Summary: When Tony Stark hacks into the S.H.I.E.L.D. mainframe on the Helicarrier, he doesn't only find the weapons of mass destruction he already knew S.H.I.E.L.D. was building, but a project called 45-120-8. When he and Captain America trace to so called 'death' project back to its lab, they find a secret so large the ripples will be felt across the Nine Realms.
Disclaimer: Don't own or claim to own Avengers or Harry Potter.
Tony Stark and Steve Rogers stood outside the door to where the death project was housed. While Tony was usually game to just hack his way into secrety information, this little project, or big project, Tony's mind supplied, only had a mentioning of it on the main server before he was bounced off. He had tracked down where the missing information lead, and who knew?, Fury wasn't an idiot after all. All of the information was on a server disconnected from anything, sitting in the middle of a room that both Tony and Steve were unwilling to break into to get. (Well, Steve had been unwilling and Tony didn't have the strength to oppose him without his suit so they had left it.)
However, what Tony did discover in the files that he could access was that project 45-120-8 was housed in the Helicarrier, right below the central command room. Tony had figured that Fury's office would be down there, but maybe the man didn't have an office at all. He hadn't expected to be standing awkwardly outside of a room with Steve, a room exactly like the one Loki was currently housed in except that the windows were all blacked out.
"Maybe we shouldn't be here…" Steve muttered under his breath and Tony shot him an irritated glare from where he was working on decrypting the lock.
"We're already this far, Cap. Don't tell me you'd rather not know. After all the weapons that looked like HYDRA's and this ominous sounding 'death project.' Even you can't not be curious."
Steve looked even more uncomfortable. "But-"
"Aha!" Tony exclaimed, ignoring the Captain. "Those SHIELD bastards are no match for…" He trailed off as the door slid open and revealed the interior of the circular room. "Well, at least now we know why the windows were blacked out. This would attract way too much attention."
Steve silently agreed as they stepped into the room, the door sliding shut with a quiet whoosh behind them. Like stepping into some surreal toy store, piles of stuffed animals towered to the ceiling- mainly teddy bears, but there were what looked like owls and little stuffed golden birds randomly injected into the mass.
"What do they plan to do? Make people suffocate to death under these gigantic piles of children's toys?"
Steve picked one up and held it to his face, sniffing slightly. "Maybe some sort of explosive in the toy?"
Tony grunted noncommittally and gently took the toy out of Steve's hand and threw it back on the pile. "Maybe." He edged further into the room. "Or maybe it's a decoy." He glared slightly at the Captain who had brushed past him to stand in front of the largest pile of owls and yellow birds. "After all, you didn't want to find out-"
Steve whirled around. "Maybe we should trust Fury-" He stopped at the look on Tony's face. The scruffy man's face was pale and his eyes were wide as he stared behind Steve, but his mouth was quirked into a sudden awkward smile as if he had been caught off guard. Tony pulled Steve back and around, and Steve, expecting trouble was ready, but there was nothing there.
"It's okay," called Tony in a forced-friendly voice and at the look Steve shot him turned the fake smile into a grimace. "It's a kid," Tony hissed out through his teeth at Steve who turned back towards the pile just in time to see the top of a head of messy black hair disappear around the corner.
"It's okay, really," Steve called out this time and slowly lowered himself to the floor, dragging Tony down along the way. "We're not going to hurt you." There was a moment of silence and then the hair peaked back around the edge, followed by a pair of the greenest eyes that either of them had seen in their entire life. The rest of the boy appeared, hidden partially behind a huge white owl the boy clutched to his chest like it was a lifeline.
"That's a nice owl you have there," Tony commented idly after a moments more silence and stillness. Steve nearly rolled his eyes at the other man's inability to stay quiet for more than a minute, but the small, shy smile that appeared on the boys face changed his mind.
"Her name is Hedwig," the boy volunteered and came completely around the side of the tower of stuffed toys, stopping a couple feet from them.
"Hedwig- where did you hear that name at? I've never heard of it." When the boy seemed to fall in on himself, Steve quickly amended. "It's very pretty."
The boy brightened again and took a step closer. "I read it in a book once!" He ducked his head with a blush at the exclamation. Tony's brow furrowed and a small frown appeared on his face. The kid looked small enough to be three or four- there's no way he was reading at that age.
"Saint Hedwig is the patron saint of women or something, right?" Tony asked, as if not expecting an answer.
The boy's smile fell a little, but before he could correct himself, the boy came and sat on the floor beside them. "And the patron saint of the death of children. …Are you here to try and kill me too?" Dark green eyes stared up at them, suddenly and inexplicably old and weary, and they sat frozen under the weight of his question. As if at once, both of them were hit with a realization. This boy was the 'death project'!