Strangers in Bars - Part Two
Harry woke up with a staggering headache, feeling as if he had just been hit in the head with a bludger. With a groan he dragged himself into consciousness, wondering what sort of mess he had gotten himself into this time.
When he finally opened his eyes he realised that he was lying in a bed in a spacious room. A sound drew his attention to the right and he squinted at the sleeping man whom he was sharing a large, comfortable bed with.
Ah. No attacks then, just a hangover, Harry figured when he realised that this was the muscled blond from the night before – he vaguely remembered taking up the bloke's offer to sleep it off at his place. At least, that's what he had assumed the guy had meant, in between the loud laughter and references to warrior bounds and the like. Considering that he still had all his clothes on, save his shoes and glasses, Harry must have assumed right and it hadn't been a reference to having it off.
A cursory examination of the rest of the room revealed his shoes, and as he groped for them, he also managed to find his missing glasses poking out of one of them.
A hallow victory, because the glasses didn't make the pounding in his head any easier. Mentally he cursed the fact that he had never been a normal teenager – and so never bothered to learn any anti-hangover spells.
"Ghgh…" he groaned, sounding remarkably like a newly risen zombie – he certainly felt like one of the living dead.
"Good morning, sir" a British voice greeted him – thankfully in a carefully modulated voice.
That was not Thor's voice, and there wasn't anyone else in the room. But then, coming from a world filled with talking portraits and ghosts, that wasn't such an odd thing. As long as the disembodied voice didn't start talking about killing and being hungry he figured he would be fine.
"Good morning," he answered as best as he could, despite feeling like a sheep had died in his mouth. Because, although Harry considered his Aunt and Uncle poor excuses for parental figures (and human beings), they had raised him to be polite, if nothing else.
"I am JARVIS – the Artificial Intelligence that runs this building. Welcome to Avengers Tower, sir."
"Err – thanks." Harry answered, his mind still rather sluggish – wasn't an Artificial Intelligence some sort of living computer from science-fiction films?
Then he finally remembered the manners that had been stamped into him throughout his childhood. "Oh. Uh, my name is Harry Potter. Pleased to meet you."
"And you as well, sir." The voice, JARVIS, replied pleasantly. "If I may, sir. Should you so desire, you will find water and Advil on either nightstand."
Advil? Some sort of muggle headache medicine, wasn't it? In absence of a magical hangover cure that would have to do. "Thank you, sir." He managed to answer as he found said pills.
For a moment he looked at the tiny letters and contemplated making an attempt to read it. Hermione had always lectured about the importance of stuff like that. But his head hurt and the letters were just about swimming in front of his eyes and he was a bloody Gryffindor anyway.
Carefully he took out one of the pills, stared at it for a moment and shrugged, tossing it in his mouth – shortly followed by a generous gulp of water.
Then he blinked, wondering if he should be feeling better.
A silent moment later he gave up, maybe muggle medicine took a bit longer to kick in?, and decided to go for door number two.
"Erm, excuse me, JARVIS?"
"Do you think it might be possible for me to take a shower here?"
"Indeed, sir". The polite computer told him obligingly where he could find the bathroom and necessities. So, with a quick thanks, Harry was off to attempt to regain his humanity by way off a shower.
Through it all, the blond warrior still in the bed snored happily.
When he returned, refreshed and with no more than a little dull throb behind his eyes, Thor had woken up. Apparently without a hangover.
"Friend!" The booming voice greeted him, "Good morrow to you!"
With a sigh, Harry resigned himself to his fate. He had survived worse things than a hangover, he told himself firmly - hoping that that would make this situation feel more bearable.
"Good morning." He replied, even though it wasn't really. "Thanks for letting me sleep here."
"No, my friend. No thanks are necessary, for we are warriors, you and I! We have both faced mighty challenges and cunning foes and come out of it the wiser. Between brothers in battle there need be no thanks for such trifles."
"Right…" Harry finally said, feeling sort of awkward in the face of Thor's enthusiasm so shortly after waking up. "Well, I should probably go. Thank you for the hospitality, Thor. And JARVIS."
"You are quite welcome, sir."
"Ah! But after a night of drinking surely I cannot let you take your leave without breaking your fast! Warriors such as us need our strength." The blond insisted with a chuckle.
Last night Harry had already found that arguing with Thor was like going against a force of nature at the best of times. Now, with the hint of his hangover still pressing down on him, it seemed far too impossible a task.
So Harry just smiled and gave in: "That sounds great."
The kitchen looked like something out of a futuristic film that Dudley used to watch. Had he really missed this much about how muggle technology had developed?
He stared at the space-shuttle coffeemaker and wondered if there was anyway he could find a simple cup of tea in this kitchen.
"I don't know you. Do I? I don't think I know you." A somewhat abrasive voice startled him out of his thoughts.
Harry turned at the sound of the voice and found himself facing a dark-haired man, taller than himself. Before Harry could formulate a reply, Thor happily jumped in to introduce him.
"This is Harry Potter, who joined me in a night of drinking! He is a wizard, a stout warrior, and a good man. But cannot hold his liquor as well as me, so I escorted him here to recover from a night of revelry!"
Harry gave a wry smile and a nod at the rather frank introduction, hoping that Thor wouldn't mention anything else that muggles weren't supposed to know about.
"Friend! This is Anthony Stark - a warrior in his own right, with an armour and weapons most cunning!"
"Tony," the man cut in, "and he's talking about me being Iron Man."
The wizard blinked - wondering what this man going on about?. "Err... right," he said agreeably, even if it was obvious from his confused face that he had no idea just why anyone would refer to this person as being a Man made of Iron. Maybe it was some sort of a joke?
The man pursed his lips and looked at him with such a scrutinizing look that it made Harry feel a bit exposed. "Do you even know what I'm talking about?" Tony Stark asked him, voice dubious.
"Ah, I'm sorry, but Thor didn't mention you last night. Mr, uh, Stark?" Harry said carefully, wondering what this was all about. "Granted, he might have - things are a bit fuzzy at the end."
Tony Stark's eyes widened and his voice was completely incredulous; "You seriously don't know who I am?"
Harry looked between his blond acquaintance and this new man and didn't have enough control of his mouth to stop the words before they escaped, "Are you two... together, then? Is that why he should have mentioned you?"
Thor boomed in laughter; "Nay, my friend. Though the man of Iron and I are brothers on the field of battle, my heart is spoken for by the Lady Jane."
"Ah... Errr..." Harry said, blushing from embarrassment, "Sorry about that."
Thor didn't seem to mind Harry's assumption and happily blathered on about his Lady, so Harry turned to the other man to see if he was offended. Tony Stark was staring at him, a cold steely look that was almost a glare for the merciless strength of it - and Harry stared back, refusing to back down from the man's unwavering gaze.
Moments went by and their little staring contest was turning slightly ridiculous. Especially since Thor, who neither man was paying attention to, was still expounding on his girl's virtues in the background.
Slowly Tony Stark's deep frown melted away into a thoughtful one, before any hint of steel disappeared as if it had never been there. "No problem" he told Harry, with a smirk and a dismissive wave of his hand.
"Thor, buddy," the strange muggle said happily, lightly slapping the blond man on the arm to draw his attention, "you are absolutely right. Dr. Foster is a terrific lady. A lot smarter than most of the idiots out there - and easy on the eyes, win-win."
"Indeed! She is the loveliest vision I have ever seen on Midgard, and yet, her mind is as admirable as any of her physical traits. But ah! Her heart goes beyond either, for it is warm and good and brave."
"Yes, yes." Tony interrupted before Thor could get going again. "You know, you should call her. You don't want her to think you've forgotten about her, do you?"
"Ah! I should." The muscled blond answered, obviously quite taken with the idea. But before he could run of he remembered Harry. "But first, I should sit with my fellow warrior for breakfast." He smiled at the wizard; "For though the mead on Midgard is not as strong as I am used to, I well know the feeling of waking up in the morning after a good night's drinking! And wizard or no, I do think you will need to strengthen yourself with food."
Before Harry could muster any kind of reply to that, Stark forced himself not only into the conversation, but physically between the two. "Don't worry about that, Thor. I'm sure JARVIS and I can fix Harry here up with a nice and filling breakfast. Right, JARVIS?"
Thor stared at the two for a moment before nodding enthusiastically. "I shall take my leave then, for the moment, to call upon my fair Lady Jane."
A blink of the eye later and Harry was left behind with a muggle who managed to easily steer a force of nature like Thor into leaving them alone. Although he was slightly apprehensive about what the other man wanted, he couldn't help but admire the man for that.
"So..." Harry spoke into the blissful silence, "would it be possible to find some tea in this kitchen?"
Apparently it was possible to find some tea. And it was a decent cup too. Harry sighed happily, the remnant of his headache eased away in the face of the warm comfort and cleansing scent.
His moment was interrupted by the man across from him, who didn't even bother with polite conversation and jumped right in to the last thing Harry wanted him to ask about.
"Thor called you a wizard." Tony Stark didn't even have the decency to phrase that as a question.
Harry stayed silent for a moment, before answering as neutrally as he could. "Well, Thor refers to humans as if he isn't one himself."
"Well, he's Thor." The man replied, moving his hands as if he were trying to wave his remark away as irrelevant, "God of Thunder and all that."
"Hmm.. Really?" Harry hummed thoughtfully.
The wizard nodded, "Ah, ok then."
Tony Stark narrowed his eyes at him, scrutinizing him in an overly dramatic way. Harry just raised an eyebrow and waited until the man was finished.
"You know, for someone who supposedly didn't know that, you seem to believe this pretty easily." Stark pointed out, sarcasm infusing every word.
The wizard smiled, "Well, like I said, he already implied he wasn't human. It was just a question of what he was instead. And now I know. Should have been obvious really, So are those Frost Giants he mentioned fighting Gods as well?"
"He talked about fighting Frost Giants?"
"Yes, we exchanged battle stories. Seems like it's the thing to do over drinks for Thor and his people. Who are Gods, apparently."
"You… exchanged battle stories?" The man's utter scepticism would have offended anyone else.
But Harry Potter just nodded; "Yes. He had some good ones."
The enthusiastic blond in question chose that very moment to bound back into the room like an overgrown puppy. "Ah, my friend! Your words are kind, but you are too modest. Your small stature hides a fierce warrior as well, as your many trials have brought to light!"
Harry didn't blink twice, even as the god slung a powerful arm around his shoulders and started sprouting off about honour and bravery and cunning foes. With his headache now gone, and feeling a lot more awake than before after his cup of tea Harry had no trouble engaging the enthusiastic man in conversation. So he asked about Thor's lady friend and smiled at Thor's overwhelming joy when he spoke of Jane, this time actually listening to the man as he went on and on about her.
Right then and there, Tony Stark decided he liked the guy – just for putting up with them.
There weren't many people who could take a full dose of him or Thor without resorting to violence, screaming, or running away. Let alone the both of them. Not to mention that the so-called wizard was unfailingly polite to JARVIS.
Harry was something else.
And Tony Stark would damn well find out what. So he snuck out, leaving the slight form of a far too nonchalant Harry Potter with the overly muscled, enthusiastic Asgardian. And he ordered JARVIS to do a search on 'Harry Potter', and to look up any information about wizards that seemed even remotely plausible.
Then he returned, bottle of scotch in his hand despite the early hour, and ready to exchange some battle stories of his own.
A.N. I'm not sure if this makes Strangers in Bars a two-shot, like Just My Luck, or if I'll be inspired enough to add a chapter/snapshot or drabble for each of the Avengers. I guess we'll see, huh?
For now I'm just happy enough that I've finally added something to one of my existing stories. Writing's been a trial lately. Ugh...