitching a ride back to London with Agatha and Wanda. Megan, as usual it has been a treat to see you.”
“Any time Tony. Take care of yourself Harry.”
“Thank you Mr. Braddock.”
“Take care young Harry.”
“And you Mistress Harkness. Thank you for coming.”
Harry watched as his father and the two witches disappeared, while Brian and Megan flew off. He watched until the fliers were too far away to make out. He then turned and reentered the castle. He had some Herbology homework to finish.
May 27 1985:
New York, New York
Harry had lost track of time. The picture book about dragons and trolls and goblins had taken hold of his imagination and he had lost himself in imagining a world where such things existed. Jarvis had knocked on his door reminding him that there were visitors and that dinner would be in half an hour. He came barreling around a corner and ran full bore into someone very large, very hard, and very… Orange?
“Watch it there sport.” A very deep gravelly voice came from the huge… person.
Harry stared up at the person. “Are you a rock?”
The huge person laughed a deep friendly sounding laugh. “My skin is sort of like a rock, but I’m a man. My name is Ben. You must be Harry.”
“Yes sir. Could I touch you?”
The man laughed again. He extended his hand. Harry wrapped both his hand around the massive orange index finger. “Wow! That is so amazing!”
“Come on Harry; let’s find my nephew, Franklin.”
“Yes Sir. Have you always been like this?”
“No, we were trying to go the moon, we didn’t use the right shielding and we came back changed.”
“We? Are there more orange people?”
“No, we all changed in different ways. My best friend is like a rubber band, his wife can turn invisible, and her brother can turn into fire and fly.”
“That is so cool. You are all so lucky!” He gestured to himself. “This is all I am.”
The big man laughed again. “Sometimes it’s good to be just you Harry. You’ll grow into yourself given time.”
A small blond boy ran up. “Unca Ben! Unca Johnny’s telling people that purple pants story about you.”
“Oh he is is he?” the large orange man rushed into the room.
“Hi.” Said the blond boy. “I’m Franklin. Are you Harry?”
“Yeah. Ben is your Uncle?”
“Yeah, all my life.”
“You are so lucky. He’s the coolest uncle in the world. All mine did was yell at me, he could turn colors too, but I think that was mostly being mad.”
“Come on. When ever Unca Johnny tells the purple pants story, Unca Ben ends up grabbing him and holding him under water until his fire goes out. That’s really funny!”
“Your other uncle turns into fire? Man, you are so lucky.”
Stuart Granger parked the car and got out. His wife Kristine came to his side.
“I always wanted to take you here, but the costs are astronomical.”
“Don’t worry about that Stuart, we’re here now. I can’t believe we got an invitation from Tony Stark no less. Do you think he might have Iron Man here?”
“It’s Hermione that’s the Super Hero fan Kris, not you. I just find myself wondering what he wants.”
At the reception desk, Stuart mentioned the Stark party, and the pair was escorted back to a private room.
“Ah, the Grangers. Welcome. I’m Tony Stark.” He gave then that smile known world wide. “This is Chandrahas Patil and his wife Dhanyata. Mr, Mrs Patil these are the Grangers, Stuart and Kristine. I can see you all have questions. You’re asking yourself why has he called us here.”
“It turns out that we have something in common. Our children are all students at Hogwarts.”
The Patils immediately became very alert. “You’re a wizard?”
“No. My adopted son is however, just like the Granger’s daughter Hermione.”
The Patils and the Grangers stared at him expectantly. “We have things to discuss, but I think it would be more comfortable to do so over our meal, without the wait staff in attendance.”
Surrendering to this, the group looked to their menus and ordered. They made small talk while their meal was prepared and served. As soon as the wine was poured the servers left and the room was sealed.
“Excuse me one moment.” Tony opened his briefcase and removed a small object; he twisted it and placed it on another table. “Now we’re safe from eavesdroppers. Last night our children, my son Harry, the Patil’s Padma, and the Granger’s Hermione were going to dinner from the castle’s Astronomy tower when they were confronted by a Mountain Troll.” The Patils gasped. “Stuart, Kristine, I don’t blame you for not knowing, I had to look it up myself when I found out. A mountain troll is a nasty creature that averages four meters tall, weighing in at around 600 kilos. They are aggressive and will kill most people they come across.”
“From what I’ve been told, the kids attempted to escape, but evidently the stair cases move and they were trapped with the troll attacking. If you’re aware of my work, then it won’t surprise you that my son has some technological advantages that other students at Hogwarts do not. He used his weapons, but couldn’t do more than annoy the troll.”
Stark went on to explain what Harry had done, and the level of injury he had sustained in doing so. The Grangers seemed to assume that Harry was just an above average magic user based on Letters sent by Hermione. The Patils were startled at the admission that Harry had managed to use Chaos magic, even if he did so in a self destructive way.
“What concerns me is that the school made no effort to inform me, and the headmaster was angered when I presumed to appear at the castle. That was when I asked myself if either of Harry’s friend’s parents had been informed of the situation they had found themselves in.”
Both sets of parents were surprised by the revelation of their children’s adventure, and said so.
“I thought so. I have an idea that will facilitate communication between our children and ourselves. With your permission I would like to supply both Padma and Hermione with technology that will allow them to communicate almost instantly with you. Given my choice I would be pulling my son out of that mad house, Harry on the other hand has a deep need to prove himself to those like himself. From the way they were together at Hogwarts, it’s a safe bet to me that the three of them will remain together at least for a while, so if the girls have a way to talk to you, and you have a way to talk to me, that triples the chance that I will hear what my wayward child is up to.”
“I do not understand.” Chandrahas Patil said. “Ours is a magical household, from everything I know of Muggle technology, it will not work in such an environment. We do use Muggle technology in our business, but we cannot at home.”
“Ah, an unexploited market… you make the businessman in me salivate. Having Harry around has necessitated my learning to develop technology that works with the magic instead of trying to make it work in spite of it. I will need to tune the kids modules to them, but your home units will work fine with the ambient level of magic you generate.”
“Will the children’s devices give them any advantages in their studies?” asked Kristine Granger.
Doubtful, unless Hermione hacks into the system to add the capabilities. Harry could do it if he wanted, but tells me doing it the normal way is easier.”
The discussion went on for another hour. In the end both families agreed, and were indeed looking forward to the new method of communicating with their children. It was agreed that the Starks would visit both families when the children returned to London for the Christmas Holidays.
July 20 1985:
Stark International Corporate Day Care
NYC New York.
“Come On Harry, Grab your things.”
“Hi Pepper! Just a sec.” Pepper Hogan watched the boy say good bye to his playmates, put away the truck he had been playing with, and rushed over to the square shelf labeled with his name before running to meet her.
“How was your day Harry? Learn anything new?”
“Miss Allison says I’m ready for school in September. We spent about an hour learning to write our names in joined together writing. Little r’s are hard. See?” He handed her several pieces of paper.
“I remember that. I was lucky; I only had one r in my name. You’ve got three.” She regarded the pages like they were vitally important, which of course they were. “This is quite good Harry. Are you looking forward to school?”
“Oh yes. I’m tired of being a little boy. I want to be big.”
They arrived at the executive elevator. Pepper waited while Harry pushed the call button. This was a routine they had worked out over the last few of weeks; Harry was in charge of the elevator buttons. The elevator arrived and they entered together. Harry stretched on his tip toes but he couldn’t quite reach the button for the 84th floor. Pepper lifted him up, one hand under each arm so that he could reach.
“I seem to recall someone has a birthday coming up.” Pepper said as the elevator began its rise to Tony’s office level. “Any ideas for what I might get a certain young man?”
“Whose? Is it Franklin’s birthday?”
The question was pure Harry, completely honest. He had no idea when his birthday was. “Yours silly. You’re going to be five. So, what would you like for your birthday?”
“I’ve got everything I’ve ever wanted Pepper. There is only one thing I’m wishing for, but if I tell what it is, the wish won’t come true.”
“Sometimes wishes need a little help Harry. You can tell me what you’re wishing for. I’ll try to help.”
Harry stood staring at the numbers flashing above the sliding door of the elevator, his little mouth set in a line as he reached a decision. He would trust her. “If I could have anything, I wish I could call Tony Daddy.”
The door slid open and Harry exited the elevator. Pepper just watched as he left unable to move, silent tears running down her cheeks. The door started to close, but she pressed the open door button and rushed to the Ladies washroom to repair her face. It took almost a quarter hour to calm down enough to return to her desk. Harry was at the table he used to read and play at while waiting for Tony to be ready to go home. Pepper ruffled his hair as she walked by and entered the executive office of Tony Stark.
Tony was at his desk, facing him was his long time friend and former pilot James “Rhodey” Rhodes. Tony looked up from the conversation and noticed Pepper had come into the room.
“How’s our boy?” The billionaire asked.
“More than ready to start school. Miss Allison was teaching him to write his name in cursive. He tells me that the small r’s are hard.” She handed over the evidence of the difficulty of cursive lowercase r’s.
“Bet he did it perfectly because it was hard.” Tony Stark, multibillionaire, international industrialist, superhero wondered for the moment what file this paper would end up in, Harry’s Achievements or Harry’s Artwork. He had started both files a week after Harry had come to live with him, never imagining just how important the contents would become to him. “God I love that kid.” He said to himself more than to anyone in the room.
Rhodey leaned back in his chair and laughed. “I never thought I’d live to see the day that the worlds number one most eligible bachelor Tony Stark, old Love ‘em and Leave ‘em himself would fall for a kid.”
“Says the man who put the Lear’s controls into the hands of a four year old.”
“Hey!” the tall black man said. “I’ve always liked kids; it’s only you that all this is new for.” He was still laughing at his friend. “By the way, did you ever figure out why the cockpit electronics crashed?”
Stark shook his head. That was still a mystery. Almost as soon as Harry laid hands on the controls, every single system crashed… Just like when his shield bubble was flaring and Hank’s instruments were frying… Was it an effect of Harry’s magic? Have to look at that.
“Tony, on the way up I asked Harry what he would like for his birthday. He didn’t know when his birthday was.”
“Yet another thing the Dursleys are going to pay for in Hell I guess. Did you find out what he wants?”
“He wants to call you Daddy.”
The two men in the room were shocked into silence. “Are you serious?”
“God yes Tony. When he told me it was all I could do not to burst into tears in front of him. That is quite literally all he wants for his birthday.”
“Tony, I swear to god, if you don’t hurry up and adopt that kid, I’m going to truss your ass up, break both your legs, and drop you right back in that Guatemalan jungle I found you in.” Again a smile creased the big man’s face. “Seriously, you’re good for him, and you NEED him. The last two months with him has you being more human than you’ve been in years.”
“Pepper, get me Stewart, Myers, and Stuben on the phone. I think it’s time they lit a fire under someone’s ass over this.”
The morning after his unwanted guests had left the castle, Albus Dumbledore was in a foul mood. He had never imagined that the Dursley’s going on a business trip would have such an effect on his carefully laid plans. The sudden unwanted appearance of the elder Stark had demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that Dumbledore had nowhere near the amount of influence over young Harry that his plans required. The sheer power the boy had locked inside of his body was truly amazing. Surely this was a power the Dark Lord knew not, but was it enough? The confirmation that night that Voldemort was indeed still alive only made matters worse.
It was the arrogance of the Muggle that so irked the ancient wizard. The man came to Dumbledore’s school and made demands? The man was lucky he wasn’t now experiencing life as an invertebrate.
Of course the things had only gotten worse. An appearance at the lunch that same day by Amelia Bones.
Dumbledore looked up from his meal, to find the broad, square-jawed witch staring at him, her monocle magnifying her left eye in a most intimidating manner.
“We need to speak.” She said.
“Amelia, lovely to see you. Could I offer you some lunch.”
The witch leaned across the staff table until she was practically nose to nose with him. “Albus, unless you would like a loud discussion with an absolute likelihood of your staff and students hearing me call you a bloody fool here in front of the entire school, we should go to your office. Right now.”
Two minutes later the pair were in the Headmasters office.
“What is this about Amelia?”
“Why did I have to wait until I got an owl from my niece to find out that you had a troll attack a student INSIDE the castle?”
“I’m not sure how that would come under your brief Amelia; I assure you that Hogwarts is the safest place in…”
“Safest place is it? I must have missed the rash of Troll attacks that occurred all over the country that would allow you to make that claim. As for how your incident comes under my brief, the attack was INSIDE your bloody castle Albus. The only sign of damage to the castle walls is where young Mr. Stark blew a hole in the wall on the fourth floor. I had my Aurors do a complete sweep of the castle. What does this mean? It means someone let the troll in. That is a crime.”
“Now I hear that your Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor is dead, and that witnesses saw you fighting his animated corpse until of all people in the universe Agatha Harkness herself banished the possessing spirit. How is it that none of this was reported to me Albus? At very least that someone DIED. How did he die Albus? Who or what possessed him? What was someone under a lifetime banishment order doing here in your school?”
The bloody woman wouldn’t let him get a word in edgewise. “Amelia, you don’t understand…”
“Now I hear that you have announced to the school that there is something on the third floor that will kill them. What dangerous thing do you have on the third floor Albus? Why isn’t something dangerous enough to need a warning on my list of things to be aware of? What is something that dangerous doing in the school my niece attends? You and I are going to have a conversation now, and you are going to answer each and every one of my questions, without your normal evasions. If when we are done, if I’m still not satisfied, then you and I will be returning to Auror Headquarters for an official interview.”
It had taken almost three hours to satisfy all of her questions; even then Amelia had threatened frequent and unannounced visits to check up on things. All of this disruption could be laid at the feet of Harry Potter being a free agent. The boy needed guidance. He needed to be controlled.
Dumbledore had to exert control over the boy, plain and simple. A good first step might be to accelerate the acclimation to the Wizarding world. If the boy could be convinced to spend his Christmas Holiday at a trustworthy pureblood family… The Weasley’s perhaps, he would start to feel the proper ‘obligation’ toward Wizarding culture… Perhaps the beginning of a romantic relationship with the youngest Weasley? He was well aware of the crush the girl had for the boy who lived… Perhaps…
Dumbledore crossed to his offices fireplace and threw a pinch of powder into the hearth. “Molly Weasley!”
Harry leaned against the exterior wall of the castle, unable to catch his breath. The potions and charms that Madam Pomfrey had used to rebuild his body had regenerated the muscles and ligaments, strengthened the bones and generally knitted him back together from the damage he had done himself, but the restored flesh had no tone. It had taken most of a day to learn to walk again, and now a week later he was still weak as a kitten.
“Harry? What are you doing to yourself?”
“I’m just out of shape Padma. Same as I told Hermione yesterday.”
“But why are you driving yourself so hard Harry?”
“Christmas is coming. I can’t go home for Christmas in this kind of shape. The man who trained me will be there, and he’ll be… I don’t know, disappointed in me.”
“Harry, be sensible. You almost died. You’re going to hurt yourself if you keep this up.”
“It was only a mile Padma.” He was getting his wind back. “When Steve gets hold of me this would be a vacation. I’ve just got to get myself back into condition.”
She stroked the hair out of his eyes. “Harry, please, just take it easier alright? If you kill yourself, who would Hermione and I feel superior too? We need you.”
July 25 1985:
NYC New York.
Harry wandered aimlessly throughout the mansion. Jarvis had needed to come and take care of a few things at this house, and had allowed Harry to come along. Jarvis had told Harry to stay out of any room that looked like it might be a lab or had weapons in it. Harry always tried to mind.
This room didn’t look like a lab, and it didn’t look like a place for weapons. It looked kind of cool, with soft mats on the floor, mirrors on the walls and things that looked like the tires on a heavy axle, only metal. There was a tall blond man picking up the metal wheels by their axle. It was obviously very heavy; Harry could see the muscles stand out from his massive arms as he hefted the odd thing. He would lift it off the ground until he was standing upright, and then lift them from waist level to his chest several times.
Suddenly Harry remembered what a room like this was called. It was a gym. A place where people got stronger. He didn’t think that the big blond man could get much stronger. When he lifted the big wheel things, the axle actually bent. Those wheels must be real heavy.
“Hello there. You must be Harry.”
The big man had noticed him. “Yes Sir. I didn’t mean to bother you.”
“You’re not bothering me Harry, I’m just doing my morning workout. My name’s Steve by the way.” He put the big wheel things down; they made a ‘clank’ sound that Harry thought was funny. Steve was dressed in a white undershirt with no sleeves, and green pants that had many pockets, both where pockets normally were, and pouches on the legs as well. Harry thought that pants like that would be very handy for keeping interesting things in. Steve also wore a pair of laced up boots that went to about his mid calf. Those boots were black and very shiny. Harry thought that he might even be able to see his face in them if he got close enough.
“Do you work out Harry?”
“No sir. I think that Mr. Stark has a room like this, but it’s a grownup place.”
“He does, I set it up for him. I think he spends too much time in his office and using tools that don’t let him use his muscles as much as he should. A young man like you doesn’t need a lot of things like this.” He gestured to the room. “But learning to keep yourself in good shape would probably be good for you.”
“Could you show me Sir?”
“Well, we’d have to check with Tony first, but I think I could come by a couple times a week to help you out. Keeping up with an active young man like you would probably be good for me as well.” He knelt to put himself eyelevel with the boy. “You might keep me young.”
6a.m. the next morning Steve Rogers introduced Harry to his first lesson in physical education. An hour of Tai Chi followed by a quarter mile run before breakfast. Rogers never intended this lesson to last more than a month. He never understood how important the time he spent with Harry was to him until the boy left for his school in Scotland six years later.
On November 12th Harry was finally healthy enough to rejoin the all house study group that met in the Great Hall following the evening meal most nights. Of course the first order of business was to explain what had happened to every student’s satisfaction, and far more importantly, (at least to the older male students) and explanation of whom the hot redhead who spent so much time in the hospital wing was, and who the blonde woman who arrived with his father was. Harry explained as best he could, assuring more than one boy that, no they were not blood relations and that it was unlikely that they would be visiting again.
The Hufflepuffs were very interested in his relationship with Mistress Harkness, and if he had a way to communicate with her. He tried explaining that Mistress Harkness was an exceedingly private person and he could not just ‘send her an owl’ (a concept he still did not truly believe), but he would take any letters they cared to send home with him on the Christmas holiday and do what he could to see that she got them.
Then there were the Muggle raised and Muggle born who had made the association of Harry Stark and Stark International after seeing his father in the Great Hall when he was yelling at Dumbledore (Harry made a note to find out why his father had done that.) and when the elder Stark had taken a meal at the Ravenclaw table with Padma and Hermione. Suddenly many more people understood why his electronics worked here and he was bombarded with requests for the availability of commercial versions.
It took most of an hour for the group to actually get around to studying together. Harry was plowing through his transfiguration essay when Draco Malfoy settled into the seat next to him.
“Evening Draco. How are things in Slytherin house?”
“Quiet now that your excitement has settled down. What the hell did you do to that Troll?”
“I was accidentally shown how Chaos magic works. Before anyone knew I was doing it, I learned how to access the Chaos. It does a number on me, but it’s effective.”
“And that Redhead was your teacher?”
“Sorta kinda. She was learning to use it, and I watched. Like a little idiot, I emulated what she was doing, and boom, I almost killed myself. Since then she’s been helping me with exercises to try to develop a little control without killing myself. Not working too well so far, but there you go.”
“See? If you were a pureblood you wouldn’t have that problem.” The platinum haired boy looked pleased with himself.
“Actually if I was about 12 years older I wouldn’t have that problem. Draco, seriously, not one of the 18 or so who qualify as masters of Chaos magic would fit in your definition of ‘pure blood’. Hell, I think I’m the only actual wizard on the path to that mastery.”
“The Redhead isn’t?”
“Wanda is a witch, but not our kind. Her magic comes from education and talent, not biology. Her original power set is that of a mutant. The magic came later.”
“Draco, seriously, you’ve go to let go of all this bigotry. Who your father is doesn’t matter a tinkers dam, it’s who you are. It’s fine to be proud of your father, I love mine so much I can’t describe it, but his accomplishments aren’t mine, they’re his. Someday I may inherit his holdings, but I will never be half the man Tony Stark is, not in my wildest dreams.”
Realizing that he wasn’t going to get anymore work done, Harry packed his things away. “Just like I’ll never be Tony Stark or James Potter since you’re so hung up on biological lines, you will never be your father. At most you will imitate him, but you won’t be him. But if you spend so much time trying to be your father, when will you be you? Who will your son look up to?”
As usual, Harry and Draco’s discussions were gathering a crowd.
“You just don’t understand.”
“Oh, I fully acknowledge that. I have a problem wrapping my mind around your side. I suspect that you don’t understand my position either. But that doesn’t really matter, maybe we’re not supposed to understand each other, maybe the whole purpose of our discussions is for each of us to express our positions so that others can hear what we have to say and form their own opinions.”
“But the culture of the British Wizards is important! We have led the world in so many ways, diluting that culture with outsiders is weakening it.”
“Culture IS important; you haven’t heard and won’t hear me say otherwise. But Draco, have you considered what would happen to your culture without those you call ‘outsiders’?”
“What do you mean?” The blond boy was confused.
“Ok, think about it. How many siblings do you have?”
Harry smiled. “Exactly. Susan. You’re a pureblood right? Any brothers or sisters?”
The Hufflepuff shook her head.
“Ok, of the purebloods here Weasley’s excluded, how many of you have siblings?” Four hands went up.
“Hey!” Ron Weasley asked from the end of the table. “Why are Weasley’s excluded?”
“Because we all knew you had siblings and you would throw the average off.” Harry explained. “No offense intended. I should also exclude any twins from the sample. What that leaves is an entire generation of British Wizarding Purebloods that are only children. When you look further up your family trees do you have lots of Aunts and Uncles? If said Aunts and Uncles didn’t have kids, they don’t count. For what ever reason my research in the library showed me that for about 6 generations pureblood families have, by and large, had single children. The Mundane Aristocracy calls their versions of it having ‘An Heir and a Spare’, but you pure bloods by and large aren’t bothering with the spare. In order to maintain a population level, a family needs to have two children, but they haven’t been doing that. Without ‘outsiders’ like the First Generations magic users and immigrants like the Patils, the Purebloods with likely be extinct in seven or eight more generations.“
July 31 1985:
New York, New York
“Harry!” Franklin Richards ran into the room with a large gift wrapped in his arms.
“Hi Franklin. Glad you could come.” He took the gift that Franklin handed him. “Thanks. Are your uncles coming?”
“Unca Ben wanted to, but Mom said that he would hog all the cake.” The Blond boy laughed. “He said that he would only eat half the cake, and then teach us to play a card game named ‘poker’.”
“I wish he had come, he is so cool.”
Harry led Franklin to the dining room.
“Hey! There are girls in there.”
“Yeah, Pepper said I could invite everyone from my class at Stark Day Care. All seven of them came.”
“I don’t like girls.”
“Franklin, they’re fun. Besides, more people here means more people to play with.”
“But Harry, they’re girls!”
“Yeah, but they came. This is my first party. I was worried that no one would come.”
Franklin boggled at the idea of not having a birthday party before. He followed Harry into the party and found himself having fun. After several games and a water balloon fight on the lawn (won by the three girls in attendance because they banded together and ganged up on the boys who were all acting as individuals) it was time for presents.
Harry got books from all his class mates, because when he was asked in class what he wanted, he answered the first thing that popped into his mind. His first gifts were things he could actually use. As Jarvis had told him once, a young man could never have too many books.
From Franklin and his uncles got a robot fighting game, only instead of the red and blue robots, Franklin’s father Reed had modified the toy to look like Franklin’s Uncle Ben and a big green man. The little robots spoke, the ‘Ben’ said things like “It’s Clobbering Time” and “I’m the Idol of Millions” and the Green Man said things like “Hulk Smash” and “Hulk is the strongest there is”. It bored the girls but the boys all thought that it was the coolest toy ever.”
Harry looked up from watching Franklin playing one of the other boys at the game and saw that Tony had come in. He ran over.
“Thank you. This is the most fun I’ve ever had.”
“Glad you’re having fun kiddo. Looks like you missed one present.” The man handed the boy a small flat box. Harry opened it and withdrew a sheaf of papers. The papers were filled with big words he didn’t understand, but he saw his name a few times on the top page. He looked up questioningly.
“I tried Harry, I really tried, but it takes a while to have an adoption go through. Those papers say that I can’t officially adopt you until next May. That’s ten months away.”
“I understand. Thank you for trying. Where do I go now?”
“You don’t understand Harry. You aren’t going anywhere. We are a family, you and me; it just won’t be official until May. For now, you stay here, and I’m your court appointed guardian until May.”
“I… I… I’m staying?”
“Yes you are. You’re going to be my son, just not until May. Until then, could you do me a favor?”
“Yes, yes, anything.”
“I was hoping that you might find it in your heart to call me Dad so we could practice for May. Could you do that for me Harry?”
The boy launched himself onto the man’s lap and wrapped his arms around the man’s neck. “I love you Daddy!” and he began to cry into the man’s neck.
“You wanted to speak with me Headmaster?”
“Yes Mr. Stark, please come in, have a seat.”
Harry took a seat in front of the Headmasters desk. In the back of the room behind Dumbledore stood a pair of adults he didn’t know. Both were redheads, and both seemed to look at him with some kind of reverence. This was more than a little disturbing. Who were these people, and why did they look at him like that?
Seeing Harry’s gaze fall on his guests, Dumbledore continued. “Harry, this is Arthur and Molly Weasley, the parents of Ron, Fred, George and Percy Weasley.”
Harry nodded his greeting, still wondering why these people were here. Part of him wondered if Dumbledore had ever just gotten to the point in a discussion in his entire life.
Arthur Weasley stepped forward. “Harry, I would like to extend an invitation to spend the Christmas holiday with us at our home.”
Harry blinked. Twice. “I thank you for the offer Mr. Weasley, but I’m confused by it. I barely know your son Ron, and have said about ten words to Percy. I know the twins a little better than either of the other two because they’re so outgoing. I have no idea why you would ask me to spend the Christmas Holidays with you. I have a father and home to go to, it’s not like I’m in need of a place to go.”
“Professor Dumbledore suggested we ask you, it would give you a chance to reacquaint yourself with the traditions of your heritage. For us the honor of having Harry Potter spend Christmas with us cannot be exaggerated.” Molly Weasley said. “Besides our daughter has had a crush on you since she first heard the story of the Boy Who Lived.”
Harry sat back in the chair. Were these people for real? “Mrs. Weasley, my name is Harry Stark, and it has been since I was 5 years old. Truthfully I don’t really care that much about my heritage. I love my father and fully intend to spend Christmas with him. I thank you for your offer, but no thank you.”
“Mr. Potter,” Dumbledore interrupted. “I really must insist that you consider this offer. You need to connect to your lost heritage. How can you expect to be prepared for your destiny if you are unaware of who you are?”
“Headmaster, you’ve got to be kidding. You come to me a week before the beginning of the holidays and want me to contact my father and tell him, ‘Sorry dad, but some complete strangers offered to let me stay at their home for Christmas, so I decided to accept. Don’t forget to write Dad.’ Why would I even want to do that? And as far as knowing who I am, I am Harry Stark. The son of Tony Stark.”
“Which means infinitely more than being born to him. He consciously chose to love me, to accept me, and to give me his name and his home. Do not try and tell me who my father is Headmaster. Was there anything else?”
“No Mr. Stark, you rudeness will be noted however.”
“I think perhaps we have differing ideas about what is rude Headmaster.” Harry had never been so angry. “Mr., Mrs. Weasley, my apologies for all of this.”
December 3 1985:
The Baxter Building
NYC New York.
“Well Tony, it wasn’t easy, but this is what is frying your systems.” The man in the blue body suit and lab coat reached quite literally across the room and handed Stark a file then retracted his arm back to a more human length.
“It took forever to isolate, but this is the energy he generates when he’s accessing his magic, intentionally or otherwise.”
Stark skimmed through the charts and readouts in the file.
“High energy, broad spectrum, propagation rate…” He looked up shocked. “Is this propagation rate right Reed?”
“I checked five times. The energy field propagates instantaneously. I could find no delay within the detection range of my instruments. FTL. It just IS. It isn’t the magic it’s self. This is more of a ‘carrier field’ that allows the magic to function within it.” Reed Richards ran his hand through his hair. “There must be a way to shield for this.”
“Shield for it? That’ll be a bitch, just look at the energy out put. Harry does this biologically?”
“Yes, and he’s completely unconscious of it. He puts as much of his mind to generating this field as you do to digesting your dinner. It is the carrier is disrupting your systems, not the actual magic. His energy reserves for the actual doing of his magic are fairly limited. I assume that they will grow with him; the carrier on the other hand doesn’t seem to be limited. There does seem to be an emotional component to the carrier though. When he and Franklin were playing yesterday I managed to maintain the scans on him for 9 hours. The carrier was present and at what I assume to be its full strength the entire time with two notable exceptions. The first appeared when he assisted Franklin in his chores, which yesterday was to clean his bathroom.”
“Harry over did it didn’t he?” Stark smiled grimly.
“Yes. What Sue considers cleaning his bathroom means she expected Franklin to empty his trash can, clean the sink, hang up his towel, and sweep the floor, and that’s all Franklin intended to do. Harry insisted that it wasn’t good enough. When he was done an hour later, the bath was spotless. Sue will be the first to tell you she has never cleaned the room that thoroughly, hell the robots I built to maintain the building don’t clean that thoroughly. Harry’s carrier dropped off to levels below what my instruments could detect as soon as he began the chore, and didn’t come back until Sue assured him that he had done the job properly. I suspect that at some point the boy has been abused.”
“That is a likely. In the accident that killed his guardians, he was frightened and looked to his Aunt for comfort. He got backhanded for his trouble.”
“They’re dead then? Good.” Richards had seen a lot of what was generally considered ‘evil’ but to lay hands on a child… unforgivable. “The other time the carrier was reduced was when he and Franklin took a nap. I think the nap was more for Susan’s benefit than the boys, but as soon as they settled down, both of them, Harry’s readings indicated that the field collapsed into his body until my instruments could barely detect it. In short there is a constant field around him, in intensifies in response to his emotions, and fades when he seemingly responds to certain conditioned commands, to the point that when he is responding to that conditioning his magic is even more restrained than when he is asleep.”
“Wonderful. Well with this data I can at least start looking for a way to try and shield for it, I mean unless…”
“I know that look Tony, what are you thinking about?”
Tony Stark was paging through the data looking for the graphs that depicted the energy through put of his adopted son’s magical carrier field. “Look at this Reed. Look at the amount of energy this field carries.”
“Yeah, I saw that, the energy levels alone will make it a bear to shield for”
“But what if you were to use the energy of the field as a power source?”
Reed Richards AKA Mr. Fantastic was shocked. He then moved to his computers, and started typing commanding the systems to run simulation after simulation. “Ok, see now this is why I do theoretical work and live off my patents and you purchase patent rights and produce things and are a billionaire. That never occurred to me. Using the energy field as a power source, that’s just brilliant.”
“Happy New Year Albus.”
“Thank you for seeing me Cornelius. How is the new year treating you?” The headmaster eschewed the hard backed chairs of the Minister for Magic’s office and conjured a plush chintz chair that he sat upon, arranging his robes for maximum effect.
“Oh fine Albus, just fine. What can I do for the Chief Mugwump today?” What did the old fool want?
“I’m here to discuss Harry Potter.”
“Yes, I heard he had come to Hogwarts. What in particular did you want to discuss?”
“Cornelius, as you know, the boy was placed with his mother’s sister and her family after the fall of the Dark Lord. In 1985 young Potter accompanied his family on a business trip to the United States. While there they were involved in some sort of Muggle accident and were killed.”
“Killed you say?” Fudge sat up in his chair, suddenly alert. “Potter was orphaned again?”
“Yes. He was adopted by an American industrialist named Stark. Young Harry is rather taken with the man.” Time to set the hook. “The lad has suggested that he may be giving up his British citizenship in order to become an American.”
“Harry Potter is planning to abandon Britain?”
“At what I suspect might be the urging of his adopted father.”
“We can’t be having that. Why was a wizard, especially Harry Potter allowed to be adopted by a Yank Muggle?”
“I don’t know, Harry accompanied them on a business trip and disappeared. It seems that the Americans never notified us of their deaths.” Perfect. Fudge was buying it hook line and sinker.
Harry returned to his dorm from the shower with a towel wrapped around his waist. Where was his Techsuit? Where was his trunk? The Techsuit had been laid out on his bed, the trunk at the foot of the bed.
Harry opened the wardrobe to see if some joker had hidden his things from him. It WAS April 1st, perhaps he had offended the wrong person. Hogwarts managed to generate some ingenious practical jokers. Being in Ravenclaw protected him (somewhat) from the Weasley Twins (who were the acknowledged Kings of Chaos in the school), but the ‘claws themselves had a joker or two.
The wardrobe held his robes and other clothing, and nothing more. Every piece of Stark-tech electronics was gone.
Penny Clearwater was the first Prefect Harry found. He reported his missing property to her. She led him to Professor Flitwick’s office to report the possible theft.
“Thank you Miss Clearwater. I will deal with this.” The small man waited until the 5th year had exited his office, and then turned to his first year Ravenclaw. “I’m sorry Mr. Stark, but the Headmaster had the House Elves confiscate your things. They have been declared contraband.”
“So, rather than asking me to turn them in, or allowing me to send them home, he just took them? In most civilized societies that is called theft.”
“I can’t say I disagree Mr. Stark. Unfortunately there is little I can do about it.” Harry’s Head of House looked more than a little embarrassed. “I’m afraid that this is just the start Harry. I have heard some disturbing things recently. When you have been teaching as long as I have one develops a network of former students who tell their old teacher things. There is a move afoot to attempt to nullify your adoption on the grounds that a Muggle should never have been allowed to adopt a Wizard.”
“I see. So the confiscation of my tech is designed to prevent me from communicating with my father?”
Filius was shocked. He had expected an explosion. The boy was clearly angry, but controlled. “I believe so, yes.”
“Do they know who they are antagonizing? Are they aware of the resources my father can marshal against them?”
“I doubt it.” He smiled grimly. “There is an institutional blindness to the Muggle world in our government. For the most part they seem to believe that the Muggles are still, well, easily cowed.” The older man shook his head. “Nothing good can come from this Harry. The Headmaster has modified the wards to prevent your leaving the castle grounds. I don’t know how long it will be before…”
“Thank you for your honesty Professor.” The boy’s face clouded for a moment, then calm reasserted it’s self.
“Might I request an audience with the Warden… Excuse me, with the Headmaster?”
“I will relay your request Mr. Stark.”
“Thank you again Professor, I feel I should warn you I will probably be costing the Ravenclaws house points. I feel a rash of civil disobedience coming on.”
It took a week for the Great and Powerful Dumbledore to meet with Harry. Filius Flitwick was deeply conflicted. His competitive nature hated each point that young Stark was costing the house (thought he had to admit, the Ravenclaws themselves were dealing with it in an unusual show of solidarity. Harry had explained what he was doing and why he was doing it. His House was rallying around a member they viewed as wronged.) On the other hand, Albus was wrong.
Since the confiscation of his things, Stark hadn’t attended a single class. Detentions were assigned, and ignored. Well, not truly ignored. In each case Harry had forwarded a note to the teacher in question explaining that as far as he was concerned he was no longer a student, but a prisoner. As such he saw no obligation to abide by the rules of the Warden.
Worse, the boy had taken to spending his now copious free time fulfilling his promise of ‘civil disobedience’. If there was a place to be that would inconvenience the Headmaster, Stark was there. He has spent a day in the kitchens with the house elves and at dinner all the food was orange in a way that strangely excited the youngest Weasley over in Gryffindor. He did nothing destructive, nothing disruptive, but made sure that he annoyed the Headmaster at every opportunity.
Now Filius found himself sitting in the Headmaster’s office waiting for the boy to report for the meeting he had requested. There was a knock at the door.
“Enter.” Albus intoned in his best Superior Headmaster voice.
The door opened to reveal Harry Stark.
“Come in Harry. Take a seat.”
Sitting, the boy nodded to acknowledge his head of house.
“Good morning Warden.”
“Ah yes, your new nick name for me. How very droll Mr. Stark.”
“It seemed appropriate, isn’t ‘Warden’ the traditional title for the head of a facility that houses prisoners?”
“Is that how you see yourself Mr. Stark?”
“Well, let’s see: I cannot leave, my communications with the outside world are restricted, I’m allowed no visitors, and my personal property was summarily confiscated. Yes, prisoner does seem to describe my situation quite well.”
“Be that as it may, you must resume attending class Mr. Stark.”
“Why to learn of course.”
“I’m sorry, but I am interested in nothing this facility has to offer. Were I to attend class, I would be a disruptive influence in the class, and everyone would suffer.”
Filius saw Albus’ jaw clench in anger. “Perhaps you should learn to control your baser instincts Mr. Stark.”
“To what end Professor? I am no longer a student here, I am a prisoner. Perhaps I will continue to act out until such time as you expel me, but prisoners aren’t expelled, they are released. Either way I will leave this place and never return. How long do you suppose my Father will tolerate my not communicating with him before he comes for me? He’s proven he can come here before.”
“Mr. Stark, what I do is for the greater good.”
“The greater good as defined by whom? When you tried to convince me to come to Hogwarts you spoke of my destiny. Screw this destiny you speak of.”
“You are acting like a child Mr. Stark.”
“I AM a child Professor. What’s your excuse?”
Harry fought to keep control of his emotions. Losing control would not be a smart thing to do. The large dungeon he had entered was horribly medieval. What is it with these people that have them so fixated in the 12th century?
The walls were made of dark roughly cut granite, dimly lit by torches. Benches rose on either side of him filled with what he assumed to be spectators, but ahead, in the highest benches of all, were many shadowy figures. They had been talking in low voices, but as the heavy door swung closed behind Harry an ominous silence fell.
An icy male voice rang across the courtroom.
“This is me caring,” said Harry dismissively “I go where my jailor sends me when he sends me.”
“That is not the Wizengamot’s concern,” said the voice.
“This Hearing was scheduled for 10am. It is now 10.03. Take your seat.”
“The Wizengamot can bite me.” Harry suggested helpfully. Harry looked around noticing the chair he was evidently supposed to use in the center of the room, the arms of which were covered in chains. He suspected those chains were intended to hold whoever sat between them. His footsteps echoed loudly as he walked across the stone floor. When he reached the chair he placed his right hand on the high back and silently incanted a disruption charm that Mistress Harkness had taught him the year before. The magically created chains corroded to dust silently. No one seemed to notice. Dropping his book bag, he flopped into the chair slinging his left leg over the left armrest. Putting on an air of extreme relaxation, he bit back his anger and looked up at the people seated at the bench above.
There were about fifty of them, all, as far as he could see, wearing plum-colored robes with an elaborate silver W on the left-hand side of the chest and all staring down at him, some with very serious expressions, others looks of frank curiosity.
In the very middle of the front row sat Albus Dumbledore. Harry had expected this. His research he had done since his house arrest had informed him that the Headmaster was the ‘Chief Warlock’ of the Wizengamot. Cornelius Fudge, the Minister for Magic sat to Dumbledore’s immediate left. Fudge was a portly man. A broad, square-jawed witch with very short grey hair sat on Dumbledore’s right; she wore a monocle and looked forbidding. This woman fit the description of Susan’s Aunt Amelia. Part of Harry wondered if the monocle was actually needed for just there for effect.
“Very well,” said Dumbledore. “The victim being present - finally - let us begin. Are you ready?” he called down the row.
“Yes, sir,” said an eager voice Harry recognized as the sanctimonious ass who had commented on his lateness.
“Procedural hearing of the twelfth of May, 1992.” said Fudge in a ringing voice, and the sycophant began taking notes at once, “into the illegal adoption of Harry James Potter, late of number four, Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey By Anthony Stark, a known Muggle..
“Interrogators: Cornelius Oswald Fudge, Minister for Magic; Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot; Amelia Susan Bones, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement; Dolores Jane Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister.”
Dumbledore stood and shuffled some notes. “Well then, shall we begin?” He extricated a piece of parchment from the pile before him, and read out, “the question before us is was the adoption of Harry James Potter by a Muggle with no connection to the Magical World a legal act in accordance with Paragraph F of the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery, 1875, and also under Section 24 of the International Confederation of Warlocks’ Statute of Secrecy.
“You are Harry James Potter, of number four, Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey?” Fudge said, glaring at Harry from the bench.
Harry reached down into his book bag. “No.” Harry withdrew a book from his bag and thumbed through it to the page he wanted and began to read.
“You are not Harry James Potter, of number four, Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey?” Fudge asked incredulously.
Harry looked up from his book. “No, I am not.”
“You are.” Fudge was turning an interesting shade of purple.
“I’m not.” Harry responded happily.
“As stimulating a conversation as this appears to be, let us cut to the chase. Who are you then young man?” asked the gray haired witch with the monocle.
“I am Harry James Stark of 5847 Stark Lane, Stark Township, The State of New York, United States of America.”
“We will be correcting that today young man. You never should have been allowed to be adopted by this Muggle Stark. That alone violated several laws.” Fudge blustered.
Harry nodded and returned to his book.
“You don’t seem overly concerned Mr. Potter.” The Witch to Fudge’s immediate left said in an oddly girlish, high-pitched voice.
Harry did not respond, or even acknowledge that he had been spoken to. He turned the page in his book.
“Mr. Potter, you will respond when you are spoken to.” The witch said clearly angry. Harry continued to ignore her.
“Mr. Potter!” Dumbledore spoke up. No response from Harry.
Harry looked up. “Yes Warden?”
Dumbledore blinked. “Warden? Young man we have spoken about you using that term for me.”
“I couldn’t remember your title here, so I went with what we call you at school. That is the proper title for someone who heads a facility where one is held against his will and deprived of his personal property isn’t it?”
“Putting your flights of fancy aside, you must respond when spoken to.”
Harry looked puzzled. “I thought I was.”
“You completely ignored Madam Umbridge just now.” Dumbledore said in his understanding grandfather way.
“Did I? I apologize, who is this Madam Umbridge and when did she speak with me?”
“I am Dolores Umbridge Mr. Potter.”
Harry continued to look at Dumbledore expectantly, ignoring the witch.
Dumbledore was actually becoming angry with the boy. “Mr. Potter, you must show proper respect toward the Wizengamot!”
Harry’s look of expectation dimmed and he returned to his book.
“Mr. Potter!” chorused The Chief Warlock, The Minister of Magic, and his Senior Under Secretary. All three of them were promptly ignored by Harry.
“Mr. Stark?” Asked the Grey haired Witch with the monocle. She wore more than a hint of a smile.
“When my esteemed colleagues address “Mr. Potter” they are addressing you.”
“They are?” Harry put on an expression of confusion. “I clearly stated my name when you asked. Are they slow?”
“I sometimes wonder. Madam Umbridge has noted that you do not seem overly concerned about this hearing. I must admit to being surprised by your level of concern myself. Do you understand what is happening here?”
“Certainly I do Ma’am. I’m not the one too slow to use someone’s name when I know it. This body intends to set aside my adoption and will attempt to tell me that my father isn’t my father.”
“And this doesn’t concern you?”
“Only to the extent that I worry that innocents might get hurt when my father comes for me. And he will. The only reason he isn’t here now is I wanted to give you a chance to behave like decent human beings before I call the wrath of God down upon you, so I didn’t tell him what you are doing.” The boy looked thoughtful for a moment. “Warden Dumbledore assisted in my not informing my father of what all of you were doing by stealing my usual methods of contacting my father, and somehow causing the school owls to refuse my letters. Of course, he forgot that I have friends outside my house willing to post letters for me…”
Amelia Bones smiled in a tolerant manner. “Do you actually believe that your father could mount an actual attack against us?”
“Does the name Tony Stark mean nothing to you?”
Amelia paled. She knew that name well from her contacts with Muggle Law Enforcement. The paper work had been referring to the Muggle as ‘Anthony’. She had never made the association. “You mean your father is the man who finances the Avengers?”
“Yes. They like me as well, and aren’t too fond of kidnappers, not even those who hide behind the trappings of government.” He paused, “When I said I would be calling down the wrath of God, I misspoke, it would be the wrath of several gods, I believe Hercules and Sersi are currently in residence, and Thor of course. You can always count on Thor for a good smiting…”
“You will learn to respect your betters Potter!” the Witch named Umbridge screeched.
Harry returned to his book. “Gotta love that Garfield, boy that cat hates Mondays” He said chuckling.
“If it would please the court, might I be permitted to speak?” A tall man in conservative robes stood in the gallery.
“And you are?”
“Roberts Michaels Chief Warlock. Deputy Chief Assistant for Magical Affairs to the United States Ambassador to the Court of St James.”
“You have business before this court pertaining to this case?” Dumbledore asked. How had the Americans found out?
“Indeed I do Chief Warlock. Young Mr. Stark was legally adopted under the laws of the United States where he was when he was orphaned for the second time. Information pertaining to the deaths of the Dursleys was forwarded by my office to the Ministry of Magic’s Hall of Records since the minor child in question gave clear evidence of being a Wizard. I have the signed receipts for those letters of information in accordance with the procedures set forth by the ICW. Repeated requests from my office as to what your government wanted to do with young Mr. Stark, then Potter were ignored, until finally we got a note from the Head Archivist of your Hall of records that there were no ‘Dursleys’ on the rolls, and that the only ‘Evans’ they could find were Muggle Born. We were directed to deal with the child as we saw fit and not to bother her unless and until we had a ‘Real Wizarding Child’ to report. I queried what precisely made a ‘Real Wizarding Child’ and was told one with Pure Blood Status. Both the report and the response to my question were signed by one Dolores Jane Umbridge. The only living relative we could find, one Margaret Dursley refused to accept the boy. If, as you say, you lost track of the boy, you have only yourselves to blame for putting incompetent bigots in positions of authority. The Elder Mr. Stark was an excellent candidate to adopt Harry due to his having the resources to allow the boy to discover his abilities, which he has done quite admirably, as I know you are aware, Mr. Stark was at the top of his class at Hogwarts.”
“This is true, however…”
“We will brook no interference from the Americans.” Fudge spat interrupting Dumbledore. “You have no authority here Mr. Deputy Chief Assistant for Magical Affairs. Begone before I have you removed.”
“As you wish.” Michaels gathered his things, shaking his head. “Your funeral. I have been directed by my government to tell you one other thing. Should you go ahead with this travesty you are planning, the Avengers will be given carte’ blanche to do whatever they need to do to reunite Mr. Stark and his father.” He passed the clerk of the court a document. “This details the official position of the United States. Copies of this are being delivered to the Mundane Prime Minister and Her Majesty the Queen as we speak. Consider what you are doing.” All eyes were on the Yank official as he exited the courtroom.
That was unexpected. Harry wondered who had called the embassy to get this started… The Weasley twins had assisted him in getting messages out through their own methods (he hadn’t asked, not knowing he couldn’t give them away) this seemed a very Hermione thing to do… Her parents perhaps?
The doors at the rear of the chamber burst open and Harry heard the voice he had been waiting for. He didn’t even need to turn to see what was happening. This was going to be good.
“I say thee, I will be heard. Thou try my patience Mortals!”
“What is the meaning of this?” Fudge sputtered. “Who are you? Identify yourself!”
The huge man in the winged helm brandished his battle mallet. “I be Thor of Asgard, son of Odin, God of Thunder mortal. Stay thy minions before I am forced to slay them.”
“You would slay good men and women only doing their jobs?” Amelia Bones asked from the bench.
The thunder god considered her words. “Thy words make sense Maiden. Rather than slay them, I would slay their masters whose commands they follow.”
“Aurors, stand down!” Fudge called out immediately.
“Why are you here Thunder God?” Dumbledore asked when the courtroom quieted.
“I come to speak for the son of my comrade, and to return him to his father.”
“And if we refuse to release him to you?”
“Then I slay you all, in the way of the old Norse, leave not a single stone in this magnificent building touching any other stone in this building, then I return young Harry to his father.”
“You can’t kill them all Thor. Steve wouldn’t like it.” Harry spoke up.
“Yea, thou art correct young Harry. Alright, I will only kill the leaders. And destroy the building.”
“Are you threatening the Minister?” Umbridge asked incredulously.
“Aye, I am.” Thor replied, happy that the mortals understood him.
There was a quick conference of the Wizengamot where Amelia Bones explained that this being was more than capable of doing what he threatened, and that he was one of the calmer, gentler people that the elder Stark associated with. Dumbledore was voted down in a single voice vote.
“It is the opinion and ruling of the Wizengamot that the adoption of Harry Potter by Anthony Stark was valid and legal in every way. We thank Harry Stark for his time and excuse him from these proceedings. Then the people in the plum robes hurriedly left the room.
The Thunder God picked Harry up and set the boy on his shoulder, then turned to leave the room.
“What do you want Professor?”
“I may have gone about this all the wrong way, but your destiny…”
“After what you did, I find I don’t much care about any ‘destiny’ you have plotted out for me Headmaster. I expect to have my property returned by tomorrow, you know where I live.”
Dumbledore hung his head, how had it gone so wrong? Suddenly he found his head lifted by the head of a battle mallet under his bearded chin.
“Make no mistake little Wizard, never do this again. Thy life hung by a thread this day, there is no crime lower than the stealing of a man’s child. Harry’s father would truly make thou pay for what thou hath done. Be very glad thou only had to face me.”
In order of appearance
Tony Stark, Billionaire industrialist, Genius level IQ, if it can be made, he’s got 2. If it can’t be made, he’s only got the prototype. Secretly (at the time of the story) Ironman. The Ironman Armor is form fitting Mech, with flight capabilities (ground to orbit with auxiliary boosters) near infinite defensive capabilities, many many offensive capabilities.
Stephen – Steven Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth. The single most powerful mortal magic user alive. Capabilities: astral projection (basically sending his ghost where he doesn’t want to send his body. Flight with his levitation cloak, many other mystical ‘tools’. Most specifically NOT a wizard.
Steve – Steve Rogers also know as Captain America. Most specifically someone you do NOT want to get in a fight with. Powers: None. He is the ultimate Soldier, created in the Early Years of WWII by exposure to the Super Soldier Formula and exposure to an unspecified radiation.
Clint – Clint Barton, also known as Hawkeye. A master Archer, with gimmick arrows, but not as silly as the DC Universe’s Green Arrow’s Boxing gloves arrows.
Wanda – Wanda Maximoff, also known as the Scarlet Witch. A mutant with the ability to affect probabilities. By the time of this story she had mastered Chaos magic.
Mistress Harkness – Agatha Harkness, survivor of the Salem Witch trials, and for the purposes of this story, alum of Hogwarts. Hufflepuff 1680. The single most powerful Witch in the world.
Jarvis – Edwin Jarvis, Stark family Butler. Hails from Brooklyn, but affects a British dialect.
Pepper – Pepper Hogan nee Potts. Tony Starks Personal Assistant. Don’t call her a secretary. Unpleasant things happen to people who call her a secretary. She isn’t Stark International’s highest paid employee for no reason.
Happy – Happy Hogan. Tony Stark’s Driver and Personal Assistant. Call your doctor, and then start trouble.
Rhodey – James Rhodes. At one time he was Tony Stark’s pilot. At the time of the Story he is the Hero War Machine. A far less fuzzy and cuddly variant of the Ironman armor. The War Machine armor isn’t for rescuing kittens from trees, it is for destroying entire armies.
Julie Power – Lightspeed (at the time) of the Power Pack. Capabilities: High speed Flight
Reed – Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four. Not so named by his wife despite the fact that he can lick the small of his back. Arguably the smartest man on the planet. Victor VonDoom would most likely be the only one arguing.
Ben – Ben Grim, the Thing of the Fantastic Four. Orange Rock like epidermis, very strong. The 3rd or 4th strongest person on Earth depending on who’s doing the estimating.
Namor – Namor King of Atlantis. The son of a human sea captain and of a princess of the mythical undersea kingdom of Atlantis, Namor possesses the super-strength and aquatic abilities of the "Homo mermanus" race.
Jennifer Walters – The She-Hulk. The cousin of gamma irradiated Bruce Banner, maintains her mind and personality when transformed.
Thor – Thor Odinson, Norse God of Thunder. Immortal, very strong, speaks for no adequately explained reason in Shakespearian Prose. Carries the enchanted battle mallet Mjolnir always returns to his hand when thrown. No one not worthy to be Thor can lift Mjolnir.
Hank Pym – Hank Pym has had several code names over the years. Ant man, Giant man, Yellowjacket, and others (including oddly enough Hank Pym) through the uses of Pym Particles he can change size from the size of an ant to 30 feet tall. At the time of the story he was Yellowjacket, (who usually shrunk, but occasionally got tall.)
Eugene Judd – Puck of Alpha Flight. Puck had enhanced agility and superhuman strength rivaling that of Spider-Man. He was also a trained soldier and formidable hand-to-hand combatant. His trademark attack is a cartwheeling motion. Spinning on his hands and feet at great speeds, he is able to slam into and knock down human-sized enemies with ease.
T’Challa – King of Wakanda, also know as the hero Black Panther. Near Captain America level physical fighter.
Hank – Hank McCoy PhD. Biochemistry. PhD Genetics. PhD Physics. M. D. Large man, covered with Blue fur, his feet are as dexterous as his hands, very strong, very agile, very fast. Most commonly associated with the X-men using his imaginative codename “Beast” He spent several years with the Avengers
Blond man – Brian Braddock, also known as Captain Britain. Super strong, capable of flight, entrusted with the power of Merlyn in this reality.
Barefoot woman – Megan. Also known as Megan. An earth spirit, or possibly an environmental empath. She has earth powers.
Both Brian and Megan are members of the British Supergroup Excalibur.
Large Orange Rock man – Ben Grim. See above
Franklin – Franklin Richards Son of Reed Richards and Susan Richards nee Storm. Cosmic level Psi, currently damped down by his fathers technology to prevent the young boy from destroying the world, and possibly universe. When running with the Power Pack he had the single most unfortunate hero code name in the history of comics, even worse than ‘The Whizzer’ (who inexplicably wore a yellow uniform). Franklin was known as “Tattletale” when he ran with the Pack.
Unca Johnny – Johnny Storm, the Human Torch of the
Fantastic Four. Controls flame and heat, can burst into flame and fly, though the mechanism for this is never explained. His favorite hobby, abusing Ben Grim.
Sue - Susan Richards nee Storm. The Invisible Woman, as her name indicates capable of invisibility, both herself and others. Can project invisible force bubbles of any shape or sharpness. Arguably the most powerful/dangerous of the Fantastic Four. Wife of Reed Richards, Sister of Johnny Storm, Mother of Franklin Richards.
Thor – Thor Odinson, Norse God of Thunder. Immortal, very strong, speaks for no adequately explained reason in Shakespearian Prose. Carries the enchanted battle mallet Mjolnir always returns to his hand when thrown. No one not worthy to be Thor can lift Mjolnir.
Hercules – Greco/Roman demi-god. Immortal and Thor-level powerful. If he were the ‘god of’ anything he would be the God of the Bar Fight. Likes to party.
Sersi – An immortal External, the inspiration for the stories of the Greco goddess Circe of turning men into animals fame. Mistress of Transmutation (herself and others) Very powerful. Loves to party, though you might not survive the experience.
A/N: A few thoughts.
It has been suggested by some reviewers that I have ‘grossly over powered’ the various Marvel characters appearing in cameo in this story. I don’t believe that I have. I am an old time comics geek, and as far as I can determine, if anything, I have under powered the Marvels…
It has been suggested that by having the Marvels in the mix, I have negated any suspense in the story. A suggestion I may have partially validated with this chapter, I admit, but I really wanted at least one Thor scene. This example has been offered:
Riddle: “I am Dark Lord Voldemort. I am the cruelest, most dangerous Dark Lord EVER, I aspire to immortality! Bow before me.”
Thor: “I am Thor, Son of Odin, I am a god, and I have immortality. The first couple of millennia are kind of boring, but it perks up after that. I bow to no one.”
Riddle: “Well, crap.”
I can see the above point, even if I disagree with it. I mean if the above sentiment were true, there would be only 7 or 8 books in the Marvel stable right? Just Thor and the guys who could give Thor a run for his money… And surely Thor has taken care of all the minor baddies in the Marvel Universe, right? For your review:
Petruski: “I am The Trapster. I am the cruelest, most dangerous adhesive based criminal EVER, I aspire to steal your wallet! Bow before me.”
Thor: “I am Thor, Son of Odin, I am a god, I have no wallet, but I do have this spiffy mallet. What is your least favorite bone to be pulverized? By the way, didn’t you use to go by Paste-Pot Pete? I bow to no one.”
Petruski: “Well, crap.”
So, obviously since Thor could easily do this, the Trapster has hung up his glue gun and now spends his evenings at Scrapbooking seminars… Right?
And don’t get me started on the Ringer… Now that I think about it, the Ringer would be a good ‘villain’ ally for Riddle… If you don’t get the reference, don’t worry about it, I’m not actually going to do it, besides only the most severely geeked out Comics ‘tards would instantly recognize the worst bad guy ever. (That’s worst as in ‘not very good at what he was trying to do’… Much like Riddle now that I think about it)
Could Thor slap the dog shit out of Tommy and his merry men? Certainly. But why would he? He tends to focus on Avenger Level villains, bargain basement Magicians who are smacked down by toddlers aren’t really his kind of bad guy.
To be clear: The Marvels aren’t the story. Harry is. The Marvels aren’t going to face down Riddle in the final confrontation. Harry is. The Marvels are cameos, they will have as much effect on the story as Hermione’s parents. They will be there, but in the back ground.
Of course, actually winning and managing to kill Harry would be the biggest (and likely last) mistake Riddle could ever make… He might find out what a real Thor Shot is like… IF he were lucky. If he were unlucky he’d find out what Steve Rogers can do when he gets angry… I would suspect that immortality would pale in it’s attractiveness when combined with the painful memory of that non-stop everlasting butt-whipping never ever really manages to fade…
Word count: 2411010
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