Another story? Oh yes. But this one will be finished. I'm just posting the first chapter here because you guys often give me incredibly good advice - and point out embarrassingly massive errors. :P
My knowledge of Hakweye comes from a half hour of wikipedia study. I've taken only bare bones of his origin story and adapted them to the movie-verse. So if you see any familiar names, consider them cameos and not tied to comic-verse reality.
Uh, no ships? Story basically ends in Avengers, so, don't be waiting for anyone not in this chapter to be showing up anytime soon.
Comments and advice are treasured!
Birds of a Feather
"Surely Mrs Figg-"
"No, Vernon, I just told you - one of her mangy cats got itself run over or something and she's at the veterinary hospital - probably all night, knowing her."
Harry, from the privacy of his closed and locked cupboard, rather thought that was nice of Mrs Figg. The old lady might smell like cabbage and petted him the same way she pet her cats, but at least she genuinely seemed to love them. Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon talked about her like being kind to animals was the sign of an unbalanced person.
Well, alright, maybe loving quite so many animals led to furniture covered in hair and half-dug-up poo-ridden garden lawns, but at least Mrs Figg never hurt anyone.
His sore eye throbbed at the reminder.
"Well what about whassername? Gel' with the horrible little baby. She might take him?"
Harry could just hear his Aunt's lips purse. The 'Gel with the horrible baby' was a young unmarried woman who both his Aunt and Uncle thought scandalously indecent and unworthy of living on Privet drive - unfortunately, Vernon had loudly said as much, to her, rather than just talking about her behind her back as was proper.
Harry knew all about it because Petunia had yelled at him that night, one of the few times she ever raised her voice to her husband.
Although she didn't say anything now, her face must have gotten the message across. Uncle Vernon backed down.
"Fine then, fine. We'll just have to bring the boy along."
Harry perked up. They were going somewhere? It must be nice if they didn't want him to come so badly. Quickly, he squinted around his cupboard. The light bulb had blown again so it was sometimes hard to see without the grating opened. There, that looked like his best pair of jeans in the 'pants' pile of clothes. And that sort of dark-grey folded shirt might be blue? The darker one that looked almost new, not the faded one with the picture on the front peeling off.
Quickly, not wanting to be caught in the act of changing, he wriggled out of his current clothes and into a fresh set.
Footsteps rattled the floor beneath him as they came closer - his Uncle's - and Harry scrambled to sit back and look properly like he was 'thinking about his bad behaviour' and not 'eavesdropping on his betters'.
The door wrenched open. Uncle Vernon glared down at him, annoyed rather than angry. His moustache bristled as his lip twitched.
"Go wash your face, Boy, and put on some shoes. We're going out."
Harry nodded meekly and darted out as soon as Uncle Vernon left enough space. At just seven years of age and shorter than his cousin, Uncle Vernon was a towering mass of body odour and temper that Harry didn't like being too close to. He dashed up the stairs - "Don't run in the house!" - and quickly washed his hands and face before trying to finger-comb his hair into looking a little neater. Despite what his family thought about him, he really did try to please them.
He tried to be good. Or at least, good enough.
The weight of the water flattened his hair down a little, though it would spring right back up again once it dried. Still, he trotted downstairs in the slight hope of being praised for trying - he wasn't - and pulled his slightly too-large sneakers on with no less enthusiasm.
They were going out!
"Why does he have to come?!" Dudley's whining wailing started up on cue. His voice was coming from the lounge so Harry slunk closer to the kitchen. He could get out the back and go around to the car if his cousin tried to take it out on him right away.
"Because there's no-one else to take him, sweetums." Petunia cooed back. She was probably trying to wrestle him into his jacket again. She could not seem to understand why the buttons kept popping and complained bitterly about 'cheap outsourced labour'.
Harry couldn't understand why she didn't just see that Dudley was fat and needed either less food or bigger clothing.
He was smart enough not to say so, though.
"It's not fair." Dudley sulked. "This was supposed to be my treat. I got a B in science!"
Well, Harry had got an A in science and since Dudley could copy Harry's assignments but not his tests - he'd gotten a B.
"Oh I know diddums, I know it's not fair. Unfortunately, sometimes we must just tackle life's unfairness and soldier on. You are my little soldier, aren't you?"
"Don't go putting ideas into his head, Pet." Uncle Vernon said sternly, probably reading the paper in the living room as he waited for his wife and son to be ready. "Dursleys don't join the rank and file. They may, if the need is dire, become hofficers."
Harry sighed quietly. A few soldiers had come to school once, on careers day. Harry had thought them to be rather impressive. The three men and a lady were all in army clothing, all strong and tall and very polite but also very confident - like if bad guys attacked they would just leap into action and take them down and save lives without even breaking a sweat. Harry had wanted very badly to talk to them but hadn't quite managed to work up the courage with Dudley hanging around as well. Dudley liked to spend his time spoiling things for Harry and he'd just known his mean cousin would have found some way to make Harry look stupid.
"Well! I think we're all ready to go!" Aunt Petunia said cheerfully. "Off to the circus!"
"Yay! The circus!" Dudley cheered.
Harry gasped, wide-eyed. The circus?! He'd never ever been allowed to go before! He'd only ever seen it in story books or overheard tales from Dudley or other kids at school. He wriggled in excitement but quickly tried to hide it as he heard heavy footsteps coming towards him once more.
He straightened as Uncle Vernon rounded the doorway and peered suspiciously at him.
Harry stood still and tried not to look too happy, just in case Uncle Vernon decided that, actually, Harry could stay home locked in his cupboard.
"Listen up boy. There's going to be some rules." His uncle said sternly. Harry nodded.
"I'll pay for your ticket in - that will get you inside and let you watch the show in the circus tent-"
Harry had to work really really hard at not showing his sheer happiness at the thought.
"But I won't shell out a single penny for anything else, do you understand? So don't come whining about anything - the answer will be no."
"And finally." Here Uncle Vernon's face got dark and tight - he really meant it. "This is a family outing, celebrating Dudley's achievement. I won't have you spoiling it, so keep out from underfoot. If you do anything - anything - to cause trouble or otherwise spoil Dudley's treat I will give you such a thrashing you won't be able to walk for a week."
Obediently, Harry nodded. This was a 'special' threat. So far he'd never actually been 'soundly thrashed' but he didn't like the sound of it and wanted to keep his record of avoiding it perfect.
"Yes, Uncle Vernon. I'll stay out of the way, promise."
His uncle just looked at him like he was already lying.
It hurt, and it made him a little angry too.
He never lied. Well, hardly ever. But Dudley lied all the time. Why did they always treat him badly and not Dudley?
"You'd better." His Uncle said at last. "Now get in the car."
The circus. Was. INCREDIBLE!
Harry stared in awe from his seat, face almost plastered to the window as his Uncle cursed the price of parking and his Aunt snapped to just 'find somewhere Vernon, honestly.'
They were in a huge muddy field right out of Surrey with almost no other houses around. They hadn't had to drive very far to get here but it felt like they'd gone to another world. There were lights everywhere! They burned gold and blue and pink and green, so bright they could be seen even though it was daylight.
Giant wheels spun slowly, small fast-moving things screamed up and down metal scaffolding and the air itself smelled like hot donuts and roast meat and competed for space with the sound of people laughing and talking. The second Uncle Vernon finally parked the car, Harry was out like a shot, bouncing on his toes.
"Right!" Uncle Vernon said loudly. "Just in case we get separated." He gave Harry a dark look. "We'll meet back here at the car after the show. Alright?"
"Come ooooon." Dudley whined, pulling at his mum's arm. Aunt Petunia just smiled indulgently and allowed him to drag her off. Uncle Vernon turned to Harry and handed him his ticket with a scowl.
"Right after the show, boy, or we'll leave you here. You wouldn't be the first boy to 'run off to the circus' and we'd be well shot of you."
He turned back around to follow his family before he could see the dawning excitement in Harry's eyes. That was possible? He could stay and maybe live in this magical place of light and laughter instead of with the Dursleys?!
He jumped up and down a little in sheer joy before running to one of the entrances to show his ticket and get his hand stamped. On the way here, Uncle Vernon had said they would look at the 'side shows' before the main event, so he had some time. Maybe he could find the boss of the circus and ask to stay? Or, or maybe he should look around first and see if he couldn't find a job to do - his Aunt and Uncle were very clear about how they wouldn't put up with him if he didn't earn his keep.
Grinning, he vanished into the ocean of people.
Clint Barton, AKA 'Hawkeye' AKA 'The World's Greatest Marksman', slowly worked his way through a bag of cinnamon-frosted donuts. At thirteen years of age he was still young enough to pass as just some random kid and so one of his jobs was to patrol the sideshows for poor losers and prove that the games they'd just lost a lot of money on weren't fixed. (They were, of course, all sideshow games were fixed to a degree - but at Tiboldt's Family Circus they were pretty shamelessly stacked against the customer.)
Winning involved either luck, knowledge of how the game was tricked out or sheer talent to actually win anything. Having both of the last two and a baby-face besides, Clint was always put on this duty. Sure, he maybe made people a little more angry by showing them up so easily but hey - it's not like they weren't going to be robbed anyway. They may as well lose all their money on semi-legit sideshow games rather than just have it lifted from their pockets during the show.
It had been two years since he'd run away from the wreckage of his life in Carson Carnival. After having been betrayed so thoroughly… by so many… well, it was easier living this kind of life. No ties, just a job based on his skills and a bank account only he could access, which he put his under-paid profits into as often as he could. Some of the people here were nice enough, in a distant 'gang of thieves' kind of way, but he wouldn't trust them for even a split second.
Still, so long as everyone did their job and kept their distance, it wasn't a bad life. Being young he didn't get much of the haul, but he did get his own tent - which he usually set up in a tree or on top of the lion cage, the better to see people coming with - and free food whenever he wanted, so he wasn't trapped. If he ever needed to, he could leave.
Maybe when he was legal, he would. Maybe see if he could earn a legal living by joining an archery team - he'd heard they could get millions through sponsorships. Or, if that was too much hassle, he could probably be a much better thief by himself.
Speaking of thieves, one large tub of lard was loudly accusing Mitch - one of the carnies - of being just that. Showtime.
He drifted closer, acting the part of a curious kid drawn in by drama. The man's wife was tight-lipped and red cheeked, though in embarrassment or anger it was tough to tell - even for him. He might be able to see well but sometimes he didn't always interpret what he saw correctly.
"Oh I know YOU can do it!" The man was shouting now. "You thieving, scamming gypsy. But decent, honest people-"
"Hey, can I try?" Clint butted in, widening his eyes a little and catching the smallest of smirks from Mitch.
"You sure, kid?" Mitch played along. "Apparently, the game is 'fixed'." He made little quotation marks in the air for the benefit of other witnesses - of which there were a lot. His acting was kinda shitty, but he was well used to the role of hard-done-by, but tolerant, circus man. A saint under fire from unreasonable customers.
"Yeah." Clint shrugged. "It looks a bit hard, but, you just gotta think about it, you know? I think I can do it. I watched this guy here and - I think I can."
The large man purpled. The woman's lips grew even more pursed. Their kid - waddling despite being obviously younger than Clint himself - narrowed mean little eyes at him.
Still, under the stares of a small crowd, they stood aside as Clint handed over some tokens and picked up the balls. The game was to get them into the bins, which were steep on the inside so that balls bounced right back out again.
But like he'd said - knowledge and skill were both something he possessed.
He missed the first one on purpose, ignoring the large guy's smug expression and the ripple of almost - sympathetic? - noise from the crowd.
People were weird.
The second he threw carefully so that it almost bounced out and every ball after it - with an expression like 'yeah, I got it now' - he lobbed carefully so that it hit the perfect point at the side of the bin to roll in and not out.
Mitch handed over his prize, one of those creepy little monkeys with velcro hands that wrapped around you. Clint eyed it with distaste - damned Mitch knew he hated the things - but took it and tried to look happy about it.
"Good job, kid." The carny said, over the round of applause his performance had gathered from the crowd. Newly-enthused about the game, many crowded closer to try their own hands at it. Clint slipped away again, keeping a sharp eye out for the fat man - sometimes angry customers liked to get a little angrier once they were somewhere more private - but the man just stormed away, his cheek working like he was chewing his own tongue in rage. His wife and little fatso kid scuttled after him, the kid's voice rising in a whining pitch.
He turned back and paused as his gaze caught on a shy set of green eyes, half-hidden behind a mess of black hair. Another kid, one of hundreds charging around except that this one looked more than a little underfed and wasn't carrying any sort of toy, snack or showbag.
In fact, judging from the expression of impressed awe… he was thinking the kid belonged to or was known to the fat guy - and was overall happy to have seen him publicly humiliated like that.
He grinned and winked, prompting a return flash of white teeth and crinkled eyes, before the kid ducked his head with a slight blush and slipped away.
Clint whistled a little as he passed the creepy toy off onto a little girl who'd been looking at it enviously. She beamed and barely paused long enough to say thanks before running off to show her new treasure to her friends.
The little show he'd put on would ripple through the crowd, dampening any other complaints for awhile. Still, he shouldn't react to any more or someone would catch on that he was just a little too talented.
Someone else's turn, then. He'd head off to get ready for the show.
He crumpled up the empty bag in his hands, binned it, and jogged off towards his tent.
The sun was setting and Harry had kind of forgotten his plan to join the circus. There was just so much going on! So much to see! Not all of the demonstrations asked for money - he'd seen one man swallow a sword and then if that weren't enough, he swallowed another which was on fire!
The hall of curiosities was also free and kinda scary, but Harry went through it again and again until he wasn't scared anymore.
The animals were also allowed to be petted for free - at least the little ones. There were normal farm animals in a separate pen, but the bigger one had an elephant, a couple of horses and what looked like a gigantic snake.
There were lots more people around the exciting animals, though, so Harry just stuck with the normal ones, petting a lamb which had come right over to him and nuzzled his hands. He figured he'd wait till just before the main show - everyone would leave early to get good seats, based on what Uncle Vernon had told Aunt Petunia in the car, so he'd get a shot then.
Unfortunately, just as the bell rang out to announce the start of the show, Dudley finally found him. His cousin had that stupid mean smirk on his face, the kind he only ever got when he was denying Harry something - or successfully blaming him for something else.
"What do you want, Dudley?" Harry asked warily. "You'll miss the show."
"No, I won't." Dudley replied, piggy little face grinning away. "I just need to make sure you do."
With that, the larger boy lunged for Harry. Harry, who was well used to being attacked by his cousin for no reason, leaped away from the other boy's grasp and bolted. Up over the fence he went, shooting past closing sideshow booths and the few adults still making their way towards the giant stripy tent. He could hear Dudley behind him, panting like a steam train but still young and determined enough to follow. Harry, hungry and tiring quickly, wouldn't be able to outrun his cousin for long. Harry was faster, but Dudley could keep up the chase longer - it had always been that way. Avoiding Harry Hunting came down more and more to cleverness and luck, than speed.
Well, except for that day he'd flown, of course. A gust of wind somehow lifting him up over the dumpster and onto the roof, over so quickly he was never quite sure what he remembered about it.
He could sure do with it happening again, though. He felt fingers swipe at his back, catching meanly in his hair and yanking out a few strands. Harry yelped in pain and desperate fear, forcing himself to speed up again. He was almost at the end of his strength already, any second now he'd slow down just enough and Dudley would shove him down and pound him…
He felt fingers again, just missing his hair but glancing off his shoulder blades and then… then…
Then he was rising up into the sky, just like before except this time there was no nearby roof to land on! He heard Dudley shouting loudly behind him but couldn't pay him any mind, not when he himself was terrified of falling. His heart beat faster and faster, his arms pumping and… wait…
He tilted his head a little to the side, just enough to see… wings?
Long, lightly-patterned soft brown-white wings, somehow, impossibly, his.
He panicked and his arms - wings? - pumped out of synch, sending him spiralling and shrieking in fear. His butt twitched - no, something else close to it. Whatever it was, it reacted just as instinctively, evening out his flight once more until he could just about manage to land feet-first on the hood of a battered old jeep. His feet, no, claws, scritched against the paint and he flapped his wings a bit to try and find his balance.
What had happened?
Now that he wasn't in mid-air and afraid of falling, he realised that one of his wings hurt a little. Nothing bad, just a sprain like when Uncle Vernon pulled his arm too hard. Carefully, he folded his other wing back the way it wanted to rest but left the hurt one extended. It ached when he tried to draw it in.
"You are in so much trouble."
Harry's head snapped around, Dudley's evil expression tempered only slightly by his lingering shock. The boy wavered on his feet, like he wasn't sure whether to run screaming or make another grab for Harry.
"I'm telling Dad." Dudley announced at last, surging forward, making Harry fall over as he tried to leap away with legs that were nowhere near as powerful as they'd used to be. Instinctively, he'd tried to run… and now he was on his back, defenceless.
He shrieked again, no real words behind it, just fear in his surprisingly loud new voice.
Dudley stopped, sausage fingers hovering over Harry's little body. Both boys turned to look at the source of the sound. An older boy - the boy who'd shown up Uncle Vernon - was standing not too far away.
Harry had never seen anyone look so angry, not even Uncle Vernon and his face changed colours.
"The fuck do you think you're doing?!" The older boy snarled, stalking closer. He didn't sound British anymore, not like at the ball-game. Dudley backed up a step but raised his chin.
"It's my c-bird." He said bravely - or stupidly. "I can do what I want with him."
Harry finally managed to thrash himself upright and gingerly tried to take off. It hurt more this time and he was crazy wobbly, but he managed to get himself a bit higher - on top of one of the poles from which colourful flags were strung.
"That's called cruelty to animals, dumbass." The other boy shot back. "You can go to jail for that. Now get the fuck out of here before I call security to throw your ass out."
Dudley had never been talked to like that in his life. Chin quivering, he shot Harry a hateful look and ran off towards the big tent. The other boy scowled after him.
"Fuckin' asshole." He muttered to himself, before turning and looking up at Harry.
Harry tilted his head. Wow, he was just realising how well he could see as a bird! Did normal people see this well all the time? He could make out individual gold and green flecks in the boy's muddy hazel eyes.
The boy made an oddly low, soothing series of clicks at him.
"Hey, birdy. You okay?" He asked. Harry tilted his head the other way. What should he do? Change back?
Oh. Oh, no, no, he'd get in so much trouble. Uncle Vernon really would beat the stuffing out of him after this - especially once Dudley told him that Harry did something as freakish as turning into a bird.
Maybe he'd just stay a bird for the rest of his life? It was even better than joining the circus because he could fly wherever he wanted! And birds didn't eat much, right?
"Your wing's lookin' a little bent outta shape, there." The boy continued, making Harry realise that he was actually… concerned about him.
"Are you trained, boy? Can you come down?" The boy offered his forearm up hopefully. Harry stared at it. What on earth…?
"I promise I won't hurt you." He made the weirdly comforting clicking sounds again. "Lemme just make sure you're okay, yeah? Birds die if they can't fly."
Harry's eyes widened. They what?!
He spread his wings and awkwardly hopped off the pole. His body was so light now, even the slightest gust or breeze had to be instantly adjusted for or it could bowl him right over.
He flapped heavily as he got close and managed to land on the boy's arm more by luck than anything else.
The boy looked relieved.
"There's a good bird." He crooned, digging in his pocket for something before holding it up. Harry studied it, trying to work out what it was. It smelled different, but.. It might be a bit of sausage?
…Why was there sausage in the boy's pocket?
Mentally shrugging, Harry delicately took a bite when the boy brought it close enough, feeling chuffed as a delighted smile spread over the boy's face.
"Awesome." The boy whispered to himself, feeding Harry the last few little bits.
"Okay." He seemed to shake himself. "Alright, I gotta go on soon, but I think I know where the local all-night vet is. We kinda have to, you know? Anyway, right after my spot, I promise I'll take you in for a proper checkup. Do you think you can stay till then? I fed you… you'll stay, right?"
Harry tilted his head and tried to say something a bit quieter than his previous loud shrieks. It came out weird and the boy just looked worried so tried to just bob his head instead.
Slowly, the boy smiled.
"Okay, cool. I'm Clint, anyway. Clint Barton. Don't worry, I'll take care of you."
Harry ruffled his wings a little and gripped the boy's arm tighter.
Yeah. Maybe he'd just just stay as a bird for just a little longer…