Chapter Seven


Warning: Dumbledore bashing.


Within minutes of Dumbledore's instruments going silent, the aging Headmaster had apparated to Little Whinging, casting a notice-me-not charm over himself to avoid detection. He appeared at the end of Privet Drive and started walking immediately, annoyance clawing through his mind.

The tracking spells he'd personally cast over the boy had simply been wiped away, as though they'd never been there in the first place. There had been no warnings, no light whistles to tell Dumbledore that somebody was trying to cleanse Harry Potter. One second they were there, the next they weren't. A few minutes later the wards surrounding Number 4 had crumbled, disappearing as though they were never there.

Powerful magic was at work, and Dumbledore's mind filled with the names of witches and wizards who could be capable of such a feet. Lucius Malfoy was at the top of the list, only because Dumbledore had no evidence that Tom was alive and well. Without a body, the Dark Lord wouldn't have been able to enter Privet Drive, even if he'd had no plans to harm Potter upon his entrance. The Malfoy Lord was clever, and Dumbledore wouldn't put it past Lucius to have figured out where Harry lived, and what was needed to circumnavigate the wards that Dumbledore had strengthened with his own magic.

Dumbledore finally reached the Dursley's house and was brought up short by the Muggles surrounding it. There were neighbours dressed in pyjamas and comfortable clothing, either standing on their doorsteps or at the edge of the barriers that had been erected. Muggle police officers, and men and women wearing expensive Muggle suits, were crawling all over the house, some taking pictures, others bagging things, all looking grim and busy.

Dumbledore cast a simple charm over himself to change his appearance somewhat and lifted the notice-me-not charm as he approached a group of Muggles chatting with each other.

'Excuse me?' he tried, and was greeted to two older ladies turning to face him. 'I was just passing by and noticed all the people; what's happening?'

'Oh, the Dursleys- they live here- were just arrested!' one of them gushed, like it was the news of the century. For Dumbledore it certainly was.

'Arrested?' Dumbledore near-gaped. 'What ever for?'

'We don't know,' her companion said. 'Two men took the nephew- Harry, I believe his name is- with them.'

'I always thought he was such a trouble maker,' the first woman sighed. 'But he looked so small, didn't he?'

'Yes,' the second nodded along. 'It looks as though some bad things have been happening at number 4.'

Dumbledore frowned at that. A Death Eater wouldn't have bothered alerting the authorities to Harry's living situation, they would have just taken him. But who else could have discovered what truly went on in the Dursleys' household? Not one of Dumbledore's people, surely. Madam Pomfrey had already spoken to him about Harry's health, and Dumbledore had easily wiped her mind. He would have known if anyone else had figured it out.

Dumbledore stayed where he was for a few minutes, just watching, before speaking again. 'Do you know who took the boy?' he asked. The two Muggles turned to look at him again, and Dumbledore let a tired, worried smile spread across his face. 'I'm familiar with young Harry, he was quite a nice child. I'm worried for him.'

'Oh,' the first blinked, 'yes, well, we all are now, aren't we?'

'We heard talk of locks on the doors and other terrible things!' her companion said, looking quite upset over everything. 'I never truly liked the Dursleys all that much, but to think that they could be locking their nephew up!'

'It's disgusting,' the other woman nodded. 'Truly, truly terrible.'

'I'm not sure who took him, but they looked as though they could be family,' the second explained to Dumbledore. 'Two men, they were; one very tall, the other sort of short. One of them was American, I think; I heard his accent.'

'I'm telling you it was him!'

The three all looked up to see a man speaking to them, wearing a dressing gown over his jeans and jumper.

'It was Tony Stark!' the man said.

'Henry, really,' the woman beside him tisked. 'What would Tony Stark have to do with the Dursleys?'

'It was him,' Henry insisted. 'I recognised him from the telly.'

'Tony Stark?' Dumbledore questioned.

The Muggles all looked surprised at that, but Dumbledore didn't let it sway him. He never had kept up on what was happening in the Muggle world, not unless it involved Tom.

'Tony Stark, owner of Stark Industries,' Henry said. 'He's a billionaire, and a super hero. He was all over the telly last summer because of that alien invasion. I swear it was him!'

The woman beside him rolled her eyes and turned back to face the house, leaving Dumbledore and the other two Muggles to themselves once more.

'It sort of looked like him,' one of the women nodded, 'but I'm sure it wasn't. What would Tony Stark want with little Harry?'

'Maybe Harry was his love child!' her companion gasped, which drew them both into fits of giggles. 'You never know, Mary,' she continued, 'I've read about that Tony Stark, and we've never heard anything about Harry's parents, now have we?'

'Vernon said they died, though,' Mary said. 'I remember years ago when they first took Harry in. He said something about an accident.'

'Well, maybe Stark only just found out,' the other woman ventured.

They fell into gossip once more, completely ignoring Dumbledore, which was fine by him. He slowly crept back until he could walk away without drawing their attention, frowning as he made his way down the street. When he was far enough away, and he was sure that he was alone, Dumbledore apparated back to Hogwarts, appearing in his office. He startled Severus, who was lounging in one of the leather seats sitting before Dumbledore's desk.

'Good evening, Headmaster,' he drawled, sounding like the evening was actually far from pleasant. 'I thought you wanted to see me?'

'Yes, yes,' Dumbledore murmured, vaguely remembering needing to talk to Snape about the upcoming school year. 'There are more important things to discuss at the moment.'

Severus raised a dark brow, but didn't comment, waiting for Dumbledore to continue.

'The spells I cast on Harry Potter to keep an eye on him have been lifted.'

'Lifted?' Severus echoed.

'Yes, as though they were never there,' Dumbledore said. He was still irked about that; no warning, no tampering, nothing. Just there one second, gone the next. 'Whoever lifted them was very powerful, I didn't notice until they were completely gone.'

'Really?' Severus looked far too amused, given the seriousness of the situation, and Dumbledore had to hold himself back from snapping. Severus' attitude had never helped when they were discussing Harry Potter. Dumbledore didn't care for the boy all that much, true, but only because he was a tool necessary to win the war. Thinking of him as a real boy, a person with feelings, would only hurt the cause; there were millions of lives at stake. Severus constantly jumped between "we must protect him for Lily", and "I despise him for being Potter's brat". It was quite annoying.

'Yes, Severus,' Dumbledore sighed as he sat behind his desk. 'I just visited his aunt and uncle's house. There were Muggle police everywhere, and the Dursleys and Harry were nowhere to be found.'

'So you've lost him,' Severus stated. Dumbledore nodded. 'And what are you going to do about that?' Severus asked.

'I need to get a proper account of what happened tonight, and I need you to ask around and see if any of Voldemort's followers took him.'

Severus only flinched slightly at the name, but nodded and stood.

'Severus,' Dumbledore said before the young man could leave. Severus stopped and turned, waiting. 'Do you know a Muggle by the name of Tony Stark?'

Severus frowned slightly, still silent, before saying, 'I vaguely recall hearing the name. I think he's famous in the Muggle world for something or other. Technology, perhaps. I believe there's a line of Muggle mobile phones with his surname stamped on them.'

'Please find out all you can about him,' Dumbledore said, though they both new that it was an order, not a suggestion. Severus had grown up in the Muggle world, and still lived there during the school holidays. He was better at making his way through the Muggle world than Dumbledore would ever be.

'Very well,' Severus inclined his head. 'What does Tony Stark have to do with Harry Potter?'

'There were rumours of him being at Harry's home tonight,' Dumbledore admitted, 'and some gossip about him perhaps being Harry's father.'

Severus snorted lightly at that. 'I doubt that Lily would have ever cheated on Potter,' he sneered before leaving the office, the large wooden door slamming behind him.

Dumbledore sighed and leaned back, linking his fingers over his stomach. This was quite bothersome. Harry Potter had disappeared, and Dumbledore wasn't sure where to start looking.

The most worrying thing was the wards. They would only have fallen if Harry had denounced the Dursleys' house as his home. Which meant that Harry had gone willingly with whoever had taken him.

Dumbledore was worried. If someone had found out how the Dursleys treated Harry, then there was a good chance that Dumbledore's role in the whole affair would be discovered. He would have to make sure that his involvement was hidden, and that whoever now had Harry believed him to care for the boy's well-being. Too much depended on Harry trusting Dumbledore; the Light couldn't win the war without the boy.

{oOo}

Loki kept an eye on Harry in the rear-view mirror, eyes barely leaving his son, but Tony didn't call him on it. After the past few hours, he didn't doubt that Loki would near-stalk Harry to make sure he was okay. Tony liked the kid already; kids were pretty cool, Tony had found, and despite the life he had had, Harry seemed like an intelligent, kind little boy. He hadn't flipped out after Loki had attacked his uncle, and he'd gone along with them willingly.

Tony knew that it'd take longer for Harry to feel comfortable with the sudden changes in his life. Suddenly he had a dad, and was moving to a new country; that'd be enough to make anyone's head spin. And that wasn't adding in his sudden alien blood.

But Tony had already promised himself that he'd do his best to help Loki, and by extension, Harry. If that meant getting involved in their relationship, then he'd do it. He doubted that Loki had had much experience with kids; he'd already told Tony that he'd never had a child. The myths about him were just that, myths. Caused by Asgardians travelling to Midgard centuries ago and telling tall tales.

They finally reached the hotel thanks to JARVIS, and Loki got out of the car first, going to the boot. When he shut it his hands were empty, so Tony assumed he'd sent their stuff to wherever the hell he kept it. Tony opened the door for Harry, who climbed out and clutched Hedwig tightly.

A valet hurried towards them and Tony tossed the man his keys before leading the way into the building. It was nice, like all the hotels Tony stayed at, and Harry's eyes were wide as he looked around the lobby. Tony guessed that Harry had never stayed in a hotel before; he doubted that the Dursleys would ever take him on holidays.

Tony was still pissed off about that. God, those fucking assholes. He couldn't believe that anyone would treat a kid- their family- like that. Even Howard Stark hadn't been that big of a dick.

Loki was standing tall just behind Harry's right shoulder, eyes narrowed as he glanced around the lobby. Tony didn't doubt that his partner would rip apart anyone who tried to hurt Harry. He'd have to warn Clint not to mouth off; Loki's temper was rather short where Harry was concerned.

Tony got three key-cards for the room and once more led the way, taking them into the elevator and pressing the button for the top floor. Harry was completely quiet, Loki too, and Tony wasn't sure what to say to break the silence. He didn't like silence; it made his skin itch.

Thankfully they reached their floor relatively quickly, and Tony stopped just before it. 'Okay, a card for you,' he said, handing one to Loki, 'and one for you,' he finished, presenting the third to Harry.

Harry blinked, but reached out and took it. 'I get my own key?'

'Yeah,' Tony nodded. 'I think this hotel has a pool and gym; stuff like that. If you're ever bored and wanna check it out, just let me or Loki know and head down. This is to make sure you can get back into the room no matter what.'

Harry still looked really surprised, but eventually nodded and clutched the key-card closer. Tony smiled reassuringly before opening the door and ushering the other two into the room.

'Wow,' Harry breathed.

Yeah, it was pretty nice, Tony supposed; not as nice as Stark Tower, of course. JARVIS had booked the largest room they had, and it came with a living room, kitchen, two bedrooms with their own bathrooms, and a main bathroom. The walls were a light cream-colour, the carpet beneath their feet a light shade of grey.

Tony hummed to himself and then clapped his hands together. 'So, this is where we'll be for a few days. Loki, why don't you show Harry his room?'

Loki nodded, giving Tony a thankful look, and then gestured for Harry to follow him. Tony assumed that the two could use some time to themselves, and then Loki would probably leave Harry alone to collect himself. Until then, Tony needed a drink.

{oOo}

Loki chose the room at the end of the small hallway for Harry; he figured that it would give him a sense of privacy. He watched as Harry gaped at how large the room was- it was bigger than the Dursleys' living room- and spin on the spot as he took it all in.

'Would you like some time alone?' Loki questioned. Harry blinked back to himself and looked at the god. 'I figured that you might like to... process, what has happened.'

'Oh, uh... yes, thank you,' Harry nodded. 'And I want to let Hedwig out,' he added.

'Very well,' Loki said, offering Harry a smile. Harry returned it immediately, and it made Loki's magic dance beneath his skin. 'I'll go check on Anthony; he tends to get into trouble whenever I turn my back.' Harry giggled, and Loki's smile grew. 'I'll come collect you for dinner. If you need us, we'll be in the living room.'

Harry nodded and Loki pulled Harry's trunk and broom from another dimension, leaving them at the foot of the bed. He the left Harry to it, shutting the door behind him despite his very magic telling him to stay with Harry and guard him. It was ridiculous, Loki knew; nothing would happen to Harry while Loki and Tony were on the same floor as him. But feelings weren't logical, Loki knew.

He rubbed his eyes tiredly and walked back down the hallway, only stopping in the other room to drop off his and Tony's luggage. When he re-entered the main room, Tony was standing at the counter that cut off the kitchen from the living room, a glass of something that Loki assumed was alcoholic in his hand.

'Hey,' Tony said, smiling warmly. 'How are you doing?'

'Fine,' Loki said, even though he was far from. It would be many, many years before he could think about Harry's childhood without wanting to destroy something. He wasn't sure he'd ever be able to.

'Yeah,' Tony hummed. 'How's the kid?'

'Doing rather well, all things considered,' Loki sighed. 'I know that it still hasn't fully sunk in yet; I haven't even come to terms with everything that happened.'

'It'll all work out,' Tony said, 'just takes time.'

'I know,' Loki replied.

Tony downed the rest of his drink and pushed it aside before rounding the counter. Loki immediately welcomed the hug, wrapping his arms around Tony's shoulders while the billionaire's went firmly around his waist. Loki sighed again and buried his face in Tony's neck, listening to Tony hum against him.

'You didn't tell Harry that we're together,' Tony commented. There wasn't any accusation in his tone, only mild curiosity.

'No,' Loki agreed. 'I thought that I should let him grow accustomed to all the changes in his life before telling him. And... I wasn't sure how to broach the topic.'

'Nah, I get it,' Tony nodded. 'Remember when we first got together? It took Clint catching us going at it before I told all my friends... and Pepper.'

Loki quirked a small smile as he pulled back, glancing down at the human. 'And then SHIELD discovered us the same way.'

'Yeah,' Tony laughed, 'and Thor, too! I seriously thought he was gonna throw me through a window.'

'Until you told him that you loved me,' Loki added. 'Which was the first time I'd heard those words.'

Tony grinned. 'What can I say? I'm weird and have no sense of timing.'

Loki rolled his eyes but pressed a soft kiss to Tony's lips. Admitting that he'd fallen for Tony Stark, a mortal, in front of his brother hadn't been what Loki would have chosen, if he'd actually been given a choice. But he couldn't deny that he'd been thrilled to hear that Tony returned his feelings. The sex afterwards had been incredible. The hugs from Thor every other hour, not so much.

When the broke apart, Loki rested his forehead against Tony's and let out a sigh. 'He'll be fine, Lo,' Tony said. 'Kids are pretty resilient. He'll get used to it.'

'I hope so,' Loki murmured.

'You'll see,' Tony said. 'I'm always right.'

Loki chuckled, and kissed him again. They didn't break apart for a good few minutes, and when they did Loki's face was flushed and he could feel Tony's erection pressing half-hard against his hip. Loki would like nothing more than to drag Anthony to bed, but he had Harry to think of; now wasn't the time.

Tony seemed to be thinking along the same lines, because he quirked a smile and said, 'Should probably get some type of dinner, huh? Harry's probably half-starved and exhausted. I could use a nap myself.'

Loki nodded, pushing down the anger at the thought of Harry's too-skinny frame.

'What do you think Harry likes to eat?' Tony asked.

'We could just ask him,' Loki pointed out.

'True,' Tony said. 'You wanna go get him, or will I?'

'You can,' Loki said, 'I wish to change into something more comfortable. And you should get to know him better.'

'You should, too,' Tony said. 'Hey, we can play twenty questions! That's always fun. And if it leads to a fight, we can let Harry beat us; kids like that, don't they?'

Loki chuckled. 'Toddlers like that, Stark.'

'Whatever,' Tony waved a dismissive hand. 'Go get changed and I'll grab Harry. I'm thinking pizza.'

Loki just smiled and let Tony drag him towards their bedroom.

{oOo}

Hedwig did a few circuits of the room before landing on the windowsill, and Harry smiled as he crossed to it. The window wasn't difficult to open, and soon Hedwig had launched herself outside, white wings spread as she flew higher. Harry watched for a few minutes; Hedwig didn't go far, but Harry didn't doubt that she'd be out for a while, and probably find a rat or something to eat.

The chilly breeze cleared Harry's head a bit, and he turned to open his trunk. When he did he gasped at the photo album that was sitting atop his folded robes. He hadn't realised that he'd forgotten it in his bedroom back at Privet Drive, but it seemed that Loki had thought ahead; the album was undamaged, and had been cleaned of the dust that had gathered when it resided under Harry's floorboards.

Harry smiled and touched the album before pushing it aside. All his school books were there, as well as his cauldron, notebooks, parchment, quills, and ink. His Quidditch uniform, school robes, and the few items of clothing that he'd worn on weekends that had fit a bit better than Dudley's other hand-me-downs were all folded neatly beneath his books. Harry had to wonder if Hermione had gotten into his trunk on the train when his back was turned.

Everything was there, and Harry smiled. At least he'd be set for Hogwarts in September. Now all he needed was clothes to wear until then; pyjamas and underwear, new socks and shoes... he hoped that Mr Stark and Loki really would take him shopping.

Harry spent a few minutes flipping through his books, just to remind himself that they were all there and that, yes, he had been studying magic at a school somewhere in Scotland until June. He grinned as he ran his fingers over the ink in his books, and then nearly dropped his Potions textbook when there was a knock on the door.

When nobody barged in, Harry cleared his throat and called a hesitant, 'Come in?'

It was Mr Stark, and he smiled sheepishly as he pushed the door open. 'Hey, sorry to interrupt, short stuff,' Mr Stark said, 'but we were thinking of getting some grub. You could eat, yeah?'

Harry's stomach growled, and he blushed as Mr Stark laughed.

'I'll take that as a yes,' the older man said. 'You like pizza?'

'Oh, uh... yes, pizza's fine,' Harry nodded. He'd only eaten a pizza a few times, and they'd all been at Mrs Figg's house. The Durlseys never would have fed him pizza.

'Awesome,' Mr Stark said. 'So you wanna stay in here until it comes, or wanna watch TV? I want to see what kind of shows you Brits make.'

'I can watch TV?' Harry asked in surprise. He cursed himself when Mr Stark frowned. 'I mean...'

'They never let you watch TV, huh?' Mr Stark asked.

Harry shook his head. 'Not if they were home. Sometimes they went out for dinner and left me by myself. I'd watch TV and eat whatever I wanted.' If he could get away with it, he mentally added. More than once Uncle Vernon or Aunt Petunia had realised that he'd stolen food and made him skip meals for a day or two as punishment.

Mr Stark's frown darkened before disappearing completely, and then he was smiling again. 'TV it is!' he said and gestured for Harry to follow him. 'What do you like on your pizza? Meat? Vegetables? Chicken? Loki likes chicken and olives with pesto sauce, but I'm meat lovers all the way. Sometimes supreme, for something different.'

'I don't mind,' Harry said when Mr Stark finally paused. He couldn't remember the toppings on the few slices of pizza he'd eaten in the past.

'One of everything it is,' Mr Stark said.

'What?' Harry gaped, looking up at him. 'N-No, I didn't mean-'

'He always orders too much food,' Loki interrupted as Harry and Mr Stark passed the other bedroom. 'He likes cold pizza.'

'It's awesome,' Mr Stark huffed. 'Besides, pizza fills you up, and then an hour later you want more. So the more the merrier.'

'I'm sure that only applies to people, Stark,' Loki said.

Mr Stark poked his tongue out. 'Doesn't.' Loki chuckled. Mr Stark pulled his mobile phone out as he led Harry and Loki back into the main room. It was sleeker than any mobile phone Harry had seen in the past, and had "Stark" written on the back in silver. 'Hey, JARVIS,' Mr Stark said into his mobile, 'find the best pizza place in London and order one of everything on their menu. Oh, and include soft drinks, garlic bread, whatever sides they have. And get two of the pizza Loki likes.' He glanced at Loki and Harry. 'Anything else?'

Both shook their heads, and Mr Stark told JARVIS- whoever that was- to tip extra if it guaranteed a speedy delivery. When he was done he tossed his phone onto the sofa and sat himself. 'Let's see what's on TV!'

Loki sat on the sofa beside Mr Stark, and Harry took one of the two armchairs. It was really comfy and Harry was so short that his feet only just touched the ground. He sank back into it and smiled as the cushions swallowed him.

Mr Stark started flicking through the channels on the large flat-screen TV hanging from the wall opposite, apparently not finding anything he liked. Loki was silent by his side, eyes on the TV, but Harry had the feeling that Loki was keeping an eye on him.

It was weird, but nice, Harry thought. He wondered if he should be angry; his dad had been out there all this time, and had only come back after eleven years. He'd also lied to Lily the entire time they knew each other; he'd lied to everyone.

But Harry couldn't bring himself to hate Loki. He'd had good reasons for lying, and for doing what he'd done. He hadn't known where Harry was, and as soon as he found out he'd come to rescue Harry and make the Dursleys pay. Nobody had ever done this much for Harry, and he'd only known Loki for a few hours.

Besides, like Harry had already told Loki; anything was better than living with the Dursleys. Loki hadn't hurt him, or yelled at him, and he'd already promised that Harry could go back to Hogwarts. Harry had his own room at the hotel- they hadn't made him sleep on the floor- and Mr Stark was ordering enough pizza to feed all of Gryffindor. So far Loki was a much better guardian than the Dursleys had ever been.