A/N: Hello again, my lovelies.
This is my submission for this year's Hermione SmutFest over on LJ. I recommend going over there and checking out the fics, because they have been very good this year.
It should go without saying, there are mature themes in this story. It is Hermione/Tony Stark, completed, 6 chapters long, and I will post one a day until it's fully uploaded.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, nor do I own Marvel in any of it's forms. I don't feel like messing with either WB or the mouse, nor any of their affiliates. I make no profit from this extremely AU fan work.
This takes place about 7 years post-HP series (excluding the epilogue because no), contains spoilers for the books, and has changed a few facts from DH on. This also takes place a few months after The Avengers, and disregards most of the MCU after that point. Iron Man 3 has not occurred in this fic. Extremely minor mentions of characters from Agents of SHIELD. My prompt was: Hermione is recruited by Nick Fury, not to help stop an alien threat, but to help one of the Avengers in need.
"Goodnight, Miss Granger," her assistant said with a stifled yawn.
"Goodnight, Jemma," Hermione smiled as she put up some equipment. "I'll see you in the morning, yeah?"
"Bright... but maybe not so early?" the young woman replied hopefully, stifling a yawn.
"Sleep in," Hermione chuckled. "Don't come in until nine thirty."
"Thanks, Miss Granger," her other assistant, a young man, beamed. "Have a good evening."
"You, too, Leopold," she said, putting some things in a messenger bag to take home and looking over as her eager, young assistant shut off most the lights in the room on her way out. Standing up and stretching Hermione took a quick look around, making sure everything was put away before waving her wand and performing a few quick cleaning spells. As she was the only witch working at S.H.E.I.L.D. and still as much of a secret as they could possibly keep her Fury refused to let a janitor into the space. The spells only took seconds, so it really was no matter to Hermione, though she usually performed them after her two assistants left for the day. Jemma Simmons and Leopold Fitz were both bright enough to lead their own teams, but had jumped at the opportunity to work with Hermione after discovering that many of the objects that had once been considered 'alien' were, in fact, magical. They had worked together for almost seven months, after Hermione had joined the Battle of New York and had been approached by Fury before she could even get to a safe Apparation point once the dust had settled. When Nick Fury realized there was a community hidden even from him he begged to have some form of access, and Hermione agreed, so long as the information was passed to as few people as possible. Her life at S.H.E.I.L.D. was never dull, a vast improvement over her time as an Unspeakable. And, after showing off her skills to a very select audience, she wore another, even more secret hat, that of Avenger. .
"I know you're there," she said suddenly over her shoulder to a cracked-open door. "Haven't I mentioned that sneaking up on a witch is not a very bright idea?"
"A couple times," Nick Fury entered the room with long strides, a sign he meant business.
"And yet you still insist on doing it," she said, turning to look at him.
"All the good that will do you if I turn you into a chicken," she shot back. "What's going on?"
"I've come to inform you that your time with us has come to an end," he replied carefully.
Her jaw dropped open. "Excuse me?" she asked loudly.
"I've sold your contract. Someone has been begging for you to work for him for a long time, and, after much consideration, I've decided you could do better work there than here."
"What, so you just sell me to the highest bidder?" she hissed incredulously. "Who is this person, and how does he even know about me?"
"Tony Stark," he answered evenly. "He knows about you because he knows about everything, and you are part of the team."
"Tony Stark," she repeated in disbelief. "You sold my contract to Tony Stark?"
"You're now a Stark Industries employee, on paper at least. In reality you're working on the Avengers Project, but that wouldn't look good when it came time to file taxes."
"Why? What possible use could I be of over there? He can't possibly have magical objects he needs me to study, and it's not like any work I do over there could..."
"Other than being part of the team, Miss Granger?" he interrupted. "What happened in New York exposed some very real weaknesses for us. We managed to get through it by a combination of luck, some skill, and Stark's absolutely reckless behavior, but I'm not sure that, if the same thing were to happen today, we'd have the same results. I'm glad you've been able to help us research a few of the things we've brought you, but it's becoming obvious that most of the things you look over, magical or no, are dangerous, and I believe your skills would be of more use developing defenses and weapons for your team than they would be here, just discovering shit we wind up feeding to the slingshot either way."
"But why sell my contract to Stark? Why can't I just work on that stuff here?" she asked, eyes narrowing.
"Because he's requested you work there."
"Has what Tony Stark wanted ever come into your decision making before?" she looked at him skeptically.
"He's got money and resources a government agency could only dream of having, and he's willing to let you have free reign."
"He could give me a grant."
"He wants you there, and I'm inclined to let him have you," he insisted.
"I don't believe you," she said flatly. "If I was working on development here you could still come get me for those things your other researchers are unsure of. If I'm there, you'd have to send potentially dangerous items into the heart of New York to get them to me in my lab, and that seems something that you're more disinclined to do. There's something else, isn't there?"
"I hate how perceptive you are at times, do you know that, Granger?"
"If I weren't perceptive I'd be horrible at my job. What is it you're not telling me?" she demanded.
He took a deep breath, then started, "The truth is that what happened in New York fucked Tony up royally. He saw some shit that would be very difficult for any human to process, and despite what his brain may be telling him he is human and he's having a hard time processing it. As such, he's starting to fall apart."
"I heard his girlfriend left him a few months back," she said softly.
"Pepper Potts put up with a lot of Tony's shit for a very long time, but there's only so much reckless behavior most people are willing to put up with in a partner. Couple the fact that Stark has pushed that boundary several times with the emotional distance he's shown since the battle and I'm not surprised it ended. Her leaving made him worse. And when Stark is in a funk, the team suffers, and, putting it bluntly, we need Stark in the game at all times. Shit is still going down, even if you're not actively engaged, and we don't have time to pull Stark back together if something goes down that needs immediate attention. When Stark is out of it he's less likely to manage one of his close saves and more likely to wreck something needlessly."
"What does this have to do with me?" she asked, confused.
"You and Stark are not so different from each other. Steve was trained for war, Clint and Natasha were trained to fight and kill, Bruce accepts that the Hulk is violent and is dealing with that in his own way, and Thor thrives on battle, but you and Tony got into it only because you had to. Tony stayed with Iron Man because he saw it as a way to help people, but most of the time he's flying around, making shit up as he goes along, and hoping for a good outcome. What he has to do gets to him more than anyone else except you, even Bruce knows he can't let it get to him too much or he risks letting the other guy loose. But you've walked that road, you did things during your war that you never would have done, never would have trained to do, and it affected you even though you know it was the only way you could survive and help people. Stark doesn't need a pep talk from Rogers, he needs someone who can relate to him, someone who has confronted their mortality not as a casualty of war, but as something you must endure for the greater good, both of you have seen stuff out there much larger than yourself and wondered how the hell you're going to deal with it, and both of you have lost someone you love because of it."
She swallowed and glanced behind him at her desk, where a picture of a redheaded boy with his arm around her waved jovially. "What, and you expect him to open up to me? I'm some mystery, preceded by my reputation, he's never met me, only knows of me because I'm a member of the team. I'm nothing more than someone with a magic wand and some cool tricks to him. Why in the hell would he open up to me?"
"That's your job to figure out. We need Stark, Granger, like we need you. But Stark isn't going to accept help like anyone else. He doesn't trust random people, so it'll be up to you to get him to trust you, and to help him after you've earned that trust."
She sighed, but nodded solemnly. "What about Fitz and Simmons?"
"They're being reassigned. The element of surprise is a factor here, Granger, and some people are much easier to get at than you are. We want to keep what you're working on as much a secret as possible, which means cutting down on the staff around it."
"Damn," she breathed.
"Take tomorrow, gather your things and get to New York. You start with Stark on Wednesday."
Without a word she strode to her desk and started to pack things into a box she conjured. Fury turned and started walking out, glad Hermione stopped her questioning when she had. He had come dangerously close to revealing that he knew Tony Stark wasn't the only one who was having difficulties getting over the battles he fought, and that her reassignment wasn't only for Stark's benefit.
At exactly nine in the morning that Wednesday Hermione strode through the doors of Stark Tower for the first time, and made a beeline towards the front desk. As she neared it an elevator beeped, and out strode a man wearing jeans and a t-shirt in stark contrast to her perfectly tailored suit. It didn't take a second look for her to know she was looking at her new boss, and she smiled warmly as he approached her.
"Tony Stark," she said, holding her hand out.
"That's my name," he replied, giving her hand a firm shake. "Hermione Granger, I presume?"
"You presume correctly," she nodded.
He made a motion towards the elevator with his head, and she followed him back into the same car he had just left. He waved a card in front of a sensor, which flipped open a compartment, and he pressed his hand to the screen behind and typed in a series of numbers. The doors snapped shut and the elevator lurched into motion.
"I don't know why, but I was expecting a witch to be a little more conspicuous," he said, studying her as they sped upwards. "Like green skin or a pointy hat. I'm not sure if I should feel cheated out of the experience, or suspicious that everyone I meet is a a witch or wizard."
"Being so obvious would make it somewhat difficult to move about in public, don't you think?"
"I supposed that's true."
"I could turn my skin green, if that would make you more comfortable," she smiled.
"I don't think it would do anything for you, you don't have the coloring for it, not to mention you lack the warts. That and I work with a guy who is green every so often, and it's not very attractive," he chuckled as the door opened six floors shy of the top, into a spacious, modern looking lab. "Well, I should get the welcome spiel over with. Hello, and welcome to Stark Industries. I'm glad you finally decided to join us, and I look forward to working with you."
"Well, that was a bit stiff. Am I speaking to some sort of hologram?" she asked with a coy smile.
"I do sound a bit like a training video when I say that, don't I?" he shook his head. "Anyways, this is your lab, and it comprises this entire floor. Fury told me you aversion to video surveillance, so I've disabled and removed all the equipment that records on this level, though it still has some high tech security measures to make sure that no one you or I don't want here ever gets in and, if they do, we know who they are. This lab comes equipped with, well, I'm going to admit now I didn't really know what you might want in here, so I stocked it with your basic equipment and figured you can tell me what else you might need so I can order it for you, or you can order it for you and I can pay for it in the event that it's magical. Do witches and wizards use normal money?"
"No, we have a world-wide system of currency and our own banking system. However money we get from the Muggle world can be turned into our currency, and vice versa. Money is money, the goblins don't really care about what kind."
"Er... yes, goblins run our banks."
He looked at her in disbelief for a moment.
"If you look at me like that for every mythical creature we're going to have a problem when I turn in my supply request and you see dragon blood," she quipped.
His eyes widened for a heartbeat, but then he cleared his throat and moved on. "I did give you some basic equipment in here, hopefully enough to get you started on something. Fury mentioned you have a complicated relationship with computers..."
"I hate them, and I don't think they care for me, either," she muttered. "Magic, as a rule, interferes with electronics, so we don't use them very often. I also seem to have a talent for wrecking computers, and they seem as inclined to stop working when I'm in the middle of something important. I used to have an assistant who recognized a damsel in distress and came to my aid."
"Well, it's not a human assistant, but I got you Elphaba," he smiled, pressing a button.
"Good morning, Miss Granger," a pleasant, disembodied female voice sounded from a console in the corner.
"Elphaba?" she raised an eyebrow.
"After the Wicked Witch. I meant to come up with a clever acronym so it didn't just sound like I was implying you were wicked, but I got distracted," he shrugged. "She's modeled after my Jarvis, not quite as slick so there are less electronics for you magic to interfere with, and she assumes nothing about your technological knowledge."
"So if I needed to send an e-mail..."
"Give me a name, and I will find the e-mail address, type it, and send it for you, Miss," Elphaba replied.
"This may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship," she smiled, then turned back to Tony. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," he nodded. "Now, from what I hear you'd be happy if I dumped a giant employee handbook on your lap and let you read it, but that's really not my style, so work hours are from nine..."
"Work hours are when I come in until when I leave. I promise you that you'll get more than your money's worth."
"Okay, work is when you want to work," he nodded. "Dress code is whatever you want to wear..."
"Oh, thank Merlin," she muttered, pulling her jacket off and unbottoning the top two buttons of her blouse. "I bloody hate suits."
"I'm personally okay with the way you look now. You know, feel free to take the blouse off if it gets too warm in here, I could turn the heat up..."
"I'll dress more comfortably tomorrow," she rolled her eyes.
"Alright, then. Two weeks paid vacation to start, I know you're from London, so I'll up it to four after a year so you can spend more time at home. Pay is every other week, I promise I'll pay better than the government, any government. Medical, dental, all that fun stuff. Stay home if you're sick... let's just say if you keep up on your work I'll pretty much let you do whatever the hell you want whenever the hell you want to do it. That's how it works for Banner, who, by the way, is stationed in the lab above you, so you may want to make sure you keep loud, unexpected noises to a minimum when he's around. Or not, it could be fun."
"I'm actually okay without that particular brand of fun," she said with a smile and shake of her head.
"Okay, then, I'll get the handbook when I get around to it. Now, down to the important stuff. What ideas do you have in your head?"
"Well, most of my current ideas involve the team as individuals, though I have a couple group ideas. I'd like to develop a way for Steve to control the trajectory of his shield, to be able to change it mid-flight if a target moves or another presents itself. I think Clint would benefit from a quiver that never ran out of arrows. Natasha could probably use a disguise that changes her complete appearance at the touch of a button, not just her face with a biomask, I mean everything from her height and weight down to minor details, like her fingerprints. And, for the group, I think we could benefit from a way that we could contact each other that can't be dropped, destroyed, or hacked. And a quick-healing potion. The ones I have work, but they're slow."
He nodded, looking impressed. "I'm assuming many of those things would take a bit of magic."
"Well, I am a witch," she smirked. "I think there are viable Muggle alternatives for some of them, but I think it would be best to make a magical version first, as I could do that quicker as it's what I understand, and work on the Muggle version when I have more time for experiments and someone working with me who knows technology a little better. However, I'm pretty sure a quiver that replicates arrows indefinitely is, at this point, going to be a strictly magical contraption."
"You certainly have that right," he nodded. "There has been some talk abut 3D printing, but I'm pretty sure at this point it not only is too large to be portable, but also too slow to make arrows at the rate Clint can shoot them. So, any questions?"
"A million, but none of any particular importance right now. I'm sure many of them will be answered as I start working, and I'm sure Elphaba won't let me struggle."
"That she won't. And she will also compile a list of what you need, so just tell her anything that comes to mind. I've got Cap's shield up in my lab, but I've got a few other things I'm working on, so I'll get it down to you as soon as possible. Anything you need, I'll be up top," he said with a vague motion upwards. "This," he added, tossing her a badge, "will get you onto any floor, including Bruce's, because he wants to meet you when he gets back from wherever the hell he is. You and I have the only two that will open the elevator on this floor, just a bit of added security, and you have to type in a code as well, Elphaba will set that up with you so it's a code you'll remember. If you walk through that door," he pointed to a heavy door to one side, "there's a small room that could be used as a bedroom. I kind of put those in because Bruce has a tendency to need a nap or two, but he abuses the privilege and lives there when he's in the city. Schematic for the building is by the elevator, because of the security in your floor you're either going to have to eat in the cafeteria, bring your own stuff up, or go up to the party deck, that area is always open if you need a break or a drink. Feel free to contact me with any questions or anything you need, I'll try to answer in a timely matter, though I can't make any promises there."
"I'm sure I'll be fine," she nodded.
"I'll check up on you. How about dinner at the end of the week to discuss how things are going? Friday, say, nine o'clock?"
"I'm looking forward to it."
"Welcome to Stark Industries, Miss Granger."
"Hermione," she corrected. "Miss Granger sounds like what my professors used to call me. And, frankly, they were much more intimidating than starting this new job."
"Have I not been intimidating?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. "Maybe I should leave the room, try again."
"One of my professors was a known member of the Death Eaters who killed the headmaster and came back as the new headmaster the next year," she replied calmly. "And one year we were taught by an escaped convict in disguise. And I should probably mention the werewolf..."
"What the hell kind of schools do they run in England? I thought all the schools were prissy exclusive boarding schools."
"It was a very exclusive boarding school," she replied cheekily before turning and walking towards her desk. "You should see the public schools," she called over her shoulder before asking Elphaba to help her check her e-mail.
Tony watched her for a moment, nodded twice, and left in the elevator.