Summary: When Hermione's contract with SHIELD is sold to Stark Industries and she's traded like she's prized cattle, she is far from pleased. But then, she meets the notorious man for herself and she finds herself thinking that perhaps, it wasn't all that bad a trade.
Disclaimer: All original characters and canon events belong to J.K. Rowling and Marvel. Non-canon events and characters are my own. I am not making any profit from posting this fanfic. Characters are likely to be OOC. This takes place after Iron Man 2, and I will be taking liberties with the timeline/ canon events.
A new fic! I know, what am I thinking when I have so many others that need finishing? But this is a new crossover and a new pairing that I haven't written before. I wasn't originally going to post this until I'd completed it and I was going to spam your email and drop it without warning as a surprise but... I've been secretly working on this for nearly two years and I only have a handful of chapters written and admittedly, I'm struggling, but I'm determined to finish it, so I'm hoping your feedback will help me do that.
How many chapters is this going to be? I'm not entirely sure but I'd like to say no more than ten, but that might change. It could be more or less, so we'll see. I do have all of this planned out and I know exactly what I wish to happen and when, so I'm hoping that will help me finish this one as soon as possible.
Page count: 9
Hermione looked up and away from the alien technology she was examining, well, actually, she had determined it to be a magically charmed sword that had rusted over time and began to corrode and it was completely harmless despite the faint magical aura that still surrounded it.
"Director," she greeted the eye-patch wearing man as he entered her lab.
Only few knew she existed, even fewer knew where her lab was located for security reasons, and only three of those had the access code, herself, Agent Phil Coulson and Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD.
"Do you have another item you wish me to examine?" She asked, moving away from the workbench and pocketing her wand into her lab coat.
"No, you are being reassigned," he replied, his expression blank, his tone exceptionally calm and free of emotion. Nick Fury was a hard man to read, but if one spends enough time searching, the ticks were clear. A slight twitch of the eye, a blink that was faster than usual, the tensing of his shoulders, the pulsing of the vein in his neck.
"Excuse me?" Her voice rose in pitch.
"You are being reassigned," he repeated.
He shifted his hand closer to his holster where his weapon was stored upon the notice that she was calm, too calm. That was, until, golden sparks zinged through her hair like an electric current, her curls frizzing into a bushy mess that resembled her earlier school years, and her body straightened and stiffened.
"Excuse me?" She repeated, her voice dramatically lower, her kind eyes turning cold and deadly.
"You have been a remarkable asset to SHIELD and now, you are to be given a new assignment. You will no longer be aligned with SHIELD, on paper, at least. Your contract has been sold and you are now expected to report to another."
"And who exactly is that?" She seethed, her eyes hardening into a narrowed glare and her hands clenching into fists, fighting the urge to draw her wand.
He observed her closely. She was quiet and stiff until her wand was in her hand and the floor to ceiling glass windows of her lab, separating the room and corridor, were slammed by a pulse of magic, shattering into thousands of pieces and covering the ground.
Fury barely held in the sigh and roll of his eye. That was going to take hours to clean up and repair, something he knew she wouldn't help with, even if she was the cause of it. She was furious and he could sympathise, he wouldn't wish to be in the same building as Stark either, let alone work under him for an obscene amount of time, but they all had to make sacrifices. Admittedly, Dr. Granger was a truly remarkable asset, one he didn't wish to lose but his hands were tied. He hated politics.
Stark had offered a donation that couldn't be refused. If they gave him Dr. Granger, he would share his cloaking technology with SHIELD, something his tech experts had been working to develop for over three years, and of course, Stark had done so in as little as a month. It was irritating how clever he was.
He'd been prepared for her angry response, the brunette being known to have quite the impressive temper on her to rival the Hulk, and whilst he was glad she hadn't conjured those little yellow birds of hers to attack him, (something he'd seen happen on more than one occasion and silently admitted was quite entertaining) he did think her response of shattering the windows to be a little childish. Did he voice that? No, he wasn't Agent Barton. He had a brain, unlike the archer who seemed to enjoy getting a rise out of the witch, no matter of the consequence and hex it brought him in the process. Agent Romanoff was hard-pressed to keep her best friend alive and he didn't envy the deadly assassin.
"Dr. Granger, what do you know of the Avengers Initiative?" He questioned, his one eye tracking the movement of her irritably pacing her lab back and forth.
She halted in her steps, twisting to face him, her hands settling on her hips. He'd seen this stance more than once. If he weren't careful, he'd find himself receiving a lengthy speech. He took comfort in the fact her foot had yet to start tapping.
"A carefully selected group of individuals with incredible abilities, skills and technology, that will protect the Earth from any that try to harm it and its occupants. And my answer is no."
"Sorry?" He tipped his head innocently, applying all of the tactics he'd learned in order to appear genuinely confused.
She wasn't fooled. Damn her, he thought. Annoyingly, she was exactly like Stark in the way that she was too clever for her own good. She saw things others didn't, she saw the things his Agents were specifically trained to notice when they didn't. She could sniff out a lie like a damn drug detection dog.
"No," she said firmly. "I've fought enough battles and wars in my childhood and I barely survived. I lost many a friend, ally and peer, and I lost family, too. I'm done fighting. I don't wish to be an Avenger."
"I'm unsurprised that you know of the Avengers," he admitted, "However, I don't understand how you knew that you are a candidate."
"It's not exactly hard to figure it out now, is it?" She challenged, folding her arms and leaning back against the workbench, evidently feeling much calmer after the window incident. "Although you're now aware of the existence of my kind, it was agreed upon for the safety of my people, that I and only I, would work for SHIELD in order to keep the alliance and agreement between our worlds. My being here is breaking two-thirds of the ancient laws of my world, and if the public knew of what is it I now do in the Muggle World, they would demand my hide for their boots, no matter of the fact I'm doing for them, for their safety, to protect their way of life. They're a judgemental and unforgiving bunch."
She held his gaze, not backing down. "Luckily, I have Kings on my side, as well as Harry and a few other influential people to help keep my secret. You don't have anyone else with my abilities and without sounding too arrogant, I am well accomplished in my world. I'm a fair duellist, I have knowledge most don't even know exist, I'm a fully qualified Healer and I have a strategic, logical mind. It's true that your Avengers would benefit my being a part of the team, but I would not. And, it means filing more paperwork, something neither I nor you would wish to do. It's incredibly boring and we both have better things to do with our time."
He watched her carefully with his one good eye.
"Plus, Phil told me," she added amusedly with a shrug of her shoulder.
He had to force himself not to roll his eye or sigh in annoyance, not being all that surprised by what she'd revealed. Agent Coulson, whilst being one of his best and a good recruiter, was susceptible to a pretty face, a pretty face who held incredible abilities.
"You've got him wrapped around your little finger," he stated knowingly.
"It's not my fault he's taken a shine to me," she argued, insulted by his insinuation that she'd deliberately lured him to her like a Siren would a sailor to their death. "He's the one that brought it up, completely out of the blue, might I add. Anyway, we've gone off-topic. Why do you wish to know of my knowledge on your highly secret team of superheroes?" She arched an eyebrow.
"You have resources open to you that we don't, regardless of the technology we have. Your new assignment is to work alongside Tony Stark, without killing him, and create a number of offensive and defensive devices that will aid the Avengers when they are called, allowing for maximisation of their skills."
"Do you anticipate that happening?" She tipped her head.
"Stark will provide you with anything you require and whether or not you tell him of your abilities is your decision."
She narrowed her eyes at his avoidance of the question; that was more telling than any answer he might have given her.
"Why am I being relocated? I can always work on my assignment here, in my lab, without the need for being shipped off like a prized cattle."
"Stark requested you."
"Excuse me?" She spluttered.
"Stark hacked into SHIELD's mainframe and discovered your file. As requested and for security purposes, there is nothing regarding your abilities in the system or on record, as there is always a risk of someone breaking through the encoding, as Stark proved," he grumbled. The Stark genius was a pain in his ass.
"Why does he want me?"
"Do I look as though I know the inner workings of Stark's twisted but brilliant mind?" He replied, unaffected by her annoyed scowl. "He requested you and you will report to Stark Industries, Manhattan, New York, at 13:00 hours on Monday. In the meantime, pack up your lab and your belongings from your quarters."
Hermione sighed as she looked up at the large Stark Industries Tower. How did her life get to this point?
After the War, Hermione had returned to school and gotten the best NEWT scores since Dumbledore. After graduation, she'd struggled to decide which field most appealed to her and which she'd wished to build a career with, and so, she didn't limit herself.
Upon leaving Hogwarts, she trained to be a Healer and within eighteen months, she was fully qualified and with the best results that'd been seen in decades. She remained in the medical field for a little over one year, and at the age of twenty-three, she handed in her notice and moved away from the medicine, training to be Potions and Herbology Mistress.
After completing her studies and becoming qualified in both fields in only two years, she took an apprenticeship under Professor McGonagall, and two years after that, she was a fully qualified Transfigurations Mistress by the age of twenty-seven. But she hadn't remained at Hogwarts and taken on the position of the Transfiguration Professor as McGonagall had wanted.
Hermione had come to realise that she loved learning and discovering knowledge far more than she loved having a steady job and a monthly wage. There was so much knowledge, wisdom and magic in the world and she wanted to explore as much of it as she could whilst she was still young, whilst she had the time and opportunity to do so.
And so, by the age of twenty-nine, not only was Hermione a licensed Healer and Potions, Herbology and Transfiguration Mistress, but she was also a Curse Breaker after training under Bill Weasley for a little over a year.
Her professional life was always active and she was always on the go, especially when she accepted private work projects and free-lance work that kept her bank vault full. Her personal life, well, that was another matter entirely.
After the War, she and Ron had dated for five years and had been engaged for three of those. Ron had never understood that she loved to learn new things, that she needed to be challenged, and he never approved of her going away for weeks at a time when it came to her travelling with Bill for her training. But she got to see places such as Egypt, Russia, India and China, places that were full of wonder, history and culture. They argued frequently before she left for her expeditions and when she returned, days would pass before they'd speak and make amends.
Ron wanted a big family and as soon as Hermione had graduated, he'd proposed. She'd been honest and confessed that she wasn't ready to marry and settle down, but a year later and after continuous arguments and badgering, she'd accepted his proposal, if only to keep him quiet.
When that ring was placed on her finger, marriage and children was all that was forced upon her. Ron had expected her to be a carbon copy of his mother; a stay at home mother to a brood of curly redheads. Of which, she wholeheartedly disagreed with.
He wanted marriage and children within the year, she wanted to wait until she'd explored and learned as much as she could before they had children together, before her life was expected to change. And she certainly didn't have any desire to be a stay at home mother, nor did she want a brood of children. She wasn't even certain that she wanted children, or better yet, if she could have children. And these factors were the cause of many an argument that saw Hermione fleeing to Harry, or Ron, his mother.
And on the eve of their fifth anniversary, Hermione discovered through the Daily Prophet that Ron had been cheating on her. On multiple, separate occasions.
The bastard was lucky he was still alive when she'd finished with him and then Harry had found out, then George, followed by Bill and Charlie and the scariest of the lot of them, Ginny.
Ron had been in hospital for a week.
Hermione had ended their relationship and thrown the ring at him, packed up her belongings and left their shared flat, temporarily moving in with Harry and Ginny and their then only child, James, but they currently had three children in total, James, Albus and Lily.
She moved out within a month after finding an apartment and she continued to travel the Wizarding World in search of knowledge and adventure, often popping into the Muggle World to catch up on current affairs and news.
Not long after her thirtieth birthday, she'd been summoned from her travels in India and to the Ministry of Magic by Kingsley himself, the Minister having a proposition for her. It seemed that a secret muggle spy organisation had gotten wind of there being magical users in existence and in order to protect their world, Hermione was sent to liaison with SHIELD, something that resulted in her moving across the pond and to America as she was added to their payroll, well, unofficially. There were few that knew she existed and even fewer that knew of her true identity, abilities and true motives for working for SHIELD, who had agreed to keep the secret of magic hidden as long as Hermione worked for them, giving them access to facilities they'd never had before.
It had ultimately taken her two months to make a decision, not wishing to leave behind those she loved but knowing what consequences might befall her world, and in order to protect them she'd accepted the terms of the peace treaty. All of the Weasley children were married and had children of their own (including Ron) and she was the odd one out. She spent more time away than she did at home and she no longer factored into their lives as she once did.
After working for SHIELD for almost two years, that is how she now found herself walking into the property of the genius billionaire, Tony Stark.
Her black heels clacked against the floor and echoed in the foyer, her black pencil skirt fell just below the knee and was high-waisted, a long-sleeved white blouse tucked into the hem with the top button undone and a matching black blazer over the top. Her mahogany curls had tamed over the years and now flowed down her back, unbound yet clipped back from her face and in her hand, she carried a satchel-type black briefcase.
As she approached the reception desk in order to register her arrival, the lift dinged open and out stepped the one and only Tony Stark, his attention on the device in his hand, blindly navigating his way.
Seeming to know he wasn't alone, his eyes lifted, locking on her.
"Ah, Dr. Granger, right on time," he spoke, heading straight towards her and intervening before she reached the reception desk.
Whilst she was curious how he knew she was Dr. Granger given that there hadn't been a photo of her on file, she assumed he'd likely looked at the factors of her being dressed as though she was there for a meeting and that she was arriving at the time specified, and he'd just made a calculated guess.
He stopped in front of her and when she took his proffered hand, she saw him giving her the once over. She had grown over the years, finally coming into her looks, especially when she put in the effort, not that she did often, mind. What need did one have for makeup and looking pretty when they were hidden away in a lab for twelve hours a day or backpacking through the jungle, searching for a thought to be extinct creature who's blood held healing capabilities?
She stood at five-foot-six but the heels added three inches to her height. She was pale-skinned with her scars and imperfections hidden by her clothing. Her heart-shaped face held large chocolate brown eyes that were highlighted by her naturally long and thick eyelashes and she had a small button nose, pink plump lips and a perfect white smile, something her parents would be exceptionally proud of.
And as he gave her the once over, she returned the favour.
He was taller than her though not by much when she stood in heels, she estimated him to be a little under six-foot. His black hair was styled to look as though he'd just rolled out of bed, but she suspected it took him a lot of time to actually get it to look that way. His goatee was the same black colour and trimmed neatly, and he had dark brown eyes and fair skin. She knew from the research she'd done the night before that he was nine years older than her, making him forty-years-old, but he certainly didn't look it. Her eyes trailed down his body, surprised to see that his black t-shirt showed off an impressive physique, and the arc reactor glowed on his chest, shining through the fabric of his t-shirt.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Stark," she greeted.
He grimaced and pulled his hand back, slipping it into his jean pocket.
"Tony. Just Tony, Mr. Stark was my father."
"I was told that you didn't like the title, but I'd rather make sure first," she replied. "And if you're Tony, then I'm Hermione, Dr. Granger was my father and my mother," she added. "And Miss. Granger just brings back memories of my school years."
His lip quirked before he beckoned for her to follow him with his finger, leading the way towards the lift and stepping inside, Hermione watching as he punched a code into the keypad, swiped a card over the scanner and then pressed his hand palm flat against a panel before the lift jerked. Hermione was forced to reach out towards the railing to steady herself.
"So, quick introduction," he began, "I'm Tony Stark, genius, billionaire, philanthropist, blah blah blah... Welcome to Stark Industries. You'll be given your own lab and security clearance and due to the nature of your residency here, only the two of us will have access. You're expected to work a minimum of forty hours a week, how you spread that out is up to you. There is no set arrival or leaving time, blah blah blah... If you wish to work 3am until 10am or four ten hours shifts and take the remaining three days for yourself, that's your prerogative." Hermione arched an eyebrow and he shrugged in reply, appearing unconcerned. "Any questions? No, good," he said, not giving her time to answer him.
She leaned back against the metal of the lift and shifted on her feet uncomfortably.
"Why are you wearing that?"
"Wearing what?" She checked, seeing him gesture to her business attire. She frowned and looked down at herself. "What? I thought it looked fine. Fury told me there was a dress code I had to follow." The look on his face told her everything she needed to know. "Oh, thank the Heavens," she sighed and much to his amusement, she kicked off her heels and picked them up in her hand, leaving her barefoot. She opened her briefcase, which was empty and only for show and slipped them inside. "I've had them on all morning and my feet are killing me," she grumbled. "And I swear, the next time I see Fury, I'm going to poke him in his good eye," she promised.
He snorted at her, looking at her with a curiously tilted head. The lift dinged.
"Ah, here we are, the 91st floor, officially known as your lab."
He stepped out and she followed him, almost gasping in shock at the sheer size of the room. It made her lab back at SHIELD look like a matchbox.
"Alright then, Fury said something about you needing a well preserved and heated room?"
"Yes," she nodded, her eyes darting about the large space before moving to him. "Some of the components I work with are volatile and require a certain humidity or temperature to prevent them from either exploding or spoiling. In short, they're very temperamental."
He gave her a curious look. "That's why I had a divider installed," he gestured to the sliding door that did, in fact, transform the one large room into two. "You can use it as a greenhouse, I suppose. I'll have you keyed into the controls for the thermostat on this floor. This is your space, you can do with it as you wish. I need you to supply a list of the equipment you require and I'll ensure it's ordered and delivered as quickly as possible. If there's anything you need from one of your highly secret sources Fury mentioned, you go ahead and order it and I'll reimburse you for the costs. There's a room in the back where you'll find a bathroom and a bedroom, if you're working late and wish to crash here."
"There's a distinct lack of technology in here," she noted, seeing that the workbenches were empty and there was only one computer screen in the entire lab.
"Fury informed me of your technological voodoo," he spoke amusedly, arching a questioning eyebrow.
She rolled her eyes. "It's not my fault," she argued. "Technology hates me, whenever I touch a computer screen it either freezes up or the circuits burn out. My hair almost caught fire last time."
He snorted. "What I would give to see that," his mouth twitched at her scowl. "And given your words, I imagine Jarvis will be safe."
"Jarvis?" She questioned.
"My AI," he shrugged. "Say hi, Jarvis," he instructed.
"Hello, Dr. Granger," a British accented voice spoke from out of nowhere and she yelped in surprise, her hand coming up to press against her heart, sending Tony a glare when he sniggered.
"Er, hello?" She replied nervously, her eyes darting about in search of the source despite knowing she wouldn't see anything.
"Jarvis is here to help with anything you need... Ordering equipment, contacting suppliers, answering questions, giving directions, booking dinner reservations, and he has quite the opinion on classical literature and enjoys a good debate. If he's unable to help you, then come and find me, I shouldn't be far and if I am, Jarvis knows how to contact me and he'll patch you through."
"Security cameras?" She questioned. "I've no doubt you've been informed of how private I am."
"I was hoping you wouldn't bring that up," he admitted, looking a little put out at the thought that he wouldn't be able to spy on her and see exactly what it was she did or used to do for SHIELD. "I'll have all security cameras disabled by tomorrow, it's gonna take some time."
"I don't believe you," she responded, her gaze locking with his and much to her amusement, he actually pouted.
"Fine," he sighed. "Jarvis, disable all security cameras for this floor."
"Yes, Sir," replied the AI.
"And audio recordings," Hermione added.
"Buzzkill," Tony grumbled. "Audio recordings, too."
"Yes, Sir," repeated the AI.
"Now that you've ruined my day," he began and Hermione barely stopped herself from rolling her eyes, "I'll have your contract drawn up by the end of the day for you to read over and sign. On Friday, I'll take you to dinner and we'll discuss your first week with Stark Industries. Agreeable? Wonderful... If you need me, I'm usually on the floor above, I'll get the codes and key cards to you by the end of the day. If you're hungry, there's a kitchen and lounge on the 89th floor and if you're in need of a bit of stress relief, the gym's on the 90th floor. So, I guess I'll leave you to your own devices."
She nodded at him, smiling in thanks and he headed to the lift. She turned her back to him, putting her briefcase on the ground, removing her blazer and putting it on the workbench, undoing a couple more buttons and rolling up her sleeves before pulling her long hair up into a mess on top of her head, not noticing that Tony Stark had been watching her do so and with some interest.