Disclaimer: I do not own The Avengers or Harry Potter. Unfortunately.
Chapter 1: The Unexpected Trip
Harry Potter was less than enthused to be going home for the summer, which was strange considering he had been away at a boarding school for nearly ten months. Most students were excited to be returning to their homes to see their families and get away from schoolwork. But Harry was not one of them. To him he wasn't really going home. No, to him he was leaving the only place he had ever really thought of as his home.
He had just completed his very first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. That's right, Harry Potter was a wizard. No one had been more surprised by this turn of events then Harry himself. But he had jumped right in to his new world. It was exciting, and full of adventure and new things. The wizarding world had also been full of people who cared about him, and he had gained several close friends. He had seen a three-headed dog, centaurs, and trolls. He had even faced down the Dark wizard who had murdered his parents leaving him to rot with his horrible relatives.
Harry was almost certain that that had been the best part, his discovery that his parents weren't the wastrels that his aunt and uncle had always told him they were. It was almost a relief to Harry to hear that they had in fact died fighting to protect him from an evil maniac rather than in a drunken car crash. Unfortunately this new information came with the fact that Harry was famous because he had survived the attack from the Dark Lord Voldemort. At just barely over a year old Harry had survived the dreaded Killing Curse something no one else in history had ever done, and defeated one the greatest dark wizards of all time. Or at least that's what people had told him. Harry was just glad that his dreams about laughter and green flashing lights were actually true, and didn't mean that he was crazy for having the reoccurring nightmare.
Harry had excelled and thrived at Hogwarts. Before he hadn't had that chance because he had been bullied and discriminated against by his relatives. His aunt and uncle told the teachers and neighbors that he was a delinquent and disturbed, which caused them to treat Harry with disdain. His cousin Dudley bullied him mercilessly and made sure that the other children joined in or at the very least he chased away any other child who tried to be his friend. When Harry had gotten top marks his first year in primary school his uncle and aunt had screeched at him saying that he had used his freakishness to get better marks than Dudley so that he could show off. They demanded that he never get higher marks ever again or else face the consequences, and Harry really hadn't wanted to contemplate what those consequences might be.
It hadn't stopped Harry from learning of course but he did make sure to do poorly on all his schoolwork. Instead Harry had just spent all his free time in the school library, and when those books became too easy he started visiting the free library down the street whenever the Dursleys left him alone. He loved to learn. He found that he could grasp concepts that even some of his teachers had difficulty understanding. He was especially interested in the various sciences and engineering. Before Hogwarts it had been his greatest wish to try building his own robot. Unfortunately he didn't have access to any tools or spare parts. But at Hogwarts things had been different. Sure he still hadn't had access to the mechanical parts he needed but he had been opened up to a whole new type of science: magic.
It was a completely new subject for him to learn and he had been so excited to dive right in. He'd snuck all of his school books into his room before going to Hogwarts and had read them all wishing that he had thought to buy more than just the standard books on the list. In fact his desire to learn almost had the Sorting Hat placing him in Ravenclaw. The Hat reasoned that he was more suited to Gryffindor in the end because he wanted to use his knowledge for his own amusement. He wasn't a complete bookworm, and he didn't actually like to read it was just that it was normally the only way to gather the information that he wanted to learn. He was much more of a hands on person and preferred learning by doing and experimenting for himself. He was also fairly reckless and brave, which is how he had gotten himself into such instances as fighting off a mountain troll and going up against Voldemort. So in the end Gryffindor was the best choice for him.
His love for learning found him a steadfast study partner and close friend at school. A girl by the name of Hermione Granger. She was the first person Harry had ever met whom he could talk about his love for advanced mechanical engineering and have them understand what he was actually talking about. Luckily for him she was a muggleborn student and had a good grasp of both muggle science and magical theory. Together the two of them had spent hours in the library, studying and learning magic well beyond their year. His other close friend that he had acquired was Ron Weasley, a wizard who oddly enough hated doing work or reading of any kind making him an odd addition to the friendship between Hermione and Harry. But his love for adventure and knack for getting into trouble rivaled Harry's own and thus the friendship was solid. Besides Harry liked goofing off every once in a while, unlike Hermione, so Ron made the perfect escape.
The only real sour point at Hogwarts had been his Potions Professor, Severus Snape. For some reason the man hated Harry with every fiber of his being no matter how well Harry did in his class, it only seemed to make him hate Harry more. Harry had been looking forward to potions because it reminded him a lot of muggle chemistry. He had read his potions textbook over the summer and found it fascinating that many of the magical ingredients could have such incredible reactions. They even had to be stirred in the correct direction to get the magical properties to work properly in the potion. He had had a list of questions to ask his potions professor once school started. But Snape had crushed those dreams in the very first class where he had taunted Harry. First by calling Harry a celebrity and second by asking him difficult questions. Luckily Harry had read ahead and he had a pretty good memory, it was the only way he had been able to answer the questions Snape had asked him. Instead of pleasing the professor with his knowledge however, it only seemed to make him angrier. He seemed to think that Harry was an arrogant showoff and nothing Harry did could change his opinion of him. The rest of the year had not gone much better with him looking to deduct points and give detentions as often as possible.
The only other sour point about Hogwarts had been his encounter with the Dark Lord who had murdered his parents. He had been possessing the body of Harry's Defense Against the Dark Art's Professor so that he could try and steal the Philosopher's Stone hidden in the school. With the stone he would have been able to return to full power but Harry, along with his two best friends, had been able to stop him. They had gone through all of the traps protecting the stone but in the end Harry had had to face Voldemort all on his own. He'd been terrified but in the end he had prevailed. Even when Voldemort was trying to manipulate him into joining him so that Harry would give him the stone.
He praised Harry telling him how smart he was, how he could help Harry become even greater, and that he would give Harry a place of power when he finally took over Europe. But he had seen Voldemort for what he truly was, and in the end he had been defeated. Headmaster Dumbledore said that he was not gone for good, and that eventually he would be back. Harry knew that he would have to be prepared for that moment, and decided to dedicate himself during the next school year to training and learning as much as he could. He hadn't liked being at such a disadvantage against Voldemort. He knew he needed to come up with ideas that a normal wizard wouldn't think of so that he could gain the upper hand against him.
Despite Snape and Voldemort, Harry was still going to miss Hogwarts fiercely. The next couple of months at the Dursleys were sure to drag on and on. He'd be stuck doing chores, being chased by his cousin and his gang, and receiving meager meals. Worst of all he wouldn't be allowed to do magic, and there were so many different experiments that he wanted to try to see just how magic reacted with muggle technology. Everyone said it didn't work well but Harry was determined to learn just why that was. He had wanted to stay at Hogwarts but according to Headmaster Dumbledore that was out of the question because of the wards of protection he got from staying with his only living blood relatives. He only wished that he had another place that he could go or other relatives that would be able to take him in.
Harry waved goodbye to his friends and watched enviously as Ron was swallowed by a sea of warm and friendly redheads, and as Hermione was toted away by her parents each of them eagerly asking all about her year. Harry despondently pushed his cart through Charring Cross Station searching for his relatives. He finally found them waiting by the car. His uncle, Vernon Dursley, a large, beefy man with no neck and a walrus mustache stood with his arms crossed impatiently as he checked his watch. His aunt, Petunia Dursley, a thin woman with a long neck, and a horse face stood beside him. His cousin Dudley Dursley, a massive whale of a boy with blonde hair and little piggy eyes was in the car playing a handheld videogame. He looked even larger than he had last year, which was really quite the accomplishment in Harry's opinion.
"Move it boy, we don't have all day. We're already late," Vernon snapped the moment Harry came into view.
Harry obediently scampered over as quickly as he could. None of the Dursleys offered him any greetings and Harry gave none in return. Vernon didn't bother to help Harry with his trunk; he only unlatched the boot and watched while Harry struggled to get it inside. There were other bags and suitcases in the boot, which made his job twice as hard. He wondered why there were suitcases but he figured the Dursleys must have just come back from a trip or something. Once he finally succeeded in getting his trunk in the boot Harry crawled into the backseat of the car, clutching his owl's cage with his snowy white owl Hedwig inside. The Dursleys all scowled at the owl cage and at Harry but seeing as how they couldn't do anything about either one of them they just ignored their existence. Dudley looked a little nervous about being in such close quarters with Harry. He was no doubt still traumatized by Hagrid giving him a pig's tail last summer. The memory made Harry's lips twitch with a suppressed smile.
Harry sat back in the car and passed the time by going over everything that he had seen and done while at Hogwarts. He was in the middle of his first Quidditch match against Slytherin when he happened to look out the window and realized that they weren't heading in the right direction.
"Uncle Vernon, this isn't the way back to Privet Drive," Harry pointed out.
"Shut up, boy. I don't need you to tell me where I'm going," Vernon snarled.
Harry looked at his aunt in confusion but the only reaction from her that he could see was an expression of smug satisfaction. The farther they drove in the opposite direction from Privet Drive the more nervous Harry became. He didn't know where they were going or what was going on. Maybe the Dursleys had moved and they were going to their new house? It was the only explanation that Harry could come up with.
When they pulled into an airport, however, this idea was quickly discarded. They couldn't be going on vacation could they? No, they would never take Harry with them on a vacation. The Dursleys absolutely hated spending money on Harry, and would do anything that they possibly could to avoid having to do it. They would have dropped him off at Mrs. Figgs, unless she was unable to watch him for some reason. Still, he was fairly certain that they would have arranged their trip to make sure that Mrs. Figgs was available before booking the tickets.
The Dursleys all ignored his questioning as they got their luggage from the boot. Dudley looked like he would have answered him, his face gloating and full of vindictive glee. He was stopped by Petunia who still looked more calm and smug than Harry had ever seen her while he had been in her presence. It made Harry's stomach churn with nausea to think about what had put her in such a good mood, and what had given Dudley such a gloating expression. What were they planning on doing to him? Because in reality making Harry suffer was the only thing that could have put all the Dursleys in such a good mood while Harry was still in their presence.
Vernon finally snapped and told Harry to keep him mouth shut. Harry complied because Vernon's face had started to take on that purplish hue that he always turned when he was getting really irritated. All through the airport check in Harry's thoughts swirled in confusion. He nearly had a breakdown when he was told that Hedwig would have to ride in the bottom of the plane. Seeing how close he was to a breakdown the nice airport baggage lady said she'd make sure that Hedwig was in a safe place and well taken care of. It gave him some measure of peace. But it was only a small amount he was still extremely anxious about what was to come. He'd never been on a plane before and now they would be traveling such a long distance. He'd learned by checking the flight schedule that the plane they were going on was taking them to the States, New York to be exact. He just didn't know why they were going.
"Dudley why are we going to New York?" Harry asked desperately when Vernon and Petunia had gone to buy the family some extra snacks while they were waiting to board the plane.
"Dad said we're dropping you off with you're dad, and then we're going on vacation around New York City," said Dudley with a bored expression. He was apparently too invested in his videogame at the moment to bring up the same level of gloating he had had earlier or to remember that he wasn't supposed to be telling Harry these things.
"My dad? But my dad died," replied Harry feeling utterly confused. This was the last thing Harry thought he would say. It didn't even make sense.
"He didn't. I overheard mum and dad talking about it. Mum found some old journal of your mum's while she was looking through a box of stuff from her mum and dad. It said she had an affair with some other guy, and that he's your real dad. Guess mum was right huh? You're mum really was a strumpet," Dudley finally looked up from his game to leer at Harry at the last comment.
"That's not true," said Harry furiously. But his mouth was suddenly dry and it didn't sound nearly as fierce as he had meant it too.
"Well, that's what mum and dad said, and that's why we're going on the trip, to give you to your dad. Apparently he's loaded and we're going to get money for you. I'll bet dad will even buy me that new Play Station," said Dudley dreamily.
Harry barely heard him; his thoughts were chaotic as he tried to make sense of what was happening. It couldn't be true! Everyone he had met at Hogwarts had commented on how much he looked like his dad. Harry had even seen photos of his dad and yeah maybe James Potter's hair was a true black while Harry's was more of a dark brown but his mum did have some influence in his genetics. His dad wore glasses and Harry didn't but again he could have gotten the good eyesight from his mum. Their noses were kind of similar and Harry's hair was messy, not quite as bad as his dad's but again Harry's had more of curl to it like his mum's. No, the Dursleys had it wrong James Potter was his dad. They were just going to be disappointed when whoever this man was turned out not to be Harry's father, and they had made this trip for nothing.
But a part of Harry, a traitorous part, whispered about how great it would be if this man really was his father. Harry shoved the thought away. For him to really be Harry's father it would mean that Harry's mum would have had to cheat and from everything that people had told Harry, his mum had been a kind and sweet person. He knew that she couldn't have done it. Unless she wasn't as kind and sweet as people had led him to believe, which would be a disappointment all of its own. In his mind he had built her up to be almost saintly for her sacrificing her life for his, and to learn something negative about her would shatter that fragile new image of her. The Dursleys had to have it wrong. The journal must have been old and her relationship with this unknown man must have been from before his mum had married his dad. But the way that Dudley had worded it made it sound like the journal had explicitly stated that this man was Harry's real dad.
No, it couldn't be true. This was Harry's mantra as they boarded the plane and took their seats. His seat being as far from the Dursleys as possible, which Harry was more than okay with. He had no desire to be anywhere near them at the moment. They were planning some horrible scheme to try, and pawn Harry off in exchange for money. That's all this was. It wouldn't really matter in the end. They would be angry that their plan hadn't worked out, and they would head home empty handed with Harry in tow. At the very least Harry would get the chance to go out of the country for the very first time in his life.
The plane took off, and Harry's stomach dropped. He found that flying wasn't as enjoyable in a plane as it was on his broom. He much preferred being the one in control of flying and he missed the feeling of the wind on his face. There were too many people crammed close together on the plane and when they hit air turbulence it jarred the entire plane in a very uncomfortable manner. At least the flight had a movie. He'd never been able to watch the television at the Dursleys or been to the cinema.
The plane flew through the night, and Harry thankfully took the chance to lose himself in the mind numbing movies and forget what was happening. The air service provided a meal with the purchase of a ticket so at least Harry was given some decent food. Much better than what he got at the Dursley's anyway. He dozed for a bit but despite how tired he was his mind was still too chaotic for him to try and close his eyes to sleep. He couldn't believe that the Dursleys were actually going to such extremes to get rid of Harry. It made him question just how truthful this information was. They had to be fairly confident in the information if they were willing to spend the money and fly all the way to the States. That was the part that made Harry so nervous. They had to be wrong though; it was the only answer that Harry's mind would allow. He was relieved when the plane finally began to make its descent so that he could get off. Going through customs at the airport was a huge pain but Harry just felt relief when he had finally gotten Hedwig back. She looked a little ruffled and unhappy but she was all in one piece and for the most part she seemed all right.
There was a five-hour time difference between New York and London, which is where they took off from. The flight itself had been a little over eight hours which meant despite their long flight it really was only as if they had taken a three hour flight. It was almost eight at night here. Luckily Harry hadn't slept on the plane so after the forty-minute drive in a rental car into the city and checking into their hotel he was more than happy to crash on the floor since the Dursleys wouldn't dream of giving him a bed. He woke up a couple of times disoriented, and feeling like he should get up because of the time change but other than that he slept fairly soundly despite all of his worries.
The next morning the Dursleys got up early despite Dudley's protests. Vernon had soothed him by saying that they had something to take care of, and then they would be able to enjoy their vacation. He'd been looking at Harry while he said it. So as they were eating a huge breakfast with Harry watching he couldn't help but ask.
"Are you really going to try and give me to some man you aren't really even sure is my father?" Harry demanded.
Vernon glared at him not wanting to put up with his questions. But Petunia put on her smug expression that Harry was beginning to hate. She didn't question how he knew. She probably felt that they were almost rid of Harry so she was no doubt feeling generous, and willing to finally tell him the truth about their very unexpected trip. The thought made Harry scowl.
"Oh, he's your father all right. I read all about it in Lily's diary. She kept the thing beneath a bunch of old items of our parents to make sure it was well hidden. I got the box after her death and never really bothered to look inside it. To think we could have been rid of you years ago had I just taken the time to look through it earlier," Petunia sighed wistfully before continuing.
"Lily didn't want everyone to know the truth that she wasn't quite as perfect and wonderful as everyone believed her to be. She didn't want her husband knowing of her indiscretions with some American man in a bar," said Petunia obviously relishing the thought of finally beating her sister at something. Harry knew that she thought of herself as a proper and dutiful housewife, and to find out that his mum had been unfaithful meant, in her mind, that Petunia had turned out to be the better wife.
"So she met someone in a bar that doesn't automatically mean he's my dad right?" Harry asked nervously.
"She wrote that she was certain your father was the American man she had the liaison with. She had done some sort of magical test to prove it," said Petunia with confidence. This was her dream come true, beating Lily and getting rid of her horrible, freakish son. Harry could practically taste her glee over the situation. "She had written down his name and we were able to find him. He's a very rich and well-known man. I'm sure he'll be more than willing to take you in. He can afford it that's for sure."
"But what if it's not true?" Harry asked desperately.
"They have DNA tests now to check for those sorts of things and from what I've read he can have these things checked very quickly. He's probably had his fair share of paternity claims with all the money he's got," Vernon added his two cents worth.
"But it is true and you are going to live with him," said Petunia with an air of finality that ended the conversation, and made it clear that she believed her word was law.
"I want to read my mum's journal. I want to see for myself if that's really what she wrote," Harry demanded.
"You'll know the truth soon enough boy now sit down and shut up. We only have to put up with you for a little longer and I'd prefer that I didn't have to listen to your whining until then," Vernon growled his face turning purple which was never a good sign.
Harry knew there was nothing more that he could do but it didn't make him any less scared about the situation. He didn't know what to think or feel. This couldn't really be happening to him right? He was terrified of just how confident Petunia was. He wanted to read the journal but Petunia refused to let him look. In the end he could do nothing but go along with them. It was hard after a year at Hogwarts where he had been a leader, and been able to make decisions for himself to once more be under the absolute authority of the Dursleys. They didn't care about explaining things to him or about his opinion about anything. He felt helpless. They did what they wanted and expected him to fall in line or else face their wrath.
That was how Harry found himself once more in the rental car. His trunk was packed, Hedwig's cage was in his lap, and they were off. Harry tried to entertain himself with gazing around the beautiful city. He had never seen buildings quite so tall or seen so many people before. He'd never been to a big city like this before, besides just glimpses of London. The Dursleys never bothered to take him anywhere so he loved getting the chance to see new places. It made Harry wonder about American wizards and if they had a place like Diagon Alley hidden somewhere in between the busy streets and tall skyscrapers. They drove into the very heart of the city. They seemed to be getting closer and closer to one tall building that really seemed to stand out above the rest. It was shaped differently from the others. Instead of just being all right angles this one had curves, and eye-catching architecture to make it stand out amongst the other skyscrapers. It had STARK written across it in big and bold letters. It could have probably been seen for miles.
As it turned out the Stark building was indeed their destination. Harry felt his nerves ratchet higher as they made their way into the lobby of Stark Tower. It was so pristine and to Harry it almost felt like stepping into another world. When he had walked into Hogwarts it had been like stepping into the past with an ancient castle that didn't use any form of electricity. If walking into Hogwarts was like walking into the past then Stark Tower was like walking into the future. Everything looked so advanced with the touch computer screens at the information desk, and the metal and glass motif throughout the lobby. Harry was in awe and momentarily forgot why they were there in the first place. He was reminded when Vernon charged up to the information desk demanding to see a Tony Stark right away. Harry felt a jolt and wondered if that was the name of the man that they thought was his father. If he was Tony Stark did that mean that he owned this building? The thought was mind boggling to Harry.
"I'm sorry sir but that's simply impossible. You can try to call his assistant and book an appointment. But I know for a fact that the chances of that happening are very slim. It can take months to schedule an appointment and even then Mr. Stark is known for missing his appointments. Mr. Stark is a very busy man," said the receptionist in a polite but firm tone.
Harry thought it was rather stupid of Vernon to fly all this way, and not have researched the man enough to realize that they would need to have made an appointment to see him. Unless he hadn't realized that the man was quite so busy or that it would be that difficult to get in to see him.
"I've tried phoning several times before but so far I haven't gotten through. So I've come to see him in person and I think he'll decided to make time for me. I'm here to drop off his son, you see," said Vernon pompously.
That caught the woman's attention as well as the others loitering in the lobby. The Dursleys and Harry had already attracted people's attention what with Harry's large trunk and his owl cage but Vernon's loud declaration had people gravitating closer to hear more and see how this would all play out. Harry himself decided to plunk down on his trunk. He had a feeling this wasn't going to turn out well. The Dursleys had obviously lost it. They were just trying to make money by passing it off that he was really some rich guy's son because if Tony Stark was the same guy who the building was named after he must have been very, very rich maybe even more than the Malfoys.
"As far as I'm aware Mr. Stark doesn't have a son," said the receptionist still overly polite.
"He doesn't know. The boy's mother was my sister, and she never bothered to tell him since she was married to another man at the time," Petunia butted in. She couldn't seem to help herself when it came to badmouthing Lily. Harry clenched his fists and wished that he could speak up to defend his mum. But the situation was already bad enough and he didn't want to draw unnecessary attention to himself by shouting at Petunia.
"I see, well let me just make a few calls and see what I can do," the receptionist replied sweetly.
Harry was very certain that she thought the Dursleys were crazy too, and what she was really doing was calling the police or security. He was proved right when two large, muscular men in uniforms appeared from the lift and approached Vernon.
"Sir, we're going to have to ask you and your family to leave the premises," one of the guards requested calmly.
"I demand to see Tony Stark. We've traveled a long way and we're not leaving until we see him," snarled Vernon.
"I'm afraid that's not possible," replied the second guard looking irritated.
"If you don't let us see him we'll take our story to the papers. We'll appeal for a DNA test and then sue him for child support. We've spent a lot of money on the boy and we deserve some pay back. We were willing to do this quietly but if he won't see us then that leaves us no choice but to bring this issue out into the open," Petunia sniffed.
The two guards and the receptionist were both looking more than a little angry now but they also looked a little uncertain about what to do with the threat of a DNA test and going to the newspapers. The receptionist picked up the phone and made another call.
"Are you threatening Mr. Stark?" the first guard asked eyes narrowing on Vernon.
"No! We just want what we are due for looking after the little brat," Vernon snarled.
This led to some more arguing which led to the second guard trying to restrain Vernon who had begun to shake his fist at them both. Things would have dissolved into chaos had it not been for a pretty, slender woman with strawberry blonde hair stepping out of the lift and approaching the group.
"I'm Pepper Potts, I'm the CEO of Stark Industries and Tony Stark's personal assistant. What seems to be the problem here?" she asked in a calm but authoritative voice. Even Vernon seemed to snap to attention to obey her.
"I'm Petunia Dursley. This is my husband Vernon and our son Dudley and the boy over there is my sister's son. As I was explaining to these idiots, I'm here to drop off my nephew with Mr. Stark seeing as how he is the boy's father," replied Petunia nodding to where Harry sat dejectedly on his trunk petting Hedwig through the bars of her cage.
"And what proof do you have that he is in fact Mr. Stark's son?" Miss Potts asked while looking Harry over thoroughly. Harry stared back wishing that this whole thing would just end. It had to be one of the most horrible situations he'd ever been in, and he'd been attacked by a troll, a three-headed dog, a man-eating plant, and a Dark Lord.
"My sister's journal," Petunia replied primly. "She wrote of her affair with Mr. Stark and that he was in fact the boy's real father, not her husband. We'd be willing to have a paternity test done to prove the truth of our claim."
Miss Potts turned to stare at Harry some more. Her gaze was calculating and assessing. She frowned a bit, her lips turning into a grim line as if she had reached some sort of decision.
She turned back to the Dursleys. "Alright we have a doctor on staff in the building who is capable of performing such a test here and now. If you'll all come with me we can get this matter cleared up quickly."
She turned on her heel and strode back towards the lift. The Dursleys all followed looking smug, well not Dudley he just looked confused and slightly annoyed probably because this was all taking a lot longer than he had thought. Harry, of course, was left to drag his trunk by himself. One of the guards was kind enough to help him to which Harry thanked him profusely for. He had had to drag his trunk everywhere since getting off the Hogwarts Express and it was really beginning to tire him out.
He was nervous about what would happen next. He was glad that Miss Potts had stepped in to help out and was willing to deal with the Dursleys' crazy idea. He wasn't sure to what lengths they would have gone had she not interfered but he was fairly certain that it wouldn't have been pretty. They were determined to get rid of Harry, and they wanted to get some of Tony Stark's money in the process. Harry had no idea if any of this was true but whatever happened, Harry had a feeling that his life was drastically going to change.