In which Harry and Thor meet, more of Loki's past is revealed, some of Odin's plans for James/Thor prior to the attack on Halloween are revealed, the Weasley Twins that Harry's family are just about the best thing since sliced bread, Thor has a long overdue talk with Snape – not one for the Snape fans – and Loki is confronted several students who lost people when he attacked New York.
Harry looked up as he heard footsteps. In a heartbeat, he realised just why everyone said he looked like his father. Looking at James Potter, God of Thunder, was like looking at an older, dark eyed version of himself. He also looked rather nervous as he came to sit down beside Harry's bed, running a hand through his hair distractedly. Harry watched as his eyes ran up and down Harry's body, focused first on his face, then on his eyes. He sighed, and smiled crookedly. "Long time no see, son," he said quietly.
Harry glared at him for a long moment, fighting down a veritable storm of conflicting emotions, then said what he'd been wanting to say ever since he'd found out his father was alive. "Where the bloody hell have you been?" he snarled.
James jerked back like he'd been slapped. Then, with visible effort he replied, "I was incarnated as James Potter by my father, as a lesson in humility. I had no memories of my past life. Then, when I was murdered, I witnessed your mother's death as a spirit." Pain filled his eyes and he closed them briefly. "I then returned to Asgard. I returned to my original form. And I went mad. Mad with grief and rage. None could stop, none could hold me. Even mighty Heimdall could not restrain me in my madness. But my father could. He removed my memories of my life as James Potter."
"So why did you come now?" Harry asked, voice quieter.
"When the Dementors closed in on you, you sent out a subconscious distress call," James replied. "My brother Loki, your uncle, picked up on it, and broke the memory enchantment on me. I came down as fast as I could."
Harry digested this information. He looked thoughtful. "So… why don't you look like you do on TV?" he asked eventually. It was an odd question, but it was the first one that came to mind.
James chuckled, and shifted shape. The chair creaked slightly under his newly enhanced form.
Harry smirked. "Someone needs to go on a diet."
"You take more after my brother than is strictly healthy," James grumbled good naturedly, shifting back.
"Let's just hope I inherited the mischief making rather than the megalomaniacal tendencies," Harry said dryly.
James stared at him. "You used a word with seven syllables in it," he said, shocked.
"I hang around with the smartest witch in the year," Harry said, shrugging. "Some of it was bound to rub off."
"And your mother was top of her year," James said. "Please tell me you at least break the rules sometimes," he begged, eyes wide.
"… um, a bit?" Harry ventured, a tad startled by this reaction. "Does sneaking past traps set up by all the Professors to get to the Philosopher's Stone count? And brewing polyjuice potion in a bathroom and sneaking into the Slytherin common room? And sneaking out at night with your invisibility cloak?"
James looked immensely proud. "Yes it does," he said grinning. Then he sobered and looked stern. "I hear that you are less than respectful to Professor Snape, and often refer to him simply as Snape."
Harry opened his mouth to angrily retort, to explain that Snape had had it in for him since the very first day, then saw the twinkle in his father's eyes. His dad was teasing him. He couldn't help but get a warm feeling when he realised that.
"I can only say one thing to such behaviour," James continued solemnly, lips twitching in the beginnings of a grin. "Carry right on with my full blessing."
"Thanks… dad," Harry said, testing out the new word. He'd never really used it before. He looked at his dad, then reached out and hugged him. His dad stiffened for a moment, then relaxed, wrapping him in a warm, comforting hug. For the first time since he was just over a year old, Harry relaxed in the reliable strength of his father's arms, letting himself be gently rocked back and forth. Most teenage boys would have found this awkward. At best. But Harry was not most teenage boys. A love starved orphan, he was going to latch onto whatever love he could get.
Some time later, Madame Pomfrey walked in, and stopped, smiling at the father and son. The two were nigh identical – if one discounted the difference between hospital slacks and strange, otherworldly armour – in both appearance and their apparent need to be close to one another.
Her heart melted as Harry made a probably unconscious noise that she would normally expect from a much younger child, burrowing his face into his father's shoulder, while his father rubbed his back and hushed him gently. Both were crying, eyes shut. She'd once heard a muggle describe this sort of moment as a Kodak moment. Once she'd had it explained to her what this meant, she thought it suited very nicely.
She heard the hospital wing open, and Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger and the Weasley twins walked in. Hermione looked like she was restraining the urge to go 'Aw'. Ron opened his mouth, which was promptly covered by a hand from each twin. Madame Pomfrey caught their eyes and nodded towards the door. Ron looked like he was about to protest, until Hermione hissed something in his ear that ended in 'insensitive berk' and dragged him out by the ear.
A few minutes later, Loki slipped in, paused, and smiled. Silently, he sat down and apparently set himself up as a watchman, keeping a vigilant eye on his surroundings. He glanced at Madame Pomfrey, and winked slyly, before his green eyes, a slightly darker shade than Harry's, continued to rove around the room. Harry had clearly drifted off to sleep, comfortably ensconced on his father's shoulder. She walked over, careful to be quiet. "If you want to take him onto your lap, James, that would be fine."
James, or Thor, as he technically was – now wasn't that a turn up for the books – blinked, then gave her the same stunning smile that she remembered so well from his Hogwarts days. "Thanks," he whispered, and gently, tenderly, lifted his son onto his lap. Harry didn't even stir. The poor boy must have been rather overwhelmed by it all. She watched as James shut his eyes and let his head nod, holding Harry against his chest. She glanced at Loki, who gave her a single, approving nod.
Eventually, Professors Dumbledore, McGonagall and Snape walked in. On seeing the sight of the two cuddling, Professor Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall smiled. McGonagall even wiped away a couple of tears. Snape on the other hand, was a different story. First, for a long, long moment, there was grief, pain, wistfulness and a thousand other emotions mixed in. Then he sneered, and opened his mouth. As he did, Loki appeared in front of him, eyes as cold as an arctic winter. His entire demeanour said, 'what you are about to do is going to piss me off. You piss me off at your peril. I suggest you rethink what you are about to do'.
Snape wisely shut his mouth. Loki promptly ignored him, casting a bubble of silence. He smiled. "Professor Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, it is nice to see you," he said warmly. His expression cooled as he glanced briefly at Snape. "As you can see, my brother and his son are asleep. I would appreciate if they were not disturbed."
Dumbledore's lips twitched. "We intended nothing of the kind," he said, eyes hardening as he glanced at Snape, who took the hint.
"Indeed not," he drawled, casting a wary look at Loki, who nodded absently.
"Yes, we rather decided against after we heard Miss Granger quite emphatically telling off Ronald Weasley for nearly interrupting them. No malice was, as ever, intended on the part of Mister Weasley, but as ever he has a remarkable ability not to think before he speaks," McGonagall said, lips twitching in amusement.
Loki chuckled softly. "He sounds like Fandral, or indeed, Thor himself. I suspect James had similar tendencies."
"Where Lily was concerned, most certainly," Dumbledore said.
Loki sobered. "Yes, Lily." He sighed. "I was going to visit them, you know, a week after Halloween. Just to observe, for the time being, but eventually more. The plan was that we were slowly going introduce James to his Asgardian heritage, and slowly bring back the memories – but to bolster his identity as James, not overwhelm it. Eventually, he would be taken to Asgard along with Lily, where Harry would, in part, have been raised, alongside any siblings he had in full knowledge of who he was. Lily would have been given the chance to become an Asgardian. I am confident that she would have done." He sighed. "I watched them, every now and then. She was an excellent match for my brother, a clever, brave and kind woman and an excellent mother. She would have made a magnificent Queen of Asgard, in the fullness of time. The attack, however, put paid to that."
"How would the Dark Lord have figured in those plans of yours?" Snape asked, sneering. "He would hardly have been a minor obstruction."
"I would have hunted him down and killed him as a threat to peace, and most particularly, to my family," Loki said calmly. His eyes darkened. "And if I ever find his remnants… I shall destroy them. That creature attacked my brother. He tore his love from him and separated him from his child. He is long overdue a slow and painful death."
"I do not think many will object to those plans," McGonagall said, then gasped as Loki suddenly lashed out, grabbing Snape's left arm, and hauled his sleeve up. Revealing the Dark Mark.
"How interesting," Loki said, voice as cold as arctic pack ice, and shifted his grip, forcing Snape to his knees. "I take it that he serves you now?"
"As a young man, he made mistakes. Mistakes he later regretted," Dumbledore said. "At great personal risk, he became my spy in Voldemort's inner circle. Alas, it was not in time to save Lily and, one way or another, James."
Loki still didn't release Snape's arm, which he held in a vice grip. Snape drew his wand.
"Don't even think about it," Loki said softly. "Unless you want your wand shattered and your hand with it." He looked down at Snape. "What shall I do with you, I wonder," he said. "I've heard many things about this man, from students and the castle herself. Few of them are good, some of them very intriguing. Before me kneels the Death Eater who loved a muggleborn. How ironic. She chose my brother, in the end. She chose the man who changed. Have you changed? Now that is a good question."
"Youthful mistakes can be repented of and penance done," Dumbledore said quietly. "You yourself should know that, Loki."
Loki smiled sourly. "True enough." He released his grip. "But know this, Severus Snape. I do not trust you. Headmaster Dumbledore does, but I do not. Your motives may cause you to protect Harry, and do what is right, but you do not understand… goodness is its own reward. And I fear that you still look down on those of non-magical birth. For this and other sins, including the victimisation of my nephew – the castle has a lot to say about that -, I do not like you. I will be watching you. Understood?"
"Understood," Snape growled, getting to his feet.
"Good," Loki said, as Snape stalked out, purposefully slamming down the door as loudly as possible. Loki's eyes narrowed, and he glanced at Thor and Harry. Aside from a slight stirring, there was no change, so he let it go.
"Was that strictly necessary?" Dumbledore asked.
"He would never have loved I, my brother or my nephew," Loki said. "So it is better that he fears us. If love cannot be achieved, then fear shall have to suffice. It is imperfect, but often effective."
Dumbledore clearly disagreed, but said nothing, changing the subject. "They are very sweet together," he said.
"Yes they are," Loki agreed. "It is a great pity that this is the first time that Harry remembers his father's love for him, for I watched them when Lily was still alive."
"Even through the Fidelius?" Dumbledore asked, surprised.
Loki grinned. "I created half the spells you use today," he said smugly. "I know how to slip past them all, without destroying their integrity." His face darkened. "I even created the spell that killed my brother's mortal form and his wife. Truly, it is a cruel irony that a spell I created to give those with magical talent the means to protect themselves from angry mobs was used by one of them to harm those I loved."
"You created the Killing Curse?" McGonagall asked in shock.
"A very long time ago," Loki said quietly. "I count it among the greatest mistakes that I have ever made, even if it was one made with the best of intentions." He sighed. "I have many, many sins to atone for, Professors."
He glanced at them. "I dare say that we should explain to the students what is happening. If they are anything like what I remember, they will be bursting with curiosity and coming up with the most outlandish rumours."
"I think that would be wise," Dumbledore sighed.
Meanwhile, a rat called Scabbers that had once been a man called Peter Pettigrew decided that now would be a good time to cut his losses. He had never imagined that two Norse Gods would appear and apparently – according to rumour – take an intense interest in Harry. A braver man and a more daring spy would have sought to find out more. As it was, Peter was neither of these. So he made good his escape. After leaving blood and hair behind to implicate the cat, of course.
The students had all gathered in the Great Hall.
"Silence please," Dumbledore said, standing at the podium. Loki was standing next to him. "As you may have noticed, this has been something of an unusual day, even by Hogwarts standards. Those of you who were at the Quidditch match will have seen the pitch invasion by Dementors, and the intervention of a man who controls lightning with a hammer. Those of you who know your Norse Mythology and follow the Muggle News may have figured out who he is. He is Thor, the Norse God of Thunder and Lightning."
A wave of excited whispers rose up.
"Quiet! He is also the man the Wizarding World once knew as James Potter," Dumbledore said. "Loki, here," Dumbledore said, gesturing at Loki, who smiled slightly and nodded. "Has explained that Thor was incarnated as James Potter, his spirit in the vessel of a mortal newborn, as a method of teaching him humility. The traumatic events of the night that Voldemort attacked the Potters meant that he went insane. His father, Odin, removed his memories to preserve his mind, until Loki sensed that his nephew was in mortal danger, and restored them. I only ask that if you see Thor, whether he chooses to appear in his natural, blonde form, or as he did when he was James Potter, that you do not harass him or Harry. They are both going through a time of great emotional upheaval, and I think they would both appreciate privacy. That is all."
A new wave of chatter rose up as the students did what they did best. Gossip.
As Loki descended from the stage, he was confronted by six students in the sixth and seventh years. He raised an eyebrow. "Can I help you?" he asked.
They drew their wands. "You killed our parents," one of them, a blonde Gryffindor snarled. "In New York."
"I killed a lot of people's parents, and that was mostly the work of my minions," Loki said evenly, inwardly sighing. It disturbed him how familiar he had got with being confronted by the grief-stricken and outraged relatives of those who had died or been injured as the direct or indirect result of his actions. Then again, those relatives were hardly few in number and had ample cause to be outraged. There were a number of ways of handling this kind of situation, and they were each tailored to the audience. All required a deft touch. With that in mind, he narrowed his eyes and examined the group.
"Your father was Alan Scott," he said, pointing at the surprised blonde girl. As he did, he noticed a younger dark haired boy lurking in the background, of similar features, caught between fear and hatred of Loki, and fear for what Loki presumed to be his sister. Putting this aside, he moved onto a dark haired Ravenclaw girl. "Your parents were William and Mary Oakeshott." Next, a blue eyed Hufflepuff girl. "Your father was David Johnson." Next, a brown haired Slytherin girl. "Your mother was Alicia Harper." Next, a red haired Ravenclaw boy. "Your father was Jonathan Webber." Finally, a green eyed Gryffindor girl. "And your parents were Olivia and Mark Barton."
"How did you do that?" the Ravenclaw asked, warily puzzled. A crowd had formed around them, and Loki could see that the staff were watching him carefully, in case he lashed out. He inwardly snorted. Maybe once he would have done exactly that. But he had changed. And he deserved all the outrage and censure that they could muster. Arguably, he deserved far worse.
"Because I took it upon myself to memorise the names and faces of everyone whose death I caused, directly or indirectly, in this realm," Loki said seriously. "I am sorry that I have denied you your parents. It grieves me greatly to realise that I have done the same to you as was done to my nephew. While I was insane at the time, that is no excuse. I did you all great wrong, and you have every right to kill me for it."
He held his hands at his sides and went down on one knee, bowing his head. "So kill me. No harm shall come to you for doing it, and no legal sanction shall follow you," he said. "My life is in your hands. Whether you crush it or let it go, so I may continue to try and atone for my sins, is up to you. Choose."
This was not the self-sacrificing gesture it seemed - well, not entirely. In his own mind, Loki felt that while it could be said that he deserved to die - and for a long time felt that himself - he could do far more to make amends for the suffering he had caused through good works than by effectively committing suicide. This move was calculated. While mind-reading was something he was reasonably skilled at, he did not need those talents to discern the mettle of those he was facing, and he was entirely sure that they would never go through with it, not when faced with the reality of what they had dreamed of. As a result, at least some measure of their vengeful thoughts - which he knew only too well could poison and twist you - was purged and as a bonus, his reputation got a boost. Of course, there was always the off-chance that one would go through with it... but risk was the spice of life.
The Gryffindor boy jerked his wand up, and pointed it at Loki's bowed head. The others didn't, couldn't move. He was shaking as he did so. He held the wand there for a long time, mouthing the words of the Killing Curse. Then he hurled his wand to ground and began to cry furious tears of frustration and grief.
"That was a little sudden," Loki murmured to himself. "No one else?" he asked, in full expectation that no one would come forward.
They mutely shook their heads. "We're not going to kill you," the Ravenclaw girl said seriously. "That would make us no better than you. But we aren't going to forgive. Or forget."
"I expect nothing more," Loki said gravely. They nodded.
And with that, the five left, leaving Loki and the crying boy. Loki gently picked up the wand, examined it for cracks. There were none.
"It is far harder to kill than it first appears," Loki said gently, handing the wand back to the sobbing boy. "And it takes far greater courage to forsake the opportunity for righteous revenge, than it does to take that vengeance. Take it from someone who knows." He smiled. "I taught Godric Gryffindor, a long time before I went insane and sought to rule this world, you know. He would be proud of you." He patted the boy on the shoulder, and walked away. Now that that was settled, he had much thinking to do.
"Now that –" Fred said, watching him go.
"Was pretty awesome," George finished.
"Think we should visit Harry?"
"Why not? He's probably bored stiff by now."
They wandered along the corridors, taking secret routes back to the Hospital Wing. Until they ran into Thor, in his James Potter form.
"You really –"
"Do look –"
"A lot like –"
"Harry," they exclaimed.
Thor chuckled. "You're the Weasley twins, aren't you?"
Both bowed. "I'm Fred –"
"And I'm George –"
"At your service," they finished in unison. Thor chuckled.
"You remind me very much of your uncles, Gideon and Fabian," he said, smiling. "I hear my brother has taken you on as his apprentices." He raised an eyebrow. "And I suspect that you, prime mischief makers of this era of Hogwarts, had some help."
"Help?" they asked in synchrony.
"From four people. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs," Thor said. "Who wrote the Marauders Map."
"Do you know –"
"About that?" they asked, puzzled.
Thor smiled. "Because I was Prongs."
"No way," both said in awe, eyes wide.
"Yes way. I'll let you in on a secret – Professor Lupin was Moony," Thor said, and chuckled at their gaping faces. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to speak to Snivellus – I mean, Professor Snape." His face hardened. "I have heard many unpleasant things about him." He paused. "If you wish to visit my son, bear in mind that he is still asleep, and I would appreciate it if he wasn't disturbed."
The twins nodded seriously, and watched as he left. Visit a sleeping Harry, or which an angry thunder god almost certainly threaten Snape. It was no contest. They followed him at a distance, staying a corridor behind him at all times, until Thor found Snape.
"Severus," Thor said quietly. "I would have words with you."
Snape turned, and sneered. "Potter. Are you going to taunt me about how death itself cannot stop you? Your brat is just as arrogant as you ever were, by the way. You must be so proud."
Thor's eyes turned cold, and said, "It is on the subject of my son that I want to talk with you. From what I hear, you've had it out for him since the beginning."
Snape opened his mouth to retort, but Thor ruthlessly overrode him. "It must just kill you to see Lily's eyes staring out of my face, mustn't it," he said, voice merciless. "She was your friend. I think you loved her, which is why you hate him all the more, seeing a living reminder that when it came down to it, she choseme. Not you. Me."
Snape merely glared at him.
"I can understand that," Thor said calmly. "I must admit that I might feel much the same in your position. And I accept that you saved my son's life. You have my sincerest thanks for that. Even if you were just paying off your life debt." He sighed. "I also treated you badly when we were both young. We were both culpable in that, but that is no excuse. My behaviour was deeply dishonourable, and you have my sincerest apologies."
"So what now? We're bosom friends for ever more?" Snape asked caustically.
"No. You're a Death Eater. You, change of heart or not, are the one who condemned my wife," Thor said, eyes burning with fury now, closing on Snape, jabbing his right forefinger to emphasise his words.
"You are the one who caused my son to grow up in hell. You are the reason he had no parents. You," he snarled. "Are the reason my son cried himself to sleep as a child, living in a dark, dank, cobweb ridden cupboard. I shall not forgive. I shall not forget." He calmed himself. "But Albus trusts you. He has uses for you. That has earned you a stay of execution. But warned, Snape, one thing I could never stand was to see those I loved in pain. And if you cause another tear to fall from my son's eyes, directly or indirectly, then I shall show you my true power."
"What? A few lightning bolts?" Snape said, hiding his genuine fear behind sneering bravado.
"I am the God of Thunder and Lightning spoken of in ancient myth and whispered legend, Snape," Thor said softly. A powerful static charge began to build, until sparks danced around Thor. "I am he who battled Jormungand, the father of all great serpents, and fought the greatest Jotunheim had to offer when Merlin was but a suckling babe. I am Thor Odinson, God of the Vikings. Not a petty conjuror of cheap tricks. All the power of the storm, from all the world, flows through my veins. It can be summoned by my hammer at any time, wherever it is. A lightning storm in Japan? Mine. A hurricane off the coast of Barbados? Mine again. A brace of tornadoes in Kansas? Mine. All that might, all that destructive force, mine to command. Channelled and guided through the mystic might of my hammer," Thor said, voice menacing, and leaned in close. "And if you hurt my son or his friends, it will be guided right at you. Is that understood?"
Snape nodded slowly and swept away, cloak billowing. Thor snorted, and turned to go, static charge dissipating.
Neither paid attention to the Weasley twins, who were watching from round the corner. They quickly left, and shared awed looks. "It's official," Fred whispered.
"Harry's family are awesome!" George finished. They shared a grin.
"I think brother," Fred said. "That we should tell Harry about this."
"You read my mind, brother," George replied.
They turned and ran back to the Hospital Wing. Harry, they reckoned, would get a real kick of hearing about this.
So ends another chapter. Next up, Thor goes to talk to the Avengers, and reveals to them his past history as James Potter.