1) This fic is a canon-divergent for Harry Potter, and AU for Marvel (meaning Bucky's storyline is not dependent on/divergent from any particular MCU film plot). Some elements from the canon storylines will still have taken place/be present, others will not. The specifics will become clearer as the story progresses.
2) Chapter lengths will vary, as I only make my chapters long as is strictly necessary to accomplish whatever they need to within the story—sometimes that will be 4k words, sometimes it will be less than 2k, but the length of the chapter will never have an effect on the quality of the story.
3) As with all my fics, the status of this story is Updated Sporadically, because of both the number of fanfictions I have, and a need to split what writing time I have between fanfictions and novel work.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Harry Potter or the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Any affiliated characters or canon components are the property of their respective franchise owners.
Hermione didn't like this one little bit. Shrinking back into the shadows of the tunnel, she closed her eyes and focused, recalling the details of the map Harry had shown her.
No, she had not made many missteps; she'd taken every turn exactly as planned. She should've already happened upon the sunken Muggle military outpost where these Dark wizards were holed up, and yet, she'd encountered nothing. Not a whisper of energy, nor the faintest rumblings of magic.
Either they'd warded themselves so heavily they were able to deceive even her . . . . Or Harry'd gotten this one wrong.
And Harry had never steered her wrong on a mission, not once since he'd taken over as Head Auror.
Opening her eyes, she breathed deep and started down the tunnel, once more. Although—holding her wand at the ready, and gritting her teeth—if Harry was wrong, and she found no one, at all, had been here since the Muggles had abandoned the place fifty-some odd years ago, she was so giving him an earful when she returned to the Ministry!
She moved on careful, measured footfalls as she neared a bend in the passageway. She could swear there were flashes of light coming from further along—brief, and so very faint, she wasn't certain it might not be her imagination. She'd bloody well been told after her last mission to take a break for a few weeks, but would she listen? No, of course not, because she was Hermione damn Granger.
Holding in a sigh, she refrained from letting her shoulders slump as she crept along. According to the report, there were supposed to be only two Dark wizards lurking in here, which was why she'd refused backup—she could handle a small group, no need to waste resources—but that didn't mean it would be wise to let them get the drop on her, which was a definite possibility if she wasn't careful.
As the light became brighter, she felt it. Low and indistinct, but finally, she sensed the hum of magic rumbling through the place.
Listening close as she moved along, Hermione could swear she was starting to hear whispered voices. And it sounded like more than two of them.
The Soldier halted, surveying the location. Secluded, wooded, good—limited the potential for witnesses. The entrance to the underground facility was close, the mission simple. Something in there was producing an energy HYDRA did not understand, nor even recognize—he was not supposed to know that second part, but he'd heard because the officers often spoke around him, dropping information that did not concern him.
Infiltrate the facility, secure and extract the foreign energy source, eliminate any enemy agents who offered resistance.
Turning, he started for the facility's entrance; the gated tunnel was well-hidden to anyone not searching for it, but then that's what blueprints were for. He could feel the part of him that resisted his missions stirring as he moved.
He did not dare let his handlers know of it. They would consider him a liability, and he was not. He knew. He could suppress the questioning voice. He could rein in the curiosity—indistinct, but troubling, nonetheless—that sometimes plagued him.
He knew better. He knew simply asking why was not permitted. Soldiers didn't question their orders, and so he snuffed out that little voice, time and again.
There had been something before this, hadn't there? The Soldier ignored the little, niggling voice as he walked, his steps silent but steady. There was more . . . before the missions, before the orders . . . . But it was just beyond the edge of what he could remember. He could not permit himself to expend further time or energy on it than that of the barest fleeting thought.
And so he snuffed that out, time and again, too.
He paused, midstride. Something was wrong here. A hum of energy rolled across his skin and raised the fine hairs on the back of his neck. There was no question—this sensation would lead him to whatever he'd come for.
The Soldier dropped his hand to his sidearm as he reached the entrance. The gates hung open, an oversight, perhaps, but certainly careless for people trying to hide. The closer he got to the tunnel's opening, however, the more inclined he was to give his head a good, clearing shake.
He had to . . . . He blinked hard, shaking his head, again. Infiltrate, secure . . . . Secure and extract. Forcing a nod, he gritted his teeth and searched for the words.
Secure, extract, eliminate . . . . The inexplicable disorientation would pass, he was sure. He scrambled for more words, trying to piece his mission back together. Secure and extract what? Who was he to eliminate?
An annoying sense of frustration simmered in the corners of his mind. If he continued on, it would clear for him, he was sure; he would remember what to do, if he moved toward his objective.
Yes, carry out the mission. Only that mattered.
Ducking his head to step into the tunnel, he was stalled by another subdued, rolling hum of that strange energy. Another wash across his skin, another struggle to recall his mission.
Backpedaling out into the forest clearing that preceded the tunnel, once more, he gave his head a shake. It was this . . . .
Whatever was producing this energy, it was causing his disorientation. The source he sought was the thing forcing the mission parameters from his mind.
A sound of irritation rumbling in the back of his throat, he force himself to recall. Infiltrate, secure, extract, eliminate.
He took a step back toward the tunnel entrance when he heard it. A female voice shouting from somewhere within.
A sudden shock of power sent him skittering backward. He dug in his heels and leaned into the unexpected wave of pressure, maintaining his footing.
Straightening as the blast of energy died away, he blinked hard and shook his head. Eyes widening, he looked around. He hadn't the faintest idea what was happening.
What the . . . ?
Somewhere above him, a scream rent the night air. He tipped back his head, looking toward the shrill, panicked noise.
Hermione felt like she'd stepped onto the set of a low-budget horror film as she finally reached the end of the tunnel. Inside, the metal interior, which she was certain once gleamed, was caked with grime and clear signs of the facility's decades of disuse.
Beyond the central hub, she could see corridors branching off, darkened offices, utterly obsolete computer banks, and even internal towers jutting out from the rock face. In the foreground of the main chamber, however, four cloaked figures gathered around something that gave off a pulsing glow. She could see from the space between their bodies that the pulse alternated in intensity, the hum of magic it gave off was random, at best . . . .
Whatever those wizards were tinkering with, it was unstable. Fantastic.
Four Dark wizards, and an unstable artifact of unknown origin and purpose? Damn, there was every chance she could handle this on her own, but she refused to give up a mission to her own borderline-reckless confidence.
She needed to Apparate back to the Ministry and return with backup.
One of the figures snapped their head up, then.
Hermione couldn't make out the person's face beneath the hood. She also couldn't spare a moment to wonder how they'd picked up on her presence, as she'd made no noise, and any ward in place to alert them to intruders would've signaled them the moment she'd set foot in here.
The figure drew their wand, the action calling the attention of the others. They seemed to turn as one to face her, but the thing between them rumbled at the sudden neglect.
"It's not done, yet!" one of them—a woman—shouted.
Hermione ducked, barely dodging a curse the first of them sent flying at her. She struck back, disarming him—her?—but as quick, two of the others reached for their weapons.
"Kill her and be done with it," the other witch said, panic edging her voice as she held her hands over the artifact. Hermione couldn't make out anything more than that intermittent glow—blueish-white, was it?—and a pyramidal shape.
The artifact rumbled again, and the others turned back toward it.
Hermione backpedaled a step, her eyes widening. If they were ignoring an intruder to focus on the object . . . an object that was giving off so many random, uncontrolled energy spikes that she was sure the walls were probably teeming with magic, by now . . . .
Oh, this was not good.
Hermione Apparated just as a bright, soundless, flash rolled through the main chamber.
The twisting rush of magical travel ended nearly as fast as it began. Too fast, she realized. She'd been jettisoned from her path by whatever had just happened down there, forcing her out of Apparition much too soon.
The precise moment the twisting in her stomach subsided, it was replaced with an awful lurching as the witch found herself plummeting through the air. The unexpected fall tore a startled shriek from her throat.
Somewhere below her, mixed with the rush of the wind in her ears, she could swear she'd just heard someone breathe the words, "Oh, shit."
She was falling so fast, she didn't have time to get off any charm that might cushion her landing. Wincing as her scream died on her lips, Hermione braced for impact, squeezing her eyes shut.
The witch heard an oof in her ear as she collided with something. But whatever it was, it stopped her short of hitting the probably even more unforgiving forest floor.
Not that that was good news for her legs, as they seemed to curl over an iron bar, or something equally as unyielding as she landed. The sensation of metal striking flesh and bone jarred her. Yet, she felt the distinct curve of an arm around her back.
She wasn't stupid . . . she might be in denial in this moment, but she was anything but stupid. She knew someone had managed to catch her. That didn't explain the pain behind her knees, of course.
Forcing open her eyes, Hermione met the blue-eyed gaze of a total stranger. A rather handsome total stranger, to be sure, though, he could certainly do with a shave and a brush through his shoulder-length brown hair.
He seemed as surprised as she as he stared back at her. Actually, Hermione thought he seemed even more shocked by their circumstances than she did. Well, fine, so it wasn't every day a girl popped out of the sky and landed on someone.
Tearing her gaze from his, she looked about. He had his right arm curled around her back, holding her to him, his left arm under her legs. Just his arm? Why the hell did that hurt so much?
But then she saw the glint of silver along the limb. Metal fingertips peeking out from the tops of a fingerless black leather glove curved around the top of her knee.
Oh, that was . . . okay. Hermione returned her attention to their surroundings. They were just outside the tunnel's entrance.
Bollocks. She had to get back in there and see what was left of the artifact, the dark wizards and witch or witches, of anything, really.
"Um, thank . . . thank you," she said as she climbed down out of his arms. It seemed awfully lame, but she had no idea what else to say to him.
He glanced around, a bit of a frantic look in his eyes as she turned away and started for the gated entrance not far from them. "Hey, wait!"
He's American? She thought, arching a brow as she turned to look at him. What the bloody hell was this man doing here, anyway?
Now that he had her attention, he didn't know what to ask first, so he settled for the simplest thing. "What is this place?"
Hermione glanced back at the tunnel before taking a step toward him, her movement ginger due to the pain in her legs. "You don't know where you are?"
He swallowed hard, shifting his weight. After an uncomfortable moment of holding her gaze in silence, he shook his head.
The flash of light! Had the blast of energy from that artifact done something to this man? It seemed the only explanation, unless this area was typically rife with wandering amnesiacs, and no one had seen fit to tell her.
The witch circled him on slow, quiet footsteps, her gaze appraising as she looked him over. Muggle combat fatigues—black—firearms in plain sight—a small side arm and a larger gun, though she had no working knowledge of firearms to assign it a name, on a strap over his shoulder. And then . . . that metal arm.
Unlike any prosthetic limb she's ever seen, this was a technological work of art, made of precise silver segments. It actually looked like a human arm, down to defined musculature and even the indentation of nails on his fingertips.
Cybernetics . . . ? She'd read about such things, sure, but only in those ludicrous Muggle sci-fi novels her father so fancied.
Good God, she thought, swallowing around sudden lump of fear in her throat. Was this man some sort of military experiment?
And if so . . . . Could that explosion of magical energy have interfered with his . . . function? Program? She wasn't sure what to call it, but he looked so bewildered her heart wrenched a little.
His helpless expression was such a wild contradiction to the rest of his appearance, that she thought she could not help but be disarmed by it.
"You . . . ." She licked her lips nervously and started again. "You mean you don't know because you can't remember?"
With another uncertain glance around, he pursed his lips and nodded.
"Oh." God, Hermione, this really isn't the time to be helping out stray Muggle military experiments! Not that there ever seemed a time for such a thing, as it was. "Well, what do you remember?"
His brow furrowing, he shook his head as he tried to recall. Something was there, something just beyond the edge of his confused and scattered thoughts.
Then he heard it, only the faintest echo, but there. The dull, muffled sound of someone shouting something at him.
He narrowed his eyes in concentration as he scrambled to catch hold of the memory. His bottom lip jutting outward, he repeated the word in his head once more before he said to the wild-haired young woman standing before him, "I think my name is Bucky?"