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A/N: So sorry it took so long to update! I hit a wall for a while. Please enjoy!
"So, what, slipping him something to induce a heart attack isn't going to work? That's a damn shame," Clint said, hand itching for an arrow. He'd heard that wizards had used the 'I was being controlled mentally' excuse to get off charges in the past. He knew what it was like to actually be controlled. He could fake it well and shoot Dumbledore, and if he was caught, claim mind control. He never missed, so the old bastard would be dead. "Do we have a plan B?"
"Not yet," Tony replied. He had grown to really like the idea of getting Dumbledore out of the way permanently. Now, it seemed like they would have to put up with him for longer. If it protected Jade, and a whole load of other innocents in the long run however, he would do what was necessary.
"He considers himself a master manipulator, yes?" Loki asked, and received nods in return. His smile was wicked. Manipulation was a skill he had honed for centuries. "So, we hit him where it hurts, tomorrow, we force him to reveal his machinations and the reasons behind them and use the information against him."
"Manipulate him like he has others." Steve nodded. That seemed like a good plan. Turning the tables on the enemy tended to leave them floundering. At least for a time. And that time could be used to come up with a more permanent plan.
"I like it. I would rather hit him with Mjolnir, but this is a good plan also, brother," Thor agreed. His patience for diplomacy on this issue had worn thin. Normally, he could stay calm, but he had been pushed too far by the wizards. However, for now, he would wait.
The only adults with them in the Tower were her mother, and Hermione and Ernie's parents, Neville's gran and Jarvis. It had Jade worried, yeah she had been training for weeks, and yeah her mum could defend herself as well as three of the adults being magical, but she was still worried in-case something happened. Hermione's parents were only dentists, and Jarvis and Augusta were both getting old (her dad had a backup program for the AI, for when Jarvis decided to retire, to sound like him) and Neville, Ernie and Hermione were only at the level of most first years, as Jade was the only one to have received extra training. If something happened now, with her dad and the others on the Hellicarrier talking with Dumbledore, what could they do?
Just then, the elevator door 'pinged' open and Franklin, his parents and Uncles came out. Jade grinned, feeling relief flood her system. This was much better.
Dumbledore had had hardly any sleep in the last few days, things were always going wrong around the castle that needed his attention, or he was being constantly called to the ministry to talk about the mess with his past friendship with Gellert. Talk about an inconvenient leakage of the truth.
And now there was this blasted meeting! Thankfully, he had both Severus and Alastor with him, and while Severus was in no better shape than he, Alastor was at full, paranoid, form. Something that could very well come in useful for them during the meeting.
They were stood outside of Gringotts when a man and a woman approached them, both of them had schooled their features into unreadable, expressionless, masks. The man was wearing a suit, and he flashed a badge, which bore a shield with an eagle on it. "Professor Dumbledore, I'm Agent Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D. We've been sent by Director Fury to escort you to the meeting place. If you'd follow me."
"Who's she?" Moody asked, indicating to the other agent.
"Agent Melinda May," She replied, with no emotion in her voice, to match the lack of it on her face. It was a good tactic to unnerve people. And it instantly set the three wizards on edge. May never failed to intimidate. There was no doubt that she was one of S.H.I.E.L.D's best and most deadly agents.
They led the three wizards out of the alley and towards a waiting SUV bearing the S.H.I.E.L.D Logo and tinted windows. When it started to drive, Dumbledore spoke again, looking to pressure who he believed to be lower level agents into caving to his wishes.
"I need to speak with Miss Stark," he told Agent Coulson, his voice brokering no argument. It told Coulson that this man was very used to getting what he wanted, when he wanted it, or someone would have to face the consequences. He had to work to hide the smirk. The old man was about to receive one hell of a shock today. No one would be willing to grant him concessions. He would learn that there were people far more powerful and stubborn than him.
"I'm afraid that won't be possible. This is a meeting between you, Fury and several members of the team who will be helping you fight this war. However, Mr Stark will be there and you will get the chance to talk to him."
"No, you don't understand, it is imperative I speak to Jade so she understands the destiny she has and the need to be trained by the best. I am only considering what is best for her, and the rest of the world." Muggles, Dumbledore thought, obviously understood nothing. Had this man been a wizard, he would have been tripping over himself in his haste to see to it he did all in his power to arrange a meeting between Jade Stark and Albus Dumbledore. But he wasn't, and thus was already beginning to annoy the wizened wizard.
"I don't think you have the right to be on a first name basis with Miss Stark." May said. "And, as for her training, it doesn't come any better than what she has now."
"Agent May is right. She is being trained to face more than just one particular threat, a necessity in her life. I suggest you stop focusing on one girl and on the bigger picture here. That's what the meeting is about, or so I've been told." Coulson knew they believed him, he was a very adept liar. He wouldn't have gotten far as a spy otherwise.
When the old wizard and his two advisors took their seats at the table, they all noticed the empty seats separating them from the others- almost as if they were ill with something contagious and the others there did not wish to risk catching the same thing. From the plane they had taken (something that had caught all their attentions) they had been led to this room on a flying ship by an agent who had said nothing more than "Follow me please," and led them here. Agent's Coulson and May had not accompanied them. It was easy to see that none of them wanted to be near the three wizards. Dumbledore easily recognised the three who had visited his school.
"Mr Stark your daughter,"
"Is safer now than she was for a single moment at that school of yours," Tony replied, leaning back in his chair. His voice hadn't been raised. His tone was even pretty calm. But something told the three that the man was seething with anger. He was just keeping it back. For now.
None of the wizards accepted the drinks in front of them, fearing they would be spiked. This group were obviously not thrilled to have them here. They may have even resorted to extreme lengths just to get them out of the way.
"However, we are interested in how a child you claimed to have a great destiny ahead of her ended up with people who would be neglectful of her, with no one checking in on her, and how that would be beneficial to the war." Loki said. What the three wizards didn't know was that there was absolutely nothing in the water. The spell had been in the lift they had come up in to reach this part of the Hellicarrier and was of his own design. Being the god of lies came with several advantages. Obviously, he could tell lies from truth easily. It was also possible to easily place a spell that ensured no one would be able to tell him lies (or even half-truths) while he talked with them, which was why he would be the one doing the questioning. The spell would only work, so long as he was the one asking them the questions. No one else would be able to ask questions and have the spell demand answers of their guests. And it was imperative they get the answers they needed. This war had the possibility to destroy them all. Should they fail, the world would fall, and it would not be quick. For anyone. They were also sure to have the cameras recording the whole thing, so they would have a visual and audio record of everything that happened here today. Something that could be used later on, as blackmail if necessary.
"It was necessary for her to be pliable," Dumbledore answered. With his lack of reaction, and the lack of reactions from his companions, they knew the other half of the spell worked. The three wizards would have no idea of what they were actually saying. Loki checked the spell and heard what Dumbledore thought he had said and what Snape and Moody had heard. 'I believed Petunia would forget all animosity in the face of a helpless child and I set up Blood Wards to protect her from harm based on her mother's sacrifice.' Loki made a notation of what Dumbledore's lie was so the others would be able to see just how badly the wizards intended to lie to them.
"But you should have gone to check on her, surely? Even if you believed the best of her Aunt?"
"I left someone to watch her."
"Arabella Figg. She's a Squib who offered to babysit for Jade." These last ones had been truthful.
"Did she not notice the neglect and abuse, or was she just blind?"
While Dumbledore believed he was listing off a list of wonderful reasons to support Arabella Figg, the truth was heard by the Avengers. "Arabella Figg is a squib who I knew because of her friendship with our caretaker, Argus Filtch. She is almost as bitter towards those with magic as he is, and it was easy to pay her to watch the girl and not have to worry about her interfering. She said nothing."
Tony's hand clenched under the desk in order to try and restrain himself and Natasha had to tap Bruce on the knee to pull him back to earth. He was looking a little bit green. The last thing they needed was him letting the Hulk out now.
"What exactly is your interest in Jade for this war, may I ask? You seem awfully fixated on her for this war, and she is only a first year. There must be a reason for it."
"Jade is the child of a prophecy stating she is the one with the power to defeat the Dark Lord. However, due the shard of his soul in her head, she must die before he can be killed. I will then kill him, as she will be the last of his Horcruxes to be destroyed, I will make sure of it." While Dumbledore believed he had said something about Voldemort himself fixating on her, and thus he wanted to train her for Jade's own good, the others were now really struggling to keep their expressions and reactions neutral.
"We found a rather interesting spell on her potions spell book, Professor Snape- would you care to explain that?" He changed tactic so suddenly, it caused Dumbledore to start, just slightly.
"We knew the Dark Lord was after her, so it was my job to make the brats mind as susceptible to him as possible," was manipulated to him thinking he said "I have no idea what you are talking about."
Loki looked around the table, and received nods. That was enough information for now. Their plan would see them in close enough contact with Dumbledore to be able to mine him for information when they wanted to. But they also wanted to keep a close eye on him and ensure he did not have S.H.I.E.L.D shut down. They had to prevent that future at all costs. But to do that, they had to convince Dumbledore that he had convinced them, and make him believe he had gained ground and was heading in the right direction. This was where Fury took over.
"Everyone who is meeting you today, along with others, have decided that Hogwarts is obviously not a safe place for Miss Stark, especially concerning the fixation a certain homicidal maniac has on her. However, cutting her off from the wizarding world could also put her at a disadvantage, if she was not to learn information that was necessary to the war effort. Also, the World Security Council is very worried that the war that is surely about to start up again will affect those outside the magical community. It is our job to ensure the safety of those people from threats such as the terrorist known as Voldemort. You have knowledge on his methods and his people, his movements over the years. Basically, we want to work with you to take him and his followers down permanently, and stop others from trying to pick up where they left off. You can't deny you need the help."
"Our world would appreciate the offer of help," Dumbledore nodded. "However, I would like to oversee Miss Stark's training. I also think it would be best if she is allowed to return to Hogwarts. You could place some sort of security there yourself? Bodyguard perhaps?"
"No, absolutely not. She is not retuning there," Tony said. "I was unsure of letting her go to a school that far away in the first place, and then she almost died. She's sticking with her private tutoring, unless she chooses to take up schooling somewhere she can come home every evening."
"Mr Stark, I understand your concerns-"
"No, you don't. You are not her father, so you don't understand where I'm coming from on this. Therefore, you don't get a say. Everyone on our side of the table, does understand, and they all agree with me that she's not going back. Besides, my wife would castrate then kill me if I even thought about letting Jade go back. Jade is not going back to that mad house you call a school. At least with what we've set up she can keep up with her non magical studies."
"And what good will that do a witch?" Moody asked.
"It will do her the world of good if she chooses a job in the non-magical world, which she has expressed a desire to do. Many people have declared her intelligent enough to go to a world premier collage when she is older," Steve said.
"Of course she's intelligent enough. She's a Stark!" Tony said.
"Also, overseeing her training is not something necessary for you to do. Perhaps, after a while, you might be allowed to watch some of her training, and offer advice here and there, but that is about it," Fury said. "Each skill and subject she is being taught is being taught to her by an expert in that particular field. As for now your contact with her will be nil. A level of trust must be built up first, do you understand?"
"Was that not what the earlier interrogation was for?" Dumbledore asked, trying not to sound like a petulant child whining that he'd done his chores, now couldn't he have a sweet?
"That was just to see whether we were going to go ahead with working with you or not, nothing more bub," Logan growled at him. It had been insanely hard not to launch himself over the table and skewer the man. He was old and was coming to his final years of life. It wasn't as if he had much more to offer the world, was it? Besides being an annoyance and a threat. A near imperceptible shake of the head from Romanoff held him back. Luckily he'd been the only one to see it.
Dumbledore sighed. "What will I have to do to gain your trust enough to see Miss Stark?"
"Oh that's a long way off," Tony said, hand tapping the desk restlessly. These wizards left him feeling filthy and wanting a shower. More than that, he wanted to go home and check that Jade and Pepper were alright.
"We'll start by exchanging information. My people's knowledge of this threat is a very limited one. In order to help you as much as possible, we need more," Fury said. "Especially on their leader, Voldemort, and his lead Death Eaters. At least, the ones still alive."
A/N: So, what do you think? Please review!