Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or Avengers, and I make no profit from this.
Run. Breathe. Dodge. Those were the only tasks his body managed to accomplish without breaking down. Somewhere after countless rooms and bending hallways, Harry had ended up alone and separated from his friends. He skidded to a stop as a beam of sickly purple zoomed pass him, barely missing his head and, instead, slammed into a poor jar of squirming tentacles. Correction, he was not completely alone; good ol' Lucius Malfoy was pursuing his very steps.
As another curse shot his way, Harry swiftly dove to the ground. Red hot sparks then burst forth from where he was standing a moment ago. Based on the severity of the spells, the Malfoy patriarch must really be peeved with his constant evasion. In the next second, he was already back on his feet and dashing through rows of towering shelves.
Perspiration rolled off his forehead while his breathing came out in agonizing gasps. Despite his aching lungs, Harry continued on running, trying to escape the lethal spells and the mounting guilt ravaging his thoughts. It was undeniably true that his actions had led his friends into this dangerous situation; a trap that could possibly cost them their lives.
Shoving that fearful predicament to the recesses of his mind, he barged into the next room. Harry threw a strong locking spell at the door and quickly set out in search of another entrance. Only he didn't. He stopped and gazed far into the wide expanse of the room. It contained a sea of overflowing mirrors, in all shapes and sizes. They were lined so close together that it formed a mystifying labyrinth, so reminiscent of the maze in his fourth year.
Strangely, his feet then moved without conscious thought. Gliding through the pathway of mirrors, fascination bubbled inside his chest with each new reflection he caught. In the varying glass surfaces, his reflections were diverse and unique. There were ones where he appeared older or younger and ones where he wore another house's colour other than his Gryffindor red. Disturbingly enough, some even portrayed him with battle scars, while others depicted him with different shades of hair or eyes.
Yet there was one mirror in particular that beckoned him closer. It had a large crack trailing down its centre and, what was stranger, it held no reflection. As if mesmerised, his fingers traced over the broken outline, feeling along its sharp edges. He then inhaled in shock and pulled his hand back, only to find it bleeding from a shallow cut. Unbeknownst to him, the little drop of blood left on the crack vanished, hungrily absorbed below the surface of the glass.
"Surrender yourself, Potter."
Harry twisted around in a hurried panic to the sight of Malfoy, with wand aimed and glowing eagerly. His body stood stock still while he cursed his carelessness. Gambling on his next move, he slowly grasped the prophecy orb, still within the folds of his pocket, and took it out.
"I'll smash this if you come any closer, Malfoy," he said. Admittedly, this probably wasn't his brightest idea, but he couldn't think of anything else on the spot.
"Don't be a fool, boy. Think of your friends," said Malfoy. "If you give me the prophecy, then I can guarantee that none of them will come to harm."
"How do I know you're telling the truth?"
The older wizard smiled in what was meant to be reassurance but came out as patronizing. "You have my word as a Malfoy."
"… yeah, that really doesn't comfort me."
"You know you can't win," Malfoy went on. "Against the might of the Dark Lord, we are all but pawns in his hands."
"You may be his willing servant but I refuse to bow to him," Harry declared.
"Would you rather have the death of your loved ones on your conscious, Potter?" the wizard asked viciously, his impatience at its limit. "You can truly save them, and all you need to do is hand over the prophecy."
Harry knew, without a grain of doubt, that whether the prophecy was taken or not, he and his friends would still be killed. If that was the case, then there really was only one choice he could make: destroy the prophecy before it could ever reach the Dark Lord. With that in mind, he readied himself to break the glass orb, firming his resolve as one would fortify a wall.
Malfoy must have seen his decision painted across his face, for the wizard acted before he could.
Harry ducked as the green light came barreling towards him. He'd expected the curse to smash into the mirror behind him, but instead of the predicted shatter of glass, the spell bounced off the shiny surface as though it'd been swatted away. The killing curse then flew straight out, managing to hit another mirror and the same effect happened again. On and on it traveled to all the mirrors in an array of crisscrossing light, creating almost a web of fading green ropes.
Then at a defying angle, the curse inexplicably headed back in Malfoy's direction. Unfortunately, the older wizard jumped out of its path within a hair's width. As the spell impacted on the new mirror, it shockingly got sucked inside, finally putting an end to its dizzying journey.
Believing that to be the finale of the abnormal light show, Harry was about to run off. His course of action was, however, stalled when the mirrors began shaking erratically and violently, much like a boggart trapped in a trunk; so wild were the tremors that it could be felt all the way to his fingertips. And in a synchronized moment, all the mirrors exploded into hundreds of glittering shards, each piece raining down on them in powerful torrents.
Harry was flung off his feet by the blast, and as if a shroud had covered his vision, the world suddenly turned black.
Natasha halted her steps and glanced sideways to see the approaching form of Nick Fury. The Director of SHIELD swept down the corridor like a smoothly thrown blade and lodged himself directly in front of her.
"You're heading towards the prisoner's cell," he stated simply. The silent order to offer an explanation was left unsaid.
"Just for a little discussion, sir," said Natasha.
Fury did not respond, opting for an undecipherable gaze. She peered evenly back, unmoving and resolute. Most enemies assumed his limited vision was disadvantageous in a fight but they're wrong. That single eye did little to diminish its burning intensity, so comparable to a wild fire refusing to die out. And she'd even confess that it did quite well to unnerve more than a few people – not her though.
"Continue on then," he eventually allowed, "but you will report back afterwards."
Her head inclined in agreement as she maneuvered passed him. A few corridors later, Natasha stood before a heavily sealed door. After punching in the code it opened noiselessly and she slipped in unnoticed.
In a dark corner Natasha used the shadows as a cloak, effectively concealing herself. Now free to observe Loki, she carefully took in the exhaustion etched across his visage, along with the stiff shoulders that seemed to carry an unknown weight. Still, it was his eyes that captured her attention; those blue orbs were harsh and mercilessly cold like a frozen landscape.
She continued watching while he paced restlessly in the cell, as though he was a feline predator awaiting his moment to pounce. A thought struck her and Natasha suddenly found it odd that a glass cage could hold this supposed god. Feeling something amiss, she walked into the open, announcing her presence.
"There are not many people that can sneak up on me," said Loki and he directed a wide smile at her. In turn, Natasha looked back impassively.
An expression as simple as a smile could reveal many facets to a man. In her travels, she'd seen men who smiled confidently, assured in their status and ability. Then there are those who smiled conceitedly, filled with an inflated sense of self-worth. And there were many more who dipped careless seduction or cruelty into the gesture, twisting it into an ugly distortion of human affection.
Loki's smile was meant to be mocking yet disarming, that much was evident. Though Natasha tried to look passed that, as if she could unearth his true intentions. She stared and stared, trying to dig underneath the veiled hostility and shallow arrogance. And there it was, a gleam of bitter sadness managed to shine through, fleeting and raw.
Taking that into account, she responded, "You knew I would come."
"Yes, after whatever nameless torture Fury puts me under," he said lightly. "Only then would you appear."
"There's no need to make it hard on yourself," Natasha told him. "If you cooperate, we'll happily go easy on you."
"But you would not release me."
"No," she said, "you killed too many people for that."
"Then what is one more death on my hands?" asked Loki with feigned seriousness. "Perhaps a certain Agent Barton will do?"
Natasha did not react to the bait. "Agent Barton is a trained assassin; he's prepared for any outcome."
"Ah, but are you prepared, Agent Romanoff?" Loki questioned. "Are you ready to stain your hands with his blood?"
It was then that the God of Mischief wavered slightly in his stance. If it was not for her focused attention she would not have caught it; so miniscule a movement that it was like trying to catch a passing breeze.
Taking a chance, Natasha drew closer to the glass containment until they were separated by only a few feet. "I admit… I already have enough red in my ledger to last a lifetime," she began. "I rather not have his added to it."
"Is this affection I sense from you?" By now, Loki appeared to be struggling against something, his breathing coming out strained.
She gave no outward indication of this change and continued on. "Such emotions are for the naive; I just owe him a debt."
Though irked by his commanding tone, she nevertheless agreed. "Before I worked for SHIELD, I had made a name for myself. I possessed a particular skill set that –"
Immediately, her words were cut off by the unexpected scene before her. In a single blink of the eye, Loki's knees met the ground in a harsh thump and his long-fingered hands clutched around his head. In a macabre fashion, his mouth opened in a soundless scream, yet that lasted only a mere second. In the next moment, his body went entirely limp, with his head lowered and arms loose to the side. At his present state, she could not help but think of a person in postmortem.
Shaking off her surprise, Natasha took a wary step forward. "Loki?" No reaction. She spoke his name again but to no avail; his figure remained lifeless. About to call for aid, she placed her palm against the sturdy glass. As if that was the unseen switch, Loki's head snapped straight up like an unleashed whip. Despite the sudden motion, Natasha stood her ground and stilled herself.
Green eyes, so bright and unerringly clear, stared into hers.