The next chapter is the new chapter.
In the heart of Malfoy Manor, Lord Voldemort sat on his throne waiting impatiently for his followers to arrive. For once in a very long time, he was giddy with anticipation; he could barely wait for the meeting to begin; to distribute roles, to finally put his plans in to action. This was it; the turning point of this bloody war.
The reason why the Dark Lord was so giddy was because he had received news a few hours ago from one of his spies that Dumbledore has finally managed to find confirmation that Harry Potter, the boy of the prophecy, was alive. Although Voldemort's belief that Harry would really have the power to defeat him had someone waned over the years, but his interest in finding him and killing him didn't die. He may not be guided by that blasted prophecy anymore but he knew Dumbledore still was. Harry James Potter was the Light's last hope. Destroying him thoroughly would bring down the enemy's morals in such a drastic way that Voldemort wouldn't have to do much to make them give in to his demands. And finally, victory would be his.
The door to the ballroom opened just as he let out a demonic chuckle of joy, making the man who was about to come in, jump in fear.
"My Lord," the Death Eater said a little hesitantly, "I see I'm early. I can leave you until-"
"No," Voldemort replied, gesturing him inside, "The others will be here soon."
Almost as soon as the words were out, other people started to appear. First there was Mulciber, eyes still a little crazy from his stint in Azkaban. The man fell to his knees in front of Voldemort and kissed his robes reverently. Lucius followed suite, then Avery.
"My Lord," Mulciber gasped, "I hear you have good news."
"Yes I do," Lord Voldemort replied before addressing the crowd, "My precious followers. The time has finally come; Dumbledore received confirmation that the blasted boy-who-lived is indeed still alive. Since the old man firmly believe, due to some prophecy, that this Potter child could be my demise, we need to find him before the old man does and destroy him once and for all. Do not be mistaken; we are to put all our resources in to this! This is the turning point we have been waiting for! This is the BEGINNING OF THE END!"
As the Death Eaters cheered, ecstatic by the news, Voldemort let out a chilling laugh.
Thousands miles away, safely tucked in a bed at Stark Manor, Harry Dursley let out a whimper.
"Harry, HARRY! Wake up,"
At the feel of hands pushing against his shoulder, Harry was pulled out of dreamland and sent back in to awareness. He hadn't even got out of bed and he was already feeling that today was going to be terrible.
He tried to open his eyes, blinked, disoriented, his head throbbing as if he someone had just clubbed him from behind. His heart was beating a thousand miles per hour and despite not remembering the nightmare he had just woken up from, he knew it had to have been pretty scary for him to sweat this much.
Truthfully, it was more the fact he just had a nightmare that bothered him the most. In all his 17 years of existence, Harry had never had a single bad dream. It may seem weird to some, but it was true. Harry rarely dreamed and when he did, he would always find himself in a sort of white room and would remain there until he woke. Yesterday night had been the first time something like this happened. He wondered what had changed.
No, that was a stupid question; Harry of course knew what had changed. What had happened in the dining room last night with Tony Stark hadn't been normal; in fact, some might called it supernatural. Despite not understanding what was going on, Harry had the feeling that energy had unlocked something inside him; something that was making him have nightmares. God, he really hoped this wasn't permanent because sleeping had up to now been one of Harry's favorite activities. And he would hate to have to do less of it because he was scared to close his eyes.
Harry was pulled out of his thoughts when an ice pack was pressed to his hot forehead, curtsey of his roommate.
"Hey," Alex said softly, almost as if he was afraid to startle Harry. He sat down gingerly beside him. "You really scared me back there; you just started screaming out of the sudden and I had no way to wake you."
"I screamed?" Harry asked. No wonder his voice was so hoarse.
"Yeah," Alex confirmed, relaxing a little when he saw Harry was slowly returning to himself, "Scary stuff; I'm surprised you haven't alerted security. With how much surveillance there is in this place, I wonder why no one came to check things out."
Harry shrugged, not in the mood to try and understand the inner workings of the Stark Mansion.
"God, my head is killing me," he groaned, "Thanks for the ice pack; it's at least helping a little."
Alex nodded worriedly.
"You were out of it when I came home yesterday," he told Harry, "it was barely 9; was the dinner that stressful?"
"Not really," Harry replied, not wanting to cast aspersions on his boss' character, "Mr. Stark had been perfectly nice. I just suddenly got really tired; must be the jet lag."
"Well, you're lucky because according to Ms. Potts, who came here earlier to talk to you, today you get the day off before your internship officially starts tomorrow. I would love to keep you company but unfortunately I have work all day. In fact, I'm already a little late. However, if you're feeling better tonight, I would love to bring you to meet some of my friends. We're having a beer party down at the club."
"Sure," Harry said, even though he knew he probably wouldn't go. Clubs are just not his scene.
After a final word of "take care of yourself," Alex was gone, leaving Harry alone in the room. Suddenly feeling drained, Harry returned to bed and promptly fell asleep.
Truthfully, for his day off, he would have loved to stay asleep until Alex returned, but obviously Fate had other ideas because about 2 hours later, the sound of knocking woke him up. Groaning in frustration and secretly wanting to kill whoever was on the other side, Harry forced his feet in to his slippers and made his way to the door.
The last person he expected to see on the other side was Tony Stark.
"Mr. Stark!" he exclaimed too shocked to do anything other than gape, "What are you doing here? I thought Ms. Potts said my internship started tomorrow."
"It does and I do apologize for intruding your privacy, Mr. Dursley," he said, hand outstretched.
For a moment, Harry was torn; on one hand, he didn't really want to touch the man again; afraid any other contact will get a repeat of last night. He was still disoriented from his night terrors so adding more confusion to his day wasn't on his list of things he wants to do. But on the other hand, refusing was in no way possible, so he took a deep breath and grasped Tony's hand in his own. A small warmth traveled up his arm from where their skin touched but that was all; while Harry was relieved, Tony looked disappointed.
Harry resisted the urge to smirk at the momentary pout that had crawled on to the other man's face; Tony Stark may be older than him, but he was like a child in so many ways. And that includes not knowing the definition of subtlety. His intentions for coming here was so obvious that he was almost screaming them in Harry's face. Tony was a scientist by heart; when something unexplainable happened, he would use science to find a meaning to it. Harry would have followed his example if something inside of him wasn't telling him that if he tried, it would be like opening Pandora's Box. And he wasn't just yet ready for that.
Tony recovered quickly from his disappointment and offered Harry a boyish grin.
"I just wanted to come see how you were doing. You looked really terrible last night; almost as if you were about to faint. I know how stubborn kids are these days so I'm here to make sure you didn't need any real medical attention." Tony narrowed his eyes. "You don't, right?"
"No," Harry said quickly, already feeling better. Despite his initial reluctance to touch the man, the touch had actually did some good. For some reason, the contact that made his headache recede almost completely and he was actually starting to feel human again, "I'm fine; must be the jet lag. It's not easy traveling though time zones like that."
"Oh god, I wish you could tell Pepper that. That woman firmly believes that jet lags are just excuses I make up to sleep more. Just because she can go straight from the airport to a conference room doesn't mean all of us can."
Harry smiled, before remembering his manners and inviting the man inside.
As Harry quickly dashed in to the washroom to get changed, he could hear Tony moving around curiously. Harry wondered if the man have ever come here before. But Harry doubted it. Which of course, just makes his presence even more bizarre.
"May I ask you a question Mr. Stark?" Harry asked when he was finally done with dressing.
"You just did," Stark replied, smirking, "But you are free to ask me another one. And do call me Tony. Mr. Stark is my father."
"Tony," Harry repeated, ignoring the small flutter of his heart as he said the man's name for the first time, "I had this on my mind for some time now. I just wanted to know why you were offering internships to high school students in the first place. I would have thought you wanted to scope out future employees but you didn't even look at my grades before offering me the position."
Tony actually looked a little sheepish as he answered.
"The thing is, this whole internship thing wasn't my idea. Pepper wanted to do this as a publicity stunt; get my name in other countries than the US. And what better way than do a school tour? Then she wanted me to invite a student back to the US for the summer to give him or her the chance to see how my company worked. This is all very unorthodox, I know. You're probably surprised that someone more qualified wasn't chosen. But the point of this experience is to attract youth like yourself. After all, when the summer would be over and the student would go back to his or her city, he will have to write a report about the experience and said-report would get published in a world-wide business journal."
Harry unconsciously made a face.
"I have to write a report? No one told me about that."
"I share your pain. Pepper is the one that came up with the idea. I hate writing reports myself but Pepper keeps repeating that it was a necessary evil. I'm so glad she's CEO now because the paperwork had been killing me slowly. Now it's no longer my business anymore."
"Now that she's CEO; what is your position?"
"I'm still Stark Industries's main shareholder," Tony explained. He sat down comfortably in one the chairs before continuing. Harry followed suite. "I'm also the company's CDO, Chief Development Officer. My job is to spend all day in my lab and think off cool new toys for the company to sell. Once my plans are complete, I gave them to the production department and they mass produce it for the general public."
"That must be an exciting job," Harry commented, eyes wide with wonder, "I would love to stay in a lab all day and just create."
Tony looked surprised for a moment before he laughed.
"I like you more and more every second Harry. I think this relationship will work out just fine."
Harry blushed scarlet before desperately thinking of a way to change the subject.
"A…Anyhow; is the name of your company Stark Industries or Stark Enterprises? Because I saw a Stark Enterprises t-shirt during the conference."
"It's Stark Industries," Tony replied, "But Stark Enterprises is like an unofficial name. I had been in a Star Trek mood when I created it."
"You watch Star Trek?" Harry asked, surprised. Tony shook his head in amusement.
"Of course I do; how boring do you think I am?"
"I would never think you as boring, Mr…I mean, Tony," Harry said earnestly because it was true. Everything Tony did was fascinating to him; all those adventures, all those inventions; Tony Stark was a genius and it was true honor to follow his work. Ever since Harry was in middle school, he had carefully kept every article he could find on the man; every discovery or innovation he made. And when Iron Man's identity came out, Harry made sure to keep track of the superhero as well. It didn't take long before Iron Man was Harry's favorite superhero and Tony Harry's favorite scientist. After all, who else could make a suit that could fly?
Tony laughed again making Harry wonder what was so funny this time.
"God," he said after he found his breath once more, "I haven't laughed this much since…" he trailed off, his expression going somber. Harry didn't have to be a mind reader to guess this was what had been troubling Tony for some time now. If it was Pepper, she would have surely taken this opening to ask more, but since it really wasn't his place to pry, Harry sighed and stood up.
"I'm rather hungry, sir" he told the older man a little shyly, "Is there any breakfast available?"
"Breakfast?" Tony echoed, successfully pulled out of his mood, "Of course there's breakfast. Jarvis!"
At first Harry thought Tony had been talking in to an intercom or something (a voice activated one must be pretty common in a place like this) but was surprised that instead of a butler appearing at their door, a British voice answered smoothly: "Mr. Stark, you do not have to yell."
Harry snorted but quickly covered his reaction with a cough.
Tony rolled his eyes.
"If you don't stop being so sassy, I'll have to reprogram you the next time I do your maintenance."
Harry was so confused by that reply that he barely missed Jarvis' sarcastic "Of course sir."
"Wait," Harry interjected, "What do you mean by maintenance?"
"Oh Pepper didn't tell you? Jarvis is not human; he's an AI."
"Artificial Intelligence?" Harry gasped; he had read in Science Today a few month of the possibility of machines being programmed to sound and act like humans. But to see one so advanced made his inner scientist squeal with joy, "You have managed to build an AI this advanced? Mr. Stark, this is amazing."
It must have been the lighting because there was no way Tony Stark, playboy extraordinaire, was blushing at a measly compliment given by his teenage intern. There was no way.
"Thank you," Tony coughed and then said to Jarvis, "Please inform Manon that we will be requiring two full breakfast spreads Jarvis, and also tell her to stop trying to make me drink tea instead of coffee!"
"Yes sir," Jarvis replied dutifully, even though his tone sounded exasperated, "I will pass on the message."
"Good," Tony grumbled before getting up as well. "Come," he said to Harry, "Let's go to the dining room to wait for the food. Afterwards, I can give you a tour of the nearby city. If you are not too tired from your flight, that is."
"I would love a tour," Harry replied, even though sleeping still sounded really good. But the chances of getting a personal tour from Tony Stark wasn't something he wanted to pass on.
Harry followed as Tony turned on his heels and headed towards the exit.
As he walked, Harry couldn't help but smile to himself; he was feeling a lot better; he had seen his first AI, he was going to have a fun afternoon, he wasn't so nauseous anymore and the nightmare of last night was now but a distant memory. Maybe today would be a good day after all.
While Harry may be starting to enjoy his second day at Stark Mansion, Albus Dumbledore wasn't having a good day at all. He woke up by Severus' urgent call and nearly yelled in frustration when the spy told him that Voldemort was already aware that Harry has been confirmed to be alive.
"He's pouring all his resources in to finding him," Severus said softly, "So the good news for the moment is that raids will be nonexistent until the boy is killed."
"Well, there's that," Dumbledore admitted weakly, eyes no longer twinkling. He caressed his beard thoughtfully for a moment before continuing. "I have a made a great mistake Severus. I thought we had more time but our enemies are faster than we have thought. Voldemort seems to understand, like me, that this is the turning point of this war. We have to act fast; find Harry before the ministry gets involved in this mess. Fudge is already a pain to deal with but if he ever finds out what we know; he will only hinder out progress."
Snape snorted in agreement. Even now, he wondered how that idiot ever got elected in the first place.
"Do you have any orders?"
"For the moment, I want you to keep an eye and ear out. Go back to Privet Drive and see if you can dig up something we have missed. I will be calling an emergency order meeting tonight. We need to find Harry and I'll be putting every man power we have on this. You know the prophecy Severus; he's our last hope."
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches ... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies ... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not ... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives ... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies ..."