A/N: I do not own Harry Potter. Nor any of the other characters or situations associated with Harry Potter. Nor do I own any of the characters and situations associated with The Marvel Comics Universe or indeed the more outgoing citizens of the MU Version of NYC and points west. But you knew that.
August 1, 1997
8:22 am EDT
Hermione woke to find herself still in the grey chamber. Shaking her head to as if to clear her thought processes; she ran her hand over her head, finding only rough fuzz where her bushy hair has previously been.
That brought about a grimace. She had never liked her hair, but even at its worst, her bushy thatch of hair was better than this. She made her way to the small toilet/shower room connected to her 'bedchamber' and set about cleaning herself. When she was done, she found several more sets of the surgical scrubs she had been given. She dressed quickly, wondering where the monitoring equipment was. It was there, she was sure of it, but the young Witch couldn't find it.
Her suspicions were confirmed when the door to the room opened as soon as she had seated herself on the only furniture in the room, the cot. Through the open door a short red-haired woman dressed in jeans, open toed sandals and a black tee-shirt declaring her allegiance to Hooty and the Blowfish, while the door sealed behind the newcomer.
"Morning." The woman who appeared to be more or less Hermione's age said as a chair unfolded itself from the seemingly seamless wall. The young woman seated herself then seemed to remember something. She fished in the pocket of her low cut jeans and pulled out a small crystal vial.
"Catch." She said tossing the vial to Hermione in an underhand throw. "The chemists in Section W said that this would help with your hair problem."
"Chemists?" Hermione asked. "Section W?"
"If I was at liberty to discuss it with you I might say that Section W was a group within S.H.I.E.L.D. made up of magic users like yourself, but I'm not, so I won't." She grinned. "As far as the Chemists, what do you call your people who make stuff in cauldrons? You know, 'Eye of newt and toe of frog, Wool of bat and tongue of dog, Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting, Lizard's leg and owlet's wing. For a charm of powerful trouble, like a hell-broth boil and bubble.'"
Hermione blinked. "It's not often I get Shakespeare quoted at me. Do you mean you have Potions Masters working for SHIELD?"
"If I were likely to discuss something like that with someone lacking a security clearance such as yourself, then yeah, that's what I would likely mean." The young woman smiled wider. "It was suggested that the goop be applied topically, rather than drinking it."
"Thank you. Obviously you know who I am, who are you? Are you a witch?"
"I've been called worse. But if you mean am I magical, the answer is no. My name, well, more of that security I'm afraid. You can call me Psi."
"Ok." Hermione wasn't used to dealing with normal people who knew of the magical world. Si was an odd name… Short for something? An abbreviation? "For the record, don't try that potions recipe."
"Mixing newt eyes, frog toes, bat fur, dog tongue, adder's tongue, screwt stingers, Lizards legs and the wing of an owlet will produce a rather noxious gas."
"Are you serious?" The redhead seemed a bit incredulous.
"Yeah, I tried it second year to see what would happen. That potions lab still stinks to high heaven." Hermione smiled at the memory, and then sobered. "How much trouble am I in?"
The redhead shook her head. "I have no idea, that's not really my department."
"More security keeping you from telling me?"
"No. I really don't know, and to tell you the truth, I don't care all that much," the woman said.
"Ok," Hermione said recognizing that this woman was not going go volunteer any answers. "If my situation isn't your department, what is?"
"Me? I'm interested in your mind."
Hermione raised an eyebrow. This woman couldn't be more than twenty. "Aren't you a little young to be a psychiatrist?"
"I'm not a shrink," the woman laughed.
"If you're not a psychiatrist, then what…" Realization of what the other woman was saying dawned. Not 'Si'. PSI! Hermione concentrated and slammed her occlumency shields into place.
The other woman shook her head. "Miss Granger, relax, please. You have magical mental defenses designed to thwart magical mind reading. What I do isn't magical in the slightest; all you are doing is giving yourself a headache. I've been in your mind since I entered the room."
"What do you want to know?"
"Mostly I'm interested in finding out if you've managed to fool my field operatives. Three of them took a read on you while you were being decontaminated."
Three people had been in her mind? Hermione hadn't even felt the slightest touch of another consciousness. "And what have you decided?"
"No, you didn't fool them. You are what they told me you are, an earnest hardworking student who has found herself in the middle of a war and who is doing her level best to assist her friends to save the world." The woman smiled. "I usually only find that sort of mindset among people who wear spandex outfits and cause massive amounts of property damage in major cities."
"I'm not a hero," Hermione said quietly. "I don't understand how you can just troll through people's minds like you do."
"It's my job," the woman shrugged. "I don't enjoy it, but it needs to be done. The alternative would be to pump you full of chemical truth serums until you told us everything you know." An odd look flickered across the woman's face. "Yes, that does include your truth potion."
"By what right are you invading my mind?" Hermione demanded.
"Miss Granger, you and your friend wandered into a weapons test that was classified higher than top secret. If you were in General Fury's place, what would you do?"
Damn it. That made sense. "All right. You've know what I'm thinking. From what I've read of Psi actives you didn't need to come into the room to look into my mind, why are you here?"
"There's more to the mind reading business than just tip toeing through someone's brain Miss Granger. I find it useful to actually see my subjects. My report to General Fury is going to say that you are exactly what you appear to be and that you actually did accidentally wander onto the test site."
"Thank you," Hermione said quietly. "What now?"
The woman who identified herself as Psi smiled. "Mostly we wait. I still need to dig into your friend's skull. I need to find out what it is about him that has affected so many of my operatives so fundamentally."
"Why wait?" Hermione asked. "From what I've read, his being unconscious isn't a inhibiting factor for someone like you."
Psi shrugged again. "I prefer to do my mind trips on conscious minds… Far too many odd things manifest in an unconscious psyche. Dealing with those things can do damage to the sleeper. Don't worry Miss Granger, our doctors tell me that he should be waking up tonight or tomorrow."
"Will I be allowed to see him?"
"As I understand it, that's the plan. Fury has pretty much decided to trust you; he's just waiting for my final survey of Mr. Potter's mind."
August 1, 1997
9:13 pm GMT
Savoy Hotel – Royal Suite
The woman stretched savoring the afterglow of the lovemaking.
"Ah, Nickie, I've missed you." She ran her fingertips over the tightly curled hairs on his chest. "Missed you so much."
Nick Fury chuckled. "Most of my debriefing interviews don't go quite this well."
"It's always work with you," She huffed. "All right, ask your questions."
"Tell me about Granger."
"You've read my reports. The girl is a certified genius, top of every class she's in." The woman allowed herself a small smile. "Except for mine."
"What's wrong with your class?" Fury asked, trying to build a better picture of the two Brit Class Ws that had fallen into his lap.
"Miss Granger is far too intelligent to fall for my shtick. I think she lasted three classes before she rampaged from my classroom. She's the third one in eighteen years."
"Hmm," Fury murmured.
"If you're recruiting, you could do a lot worse that Hermione Granger." She rose on her elbow so that she could look into his eye. "I would suggest that you don't use the same technique you used on me though."
"Why not?" Fury asked, smiling. "That method worked quite well as I recall."
"That was 1964 Nickie. You coming on to her would horrify her, probably give her creepy grandfather nightmares, not to mention that Potter would likely flay the skin from your body."
"Really?" Fury asked dryly.
"Ah I remember that day well, there I was, a young innocent freshly out of Hogwarts seeing the sights in Muggle London and here comes this dashing young officer, who defiled my body and bent me to his will…"
"That's a fairly revisionist retelling of the story Sybill. As I recall, you approached me in a pub and told me you'd never had a black man, and I was about to have a magical night. It wasn't until we'd been dating for a month that internal security told me about your talents and asked that I attempt to recruit you."
"Lies, all lies." Sybill Trelawney giggled. "I'll have you know General that my Inner Eye sees the past as clearly as it sees the future."
"That explains it then," Fury laughed. "Tell me about Potter."
Sybill sighed. "I owe that boy an apology, I truly do. When I was applying to Hogwarts for their Divination post, Dumbledore did his interview at a pub rather than at his office for some reason." She shrugged. "No idea why, but he did. Anyhow my interview wasn't going well. Dumbledore is an idiot in many ways, but he didn't buy into my 'Inner Eye' story. He was wrapping up the interview and it was obvious that I wasn't going to get the job, so I did the trance thing that Section W tells us is the technique most likely to convince people. I made some nonsense prediction about 'one with the power the Dark Lord knows not' being born at the end of July. One of Riddle's troops was spying on our meeting and ran off to report what he heard to his master. It turned out that only two magical children were born at the end of July that year, Potter and a boy named Longbottom. Both Dumbledore and Riddle fixated on the Potter boy. Young Harry's parents were killed and the poor kid was sentenced to a most unfortunate life."
Fury nodded. "Psi said something about that."
"Anyhow, he's an adequate student, not as smart as Granger, but smart enough to know what I teach is crap. You should see some of the assignments he turns in. I keep copies of his works of fiction for when I get depressed by the true believers."
"And beyond the classroom?"
Trelawney frowned. "For a wizard, he's quite an athlete. Superb reflexes from what I hear, as my cover doesn't let me actually attend the games. A major oddity is his ability to speak with snakes."
"Snakes?" Fury repeated. "He speaks to snakes?"
"Yes. He speaks to snakes. It's an inherited ability among magic users. Fairly rare, most with the ability try to keep anyone from knowing because of the negative connotations for the ability. Because a few noted Dark Wizards could do it, it has become believed to be an indication of being evil. Potter was raised in the Mundane world and didn't know. He spoke to a snake in front of a large percentage of the school. Caused him quite a bit of trouble for a while, including from some of his closest friends."
"I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the idea that snakes can speak. How did Granger react?"
"She was shocked at first, but I believe that came mostly from suddenly discovering that someone she knew could speak with snakes. After the initial shock, Granger and Potter remained as tight as they are now."
"So basically, what you're telling me is that Potter is what his reputation says he is."
"As hard as it might be for a suspicious bastard like you to believe Nickie, yes. When it comes to Harry Potter, he is what you see. Your Psi section is wasting their time. The only secrets that boy has are those any boy his age would have… Plus the fact he has an invisibility cloak and a magical map that shows him where everyone in the castle is."
"An invisibility cloak? Are you telling me that there is a magical alternative to my seven billion dollar personal stealth project?"
"Yep." Sybill reached down and took hold of his manhood. "You really ought to have your Section W types set in on the R&D meetings. Enough talking about my students. You've had time to rest. Time for round two."
August 3, 1997
7:00 pm EDT
Hermione was escorted into yet another featureless grey room marked as a medical facility only by the medical equipment that beeped and flashed lights on either side of the bed. The door closed with the guard who escorted her remaining outside.
On the bed itself she could see Harry, still unconscious. A quartet of people dressed in white scurried around the bed, taking readings, one preparing to give an injection. Hermione found her mouth going dry. Harry?
"Good evening Miss Granger."
Having someone speak her name without knowing that someone was there caused Hermione to jump.
"Sorry about that Miss Granger." Said a blond woman dressed in black leather body armor. "Skulking around becomes second nature after a while." She offered her hand, "Sharon Carter."
"Agent Carter." Hermione nodded taking the older woman's hand.
"I've been assigned as General Fury's personal representative for your case." Carter said. "The doctors are waking your friend up."
Hermione craned her neck trying to see Harry amid the people in white. "I wonder why they didn't shave him."
"They did." Carter said. "It grew back overnight." The blond glanced at Hermione's fuzz. "I thought it was a magical thing, evidently not."
"It's Harry's magical thing." Hermione said. "He has a history of regrowing hair. Damn him."
"Agent Carter?" One of the white clad doctors spoke from the bedside. "The patient is waking up."
Let there be light, he remembered hearing those words… sometime.
And there was light. He remembered that too. The light had consumed the universe.
He remembered the light. It was everywhere and every when until it was gone. Completely and utterly gone.
He missed it.
Is this all there is?
Light, then nothing. Nothing for ever?
That seemed somehow unlikely. Forever was after all an exceedingly long time.
Not for the first time he tried to remember how he got here. Tried to remember the time before the light.
Had there been a time before the light? He thought that there might have been. Sometimes he had flashes of emotions and feelings from what he had come to think of as 'the before time'.
Joy from moving through the air in the light holding… something between his legs, chasing a tiny golden… something… his arm outstretched, finger's grasping.
Fear when he entered a darkened room to confront a towering… something wielding a club… screams of terror.
Need when he found a beautiful face, so very close, so wet? His hand lifting her chin, almond eyes closing, long hair as black as his own, so soft in his hands, a soft pressure on his lips… and a salty taste.
Terror as a serpentine… man? Rose from a bubbling liquid. Terror, pain… hope?
Loss when a bearded man fell backwards through… something.
Shock at finding a red haired girl doing horrible things to a brunette with huge mass of hair, while a blond man was looking on laughing.
Rage as a tall man with greasy hair and a hooked nose pulled him off that same blond man, but not before he had reduced the blonde's face to a bloody pulp.
Was any of that real?
He struggled to try and remember more of the before time. Did he have a name? He was relatively sure that he in fact did have a name, but couldn't remember any, not his own, nor any of the others he saw in his flashes of almost memories. He knew faces. There was the red headed boy, the brunette girl, the blond man, a red headed girl who seemed very like the ginger boy. The dark man with the hooked nose, the old man with the white beard that hung below his belt, he knew their faces, and he even imagined he knew the voices, but no names came to him.
It was very odd.
Suddenly he noticed a strange… buzzing? The last sound he could remember hearing was the sound of the light, and like the light it had filled the universe and then vanished. It had been a while since he had last noticed any sound, so this new feature of the time after the light focused his attention away from wondering what his name might be. Slowly the buzzing resolved into distinct sounds, then to voices… Was that… light?
With great effort Harry managed to force his eyes open. He found a blurry face hovering over him.
"Madm Pmfry?" Harry whispered.
A pair of glasses was placed on his face, and the face came into focus. Whoever this woman was, Harry didn't recognize her.
"I'm Healer Meyers Mr. Potter. You've giving us all something to think about here. It appears that you will be all right. You just need your rest." The woman flashed that smile that all healers must learn during their training, the one that said that intense pain was in your future and the healer was going to try real hard not to laugh. "You've got a visitor."
Harry tried to turn his head in the direction the Healer had indicated but found that to require far more energy than he had to spare at the moment. Hermione's face came into view.
"Harry you prat." She said softly. "What were you thinking casting the shield outside the hole?"
"Hey 'mione. What happened to your hair?"
Hermione brushed a bit of his hair from Harry's eyes. "They had to cut it in order to decontaminate me. I've tried a regrowth potion, but it doesn't seem to be working. It will just have to grow out on its own. Enough about my hair. How are you?"
"Tired," Harry said. "I just feel so… empty."
"They tell my you expended a whole lot of magic healing yourself Harry."
"I have?" Harry seemed confused. "I didn't know I could do that." The raven haired Wizard raised his right hand to lightly touch the side of Hermione's head. "You look so different without your hair."
The girl shrugged. "It's just hair."
"No. It's part of you. It's… pretty." There was a sudden pop as the medical electronic devices all stopped working and started emitting smoke. Harry's hand slipped from Hermione's head as the boy lost consciousness. "so very pretty," He whispered.
"What the hell?" The woman who identified herself to Harry as Healer Meyers said. "These things are supposed to be hardened to magic."
It was only then that the healer noticed that everyone else in the room was staring at Hermione Granger.
The young witch noticed the attention she was getting, and self consciously brushed a lock of hair from her eyes. "What?"
"Your hair Miss Granger." Sharon Carters said. "It's grown back."
August 5, 1997
SHIELD Executive Director's Conference Room
10:00 am GMT
Fury took his seat and asked his first question without preamble.
"The young woman is seemingly none the worse for wear from her adventures. I've no explanation for her spontaneous hair growth, but I believe Section W has something to say about that as part of his presentation."
"And Potter?" the General asked.
The woman looked uncomfortable, but continued. "Potter's recovery is nothing less than amazing. The only time I have seen a superior self healing ability was when I was part of the Weapon X program."
"I have rerun all tests for an active X-gene seven times." Section M said from his position. Potter is not a Mutant."
"Yes." Medical agreed. "He has demonstrated the ability to heal himself and others. As far as his injuries go, there is absolutely no indication that he was ever in the blast. Even the radioactive materials that the blast embedded into his skin that had somehow been rendered inert are now gone."
"Gone where?" Security asked.
"Unknown. They are just gone. Old injuries we found when we first treated him no longer exist. Medically he is in perfect shape."
Fury nodded. "Psi Section?"
The young woman leaned forward putting her elbows on the table and steepled her fingers. "Granger is what she appears to be. A genius being forced to deal with things outside her experience. She is amazingly resilient and adaptable. You asked me to evaluate her for recruitment General. You could do a lot worse. In fact you have. What I can tell you is that she will not accept your offer as long as she thinks Potter needs her.
The woman grimaced. "He is something of an enigma… Following the incident he was mind scanned by three different operatives, and I made a shallow scan myself while he was unconscious. I held off on deep probes until he was conscious, due to the hazards of an unconscious mind. However since he has woken up from his injuries, I can't scan him at all."
"Do you think his subconscious mind discovered how to shield against psi intrusions from one of your field operatives looking through his mind?" Fury asked.
"No." The Head of Psi-ops said shaking her head. "I don't know what he's doing, but it isn't a Psi shield. It's not one of their magical mind blocks either. I've always gotten something from a person I was trying to read, whether it be Xavier, Lehnsherr, Frost, Braddock, Grey, or even that Alien Uatu there is always something there, a hint of a mind, a whisper, even static. From Potter, I get nothing. It's almost as if he's not there."
"What about when he's sleeping?" The head of Medical asked.
"Nothing, absolutely nothing. I can't describe what it's like for me. It would be as if any of you were suddenly deaf to a single person. I've had every Psi active onboard try to take a read on him. They all report the same thing."
Fury nodded. This was an unexpected situation. Could this sudden immunity to Psi be an aspect of his exposure to the Gamma radiation? "Section W?"
"Potter used his magic to heal himself, though he isn't aware of how he did this."
"How do you know that?" Security asked.
"Much like his new immunity to Psi scans, he is also somehow blocked off from Legilimency. This has reduced our intelligence on him to his conversations with Miss Granger, all of which are recorded and available for study to all code word cleared personnel. He is as puzzled at what his magic has done as any of us. Upon waking he was suffering from magical exhaustion, meaning his reserves of magic were basically bled dry. Despite this he managed a pulse of magic that fried every piece of electronics within thirty meters."
"What does that mean?" Psi asked, clearly frustrated.
"It means that in a state of exhaustion, he is one of the most powerful magic users in history." The Wizard paused. "General, you asked me to evaluate Potter for recruitment. My recommendation is to pass on him. He is too much of an unknown to chance. He is insanely more powerful than his reputation would lead me to think he should be."
"How so?" Fury asked.
"It has been two days since he woke up. He was in a state of magical exhaustion. For a normal Wizard recovering from exhaustion, after two or three days he could attempt the easiest of spells. I spent some time with him today, challenging him to try a few things. I can say with no hesitation that he is more powerful than I am. The only way I kept up with him was to keep shotgunning energy potions and I'm going to pay for that when they wear off tonight. He also burned through four of my duty operatives, just in the sheer volume of his casting."
Silence held reign in the conference room. Someone too powerful for SHIELD. That was a concept that took some thinking about.
August 8, 1997
3:24 pm GMT
SHIELD Section W Training Facility
Harry moved to his left while conjuring a four foot high block of stone, silently cursing the wound that his one of his opponent had just opened in his left shoulder. The wand that the men in black leather had made for him was amazing. It was as if he could sense magic while using it, feel it's ebb and flow.
Twirling the black wand at his shoulder, the wound knitted closed in a fraction of a second. Harry paused for a moment to examine the wand, made of black carbon fibers that he had been told were 'fullerene nanotubes', what ever they were, wrapped around a synthetic diamond core. Harry didn't understand any of that, but sweet Merlin did this wand work.
Harry concentrated on the flow of magic in the room, there were seven bundles of magic in the room other than himself, two were on the floor not moving. Five were moving to bracket him. Three of the moving magic masses were directly on the other side of his stone shield. Harry focused and banished the stone across the room, smashing directly into two of his attackers and clipping one other with enough force to take all three our of the fight.
The two agents who remained standing exchanged a look, then immediately began casting. Harry dodged while icing the floor under the agent's feet. This was actually a lot of fun.
"He's quite impressive."
Hermione turned from the observation port to face Fury. "I find myself wondering what the price for the support you've given us is going to be General."
Fury sat on the chair next to the girl. "What makes you think there is going to be a price Miss Granger?"
"Call it a fundamental understanding of how governmental organizations work." Hermione said. "What dealings I've had with them has left me somewhat cynical."
"I don't know why I'm surprised really. I only a bit older than you when I got my first case of cynicism" Fury smiled. The girl was a bit young for what he was going to offer her. "My price to your boyfriend is to take your Dark Lord out, and to do it right this time."
"And what do you care about Voldemort? And Harry isn't my boyfriend."
Fury smiled at her response. "The maniac isn't keeping to your little magical enclave, he's out killing normal people. If Potter doesn't kill him, I'll have to do it. If I have to put men into the field against him it will get messy."
"I see. You want Harry to do your job for you."
"I'm not sure you actually understand Miss Granger. My brief is to fight terrorists, where ever they might be. I am however required to allow the local populations to fight their own battles and step in only as a last resort. Normally that means the local governments, but in your case your government seems to either be in deep denial about the problem or is actively aligned with Voldemort, that leaves Mr. Potter and those of you aligned with him."
"But you could…"
"Yes," Fury agreed. "I could land a brigade of troops and lay waste to ever fighter that your Ministry or Voldemort could muster, and then of course, the magic using population would love and support my people, right?"
"Of course they would."
"A casual reading of history shows that Armies of Liberation become Armies of Occupation in very short order, and tend to be deeply hated by those they liberated. Come now Miss Granger, how happy would your classmates be to see a squad of my people performing searches for those bearing the 'dark mark'?"
Hermione opened her mouth to respond, but couldn't think of anyway to refute the General's position. She returned her attention to Harry, who was now standing over the last of the SHIELD agents he had been dueling. "You spoke of what you expected of Harry for the help you've given us. What do you want from me?"
Fury reached into his jacket and from an inside pocket withdrew an envelope. "Your consideration of this offer."
Hermione opened the envelope and scanned the contents. "You're offering me a job?"
"From what I hear of the British Magical Society, you might find it somewhat difficult to find a position that matches your abilities given your heritage. What I can offer you is substantially more… vital."
Hermione stared at the offer for several seconds. "I'll have to give this some thought. Do you have a similar offer for Harry?"
"Not at this time, no."
Fury turned to face her. "Several reasons, the most important being we don't know his capabilities, nor do we know how the power boost he had experienced will affect him. There have been more than a few instances of young men suddenly finding a new level of power and their personalities change because of it."
"Harry will not change." Hermione scoffed.
"Perhaps not. If he maintains this level of power, he would be a welcome addition to Section W." Fury paused to watch as Harry and the Agents started another set of exercises.
"When are we returning to Britain?" Hermione asked. "I really need to contact my parents."
"We'll be over Lakenheath in about an hour."
"What?" Hermione asked shocked.
"You didn't know? Miss Granger, this is the Victory, one of SHIELD's assault Helicarriers."
A/N: A few thoughts
Thanks for all the reviews, the Ego Strokes are great.
Re: The Fullerene Nanotube over synthetic diamond cored wand. I know that I've seen wands made from High Tech materials in the past. If someone else did this particular combination first, sorry about that.
Next time we'll get to see what the extent of what has happened to Harry.
Oh and if you haven't seen the 'Hulk vs.' DVD, it's great… Though I must say, despite almost forty years of reading Thor Comics with his Shakespearean prose, I never thought about him having an English accent.