Actually, I've been back for, like, a week, but I had no time to type. Sorry! Camp was awesome though, but I'm glad to be back. Anyway, as you can see, production is resuming on this story. Divided too- actually, I'm in the middle of typing the next chapter for that, so be ready!
Um... right. Back to this story. This chapter pretty much starts what I've dubbed as the 'H-World chapters'- the ones in which Harry takes Bruce to HP land. They actually get there next chapter. There'll probably be two or three chapters in HP world, and then we get to Avengers! And yes, both Harry and Bruce will be involved with the Avengers. On a side note, anyone know if there's a site where I can get the script for the movie, instead of typing it all by hand?
Anyway, enjoy the chapter!
DISCLAIMER: Never will own the Avengers, unfortunately.
It takes almost a month for Harry to give in.
It's a month full of laughter, of slowly perfecting Bruce's control, of, as corny as it sounds, friendship and sunshine and the very occasional incident, but those had decreased so much and, even when they did happen, were so much shorter and less violent that Bruce could hardly believe it. He never thought he would be able to live like this, after the accident.
Control over the Other Guy had brought Bruce understanding of his alter-ego as well. The Other Guy's anger wasn't so overwhelming anymore and Bruce didn't fight it so hard, feeling more comfortable with this other aspect of his personality. Hulk wasn't so much about rage and destruction as a desperate need to protect and defend him and his. One day, they'd even had something resembling a conversation. In his head. Bruce told Harry, half joking half deadly serious, that for anyone else, having a conversation with the voice in their head would probably be a sign of insanity. For him, it was a way to control himself and create the hope that one day, he could master completely this other part of him and be able to stop running.
Harry laughed and told Bruce that he shouldn't worry, there were pleanty of other ways for him to go insane. But Bruce knew that the green-eyed wizard knew exactly how he felt. He'd also seen a hint of a sadness older than Bruce could know.
For the first time, Bruce stopped and really thought about Harry's 'condition', his history. Wandering the multiverse for the rest of eternity, having no real home, watching as those he knew and loved and hated grew old and died around him and sure in the knowledge that everyone he ever met would soon follow after. Constantly moving from world to world to ensure that his condition wasn't noticed and to try to delay the pain of realizing that yet another group of friends had left him behind again. His time with Bruce was just a few moments in the vast span of time, pain, and loneliness his life had become.
"It's not that bad." Harry assured him when he voiced some of these thoughts. "I mean, yeah, at first it was absolutely horrible. The first few worlds? Hell. One of them I actually stayed long enough to watch everyone pass on. But my original world is a very slow world, time-wise- I told you about this. I'd guess that 10 years here is about equal to 1 there. So, once I made my way back there, I realized that I hadn't lost everyone there yet. It'll be bad once I do, but I'll deal. As for those who pass on… are you familiar with Greek mythology?"
"Well, you know how the underworld is set up? The Fields of Asphodel, where all the average Joes go, Elysium, for the 'heroes' and good guys, and Tartarus, for the criminals, generally unpleasant guys, and the idiots who pissed off the gods. The real afterlife- I usually refer to it as Beyond- is kinda like that, organization-wise. There's two major groups that people can go to; what most would call Heaven and Hell, Asphodel and Tartarus. You can choose to be reborn through either. Most do. It's more complicated, obviously, but…"
"Ok. How does that relate?" Bruce wanted to know more about the afterlife, of course, but he was curious to know where Harry was going with this.
"There's a third, more elite option, the Elysium so to speak. I call it Godric's Hollow, since it's essentially my real home now. Death created it for me a bit after I became Master of Death, when we got closer and actually became friends. If you're a friend of mine- someone I care about, someone I'd miss- you can go there. Unless you suddenly turn around and stab me in the back, you'll have a place there."
Bruce leaned forwards slightly, intrigued. "What's the difference between there and everywhere else?"
"The Hollow's a lot like life." Harry continued. "It's like a neighborhood. You'll be given a house and be able to invite people to join you there; your wife, best friend, any kids, etc. The people you can't live without. Plus, everyone in the Hollow is like family, once you get to know them. It's a close knit community. Mom once told me it was their mutual worry over me that brought them together, but she was joking. I think. Anyway, I visit often."
"What if someone you wanted to invite had already been reborn?"
"They'll come around again eventually." Harry reassured him. "Plus, there's something akin to a twenty year waiting list, and people tend to want a bit of a break before they go back to the whirlwind of life. Don't worry."
"How is there a waiting list?" Bruce was still a bit incredulous. "The world's population is growing, not staying in balance."
Harry looked at him like he was insane. "Beyond applies to every single mortal creature anywhere- so everything in the multiverse. Not just this Earth. And, even if one planet has a population boom, another's just been destroyed violently and everything and everyone on it was killed. It evens out."
Bruce nodded and decided to be quiet and absorb everything he's just learned. He still had some trouble accepting all this magic and, apparently, afterworld stuff; he was a scientist through and through. He trusted Harry, though- he knew the wizard wouldn't lie to him for no reason. So he accepted and dealt with information as he learned that he might not have before.
"How often do you go?" Bruce asked. "I mean, these must be long visits, and you've never gone missing for more than, I don't know, 20 minutes? And you've been here almost 2 months already."
Despite this, Harry nodded. "I go there pretty often. Twice since I arrived here. Time runs differently, remember? Each time, I spent a day or so there, and only a few minutes went by here. Technically, there is no real time Beyond, so I could have stayed as long as I wanted… it's really, really complicated. Even I don't understand it all."
The conversation progressed to more mundane things after that, but Bruce started asking Harry to bring him to visit either the Hollow or to his original world. Harry held out as long as he could, but inevitably caved.
He couldn't take Bruce to Godric's Hollow. Once you were there, you were there. Death was not reversible- usually- and you needed to be dead to be there. He could, however, take Bruce to visit what he usually thought of as H-World, both for Hogwarts and for home. He had brought people before, so it wasn't like there wasn't a precedent, nor would any of his friends think anything of it. At least Bruce looked human. They would likely be a bit suspicious of Bruce, at least at first, and would probably interrogate him and make sure he was taking care of Harry. Harry was certain that Bruce would measure up to standards (he never brought anyone unless he did) so it wasn't too much of an issue. He trusted Bruce and was sure that Bruce would never tell anyone about his experiences there. He was also fairly certain that Bruce would adjust well to the magic. He'd done well so far, although he'd never been exposed to the amount of magic he would be.
No, the problem, the reason why he'd hesitated, was because H-World was his. It had always been and would always be where he was most vulnerable. His first home and his family was there. It was somewhere private, personal, where he could go and pretend for one infinitesimally small second that he wasn't Master of Death and just be Harry Potter, not the mysterious dimension traveller that no one could ever really understand.
And wasn't the ironic? His entire adolescence, he wished that he wasn't Harry Potter. Now all he wanted was for everything to go back to how it was. Bringing Bruce- bringing anyone- would ruin that illusion. He'd barely brought two dozen people to visit, and compared to the hundreds of worlds he'd visited and millions of people he'd met that was negligible.
It wasn't fair to Bruce though. He'd opened up to Bruce, talked so much about H-World that it was only natural for Bruce to want to visit. So he agreed to bring Bruce the next time he visited. Bruce deserved it.
Said scientist was ecstatic. He was excited to see this new world and everything in it, but he was also looking forward to learning more about his companion. He knew a lot about Harry's relatively recent history, sure; his recent travels, his role as Master of Death. But he didn't know much about his past before the world-hopping and all. Sure, he knew about the scattered event or person, but he didn't have an idea about how his life had actually been. He didn't know about his real family. Hopefully this trip would help.
Hopefully, Hulk would not make an appearance either. He generally tried not to freak strangers out by exposing them to the giant green rage monster, but then again, Harry kinda one-upped him in the introductions department. You know. What with the zombie.
They spent the rest of the week preparing. Harry gave Bruce some impromptu lessons whenever he felt like it on a variety of topics, from potions to places to people. Finally, he deemed Bruce prepared.
They would leave the next day.
Or, for you guys, a couple of days. Whenever I get the chapter out. Anyway, hope it was worth the wait!