Disclaimer: Not Mine

Chapter 31

The eye that was staring at him blinked once, and Harry blinked in response. Then suddenly… it was gone, and in its place in the split second his eyes had been closed, a young man who looked unerringly like Loki stood, clad only in eerily pale skin that blended seamlessly with brilliant scales at his shoulder blades and chest. If it was scaly anywhere else, Harry didn't bother to look.

"Uh…" He said intelligently as the young man began to wring murky water from his shoulder length sodden black hair. Fenrir had stumbled back at the sudden change and was yipping at the newcomer excitedly. Sleipnir tossed his head and stared thoughtfully. After the man seemed to deem his hair either dry enough or too wet to bother did Harry get an explanation.

"Did you think I spent my entire life as a giant snake curled around this heavily trafficked island?" The man, Jormungand asked in amusement, his voice a hoarse whisper. His eyes, which were the same poisonous yellow that had first stared Harry down, though now much smaller, narrowed. "I am nearly seven hundred years old, the humans and their ever changing technology would have found me long ago."

Harry rolled his eyes. "It was more the fact that you're naked than the fact that you changed shape that I was having a problem with. Can I at least get you some trousers? I don't want you to be arrested for public indecency."

"No need." Jormungand said simply, and a pair of slacks appeared from nothing to sling themselves around his hips.

"You couldn't have done that to begin with because…?"

"Not doing so was more fun."


After a moment Harry scooped Fenrir off the ground and held the struggling pup close, eyeing the snake-turned-man. "So… I'm gonna have to say that you're a bit too old for me to adopt." He said finally, for lack of anything better to start off with.

Jormungand snorted. "How old do you think Sleipnir is? Or even Fenrir? Our sister Hel is the oldest. If you are going by age then we would all be too old for you to adopt." He pointed out, leaning against a railing that stopped people from walking into the water from the edge of the famous island. "We are, all of us, early of age with you. But I suppose you mean more than just physical age."

The wizard shrugged, "More of a maturity thing. Hel's the oldest? Really?" He moved to lean next to his new companion.

"Ask him how he changes from snake to man. I wonder if I can do that." Sleipnir demanded, emphasizing his point by pawing at the ground. Before Harry could relay the message, Jormungand had focused on his brother with a bemused smile.

"I can hear you myself just fine. I have no doubt that you can, we are the children of a gifted shape shifter. I suppose it's your sire that worries you? I do not think that blood of the unlucky traveler will impede you much. It will take work though. I could only change from my own form into this one, and that was after nearly a century of practice."

"Well… that's convenient. Though, I hope you don't mind me saying, you don't really look like you could eat Earth in… either form really." Harry said as Sleipnir fell into a thoughtful silence.

Jormungand raised an eyebrow, "I have grown greatly since my banishment here, and will continue to grow until the event of the Ragnarok, but even then I am not destined to eat the Earth, but to let it fall apart. I am to poison both the sky and the god Thor, and the two of us shall fall at the hands of the other." He said formally, his wispy voice giving the obvious recitation a haunting quality.

"So… you kill Thor and he kills you, and Fenrir and Odin kill each other too? I'm starting not to like this end of the world stuff."

"As if you liked it before. No, your presence here is already changing things, shifting the balance. I can feel the claws of Ragnarok, poised as it was to slash the throat of this reality, moving off. Instead you are setting something else into motion, something for which we have no predictions. I could not tell you if it will be better or worse than what we had been told was coming." Jormungand said, staring off into the distance. "I may spend time as a human, but I still know the oceans of this world like I know my own muscles. I can feel the change in the tide. Something is coming."

Harry stared at the man stony faced, his mind whirring. For a moment, with the light shining like it was, he could almost fool himself into thinking that this was another illusion of Loki's playing a trick on him. But he couldn't lie to himself. He'd never been any good at that.

"So… is that why you brought me here? To tell me that?" He managed after a while. Fenrir took his distraction as an opportunity to wiggle out of his slack hold, thudding to the ground. Distractedly Harry took Tony's shoe from his knapsack and handed it to the pup to keep him occupied.

"He's right." Sleipnir chimed in. "Something has changed that would not have changed. Fenrir was supposed to be driven mad by the broken bond, but instead you are clearing it out, healing him. His attack would have been one of the first acts of the end of the world."

Harry buried a hand in his thick black hair with a frustrated sound. "So because I couldn't let him go on like that, or you, I might have triggered something worse? I just can't win for losing, can I?"

"There is no guarantee it will be even half as terrible as the Ragnarok was supposed to have been." Jormungand pointed out.

The wizard turned a sardonic eye on him. "Do you really think that after all that drama of your announcement- not to mention the parade of fuck ups that has been my life- that I'm really going to hope for the best here?"

"I only wished to point out that there is no way of knowing until it is happening that it will be more devastating than the future that the predictions held in store. And to answer your question, that is not the only reason I brought you here." Jormungand sighed before continuing. "I am the second born to Loki by the giantess Angrboda, and an animal besides. As he has done to my brothers, he did to me. I believe that, as with Fenrir, the strain of the broken bond would have triggered my own actions that would harken the end of the Nine Realms. I have asked you here in part to help me clear the debris of his callousness. I had begun the process myself, but found it impossible to finish. For that I would need an outside power." He waves a pale, long fingered hand in a small gesture towards the wizard.

The midday sun beat down over a scene that would appear odd to any passerby, had there been the possibility of there being a passerby. Two men who looked to be about the same age, and looked almost similar enough to be mistaken for brothers, lounging casually against the railing at the edge of the protective railing while a wolf pup sprawled at their feet gnawing on an expensive looking leather shoe and a grey horse took to grazing within ear shot.

Sometimes Harry had to marvel at the odd nature of his life.

"So… you need me to do for you what I'm doing for your brothers."

Jormungand didn't bother to answer, it wasn't a question. He just hummed slightly in agreement.

"What is my life?"

Jormungand hummed again, tone slightly higher.

In the distance Harry can hear the sound of helicopter blades cutting through the air and wonders if it's possible that their time is already up, and the pilot was heeding his two hour time limit.

Instead of a Stark Helicopter touching down though, it was a deep black one, and then another. Harry didn't even think before he was shrouding all of the members of their small party in basic Notice-Me-Not while military looking people spilled from the copters, and orders that he could not make out were barked at the black garbed people.

They were obviously not SHIELD personnel. They did not wear any identifying mark at all, but their movements were choppier than SHIELD Agents would stand for among their ranks, and the men screaming orders lacked any form of subtlety. Harry muttered out of the corner of his mouth, moving as little as possible as movement tended to weaken the spell, "You or me?"

"You. They still do not know about me." Jormungand answered telepathically. Harry made a note to ask how the snake could speak to him like that without a bond between them like he had with the other two.

"Let's keep it that way. Can you get to the water from-" He didn't even have to finish his sentence when he heard the sound of something sliding into the water behind him. Jormungand was gone.

That just left him to figure out how to get the rest of them out of range of these people without drawing attention to them.

Above them, Iron Man chose that moment to blaze a trail across the sky. The soldiers or whatever they were all gaped towards him like idiots, and Harry thanked Tony silently for his ostentatious presentation and perfect timing as he grabbed Fenrir and Sleipnir and Apparated them across the island to the other side.

He had barely stepped foot on the grass when a com landed by his foot as Iron Man made another pass over head. He could hear shots being fired from their former location, probably in reaction to the sharp crack that normally accompanied the instant travel.

"Tony, who-" He started as he shoved the com in his ear.

"I have no fucking clue, but they are looking for you. Your ride is less than three minutes out, think you can hold it down that long?" Tony said immediately.

Harry glanced in the direction of the sound of gunfire. "Keep distracting them, I'm going to grab the kids some cover, then see if I can find out what this is about."

"Not a problem here, Houdini." Was the jaunty reply. Harry didn't dignify that with a response, instead extracting the Invisibility Cloak from his knapsack and draping it over Sleipnir's back, pulling the hood over the horse's head, shoving Fenrir under his brother's legs. The Cloak was bullet proof and would protect them, while Harry pulled the shroud of a more sophisticated Notice-Me-Not around himself. This one would withstand movement, but wouldn't have worked on more than one being at a time, much less all four of their motley group.

"Sleipnir, stay here and keep your brother here. The helicopter should be here soon. Get the both of you on board as soon as it touches down." He told the invisible animal.

"And here I thought I would blend in well enough to the scenery to stay out of this." Sleipnir replied dryly.

"I'm going to take your sarcasm as confirmation. Stark!" He addressed the com. "Tell the pilot that if I'm not on the copter five minutes after it lands, have it take off and get the kids out of range. I can get home myself."

"Got it."

With that Harry crouched closer to the ground in order to make himself a smaller target for lucky bullets, and began making his way towards the commotion that was happening on the other side of the island.

Hel grimaced at the string tangled between her di-colored hands. Behind her, one of her soul collectors made a small noise to get her attention, and the Ruler of Hell tossed the colored string away with nary a thought. How humans managed such a complicated thing as a 'cat's cradle' she had no idea…

Turning to face her collector, she frowned as it flickered in and out of existence in her realm.

This was… unusual.

She moved towards it, trying to sense what was causing its distress.

Her soul collectors were little more than golems made out of smoke and imbued with her power, invented out of sheer necessity as the number of humans that lived and died kept climbing every year. Because the collectors were fairly simple, they were not given the power of speech, and thus could not tell her what the problem was…

Not that there had ever been a problem before, really. Not after she stopped sending them after Wade Wilson and just visited him herself whenever he dipped a toe in her Realm. Not for any special reason. She just needed to see personally if he had finally officially died.

He never did. It was both vexing and exciting.

Shaking off the distraction, instead Hel took in the feeling that the collector was giving off. It was a bit of a panicky feeling, and the smoke the collector was made out of stretched and flashed as whatever soul it was trying to keep was being pulled from its grasp. Hel watched in absolute outrage as the soul was finally ripped away, tearing her creation to shreds in the process.

Not even Deadpool's soul did that. In fact, no soul could. Not on its own. Something was dragging that particular spirit back to Midgard by force. Someone was daring to question her power.

But now she would not have to take care of it herself. Especially when she realized what soul that must have been.

This was a situation the Master of Death would find very interesting.

Harry jumped and cursed quietly as Hel appeared beside him, staring at him directly through his Notice-Me-Not spell. She looked angry.

She also had the worst timing.

The wizard dragged her behind the cover of a bush before her crouching figure could give away their position and get them killed. Or get him killed. Could she even be killed…?

"They can't see me." Hel pointed out. "Only you and whomever is wearing the Cloak can. Regular mortals have no chance. And there's something important I have to tell you."

"Whatever it is, can it wait? I'm kind of a bit busy here." Harry said in a harsh whisper, taking her at her word and crawling out from their hiding place to continue his creep towards the mysterious invading force. She followed behind, choosing to walk casually in his wake.

"Well it could, but I figured you would want to know about this immediately. It's kind of relevant to who you are choosing to trust."

Harry had to try very hard not to ram his head repeatedly into the packed Earth under his hands. The universe was just piling the bad luck thick right now. And it had to be bad, whatever news Hel had, because of course it was bad.

"What is it?" He finally made himself ask.

Hel tossed her brilliant blonde hair over her thin black shoulder. "You know that agency? SHIELD? They apparently have discovered the power of ripping a soul from my grasp even when it was well within my realm."

Harry froze. "I'm not… what are you saying, exactly?" He managed in a strangled tone.

"That agent, Coulson? Phil Coulson? One of my collectors had him, had been coaxing his spirit from where it died into the Realm for days, and when the poor thing finally has it past the point of no return, where there was no turning back for the spirit, it got torn away, back here to Earth. It destroyed the collector in the process. Poor thing, it was just doing its job."

The dark haired wizard settled into a seated position, his head reeling. "So your saying that Phil Coulson is…"

"Alive. And he shouldn't be." She finished.

"That's… probably not good."

"You're telling me?!" She cried, throwing her hands up in the air.

He squinted up at her. "Has that ever happened before?"

"Not in my time, and if it ever happened to Hades, she's never mentioned it. The only thing that's even similar that I've ever seen are attempted collections on the souls of Wade Wilson or James Howlett. But even then they just fade back to Midgard of their own power. Your agent was torn back here violently."

"Today just keeps getting better and better." Harry sighed. Hel gasped and he looked at her, then to where she was looking… where the barrel of an odd looking gun was pointed at him by a black clad ma that could obviously see him.

"Harry James Potter, I am Agent Donovan of the Agency of Magic, and I'm going to have to ask you to come with me."

"I hate Mondays."

So... I'm alive?

And the universe hates Harry?

Honestly, I just caught back up with Marvel over the past two days. Well, mostly. The movies anyway. And after some revelations that came with phase 2, I considered retconning certain parts of this story, then I thought... well, whatever. Let's not have them torture poor Bucky after all.