1) Canon-Divergent AU for both verses.
2) The premise for this story is based in a real-life What If scenario that happened to me at the end of 2017. My friends and those who follow me on tumblr are already aware of this, but long story short, it all came about after my grandmother passed, and I was saddled with the sad task of helping my mother sort through her things. We came across all sorts of mementos of my grandfather, an army airman in WWII, who was also an artist who'd attended the World's Fair, and I heard the story of a family friend who'd also served named 'Bucky', who died young under unknown circumstances. My son promptly declared his grandfather was Captain America, and said to me "Imagine, one day you get a phone call from someone claiming to be Grandpa's best friend, and he tells you his name is Bucky?" I didn't want to imagine, but my brain was already on it, and here we are.
3) Chapter lengths may vary wildly. Some may be close to 5k words, some may not even make 2k. I have learned not to force, or curtail, chapters based on word counts, because that can stall creativity and kill motivation. Updates will be sporadic.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Harry Potter, Marvel Cinematic Universe, or any affiliated characters, and make no profit in any form from this story.
A Shock, Indeed
Hermione Granger wasn't sure what she felt when she received the news. Her grandmother was gone, yet . . . . She'd never actually known the woman. Stories, sure . . . . She'd heard enough tales about the American Exploits of Peggy Carter to write an entire series of spy novels, she was sure—and those were just the adventures people were "allowed to talk about," but she'd always had the sense her biological maternal grandmother was much more than the woman in those stories, even if she didn't have an especially high opinion of the agent who'd returned to England in the midst of World War II's chaos pregnant.
Oh, no, no. It wasn't the pregnancy that she frowned on. Single motherhood was nothing of which to be ashamed, and she knew that her grandfather—who's name she had often felt was kept secret from them on purpose—was Killed in Action. It was the decisions Peggy had made thereafter. She'd only stayed long enough to give birth to a daughter, whom she named Dahlia Carter, sign adoption papers making her sister the child's guardian, and then she was off, again. Back across the pond, and to her life doing God knew what for the US government.
Giving her head a shake, Hermione sniffled, running a fingertip over the photograph her cousin Sharon had handed her. She didn't even know this woman who'd popped up on her parents' doorstep, yet they were cousins! They were cousins, and Sharon actually got to know her. Got to grow up calling her Aunt Peggy.
Was it because she was American? Because she worked for the government, too? Because she didn't look like her? What?
Wrangling her emotions, Hermione forced a sad, tight-lipped grin as she lifted her gaze back to Sharon's. The blond woman's face was clear, but her eyes were red. Well . . . Hermione knew she couldn't blame her for Peggy's choices, and perhaps she wasn't being wholly fair to Peggy for that matter, either.
"I'm sorry, this is just a lot to process. I barely knew more than the woman's name, now you expect me to go to her funeral?" After all, she didn't know what it must've felt like, how terrifying it must've been to consider leaving her life behind when the man she loved had died.
To wonder if raising that daughter would be a constant reminder of the person she'd lost . . . .
Nodding, Sharon set down the cup of tea Hermione's mother had made her. Dahlia'd had to excuse herself upon hearing the news, asking the witch to get the information while she got acquainted with their relative. "I'm sorry, I know this is out of the blue. I really . . . I knew we had family here, but I didn't know—"
"Of course you didn't," Hermione said in a low voice as she held the picture for Sharon to take back, aware just how many family secrets had probably come to light with Peggy's passing. "You don't feel like someone who'd ignore family."
A barely-there half smile curved Sharon's lips as she waved away the photo. "No, keep it. You get feelings about people, too, huh?"
Her brows shooting up, Hermione nodded, looking over the image once more. The picture was easily from before Dahlia was born. Peggy had been breathtakingly beautiful, and Hermione recognized that she got her eyes from her grandmother.
"Suppose it must run in our blood."
Sharon bit her lip on a smile, averting her gaze for a moment. She could tell Hermione Granger was angry—why shouldn't she be?—but there was a strange sort of reverence to the way she was looking at Aunt Peggy's picture. Like she was still trying to connect with her. How heartbreaking.
Swallowing hard, Hermione set aside the picture and looked at her cousin. She waited for the other woman to meet her gaze before she spoke. "You'll have to understand this is very bizarre for me. My mother is taking this hard, but . . . I don't know how to feel. This is someone who, regardless of circumstances, gave her child away, and then went on to lead such a full life . . . but without us. The occasional letter, some shiny bauble for a birthday, or Christmas."
Despite her best efforts to control her temper, Hermione found her voice raising. " I have more things FROM her than I have memories OF her. Enough to know I have her eyes and inherited her penmanship, but I don't know the sound of her voice, I don't know the touch of her hand! Yet, you think it's somehow not asking too much to expect me to go mourn her as though I actually knew her?!"
Sharon winced at the tone the other young woman had taken. Yep, there was that anger, but she couldn't tell her anything she didn't already know about Peggy's reasons for what she'd done. She supposed finding out someone could move on and live a full life without you was a bit of a gut punch for anyone.
Dahlia appeared in the doorway, then. Her watery, displeased gaze fixed on her daughter. "Hermione!"
The younger woman looked up, but she refused to soften her expression. "No, okay? I'm sorry, Mum. I have the right to be upset over this, don't I?"
Her shoulders slumping, Dahlia crossed the room. A sad little grin playing on her lips, she fussed with Hermione's wild golden-brown hair for a few moments as she said, "Of course you do. But we're still going to pay our respects."
Even with everything Sharon Carter had witnessed in her career working for multiple government agencies, she thought she'd never seen anything quite as terrifying as the flicker of pure wrath that flashed through her cousin's eyes for a split-second. So fast, she nearly missed it, but she knew what she'd seen. Hermione shut down her fury as fast as that glimpse had slipped out. And instead of lashing out or saying a word further, she merely nodded, her face blank.
Oh, yeah. She was Peggy Carter's granddaughter, all right.
"So, I'm gonna guess she said no."
Sharon sighed, shaking her head in response to Sam's whispered words as they observed the casket being laid to rest. "She's here, isn't she?" At the dubious looks that earned her from the men standing on either side of her, she only sighed once more. "I didn't really get to explain the entire situation. I mean, she was rattled enough about the funeral, I thought asking her to help find Steve might be overstepping a bit."
"You're saying she needs to be set at ease, first?"
Her brow furrowed as she turned her attention to him. "Of course she does. Who wouldn't under the circumstances?"
Sam snickered, jutting his chin to her opposite side. "Seems like a job for the ladies' man."
Bucky's eyes shot wide as he looked from Sam to Sharon and back. "What? Me?"
"I'm sorry, is there someone standing behind you? Yeah, you." Rolling his eyes, Sam shook his head.
Swallowing hard, Bucky glanced at the young woman in question. He'd been in life threatening situations more times than he could count, but somehow the idea of potentially pissing off Agent Carter's granddaughter was enough to qualify as 'scary.' "Listen, my so-called 'ladies' man' skills have taken a bit of a nose dive over the past half-century. You should do it."
"Well, I admit I'm smooth," Sam said with a grin, "but I think this could do with that touch of awkward self-deprecation you've picked up since getting your memories back."
Groaning, he let his head fall back. "Fine. I'll ask her if she wants to get a drink, or something."
"See, you still got it. Just don't forget we have an actual mission, here, okay?"
Bucky grumbled under his breath as he started in the direction of the woman in question. She was still at the graveside, though most of the other mourners had trickled away by now.
Hermione heard the crunch of dry grass under footfalls approaching behind her. A late comer? Someone too shy to come to the graveside with a load of other people watching?
Anyone who had known her own grandmother better than she had.
But that was when he spoke, his voice tumbling out, deep but tinged with the faintest note of trepidation, "Um, hi."
She turned on her heel, prepared to politely tell the man to go away as she was in no mood for company just now. But those words died on her lips. Swallowing hard as she stared up into a pair of blue eyes that absolutely stole her breath, she found all she could manage was uttering an airy, "Hullo."
"I'm Bucky . . . Barnes."
"I think I read mention of you in Peggy's letters. Sgt. Barnes, right? You worked with my grandmother." Her memories were a bit scattered right now, but she could definitely recall his name. But her grandmother, as it turned out, had mentored many people—cousin Sharon, included—so Hermione wasn't surprised she only recalled his name, just now.
He nodded, a sheepish grin on his lips that kind of made her think she might curl up and die on the spot for how adorable the expression was on him. "Yeah, kind of. We were more of acquaintances, though."
Frowning, she managed to yank her gaze from his perfect features—the chiseled jaw and sharp cheek bones, that five o'clock shadow that was somehow more becoming than scruffy, the brown hair that was just long enough to brush his shoulders. She thought it was a bit endearing the way he kept tucking it behind his ears.
"Probably still know her better than I did," the witch said with a shrug. "My name's Hermione. Granger."
For a handful of strained heartbeats, the pair stood, staring off into the distance of the cemetery. After fidgeting long enough that she was starting to drive herself a bit bonkers, she turned her head to look at him.
Apparently feeling the weight of her gaze, he met her eyes.
"You don't seem like a 'Bucky'," she said, the freckled bridge of her nose crinkling.
Chuckling softly, he nodded. "My name's James, but everyone calls me Bucky. It's short for my middle name, Buchanan."
She let out a surprised laugh. "Buchanan? Now that's a name!"
"I know, right?" The ease of the moment was exactly what he needed. His skills might've taken a nosedive, but he still had enough instinct about the fairer sex to recognize social cues. "It's probably not my place to say, but you seem like you're having a rough time. You wanna go get a drink, or something?"
Hermione pivoted to face him fully, one eyebrow arched and a curious half-grin tugging at her lips. "Do I look like a girl who'd go for a drink with a man she just met?"
Shrugging, he stuffed his gloved fists into the pockets of his trousers and darted his gaze about as he spoke. "I don't know about that, but you do look like a girl who can make me sorry if I try to pull anything."
She narrowed her eyes in an appraising look before she nodded. "You're not wrong. Fine, a drink."
Hermione collapsed against him, catching her breath in ragged gulps as he brushed exhausted kisses against her hair. Bloody hell, they hadn't even gotten their clothes off . . . he was even still wearing one of his black leather gloves.
How had this even . . . ?
Bracing her palms against his chest, she pushed herself up enough to meet his gaze. "I—" She cut herself off as she forced another few breaths so she could speak uninterrupted. "I really didn't mean for this to happen when I agreed to a drink."
With a lopsided smile, he shrugged, tracing his gloved fingertips over the bra he'd haphazardly tugged out of his way, her button-down blouse hanging open around her. He thought for sure he had probably popped some of those buttons clean off the material by accident. "I really didn't mean for this to happen when I asked you."
Appearing suddenly self-conscious, she glanced about his hotel room. "Do you want me to go, now?"
He understood why she might think that. And he didn't know this girl from Eve, but something about her asking that question made him feel like he'd been punched in the gut.
"No." The word fell from his lips before he could think to stop it. "I mean . . . unless you want to go."
"No." She shook her head, but immediately looked upset with herself for answering so fast. "I just, well, you know how it is. Usually when a man shags a woman he just met, that's all he wants from her."
Scraping his teeth across his bottom lip, he raked the fingers of his bare right hand through her wild hair in delicate tugs. "Well, how about this, since neither of us really knows how we got here . . . " He paused as she laughed at that. "We give it another shot, and if the second time around is bad, we can part ways and never see each other again."
"Ooh." She couldn't help a smile as she leaned down, brushing her mouth against his before responding. "And if it's not bad?"
A sudden seriousness edged his features as he said, "Then I guess I'll be staying in Britain a while longer than I'd planned."
Bucky knew he should tell her the reason he'd approached her. He knew he should tell her about the mission, and his connection to her family. But as she leaned into him once more, darting her tongue between his lips in a playful, hungry kiss, he lost the ability to reason with himself.
He could tell her about it over breakfast. Of course, it would probably turn out to be their first fight, but he couldn't think about anything else just now.
Letting her in on the host of secrets that were all his own was going to be a separate mess, entirely. And it was certainly not something he could consider in this moment, either, as he pulled her head up to drag his lips down along her throat.