"So you had fun at your little team party?" a voice from behind Harry questioned humorously. He rolled his eyes, and turned around to face his tormentor. Nick raised an eyebrow, a smirk clearly evident on his face.
"I wouldn't have called it a party," he said grumpily, "That would imply that I had fun at it. It was more of a... unpleasant social gathering." He continued walking down the empty hallway, Fury walking quickly until they were walking together.
"Don't gimme that shit, Potter, this is the first time I've ever seen you in how many years not brooding darkly in a corner, oozing angst all over the room."
Harry looked offended. "Wha- EXCUSE ME, when have I ever brooded in a corner?"
Fury waved the question away, and examined Harry critically. "I'm serious, Potter. The way you've been the last few years, the way you've ALWAYS been since I've know you... it's not healthy. You're the best agent SHIELD has, but you're emotionally inept. I understand that what you went through was horrific, but avoiding all human contact has not helped you in the slightest."
"It's helped everyone else," Harry bit out, eyes flashing angrily. "People around me get killed, Nick, no matter who they are. It's better for everyone if I-"
"Potter, quit your whining," Fury snapped, "Shit happens. I have said this before, and if I have to say it again, I swear to God I will eviscerate you. You. Did. Not. Kill. Those. People. You were at war. People die in wars. That doesn't mean you are the one responsible for their deaths. You did not cast the spells, so you are not their murderer."
Harry glared at the Director, fuming. "You promised me when I first started working for you guys that you would never bring up my past after I told you."
"That was before the Avengers, Harry. You are a part of that team as much as you were a part of the resistance during the Wizarding War. You have fought with them, you have bled for them, and bonds like that aren't broken just because you are too afraid to get close to someone!"
Harry started to walk faster, moving to escape whilst glaring straight ahead with a fierce expression on his face. Fury sighed, and moved in front of him, halting his progress. "Harry, stop and listen to me. They are your team, whether you like it or not. You have been assigned to work with them, and from what I saw today, you work damn well together. Your argument against the collaboration is that you will get them killed? Harry, that team consists of the most powerful individuals in the world. They are humanities last hope in times of hardship. If anyone can keep themselves alive in your company, it will be them. I didn't place you with them as their babysitter. I did it because they were the only team that could keep up with you. You need them, Harry. As much as you'd like to argue against it, you need people in your life. Why else would you put up with Coulson and Barton dragging you out for beers every time you show up? The loss of your friends hurt you, but that doesn't mean you should suffer because of it for the rest of your life. And from what I gathered, it's gonna be a very long life."
"You want me to just replace the people I lost?"
"No," Fury replied harshly, "I want you to move on, and LIVE for once, not just survive."
It was a deep-in-thought Harry that entered the cell housing Shield's newest criminal acquisition. Loki, muzzled and bound, was seated on a hard, metal chair in the very centre of the room. Thick steel chains bound his body to the chair, and Harry snickered mentally at the thought of how uncomfortable the villain must be if his facial expressions were anything to go by.
His pale face bruised and littered with small cuts, supported an uncomfortable, mutinous, yet strangely hollow expression. Deadened eyes glared half heartedly at Harry from beneath long, sweat-soaked locks, and Harry couldn't help the twinge of pity he felt for the Asgardian. Then he remembered getting stabbed in the chest.
Checking the room for cameras, and after seeing the red lights indicating their use flicker out, he let the thick door shut behind him with a deafening boom, shot a quick Stinging Hex at the bound Loki, and proceeded to summon a soft and squishy armchair onto which he dropped unceremoniously. He watched as Loki twitched uncomfortably in his chains, the half hearted glare transforming into the one he had come to know.
"Hey," Harry said with a smirk, "Hope you find your accommodations to your liking. Speak up if you need anything." He sat in the armchair, legs hanging over the edge, and examined a knife he had pulled out of his pocket lazily. "Hmm, alright then."
Loki glare increased if that was possible. Obviously he extremely disliked the muzzle adorning his face, and the fact that Harry was making fun of it wasn't helping.
"So, Fury sent me down to 'chat' with you, see if you'd tell us your reasoning behind the invasion, why you're an asshole, the meaning of life, etcetera. Look, they even turned off the cameras in case you're uncooperative."
Loki's eyes widened slightly, and he closed his eyes in a resigned manner. Harry, who was examining his reactions closely, was slightly confused by this. He'd expected more angry glares and meaningful stares than this. Loki just looked... defeated. The pity welled up once again, and Harry rubbed the tender stab wound absently, trying to remind himself that even if Loki was sorry now, he had led an invasion against Earth. Well, a crappy invasion that had failed to accomplish anything, but an invasion still.
The minutes ticked by, Harry examining Loki, and the Asgardian staring back unenthusiastically. He appeared to have accepted his fate, and was expecting torture. Fury had implied that Harry was free to employ physical harm if Loki failed to cooperate, but Harry was no sadist. He had no problem beating the shit out of Loki during battle, but tied to a chair as he was, it just seemed cowardly.
"I'm going to remove the muzzle so you can communicate through something other than eyebrow twitches. I'd advise you not to try anything. Firstly, it would likely fail spectacularly, and secondly, and in my opinion, more importantly, I'm exhausted, cranky, and I have enough injuries to validate a week long nap, which I won't get because I have another mass murderer to incarcerate. Understood?"
Loki rolled his eyes, but nodded tiredly. A flick of Harry's wand, and the muzzle was gone. Loki stretched his jaw, wincing at the load cracks the movement caused.
"... Why did you allow me to live?"
Harry raised a dark eyebrow, "You'd rather I killed you? It's not too late, you know."
Loki laughed humorously, "I know not what I want. I have been defeated. All that I have lived for since my fall from Asgard has been for nought. I have no reason to continue on in this life, all I see before me is pain and hardship."
"Well then, I believe a valuable lesson has been learned. Don't take other peoples' stuff. They get angry, beat you up, and then tie you up," Harry stated calmly. Loki could not help the chuckle that escaped him after Harry's words, and forced himself to school is expression into one of indifference. "And the answer to your question on why I didn't kill you, I saw no need. I have seen plenty of death in my life, hell, I'd feel every death that occurred in this city if I didn't block it out. From the glimpse I took of your mind to discover your plans, I saw a lot of the shit you did. Unfortunately, I also saw some of the shit that was done to you. You're still an almighty douchebag, but I don't kill people when they're already down. I defeated you, and saw no point in ending your life. You need to suffer the consequences for you actions, and death was too easy an escape..." The last sentence was spoken softly as Harry mused on the blissful dream that was reuniting with all those he had lost, perhaps even being granted forgiveness.
"You see death as an escape?" Loki questioned.
"Everyone would if they were incapable of achieving it."
"But immortality is what makes gods greater then mortals! To live forever, it is something they throw away their lives for!"
"Loki, you are not immortal. I could kill you right now, and you would die, same as any human. Neither are you a god. Your hubris almost destroyed a planet, risking the lives of millions of people. If there was a God, which I highly doubt on account of my life so far, you most certainly would not be it."
Loki stared at him once again, and muttered something under his breath. Harry raised an eyebrow in question.
"Gods don't bleed. You told me that when I was imprisoned on that ridiculous ship. Perhaps..."
"Perhaps what?" Harry asked when his words puttered out.
"Perhaps... I should have listened. If anyone could identify a god, it would be the Master of Death, would it not?" he questioned bitterly.
Harry shrugged noncommittally, and decided to steer the conversation back to an interrogation. "So, reasoning behind the invasion?"
Loki looked disoriented at the sudden subject change, but decided to answer honestly, seeing no reason to anger Harry. "Thor loves this planet. The Chitauri wished to invade. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to cause my brother grief, and who was I to waste opportunity?"
"And you wanted to rule the world," Harry finished off, nodding condescendingly.
Loki's glare returned before promptly disappearing once again. "Yes, I wished to fulfil my birthright as a King, even if it was the King of as pitiful a species as humans."
Loki laughed again before looking at Harry in confusion. "I had not expected such an encounter to play out like this, Death. I expected much more pain and suffering on my part. I am...confused."
The red light on the camera in the corner of the room flashed, indicating it was turning back on. Harry stood, and with a wave of his wand, the armchair disappeared, and the muzzle was back on the prisoner's face.
"And that is my cue to bring an end to our little talk. You probably won't be seeing me anytime soon, I'm needed elsewhere. Stark will start his work on the device that will send you and Thor home tomorrow, and hopefully you'll be back in Asgard before the week is over. Your cooperation is duly noted." Harry headed towards the exit, and as he reached the door, he glanced back at Loki. For someone who could be such an irritating prick, he was not at all intimidating now, hunched over in his uncomfortable chair, chains weighing him down. Harry sighed, and discreetly raised his wand, out of sight of the cameras. A few muttered words later, and Loki's head whipped up in shock and confusion. Harry tilted his head to the side, and Loki sent a wary nod of thanks in return, evidently still perplexed by Harry's actions.
With that, Harry left the room, searching for a cupboard through which to apparate to his office. That Dark Wizard really needed to be brought to justice, and Harry had wasted enough time already. After entering a small Maintenance room seldom used in the facility, and preparing himself for apparition, Harry's thoughts wandered back to Loki. He had gained respect from the Asgardian after he had defeated him in battle, but Harry couldn't helped but think that the simple Cushioning and Comfort charms he had placed on Loki's metal chair as he left had gained him even more.
Harry raced through the narrow alley way, leaping around overturned trash cans in pursuit of his prey. Wizarding prey to be exact. It had taken a week, but Harry had finally made the breakthrough he was searching so desperately for. After sifting through the American Magical communities, Harry had finally managed to single out the individuals that would most likely be involved in the Dark Arts. There had been too many to go through, America was extremely large after all, so he had narrowed it down to any individuals with a penchant for magic such as necromancy. It had been a leapt of faith, something Harry had been reluctant to rely on as his favoured method of solving cases was through cold hard facts, but he had won on this gamble. After questioning countless suspects, success.
Fergus Fletcher, perhaps a relative of Mundungus, had stood out. Early thirties, greasy brown hair, and desperate for money, he was the epitome of bad life choices. Add to the fact that he was an accomplished Necromancer, and you had someone desperate enough to perform a crime, and in possession of the skill set being utilised by Harry's target. Also, when Harry had asked for a word, he had, after seeing the scar on Harry's forehead indicating that he knew what Harry was after, and he had something to hide, he had run. Or maybe Harry was so badass that criminals would do anything to get away from him. Harry would prefer it to be the first, as that would mean progress, but if it was the second, well, fuck yeah.
Bored of the chase that had ensued after Harry had cast anti-apparition spells on Fergus, Harry threw a knife. It shot through the air, and speared his prey's coat, pinning it to a wall. Fergus was pulled back abruptly, a choking noise escaping his throat along with desperate pants, and he began to tug at the clothing, conveniently forgetting that he could take off the coat, and that he was a wizard. For Merlin's sake, were the Fletcher genes really that poor?
"Come on, Fergus, I only want a word. Just a quick conversation, nothing big."
Fergus' eyes grew wild, and he finally seemed to remember his wand. "Mortuos Suscitate!"
Harry titled his head to the side, and watched transfixed as what appeared to be the remains of a dead cat lurched out of a dumpster that was shoved against the wall of the alley. Flesh hung off the emaciated frame, and empty, glowing red eyes fixed their sights on Harry.
"A zombie kitty," Harry stated, his nose wrinkling with uncontrollable disgust, "Really. From what I dug up, you're talent for magic could at best be compared to a mildly talented squib, yet you have a revolting affinity for necromancy, and you have no qualms about enslaving Inferi to carry out your bidding. Curious." With a flick of his wand, the cat was enveloped in flames, and Harry sensed in his mind the destruction of the animation magic that kept the creature upright. Through the fire, he watched the red leave the cat's eyes, and he felt sickened. He had seen a lot over the years, but these zombies were by far the worst. They brought back memories of a cave by the sea, and with it, the horrific sensation of drowning...
"Well, thank you for that little show. It shows that my information-gathering skills are still going strong. Introductions. You're Fergus Fletcher, and as you've probably guessed, I'm Harry Potter, hunter of Dark Wizards, and at the moment, hunter of the disgusting bastard who has been murdering towns full of people for whatever warped reasoning they've come up with in their evil little mind. You wouldn't happen to know about that, would you Fletchie?" Harry glared at the man, daring him to lie. Fergus squeaked, and Harry rolled his eyes as the man soiled himself from the fear. "Oh, and keep in mind, even if you don't tell me, I have my ways of ripping the information from your mind. It won't be fun... for you."
"I'll tell ya! Oh dear God, don'tcha go ruffling through mah head! Ah Jesus, the fuckin' Chosen One? They said you was dead! Ya went missin' and nobody knew where you was! Please don't kill me, man, I din't know what I was doin'! I only sold 'im some ingredients for the potion. Ah shit, he said if you came, I had ta say nuthin', but you supposed to be dead! He's gonna kill me, oh God-"
"Shut up," Harry cut in, "And calm down. So you sold someone potion ingredients, and they said I'd come for you? Who was he? What did he look like? What were the ingredients you sold him?"
"I dunno what he looked like," Fergus whispered, gulping fearfully as his eyes went distant, "He wus wearin' a big white cloak, hood on 'is face an' all. Tall dude, sounded kinda young, but then real old at the same time, ya know? Kinda like you. Come to think o' it, he said you was like him. Tha's why you was lookin' for him. He bought a whole load a shady stuff, kinda stuff you need for some real big shit. Like, for thousands o' bodies. He musta been trying ta raise a graveyard, crazy bastard..."
"Actually, he was raising towns. LIVE towns," Harry snarled, "And YOU, YOU sold him the ingredients to achieve that. When exactly did you sell them to him?"
"It was months ago, okay! He gone and bought my whole store of powdered root of asphodel. But I couldn't tell 'im no..."
This makes no sense! Harry pondered, Potion ingredients? I was expecting him to be an assistant to some sort of ritual/spell. But now there's a potion involved?
Was there anything distinguishing you could see about him, even with the hood? And did he give you a name, anything that can be used to track him down?"
Fergus swallowed nervously, "He said you'd ask that. He said, 'When Master Potter comes calling, you tell him Dominus Vitae', and-" Fergus' voice cut off with a choke. He staggered forward, gripping his throat, eyes bulging. Harry leapt forward, desperate to hear whatever Fergus had to say, when suddenly, arms shot up and plucked him from the air, slamming him painfully into a nearby wall. The air was knocked out of his chest, leaving him gasping, and he was unable to inhale anymore, due to the hands latched around his throat. His eyesight blurred on account of his sudden contact with the wall, and he blinked rapidly in order to clear them. Once they focused again, he tried to recoil, repulsed as he was by the sight before him. Fergus, or what had been Fergus only a minute before, had him pinned to the wall with arms much stronger than was possible for the stick thin man before him. He had Harry pinned off of the ground, and Harry reached his hand out in order to summon it back to his hand after it had flown free after impact. Before he could form the magic, his head was bashed into the wall once again.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you. Besides, I only want a word. Isn't that what you told Fergus earlier? Now look what you've done. Poor thing's dead now. Such a pity..."
It was then that Harry caught sight of the blood red eyes that had replaced the muddy brown that had been Fergus' eyes before. Harry came to the conclusion that this was some sort of possession.
"It's you-you're-the killer-"
"Very good, dear, I knew you had it in you. I must say, though, I'm rather disappointed with how long it took you to track little Fergus' down. He was, after all, the most well known necromancer in America. Weak, though. They just don't make them like they used to."
Whoever this bastard was, he had somehow managed to turn Fergus into one of those zombie creatures, and use the body as the equivalent of a telephone. The fingers bruising his neck loosened slightly, and Harry was able to take in enough air to make full sentences. Lack of air couldn't kill him, but it was irritating, and it messed with his brain.
"Why did it take me so long? I was fighting off a bloody invasion, you piece of shit! Why the hell are you doing this?"
"Now, now, I only wished to talk with you. You have no idea how shocked I was when I discovered your existence. The Master of Death wandering around, yet unaware of little old me. I simply had to remedy that. It was time for me to grab a snack anyways. I was so pleased when you were assigned my 'case'. And then imagine my shock when it turned out Harry Potter was you!"
In a flash, Harry pulled out a knife, stabbing it into 'Fergus'' chest, and watched with a sinking feeling as blood only barely leaked out and 'Fergus' failed to react in the slightest. Yep, he was dead, alright.
The dead body tutted disapprovingly, lifted Harry away from the wall, and slammed him down on his back onto the cold, concrete ground instead. "Oh dear, that wasn't nice. I only wish to speak with you. Well, to warn you, actually."
"Well consider me warned," Harry hissed out, "But keep in mind that I WILL disregard everything you say if it means I don't get to stop you. You will die by my hand for what you have done!"
'Fergus' laughed, and Harry was struck by how different the mind occupying the body was from its previous owner. Fergus had a crude manner of speaking, indicating a lack of concern when it came to speaking correctly. The bastard in the body now, he spoke like a knob, to put it simply. Obviously wealthy, snooty, pompous, Harry could go on.
"Oh Harry, so strong. This is why I like you. Brave and noble, so focused on taking revenge on the killer of what your mind sees to be innocents. But you must understand. They were a fuel to support a much greater being. Their lives had to be sacrificed so I could live. And I even took care of their bodies once they were gone. Well, most of them. I had to leave some behind a few times. You are rather quick on the apparition, Harry."
Okay, this guy was insane. "I'm going to kill you. I swear on my magic, I will stop you. You will pay for what you have done." Cold, dead hands stroked Harry's raven hair, and he had to suppress a shudder as the blunt fingers trailed over his face, resting for a moment on his lips.
"No I won't. It was nice speaking with you, dear. I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more of each other soon. I have so many plans, and I will be needing your help with a few. Fare well." With that, the corpse fell onto Harry, and he violently shoved it away, summoning his wand to his hand and setting the body alight before it could animate again. He ran hand through his hair, wincing as it came away covered in blood. This was why he disliked walls.
He raised an unsteady hand to his ear, activating his communicator. "Potter. Report."
"Nick... I honestly have no clue what the fuck just happened. Can you send someone to pick me up? My brains just got mashed into a wall, and we got zombie ashes. And blood. And a whole bunch of batshit crazy." Harry listened distractedly as Fury issued orders whilst keeping the connection with Harry open. If Harry was shaken, they were screwed.
Several sudden cracks interrupted Harry's thoughts, and he immediately whirled around, keeping his back to the wall and aiming his wand at the newcomers.
"Sir, by order of the American Ministry of Magic, I demand you hand over your wand for examination. Necromancy has been detected in this area, and as the only wizard present, you are subject to arrest."
"This is a misunderstanding, Auror. I work with the mundane Government. I was chasing down a suspect because of his history with necromancy. You're currently standing on his body. Fergus Fletcher. And the cat he animated is that pile of ash by the dumpster. His wand is lying just to your left, and you can cast the spells to find your culprit with that."
Harry's eyes widened in shock at the sound of the familiar voice. His head shot in the direction of the sound. Tall, late thirties, blue eyes, shocking red hair-
"What did you give me at the end of fourth year?" George demanded.
"Triwizard winnings. 1000 galleons."
"All of you, lower your wands," George ordered in a no nonsense voice, "Don't you know you that is?"
"A filthy necromancer?" One of the Aurors spat, "Probably plotting how to level another town."
Harry said nothing, still staring at George. It had been so long. He hadn't seen any of the Weasley's since the last battle. It was so strange seeing George without Fred, even though so many years had passed.
"That's Harry Potter."
There were gasps, and exclamations of shock. Harry didn't break eye contact with George.
"And he better have a good excuse for running away."
New chapter, kinda meh, I'm dying of the plague so I'm hiding behind that excuse. I can't breathe through my nose and I sound like a chain smoker. Also IMPORTANT MESSAGE: I am changing my name a teensy bit. DON'T BE ALARMED. Hope you liked the chapter, sorry I took so long. Thanks for reading :)