So, I decided that this needed a bit of an overhaul because I rushed it first time round - and, to be frank, I still had a lot to learn. Also, I was planning a very different, much lighter (and frankly, much worse) fic when I started out. In truth, the whole thing probably needs a rewrite (and there is a Director's Cut on AO3 that I mean to get around to at some point), but there's only a limited amount I can really change without potentially screwing up continuity.
In any case, don't let the tone of the early chapters fool you, it gets much darker as time goes by. Not grim-dark, but dark nevertheless. It'll be canon compliant for the Harry Potter books up to a point, but there will be serious differences as Harry begins to change under the influence of the Avengers. The basis for the Marvel side of things is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, up to and including The Avengers, blended with elements of the comics. It takes elements from later films, like Winter Soldier, but events really diverge post Avengers. Also, there are a few other fic verses thrown in that will be come to be important as time goes by.
First off, the Wizarding World knows about the Avengers. Why? Well, being gods, Loki and Thor are of key interest to it, and Loki in particular has played a sizeable part in its history. If those two hadn't been involved, it would be debatable as to whether the Wizarding World would even have noticed the Battle of New York. Furthermore, they've had other interactions with aspects of the Marvelverse.
Now, it's been a couple of years, time enough for people to get vaguely familiar with the Avengers as a group. Timeline wise, I split the difference between the two 'verses: Harry's born in 1993, the Battle of New York happened in 2003. Though to be honest, I play a little fast and loose with what actual year it is.
I own nothing you recognise. This fic is only partially beta'd, by Thunder Stag, tylerbamafan34 and the collective minds of 'The Magic of Torchwood' Facebook group.
Note: some of those re-reading may be a tad confused by how the summary has changed. I changed it because I thought the old one was rubbish. I may change it again - summaries aren't my strong point.
Just a little higher, Harry thought whilst chasing the snitch. The storm grew around him, dark clouds throbbing ominously, but he didn't notice, so focused was he on the golden darting object that was just a few feet away, getting closer and closer to his outstretched hand. He almost had it, and with it, the match. Self-preservation could wait.
Then he felt a bone deep coldness settle on him and an entirely different chill, one of recognition, ran through him. He had felt this cold before, unnatural and all pervading. The rain nearby was freezing into droplets of ice, pelting him. For once, he was glad for his glasses as he looked around. Dozens of Dementors were all around him. As they drew closer, he began to hear things, just like before, and see flashes of memory.
A dark room and a darker figure who seemed to be robed in shadow. A red haired woman standing between him and Harry.
Stand aside, you foolish girl!
The red haired woman, his mother maybe, refusing to stand aside.
No, please, not Harry!
The robed figure, Voldemort, raising his wand, a green light issuing from it, the woman falling and then… then he turned on Harry. Another flash, and he raised his wand.
There was another green light and a rushing sound.
It was at that point that his grip on his broom failed. He fell. And as he did, helpless and in truly mortal danger for the first time in his life, unable to do anything to save himself, something... shifted. His unconscious mind sent out a wordless scream for help.
For most, this would have had no effect whatsoever. Even for Harry, it would normally not have achieved a blessed thing. But this time, something in his mind flared, like a banked ember at a campfire being prodded into life. His descent slowed. And the message went winging away.
Not a moment later, in Asgard, worlds away, Loki sat bolt upright in his bed. It should have been impossible for such a distress call, aimlessly flung into the void, to reach him. By all logic, it should be impossible, even for this child. For his nephew. He sighed.
He had known this would come back to haunt them. He had known that it could not be kept secret forever, indeed, he had opposed the lies in the first place. He had recognised their necessity (though felt that something, at least, could and should have been done). But had he been listened to? Noooo.
Well, nothing for it, he thought. It must be hoped that time was a sufficient healer, or things would get very, very messy. Though not quite as messy as his nephew being attacked by a horde of Dementors and the consequences thereof. With that in mind, he leaped out of bed, and teleported to Thor's chambers. "Thor!" he yelled, bursting into his brother's room.
"What is it brother?" Thor said groggily, Jane struggling to sit up next to him.
"A family emergency," Loki said, and despite the urgency, smirked as Thor bolted upright.
"What? Is this one of your tricks?" Thor asked suspiciously. Though Loki had found his way back to sanity (a slow and painful process to say the least) and now sought to redress the wrongs he had done, he was still as much of a prankster as ever.
Loki rolled his eyes and crossed to Thor's side. "No. I have no time to explain, so we'll have to do this the hard way. My lady Jane, you might want to get out of the way. There is a rather impressive memory block on my brother and releasing it so violently could lead to flailing." Jane immediately slipped out of the bed, wearing only a small shirt and shorts. Loki smiled slightly. There were many reasons for him to like Jane Foster. First was that she was both sensible and exceptionally intelligent, thereby keeping his brother on a leash thanks to his listening to her good sense, second was that she was very attractive and third was that she didn't ask stupid questions in emergencies, or, indeed, at all.
"Memory block?" Thor asked, confused and suspicious, but didn't resist as Loki pressed his hands to his brother's temples. With no time for subtlety, he smashed straight through the magics that had been placed on Thor's mind. One small blessing was that they had sacrificed strength to maintain subtlety and were therefore easy to brush aside. Suddenly, Thor's eyes went wide, he spasmed several times and he scrambled out of bed, grabbing Mjolnir.
"What is wrong with my son?" he demanded, armour forming.
"Your son? Thor, what is going on?" Jane asked, frowning.
Thor opened his mouth, before Loki cut across him. "Thor, your son is being chased by Dementors. I'll explain. You would only make it worse. Now GO!"
Thor nodded, eyes wide with terror, and whirling his hammer, shot out of the room through the roof.
"Now, Jane," Loki said, sitting down on Thor's bed. "You had best join me in sitting down. And I shall explain some things about Thor's past, when he was rendered human before to teach him humility. As part of that process, he was rendered into a infant called James Potter. And it is not a short tale."
Jane, confused, sat and listened. It wasn't like there was anything else to do.
As it turned out, the full story could be neatly summarised as Odin's first attempt to teach Thor humility by incarnating him as human baby without any of his memories (blocked) or powers (removed) as Thor, and basically give him a second chance, before a planned reintegration of the two sets of memories, leaving Thor with a new and improved outlook on life, and, conveniently, a wife and son.
Unfortunately, this had all gone thoroughly pear-shaped when Thor's mortal self had been murdered by a Dark Lord called Voldemort because Thor, being eternally possessed of a hero complex, and his wife were part of a resistance movement and their son was prophesied to defeat the Dark Lord in question.
This exceptionally traumatic incident and the forcible reintegration of mortal and godly minds meant that Thor, in the simplest of terms, went stark raving mad.
For Jane's part, she thought it sounded vaguely like the intro to a fairly average fantasy novel, but considering she was dating a key member of the Norse Pantheon and currently staying in his home dimension, it made a sort of sense.
"So, Odin wiped Thor's memory to stop him going mad with grief and smiting most of Britain," Jane said slowly, ordering it in her head. Another reason Loki liked her was she actually thought things through and considered before making judgements. She was, after all, a scientist.
"Yes, he did," Loki said. "Though it was less of a matter of 'going mad' as 'gone mad'. It was... painful." He shook his head. "Afterwards, Thor was sane, but he regressed to the way he had been before, which in considerable part led to the later incident involving my plan to keep Thor off the throne and obliterate the Frost Giants," he added, looking somewhat pained, and Jane had rubbed his arm comfortingly.
His madness was something of a touchy subject, especially since it had not simply been a matter of him snapping into insanity one day, then snapping back to sanity on another. It had been a long and dark road into madness, and an even longer, darker one back to sanity, one that had taken years to travel - indeed, it could be argued that he was still travelling it. And while he accepted full responsibility for his deeds during that time, and had spent the intervening years trying to make amends, that did not mean he enjoyed dwelling on it.
"But doesn't Thor, as in, Thor as he is now, look rather different to as he did when he was this James Potter?" Jane asked, frowning. Loki had explained that James Potter's appearance had been partially based on his.
"Indeed he does, which is why I am glad I had the foresight put an enchantment on him, one that allows him to shift between his normal appearance and that of James Potter at will," Loki said. "If he remembers to use it, it should save my brother from trying to explain a lot of things. Which he is bad at."
Jane chuckled slightly. Thor was sweet, but he sometimes got a little lost in rambling metaphor and, occasionally, iambic pentameter.
Sometime before this, Thor, flying as fast as he could, had dived through the Tesseract powered Bifrost portal.
The Bifrost portals were largely Jane's invention, with a little bit of input and refinement from Tony, Bruce and Erik. She had managed, with machines that were held together largely by duct tape and judicious application of spit and prayers, to create a stable portal to Asgard, one that, since it was less powerful and transported less people, did not carry the same dangers in leaving it open. The old Bifrost had transported armies. This transported maybe ten at a time, no more.
Needless to say, Heimdall had been somewhat surprised when he saw a stick being poked though onto the remains of the Rainbow Bridge, though he had not shown it. While he had seen Jane working on the portals, he hadn't expected her to achieve in a year what had taken Asgard's finest minds two hundred years. Admittedly, she'd had a path to follow and a theory to work from, as well as the damaged portal generating machine that Loki had had Selvig build. It also helped that she hadn't needed to build a giant bridge to power it. It had also a temporary measure, with the original Bifrost now rebuilt. All told, though, it was very impressive, and it had been left there as an example. And, if necessary, a shortcut.
Now, there were several Bifrost portals in each of the Nine Realms, doors between realms, controlled by Heimdall from the Rainbow Bridge, the hub from which he could allow or deny travel through the gates and send people anywhere, either through his innate knowledge of the Nine Realms, or if someone wished to be very precise, input of coordinates into the gate.
Thor, while immensely proud of his lover's achievements, was not in the mood to dwell on the particulars, simply plunging into the gate.
This was, he would later reflect, an exceptionally stupid decision, since the gate could have dumped him anywhere in the Nine Realms. It was a roll of the dice, at best, dice with billions of potential sides. As he would later reflect, however, this time, someone had loaded the dice. For while, to an outside eye, it looked like simple chance, setting off a chain of events with vast consequences.
But if the outside eye knew how to look, they would realise something. For while there is chance in this universe, there are also beings that can and do manipulate even gods like chess players do their pieces. And when they take a hand in events, simple chance is not simple in the slightest: the cards are marked, the dice are loaded, and apparent coincidence is nothing of the kind.
But Thor was entirely ignorant of this. If he had been told of all of what was to come, the battles and wars, the triumphs and the tragedies, he might have felt outrage at being so manipulated - once he absorbed it. His mind was still occupied by a jumbled cascade of memories from a mortal lifetime that intruded into the front of his mind, pouring out from the dam behind which they had been locked away, displacing their false replacements, the knowledge that he had once been a mortal, a mortal wizard, called James Potter. But now, all he knew and all that mattered was that his son (his son) was falling.
So Thor raced after him, frantically pouring on as much speed as he could.
A couple of moments later, he closed on his son. They were only a hundred feet from the ground, and falling, falling so fast - though, as he would later reflect, not half as fast as he would expect. It was for that reason, and that reason alone, that he had not already hit the ground.
He would have to time this perfectly. And he did. He snatched him out of the air, fifty feet up. As he did, the cold, cloying influence of the flock of Dementors asserted itself, clawing at his newly reawakened memories, bringing the most painful ones to the surface. As it turned out, this suited Thor just fine, since frankly, he was itching for something to hit. Hovering, he thrust Mjolnir upwards, and channelled the fury at his son's predicament and the loss of Lily at the Dementors.
There was a warning rumble, then a blinding flash as hundreds of bolts of lightning struck the Dementors, causing them to let out unearthly howls and forcing them to flee. He glared after them. They could be dealt with later. What was more important right now was his son, who was lying unconscious in his arms as they both descended to the ground.
Harry had grown a lot since he'd last held him, Thor thought. Age had only cemented his resemblance to his father, though there were subtle shades of Lily in there. In the background he could hear the crowd cheering, - that certainly brought back memories - and the commentator was saying, 'And Harry Potter has been caught in mid-air by someone who I am told greatly resembles his father, James Potter, who is flying WITHOUT a broom! And summoning lightning bolts. This is officially the weirdest Quidditch match that I have ever seen.'
"James?" whispered Professor McGonagall.
Thor blinked. How had she... he brought a hand up to his face, feeling contours that were different, yet familiar. Tugging a forelock of his suddenly shorter and black hair into view confirmed it - Loki had seen fit to give him the appearance he had had as James Potter, though possibly allowing for a little bulk. He smiled ruefully. His brother, it seemed, thought of everything. If nothing else, it would make the explanations much easier.
Then, he remembered that he had been addressed.
"Hello Professor," Thor said, grinning and letting his memories of James Potter take over.
"How?" Dumbledore asked, looking half relieved, half extremely suspicious, his wand at his side, but in a way that suggested that it could be brought up very quickly. And it could - Thor remembered how fast Dumbledore had been on the draw. He was suspicious, and frankly, Thor couldn't blame him. Returning from the dead wasn't exactly a common occurrence in the Wizarding World - or anywhere, really.
He needed to establish his identity and gain at least Dumbledore's conditional trust, and fast, or they would get bogged down. As he had learned during his second exile, in New Mexico, simply proclaiming his identity at the top of his voice was not going to cut it. So he lowered his rudimentary mental defences and said, "Take a look."
Dumbledore was a Master Legilimens, and as such, he didn't dive straight in. Instead, he carefully probed at the edges of Thor's mind, looking for an immediate trap. Satisfied that one wasn't there, he began sifting through the upper layers of Thor's mind, always on the lookout for a psychic ambush. Once he was satisfied that there was none, he began to investigate in earnest.
First, he examined Thor's memories of being James as closely as possible, examining them for even the smallest sign of fabrication or deception, even the slightest mistake.
Second, he did the same, but with less close examination, to Thor's ordinary memories, simply establishing that they were real and moving on.
Third and finally, he inspected the connection between, making sure that the memories of James had not been grafted on.
As he discovered, they had merely been released from behind the dam that had concealed them, with two decades of false memories shattered in their wake.
While all of this took place at the speed of thought, it still took over five minutes, and though it took Thor some considerable effort of will, he did not move.
Dumbledore nodded slowly. "He is who he says he is," he said, voice effortlessly reaching the whole stadium. "Though it is remarkable. James Potter is alive."
"Indeed. The Wizarding World knew me as James Potter," Thor replied. "The mortal world and the rest of the nine realms know me as Thor Odinson, the God of Thunder and one of the Avengers." He paused. "I would show you my normal face, but, uh... well, my brother enchanted me to restore my appearance as James Potter, doubtless to smooth the path of establishing my identity. And I am not sure how to reverse it."
"If I may?" Dumbledore said, after a moment, raising his wand. Thor paused, then nodded his assent. Dumbledore slowly swept his wand in front of Thor's face several times, as if scanning it. Then, with a decisive nod, he swept it upwards, sharply. Thor felt a sudden tearing sensation, not necessarily painful, but surprising, and there were gasps as his true face revealed itself.
"Good god," McGonagall said faintly, as the crowd positively buzzed with shock and excitement.
"You called?" Thor asked, grinning, and McGonagall rolled her eyes.
"Definitely James," she murmured.
"I think, James – do you prefer James, or Thor?" Dumbledore asked.
"Stick with James, for the moment," Thor said. "And I think you should restore my James Potter face, if you would, Professor. This will be confusing enough as it is."
Dumbledore complied. "Very well, James. I think we need to talk," he said, in a tone that made it clear that Thunder God or not, this was not a request. "Inside. Now. Though I would be grateful if you could stop this storm."
Thor looked up at the storm, and whirled his hammer once. The storm petered out into nothingness in a matter of moments, and Thor looked smug. On James Potter's face, it was a very natural expression.
"Is that Snivellus I see up there?" he said, looking over Dumbledore's shoulder at a shocked looking Snape.
"Snape, James, Professor Snape, he teaches Potions now," Dumbledore said with a sigh. "Your son's almost as bad. He just calls him Snape."
Thor looked down at his unconscious son. "Truly, he is his father's son," he said solemnly.
"You've got that right," McGonagall muttered, with a fond yet long suffering air.
"Now, I think we should get inside," Thor added.
When Harry woke up, Ron and Hermione were at his bedside. And so was the entire Gryffindor Quidditch team, including a bedraggled looking Oliver Wood.
"Hey guys," he said. "What did I miss?"
"Hey Harry," the group chorused.
"Wrong question, Harry," Fred said.
"The real question," George said. "Is what didn't you miss?"
This didn't leave Harry any more enlightened, and he said so. The Gryffindor Quidditch team then all turned as one to Hermione, who looked a little nervous. Actually, she looked very nervous.
"Harry, we have some good news, and... and some bad news. The bad news is that after you fell off your broom, it hit the Whomping Willow. I'm sorry," Hermione said, unrolling the bundles she had been carrying.
"And the good news?" Harry asked, after a long moment. He felt numb. The Nimbus had been part of him. It had been his most prized possession, valued above everything he owned save his wand and Hedwig.
"What do you remember?" Hermione asked.
Harry sighed. "I remember the Dementors, I remember falling off my broom, then... someone catching me? I'm not sure if that was real, though. Then nothing."
"It was real, Harry. He is… there's no easy way to say this. He's your father, Harry. And his real name is… Thor," Hermione said slowly.
Harry blinked. Then blinked again, before letting his head fall back and staring at the ceiling.
"Harry?" Ron asked, a bit worried. "You okay, mate?"
"I am going to wake up in a minute, find myself in my bed in Gryffindor tower, and dismiss this as a really weird dream, or some kind of illusion," he said in a leaden voice.
"I would be most disappointed to find out that I was an illusion and unaware of it, since I myself am a master illusionist," a tall dark haired man said, walking into Harry's field of vision and sounding amused. He looked rather like pictures Harry had seen of James, almost like he was a brother. More to the point, however, he'd seen him on television and in the newspapers. It couldn't be… "Hello Harry. I am Loki, of Asgard. Your uncle." It was.
Everyone's jaw dropped, and Fred and George dropped to their knees.
"The Norse God of Mischief!" Fred said, sounding awed.
"Pranks!" George added.
"Magic!" Fred said.
"And Chaos!" George said.
"Teach us, we beg you, o master!" both finished at exactly the same time.
Loki looked amused, yet somehow also rather conflicted. "Oh get up, you two, I don't need abasement," he said, smiling in a somewhat self-deprecating fashion. "As for your request… well it has been rather some time since I took on an apprentice, and I would rather like to teach my nephew… nevertheless, I have had as many as four apprentices before, even if Thor mostly taught Godric."
He examined them for a long moment, as if looking beyond mere outward appearance. Then, he turned and pressed a hand against the wall, eyes half-closed. It might just have been Harry's imagination, but he felt... something. Like something huge moving near the surface of the water. Then, Loki smiled faintly. "Perhaps this was meant to be," he said. "Certainly not what I planned, but I can work with this." He nodded decisively. "You have the talents necessary, I think. For the time being, at least, you may both consider yourselves my apprentices, on probation. If you prove sufficiently skilled and hard-working, the position may become permanent."
Fred and George looked like they were about to pass out from joy.
"Thank you, master," they said, bowing.
"Please, just call me Loki, Mister Odinson, if you must. That goes for all of you. Except for Harry, who, if he so wishes, may call me Uncle," Loki said.
"Assuming this is real and I haven't just gone insane - which I think is far more likely - I'd like that," Harry said, mind a whirl.
"Excellent, nephew," Loki said. "And I am certain that you are as sane as I am."
"Is that supposed to be comforting?" Harry asked, before he could stop himself, to horrified gasps.
Loki, however, burst out laughing. "Touché," he said, amused. "Now, I'd better go fetch your father. As far as I can tell, he's stopped trying to smite Professor Dumbledore for leaving you with the Dursleys, and now Dumbledore is trying to prevent him from smiting the Dursleys. I'm not sure how successful this is going to be, but it should be fun to watch either way."
"Dursleys?" Hermione asked.
"My aunt and uncle," Harry said. "And my cousin."
"Why would Thor smite them?" Hermione asked, frowning.
Harry opened his mouth, then closed it again, saying nothing.
"Because of how they treated Harry," Loki said quietly. "Which was truly abominably." At Harry's expression of surprise he added, somewhat cryptically, "I have my sources."
"When we went to get him last year, they had bars on his window," Fred said grimly.
"They were practically starving him," George added, equally grimly.
Under everyone's horrified scrutiny, Harry hunched up and said nothing.
"Indeed," Loki said softly, a soft voice that carried an undertone of pure fury. "While I am sure that Harry would not appreciate the details being aired to all and sundry, rest assured that my brother's rage is more than justified." A glint appeared in his eye. "And it is a rage I share." He sighed. "Of course, I am better at compartmentalising such things than my brother. In retrospect, I probably should not have informed him about it until I got him somewhere quieter and more secluded. Such as the Moon."
As he turned to go, Hermione, who had previously looked righteously enraged on Harry's behalf, now looked like she'd had a thought. "Wait! Uh, your majesty, Loki, I've got an idea." She turned to Harry. "You said that the Dursleys care about their reputation as a normal, well off and well to do family?"
Harry nodded. He had indeed told her that during an explanation of the hovering pudding fiasco, part of one of Dobby's many attempts to save him by keeping him away from Hogwarts the previous year.
She turned to Loki. "And Thor is one of the Avengers, right?"
Loki nodded, then began to grin as he caught on.
"I'm sure that between you, you and Tony Stark could manage a far more effective and long lasting form of revenge than merely smiting them," Hermione said, with sounded like a degree of cheerful malice that no one would previously have credited her with. Everyone in the room was looking at her with mingled fear, awe, and in the case of Loki, a decidedly impressed expression.
"Oh I like you," he said with a smirk. "You are one of my nephew's friends, are you not, Miss…"
"Granger. Hermione Granger," Hermione replied.
Loki scrutinised her for a long moment, and seemed to look almost... shocked? Then, the moment passed and he smiled. "Miss Granger, you can consider yourself my fourth apprentice, also on probation, though I am sure that you will prove worthy of a permanent position. Stark would do it for Thor, or indeed, even for the fun of it," he said, turning to go. Hermione looked like she was about to pass out. It was not every day one got offered an apprenticeship with the Asgardian God of Magic.
Ron, who had looked both puzzled and rather put out at being ignored, suddenly looked puzzled as Loki left.
"Did he say one of his former apprentices was called Godric? And that he had four?" he asked. Everyone's jaw dropped even further as this sunk in. Except Harry who looked blank and lay back down.
"Harry?" Hermione asked. "Are you all right?"
"Hermione. I woke up five minutes ago. Since then, I've discovered that not only is my father alive, but he is also the Norse God of Thunder and a superhero. And my uncle is a reformed super villain, also a superhero, and apparently taught the founders and has now taken myself, Fred, George and you on as his apprentices. I'm still not entirely sure that this real," Harry said flatly. "How do you think I am?"
There was a long, awkward moment.
"Your dad's a great bloke," Ron offered eventually. "Oliver was trying to drown himself in the showers and your dad dragged him away and told him that even the best captain can't predict the intervention of Dementors and an enormous storm. And that a good captain should be waiting by his seeker's bed, not trying to drown himself."
Oliver nodded. "He was pretty emphatic on that part."
"And Diggory, the Hufflepuff Seeker, came up here and tried to hand him the Snitch shortly after they brought you in," Angelina added. "He hadn't seen you fall and thought the match should be replayed. Failing that, he thought you deserved the snitch."
Harry glanced around, half expecting to see a snitch buzzing around.
"Your dad handed it back to him, though," Katie said. "Said that there was every chance that he would have got it instead."
"Which was very fair minded of him," Fred said, a bit dubiously. "I suppose."
"A bit too fair minded, maybe."
"He is a god, and who are we mortals to question his judgement?"
"Probably first in line," Ron muttered.
"Can you just tell me what happened before I got here?" Harry interjected.
"Well," Hermione said. "Dementors were flying up into the storm – towards you – and suddenly, you fell. Then, the sky darkened, and the storm got even bigger as something – your father - shot towards you."
"I've never seen anyone fly so fast," Ron said in awe. "Not even a Firebolt could have kept up!"
"Yes Ron," Hermione said, slightly irritated at being interrupted. "Anyway, he caught you maybe a hundred feet off the ground, and hovered. And then he raised his hammer, and lightning struck the Dementors. All of them at once! After that, he landed, talked to Professor Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall and the Hufflepuff Seeker, then took you inside to the hospital wing."
Harry nodded slowly, processing all of this. In his short life, he'd seen and done a number of unbelievably weird things. All of them, however, paled in comparison to this.
"So where is he now?" he asked eventually.
"The Headmaster's office."
Loki strode towards the Headmasters office. The gargoyle looked at him, realised who he was, and moved respectfully out of the way. It had been there since Hogwarts had first been built, and recognised its creator on sight.
"Thank you," Loki said politely as he reached the moving spiral staircase.
"Not a problem," was the literally gravelly reply.
As the stairs carried him up, he heard Thor loudly saying that he would beat the Dursleys to a pulp and feed them to Fenris, after tying them up with their own intestines.
"Brother," Loki sighed. "Calm down."
"Loki?" Thor said in surprise, still wearing his James Potter face. Unsurprising. He had probably not figured out how to change between the two. "Jane…"
"Is fine. She's been knocked a little off-balance by it all, as is your son I might add, but both of them are coming to terms with it," Loki said, privately thinking that the coming to terms progress would take quite some time.
"Jane?" Albus asked.
"Jane Foster, she's –" Thor began.
"An astrophysicist, creator of the Foster theory and the chief mind behind the New Bifrost," Albus said. "I have heard of her." He smiled faintly at Thor's surprise. "Where possible, I keep up with modern science. And even if I did not, she is a rather remarkable young woman whose achievements are hard to miss. The New Bifrost has made waves, even in the magical world." He raised an interrogatory eyebrow. "You are seeing her?"
"Yes," Thor said, frowning. "I am. And… I am confused."
"Tell us something new," Loki murmured dryly, and Albus' lips twitched.
"This is serious, brother," Thor said, and his quiet, steely tone caught Loki's attention. "For me, it is only a couple of days since I lost my beloved wife. And now I love another woman. My feelings are genuine but…" Thor's face crumpled. "I don't know what to do, what to think, what to say. It hurts," he said in an astonishingly small, broken voice, one rendered all the more affecting by the fact that it was a tone so alien to the bluff, boisterous, steadfast Thor, even to the confident, cocky James Potter.
Loki, not normally one for such things, sat down beside him and slipped an arm around a shoulder. While Thor was usually the taller and broader, as James Potter, the brothers were of a size, Loki being slightly larger.
"I know, brother," he said gently. "It is not wrong for you to feel this way. In fact, I would be astonished and somewhat worried if you did not."
"That's comforting," Thor said flatly.
"Your son is awake by the way, and adjusting to having his father back. I've taken him, a friend of his called Hermione Granger and a pair of red headed twins on as apprentices. The twins have a palpable talent for mischief, one confirmed by the castle - they have a rare knack for chaos. And Miss Granger has... potential," Loki said.
"I must confess that I am a little surprised that you would consider Miss Granger as a potential mischief maker," Dumbledore said mildly. "She is remarkably clever, but rather fond of rules. Within reason."
"She also suggested a fitting punishment for Harry's erstwhile guardians," Loki said, not saying that a capacity for mischief wasn't even the first thing he had seen in her. There was, he felt, a great deal more to Hermione Granger than met the eye. "Harry said that they are rather fond of their reputation as a prosperous, normal, well to do family and if someone went out of their way to air their dirty laundry to the world…" he trailed off, as Thor grinned a truly wicked grin that was pure James Potter.
"Tony. Of course," he said in a predatory voice. "My son has chosen good friends."
"There is another thing," Dumbledore said quietly. "Sirius Black has escaped Azkaban. We believe he is after Harry."
"Sirius?" Thor said, honestly baffled. "Why would he be in Azkaban? Or after Harry?"
"He betrayed you and Lily, James," Dumbledore said, some confusion of his own in his voice. "Peter went to confront him, but against Sirius he didn't stand a chance. Sirius blew up the street and Peter with it."
Thor stared at him in shock.
"I am sorry, James. Peter received the Order of Merlin First Class posthumously –"
"Peter was our secret keeper," Thor said flatly, stopping Dumbledore dead.
"I'm sorry?" Dumbledore said in puzzlement.
"Peter was our secret keeper. We knew that everyone would assume it was Sirius, so we picked Peter. AND THE LITTLE RAT BETRAYED US!" Thor roared. "Did Sirius even get a trial?" he snarled.
"I believe he did," Dumbledore said, frowning. "The days after Lily and your death were rather fraught, and I barely had any time to think about Sirius. I always assumed Bartemius gave him a trial, if a brief one. It was, after all, an open and shut case." His lips thinned. "And believing his guilt, I did not feel especially disposed to investigate further. Clearly, that was a mistake."
"Well obviously he didn't," Thor snarled. "Or we would not be having this conversation. If I see Crouch, I'm going to kill him." He looked over at Loki. "Brother, I need one of your tracking spells immediately."
Suddenly, the office door opened and Lupin walked in. And that was when things got complicated.
"You wanted to see me, Professor Dumbledore?" Remus asked. Dumbledore had called him by Floo in Diagon Alley, where he'd been on business, acquiring a new specimen for his fourth year class. He'd been rather annoyed that said business was causing him to miss Harry's Quidditch match, but his contact had been insistent on that particular day and time and, well, some things couldn't be helped.
He stopped. James. His eyes widened, and then narrowed. It couldn't be James. James was dead. His wand blurred.
"Who the hell are you?" he snarled.
"Put the wand down, Moony, before I tell Professor Dumbledore exactly what you were doing with Marlene McKinnon in the closet on the fifth floor, the Christmas of our Sixth Year," then man who looked like James replied.
Remus' eyes widened again. This was impossible. Then again, there were shapeshifters, mind-readers, out in the world that might be able to deceive even Dumbledore. "What were you going to call your first daughter?" he asked quietly. If someone or something was going to invade his mind, then at least he would notice.
"Eleanor," James replied, equally quietly.
Remus felt no touch on his mind, and sheathed his wand. "Where have you been?" he demanded.
The other man in the room snapped his fingers, and James' body shifted. Instead of lean, dark haired, hazel eyed James Potter, a tall, powerfully muscled man with hair that flowed to his shoulders and bright blue eyes stood before him. "My birth name is Thor Odinson," a voice that was slightly different – maybe a slightly more formal lilt, an indefinable accent – said. The speech patterns were different too. "I was incarnated on Earth as James Potter to teach me humility. An amnesiac child, born to loving parents. Father has always looked after us both, even when punishing us." At that last, he smiled a wry smile, looking at the man next to him, the man who had snapped his fingers, who affectionately rolled his eyes.
"I lived my life," James, Thor, continued. "I met you, Sirius and Peter. I had friends. I loved Lily. I loved Harry. And when Voldemort killed me, my spirit, with full knowledge of who and what I was, could do nothing but watch in horror as my wife died. When I woke up in Asgard, that and the... forcible reintegration of my sets of memories had side effects. I went insane with grief, succumbing to the Warrior's Madness. Father removed my memories. I reverted to how I had been before I was born as James Potter. I never came down to Midgard because I had no reason to." He looked sorrowful and shifted back to his James Potter form. "I should have been there for Harry."
"Why did you come now?" Remus asked, curious.
"You can thank my brother for that," Thor said, nodding to the other man, who bowed.
"Brother?" Remus said, then his eyes widened. "Loki?!"
"At your service," Loki said, looking slightly smug.
"We built a shrine to you in fourth year," Remus blurted, before covering his mouth.
Loki was grinning like the Cheshire cat. It was, Remus thought vaguely, at sea in all of this, quite possible that he actually had been the Cheshire cat. "A shrine? Why, brother, I never knew you cared so much," he said, voice dripping with utter glee.
James glowered at him. It was a quintessential James Potter glower, the one he had always got after he got embarrassed – usually by Lily. "Thanks Moony. He's going to spend the next three centuries ribbing me about this," he said sourly, and just like that, physical differences aside, he sounded like James again.
"Oh, not three centuries… two should be sufficient, my faithful worshipper," Loki said cheerfully.
James growled. It was, Remus remembered, the same sort of noise he'd made after Sirius had made one joke about Lily too many. His face darkened with anger and regret, as it always did when he thought of Sirius.
"James, I'm sorry I didn't take Harry in, but with my circumstances," he began. James rolled his eyes and pulled him into a shoulder hug.
"Relax, Moony, I know. And I hear that you're one of Harry's favourite teachers. And I will be going to teach the Dursley's a lesson in due course. First, I need to find Sirius. And Peter."
Remus sighed. "James," he said. "Peter is –"
"A living, traitorous rat bastard who I will kill very slowly indeed," James said flatly without missing a beat. Remus was non-plussed to put it mildly. "Padfoot was never our secret keeper. We wanted it to be him, but he suggested Peter. So I'm going to find my son's godfather and the man who singlehandedly ruined my life and give them what they deserve."
Remus stared at him in shock and absolute horror.
"Don't you think you should meet your son first?" Loki interjected. "He will be just as disorientated by this as you are. Actually, a great deal more so."
James blinked. "Good point."
"Someone needs to do the thinking, as you clearly don't," Loki murmured.
"Suddenly I understand why you, Sirius and I got along," Remus observed faintly. "This is beginning to look somewhat familiar."
Loki eyed him speculatively, and glanced at James. "He has a point. I did look in on you every now and then, and I did notice a certain similarity of dynamic."
"Really?" James asked curiously.
"What kind of brother do you take me for?"
"A very long lived one who has slept through entire decades?"
"That happened once!"
"What did you do, then?"
"You remember the time that that Snape creature spent a month in a pink and purple tutu and his hair had been washed and there were sparkles in it?" Loki asked. "That was me. A little less subtle than my usual fare, but I thought that it would be appreciated."
"It was. Oh, it was. However could I forget it?" James asked, looking like he was reliving a happy memory. He then shot his brother a mild glare. "You would not believe the ticking off Lily gave me for that."
Remus too, remembered that incident wistfully. It had been a mark of a happier, simpler time.
"I probably wouldn't," Loki said. "Now, you need to go and talk to your son. He is going to want an explanation. And he deserves one."
James took a breath and nodded. He looked, Remus reflected, more frightened than he'd ever seen him, save for Harry's birth. And that particular incident might have had more to do with Lily's blood curdling screams mid labour and her inventive threats – mostly based on horrible things being done to James' testicles if he ever touched her again – than with anything else.
This was going to be... interesting.
Also, important notice:
First, Loki has been reformed, in the years prior to the story. Granted, it's something of a plot device, but he's had a few years. And after-effects of his madness linger. He is, for instance, very much willing to do the dishonourable, morally dubious and occasionally outright horrifying things that need to be done behind closed doors. Also, the world isn't universally happy with Loki as a good guy. He's visibly demonstrated his good intentions, he's served with distinction as a hero, but even if he was insane, he killed a lot of people. Some people hold a grudge, and with good reason, which he accepts.
Speaking of which, I'm not going with the 'Loki was a poor brainwashed victim of Thanos' line. Thanos' treatment of Loki certainly didn't help his mental state, but all he did was accelerate the decline.
Second, this is going to be different. I'm not just slamming two worlds together (or even several), I'm blending them. Yes, there will be many things that are familiar. The core characters are the same, in personality and back-story. The older, more recognisable names will be too. But I will be drawing from both obscure canon and my own imagination to put a unique spin on matters, one that will become more and more obvious as time goes by. Characters will not go down the paths you expect. This is my story, and unlike my previous major crossover, The Wizard in the Shadows, it is not merely a retelling of canon with a few other characters tagged on.
Third, please don't compare the respective power levels of various characters. It is very emphatically not going to be a simple case of Top Trumps. Raw power does not always carry the day. Though it seems surprising now, when everything is relatively warm, fluffy and nice, the good guys won't always win. Sometimes, they'll lose and lose big. Equally, the bad guys, the rogues' gallery, are not going to be confined to the Wizarding World by any stretch of the imagination.
As for Voldemort, it's not simply going to be a case of the Avengers rolling straight over him. There isn't even really going to be a straight up war the way there was in canon, because Voldemort is not stupid and won't try and take them head on. In many ways it will be harder. This is not going to be a simple moral tale of the good guys always winning, no matter how it seems at first. Far from it. There will be suffering, there will be pain, there will be grief and by god there will be suffering. There will also be hope, joy, love and laughter. This story will not be just one thing. It will be many things, woven together, to form something greater. And hopefully the result isn't a garbled mess.
So sit down, buckle up and hold onto your hats, people. It's going to be one hell of a ride.