The Spy and the Painting
by J. Merrick


Chapter Seven

Harry felt a wonderful sense of déjà vu as he walked up towards Voldemort. He almost wished for echos of all his loved ones to be accompanying him as he made this walk as if to say, "Look at your little boy now. Master of Death. Got trapped in a painting for close to a decade. Pretty sure I have a crush on a Russian spy. But mostly Master of Death who is quite pissed off at Tommy Riddle and Death."

As he walked up he saw what was left of the Avengers, huddled on the ground, withering in pain as Voldemort kept up his monologue. That just wouldn't do.

"Hullo, Tommy," Harry said, "Long time, no see."

"Ah, Harry Potter," Voldemort spat, turning to face Harry, "The Boy Who Lived to become the Master of Death."

"You sound jealous," Harry responded, a small smile in his voice, "It's not all it's cracked up to be."

"You wouldn't enjoy the power," Voldemort said back, walking towards him, "You were always scared of it."

"Well, you say that," Harry said, as if contemplating a hard question, "But it's more the fact that I just hate the bitch that gave me these powers."

Harry clapped his hands and a massive bolt of pure magical power shot off at Voldemort, who dodged it without a moment to spare before returning with a spell of his own.

The battle was once again on.

X X X

Natasha crept through, far enough behind Harry to observe but not close enough to be caught in any crossfire. She had the cloak around her, and was surprised when she had looked at her own reflection to see that there wasn't any.

Magic provided wonderful tools.

She watched as Harry approached Voldemort and prepared to work her way around, to hide from the fighting so she could pick her attack when she saw her.

Well, not so much a her, but Death.

"Where do you think you're going, my little widow?" Death whispered, it's voice carrying into Natasha's mind like a knife as she stopped in her tracks. Harry had said that not even Death could see through this robe, and yet she felt as if Death was looking right at her.

Natasha took a few hesitant steps forward and noticed that Death's eyes did not follow, instead it seemed to be reaching out with it's mind, trying to sense where Natasha was.

She still had a small advantage then.

"I know you're hiding, Natasha," Death whispered, spitting out her name as if it was vile, "I also know that you can't do anything without letting me know exactly where you are."

Death giggled, flinging the long tresses of it's visage over it's shoulders.

"Take the robe of dear widow," it continued, "Let me know where you are so I can rip your soul from your body."

Natasha stood still, making sure that her entire body was covered by the cloak. She saw Death walking around the rubble, reaching out with it's mind to try to sense where she was.

"I got to thinking, the universe has it's sense of humor," Death spoke, her voice shuddering down into Natasha's bones, "There had to be a reason that you were the one that released my Harry from his prison. It was...to convenient."

Natasha saw Harry and Voldemort plunge into a fight, and she could feel Harry wondering where she was. She had to help Harry, but to move would mean giving herself away to Death who was still talking about her thoughts.

"So I looked at my ledger," Death ground out, "Turns out, little miss Natasha Romanoff was more than just a silly little girl trying to distract my Harry. No, this worthless girl held the key to releasing him."

She felt her blood run cold as Death continued speaking.

"I am Death," the visage roared, her voice muddled in the din of the fight raging between Harry and Voldemort, "I can bring back evils beyond comprehension on a whim! Then I find out that in doing so I made it possible to release my master."

Death stopped and laughed, a sound that filled Natasha with an amount of dread.

"All it requires is for the Widow to sacrifice herself for him," Death giggled, the sound horrifying, "So I give you this choice Natasha. Sacrifice yourself, and lose the years that you two are going to have together. Oh, I didn't mention that? Give up your life, your happiness, his happiness, and clear the ledger."

Death stopped, looking at Harry and Voldemort fighting.

"I was able to trick Destiny into letting me know that," it continued, "Amazing what you can do when your master is unable to exert any control over you. Harry and Natasha. A life of happiness. A life of joy. No more debts. All of their wrongs righted! I couldn't have that, so I decided to intervene."

It chuckled as Natasha felt her blood running cold, "Now you have a choice. If Voldemort beats Harry, he'll be my vessel to rule over the world as I should have been before Harry had to intervene. If Harry wins, your ledgers will be clear...but you'll be dead."

A pause as it considered its nails.

"You'll know when you have the choice to make little girl," it continued, "But just think, with everything you know about him...do you want to be just another person that kills his soul just a little bit more?"

Death vanished, leaving Natasha in its wake. She looked towards the last place she had seen Harry and noticed that he had just sent Voldemort crashing back onto the platform where the rest of the Avengers were tied up. She pushed the thoughts of what Death had said out of her mind.

She had a job to do.

X X X

Nick Fury swore as he brought his hand back from the golden dome that was between himself, the Wolverine, and his best agents. Testing out the dome's response he had tried to put his hand on it but in the process was burned quite rapidly.

"You should watch out for that, bub," the Wolverine – also known as Logan - stated with a small grin, before reaching a hand forward himself and noticing that while it still burned him it didn't affect his healing ability, "Well, would you look at that."

"Think you could make it through there?" Fury asked, tossing a rock at the dome and noticing that it bounced off. Interesting...

"More or less intact," Logan replied, following Fury's previous line of think by taking his shirt off and attempting to pass it through the dome without any success, "Can't say much about if I'll be naked or not though."

"I'll take whatever Agent I can get that can give me eyes on that can also extract themselves if need be," Fury stated, looking at Logan who was very casually stretching out his bulging muscles that strapped his compact frame.

"Fury just so you know," Logan replied, tossing his shirt to the side, "When this is all over we're done. I don't owe you nothing no more, and you and SHIELD leave me the hell alone. Understand?"

"Completely," Fury assented without hesitation. He knew that Logan would do something soon enough that would cause him to owe another round of favors to himself personally. It was the nature of their relationship.

"Good, now you want me to let this Potter character take out Voldemort first, or do you just want me to take out targets of opportunity," Logan questioned, lighting a cigar that he had just pulled out of his pocket.

"Neutralize the Voldemort character first," Fury replied, wondering if Logan intended on bringing his cigar through the dome, "If Potter doesn't agree to come along willingly afterward, get him too. I want him alive Logan."

"Gotcha," Logan replied, and walked through the dome with a mild grunt of discomfort as all his clothing was left behind. He then noticed that he still had his cigar, "Well, imagine that. Dome has a sense of humor."

Fury watched the wild card that he had just introduce walk away. First and foremost he needed the Voldemort threat neutralized. Second, he needed Potter brought in so they could at least talk.

If that didn't happen, then he would have to take him out.

X X X

Harry swiped his hand out and watched as his brute force magical attack seemingly ignored Voldemort's shields and sent him flying through the air. He felt a vague sense of satisfaction as he heard the sound of his body smacking against the ground in front of the Avengers.

Then Voldemort just stood right back up.

"Is that all that you have Potter?" Voldemort asked, standing back up as if he was in the prime of his life.

"So I take it that Death decided to give you a little bit of assistance," Harry stated, lazily batting away a red spell that Voldemort had silently thrown at him, "I don't quite think that's fair."

"The fact that you were able to become the Mater of Death through strict happenstance isn't fair," Voldemort shot back, lowering his wand to Harry's confusion, "Which is something even Death Herself agreed with."

Before Harry could react Voldemort threw his hands up in the air, and brought them down with a noise that Harry was sure could be heard across multiple dimensions. Almost immediately the sky around them plunged into darkness and Harry could see a pit opening up below them that was quickly being filled with a swirling, dark purple smoke.

He quickly shot his hand out to move the Avengers away from the scene but was frozen in place just as suddenly.

"I'm sorry Harry dear," came the unearthly, and unwelcome voice of Death, "But I'm afraid that it's just not in the cards for you to win today."

"Death," Harry ground out, his body unable to move, "I command you to release me."

"No," came Death's voice with a small laugh, "In fact, I think you'll find that I am the one calling the shots right now."

"I am your Master-"

"I AM DEATH YOU SNIVVELING MORTAL," Death roared at Harry, the sound of it's voice reverberating in Harry's eardrums, "You rejected the mantle! I found a way around it! Thomas here is more than willing to pick up the role that you rejected! All you have to do is be trapped in my realm, away from this mortal world. Then I get a new champion. Then I get rid of you."

Harry's eyes searched around, looking for Natasha. Where was she? What was taking her so long?

X X X

Logan was just putting some pants on that he had taken off of a dead body when he heard Death's roar.

"There's no way that's good," he mumbled to himself around his cigar, zippering his pants up before taking off at a sprint towards where he heard the voice coming from. It was a pretty easy guess, as the sky was considerably darker in one specific area than the rest.

He felt a chill starting to run it's way up his spine, as if a warning. Something wasn't right about this entire situation. There was just too much that Fury wasn't telling and leaving open for discretion.

Then there was the fact that some creature's voice had managed to shake the adamantium on his bones.

No, something really wasn't right about this.

X X X

Harry tried to bring up every reserve of power that he had to break out of the binding that Death had apparently put on him. It was of no use, he couldn't move a single muscle in his body except the ones necessary to move his mouth and his eyes.

"What do you want Death?" Harry asked, with a sigh. He was secretly terrified, but he knew he had to keep bluffing his way through this until Natasha came through. She had to.

"The same thing I've ever wanted Harry dear," Death responded, with an equal sigh as it flipped its hair over it's shoulder while walking towards him, "For you to take up my mantle and bring me my souls."

"Not going to happen when you have me tied up like this," Harry commented, causing Death to laugh slightly.

"Oh I could do so many things with you tied up my love," Death commented softly, running an icy finger down Harry's face before rapidly turning around, "But you never want me to. That's made me mad dear, so I went out and found myself a new boy!"

Harry watched as Death sauntered over towards Voldemort, who was seemingly straining to keep the portal open.

"He's a bit on the weak side, I admit it," Death continued, "But as soon as you're out of the way, he'll become stronger."

It stretched lazily, as if admiring its plan.

"So one last time Harry," Death stated, looking Harry directly in the eyes, "What's your choice? Me, or your selfishness?"

"You know the answer," Harry spat out, without hesitation, "It will always be no."

"Then I will see you on the Other Side," Death said, starting to walk over to Harry.

"I don't think so bitch," came the sudden voice of Natasha. All eyes suddenly turned towards where Voldemort was standing, where Natasha had suddenly appeared.

In the brief moments before she exploded into action, Harry saw a look in her eyes that showed the decision she was about to make was one that she was firmly decided upon. It also was almost as if she was saying Sorry at the same time.

Right after that brief moment Natasha tackled Voldemort from behind, and they both fell into the portal as Death screamed at them. After the briefest of seconds the portal closed, leaving only Harry and Death standing there.

End Chapter Seven


Author's Notes: Just want to start this off by saying that I apologize for the long wait between chapters. I'll do my best to not take so long in writing the next chapter!

I want to thank you for all the reviews, I greatly appreciate it. I will see you next time!