Another idea that had been in my mind lately. It should only be three or four (five max) chapters long. I won't be updating frequently, but I hope you'll still enjoy the story :)
Neither Harry Potter nor the Avengers are mine. Shame :'(
The Uncle From America
It started as an ordinary morning, but soon enough, it would turn into a morning Hermione would, unfortunately, never forget.
The last semester at Hogwarts had ended two weeks ago, and holidays had gone smoothly so far. The young witch was eating her customary late breakfast/early lunch –no school meant sleeping in, an activity her parents indulged the first three weeks before pulling her out from bed at an earlier time.
(It also helped that same parents worked those three first weeks, so she wouldn't have to face her mom's raised eyebrow and her dad's side smirk when she headed downstairs at past eleven).
The TV was on, and she glanced at it just in time to see a new warning message concerning Sirius Black. The criminal was said to still be on the run.
(Hermione never told her parents she had met him in person, and that he was in fact innocent, but she doubted they would understand. They would hear "criminal, daughter, alone" and probably, much to her horror, pull her back from Hogwarts. So she had kept this little detail from them, just like every other little mortal detail she didn't mention since she befriended Harry-trouble-magnet. Hermione loved her parents to death, but they were her parents.)
And then, there was a special interruption about a car accident that had occurred barely earlier in the morning. Apparently, a drunk driver had slammed into another car, pushing it off the road and into a lamppost, killing himself and the passengers of the other vehicle. Hermione winced, switched channel and kept eating her biscuit. It wasn't that the news didn't upset her, but she figured she deserved a break from having to hear about danger and accidents. She had, after all, had to face a werewolf barely a month prior.
The breakfast done, Hermione dropped her dishes in the sink –she'd clean them later –and returned to her bedroom, firmly decided to read a book. She was still pondering on which one to choose –wizard or muggle? Novel or else?- when the bell at the front door rang. With a heavy sigh, she returned downstairs, checked through the peephole and recognized Larry Harrison.
Harrison was a lawyer and one of her father's acquaintances. They weren't exactly friends, but they knew each other well enough for him to join them for diner once in a while. He was a polite and discreet man who always acted amiably with her, so she wasn't afraid to open the door to him.
Today though, he looked quite grim. And there were two policemen with him in the background. Hermione's heartbeat increased under the sudden worry.
"Miss Granger," he greeted, and his voice was all too quiet at solemn.
"If you are looking for my parents, they are at work," Hermione said, hoping this wasn't about what she thought it'd be.
"I was looking for you, actually. There had been an accident earlier today," her thoughts briefly remembered the two cars, but she brushed that thought away, it couldn't have been- "a drunk driver hit them on their way." Oh no. "I'm sorry, Miss Granger, your parents didn't make it."
The rest of the day and the following week seemed to pass in a blur. She could barely remember what happened; only that she had turned into an automaton and hadn't dared make a move she hadn't been ordered to. Mr. Harrison took care of most of the procedures, asking her questions only when necessary. He also organized the ceremony, helped with the details and the eulogy and supported her when she stood alone before her parents' caskets.
Hermione had no idea what she was going to do. None of her parents had siblings and her grand-parents had died long ago. Her parents had money in an account for her, but nothing she couldn't spend before her seventeenth birthday -whenever she needed money to buy something, they'd give her some themselves -and no will had been left behind. Mr. Harrison had been trying to break the agreement with the banks so she could have a little something to rely on, but he did tell her not to get her hopes up. So far, she had to decide what to do starting the following year. She needed to find a place to live during the summer –she couldn't stay in the house, she didn't have the financial means to keep it and although she could pretend her parents were off on a business trip most of the time, she knew it was a matter of time before she reached her breaking point and slammed the door behind.
Mr. Harrison had let her understand she would probably end up in foster care sooner or later. She was still a minor, and he couldn't even be sure she'd be sent to the same school in September. Hermione could probably ask for a magical guardian, but the letters she had sent to Ron were left unanswered and as supportive as Harry was trying to be through his letters, he couldn't help her either. How he still managed to send Hedwige over in spite of his uncle's surveillance was beyond her, but she was grateful he had.
Three days after her parents' funeral, Mr. Harrison came knocking at her door again.
"Something has come up, regarding your guardianship," he said and waited for her to invite him in. Hermione opened the door a little wider and they both stepped in the living room. He was carrying a large file with papers that made a loud sound when he laid them on the table.
"My assistant was going through your parents' file, and he found out that your father actually has a younger brother." Hermione blinked in surprise. Harrison went on: "His name is Clinton Barton, and he lives in America. I assume you never heard of him?" The girl shook her head. The man nodded. "I thought as much. Primary research says he is a man with a…suspicious background, probably the reason why your father never spoke of him. The cabinet had to contact him of course. He is on his way to England and will likely arrive tomorrow."
Hermione nodded. Her father had a brother. He had a brother, her uncle, who was likely a criminal. She found it ironic. Now Harry and she had something in common. Aside from both being orphaned.
"The files are old, which is why I didn't find them right away," he sounded vaguely annoyed by this. "But your father appointed him as your guardian if anything was to happen to him or Vivian." Something akin regret lingered in his eyes. "I am sorry Miss Granger. There is little I can do for this situation."
"I understand," she replied quietly.
"Your parents had no fortune, but they earned enough money to make people envious." He added. "Please understand I want to protect your interests, Miss Granger, and I will do my best to make the odds favorable to you."
"I do, thank you," she said, staring at the table. So that man would only be there for her parents' money? Where did that leave her then? Would he take her in? Would he bring her back with him? Or will he just take his share and leave her behind? She didn't want to move to the US, but she didn't want to be left alone either. Maybe, depending on the type of man her uncle was, they could find an arrangement?
The next day, she went to Mr. Harrison's cabinet. When Mr. Harrison conducted business, he did it in an adjacent spacious room to make his client feel comfortable. He had offered to let her stay in his office and crack the door open for her to overhear the conversation he would have with Mr. Barton before they were introduced. Hermione liked the idea (she would have eavesdropped anyway) and had agreed.
It was fifteen to two when she pushed the front door open and entered the office. Harrison stood up to greet her and led her to a small but comfortable couch. She was staring outside the window when she saw the black sports car park in the alley across the street and the two people stepped out.
The driver was a woman, a redhead with long hair loose over her shoulders. She was dressed in a black pair of jeans and a brown jacket and half of her face was covered with large sunglasses. Hermione couldn't distinguish her features, but she figured she must be beautiful. The man accompanying her made her take a second glance. He was wearing sunglasses and a sleeveless shirt, showing off the huge muscles of his arms. And even though Hermione was just a fourteen year old recently, she couldn't help but blush slightly; she was entering puberty after all, she was entitled to look.
The glimpse barely lasted a second, for he grabbed a jacket and slid it on nearly immediately. Hermione watched the two cross the street and head towards the building, and she briefly wondered what had brought them here. Were they a couple? Were they married? Were they adulterers or friends or family? Given the car, they were probably well-off. Or at least the woman seemed to be. The man, according his clothing, probably not. Or maybe he just didn't want to bother dressing up even to meet a notary?
Hermione heard them enter, walk to the front desk. Then she turned her attention back to the street. Her "uncle" should be arriving anytime now, if he was punctual. She waited a few moments and heard the door of Harrison's office open and voices enter. She raised an eyebrow in wonder and crept closer.
"-sn't expecting you accompanied, Mr. Barton."
"This is my partner, Miss Rushman." A man's voice replied abruptly. "Can we get this done?"
"Clint," a feminine voice spoke, a clear warning in her tone. Chairs were moved and papers opened. Hermione blinked in shock. Was the man who had just entered her uncle? But he didn't even look like her father! And she had been checking him out? Urgh, creepy.
Before Harrison could speak, the man she could only assume to be her uncle spoke again:
"Just so we're clear, I want nothing that sonovabitch left behind." Hermione nearly gasped in shock. How dare that man insult her father! "If he was married, if his wife's still alive or if she had any relatives at all, give it to them."
The teenager frowned. That was an odd request. Usually, people were glad to hear they'd inherit a little something from a deceased relative, even if they hadn't been in good terms.
"Mr and Mrs Granger had no family," Harrison declared firmly. Hermione blinked, what about her? She suddenly wondered if her uncle even knew about her.
"They were in debt?"
"Then I'll leave it to you. The furniture he had, his house, his car, heck his goldfish can go to Goodwill or Red Cross for all I care. I only came because I have business to attend in London."
"Clint, you promised. Calm down." The woman spoke again, this time with soft authority. Hermione heard someone breathing hard and silence settled again. She was still a little unsettled by the earlier outburst from her 'uncle' to care if he was the one upset. "I'm sorry, Mr. Harrison. The subject of his brother is always tough on him."
"You're not my goddamn psychiatrist, Rushman. Drop it." Yups, defintively Barton.
"Excuse-me," Mr Harrison interrupted. "I know this is probably none of my business, but Mr. Granger was a friend of mine and a good man." Someone snorted at these words, and Hermione felt anger rising within again. "I cannot understand why you carry such despise towards him, even after his death."
Hermione inhaled sharply and waited. The response came in a wording that resembled to a growl.
"That so-called good man," Barton started, "stabbed me when I was sixteen because I caught him stealing money from the circus receipts. He stabbed me, his own brother, and left me behind for dead. And that was the first time. Second time we crossed roads, he was working for a local mobster and tried to shoot me. It doesn't surprise me that he's changed his name and moved to England, because if I had found him first-"
That was more than Hermione could bear. She pushed the door open, ran into the room and with anger clouding her eyes and her hand itching for her wand to hex him, she yelled:
"My father was NOT a murderer!"
The three people in the room turned around to stare at her. Harrison looked angry and annoyed at her interruption, but thankfully remained quiet. The two newcomers faced her with equally unsurprised stares.
Hermione quickly completed the portrait she had made of the woman from behind the , bright green eyes, beautiful features and from what she could see even from her seated position, a body to die for. The woman -Rushman, was it?- raised an eyebrow in her direction and the corner of her lips tilted upwards, as if the teenager was an amusing distraction. Deciding not to dwell too much on the first unknown quantity, she directed her eyes towards her remaining living relative.
Clinton Barton, from up close, still looked nothing like her father. Where her father had been tall and thin, Barton looked smaller and larger, but in a much more muscular way. His eyes were sharper too, and they maybe had the same shade of blue. But her father's had been warm, and his were cold and calculating. She suddenly wondered why he didn't look the slightest surprised by her arrival. Really, after three years with a trouble magnet, she should have known something was up.
Still, it caught her entirely off guard when Clinton stood up, walked towards her and offered her a half-smile.
"Hello Hermione, it's nice to finally meet you."