Man of Iron, Father of Gold
It seemed like everyone was able to move on but him. While the war for others was a stepping stone for them, for him it was his whole life. Since escaping his uncle's house, fighting against Voldemort was everything that 'Harry Potter' was. The Boy Who Lived, The Chosen One, The Tri-Wizard Champion, Master of Death...all of those titles belonged to Harry Potter, but all the aspects of those titles were the fighter in him, the warrior.
In all of that chaos he was a hero.
The chaos is gone now. Evil has been vanquished. Peace is in place...
But the scars still remain. Even though the scars of war don't dictate where he goes, they remind him of where he's been...
Others were like him; Ron carried the emotional scar of losing a brother, and Hermione carried the physical scar of why she was hunted. But they were all so very different from Harry. No one saw Ron's scar. Hermione could hide hers away.
Harry's emotional and physical scars could also be hidden or ignored, but his lightning bold scar that made him famous, that made him a legend and a target, an enemy and a hero, ever present on his head, would be with him always. Not as a trophy of war, but as a reminder of everything he'd lost.
People wanted to bring him back into the world, but Harry didn't see the point. What was the point? His whole existence seemed to be to get rid of Voldemort. He was done with that...he'd seen the world at its worse, and those images wouldn't let him enjoy it better.
His friends were patient with him, but as time passed life began to get in the way. Harry wasn't in any danger or seemed self-harmful, so he was eventually placed as a second priority. Without being constantly checked on or bothered, Harry enclosed himself off, letting life pass him day-by-day. He'd lay motionless in his bed for day until his muscles protested, and then he'd get up and go for a walk.
As he walks down the streets at night, Harry doesn't pay attention to where he goes. Life is very dull and bleak. He lives in muggle London in attempts to stay near with his friends, but be far from the rest of the community of people who claim to know him, but in fact don't know anything more than rumor and tale.
"Such a deplorable outcome for a hero, don't you think?"
Harry's head snaps up at the same moment his hand reached for his wand. Looking into the shadows, Harry saw a Gypsy fortune teller tent, with the fortune teller outside of the door.
"My I take your fortune? No charge, of course," the woman with intricate eye make-up and plenty of Romani jewelry said.
Harry scoffed. He sucked at divination and he was a wizard, plus he hated that type of magic. Harry blamed it a lot for his lot in life. Had someone not prophesized his role against Voldemort, maybe he'd have had a good life. He was used to being played by wizards, so there was no way he'd stoop as low as to being lied to by a muggle.
The Gypsy woman smiled and said, "Do not think me muggle, for you will be mistaken."
"You're a witch?" Harry asked.
"Naturally, what other reason would I approach our hero at this time of night while he is in such a condition," the Gypsy asked.
"Plenty of reasons...and no thanks, I never really liked divination," Harry said and turned away.
"What about second chances?" the Gypsy woman asked.
Harry turned and raised an eyebrow at her. Her tone of voice, when she said that, was...mischievous.
"What type of second chances?"
The Gypsy woman's smile turned into a smirk, "Even among our kind there are things that Gypsies know that others do not. Magic more ancient than some of the sand in Egypt. Passed down and actually believed as well as practiced generation after generation..."
Harry walked closer to the woman, ignoring the alarm bells going off in his head yelling at him to turn and run away. But he couldn't help it. He'd always been more curious than cautious.
"What type of magic?" Harry asked,
Her smile was now like that of a cat who got its cream, but then faltered to a frown, "You are upset with those who claim to know their hero when all they see is glory. They do not see the pain and exhaustion behind your eyes or on your shoulders. They side with you if you are the victor, but accuse you if something is wrong. But this pain goes back further...to the horrible treatment of those you are forced to call kin." She smiled a motherly smile gently towards him, "Peace reigns now hero...you may finally take a rest...and I can offer you a second chance."
"What kind of second chance?"
"You and another, hero claimed to be, but all of their troubles began with family," the Gypsy woman said. "The stars will allow a second start, to heal both heroes of their frozen hearts."
Before Harry could protest and demand what she meant, a light flashed and blinded him. Darkness clouded his consciousness, and the last thing he saw before he passed out was Death looming over him, holding all of the Hallows. That forced him to stay awake a bit more, but then came the soothing melodic sound of the woman forcing him back to sleep, "You may not hold on to these, but they are still yours. Until the time arrives that you need these, Death shall hold on to them for his master. Good luck, Harry Potter..."
Even though he was a genius, Tony Stark hated business meetings. Everyone there was so boring! They weren't geniuses; they were just greedy old men who didn't know how to have fun! Tony loved fun!
The minute he saw his escape, he took it. He didn't look back or think about the consequences...or the responsibility lecture he was going to get later from Pepper. He just needed a quick getaway, is all.
That found Tony Stark wandering around London. While this wandering around took place, he saw some smaller kids being bullied by some taller kids. Being the hero even without his armor, Tony went to help. The kids he helped rescue were grateful to him, and offered to show Tony around. Seeing what his options were, Tony let himself be shown around London by two kids who knew the more mischievous side of the British people. Though normally he would never think of doing such things (well it was more like he never had the time or the chance), he played soccer in the alley ways, he nicked some hot dogs (he might have accidentally left a very big tip anyway), and when the kids ran into a friend who was doing some art on the side of the building who had some extra stray paint cans...well, he might have written, "Stark Rulez!"
And when the coppers arrived, well he ran like heck.
That ended with him running away from the city and towards the suburbs. He finally stopped in a park to catch his breath.
The cops had long stopped chasing him, but it had been a long time since he had a great run and nothing motivates you to run like being chased by the police. Besides...he had to keep fit.
Looking around the park, he saw that it was empty...no, wait, nearly empty; which was the same as not empty. There was one other person...a kid. He seemed slouched, sad, and...he looked a bit like he felt when he was little.
Tony shook his head. Those thoughts were depressing. There was no way the kid was feeling anything like Tony, and there was no reason for Tony to think too far into his past. Heck, he didn't like thinking into last week.
Still, there was something about that kid that wouldn't leave him alone. Sighing, Tony made his way over. The kid didn't notice him, or, if he did, didn't bother to look up. A few feet away from the kid Tony managed to get a better look at him.
The kid was either very skinny or those clothes he was wearing were about five sizes too big. He had shaggy black hair, round glasses that were broken from the nose bridge, shoes that were falling apart at the seams, his pants and sweater aside from being too big for the kid, were torn and dirty. The kid's face was also covered in dirt, his hands were covered in small cuts, and he was cradling his arm to his chest.
The kid jumped a bit, and his very green eyes widened in fear at Tony's voice.
Tony raised his hands in a surrendering gesture to ease the kid, "Whoa, relax...Um...kind of getting dark isn't it? Shouldn't you be home or something?"
The kid twiddled his fingers, but Tony noticed at the arm he had been cradling was slower and it caused the kid to flinch. "I'm supposed to wait here...Dudley goes away sometimes...but eventually Aunt Petunia comes to get me..."
The kid's voice was so small and weak it caused an odd feeling in Tony's chest, and he didn't like it. It made him felt like his chest was tightening and it hurt bad, but there wasn't any physical injury. He looked around, there was no one for miles and it was eerily quiet. "Mind if I wait with you? You know...just to make sure someone comes to pick you up?"
The kid looked up at Tony with such a surprised look (a surprised look at his kindness that did nothing but tighten the bad feeling in his chest.), and then looked down at his lap. He shrugged and said, "If you want."
When he sat next to the kid on the merry-go-round, he asked himself why he was doing this. He really didn't have an answer, or at least didn't have an answer that didn't make him go too much into his past. A small part of him wanted to wait until this kid's guardians showed up so he could give them a piece of his mind. Look at the kid!
When Tony looked over again and saw the kid wince as he kept cradling his arm, Tony reached over and when he grabbed the arm the kid yelled in pain. Ignoring the frightened look on the kid's face, Tony pulled down the sleeve. The wrist seemed to be either broken or sprained, but there were bruise marks of different sizes and different stages of healing.
"Who did this?" Tony demanded.
"Please let go sir...it hurts..."
Tony did let go of his arm, but not on the subject, "Did your parents hurt you?"
The boy looked down at his feet and whispered, "No sir..."
"You don't have to lie to me kid. Did they hurt you?" Tony repeated.
"They're dead, sir," the kid replied.
Tony's eyes widened a bit and then asked, "What happened?"
The kid shrugged his uninjured shoulder, "My cousin Dudley and his friends like playing a game they call Harry Hunting. I had to come here to carry his stuff...they were chasing me and stuff, like always...I must have fallen off of something and hit my head. He'll eventually tell aunt Petunia where he left me and they'll come get me."
Tony frowned once more, "Harry Hunting?"
"That's my name. Harry Potter..." Harry said.
"Did you hurt yourself?" Tony asked.
Harry shrunk into himself and tried to pull away from Tony, "It's nothing I'm not used to."
Tony was sure that by the end of the day he was going to have some gray hairs and wrinkles with all the frowning he was doing, "This is not something that should be getting used to."
Harry didn't say anything, and they fell into a silence. Tony waited patiently next to the kid for hours until night finally arrived. Standing up Tony stretched and said, "Okay, well I gave them enough time. Come on kid."
"What? No! I have to stay here and wait...if I don't I'll be in even more trouble!" Harry cried.
Tony crossed his arms and gave the best 'I'm serious' look he could muster, "You're hurt, you're probably cold, and we've been here for hours. I'm hungry so you must be, too. I'm taking you to the hospital and then we're getting a bite to eat." Tony didn't wait for the kid to say anything and pulled out his cell and called Happy to come pick him up.
"W-Why are you doing this? You don't know me," Harry asked quietly, and there went that tightening in his chest again.
Tony smiled down at the kid and said, "I'm Iron Man. I'm a superhero, that's why."
"What's Iron Man?" Harry asked as he tilted his head to the side.
Tony's eyes widened comically, "Who's Iron Man? Who's Iron Man? Seriously? You're serious? You don't know who Iron Man is? Don't you watch television?"
Harry shook his head innocently, "Not allowed."
Tony sighed. Then he brightened and pulled out his cell phone, and showed Harry a video that was common on the internet of him as Iron Man kicking ass.
The sheer excitement and happiness on Harry's face as he watched the video caused another feeling in Tony's chest. It was also a tightening feeling, but...not bad. He shook his head and pocketed the phone when the video ended, "Well?"
"That's you?" Harry asked in excitement.
Tony unbuttoned some of his shirts buttons and showed Harry the Arc Reactor. Those green eyes widened in wonder and he began to reach out to touch it, but pulled his hand back at the last minute.
"Yup, I'm a superhero. It's in my job description to take care of people. Oh, and here comes my driver. Come on," Tony said as he ushered Harry into the car before the kid could protest.
"Sir?" Happy questioned.
"Nearest hospital, Happy, and quickly," Tony ordered.
Happy nodded and as they drove, Tony tried to keep Harry's mind occupied but at the same time trying to get information out of him.
Tony learned a few things so far. He gets bullied by his cousin Dudley (what kind of name was that anyway?), his uncle and aunt don't do much because they're blinded by their pig of a son (Harry said he calls him that behind his back, and Tony thought it funny and adorable), Harry's staying with them because his parents are dead, and doesn't have any other family. That when he's not pulling the weed from his aunt's garden, he's cleaning or doing some chore like a slave (that was Tony's word not Harry's), and when they don't need him anymore he goes back to his room (a cupboard! They need him in a cupboard! What the hell?).
When they got to the hospital he paid for immediate attention, a private room, and the best doctor. Harry looks so small in the large hospital bed, causing that painfully tightening in his chest to flare up. The feeling quickly turned to blind rage, which took a great deal to hold back so as not to scare Harry, when they removed his clothes and only to see more bruises.
The doctors had to take him away for x-rays, but Tony promised Harry he'd be there the moment he could.
In this short break, Happy approached his boss, "Sir...what's going to happen to this kid? Even if we find his family...he's frankly better without them."
"I know...right now I just want to make sure the kid's alright. We'll deal with the rest later," Tony replied.
"What should I tell Ms. Pepper?" Happy asked.
"Uh...right now, let's keep her in the dark," Tony said.
Happy was about to say something when the doctor in charge of Harry came up to them.
"Well?" Tony asked.
"For the most part Mr. Potter will be fine. His bruises are healing up nicely. The wrist seems to be the only thing to be broken, though there shows some signs of previous bones being broken; arm and leg. We've wrapped him up and we can prescribe some medicine to help him along. Though...seeing the markings suggest abuse. A psychological diagnosis might be helpful..." the doctor seemed to pause a bit.
"Yes?" Tony asked.
"Child services will be here shortly to speak with the child, sir," the doctor said.
Tony's lips thinned to a fine line. He didn't know why that bothered him. It was these people's job to take care of people like Harry. They'd take him off his hands...god why did his stomach just feel like it dropped? And that chest pain turned violent to the point that he actually clawed at his chest a bit.
"I'd like to be present in the room. He trusts me. He'll be nervous and scared with strangers in the room," Tony said.
"That would be up to the agents, sir," the doctor said.
Tony waved a dismissive hand in the air, "Whatever. Where is Harry? Is he done?"
The doctor nodded and pointed to the room where Harry was being wheeled.
Soon the agents came and asked Harry questions. There was a man and a woman, and they were both wearing black suits and looked quite intimidating. Harry grabbed Tony's hand and squeezed it tightly. When they seemed to be ganging up on Harry, Tony stood up and looked as menacingly as he possibly could.
"Give the kid a break. He's been through a lot and he's in a strange place with people he doesn't know. If he knows anything he'll tell you, but give him some space to breath!"
The room fell silent and Tony was panting a bit after his rant and glaring at the agents, daring them to say something else.
"...I live at 4 Private Drive, ma'am..." Harry whispered.
The man in the suit nodded, "I'll go check it out."
The woman nodded and then turned to Tony, "I suppose I can trust you to keep an eye on him until we resolve matters?"
Tony rolled his eyes, "Well duh!"
The woman looked reluctant but, when she noticed Harry smile at Tony while tightening his grip on his hand, she smiled a little and left the room. Tony pulled out his phone and dialed a number and handed it to Happy and whispered to him, "Tell my lawyers that I want a document that will let me take Harry with me. There's no way I'm letting him go back to those people. For now just something that will make it so I can get him back to the US without the government being on my ass. Then, when they have more time, make it so every country in the world recognizes me as Harry's legal guardian."
Happy's eyes grew wide with incredulous disbelief.
"Sir...what brought this on?"
Tony looked confused himself by the question but then heard a yawn and looked at Harry who was trying desperately to keep his eyes open. Tony smiled softly and said, "I have no idea...it just feels right."
"What are we going to tell Ms. Pepper, sir? She's going to have a heart attack when she finds out you adopted a kid, sir," Happy replied.
"We'll have to tell Pepper eventually. But I dare her to stay mad at me while looking into Harry's sweet and innocent eyes! But other than you, me, Pepper, and Jarvis...no one knows about Harry, understand?"
"Yes sir...but what about his family?" Happy asked.
"What kind of family does this?" Tony argued.
Happy didn't have a reply and just kept quiet. Happy waited by the door while Tony sat on the bed with Harry seeing that he didn't take up a lot of space.
Half an hour later the woman agent comes into the room and made motions for Tony to come talk outside. Instructing Happy to watch over Harry, Tony got up and followed.
"Mr. Stark, we received a notification of your...status on Harry's adoption. I must say, that was probably the fastest adoption I've ever seen," the woman said.
Tony shrugged, "What's the point of having the best lawyers money can buy if they don't follow through."
"Well...it seems that even if their job was efficient, it wasn't completely needed. I mean, you'd still need lawyers, but it wasn't much of a battle," the woman replied.
"What do you mean?" Tony asked.
"My associate went to 4 Private Drive...that place is abandoned, sir. Has been for a while," the woman answered.
"You mean...they just left him? Without caring what happened to him? Just told him to wait for someone who wasn't going to come back for him?" Tony demanded, and he was growing livid as each second passed. Maybe it was his own childhood that wanted to help the kid out, but it was his experience in Afghanistan that made him want to protect the kid. While over there he thought he was alone with no one coming to save him...he was partially right. Even though there were people over in the States who wanted his return, they were limited. He had to save himself but there were doubts...it was in that time that Tony felt the most isolated, the most abandoned...for someone to leave a kid as nice and sweet as Harry to feel like that too...
"Seems so sir...I just came to hand you these. All I need is your signature. We'll be contacting the American offices. They'll be doing inspections and check-ups to see if Mr. Potter gets adjusted...he seems like a nice kid. I know you have enough money to make sure he never needs to work a day in his life but from what I've seen...kids like these don't just need the material things...they need someone to be there. To care for them and love them...I've heard of your tales Mr. Stark...can you provide Harry with that?"
Tony's face turned serious and he turned to look at a sleeping Harry through the glass door, "No offense but all you might know is Iron Man...Harry met the man behind the armor."