Title: Protection Detail
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Warner Bros, Bloomsbury. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Warnings: language, implied slash
Harry strode into Avenger's tower with his hair still wet from the shower and hickies all down his neck.
Adrian had left before breakfast, immediately after getting out of the shower, professing that he didn't want to out stay his welcome, but that he was always up for 'coffee' if Harry wanted to do it again.
Harry had accepted the offer for what it was, but resolved to only remain friends with the man. Having a casual fuck-buddy, while physically satisfying, always ended in an emotional Bombarda and Harry didn't want to deal with that, especially as they were both agents in one of the most competent spy agencies ever. He also didn't want to piss Fury off, and having a lover's spat was a sure way to manage that.
The over-large penthouse seemed abandoned, and unnervingly bare to Harry who was used to seeing at least three Avengers sitting around at all times, and so he hesitated for a moment at the threshold.
"JARVIS." Harry called hesitantly. He still wasn't fully comfortable with the idea of an AI, no matter how many times Stark had explained it.
"Yes, Mr Potter?"
"Could you tell Agent Barton that I would like to speak to him? Tell him I have some results from his testing yesterday."
"Agent Barton is asleep at the moment, Mr Potter. I will inform him of your arrival when he wakes up."
"Thanks, JARVIS." Harry replied, scrunching his nose slightly. What to do while he waited? Harry decided his first mission would be to make tea for himself. Tea first, work and annoying questions later. He wound his way towards the kitchen, which he had a standing invitation to since his third visit, but paused when he came across Stark, sitting at the large dining table. Stark looked up from the strange metallic objects and wires he had been working on and looked over Harry with a strangely assessing look, before his eyes fixed on something on Harry's neck.
"Well, what do we have here." Stark leered. "Someone got lucky last night."
"Stark." Harry sighed, but was interrupted before he had a chance to continue.
"I've told you. Call me Tony. Everyone does. Even the press, so don't think it's a privilege or anything."
Harry smiled slightly. He loved Stark's easy going attitude, and how he was able to get anyone to relax within minutes of meeting them. He had an undeniable aura of charisma that he knew how to work to devastating effect. Harry could see how the man managed to manipulate the media to print whatever he wanted them to print. It was masterful really. And Harry wasn't even sure if the man knew he was doing it or not. He leaned toward the former, but sometimes the man would appear so clueless, like he truly had no idea what he was doing.
"And I've told you, Stark. I went to a posh British boarding school. I called everyone except my best friends by their last names. Then I went into the Aurors where everyone was called by the last name. I even began to call my best friend Ron, Weasley. Just accept it. I'll make an effort, but it won't change anything.
Anyway." Harry smiled wolfishly. "I did get lucky. Don't know why that's any of your business though? You jealous?"
Harry's grin widened as Stark immediately scoffed. "Jealous? Me? Ha. I've had more women than you can imagine." He boasted. Harry would have been offended by the tone, but had learnt, not long after working with the Avengers, that this was Tony's natural state of being. Harry assumed it was the product of growing up in a rich home, as most of the purebloods he had attended school with still had the same tone.
Harry smirked at Stark. "I've surely had more men though."
The billionaire laughed throwing out a "Touché" as he did so. Harry only managed a moment for chuckling himself at the immaturity of their small pissing contest. Neither of them noticed Rogers standing in the middle of the living room in front of them, and brought their hands up to run through their hair, although Stark did it to try and put it back into order, while Harry did it as a matter of habit.
When Harry did manage to notice the captain, he smiled at him. "Morning Rogers. How are you? Tea?"
Harry moved over to the counter before Rogers had a chance to reply. He didn't even bother to ask Stark; the man was American through and through and drank only coffee, and, judging from the empty cups scattered on the table around him, had had quite a few already. He put the kettle on the stove and managed to locate the tea in one of the cupboards. He put down two cups on the counter and glanced at Rogers who had yet to make a reply. He frowned slightly at the other's peculiar silence. Rogers was, understandably, quite old-fashioned; very polite, frank at times, often very formal and always presentable. This silence was uncharacteristic.
Harry actually liked Rogers. He felt an odd sort of companionship with the old soldier; they were both shoved into this loud and messy world and had to learn to live in it. Rogers more so than Harry but he had done a good job of adjusting to the modern world, and yet, his background constantly shone though his disciplined military persona. He reminded Harry of the people he had left in the wizarding world, so much in fact, that he was sometimes plagued with pangs of homesickness by just being with the man.
He wondered if Rogers felt the same about him. If he thought Harry was like a small refuge from the modern world, like an equal whose social conventions made sense and whose behavior was familiar.
Harry drew his attention away from the cup of tea he was making, and looked up at Rogers, as he had yet to reply to Harry's greeting. He saw that the man was still standing in the middle of the middle room. He hadn't moved an inch.
"Rogers? Are you okay?" Harry questioned.
"Wha- Yes. Fine. Thanks, Potter. How are you?"
"Good thanks." Harry replied slowly. "Are you sure you're okay? You seemed pretty out of it."
"Yes, truly. I am all fine. I was just… shocked by what you said."
Harry thought back to what he and Stark were talking about as he handed Rogers tea over. "What? Sex?" Harry smiled slightly awkwardly. "People talk about it much more openly now days. I'm surprised you haven't heard Stark talk about it before, being what he is and all." Harry joked, tossing a grin at Stark, who just nodded, but looked as confused as Harry felt.
Rogers however didn't laugh. "No, um. No. It's not sex. Tony talks about it often enough. I'm used to it. It's just..." He trailed off
Harry frowned slightly. He wasn't sure if maybe he had committed some social faux pas in the super-soldiers eyes. Stark hadn't seemed to have a problem with the topic of conversation, but Harry knew by now not to judge the norm by the billionaire's standards. Harry nevertheless looked at Stark to see if he had any idea about what his team mate had a problem with.
"Actually Harry… I think I know what Capiscle is on about." Stark said, slowly. "I don't know about wizards, but back in the thirties and fourties, for us certainly, homosexuality wasn't considered normal. Hell, it was illegal. That's it, isn't it, Steve?" Stark turned to Rogers.
"Uh... yes." He looked apologetically at Harry. "That's it…I was um.. yes.. confronted."
"Confronted?" Harry said, as Rogers lapsed back into an awkward silence. "That's fine. Wizard's are more aware of gays, and it was definitely never illegal, but it's frowned upon because gays can't have children, technically."
"Technically?" Stark queried.
"I mean there's always adoption, but those kids are never of the same bloodline, and in a society completely focused on blood... Being gay isn't something you talk about." Harry let out a slightly bitter laugh. "Being bisexual, and experimenting, is completely fine though, as long as you marry a woman in the end." Harry had figured out in his very early twenties that he was bisexual, with more of a leaning towards men, but he had been happily married to Ginny by that point, and wasn't going to divorce her over that. They had had a perfectly comfortable marriage at that point, and had been expecting a child. A boy, James Sirius. Harry had planned on telling his wife about his sexuality after the birth, as he figured she deserved to know, but had never had the chance. Ginny, and the baby boy had died in childbirth. That, truly, was the catalyst for Harry deciding to find a way to hide the magical world.
"Is everything fine, then Rogers?"
"Oh. No. Yes. Of course. I apologise for my actions." Rogers steadfastly stared at his mug during his apology.
"No worries, mate. No problem at all." Harry turned to face Stark. "Now, Stark. Tell me, because I know you have this information stashed somewhere, what kind of research S.H.I.E.L.D. did into magic."
Harry was very relieved when Clint Barton finally came up to the communal level of Avenger's tower. He had spent a very awkward half hour making overly polite small talk with Rogers, while Stark interrupted with very unhelpful comments every few minutes, while they waited for the archer to wake up.
"Hey, Potter." Barton greeted. "What do you need me for? You saw me only yesterday."
"Hi Barton. I have your results actually. I think I'm mostly finished with you." Harry grinned up at the man as he made himself a cup of coffee.
"Awesome." Harry told himself that the man would have been more excited if he had already had coffee, but then gave up on deluding himself and accepted that Stark and Banner would be the only Avengers looking forward to hearing about his research. "What's can your magical tests tell you about me then?" Barton grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl in the middle of the kitchen and sat down at the table across from Harry.
Harry reached into his hoodie pocket and pulled out a shrunken roll of parchment and his wand, and enlarged the parchment before rolling it out on the table in front of him.
Stark leant over from his deat next to Harry, and tried to read Harry's writing.
"What the hell does this say? Do you wizards have some funky type of writing us mere mortals can't read?"
"Nah. It's the written form of parseltongue. Snake language." Harry clarified at the confused looks.
"Snakes have a language? Like an understandable, comprehensive language? And wizards managed to work it out enough to teach it? That's incredible."
Harry laughed at Stark's awed expression. "No, unfortunately. Snakes are idiots. All they care about is food and warmth. Their brains are too small to comprehend any abstract thoughts at all. Some magical breeds, and the really large muggle breeds can express themselves more eloquently, but they're still pretty stupid. Parseltongue is a genetic magical skill from the Slytherin family. One of the Slytherins years ago created a set of runes that had enchantment cast on them that meant that only parselmouths could understand it. I use it because I'm the only parselmouth left in the world, so my notes are very very secure."
"Say something in it." Stark demanded.
"I can't without a snake in front of me. I'll find one in Central Park or something during the week and bring it next time if you are really interested." Harry raised an eyebrow in question at Stark. Really he didn't want to speak to a snake in front of anyone, because it was, as Ron always described it, bloody creepy. He had been told by Blaise Zabini, at a Ministry function a few years after the war, that everyone, even Slytherins found it unnerving. Harry was sure that the Avengers, no matter how used to the unnatural they were, would also find the snake language disturbing.
"Mmhmm. I want to record it and see if I can create a translator, like snake to human and human to snake. It would be the first animal to human translator ever. Which would be really cool, even if it isn't marketable."
Harry smiled at Stark's excitement, he was practically bouncing in his seat, and nodded his head. "Don't try and speak it if you do manage though. You can speak some words, but some meant to be pronounced by human vocal cords, and others, I've been told, sound exactly the same. It just sounds like English when I speak it, see?"
Stark nodded, but before he had a chance to reply, Barton interrupted. "This is really cool and all, but can you tell me about my results. I wanna know what funky magic stuff you've been able to come up with."
Harry turned to face the archer, and saw, out of the corner of his eye, Rogers shift uncomfortably in his seat for the sixth time in half an hour. Harry still didn't want to deal with it however, so he just let the man stew in his discomfort. If he wanted to get up he was perfectly able to.
"Right. So I was looking at you because you have too much talent with your bow and as an agent to be wholly muggle. You see that in squibs sometimes. Squibs are non-magicals born to a magical family." Harry explained. "Some are very intelligent, others are very talented at instruments, and others, like you, and very capable physically, abnormally so. The problem is, is that every person like this, with any hint of a magical core but living in the muggle world, was met by an official from their government over the last couple of months and asked if they wanted to come through the barrier, or stay here and have any ability to speak of the magical world blocked.
"You weren't. And I wanted to know why." Harry looked back down at his scroll to gather his thoughts. "You didn't have any knowledge of the magical world before joining S.H.I.E.L.D. did you?" He asked suddenly.
"No." Barton replied. "Why?"
"Because I found out that you have enough magic to be a functioning, if weak member of wizarding society. Not enough to get into Hogwarts, but you would have been able to use a wand."
"Well, once you would have. Somehow, as a child you managed to channel all of your magic out of your core and directly into your body."
"Wait." Stark interrupted. "Isn't the core in the body. Like, isn't that the point of the whole core thing? You channel the magic from within you, right?"
Harry tried to work out how to answer a question that many great wizards had tried to answer before him. He settled on a very simplified explanation, detailing only the parts that related to Barton's case. "Magic is like the soul. It exists, we know it exists, and we can see the by product of it, but it can't be physically seen in the body. Ghosts can be, and spells can be, but in the body, although we know it is there, we can't actually find it." Harry saw that Stark was preparing to ask Harry another set of questions, and postponed it by pulling out another roll of parchment and a quill. "Write down your questions Stark, and I'll answer them later, ok? I want to finish with Barton some time in the next hour."
Stark nodded, keeping his lips firmly pressed together, but scoffed at Harry's writing implements, then took a stylus out of his pocket and pulled up a screen right on the table and began to write. Truly Harry didn't want to answer Stark's questions, but figured if the man wrote them down, he could take them away with him and write out the answers, or bring back a few books so the genius could find the answers himself. Harry put the parchment back in his pocket and started fiddling with the quill, running it through his hands and playing with the soft feather.
"What you did, Barton." Harry turned back to face the archer. "Was make your magic manifest in your body. I am able to trace the magical... channels, I guess you could call them, through your muscles and bones like I would be able to with a spell. And you did it completely subconsciously, as a child. It's incredible!" Harry exclaimed. He knew that none of the men at the table would have any understanding of how exciting this example of accidental magic was to Harry, but he could still be excited himself.
"This is something that has never been seen before, either on a permanent basis, or done without a spell. Most people's bodies can't sustain this level of magic running through them for any extended period of time, but as far as I can tell you've had it there for most of your life.
"It also explains why you weren't detected by the Wizarding World. You technically don't have a magical core. At all. All your magic is in your body, meaning that there is nothing for it to detect. My first day of tests came up with you as a perfectly normal muggle, and it wasn't until yesterday during the physical that I ran on you that I worked it out." Harry grinned widely. "Mate, this is so fascinating, you have no idea. Does this all make sense?"
"Yeah, mostly. I mean, I don't get why this is so cool for you, really, but for me, it's awesome. I'm a wizard. Like a real, broomstick riding, potion making wizard."
"Sort of." Harry interjected.
"Sort of." Barton conceded.
"Wait." Rogers finally spoke up. "Broomstick riding? Potion making? Are you being serious?"
"Deadly." Harry snorted at his private joke. He had made it once, by accident, when Ron had asked him the same question about five years ago, and they had both continued to do so ever since then. "I had potions class at school, and played on the school Quidditch team. Quidditch is a sport played on broomsticks. It's the most intense game ever. It wasn't uncommon for us, at a school level, to have multiple injuries and broken bones, during a game. Bloody brilliant though." Harry grinned widely remembering his days on the Gryffindor team. He still flew from time to time, but had yet to find somewhere in the muggle world that he could do so without anyone seeing. He planned to get out into the desert at sometime soon, and just fly there, kilometres and kilometres away from the closest person.
"Almost every stereotype you've ever heard of about wizards or witches is real, even if it has been changed a bit."
"I see." Harry would have continued to wax lyrical about the wonders of the wizarding world, but Steve's lips turned down, and he went back to his tea, which would have been cold by now, and steadfastly ignored Harry. Instead of making a fuss about it, Harry turned to Stark.
"I'm on a mission for Fury, as I'm sure you already know." Stark nodded. "So you know that all my information is going to be passed through you?" Stark nodded again. "Have you worked out a secure way for Fury to get my reports then?"
"Of course. Genius remember. I had four different pieces of software already created. You'll be giving it to me when you come by each week, yeah."
"Is this mission related to the one that you had before? Where Tasha killed your target before you got to him?" Barton asked.
"It is. I think, and Fury agrees, that someone has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. and I was appointed to deal with it." Harry hadn't been appointed, really, but he didn't need the agent to know that. "I'll be hanging around headquarters pretty often from now on. I'm pretending to be an unfortunately named new recruit."
"Unfortunately named?" Barking queried.
"Yeah. Agents are prone to drawing weapons on a kid named Harry Potter, even if he isn't, in their minds, the real Harry Potter. If I manage to dispel the awkward tension that arises immediately after this, which I always do, then they are more likely to be comfortable around me, and tell me things they wouldn't have before." Harry smirked. "Helps that I'm not planning on being a monk either. Pillow talk between agents is always... informative."
Rogers stood up abruptly. "I need to train. I'll see you next week, right Potter?"
Harry nodded his head. "Yeah, I'll come by next Saturday I think. One thirtyish. Now I have to work properly at S.H.I.E.L.D., I can't take time off to come here."
Rogers nodded his head and left the kitchen, walking across the room to call the lift. Harry took a sip of his, now lukewarm, tea.
"Oh. I just realised. Some agents saw me talking to you, Barton, yesterday, and know that I have some sort of standing invitation to the tower. We need an excuse for that, because as far as the wider world, and especially the S.H.I.E.L.D. database, knows, none of you know some twenty year old called Harry Potter. Any ideas?"
"Why don't you be Banner's relative? A distant cousin or something?" Stark offered. "You have a similar cheekbone and nose structure and you're both shortish. We can say you're mother was his... second cousin? Yeah, second cousin is far enough away that its reasonable, but close enough for him to have some sort of relationship with you."
"Why don't we say he's your second cousin, Tony? He looks a lot more like you than he does Bruce." Barton asked.
"Because I am far more famous than he is, and if I had some long lost cousin it would have come out sooner. Additionally Starks have been only children for the last few generations. It's just not plausible."
Harry smiled slightly at Stark's explanation. It reminded him somewhat of Hermione during their school years, always five steps ahead of him and Ron. He hadn't seen her, or any of his friends from the Wizarding World for years now. All his time had been taken up by research and travel, and they had just drifted apart. While he missed their presence in his life, he knew that leaving for the muggle world was for the best. An immortal being in the Wizarding World would have eventually been taken by the Unspeakables for research, no matter their position in society.
Harry stood up from his seat and took his mug over to the sink, rinsing it and resting it upside down to let it drain, then turned back to Barton and Stark. "I'd better be off. I want to read through the case files you sent me from Fury, Stark, and I need to sort out my paperwork and life story as junior agent Harry Potter, second cousin once removed of Bruce Banner." Harry ran his hand through his hair, as he realised that he had a fair bit to get through that day.
"I'll let Bruce know." Stark smirked. "You're going to have to start calling him by his first name you know. Family member's never use last names."
Harry pulled at face at Stark, letting his teenaged mask slip on for a moment.
"Fine. You let Uncle Bruce know about his new position in my life. I'll see you both next week."
Harry nodded in response to their goodbyes and walked over to the lift and pressed the button to call it. He had a day to create a new life story and work out how to act like a twenty year old again. A well-adjusted twenty year old, not Harry Potter as a twenty year old.
Fury had better give him a raise for this.
AN: Not much to say this time. Thanks again to my fantastic beta The elusive shadow. Thanks also to everyone who reviewed, because I've passed 100, which is super duper awesome.
Really I just want to say, thanks to everyone reading, or reviewing, or favouriting or following. You are all brilliant and much appreciated.