Summary: Harry knew he had leave the Wizarding world because of the Hallows. He just never expected to have company on his journey. Or to encounter a stranger world than the one he'd left peopled with armored men, gods, secret agents, and villains. Oh to be back in England again.
Disclaimer: I do not own either Harry Potter or the Avengers. I only want to play a bit and will give them back untarnished.
AN: This will be a Harry Potter and the Avengers story. Eventually. Give me some time to develop things, however, I think you will like what happens.
Harry and Hermione stepped out onto a winter street, stumbling a bit in the dark, snow blowing around them. Both turned to watch the glowing portal behind them close. With it gone, ended their only way home. Hermione turned towards him with a look of trepidation on her face.
Harry quickly reassured her. "See? No problem at all. We're here all in one piece. Our bags did not lose their expansion charms and bury us in gold bricks and books. Especially books. And I still feel magical."
Hermione gave him a doubtful look, so Harry pulled out his wand. "Lumos."
Both watched the tip of Harry's wand light up. With a flourish, Harry canceled the spell. "Nox."
"Harry, I still don't know about those 8th degree rune clusters we used-"
"You used. I was along for the ride.
Hermione huffed. "Fine. I used to get us here." Her eyes narrowed as she stared at him. "You know you could cast something more useful like a Warming Charm." Harry gave her a hopeful look. "Fine. I'll cast it." With a quick flourish of her wand, Hermione cast and Harry immediately felt a warm toastiness reducing the effects of the cutting wind. "Now about that runic cluster..." Harry was distracted as Hermione chewed her lower lip. Finally her face cleared. "Oh well, all's well and all of that rubbish."
Hermione squeaked as Harry pulled her into an embrace, giving her a hungry kiss. "Harry! What was that for?"
Harry kept him arms around her. In an aggrieved tone, he accused, "You did that thing with your lip. You know I can't control myself when you do that."
Hermione's face wore a look of innocence. "What thing? This?" With that, she lightly chewed her lower lip, mesmerizing Harry.
He didn't even realize he was leaning in for another kiss, when he encountered Hermione's raised hand rather than her soft lips. Harry murmured against her palm, "Not fair."
Hermione broke free from his arms with a laugh. "Down boy. We need to find out where and when we are. And if there are wizards here."
Harry shrugged nonchalantly. "If there are wizards here, you would think that our little spells would have brought them running."
Hermione nodded in consideration. "Maybe. But there could be reasons. Magic might not be as tightly strictured here as back home. The spells we did might not have set off any magic detectors. The fact the spells were simple and appropriate for the circumstances since its dark and snowing, requir-"
Harry held up his hands in surrender. "Okay, okay. I give up. Lets get a newspaper and get out of this cold."
Luckily, they spotted a cluster of newspaper dispensers only a half block away, located not far from the brightly lit front of a large building. Since neither had any local money, Harry surreptitiously tapped one twice with his wand and tugged it open, removing two papers. He handed one to Hermione.
There was just enough light to read by since they'd gotten much closer to the lights of what Harry had since noted was a large hotel. He stared at the headline in amazement. "Well, that's something you don't see every day."
Beside him, Hermione wailed in horror, "I knew it! I knew that last rune cluster was wonky! We were supposed to end up in Newfoundland, not several hundred miles to the south and west. New York City, Harry! We're in New York City! This is the New York Post!"
Harry deadpanned, "And here I thought the banner headline reading 'Tony Stark: I'm Iron Man!' was the big news. Flying men in armored suits. You don't see that every day."
Hermione shivered. "We need to get out of the cold. My warming charm isn't up to this weather. Unless you want to pull out the heavy artillery?"
Harry gave a shiver of his own, although his wasn't from the cold. No, he would rather not use that particular item any time soon if he could help it. Hermione read his face and said, "Thought not. Let's head over to that nice, big, well-lit hotel just ahead and check in. Then we can talk about things in our room." At Harry's eyebrow waggle, Hermione clarified, "Our room with two beds."
An hour and half a dozen Confundus Charms later, they were well ensconced in a beautiful, warm suite of rooms in the Hotel Peninsula. Room service would soon be on the way with two English-style breakfasts. It turned out that in a hotel of this caliber, even arriving at 3:30 in the morning did not significantly reduce services available.
Harry reclined in the sofa in their 'sitting' room. "This is the life." He ignored the fact that this was his first time in an establishment as luxurious as this one. He was half afraid to touch anything in case he got it dirty or somehow broke it.
Hermione teased, "That wasn't what you were saying when you first found out that we weren't sharing a room."
Harry flipped over onto his stomach and gave her an narrow-eyed look. "I can understand you not wanting to sleep together just yet since we've only been dating less than a month. But I figured that we could at least share a room and you would..."
Hermione prompted, "You would what?"
Harry finished, "You would be the last thing I'd see every night before I closed my eyes."
Hermione blinked rapidly as she rushed over to hug him. With his prone position, she ended up lying half on him as she hugged him tightly. After a moment, she wiggled and twisted, eliciting a groan from Harry, before finally settling in with her back against the couch, facing him.
Staring into his eyes, Hermione asked, "Have I ever thanked you for rescuing me from the Weasleys?"
Harry felt himself grimace, but fought it off. "Plenty of times. But I haven't thanked you for saving me. For coming with me a second time on a crazy adventure from which there's no real return. So thank you, Hermione Granger."
They both lay there content to be in each other's arms. As Harry rested, he couldn't help thinking about how they'd gotten there...
It had started with a sock. A trivial thing, really, but it had driven Harry mad as he searched for its mate. For some odd reason he hadn't been able to settle on a different pair of socks. Ginny liked these. She'd mentioned it once before. So he'd searched in vain for the other for hours.
After tearing apart his room, he'd gone searching through Ron's. Since they shared a flat, it stood to reason that Ron had accidentally slipped it in with the rest of the clothes he still had his mother cleaning for him. So it was likely in his mess of a room. So Harry tore Ron's room apart.
In the end, he never found the sock. What he did find were several bottles of a familiar-looking potion hidden under a pile of jumpers at the bottom of a drawer in his dresser. Harry had almost ignored the bottles of potion, his intent so focused on his quest. Then a voice in his brain had screamed danger. And he had pulled them out, absently noting that two of them were only half full.
There had been six bottles in all, three labeled Harry and the other three labeled Hermione. He didn't cotton onto what potion it was at first. It was just odd that Ron had bottles like hidden away. Bottles labeled with names. So Harry had opened them.
The liquid within had a pearlescent sheen to it which made Harry's fogged brain work overtime. Then he smelled it. It had smelled of treacle tart, the polished wood of his broomstick handle, and Ginny Weasley. Then Harry had known. His behavior. His obsessiveness. Potions overdose. Too much in too short of a time. No wonder he felt like that sock was going to drive him mad.
Harry remembered wanting to go find Ginny and tell her what her brother had done so that they could solve the problem together. Somehow, he had resisted though it had been harder than the Imperius Curse to shake off. Instead, he dragged himself down to the Apothecary in Diagon Alley for a purgative, which he'd poured down his throat as soon as he made it to Grimauld Place .
Harry had vomited and defecated for hours under the effects as his body was purged of all potion and potion-linked effects. It had been brutal and painful, but after finishing, he had much greater clarity of mind. And a simmering rage against the Weasley family.
It couldn't have been just Ron in on it, as he couldn't brew worth spit. Even Ginny wasn't the best at the art of potions. But Molly Weasley was incredibly talented. So much so, that if she'd had any ambition beyond being a wife and mother, she could easily have been a potions master.
Were they all in on it, Harry wondered? He'd done a lot for the Weasleys in the eight months since the war had ended. He'd essentially given George nearly 10,000 galleons to expand his business. He'd paid for the Burrow to be rebuilt. He'd bought tons of things for Ginny and Ron, while letting the latter stay rent-free in the apartment they shared.
Harry had even signed a betrothal contract for Ginny's hand with Molly, although he had yet to pay the 100,000 galleon bride price for her. Now he knew he must have been drugged as it was the bride's family who should have responsible for paying him, not the other way around. It was an ugly, sickening situation.
With a sinking feeling, Harry realized it was worse because Hermione was also likely potioned. She hadn't been under the effects nearly as long as Harry as she had only gotten back a little over four months before. Hermione had traveled to Australia to find her parents. She'd done so, but had been unable to reverse the memory charm. Dan and Emma Granger hadn't known who Hermione was and had never had a child. It had hurt Hermione deeply, but in the end she'd come back here to England to be with her friends. Only to be potioned and betrayed.
The only thing keeping Harry from finding Ron and beating him to death was the fact that as of yet, there hadn't been any hanky-panky between the two. Oh they'd snogged and there had been some heavy petting, but Harry had been on the receiving end of Ron's complaints enough times to know that he hadn't made it past second base, as the Yanks would say. Somehow, Hermione had had the willpower to say no so that Ron hadn't gone too far.
Nor would he ever, Harry had grimly decided. He'd been waiting when Hermione had finished her shift at Flourish and Blotts where she'd been working part-time while she looked for an apprenticeship in runic enchanting. She hadn't had any luck so far, but had hoped to see a response to the many letters she sent out soon. Still, it was unlikely to be in Britain as the old Pureblood families still held a great deal of control despite some of the changes that had occurred postwar.
Harry had tried to get Hermione to drink the purgative, but ultimately had to petrify her and spell it into her stomach, something he'd learned from Madam Pomfrey. Hermione's reaction had been ghastly, or perhaps it had just been worse watching someone he cared about going the same thing he had. In the end, however, she'd been clear of the influence of potions.
Harry had taken Hermione back to Grimauld Place, locking them up behind the ancient wards there. They'd spoken long into the night. Hermione had confessed how Ron had almost had her convinced to marry him and give up the idea of a career, instead focusing on being a wife and mother. It had felt wrong, like a square peg in a round hole and now she understood why she'd considered it.
Harry, on the other hand, had told Hermione of how he had been contemplating leaving the Wizarding world. It had been on his mind ever since becoming the master of the Hallows. And not just to flee into the Muggle one, but rather, to leave this world behind entirely and travel to a new one where the Hallows would be contained, passing into obscurity when he died. He'd even gone as far as to use the Black Family library to research a ritual that would send him away, but the arithmetic and runic calculations involved had been far beyond him.
Harry had a rough, working knowledge of each discipline, gained through brutal necessity during the time they had been on the run, but the fact that Harry had never taken either while at Hogwarts had kept him from going that route. Instead, he'd wondered aloud if going through the Veil of Death wouldn't do the same thing. Hermione had predicatively been horrified and had told Harry off. But then she'd offered her help with the ritual. She had understood the math and runes required. She had gotten together a list for Harry's trip with everything from potion components to funds, convincing him to liquidate his holdings to keep both the Ministry and Weasley's grubby paws off of them and convert them to gold.
"Hermione, I can't stay here. I can't leave the Hallows alone because they want to be used. If I don't have them with me, they'll eventually seduce someone else. Plus I am the Master of Death. I feel the darkness closing in around me. If I could get to another world, the lure would be less, I truly believe. Maybe I should just jump through the Veil and return the Hallows to Death directly."
Hermione was less than impressed by his idea as her loud renunciation of it let him know in no uncertain terms. "Are you completely insane? How could you think it's a good idea to kill yourself just to get rid of a few magical artifacts? If you think for even one moment, Harry James Potter, that I am going to let you do something that hare-brained, you have another thing coming? Why I could just shake you until your teeth come out for saying that!"
Harry sat there, cringing slightly. Finally, though, he had enough and gathering what was left of his Gryffindor courage, he asked, "Well then, what do you suggest, if all my ideas are so bloody stupid?"
Hermione stared at him as he was retarded. As a slow flush crept up his face, she said, in an ever so reasonable tone, "You could ask me for help, you know."
Harry stared. "Help? From you?"
Hermione shook her head in exasperation. "Who else do you know that would be able to do the math on something this complicated and write out all of the runic arrays?"
Harry slowly nodded. "No one. Hermione, would you help me with a ritual to send me to another world?"
Hermione momentarily looked sad, but then nodded briskly. "Of course I would, Harry. What would you do without me?"
Harry drew a blank. What would he do without Hermione? Well, if things worked out, he'd have to learn. Harry ignored that little voice inside of himself that said he didn't want to.
It was Hermione, who later, upon realizing that every single application for an apprenticeship she'd sent out had been turned down without explanation, had decided that Harry needed a traveling companion to go with him on his epic journey. It had been "I'll go with you" writ large, as she would be leaving the entire world she knew behind. It had been meant as a gesture of friendship and had meant the world to Harry.
Harry watched Hermione open the owl-delivered letter. After a moment, he asked, "Any luck?"
Hermione frowned and shook her head. "No. This one says that he has no openings at this time. Of course, according to Minister Shacklebolt, he had two just a week ago and no prospects to fill them."
Harry encouraged her. "You'll find something, Hermione. I know it."
Hermione shook her head. "Maybe if I want to wait tables or work as a clerk. I knew about the glass ceiling in the Wizarding world, I just never realized how embedded it was. It's everywhere, Harry."
Harry wanted to yell at the morons who didn't realize how amazing Hermione was and what they would get by accepting her. "I wish you would let me set you up in your own research facility. I can afford one better than almost anything out there."
Hermione looked pensive. "I don't think it will work, Harry. I can do the research, though it would take me longer since I'll need to catch up to the current knowledge levels without a teacher. But there are plenty of books on the subject, so I can make up the difference."
Harry was confused. "Then what's the problem?"
She looked sad. "I am. I don't want to do research that will help wizards live better lives. I know I'm being selfish, but I can't help feeling bitter about how things turned out. You and I sacrificed everything, only to find out after killing Voldemort that nothing's changed. I think you have the right idea."
Harry stared at her. It was so unlike Hermione to be this fatalistic. Where was the girl who can pulled a Don Quixote and charged the windmill of House Elf care? "Hermione, I'm worried about you. I-"
Suddenly, Hermione sat up straight as resolve filled her. She turned a bright smile his way as she interrupted him, "No need to worry, Harry. I've made up my mind. I'm going with you. You'd be too lonely going by yourself. Plus without me to pull you out of it, you'd brood. You need me, after all. When you think about it, it's actually quite brilliant."
Harry helplessly smiled back. There was that Don Quixote. He couldn't really say he was happy about her choice, but at the same time, something powerful within him strained at its bonds as long suppressed feelings rose. After a moment's thought, Harry reconsidered. Maybe he was happy. Hermione was his best friend and the person whom he loved most in the world. And he would have been lonely by himself, no matter how much he'd gotten used to it. He did need her after all, and now he wouldn't have to get used to living without her. So her coming with him was brilliant, just as she was.
Better yet, as they had both spent time together, gathering supplies and researching the ritual, there had been an increasing closeness between them. Just as in the Forest of Dean, they had grown closer and closer, except this time, without a Ron Weasley to interrupt, they had finally kissed. Their kiss had led to a confession of feelings on both their parts, Hermione confessing a crush since first year and a certain troll incident, and Harry indicating that he'd know Hermione was a girl since she practically pasted herself to him during their hypogryff ride. Her resulting blush had been both funny and sweet.
"Harry, come look at this."
Harry leaned down to read over Hermione's shoulder. It was a written list, but of what, he couldn't say, distracted by the smell of Hermione's hair. It was apples and ink, books and sunshine, and he couldn't think as it filled his mind. It was also how Harry thought Amortentia would smell to him now. Lost in his thoughts, he didn't notice as Hermione's voice trailed off.
She turned to look at him, their faces only inches apart. Harry could not control his lean as he crossed the distance to her lips, It was as if they summoned his. Kissing Hermione was warm and tender, yet with little fireworks that exploded in his brain. Their lips touched and caressed, slowly deepening, until finally he broke it, breathing deeply.
Hermione's face was flushed and her lips swollen as she stared back at him. "Harry, what-"
Harry interrupted, "I think I love you, Hermione Granger. I think I love you more that I can bear."
Hermione's face blossomed like a flower as her smile grew brilliant. "You love me? Truly? Well, I love you too, Harry Potter."
Harry felt his own smile involuntarily stretch his lips in response. "You do? Since when?"
Hermione thoughtfully chewed her lower lip, and act that he'd always found both endearing and distracting. "I think since an incredibly brave boy saved me from a troll. But I never thought you'd feel the same way. I never thought you'd see me as a girl instead of a friend."
Harry's voice was ironic as he stated, "Hermione, I've known you were a girl ever since we rode that hypogryff together. You were pressed so tightly against me that I would have had to be completely oblivious not to figure that out. It was embarrassingly arousing at the time."
Hermione's face was slowly turning red. "Oh. I thought maybe you'd finally noticed during the Yule Ball because you stared at me for the longest time."
Harry brushed back her hair from her face, then cupped her cheek in his palm. Meeting her uncertain gaze, he said, "No, the hypogryff ride was when I saw you as a girl. I just didn't know what to do about it. I never thought someone as brilliant as you would like someone like me. However, the Yule Ball did open my eyes in a way. It was the first time that I noticed that you were beautiful and it broke my heart that you weren't going with me."
Their conversation had been funny and tender and poignant as both reminisced over lost opportunities. Hermione had even confessed that it had been a desire to see Harry again that had brought her back to England and nothing else. She'd even planned to confess her feelings for him, but had never been able to gather her courage before being ensnared by potions.
Hermione had been quite angry at being potioned by Ron, equating it to rape. The fact that Ron confessed to loving her and wanted to marry her wasn't nearly enough reason to try to mind control someone. The only thing that kept her from using the blasting curse on his private parts was the fact that those private parts had never touched hers. Otherwise she might have killed him.
"That bastard! I'm going to kill him!"
Harry tried to reason with Hermione, even though it was probably useless right now. "Calm down, Hermione. You don't want to do something you'll regret."
"Calm down? CALM DOWN? How would you feel if you had been magicked into believing you cared for someone?" Hermione's voice had risen to almost a shriek.
"Hermione, I was. The same as you. I-"
Hermione hugged him. "Oh Harry, I'm so sorry for what happened to you. Maybe we should kill them both?"
Harry had seen Hermione's temper before, but never to that degree. Still, in principle, he agreed with her, having tossed his cookies a time or three over snogging the girl who he equated with a sister. When he'd told Hermione as much, she'd questioned why he didn't feel that way about her, as she'd feared. Harry had just shrugged and told her that she was the only person he could say he truly loved, but that he'd never felt like her brother. It had earned him a long snogging session where that fact had been confirmed several times.
They had only run into the Weasleys one time during that the two month stretch between discovery and departure. Because Harry had buttoned up the house so securely that even floo calls were rejected, there had been no opportunity for the Weasleys to talk to them, to convince them of their point of view. But there had been the occasional errand to Diagon Alley and Gringotts there. It had been on one such trip that they had finally run into Molly, Ginny, Ron, and George.
It had been a shock and had quickly turned ugly as accusations were thrown by each side as Molly had gotten louder and louder, only to be matched if not exceeded in decibels by Hermione. The only bright spot that had come out of it had been the knowledge that George, at least, had know nothing about the Amortentia. His expression, over the course of the confrontation, had ranged from anger to confusion to surprise to horror and finally, back to anger. His target at the end had been his own family. He'd even offered the money that Harry had given him back, but Harry had waved him off and given him a quiet goodbye with such finality that both men had understood it would be the last time they met.
"Harry! Harry! HARRY! Dear boy, I'm so glad we finally caught up to you. We haven't been able to reach you for weeks. Grimauld Place's wards are up. And when your things disappeared, well, we all thought the worst. You need to come home with us, Harry."
Harry could feel Hermione bristle at his side as noted how neither Ginny nor Ron could meet his or Hermione's eyes. George did and looked worried, while Molly had a note of genuine concern mixed in with a lot of things he'd rather not know about. "I don't think that's a good idea, Mrs Weasley."
"Mrs Weasley? You know it's Molly to you, dear. Now come home. You too, Hermione."
"Yeah, mate. Rent's due and I'm a little short, plus Gin's been missing you awful. I've missed you the same, Hermione."
"Come home so we can be potioned again? I don't think so, Ronald. I don't think I ever want to see any of you again!"
"Hermione, dear, you're just confused. Come back to to the Burrow and I'll brew a nice cup-"
"Are you people mental? We're not coming back. We never coming back. You just want Harry for his money and me to be some kind of broodmare for Ron. I hate you all!"
More invective in the same vein followed from both sides. Harry watched George take a step away from his family, a look of horror on his face. He gave Harry a helpless look, then stepped forward to stand beside him. In a low voice, he said, "Sorry, mate. Never would have believed it without seeing it. I'll get you the money I owe you in a few days even if I have to sell the business. I-"
"No. Don't worry about the money. I don't need it. Consider it a gift. Just be careful of your brother."
The disgust in George's eyes deepened. "He's gone. I don't need a partner like him. Now you on the other hand..."
Harry just shook his head with finality. Meeting his eyes, George slowly nodded his understanding. After a moment more, Harry broke up the shouting match between the others by the simply method of grabbing Hermione and side-a-long apparating her away. He didn't care that the anti-apparation wards in Diagon Alley shattered with sound like glass breaking accompanied by an ozone-like odor as he shrugged them aside. They just needed to get away. And they wouldn't be going back.
Molly and Co hadn't given up, but Grimauld was a fortress and she wasn't getting in. And there was no need to leave again as even Harry and Hermione's food had been being delivered by house elves. Mimer and Posey, a mated pair of Potter elves that had finally tracked Harry down shortly after the Battle of Hogwarts to bond with him, took care of all of his needs during this time. They had been the last of the Potter elves, being only children when Harry's parents had died, and badly in need of the bond. Harry had bonded them both back then without telling Hermione as he saw no reason to upset her. After retreating to Grimauld Place, he had called them to him. The two elves had taken care of the two of them for the two months they'd been there.
"Mimer. Posey. Come here please," Harry called.
With a pop, the two elves arrived. "Master Harry needs something?" Mimer inquired.
"Please, Mimer. Can you and Posey take over the care of the house, getting us meals and such, and taking care of laundry until such time as Hermione and I leave?"
Mimer eyed him closely. He was a far different elf than the excitable Dobby, though no less loyal. He also seemed to have a deeper understanding of things. "Of course, Master. When will we be leaving?"
Harry frowned. "Hermione and I will be leaving in a few weeks. You'll need to stay here with the house."
Mimer nodded. "Master wishes us to slowly starve to death. We understand." Beside him, Posey nodded as well.
Harry was shocked. "No! There'll be no starving. I'll find you another family. You'll be fine."
Both elves shook their heads. Mimer replied. "We are Potter Elves. The last of our kind. We will not accept another's bond. Do not worry, Master, we accept our fate." They bowed with dignity.
Harry stared at the two elves. With growing suspicion, he said, "I see that you have left me with no choice. You can both come along along. Well-played."
It was Posey who replied. "It was needed, Master Harry. We can't stop you from taking terrible risks, fighting Dark Lords and such, but now that we've found you, we will stay at your side."
Harry nodded. "Fine. Let's not tell Hermione just yet. Okay?"
He received a chorus of "Yes, Master Harry."
Great, thought Harry, wait until Hermione finds out.
Then it had been time to go. To finalize the packing of all their remaining worldly goods into apartment trunks to be shrunk and placed on Harry's belt. If he'd sneaked in a few things (and a couple of elves) that Hermione would not have approved of, it couldn't be helped. She could give him the benefit of the doubt since he had not only packed up the Potter and Black libraries for her, but had spent an absurd amount of galleons purchasing a copy of every book on magic he could track down.
Hermione had agonized over the runic arrays, laid out in a great spiral in the grand ballroom. The array had been more than one hundred feet across and had consisted of a staggering number of runes laid out in various complicated patterns. Looking it over, Harry had comprehended about five percent of the total. However, he had complete confidence in Hermione. Which clearly was the right decision as they were here, even if they'd missed their target.
Sometime during Harry's internal soliloquy, Hermione had fallen asleep. Harry lightly stroked her hair back from her face. Hair that had grown decreasingly less bushy as Hermione used his Christmas gift to brush her hair every night. It was odd to think that after all of these years of trying different things, Hermione's hair had been tamed by an enchanted object. One that had cost substantially more than even a Firebolt in price, something that still stunned Harry when he thought about it. He could only speculate that it contained roughly the same amount of runework and spells on a vastly smaller chassis, smaller typically meaning more expensive.
But she was worth it. Harry had decided that come Heaven or Hell, being with Hermione was worth any any risk, any sacrifice. She was the light at the end. She was his home. With that thought warming his heart, Harry found himself drifting off to sleep.