"Excuse me, but may I join you?" Natasha asked as she came to a halt by his table in the café.
Harry smiled, broadly, up at her. "I would be delighted, but you must give me the honour of your name," he answered as he pushed out one of the unoccupied chairs at his table with his foot. His chosen table had room for four, and as he watched – out of the corner of his eye – Bill and Fleur looking for a table in the crowded café, he wished he'd chosen a table that only seated two.
"Natalie," Natasha answered as she took the seat offered. "Natalie Branton."
Harry had received an email from Clint and Natasha back when he was in Greece that they'd gotten married. It seemed she'd changed her cover name as well since the passage of vows.
"Charles Harris," he answered, still smiling.
Natasha raised one eyebrow just slightly, but didn't comment on his having a new name since they'd last seen each other. She knew he'd asked her name because he wouldn't want to blow her cover if she was working. She also remembered him saying he hadn't gone by his own name for years. If she called him on it, it wouldn't help either of them.
"What brings to you Egypt, Miss Branton? Business or pleasure?" Harry asked, sticking with 'miss' because Natasha was not wearing her wedding ring. At least, not anywhere visible.
Natasha smiled her best coy smile. "I can't have both?" she reposted.
"Well, I always say that if you're not enjoying your work, then you should find a different job," Harry answered happily.
Natasha's smile dropped and she gave a sigh. "But it's hard," she lamented as the waiter brought over the iced mineral water she'd ordered before joining him. "The people I came to do business with aren't taking me seriously, and I'm sure they're insulting me in Egyptian."
"Well, as a man who can speak Egyptian, I would be pleased to offer my assistance," he offered.
"Thank you, but I wouldn't like to inconvenience you," Natasha demurred. "You must have your own reasons for being in Egypt?" she asked.
"No actually," Harry answered easily. "Well, nothing serious anyway. Taking some time out to study Egyptian curses and take in the sights."
"Egyptian curses are serious," interjected a masculine voice. The years hadn't done much to change it since Harry had last heard it, maybe given it a bit of a weathered edge, a hint of French accent – understandable if he spent any time with his wife's family in France.
"William," Fleur scolded. "Pardon us," she said in an apologetic tone, and Harry was aware of her veela 'allure' being directed at them, though not intensely. "My name is Fleur Weasley, this is my husband William. Would you mind if we shared your table? Every other table is full or has only one chair free – zut alore!"
Harry noticed Natasha blink a few times, and guessed she was shaking off the 'allure' as it had affected her with just that little motion that could be considered surprise at the French exclamation in Egypt.
"Fleur?" Bill asked, concerned, then he followed her wide-eyed gaze to Harry, and he gaped too. He clearly hadn't looked at Harry closely when he'd made his comment before. "Good God," he breathed. "But... you died over twenty years ago..." he whispered in shock.
Natasha and Harry still heard him, and Natasha pinned Harry with a curious look while he very carefully didn't react.
"You look remarkably well for a corpse, Mr Harris," she commented wryly, and then narrowed her eyes slightly as her own words sunk in.
Harry knew then that she'd just realised he hadn't aged – at all – since they'd last seen each other when he'd hit thirty-five. Anyone else wouldn't have, but Natasha was a spy, probably a better spy than anyone else in the world. She was trained to notice those kind of minute details.
"Harris?" Bill repeated, confused, sure that he was looking at Harry Potter.
"Charles Harris," Harry supplied. "And I don't mind if you join us. Miss Branton?"
"I'm curious to know who they thought you were," she answered with a slight nod.
Bill and Fleur, both still staring at Harry a little fixedly, took the last two free chairs at the table Harry had claimed while the café had still been mostly empty.
"I apologise, Monsieur Harris," Fleur said. "It is just that you look so much like a good friend of ours... or perhaps how he might have looked if he had lived longer."
"What was his name?" Natasha asked kindly.
"Harry," Bill supplied. "Harry Potter. He... he was too young. Heart of gold, brave, best friend anyone could ask for, and..."
"And we didn't deserve his friendship," Fleur finished as Bill's neck tightened up, his gaze fixed on Harry, and her hands both clasped around the one of his hands that was on the table. The other was tightly balled on his knee beneath the table. "He was seventeen, and he left us, who he barely knew, a house that had belonged to his parents in his will, just because we were newly married shortly before he died."
"Why don't you think you deserved his friendship, if you don't mind me asking?" Harry enquired, genuinely curious, though he tempered it with gentleness. It seemed like they still hadn't gotten completely over his death, even after all these years.
"Because my youngest brother pretended to be his best friend for years," Bill spat, self-loathing written all over his face. "Accepted payment to spy on him! If I'd still been home then... If I'd have known then -! I'd have walloped him good for doing something so underhanded."
"William," Fleur soothed. "If I recall, you did give Ronald a beating when you found out. Then all of your brothers did as well. Well," she corrected, "not Percy. He lectured."
"Perce isn't exactly a tower of physical ability," Bill allowed wryly, and forced himself to breathe deeply. "I'm sorry," he said to Harry and Natasha. "It's been a long time, but I'm still not exactly... adjusted to Harry being gone, even if I hardly got to spend any time with him when he was still alive."
"You don't have to apologise," Harry assured Bill as kindly as he could.
"Some people just... touch your life," Natasha offered. "You don't have to have known them long."
Bill and Fleur just nodded silently.
"We are sorry for bringing the atmosphere down," Fleur said, "and for mistaking you, Monsieur Harris. It is simply... we have never seen anybody with eyes as green as young Harry's."
Harry nodded in acceptance. He'd never done anything to disguise the colour of his eyes, or that he needed glasses. He didn't wear the same old round frames he'd worn back then, but he did still wear glasses. Maybe, someday, he'd see about getting corrective eye surgery. Maybe. Someday. If Stark ever went into medicine beyond arc reactors that kept shrapnel from piercing his own heart, then certainly, but otherwise...
At least, after all these years, his 'famous scar' had finally and completely faded. If it hadn't... then Bill and Fleur would be questioning him on why he hadn't come back sooner rather than just missing the memory of him.
"Mr Harris does have fascinating eyes," Natasha complimented with a smile.
Harry raised an eyebrow at her and quirked a smile. "Miss Branton," he said. "If you have a man in your life, I do believe he should spank you for flirting with strange men you just met in a café in Cairo."
"Monsieur Harris!" Fleur yelped.
Natasha glared at Harry for a moment, and then blushed. Harry guessed that Clint had heard his comment and quipped something dirty himself into whatever invisible ear-piece she was wearing. If it wasn't that, then she could blush on demand, and that was damn impressive.
"I do apologise, Mrs Weasley, Miss Branton. I should not have been so crass in the presence of such beauties. Or indeed in front of any woman of recent acquaintance," Harry corrected himself, giving his apology to both women.
Just then, Natasha's phone rang in her handbag and she moved quickly to answer it.
"Hello? Yes," she pulled out a pen and scribbled something on a napkin. "Yes, I can be there in one hour. No," she said, and looked up at Harry. "I met a friend who's offered to translate for me, so I'm sure I can manage."
Harry lifted his empty glass in salute to her, a smile on his own lips as he closed his book with his other hand before he finished his drink.
"Yes," Natasha said, her tone insistent. "Alright, thank you. I'll be there soon," she finished, and closed the flip-top phone before dropping it back into her bag. She turned to Bill and Fleur. "It was lovely to meet you," she said, and she sounded sincere. It was possible that she even was. "Mr Harris? If you'd be kind enough to escort me to my business meeting?"
Harry nodded. "It was nice to meet you both," he said to Bill and Fleur as he stuffed his book into his bag and rose from his chair, offering his arm to Natasha.
"It was our pleasure," Fleur answered, and Bill nodded in agreement.
Harry dropped a few local coins on the table as a tip to the wait-staff who would clean up the table when they came by, and then he and Natasha left the little café behind.
"I'm surprised to see you in Cairo, Westley," Natasha said softly, her lips barely moving. "The last any of us knew, S.H.I.E.L.D. lost you when you passed through Turkey, since even in your emails you didn't tell us where you were."
"Turkey was a lay-over," Harry answered, his voice just as soft. "I spent a week seeing the sights, bought souvenirs, took pictures. Turkey doesn't have a lot of sights to see that aren't equally available in any other country with a souk. I'm more surprised to see you in Cairo."
"We go where the job takes us," Natasha answered. "We're not agents any more, but we freelance for S.H.I.E.L.D. still when they need someone with our particular skill-sets."
"Home-making got boring, didn't it?" Harry teased lightly. "No, I know," he said more seriously, cutting Natasha off before she could say anything. "You don't have to explain it to me again, I did get your email when you and Hawkeye both decided to get back into it. I'm just surprised you were sent to Cairo of all places. What's the job?"
"Despite appearances, things haven't entirely calmed down since the riots," Natasha answered. "We are going to see a man about an arms deal."
"Of course we are," Harry sighed. "Can Hawkeye hear me through the comm-unit that I'm guessing you're wearing even though I can't see it?"
Natasha nodded. "He says he'll definitely spank me later, and offers an invitation if you want to watch," she relayed, perfectly calmly.
"Tempting, but I'll probably pass," Harry answered with a smile.
"Did you know them?" Natasha asked suddenly. "The Weasley couple. Did you know them?"
"You're really asking if I am the person they mistook me for," Harry said, "and if I am, or was, then why they think I'm dead."
Natasha didn't deny it.
"Yes," Harry answered after a moment of silent deliberation. "If you want more than that, it's going to have to wait. You have a job to do after all."
Natasha nodded her acceptance. "Thank you for helping with this, Fred," she said softly.
"Any time, anywhere, anything," he answered solemnly. "You just have to ask."
"Thank you for that as well."
"So, these people we're going to meet... kill them all or just incapacitate for interrogation?"
"I need the boss , a man called Sepi, alive to answer questions," Natasha answered. "The others..."
"Right," Harry said with a nod of understanding. "Cover?"
"You're a business associate. We parted on good terms the last time we did business. You happened to be on vacation in the area, which is my good fortune, since you speak the language. As long as it's not out of your way, you're happy enough to do me a favour," Natasha said firmly.
Harry nodded. All essentially true. Just not the full truth. That was fine. It would be easier to remember that way.
It was an easy thing in the end. Greetings were made, Harry's story was explained – by Harry, and in Egyptian for credibility – and then the dealing got started with Harry strictly playing translator until Natasha signalled that they had enough information for now, and it was time to take down all the extras.
Harry stunned Sepi, causing the man to drop, and then Clint's arrows started appearing in people's chests while Natasha calmly broke the necks of anybody who came too close to her. Further S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives were called in, to clean up the mess and clean out the weapons, and Sepi was taken away to be questioned by an official agent who spoke the language, rather than things having to go through Harry as translator. The S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who spoke Egyptian wasn't the one sent on the job because, quite simply, he wasn't field cleared at the moment. His right arm and left leg were both broken from an assignment in Jericho.
He could handle interrogation rooms though. No problem.
So, Harry was able to invite Clint and Natasha back to the house he was renting in Cairo and offer them cold drinks and air conditioning.
"So, the couple earlier," Clint started off once they'd all settled down.
Harry nodded. "Yeah, I knew them. Before I started moving around and changing my name with every new country I set foot in and every new trade I tried my hand at. I was Harry Potter, but he died. I died. I'm just lucky, or unlucky enough, that I didn't stay dead."
"You haven't aged," Natasha commented. "It's been years."
"You're looking fantastic too, but you're right," Harry deferred before she could have a go at him for deliberately misunderstanding her. "I haven't aged, not since I left you guys any way, and I won't any further either. It's why I went on the move, and why I stay on the move. Don't get too comfortable, get used to moving on before it's been so long people notice, that sort of thing."
Charles Harris left Egypt not all that long after helping Natalie Branton bring down an arms deal. It wasn't easy for S.H.I.E.L.D to keep track of the man who had been born Harry James Potter. They lost him when he was in India, going by the name Malcolm 'Mal' Drake, some five years after. He was back on their radar for a while when he visited Stark Tower – under the name Fred Westley again – and caught up with how everybody was doing and got to meet the few children that had come along since his initial time spent there. They managed to track him through Mexico (Nathan Branton, of all things), the Caribbean Islands (and he had a different name on each one), and lost him when he left them through the Bermuda Triangle. They picked him up again in Russia, going by Robert Syne, but when he left there they lost him again. The only proof they had he was still alive was that people they were more able to track than him were still getting emails from him fairly regularly.
"Have you considered Asgard?" Loki asked in the silent darkness of his room in Stark Tower. He was the only one there. "The people there are longer lived after all."
"I thought there was some 'no human' rule there," answered a familiar voice from within the small, round, folding mirror that Loki had rested on his pillow in the darkness. Light shone from within the mirror. The person on the other side was outdoors in the middle of the day. It was light enough to illuminate Loki so that he could be seen by his friend on the other end.
"A case could be made," Loki suggested.
"And leave you as the only 'immortal' on Earth in any permanent way? Nah. Too cruel. I don't go in for that. Besides, I'm having fun in Brazil right now."
"I think that S.H.I.E.L.D has stopped trying to track you now," Loki offered.
"Well, it has been nearly a hundred years since I was last solidly on their radar," the voice answered, amused. "Especially since they can't track where my emails are coming from any more, and the solid leads they had for recipients of my mail have been a bit thin on the ground lately."
"Especially since you sent me this mirror and stopped needing to write to me," Loki pointed out. "I was their long-term safety-net for being able to find you I think."
"Well, you're still there, and you can find me. Know all my cover names and everything. Even my real name. I'm still impressed at how you got that out of me, but you are the Silvertongue."