A/N Compared to my last chapter, this is short, despite the delay in posting. No Excuses, truth be told, I'm having difficulty writing at the moment. In response to those who have commented that what I am writing is just The Avengers with Harry stuck in, that is true to a degree, he is changing somethings, maybe not drastically, yet. This story is mainly going to focus on what's going to happen after the Assembled movie is over. Speaking of which, I've stumbled into a complication in what I had planned. I'm afraid I have no idea when I'm going to untangle this difficulty but I'll try to update up to that point sooner rather than later.
I feel I must also say that I am bowled over by the response so far, I am feeling truly guilty for not being able to provide better updates, but I will continue to plough on. Happy New Year.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Steve and Stark exchanged glances and grinned to each other over the bodies of the men now lying between them as the all clear sounded over their comms.
"Cutting it a bit close there, eh?" Stark said as Steve slid down the ladder to stand next to him. Steve grinned and prepared to reply when Fury's voice came through the earpiece.
"Coulson and Potter are down. "
The grin froze on Starks face.
"We'll send a medical team to your location." came the voice of a faceless controller over the comms.
"They're here." Fury replied. "They called it."
There was a moment of silence, the ugly feeling that always accompanied the loss of a fellow soldier settling in Steve's gut. He snatched a glance at Stark, he knew that the man was close to Potter, but his face was unreadable.
"Initiative to Control."
They walked in silence down the wreckage of corridors that led to the control room. It could have been worse, Steve noted. At least they were still in the air. Waiting for them in the shadowed control room was Fury, standing at the head of the table, with Agent Hill who looked slightly worse for wear and finally there was Dr Banner, looking somewhat withdrawn, wrapped in a red blanket, his gaze fixed on a somewhat familiar jacket folded before him on the table. He looked up upon Steve and Starks entry, focussing on Stark.
"What happened?" Starks voice was clipped and Banner looked away.
"Barton's attack took us by surprise, he had gained the allegiance of several of S.H.I.E.L.D's enemies. We have managed to regain Barton but we took on some heavy casualties. As well as a dozen S.H.I.E.L.D personnel, Thor was released in Loki's cage and both Agent Coulson and Potter were killed in action."
"What happened?" Stark repeated forcefully. Steve open his mouth to try to calm him when Fury elaborated.
"We don't know, the cameras in the cage room were damaged and they shorted out."
They sat in silence for a moment before Fury continued.
"These were in Phil Coulson's jacket," he held up a set of cards that i recognised with an uncomfortable certainty. Fury only confirmed it with his next words, "I guess he never got you to sign them." Fury tossed them onto the table, a small mist of blood flying from them as they landed. Steve walked slowly to the table and picked one up as Fury continued.
"We're dead in the air here."
It was one of the main cards, a picture of him saluting and grinning towards the card holder. Blood now covered the top of the card, trickling down its face.
"Our communications, the location of the Cube, Thor, Potter. I got nothing for you. I lost my one good eye. Maybe I had that coming."
He remembered the annoyance he'd felt when he'd been asked to sign the card, the embarrassment. Looking back he remembered how excited the agent had been. Something worse than just loss stirred in him.
"Yes, we were going to build an arsenal with the Tesseract. I never put all my chips on that number however because I was playing something even riskier. There was an idea, Stark knows this,"
Steve looked at Stark who was now refusing to meet the gazes of anyone in the room, not even reacting when his name was said.
"called the Avengers Initiative. The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people to see if they could become something more. To see if they could work together when we needed them to, to fight the battles that we never could."
At this, Stark did look up, to glance at Fury, something simmering in his eyes.
"Phil Coulson died still believing in that idea. So did Harry Potter. In heroes." He seemed to be directing his words at Stark who turned and left the room.
He glanced at Banner who met his gaze before pulling the blanket tighter around himself.
"Well," Fury said, in the gap left by Tony, "It's an old fashioned notion."
I looked back at the blood stained cards. He hated those cards. Before, they were a reminder of his popularity and shows during the war; he knew that they had been necessary for morale but even now he still blushed slightly at the posturing he'd done. Now they were a sign of how they'd failed. He rose to his feet and followed Tony's footsteps. As far as he knew, the man hadn't suffered the loss of a companion in arms before, and he owed Howard that much.
Steve found Stark in the cage room, looking at the monitor that he'd apparently managed to get working again. Steve couldn't help but note as he walked up to the man that while the bodies had been moved, no one had made any effort to clean up the remains of the two red dried puddles of blood that coated the mesh he now walked beside.
He came to a halt at Starks elbow and looked at the screen that showed a feed from the room they were in. He recognised Agent Coulson pointing a large gun at Loki who'd trapped his brother in the cage. He watched Potter run into the room assess the scene and then wave a stick in Loki's direction. Green flashed around Loki and the camera picture dissolved into grey. Steve gave a sideways glance at Stark as the clip began to run through once more.
"I'm sorry Stark. I know he was a friend."
For a moment he thought Stark was going to ignore him.
"Stupid kid. He shouldn't have gotten involved."
Steve looked back at the screen, watching as Potter acted without hesitation. "He seems to have had quite a reputation."
"Yeah, well, look where that got him." Stark turned his head to look at Steve. "He was an idiot. They both were."
"Is this the first time you lost a soldier?"
"We are not soldiers." Stark's words were forceful. "I'm not marching to Fury's fife."
"Neither am I. He's got the same blood on his hands that Loki does. But right now we've gotta put that behind us and get this done." He watched Stark's eyes slide to the blood stains and spoke to bring his attention back to the situation at hand. The best way to get over loss is to act.
"Loki needs a power source. We can put together a list-"
"He made it personal." Starks's gaze snapped back to Steve and he cut off what he was saying.
"That's not the point." Steve said carefully. The desire for vengeance was all very well but it could hinder operations.
"That is the point." Stark contradicted. "That's Loki's point. He hit us all right where we live. Why?"
Steve recognised this fervour from Howard, when he was right on the edge of a breakthrough.
"To tear us apart."
"Yeah, divide and conquer is great, but, he know he has to take us out to win, right? That's what he wants. He wants to beat us; he wants to be seen doing it. He wants an audience."
Stark was moving around the room now as Steve began to understand what the other man was driving at. "Right! We caught his act in Stuttgart."
"Yeah, that was just previews. This is opening night. And Loki, he's a full tilt diva, right?" He nodded, somewhat unnecessarily as Stark just continued without acknowledging, "He wants flowers, he wants parades. He wants a monument built to the skies with his name plastered..." Tony's tirade ground to a halt as realisation lit up his face. "Son of a bitch."
He left the room quickly, Steve following. "We need to go."
"Quite a predicament Mr Potter, want to tell me what happened?"
Harry looked around to see a familiar figure, standing a metre away with a small smile on his face.
"Kingsley." Harry greeted, standing and stretching out his hand which Kingsley shook warmly. The other man raised an eyebrow, "I must confess Harry, you're looking somewhat younger than when I last saw you."
Harry paused a moment, remembering that the last time he'd seen Kingsley had been at Neville's Wedding, during which he'd taken an aging potion. So used to not worrying about people from his past, he'd forgotten to take any precautions. At least he'd taken a moment to repair his shirt, a gaping slash, lots of blood and no wound would have raised some eyebrows, wizard hospital or no.
"Uh..." Harry said intelligently, his mind blank for plausible explanations.
"Don't worry Harry. I understand, The War left its mark on all of us in some way or another. How is your friend?"
Harry took a moment to digest what Kingsley had said and upon registering the fact that Kingsley obviously assumed that Harry's condition most likely had something to do with Voldemort, he looked back to the door he'd been waiting outside of.
"I've not heard anything yet. The Healers are still at work."
Kingsley nodded. "Want to tell me what happened?"
Harry shook his head, remembering the moment when he's come round.
The first thing he'd noticed was that Loki and his alien magic was gone, as was Thor, a space where the cage had been. That was when he saw Agent Coulson, lying on the mesh, blood leaking from wounds that covered his body. Recognising his own spell Harry had sworn and begun to cast the basic field healer spells that he knew. But he wasn't a trained Healer and aside from staunching the bleeding there wasn't much he could do. Unwilling to let the man die for his stupidity, he'd gripped the man's shoulder and apparated away, his last view of the ship being of Fury, standing near the door having just entered. He'd appeared in St Mungo's lobby, shouting for help, allowing the healers to whisk the man away before fixing his shirt and following.
"It appears that you still fail to stay out of trouble." Kinglsey observed. When Harry merely hummed in response, he continued, "Mrs Weasley and her husband are here as well. She arrived earlier today. She's in the Cliodna ward on the Ground floor. It's better than wasting away here."
Harry sighed and ruffled his hair, rising slowly in agreement. He couldn't help but notice that Kingsley took it as read that Harry knew about Hermione's condition.
"Thanks." He muttered before walking past him, sparing a glance at the door of the Healers Theatre before making his way to the stairs.
Ron was sat with Hermione who in turn was sitting up and engaging in the conversation. This was such an improvement that Harry couldn't help but grin as he watched from the door way. He rapped the door and the couple turned.
"Harry! What are you doing here mate?"
Harry pulled a spare seat closer to the bed and sat down, "I was coming to see how Hermione was. Why are you here?"
Ron took on a disgruntled expression. "You know what I meant. Did you find out what happened?"
"Oh, it was some Norse God." Harry said offhandedly, "The Tesseract was a gateway. Of sorts."
"A Norse God?" asked Ron.
"The Trickster?" Asked Hermione. At Harry's confirmation, she launched into an explanation of Norse mythology for Ron's benefit. "Not that I knew they were real, but who are we to comment on what's real and what isn't. What did he want?"
Harry summed up what he'd found out so far, finishing by telling them about Coulson.
"Oh, it's not your fault Harry!" Hermione tried to reassure him, backed by Ron. "It's interesting though. Why our magic reacts badly with it. Maybe it's due to..."
"Well, I was just thinking. Our magic is a child, compared to that of say, the Old Religion. And the Tesseract, well that's old. I mean I could tell by looking at it. So old that it's alien to us."
"Well it is from out of space-Oi!" He failed to duck when Hermione clipped him over the head.
"Not that sort of alien! You're powerful Harry, but it's like tossing stones at a boulder. Or a mountain."
"So what, we're screwed?"
Hermione looked at him pityingly. "Oh Harry. Think about it. You have access to an ancient power as well. What is older than Death?"
"But Death says that the Tesseract feels just as unnatural to him as it does to me. I feel it whenever the staff is used."
"Yes, as a warning, the powers being twisted in ways it shouldn't be. But Harry, it wasn't your normal magic side that felt it! You wouldn't have known that it was different if the Hallows hadn't told you! It's too completely different types of magic."
"But I used the elder wand-"
"To do our magic. That may have been more like throwing a larger rock at the mountain. Stronger, but still not enough."
"What else can I do then."
Hermione looked at him. "You really need me to spell it out?"
"Aside from turning invisible and summoning the dead, just how am I supposed to-"
"Tap into your powers as The Master of Death, not just as a wielder of the Hallows. In my research, I have come across references to such abilities."
"And just how am I supposed to harness that Hermione?"
"Harry, haven't you read any of my notes?"
"Course I have."
"Well, our magic is controlled by variants of Latin, because it was refined during a time that Latin was prevalent. Myths of the Master of Death continue well back into the Archaic times."
"But the Peverell Brothers-"
"They were the first of our kind to receive the Hallows from Death, Ron." Hermione told him, "They were around long before that under other names, but since it was pre-wand magic, it's hard to research it thoroughly. My point is the first language was Saskrit. So that is probably the language of Death. Treat it as you would Latin."
"There was a large part of your notes in another language..." Harry mused.
"Yes! Sanskrit! I also gave you the lexicon. So you could translate it!"
The gears were turning in Harry's head. "I need to get back to the Helicarrier. They'll be facing Loki soon."
"We'll watch out for your friend." Ron told him.
"He's going to live."
Harry looked up to see Death leaning against the wall. Harry nodded in appreciation before standing.
"See you then."
They called farewell after him as he ran to the foyer, drawing the elder wand as he went. He'd barely crossed the threshold before he'd turned on his heel and he was being forced down the tube. He arrived in his living room, still just as he had left it what felt like ages ago.
He strode into his bedroom, crouched by the bed and pulled a box of papers from underneath it. Now that there was a glimmer of a possibility, it took on an urgency that belied the situation really. He flicked through pages of Hermione's writing, placing them on his bed. It was at the bottom of the pile that there were pages of another language and beneath that a thick sheaf that resembled a dictionary. This he grabbed eagerly.
He flicked through the pages, taking note of possibly useful words that may be able to turn into spells.
He stopped at one he could test without causing too much damage. He held up his wand before remembering that Hermione had said that it had been pre-wand era. Instead he raised his hand, palm up, focussed on it and sounded out the word.
"Prakaza." Nothing happened. He shifted and noticed that there was an emphasis drawn on the second 'A'.
"PrakAza." He tried again and this time, a bright white light flared brilliantly in his palm suddenly, nearly blinding him. He shielded his eyes and exclaimed in surprise as the light faded, leaving him blinking spots. Harry straightened his shoulders and tried again, this time focussing on controlling the amount of power he directed at the spell.
He smiled as a small light appeared in his palm and slowly grew as he trickled more power in. At that moment, a surge of the foreign power rushed through him, physically knocking him to the ground and sending papers flying. The shock caused his chest to constrict and he had to collect himself before he could pull himself up and stumble to the window. It was active, the Tesseract was active and he knew it. As though doused with water, he suddenly realised that the feeling was coming from the direction of his friend's tower and, taking all things into consideration, that was probably exactly where Loki was. The awareness of the power was still with him, pulsing as a small ache in his ribs but he found it easy to ignore as he prepared to apparate to Tony's tower.
Envisioning Tony's tower, he turned on the spot and left his apartment.
With a crack, he appeared on the top floor, near the bar, the Tessearct pulsating away but 10 metres from there. He opened his eyes to see Loki, standing by the window, grasping Tony by the throat. Both gazes were drawn to him and both widened in shock.
"You're alive!" Tony gasped. Harry barely had time to ponder this statement before Loki, who had turned his attention back to the man in his clutches, threw him out the window. Harry ran after him, but was stopped when a projectile sped in front of him, after Tony. Harry recognised the colours as one of Tony's suits and turned to face Loki, levelling his palm. The Asgaurdian looked at him, sneering.
"You're puny magic-"
Harry cut him off by snarling, "Agni," and watching flames blossom from his palm. Loki drew up a shield quickly, but through the flames, Harry could see him sweat. He closed his hands and the flames stopped.
""There's someone else you've pissed off." Harry glanced sideways to see Tony, clad in a new suit hovering in the window. "His name was Phil."
And with that Tony blasted him with a repulsor, and Loki, still off guard from the flames went flying.
Just then a blast of energy erupted from the Tesseract and Harry, now in such close proximity, felt it to his bone. He doubled over, hand on his chest, trying to force it away, much as he had with his scar all those years ago.
"Harry!" He felt Tony at his side, a hand on his shoulder.
"I'm okay." Harry panted, straightening. After the initial eruption, the feeling dulled back to only a marginally more noticeable annoyance at the base of his ribs. "I'm fine."
He looked up, out of the window and saw a black hole opening in the sky, the sky peeling back to allow the blue light from the Tesseract through.
"I think we've got a problem." Harry cut across Tony as he saw small figures flying from the hole, members of the Chitauri army.
"Shit" Tony muttered, diving out of the window, shooting off blasts to repel the enemy. Harry pulled out his firebolt and joined him, finding in his pocket the S.H.I.E.L.D earpiece that he'd removed at the hospital and putting it in.
He sent another blast of fire upwards,
"What about turning off the Tesseract?"
He asked Tony through the comms having noticed the device directing the light below them.
"Impenetrable barrier." Tony filled in for him, "How are you still alive?"
"Shouldn't I be? Pavana!" he sent a handful of them blowing back into the hole from whence they came, sending them careening into other machines which in turn blew up, but still more slipped through.
"Where were you?"
"I took Coulson to St Mungo's. It's a magic hospital." The use of this new magic was draining, using and therefore straining an underused muscle. It wasn't going to affect his performance yet, but he could feel the extra energy needed to control his new found abilities.
Harry paused here to look at Tony who returned his gaze, "Yes. He was injured though." They continued to try and stem the flow.
"Fury said you two were announced dead by a medical team."
"Fury? But he saw me apparate."
There was a sardonic chuckle over the comms. "That manipulative bastard."
"It's no use." Harry looked down at the destruction that those who had escaped were wreaking on the city. Loki was walking out of the tower, surveying the destruction and Harry prepared to fly down to meet him when Thor landed on the tower. Harry pulled up, something told him to leave the brothers too
"I'm gonna have a look at the Tesseract." He told Stark, who hummed in acknowledgment as Harry flew off. What he found was a mixture of magic and machinery. He tried for a second to let his magic try and mess with the machinery, but the Tesseract magic interfered with that. He reached out a palm.
"I wouldn't do that."
Harry turned to look at Death, "Why not? I though the whole point was that Death's magic was stronger."
Death smiled, "At this point that," he pointed at the sphere of energy, "Is like an egg. Have you ever tried to break an egg by putting pressure in the tip and base? It's impossible. Or very difficult. You need to find the weak spot. Blasting away at it won't help. Why not ask him?" Death pointed at a man lying several feet away. "He built it."