It was a cold night in early November, Halloween having just passed the night before.
Natasha Romanov, the Black Widow and known assassin in the dark cold underground the world over, thought it would be like any other night when she wasn't on her job.
That is, boring with an overly developed and healthy case of paranoia. You didn't live as long as she did in a profession of murderers and killers if you didn't have paranoia and situation awareness.
That idea shattered the moment she heard the sound of an infant crying not more than ten feet from her.
Curious, and wondering why the child's mother was out so late with an infant in the slums, she followed the sound.
Though she never told anyone, Natasha did in fact have a small amount of magic. She wouldn't be nearly as good or have taken to the Infinity Serum if she hadn't. In magical terms, she was the equivalent of a squib who had a few odd magical talents. Enough to get her past anti-mundane wards and slip into magical homes unnoticed.
She found the infant in a decidedly too-nice looking basket with a note.
No one was aware that the Black Widow was in town, and whoever had put this child here had laced him with a spell...one that she could immediately tell wasn't harmful in origin, but a rather benign one.
Reading the note, she noticed that the first name was partially smudged.
She looked at the kid. He was absolutely adorable and would likely grow into those looks.
Little Adrian was an orphan, one who had survived an attack on his parents through sheer luck and divine protection...and he needed a home.
Natasha could leave the child here, alone and hope for the best. However the spell that was laced on the note latched onto her core, awakening maternal instincts she hadn't known she still had. She picked up the child and gently rocked him, getting his bawling to stop.
Unseen, a pair of green eyes watched her carefully as the spell his mother had suggested took full hold on the assassin.
Natasha not only took the child, but she kept him. The eyes left their position and went to inform the infant's much older and more powerful sibling of the development so that she could continue her job of guarding her new baby brother. If he couldn't watch out for the child, then at least his daughter could without arising suspicion from the King.
"Adrian!" Natasha called out.
Adrian Romanov, son of the Black Widow and known super-hacker, raced to the sound of his mother's voice.
"Yeah mom?" he asked in Russian. Natasha had taught him as many languages as she knew and he had taken to them like a duck to water, along with a few other questionable talents of hers.
But he had never killed. She had been firm about that. No assassinations or killing until he was eighteen at least, not outside of self-defense.
It helped that he had built up an immunity to her less lethal strain of the Widow's Kiss and could unleash it on unsuspecting people in an enclosed space without being effected once his body grew used to it.
Today was Adrian's eleventh birthday, and Natasha planned something special for him. They were going to the London zoo to see the animals. Despite being an elite super spy who killed for a living, Natasha was a good mother. Even if she did give her son a rather strong sense of paranoia.
So, every so often they took time to act relatively normal, if only to give Adrian a base idea of how to blend in.
Adrian didn't care...he loved spending time with his mother. When he had been growing up, they had spent hours together. When he was old enough to understand that she would be gone long hours (it wasn't until he was nine that he understood the full truth of her jobs) and that he would have to behave until she returned.
As a consequence Adrian spent long hours on the computer, developing skills that would make S.H.I.E.L.D. just as eager to recruit him as they were to kill his mother.
Natasha (going by Natalia) and Adrian (going by Andy) went to the zoo to act...well as normal as they could considering who they were.
Adrian loved the zoo, but immediately hated one of the children who had come that day.
A horse faced woman, a man the size of a medium walrus, a ratty looking black-haired boy and a small killer whale who was apparently related to the horse and walrus respectively, kept showing up at nearly every exhibit they went to.
Adrian disliked them all on sight. Natasha had to keep a firm grip on her son as they calmly maneuvered around the group, though from the look on her face she disliked them greatly too.
"Come along now Diddikins," cooed the horse. Natasha made a face behind her back.
Entering the reptile house, Adrian was admiring a Brazilian snake when the spoiled brat that had almost ruined their rare day out together as a family tried to shove him on the ground. Adrian avoided the brat's pudgy hand and when the kid tried to push him again, he knocked his feet out from under him.
And, because this kid had seriously gotten on his nerves from what little exposure he had to the fat tub of lard (and because he had a serious bully vibe going on) he sneered and commented "I didn't know they let the animals out of the exhibits...oh wait, you're a human! What sort of parents do you have to look like a pig in a wig?"
Natasha, overhearing the snide comment, rolled her eyes. She didn't know why Adrian was a cruel smart ass when he was annoyed, but she knew it wasn't her doing. It had to be inherited from his birth parents, whoever they were.
The horse faced bint shrieked loudly about her son being knocked down after he had tried to attack first and went to shove the boy out of the way of her precious child.
Natasha stopped her. This woman and her son had been getting on their nerves all day.
"Is there a problem Andy?" asked Natasha.
"No problem mom. Just some fat pig in a wig pretending to be human tried to shove me," said Adrian calmly.
Dudley, for that was the boy's actual name, couldn't believe what was happening. Another kid who was in the way of what he wanted to do had fought back, and not only that had openly insulted him. And to make matters stranger, his mother had been stopped from immediately going to his aid.
For once in his life, Dudley wasn't going to have his way. In fact his family and cohort, Piers, were promptly kicked out of the zoo despite his mother's shrieking and father's angry oaths...and were summarily banned from ever coming back.
This was supposed to be a late birthday present, since he had to wait until Piers had gotten over a late summer cold before they could come.
Dudley was not happy. And when he wasn't happy he took it out on the first target he could get his hands on. Which, unfortunately, was Piers.
Piers would later retell the story to his mother, and from there things spiraled completely out of control for the soon-to-be former bully Dudley.
Piers had overheard "Andy" making that comment about Dudley and the fact he looked like a pig in a wig, a comment no one had dared to voice for fear of Dudley's revenge, and the banishment of the Dursley family from the London zoo had started his mind on another track.
Why hadn't they noticed Dudley was a fat bastard before now? Sure he was a brute, but he wasn't exactly that smart. In the normal world he was little more than hired muscle, a brutish thug with no redeeming qualities.
And Piers, actually being smarter than his so called 'leader' by a wide margin, decided that it was time for a change.
Later Dudley would wonder how he had gone from the top of the pack in Surrey's small gang to being downsized to being the enforcer. He didn't like it. Not one bit.
When he graduated from Smeltings, he would realize his poor choices had serious consequences and would attempt to be a better person.
It didn't work, but at least he had put in some effort.
Natasha found it hilarious that they were being the ones apologized to because of the group who had started the mess, and they left with a better mood overall.
Suddenly she noticed something moving inside Adrian's loose shirt. He preferred them because it was so easy to hide his favorite daggers.
"Andy, that had better not be something you have snuck out," she warned.
"Um...maybe?" he said sheepishly.
"What is it, and you had better have a good reason," she told him firmly.
A serpentine head poked out from the neck of his shirt. It was hidden by his hair to others, but Natasha had sharp eyes.
It hissed at Adrian, who hissed back.
"He wanted to see Brazil, and he was tired of being stared at all the time. The glass disappeared during the whole mess and he decided to slither up my pants leg and curl up next to me instead of trying to avoid the human legs," explained Adrian.
Natasha pinched the bridge of her nose. It had been bad enough when Adrian somehow adopted a far too smart crow that had been following them for quite some time (he named it Karasu, since he had been six at the time and they had been in Japan, though it went by Kara for short).
"Ask him if he would be willing to stick around until we happen to go near Brazil. We're going to be in London for the better part of a month, so we can't exactly leave early," she said finally. Adrian was a responsible child, and he cared for animals. It was why she had chosen the zoo...he loved all sorts of beasts.
Adrian hissed to the snake, who bobbed it's head in agreement. It didn't mind acting like a pet snake since they were willing to at least drop him off. It was, after all, a former zoo animal. It was used to humans.
Adrian was on his laptop looking up Brazil for Verde, the snake he had 'rescued' from the London zoo, when he heard the tap at the window.
Kara screeched at the intruder. Clearly something was off about it.
Adrian's paranoia, born of many years as his mother's only pupil, made him grab a pair of magic-canceling tongs that Natasha had bought the week before as a precaution, to open the window.
An owl flew in with a letter. Adrian removed it carefully, noting that the thing was hissing as the tongs ripped apart several spells on the parchment. The owl hooted reproachfully.
"Kara, get rid of the intruder," said Adrian.
The crow was all too happy to do so, and chased the owl out with vigor.
Adrian took one look at the name and grimaced. He didn't know who this 'Harry Potter' was or why they believed he was this kid, but he did know a good place to insure that he wouldn't be accidentally picked up by the British and their ridiculous school.
He was home-schooled, and he honestly preferred it that way. Sure, it was nice to hang out with random kids, but he loved being around his mother, who was infinitely more interesting than most other people. Besides, how many kids could say that they were allowed on the internet and traveled the world?
Adrian had tried school once. It was not only boring, but it also told Natasha that her adopted son was more than smart, he was a genius who had yet to learn the word discreet. So she taught him from home when she had the chance, and he spent countless hours on internet chat boards with people three times his age. Not many people could keep up with minds like Tony Stark, or earn his respect before he was even ten.
Besides, teaching him at home meant more bonding time.
Adrian waited until his mother came back before he told her what happened, and they made a trip to Gringotts which was open for it's more nocturnal customers. And they damn near set off every alarm in the place the second Adrian entered it.
They were in for a very, very long night.
Ragnok was a well respected goblin, and he was proud of the fact he had fought and won the right to lead the Gringotts tribe. There were days, however, that it didn't pay to be him.
This was one of those days.
Natasha Romanov, known to the goblins as the Black Widow, had registered her son under her family name so that in the event of her death he would get everything, including the family magics.
The Romani was a well respected Pure Blood family from Russia. Natasha was to be the heir of that family, had they not found she was a squib. However, unlike the British pure bloods, they didn't cast her out nameless. No...they sent her to a branch family, the Romanovs instead. It was an arrangement that worked for both parties in the end.
When Natasha came back as the Black Widow, they had acknowledged the relation and welcomed her as one of the most respected females of the clan. She had cautiously accepted the fact she still had family, but all that meant in the long run was that any children she had that were magical would be made the heir of the Romani clan instead of her.
No one, not even the seers that the goblins employed, expected her to waltz in during the yearly acceptance of the magical children of Europe with the last heir of the Potter family and, if Ragnok's memory served, one of Loki's chosen.
The crow on the boy's shoulder was one of Hel's special messengers, which meant that Loki not only knew of the boy, but had asked his daughter to pay special attention to him.
This was going to be a long night for all parties.
"Lady Romani. Lord Potter," he said respectfully.
"It's Romanov, not Potter," said Adrian automatically. He was proud to be the Black Widow's son.
"Your birth name is Potter, and despite the fact that Natalie Romani has adopted you, it shall remain as such. At least until we get the chance to change your keys," said Ragnok.
Natasha's eyes glinted.
"How much is this going to cost?"
"A much smaller fee than normal, I assure you. The fact you're a pure blood from a noted neutral family, despite being a squib, means that we can avoid any attempts to remove your son from you. At least until he no longer wants to be associated with you, which is highly unlikely."
Ragnok pulled out a sheet of papers.
"Now, only our first business, namely the magical adoption. You're his legal guardian in the mundane world, but since he is a British citizen by birth we'll have to file the change of name in the Ministry. If you give us a time frame, we can do that long after you're in another country so Dumbledore won't be able to try and stop you," said the goblin bluntly.
Natasha read the papers, signed where indicated with the blood quill (Adrian signed the other places) and Ragnok filed them.
"Next is the matter of your estate. I can only assume by the fact you're her son that you have no interest in your family estate or taking up their political positions once you're of age," said Ragnok.
"I'm a hacker, not a politician. Mom's been pretty good at keeping me out of the limelight and being in those circles under my real name is just asking for a target to be put on my back," said Adrian.
There was a reason why Natasha avoided the balls that the Romani threw. She didn't want anyone aware of her birth family. Something they agreed on wholeheartedly.
They would come to her defense when asked, but they had a better business relationship than a familial one. It was safer for all involved.
"Very well. Now, on to the matter of your accounts. You currently have..."
And so they went, working through one item after another. Adrian was registered as home-tutored to the Ministry, which meant that as long as he was in the presence of his teachers, he could use magic outside of the schools.
In this case that was Natasha and the occasional times she returned to Russia. The Romani were of of the higher class in Russia, but the Romanov were considered a minor noble family.
Adrian heavily invested in Tony Stark's company, since he was a sort of friend to the eccentric billionaire, and in an up-and-coming scientist named Richards. He also invested in a school in New York that belonged to a known Mutant sympathizer named Charles Xavier.
All of them were people he occasionally had spirited debates with from the safety of his laptop and his webcam unplugged from his laptop. Adrian wasn't a fool. Some people could hack webcams from afar to see people...but not if the laptop wasn't equipped with one. Tony Stark was one such person.
By the time they left Britain and Europe far behind, the goblins were enjoying the hornet's nest that Adrian Romanov left in his wake upon learning that the famed Harry Potter wasn't going to Hogwarts or any magical school in Europe and likely never would. And with his new name classified so heavily that it would take another goblin war to get to it, there was nothing Dumbledore or the Ministry could do to find him.
Elsewhere, in another realm, Adrian's true father was enjoying the chaos his 'son' had left in his wake.