What is it with this family and bad timing? Natasha thought to herself.
The moment she had Amelia had landed on the coast of New York island, one mile out from the SHIELD weapons warehouse, her mobile device had gone off.
Worse yet it was Hermione.
How is it that my daughter almost always picks the worst possible time to call me? The red head wondered to herself. I swear she gets it from her father, a god but possibly the only being in the universe with absolutely horrific timing. Because god only knows she didn't get it from me.
As much as she hated to, the red head decided not to answer the phone at the moment. If the warehouse really had been invaded she couldn't risk compromising their position if someone were to hear them.
So she turned off her phone.
The two women were standing atop a hillside looking down into what appeared to be some sort of harbor in which the land curved and formed a V along the water from the ocean. Situated a hundred yards back from the water was the large shadow of a warehouse could be seen.
It looked larger in the moonlight and somehow more foreboding, however Natasha wasn't easily dissuaded.
There were several smaller motorboats down in the harbor but when she saw the boat that was further off in the harbor, Natasha felt her mouth tighten into a grim line.
It was far off from shore but it was a long sleek ferrying ship that clearly did not belong in the harbor.
Natasha's eyes narrowed.
There were several boats down in the harbor that were clearly docked and then there were several cars parked down the road from the warehouse, far enough away to not raise any suspicion from other passersby, but close enough to make a quick getaway.
There were no alarms going off and no one dashing from the premises of the building and looking back as if the hounds of hell were on their tails.
Of course this wasn't the movies where such things happened.
She glanced at Amelia and jerked her head towards the building. The witch nodded and the two of them moved silently down the hill towards the building.
"Do you know what was housed in this facility specifically?" the other read head asked.
"Essentially those weapons used for tank warfare," Natasha explained as they crept closer. "Anything to slow down a tank is a necessary thing to terrorists who may not be in possession of such weapons themselves. Whatever was taken, it was necessary for those to take a serious risk in doing so."
She remembered quickly an incident almost twelve years earlier in which she and her husband had broken into a similar warehouse to steal a weapon of mass destruction without being seen.
The end result had been the burning down of a hotel ballroom and the consummating that had led to Hermione's existence.
She felt a flash of a smile cross her lips for a moment before she forced it back down and focused on the task at hand.
"How do you want to go in?" Amelia asked as they neared the building.
"About ten feet away from the building, there is a trap door located beneath the grass," Natasha explained. "Its only used for emergencies. In order to open it, you need to tap the sides of it in a strategic pattern."
"Clever," Amelia observed.
"Annoying," Natasha corrected. "It's a nuisance when you're trying to get anywhere in a hurry."
When they had reached about ten feet away from the building, she shot a hand out, stopping the other witch in her tracks. "Hold on. It's right beneath us. Now back up slowly and for the love of god do not lift your feet from the ground, shuffle if you need to."
Amelia did what she asked without question but as she did so, she turned her head slightly and whispered: "Why the need for such physical discretion?"
"Because the door is also triggered with as many damn explosives as you can think of," Natasha whispered back. "If too much weight is placed upon it, it will go off and we will end up no better than meat fit for the grinder."
Amelia shuddered and Natasha nodded. "My sentiments exactly."
"And how are we going to bypass this?" the other read head asked.
"The combination of steps must be tapped out in the next ten second," Natasha replied, her feet already going through the motions. "Or we will be blown to smithereens."
"Well then, don't let me stop you."
The ten seconds that followed were tense between the two witches, but the moment Natasha stopped moving there was a creaking sound and before they could do anything about it, the ground beneath their feet gave way and they plummeted downward.
Amelia gave a slight sound of surprise, but Natasha who had been expecting it, made sure to tuck into a roll as the ground rushed up to meet them and the impact was absorbed into a forward flip which allowed her to come up standing.
Amelia who hadn't been expecting it, landed with a squawk on the floor.
"Are you alright?" Natasha asked as she helped her up. "I apologize, I should have warned you about that."
"A few bruises but not something that can't be fixed with some ice," Amelia replied as she got to her feet.
"Good," Natasha muttered.
It had been a long time since she had been back here.
When she had been first recruited by SHIELD she had been sent to take an inventory of all weapons facilities in the northern half of the United States. It had taken months to complete and had irritated the hell out of her, something she never wanted to do again.
The weapons facility on the coast of New York was one of the first ones she had gone to. A part of it was housed underground like Stark's playground had been all those years ago.
There were tunnels and hallways running underneath the ground and shelves upon shelves of weapons in drawers that required a blood code of agents to open.
That was one instance that Natasha wasn't sure that she liked when she had heard about it. It seemed too much like the Red Room when she was informed by Fury that she would need to submit a small sample of her blood to use in several operations with regards to security.
This was just one of them.
It also allowed them to track an agent if said agent went rogue which was another thing which made Natasha apprehensive. Knowing that the place she worked for had such surveillance out on all of its agents was either a very good thing or a very bad thing.
But right now that was neither here nor there.
The point was that only an agent could open the drawers that contained the weapons so that meant that either an agent was helping the thieves get in and out of the facility or else an agent was alone in this operation.
Seeing as how a breach had been noticed, Natasha was inclined to think it was the first option. A SHIELD agent would know better than to cause a breach at a weapons facility warehouse that was owned by the organization they worked for so it had to have been one of the goons they were assisting that didn't know about the security protocol.
Unless of course the breach was caused on purpose.
You're speculating Romanov, the red head thought as she stood there at the entrance to the tunnel that led into the weapon's warehouse. Just get in there and find the damn bastard before he or they do something with one of those weapons that you can't stop.
She turned to Amelia. "Let's go."
The witch muttered something under her breath that Natasha recognized as the spell for disillusioning them and masking the sounds they would make with the Muffliato charm.
Sometimes being a witch was very efficient.
"Good thinking," Natasha said a nod to her daughter's best friend's aunt.
Amelia nodded back and the two women walked slowly down the tunnel leading to a metal door at the opposite end that would shutter back when it was opened. It required the password of an agent, a blood sample and an eye scan.
Both women were silent as Natasha reached the door and leaned forward so her eye could be scanned by the computer embedded in the door.
There was a two second pause and then a series of clicks followed by a small arm protruding from the door which expanded to include a small screen from which a blue light flashed, doing a full body scan of both women.
Amelia didn't say anything but Natasha had a feeling that she was impressed.
"Its not bad," she said in way of the head of the DMLE's look. "But I think if we combine Muggle and wizard tech, it could be far more formidable."
"Well that's what we are here to explore," Amelia said as the door finally swung open. "Muggles and wizards have been segregated for far too long in the ways that matter. I agree there was a need for secrecy during the days of the Spanish Inquisition but this is the twenty first century for Merlin's sake."
The door they had opened led them to yet another long hallway that was circular on top and ridged with arches every few feet in which there were small dots that Natasha knew were nearly undetectable cameras. The walls were sheer rock and father down the hallway the room itself widened out into an enormous chamber which led into the underground weapons facility.
The atmosphere was quiet, but Natasha didn't trust that for a moment.
"Let's hurry," she muttered.
When she and Amelia reached the last archway that led into the enormous chamber, the latter cursed under her breath.
Natasha smirked. "My sentiments exactly….someone could get lost in here if they didn't know their way."
And she would be right.
The chamber resembled the inside of an enormous gothic cathedral. There were shelves every few feet that towered high above their heads and the only light came in lamps situated high above their heads in the ceilings.
The floors were made of stone and Natasha couldn't see to the back of the chamber as the shelves went all the way back into darkness.
"Well this is going to take a while," Amelia said.
"Not necessarily," Natasha muttered. "You go right, I'll go left and take each aisle of shelves carefully. You'll be able to tell if anything is missing because the drawers in which they are stored are clear."
"And if anything is missing?"
"Identify what it is quickly and then let me know," Natasha said removing a small ear piece from her belt and handing it to the other red head. "The spell you cast will muffle our footsteps and sounds so you don't need to whisper, but I would guard against shouting as well."
Amelia chuckled as she took the small round piece and fitted into her ear. "I certainly will need a crash course in how Muggle tech works when all of this is over."
Natasha chuckled. "Also, I would guard against apparition. I've learned that apparating during a wartime is not a good idea as you do not know what situation you are going into."
With that said, the two women split up, going right and left on their respective sides of the warehouse.
The aisle that Natasha went down served as adequate cover for anything that might come at them in the front and in the back.
In the back of her mind as she searched however, she wondered if the person they were after was even still here.
Yes they hadn't seen anyone leaving the facility, but unfortunately there were far too many places to hide in this damn place.
And far too many weapons to make use of.
If someone managed to take one of these weapons and get out, they might head straight for the nearest largest metropolitan area.
New York City.
A cold chill worked its way down Natasha's back and she quickened her pace.
This facility itself mostly held chemical weapons that could be used en masse to destroy entire cities.
If one fell into the wrong hands….
Calm yourself Romanov, the red head thought to herself tamping down her emotions. Motherhood is getting the best of you. You're not going to get anywhere by panicking. Find this bastard and shut him down.
She continued going up and down the aisle of shelves, looking in the clear plastic drawers with practiced meticulousness.
"Have you discovered anything missing yet?" she asked through her ear piece to Amelia.
"Negative," the other red head answered. "Everything seems to be intact. Its as if they went over the place without touching anything."
"Or were wearing gloves," Natasha muttered. "Something has got to be missing here. Fury wouldn't send us on a wild goose chase for nothing."
"That's something I very much doubt," Amelia muttered.
Fifteen minutes must have passed where both women were ensconced in total silence as they picked their way through what seemed to be miles upon miles of shelves.
The air down there began to grow hot and Natasha felt her breathing begin to grow slightly heavy.
It was times like this that she wished the accio charm would work on something or someone that they had never seen before. Things would be much easier that way.
They were halfway through their exploration of the chemical weapons when Amelia uttered a sharp gasp into the earpiece that had Natasha stiffening up as straight as a board.
"What is it?" she hissed.
There was a two second pause.
"I think you're going to want to see this," the other red head said slowly.
Natasha muttered a curse in Russian under her breath. "Where are you?"
"Eleven rows down from where we started."
"I'll be right there."
Natasha closed her eyes and took a deep breath before spinning on her heel and disappearing with the location in mind.
She found Amelia where she said she would be down near the end of the eleventh aisle on the left hand side.
The other red head was standing at the end of the aisle close to one of the plastic drawers at the end. She had both hands on the drawer and she was staring at it as if in a trance.
"Amelia?" Natasha asked as she strode up. "What is it?"
"I'm afraid its worse than we thought," the head of the DMLE said quietly.
Natasha looked at the label on the now empty plastic drawer and growled out another curse in Russian. "God damn it."
The whole weapons facility would be a playground to terrorists were they to ever get into this place. But the section on chemical weapons was as dangerous as any Natasha had ever seen.
"They took Sarin," she muttered.
Amelia frowned. "What sort of chemical is that?"
The red head ran a hand through her long curls torn between cursing and pacing. "Sarin is a chemical weapon that was developed in 1938 in Germany and is a toxic nerve agent. A single drop the size of a head of a pin is enough to kill an adult human rapidly. It is a colorless and odorless liquid at room temperature, but it can be broken down into pills and it evaporates rapidly when heated. After its released sarin will spread into the environment rapidly and presents an immediate threat.
"The symptoms include headaches, salivation and paralysis of the muscles rendering a person incapacitated. It kills less people when in liquid form and in order to maximize casualties, not only must sarin be a gas but the particles need to be small enough so they are easily absorbed through the lining of the lungs yet heavy enough that they cannot be exhaled. Thus it is not easy to weaponize."
"And was it in its weaponized form here?" Amelia asked looking particularly pale in the dim light.
"No," Natasha said but this was not a cause for relief. "Though Sarin is a toxic chemical weapon we would not keep it ready for the use of any person or agent who decided to go rogue when or if they ever came in here. That would be a death sentence and would lose SHIELD credibility."
Even as she said the words, she knew the situation was still bad.
"But not just anyone could break in here," Amelia said slowly.
"Exactly which means that this was either an agent or an inside job by an agent," Natasha muttered disliking heavily that one of their own would betray them like this.
"But there wasn't a lot of sarin in this particular facility was there?" Amelia asked.
"No," Natasha said shaking her head. "It would be suicide to keep large quantities of any chemical weapon in any of our facilities even if they were in their most dormant form.
This drawer here was the only one that we had of sarin…in this particular facility."
"Which means that whoever broke in here if they had wanted more quantities of sarin would have had to take what was here and go to other facilities to obtain more."
"But then they would have to have it weaponized," Amelia. "Where would they do that?"
"Any number of places," Natasha said her thoughts whirling a mile a minute. "We need to check back in with Fury and tell him that this might not have been the only warehouse that has been hit."
The words had no sooner left her mouth when there was the sound of cracking glass and a small explosion rocked the facility throwing both women to the ground before they realized what was happening.
Son of bitch!
As fast as she could Natasha shot to her feet and drew her gun. She realized that they're distraction with the knowledge that sarin had been stolen and the ensuing explosion might have shocked Amelia to lower the spells concealing them.
She glanced at the red head and saw from the second of shock on her face that her thoughts were indeed true.
She looked down the aisle and saw a small cloud rising from the center of the warehouse and the color of the cloud was completely white as if a canister of fog had been emptied into facility.
They released the gas, she thought. How the hell did they get it weaponized this fast?! Unless it is some other chemical.
"The bastards are still here," she hissed. "And they may know where we are. What ever you do, for gods sake don't breathe in."
She reached into the pocket of her belt and took out the breathalyzer pills that ever SHIELD agent carried.
Because dealing with chemical and biological weapons was a common thing for the agency, every agent carried on them pills to counteract the effects of poison gas temporarily.
They didn't last for long so they needed to be quick.
"Swallow this," she said. "It'll make sure that we are not incapacitated by whatever drug this moron has let loose."
Amelia growled out something unintelligible. She shot to her feet and snarled out the words that concealed them once more. "What now?"
"Now we go after the bastard," Natasha muttered.
She listened carefully and heard the sound of faint footsteps retreating away from them down the main facility of the warehouse before she was already running.
Amelia followed without a second delay.
The two women skidded into the main hallway of the facility just in time to see a retreating figure racing down the hallway towards the doors.
"Not today bitch," Amelia muttered beside her and hissed out the words to the accio spell.
Instantly the man came racing back towards them, drawn by the magical pull and Natasha readied herself.
As soon as he close enough, Natasha reached out, seized him by the back of his collar and spun him around before taking him out with two swift punches.
It worked instantly and he slumped like a sack of potatoes.
The moment he was on the ground, Natasha knelt down next to him and began rummaging through his coat.
He was Caucasian, blonde with a scruffy beard and a narrow face. His skin was unnaturally pale and his blue eyes were glassy as they looked unseeing up at the ceiling.
"Do you know him?" Amelia asked.
"Never seen him before in my life," Natasha said quietly.
"So he was a grunt hired to do what?" the other red head asked.
Natasha had a feeling the breathalyzers were going to begin wearing off soon. "It was a test. He may have been told to see whether or not the drug itself would work when weaponized in a closed environment. He likely had some inkling that someone was after him but he didn't know who it was."
"Does he have any ID?"
"Negative," Natasha cursed. "He's clean. Whoever sent him down here to do this test wanted to make sure that no one could trace him."
"But what was the point of him coming down here at all and releasing this gas if no one was around to feel the full effects of it?" Amelia asked.
"Whether or not someone was around didn't matter to whoever he was working for I think," Natasha speculated. "They just wanted to know if the gas itself would work when released into the air. And now that he knew it had, he made his escape right before we caught him."
"So the sarin is still missing?" Amelia asked.
"Yes…but unless I am mistaken we need to keep a close eye on all of the other facilities under SHIELD control. Someone wants this gas for their own personal use and I have a feeling they are not going to stop until they get it."
She got to her feet. "Come on, let's get him back to Washington. I have a feeling the director is going to have a lot of questions for our newest guest."
Hermione was having trouble sleeping.
She had never been someone who was troubled by dreams in her life and nightmares were few and far between with her but for some reason…she found herself in a dream that night in the hotel after returning from Magical Congress.
She was far beneath the ocean at this time and was floating alone in the dark and seemed to be unable to go up or down.
It was as if there was a ball and chain attached to her ankle that prevented her from going any lower as well as going any higher.
What is this? She thought to herself.
All of a sudden she spied movement in the dark water far off in the distance. Hermione squinted and leaned her head forward trying to ignore the fact that she couldn't breathe.
As her eyes began to focus in the murky water, the witch realized that whatever was causing the movement in the water…it was big. She couldn't guess how long it was and its colors were dark green and blue. Its skin seemed to be iridescent and flashed at her threw the water making it seem as if this creature was in possession of scales.
What are you? She thought to herself.
And just when all of a sudden she thought she might be able to make out a strange long form, a pair of lamp like yellow eyes appeared at her out of the darkness shining like two spotlights and causing black dots to dance before her eyes like puppets on strings.
Just as she had time to register this, the huge monstrous form began to move toward her, cutting through the water like a hot knife through butter and it was with chilling certainty that Hermione realized that she was its target.
Bloody hell, the voice of Ron spoke in her head.
She just had time to catch a flash of long silver fish like teeth before she shot up in bed, heart pounding, and sheets twisted about herself, sweat pouring down her forehead.
For a moment she simply sat there staring into the darkness of the room and only seeing the silhouettes of the furniture and the bed across the room where Luna and her mother were sleeping on opposite ends.
The moonlight was pouring in through the window and bathing her and the bed in silvery light.
Far away, Hermione could hear the sounds of traffic and the hum of hundreds of thousands of people talking and moving about in the city that never slept.
She could see the bright lights from the signs of advertisement glowing and flashing outside and the sounds of people yelling and the distant sound of garbage cans falling in an alley.
This certainly is different from Little Whinging, she thought to herself. At home its so quiet that you can sometimes here the yowl of a cat a block down jump from fence to fence. At night I sometimes miss home.
The dream was rapidly fading but even still, Hermione reached for the notebook on the side of the bed where she had left it so that she might take notes about anything they found on the Goshawks at the Magical Congress. So far she had returned to the hotel with it empty, but now it would not be so.
Hermione quickly detailed everything that she could remember from the dream down to the flash of the creatures scales and its teeth that were as long as her arm and its glowing lamp like eyes that had shined at her from out of the murky darkness with an otherworldly light.
Was it Jormungandr? She thought to herself. Was this dream a sign of something to come?
Suddenly feeling too wired to sleep the copper haired eleven year old rose from her bed and decided to splash some water on her face and get a drink from the bathroom.
She carefully padded across the carpeted floor to the door on the opposite side of the room before stepping inside, shutting the door and turning on the light.
The bathroom itself was small and a horrible shade of mustard yellow that was so garish it had made the eleven year old have to blink several times before taking a good look at it.
The sink tub and toilet were a stark white and the shower curtain was a powdered blue that looked fit to be a part of a starlet's dressing room from the sixties as opposed to an amenity one would find in a hotel bathroom.
Hermione quickly hurried to the sink and picked up the drinking glass resting on the side of it. Her feet were already cold from the tiles and if there was one thing she hated it was cold feet.
She slowly turned on the tap and filled the glass with the clear liquid, taking a long drink.
Once she had had her fill, she set glass on the side of the sink once more and turned the faucet on full blast and bent her face to the pouring water.
So focused was she on her task that she did not feel the figure materialize behind her until she had raised her dripping wet face to the mirror again.
"So this is how you are spending your summer vacation."
Hermione flinched and whirled around, hands instinctively reaching for the long knives that were not there.
However they were not needed this time.
It wasn't until she registered the figure standing before her that her face split into a huge grin.
"Dad!" she cried flinging herself into the tall blonde's arms. "You're here!"
Thor chuckled as he enfolded the small eleven year old in his arms. It had been too long since he had seen her and even if he could only see her for a few minutes in the middle of the night in New York City it was better than nothing.
"Yes my little spark I am," he said as he released her after a moment so he could smooth down her hair and look her over. "You've grown."
"Its only been two months since I've seen you," Hermione said somewhat bashfully. "I haven't grown that much have I?"
"Oh but you have," Thor chuckled. "You grow taller every time that I see you. It may not seem like long to you, but it is years to me."
Hermione raised an eyebrow. "I can see why Mum fell for you."
Thor's laughter deepened. "No little spark, I am afraid that there was very little that I did that was able to impress your mother. She was far more interested in taking down international criminals and dispatching enemies that she was in me."
That's not what I think, Hermione thought to herself.
Like her mother she was not a particularly romantic person, but there were times when she did allow herself a few private moments of wonder and fantasy.
Her parents' story was hardly a conventional one after all. A genetically altered superhuman/witch and a god conceiving a child together was hardly a story that made it into a local romance paperback at the library.
It should, she thought to herself. It would make one hell of a story. I wonder what my friends would say if they really knew who and what I am.
For a moment Draco's incredulous face crossed her mind and she smirked slightly to herself.
Thor frowned. "What is so funny?"
Hermione waved her hand dismissively. "Nothing. Now what are you doing here? Is there something wrong with Mum or Uncle Loki?"
"No," her father replied. "I have not even seen your mother yet. I came here to see you and your uncle as…ornery as he is, is well also and he sends you his greetings. He is especially glad that you and your cousin have formed a friendship.
"And speaking of familial relations," the god continued reaching out and waving his hand across the expanse of the room so that a light flashed before them before going out.
"We need to talk."
"About what?" Hermione asked frowning.
"About why the sudden interest in looking for Jormungandr," Thor continued. "He has been banished from Asgard for a very long time. Why the sudden interest now?"
Hermione frowned at her father. "Luna invited me and Mum said it was okay. We haven't even been in New York for very long but we haven't been able to find anything yet. It's a little discouraging. And Mum already gave me the run around about being careful. If we are here for two weeks and haven't found everything she is going to come find me and we are going to go home. So you don't need to worry."
"I am your father," the god rumbled in his deep voice. "It will be my task forever to worry about you."
Hermione smiled. "Well I am telling you to take a break. I am perfectly safe here in Muggle New York. Luna's a demigod also and we have fought together before so we know just what it is that we are capable of."
"That's what I am worried about," Thor replied sitting down on the edge of the tub and folding his hands together. He was dressed in street clothes and not in the garb of Asgard so she knew that nothing back home was wrong.
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"I spoke with your uncle and when he informed me that his daughter was going to spend her summer in America looking for her long lost brother he was ecstatic and I was as well before we both remembered that Jormangandr had been banished for a long time from Asgard and might have grown dangerous and resentful and angry to anything Asgardian. Including you."
"You don't think he would hurt us if we found him do you?" Hermione asked in disbelief."
"I don't know," Thor continued. "And that is the most worrying thing. Jormungandr has been gone for so long and your uncle forbidden from making contact with him that we do not know his true mind. All your uncle and I want from you and your cousin is to maintain extreme caution in this endeavor in whatever you do."
"I always do," Hermione replied.
Thor raised an eyebrow at her and cross his arms over his broad chest. "Is it? What about the time you and your cousin and friend decided to go after a mad man in the depths of your school who was intent on possessing an Infinity Stone?"
Hermione grimaced. "Dad that was a onetime thing. I promise I won't do something so foolish again. And Mum believed me. Otherwise why else would she have let me come here with Luna to search for Jormungandr?"
He muttered something in Asgardian under his breath and Hermione didn't catch it as it was too fast.
"You are stubborn just like your mother is do you know that?" he asked reaching forward so he could take her hands.
Hermione frowned. He almost sounded…sad.
"Dad?" she asked. "What's going on? You don't normally visit me in the middle of the night and in a bathroom of all things. Is everything alright on Asgard?"
When her father paused for too long Hermione's eyes widened. "What is it? You already told me that it has nothing to do with Uncle Loki. So what's wrong? Are grandmother or grandfather in trouble?"
Her father stopped her rambling before it could go any further. "There is nothing wrong with your grandparents. Everything is fine."
His tone was light and rumbling the way it always was but Hermione could tell that that wasn't quite the truth. "You would tell Mum something different though wouldn't you?"
Her pointed question seemed to work and the god sighed before running his hand through his long hair again.
"Your grandfather has become…paranoid of late."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that he seems to see conspiracies around every corner and he wishes to know where all of his family are at immediate times. So sneaking away to see you and your mother has become…difficult."
There were so many meanings behind that word that it made Hermione nervous. "What has he done?"
Thor shook his head. "Nothing yet little spark. We just need to be more careful that's all. Its nothing to worry about. I have been able to keep you and your mother a secret for almost twelve years as has your uncle with Pandora and Luna. We have become good at this. I don't want you to worry."
But worry she did.
"Dad?" Hermione asked. "What…What would happen if grandfather did find out about me? What would he do?"
A shadow passed over the handsome blonde's face. It was so quick that Hermione almost didn't catch it but she did see the tail end of it.
"That is something you will never need to worry about little spark," he said. "Because he is never going to learn of your existence."
Instantly the dark look on his face passed and a smile colored it once more. "But that is not what I came here to speak with you about. I came here to talk to you about
Jormungandr…and to give you your birthday present."
"But my birthday is still a month away," Hermione said feeling both pleased and confused. "You didn't have to bring me a present now."
"I did," Thor replied. "You are about to turn twelve and as such it is your last year of being a child in the eyes of Asgard. It is an important year. You begin the process of becoming an adult in the following year."
"Merlin, does everything have to be sacred and prophetic about Asgardians?" Hermione asked. "Can't I just enjoy being twelve without any big life changing things happening?"
Thor chuckled. "I wish for that every day but it also seems that every day the fates have me checking up on you and your mother to make sure something hasn't happened to you."
"So I am more than twelve in your mind?" Hermione asked hopefully.
"You have always been more than your age to me little spark," Thor said warmly. "You and your mother will always be more than your ages."
Again with the philosophical talk, Hermione thought to herself. Where on earth is he going with this?
"And speaking of age," her father continued before reaching into his pocket and taking out a silver small looking object. "I believe this represents time very well."
He placed the item in her hand and Hermione looked down at it as the cold metal made contact with her skin.
It was a ring.
But it was unlike any ring she had ever seen. The metal was bright and a paler silver than she had seen on any jewelry her mother or aunt Petunia had worn.
It was perfectly smooth and unlined and unbeveled which contributed to its shine. It wasn't thick like the masculine styles she had seen worn by Uncle Siri or Uncle Reg or even on occasion by Professor Snape strangely enough.
There was a deep blue stone in its face that looked like a sapphire which was her birth stone and there was an Asgardian rune that she was unfamiliar with.
Slowly almost reverently, Hermione ran her finger over the stone feeling a slight tingle in her hand as she did so.
"What does it mean?" she asked.
"It is your name," her father replied in a low rumble. "I had to leave the realm to have it made but I thought it would suit you. The stone itself is a variation of a sapphire and a moonstone which as you cousin knows can conceal you from unfriendly eyes. Put it on."
Somewhat hesitantly, Hermione picked up the ring from the palm of her hand and tentatively slipped it onto the ring finger of her right hand. The metal was as cold as ice against her skin but it was not unpleasant. In fact it felt somewhat comfortable.
"I thought it more appropriate seeing as you are becoming more a woman that you are a child," Thor replied softly. "Somehow I thought you would like it."
"I do," Hermione replied. "It's the most beautiful piece I've ever seen. But if it's a cross between a sapphire and a moonstone, what is the name for the hybrid?"
"Moonfyre," the god replied. "Amusingly enough a cross between the two stones that formed it. The moon has no fire of its own, but it does have light which is a power in and of itself. The moon controls the tide and the cycles of human and beast. But it is most famous for the light and shadow it casts."
"I love it," Hermione whispered. She turned to her father and gave him a hug. "Thank you."
"You're welcome little spark," the blonde replied. "Now if you should ever have need of its powers, simply tap the face of the stone three times. Although I hope you will not make use of it too often."
"Well if only to see if it works," Hermione chuckled before she followed his instructions and tapped the face of the stone three times and completely vanished.
She could tell she was still in the room but all of a sudden the colors of the bathroom disappeared only to be replaced with stark grey tones. The silver of the mirrors had become as bright as starlight and as shimmery as a pool of water in a forest.
"Dad?" she asked.
"Yes little spark?" he replied sounding amused.
"This is strange," she said knowing it was an understatement.
Her father chuckled to himself. "That is the reaction of most when they wear a moonstone for the first time. You disappear in the real world and all of the world to you turns grey as if you are a shadow. You can still be seen in some lights but it is very slight."
"Can you see me right now?" Hermione asked.
"Not at all."
Hermione looked around the bathroom and took in the dark and light silver and grey tones that the world had been washed in and blinked several times. This might be better than Harry's invisibility cloak. Now that Luna and I have the ability to make ourselves invisible, all of the group can go undercover when we need to.
She slowly took off the ring not really wanting to but knowing she would need to eventually.
"This is so neat," she whispered. "Thanks Dad."
"You're welcome little spark," he said gently. "Use it with discretion."
"Why didn't Uncle Loki come?" Hermione asked even though she was pretty sure she already knew the answer.
"Little spark you know it's risky enough with one of us being gone from Asgard," Thor said quietly. "If the two of us, your uncle and I were gone at the same time it is far more likely that someone like your grandfather and grandmother were to notice. And that is something that we cannot allow. You and your cousin's safety is of paramount importance to us. Please try to understand that."
"I do," Hermione said quietly as she passed her birthday present from hand to hand. "I'm trying. It's just…hard. I wish you could be here all the time and I wish…I wish we weren't so separated."
Her father sighed, reached out and pulled her into his arms. "I do too. But for the moment this is the way the situation is. I wish with everything that I am that I could be with you and your mother every day and I know your uncle feels the same way about Luna and Pandora. But that's not possible right now."
"Is there any possible way for grandfather to change this law?" Hermione mumbled against her father's chest.
She was usually a strong person having inherited her stubbornness and confidence from her mother but there were times when she felt the need to be a little weak and during those times she would turn to her father more than she would her mother.
It wasn't just his supernatural strength that was a comfort, but his presence as well and she got it so little that whenever it did happen she relished it.
She remembered when him and her uncle had come to the school to rescue her and her friends from the late Professor Quirrell/Voldemort. That had been one of the best and worst days of her life because she had gotten to see her father and meet her uncle all in one day while rescuing an Infinity Stone that she and her cousin could touch using their combined powers.
She had liked her Uncle Loki right away and couldn't wait to spend more time with him.
But now it seemed as if she was going to have to wait an infinitely long time before her family could all be a cohesive unit.
Thor sighed and loosened his hold on her and she knew what that meant.
"You have to go now don't you?" she asked.
He ran a hand through his hair and nodded. "I knew I would only be able to sneak away for a while. Happy Birthday little spark. And good luck with your search for Jormungandr.
In Odin's name please be careful."
"I will," Hermione promised.
Thor nodded and in one blink of the eye he was gone.
The moment her father had disappeared, Hermione let out a deep sigh and slipped the ring he had given her onto her hand, omitting tapping the stone thrice as he had told her.
I suppose it was better than nothing, she thought to herself somewhat glumly. I'm happy I got to see him and I got a present from him for my birthday. But is it so wrong that I want my father with me all the time. I wish the same thing for Luna and Aunt Pandora. I just wish sometimes that things could be normal. As wonderful as life is for me right now, I wish sometimes my father could be with me all the time.
She swallowed hard and squared her shoulders as she climbed back into bed. You're always going to wish that things could be different at times. But let's face it, you wouldn't change your life for the world. You have powers beyond any other kid you know in your neighborhood and your father is a freaking god. Your mother works for the most prestigious law enforcement agency in the world. You know your life is good. Things will be different in the future and for the moment you just need to focus on one job. Finding Jormungandr. Now go to sleep, you have a lot of work to do come the morning.
Susan was impressed.
She had been a little disappointed when her Aunt had left her to go with Hermione's Mum to the warehouse on the edge of New York where there had been a breach at one of their warehouses and she had had to remain behind. She understood it but she didn't like it.
What she did like however was the agent Director Fury had called to show her about the SHIELD facility while she waited for her aunt to return.
His name was Clint Barton and he was very handsome. He had sandy brown hair and blue eyes that were as clear as ice. He was tall lean and handsome and seemed to possess the easy confidence of a man who had seen it all and done it all and lived to tell about it.
Susan had a secret weakness for novels that featured gunslingers from the old west and in her private opinion Clint Barton would have been the ideal prototype to play a gunslinger out of the west.
Tony Stark was long since forgotten in terms of physical looks and Clint Barton was the focus for this particular evening.
Right now he was walking with her down the halls of the facility and they were looking through the glass windows of those rooms they passed.
They had just reached the training facility and Susan had her eyes glued to the glass as she watched a mock fight in process.
Clint smirked to himself as he watched the short red head take in the fight with glassy eyes as if she were a kid looking at the new toys in the store window. Her hands were pressed to the window and her nose was nearly touching it, her breath fogging up the glass.
Clint chuckled to himself, watching as her eyes took in every move of the fight. "Do you want to go in?"
Susan Bones looked as if she had seen the ghost of a past relative with the way her eyes widened to the size of dinner plates in her face. "Can I?"
Clint's chuckle turned to laughter. "Yeah kid. Come on, I'll show you a spot where we can get the best view."
He took an I.D card out of his belt and swiped it through the card reader at the side of the glass. Instantly the door to the training facility swung open and a small dinging sound emitted.
It was getting late and in the back of her mind Susan wondered why the crowd of people in the room were not in their dorms resting but she also remembered what Agent Romanov had told her and her auntie about how SHIELD was like New York in that it never slept.
So it only made sense that there were people up and about the facility at night.
On the other side of the hallway from the training wing there was a wall of windows that looked down onto the enormous outside facility of SHIELD. In the gathering dark one could see the capital building off in the distance. The moon was beginning to come out and the stars were making an entrance as well.
But Susan wasn't paying attention to that.
The moment the doors swung open Susan dashed in followed by an amused Clint thinking to himself that this girl was a human sponge.
The only thing that made her stop dead however was the fact that the moment the door opened the other agents in the room who had been in the process of watching the fight stopped and turned around to make eye contact with them.
Susan instantly felt a little intimidated by all of the intense eyes on her but most of them were trained on Clint Barton who only felt the need to raise his eyebrow in response.
"Well?" he said. "What are you all staring at? Haven't you ever seen a guest in this facility before? As you were."
As one the rest of the trainees and agents turned back to the rubber mats in the center of the room where a serious wrestling match was taking place, the small red head in their facility forgotten.
"Come on kid," Clint said putting his hand on her shoulder so he might guide her through the crowd. "We can watch by getting a little closer."
Susan was amazed at the ease with which he propelled her through the crowd and the way the other agents parted for them as if they were some high level foreign executive sent to take stock of the facility.
Before long, they were standing at the edge of the mat, watching two of the trainees in dark spandex go at each other like wild animals on the hunt.
Susan had never seen such an array of fighting techniques before in her entire life.
Wizards and witches never had to fight with their hands and arms and legs because they had magic which would do all of the leg work for them.
She and Clint were standing right at the edge of the mat where one of the agents, a lean looking man in a skin tight suit had another man of a similar build with sandy blonde hair in a chokehold.
Susan's eyes were glued to the fight like they were spotlights.
"He's not going to kill him is he?" she asked looking fearfully up at Clint who was standing next to her with his arms crossed over his chest.
"No kid, this is just a training exercise," Clint said with a smirk. "We don't actually kill anyone here. On purpose that is."
Susan gulped and the agent chuckled.
The fight carried on for a few more minutes with Susan's eyes nowhere else but the mat and Clint chuckling at the way she jumped every time a grunt or a mini scream was uttered.
Finally however a whistle was blown and everyone looked.
"Alright break it up!" a voice shouted from the other end of the room and everyone paused to see a blonde woman with close cropped hair and dark blue eyes striding over. She was dressed in the same dark blue leather that Hermione's mum sported and had similar guns strapped to her thighs and a large belt around her waist.
"Who's that?" Susan whispered to Clint.
"That's Sara, our resident hard ass trainer," Clint said with a chuckle as the rest of the agents filed out of the room after giving the other agent a reproachful look. "She's been dealing with the trainees since before I got here. I'm just glad I'm not under her thumb anymore."
Susan flinched and looked up to see the same blonde agent striding towards them. As she drew closer she seemed to become even taller and the grim look on what might have been a pretty face grew even more menacing.
"Sara," Clint said with the same easy smile he seemed to reserve for everything he did here. "How lovely to see you."
"Cut the bullshit Barton, when I see you the situation is never lovely," Sara said coming to a stop in front of them and her eyes finally seemed to take in Sara. "Who's this?"
"Sara Vasquez, may I introduce Susan Bones? She is the niece of the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement based out of London," Clint said.
Despite the Statute of Secrecy which prevented almost all of muggles around the globe from knowing about the magical world, almost all upper level governmental agencies were aware of witches and wizards as were the heads of state in every country. It was just standard procedure that royalty and provincial and state powers knew who was in their country. Thus almost all of SHIELD was aware of the existence of the magical world.
Sara looked Susan over who was doing her best not to look intimidated. "I was wondering when the Brits were going to get here. How long are you going to be here?"
"I don't know ma'am," Susan said politely, her accent showing more heavily when she was nervous. "Right now my aunt is with Agent Romanov and Agent Barton here has been showing me around."
"Is that so?" Sara asked. "The Director could have given you a better host Bones."
"You wound me Vasquez," Clint said putting his hand over his heart as if he had been pained. "Wasn't I one of your best students?"
"Correction, it was Romanov and as I recall she kicked your ass more times than I can count," Sara barked and Clint grimaced causing Susan to smile.
"And I wouldn't forget it Barton unless you want it to happen again," said a voice from the door.
Susan looked up and broke into a smile when she saw the familiar form of her aunt standing next to Agent Romanov in the doorway. She remembered that she needed to call the other red head that at all times because no one here but her aunt knew that she was Hermione's mother and it was best that this wasn't common knowledge.
Both women looked a little tired but none the worse for wear.
"Auntie!" Susan cried out before hurrying over. "You're back. That took a long time."
"Sorry Susie," the other red head said. "After we got back from the facility we had to speak with the Director and it took longer than we thought."
"Was everything okay?" Barton asked looking concerned. No one had noticed that Vasquez had slipped quietly away.
"Not really," Natasha said somewhat evasively, "but its being dealt with. We'll talk on that later Barton. We have to some work to do in that regard."
"In the meantime Susie I think we should head back to our rooms," Amelia smoothly interjected. "It's getting late and we have a long day tomorrow. Did you enjoy the rest of the tour with Agent Barton?"
Susan nodded eagerly. "I did Auntie. And I know I told you before I started school that I wanted to go into the DMLE when I graduate school but now I think I might want to join SHIELD instead."
"Well you would have a slight advantage because of your magic," Natasha said lowering her tone. She had already informed Amelia and her niece about Clint being her partner and him knowing of her own magic and how it had been a useful tool on some of the assignments they had had to work in the past. "But don't think that just because you have it that automatically give you an in. Hermione wants to work here too and I make sure to tell her that she needs to be as realistic as possible about her chances. After all just because I work here doesn't automatically guarantee her a spot. SHIELD does not know the meaning of the word nepotism."
"Nor should it," Amelia replied. "I'm sure we'll see you in the morning Agent Romanov and thank you Agent Barton for taking charge of my niece while I was gone."
"It was my pleasure Miss Bones," Clint said inclining his head.
"Come along Susie," the other red head said before she took her niece's hand and the two of them strode out of the room.
"Nice kid," Barton said as he and Natasha watched them go. "A little starry eyed but a nice kid."
"If she could put up with you for a few hours than she's special indeed," Natasha quipped.
Clint chuckled. "And she's one of Hermione's friends?"
"Uh huh. My daughter seems to attract friends in many different places," the red head said with a smirk. "Of her circle of eight different people, I am amazed that she managed to keep such a group of vastly different people with vastly different personalities together. But then I can only assume she gets a talent like that from her father."
Clint knew that Hermione's father was AWOL as Natasha very rarely mentioned him and he knew she wouldn't answer any of his questions about him even if he did ask so he didn't.
"So what happened at the warehouse?" he asked, changing the subject.
"Nothing good," the red head said grimly. "We discovered that a cache of sarin had been stolen and someone set off a test bomb inside the facility somehow knowing that we were still there."
"How the hell did they know that?" Clint asked frowning. "I would have thought the both of you used magic to disguise yourselves."
"We did," Natasha explained. "But there is an eye scanner that you need to pass in order to gain access to the warehouse and when both your eye and blood has been scanned a series of short chiming bells echo throughout the warehouse. They do that to ensure they know how many agents are in the place at the time. So that was how our presence was made aware to them despite the fact that we used magic to hide."
Clint muttered a curse under his breath and ran a hand through his short hair. "What did Fury say?"
"Aside from a lot of cursing and silence?" Natasha. "Over the next couple of days you and I and Regulus need to head to the other facilities in the New York area and ensure their supply of sarin as well is intact. If it's not…then we need to face the possibility that this particular drug is being stockpiled to use for a larger purpose. And that might be to use on a nearby city."
Clint cursed. "New York City?"
"New York flipping City."
"Son of a bitch."
"My sentiments exactly."
"So how do you want to go about this?" the sandy haired agent asked.
"Right now I want to get some sleep," Natasha said. "However I need to go run some paperwork through one what exactly was stolen and the possibility that this was an inside job because there was no signs of breaking and entering when Amelia and I reached the White House."
"This is going to be a massive headache," Clint said with a sigh. "And potentially more if we don't find out where it is being kept."
"Then let's get to work," Natasha said managing to stifle a yawn. "I'll send a message to Regulus in the morning and tell him to get his ass here so that we can get started."
"Alright then, I'll see you in the morning."
Natasha wasted no time in striding to her room and throwing some floo powder into the fireplace before calling out the address.
It took a few minutes but finally the image in the green flames appeared showing the familiar sitting room that Natasha had been in numerous times for the past twelve years.
"Reg?" she called out. "Are you there?"
There was a long pause before a familiar face bent down near the heart and looked her in the eyes. "Nat? Is everything okay?"
The red head sighed. "I'm afraid not Reg. As soon as morning comes I need you to get back to Washington because we might have a terrorist incident on our hands."
Instantly the somewhat tired face of her friend dropped to one of shock. "What?! What happened?"
As fast as she could, Natasha explained what had happened when she and Amelia took a visit to the weapons facility on the outskirts of New York City and that a highly dangerous chemical weapon had been stolen with possible terrorist motives in mind.
Just like Clint had, Regulus muttered out several curses under his breath. "Alright, I'll be back as soon as I can. Hang tight."
"Will do. See you in the morning."
As soon as she had rung off with the other agent, Natasha sighed and ran a hand through her hair, suddenly wishing her husband was here to help or give her some words of encouragement at the very least.
There are times when I really do miss you Thor, she thought to herself as she got up to file the necessary paperwork about the incident. Life is so fast paced here that I sometimes forget how much.
But there wasn't a lot of time for that now and Natasha pushed thoughts of her husband to the back of her mind as she sat down to fill out paperwork and get to work on a potential terrorist attack.
It's time to take these nut jobs down, she thought to herself. But it is going to start with a very long night.
Sorry for the long wait guys, I had to take a break from a good majority of my stories March through April because I had to get finals out of the way. But now this story is back and has been updated! Yay! In the next chapter we will be getting back to more of Thor's storyline while Natasha, Clint and Regulus race to stop a terrorist attack in New York City and Hermione and Luna continue the search for Jormungandr and we will finally be getting into second year (I hope to God) Also as a side note, Clint and Natasha and Regulus are going to be a trio in the coming chapters and more dialogue between Clint and Regulus will be explored. I will explain how the two met and how much Clint knows about the world Regulus comes from and his backstory in general. I CANNOT WAIT to get to second year because from here on out everything is going to be getting much more exciting with the Thor and Avengers storyline being thrown in which is going to be awesome to explore. So stay tuned and don't forget to review.