Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. I do not own anything created by Marvel Studios or Marvel Comics. I do not make money off of this.

The Artificer

Chapter 5: Not Necessarily

As Agent Romanoff led the party of four through the bowels of the ship now revealed to be the mysterious "Helicarrier" Harry had heard whispers of during his research into SHIED when he had learned that the agency was in possession of the Tesseract, his opinion of the ingenuity of these humans couldn't help but rise. As the redhead took them on a winding route around the enormous ship that was meant to confuse and disorient them about the layout of what amounted to humanity's first attempt at the replication of an Asgardian Battle-Platform, Harry glimpsed numerous bits of technology that hinted that SHIELD had been attempting to reverse engineer off-world technology for a very long time. He spotted cooling couplings based off of the Jotenheimian environmental suits used in their last invasion of Migard, kevlar body suits worn by high ranking operatives (like Agent Romanoff herself) woven in the same high-tensile weave pattern used in the uniforms of the ancient Alfheim draft within the Níuvordr (Nine-guard) army, and delicate support beams in large storage bays that looked to be forged with primitive Dvergr techniques. These observations made Harry reevaluate his opinion of Fury.

When Harry had touted his knowledge of both the inner workings of SHIELD and Fury's own psyche, he was largely bluffing. After his jump back to his original time, it had taken the wizard quite a while to track down the current resting place of the Tesseract. Initially, Harry had been reduced to hunting down the old Norse legends of the Tesseract (the few that existed) and searching the sites he knew had once had an Asgardian presence. It was by luck that he had stumbled on the cube's fading seventy year old energy signature in an abandoned Asgardian repository on Nordaustlandet, the north-eastern and largely unpopulated island of the Norwegian arctic archipelago known collectively as Svalbard. From there, he was able to follow the energy trail south to an abandoned World War Two fortress which was once inhabited by the Nazi supernatural investigatory agency, HYDRA.

Finding that the same base had been captured in the war by a joint expeditionary force containing both British and American troops, the wizard had reached out to his closest (and highest-ranking) contact in the British Wizarding government, his old friend Hermione Weasley. It had been a rather tedious international floo trip (in which Senior Undersecretary Weasley hexed him silly for his self-imposed exile in America before inviting him and Teddy to a Weasley family reunion) that left him with the files detailing the movements of the joint Special Sciences Initiative undertaken by British and American governments which oversaw the Allies' battle against HYDRA. Seemingly, the Tesseract was lost when Rogers crashed a HYDRA nuclear bomber containing both Johann Schmidt and the cube into the ice-covered northern reaches of the Davis Straight between Greenland and Canada. While the Tesseract might have been lost, the interest in it was not, so Harry looked into the two international agencies, now under the purview of the United Nations, SHIELD and SWORD, the Sentient World Observation and Response Department. He thankfully struck gold with SHIELD. He was thankful that SHIELD had the Tesseract in its possession because: firstly, Col. Nick Fury seemed to actually lead his organization in an attempt to protect the continuity of all of humanity and Cdr. Abigail Brand, the leader of SWORD, excluded both mutants and magicals from her view of what was human; and secondly, SHIELD attempted to gather all the facts on a situation before intervening, whereas SWORD had an 'obliterate first, destroy all the evidence second, and ask questions third' policy towards imagined threats.

With a little more digging, mainly by perusing the minds of high-ranking United Nations diplomats during charity events using legilimancy, he learned that the Tesseract was being used by SHIELD to create items that could be used to defend humanity against extraterrestrial and extraplanar invasions in a classified project dubbed 'Phase 2'. The one diplomat from whom he derived this information, the Vice President of the UN Security Council, had only known that the items created during Phase 2 could be considered 'extremely detrimental and possibly dangerous to the continuity of the human race, should they fall into the wrong hands'.

Originally, Harry had decided to investigate what 'Phase 2' actually was before repossessing the Tesseract from SHIELD possession. While the absolute power presented by the cube had the immense potential to corrupt Col. Fury (and in turn SHIELD, itself) absolutely, the wizard's research had produced a picture of the African-American that Harry wanted to trust. Yes, Fury was a spy. In reality, Fury was the spy. If you were to stumble upon one of the skeletons in his closet, the pile of bones would throw you out and slam the door in your face, and break down into hysterics at the thoughtnthat Fury would find out it wasn't being as secret as it should be. He lied; he concealed; he covered up; he made things disappear. Yes, he did these things, but he did them with purpose; and Harry thought that the man's driving purpose was truly the safety of mankind as a whole: mundane, mutant, and magical.

Now, as Harry was being led through the Helicarrier, he stepped away from his position of wanting to trust Fury based upon the wizard's assumptions and began to believe that he had started seeing evidence that Fury could be trusted once be proved himself under pressure. Despite the great leaps and bounds in technology Fury had at his disposal from SHIELD's apparent reverse engineering of off-world artifacts, none of technology was used in an offensive manner. From Agent Romanoff's offhand comments as they traipsed the Helicarrier, Harry learned that this ship was Fury's baby, a brainchild in which Fury signed off on every detail. With the technology at his disposal, the man could have made this into an impenetrable flying battleship. Instead, he made the conscious decision to form the Helicarrier into a command and dispatch platform rather than a weapon.

When Agent Romanoff led their quartet onto the ship's bridge, Harry could see that his deduction about the purpose of the Helicarrier was indeed correct. Scanning the banks of computer stations from his vantage point on the dais behind Fury's command terminal, he quickly saw that the closest thing to a targeting system on this ship was an advanced radar linked to the carrier's air traffic control.

Harry's attention was forced away from his analysis of the Helicarrier's battle capabilities by a sudden increase in activity that accompanied the wizard's inner ear telling him that the ship had finally stopped its ascent into the sky.

"Flight rotors are disengaged from takeoff and have reached their outboard capacity!"

"Power plant is performing at capacity. We are clear!"

"All engines operating," the woman who appeared to be the ship's First Mate stated to the crewman working below her as she made her way onto the observation walkway between the banks of computers on either side of the room, "SHIELD emergency protocol one-nine-three-point-six in effect!" the officer turned to Col. Fury, "We're at level, sir!"

"Good," Fury answered, glancing on the readout on his command console, "Let's vanish."

"Engaging retro-reflection panels!" Harry glanced up at two large display screens hanging on the far side of the Bridge and couldn't help his surprise as the screens flickered through the displays of cameras monitoring the hull and runway of the ship. Before his very eyes, the entire exterior of the Helicarrier seemed to digitize before fading into a distorted reflection of the sky around it, becoming nearly invisible to anyone below.

The wizard's attention was drawn away from the disappearing ship as Captain Rogers shuffled towards Fury, the look of amazement which he had worn since the ship first rose from the water still gracing his face. Nearing the Colonel, Rogers rummaged in his pocket for a moment and passed the Director a ten dollar bill, his eyes never leaving the display which still showed the invisible ship. The one eyed man smirked as he pocketed the money but his mood quickly sobered as he moved to speak with Dr. Banner.

While Harry may have been created the Tesseract, he had always been concerned with its magical capabilities, specifically its capacity to return him to his initial point in time. So, when Banner and Fury started to speak about gamma radiation and spectrometers, the wizard was quite lost.

The wizard waited patiently for Fury to finish with Dr. Banner and for the impersonal Agent Romanoff to lead the scientist to the lab SHIELD had prepared for him. As they left, Fury finally acknowledged the artificer's presence on the Bridge.

"Potter," Fury said, dropping Harry's title as they were going to be working together, "I'm glad you came."

"Why am I here, Fury?" Harry asked. Fury opened his mouth to answer but hesitated and closed it again as if considering something. He gestured to the conference table set up on the dais behind the command console. Harry raised an eyebrow in question, but seated himself in one of the chairs as requested of him.

Fury took the chair to Harry's left, placing his palm flat on the table in front of him. A holographic screen appeared in front of the Director's seat and the man made a few adjustments to the data presented to him. He tapped one of the icons on his screen and the noises of the Bridge around them died away, only to be replaced with a low level of white noise.

"While a good number of the highest ranking officers in SHIELD know who you are, your work on this project is to only be discussed with those you are directly working with during this operation," with a swipe of his hand on his touch screen, Furry sent a document to a screen which opened on the tabletop in front of Harry's chair. Opening it, he saw a dossier containing a list of those he was able to disclose information to. At a quick glance, Harry recognized some of the names and faces. At the top were SHIELD agents, consisting of Director Fury, Agents Coulson and Romanoff, and the woman he had seen commanding the Bridge during the Helicarrier's transition to invisibility, Agent Maria Hill. Below those were consultants: 'Genius, Playboy, Billionaire, Philanthropist' (as he publicly calls himself) Tony Stark, the Iron Man; Captain Steve Rogers, Captain America; and Dr. Bruce Banner, the world's leading authority on gamma radiation and the man who, according to the file, was one of the radio-mutates who thoroughly trashed Harlem a few years ago. At the bottom of the page was a section marked Approved After Additional Criteria Is Met containing three individuals: Thor, an Asgardian prince and Loki's brother, and Agent Clint Barton and Dr. Eric Selvig, respectively the SHIELD agent and scientist currently under Loki's mind control.

At Harry's nod of comprehension, Fury continued.

"While your experience with the cube is an added bonus, you are primarily here to deal with Loki, should his magic prove beyond our capabilities to confront. I know that the mind control Loki used seems to be similar to the Imperius Curse human wizards use, but our analysts not only have found major differences in the two but also seemed to come with nothing that could imply that Asgardians even have access to this type of magic" Fury seemed to consider his next words carefully before giving a sigh which, to Harry's ears, sounded slightly defeated, "We are out of our area of expertise and we need someone with experience in this area," the Director looked as if the words physically pained him.

Harry nodded and looked down at the screen in front of him. Apart from the file open in front of him, other tabs along the edges seemed to denote other files that he was granted access to. Spotting a small file labeled "Tesseract Theft Footage", he opened it with a quick tap, wanting to know what Fury's analysts were using for comparison. Watching the footage, any theories Harry had possibly explaining the mind control quickly vanished. A small, but important, detail Fury did not mention did, however, spark his interest. Finishing the short video, the wizard looked back up at Fury, who was watching him closely.

"Well," Harry said, leaning back in his chair in thought, "your analysts were right on both fronts. This is completely different from the Imperius Curse and you wouldn't have found anything in Asgardian legend about a spell like this because I don't think the magic of the spear is Asgardian." Fury quickly picked up on what Harry was implying.

"The spear's magic? Not Loki's magic?"

"Exactly," Harry nodded, "Normally, a powerful magical artifact that can be used for intent based magic needs to either be charged by a magic user in advance or draw its energy from direct skin contact of a magical being. For example," with a flick of his wrist, his holly wand appeared in his hand, "When a wizard or witch normally uses a wand, the power to cast a spell is drawn from our natural magical reserves, or core. No wizard or witch is able to only draw the exact amount needed for a spell from their core. Instead, their body naturally saturates the wand with magic until the spell bursts from the end. The magical built up within the wand is then absorbed by the piece of magical creature used as its core. This build up allows us to cast spells while wearing gloves or from a short distance away, but the wand will eventually run out of stored magic should we continue these actions without casting a spell with skin contact. If the spear had been charged, we would have been able to see a permanent dimming of the magical nexus at the center of the blade. If Loki was the one powering the spear, we would see energy travel from his hand through the handle of the spear to the nexus when he used energy blasts to destroy the banks of computers. Neither of these happened, which leads me to believe that the unfortunate third option is the reality in this case," the wizard fixed Fury with a grim stare, "I believe there is another magical being residing in the staff," Harry put away his wand and Fury blinked.

"You mean that Loki had an accomplice in the theft?"

"Not necessarily," Harry said as he opened the tab on his screen simply labeled 'Loki'. He quickly scrolled through the file until he came upon what he was looking for in an interview between Agent Coulson and Thor when said Asgardian had been temporarily in SHIELD custody. Harry skimmed Thor's description of Loki's physical appearance and let out and interested "ah" as he found what he was looking for. He reopened the footage of Loki stealing the Tesseract and zoomed in on Agent Barton's face as the mind control took effect.

"Director Fury, what happened to Agent Barton and Dr. Selvig's eyes when the spear took control of them?" Harry motioned for Fury to look at the paused frame.

"His eyes changed color."

"To which color?" the wizard asked as he cropped the frame to one side of the screen and continued the video until a close up shot of Loki's face was opposite that of Barton's.

"Black then electric blue."

"And what color are Loki's eyes?" Harry zoomed in so Loki's bright blue eyes were clearly seen.

"Blue, the same as Thor."

"Ah, but that's where your wrong. In his interview, Thor stated that his brother had green eyes," the artificer pointed out and Fury finally grasped Harry's point.

"You think Loki is being controlled against his will?"

"Again, not necessarily, all this proves is that he is being influenced by the staff. We don't know if he submitted to the entity within the staff willingly or not. All I am saying is that we should take both possibilities into consideration."

"This is all well and good, but we still need to-" Furry was cut off by both of their hologram screens flashing a warning before the low level white noise was replaced by the noise of the Bridge around them.

"We got a hit!" called out one of the agents at a computer console running facial recognition. Both Director and wizard rose from their places and walked over to the dais railing to look down at the picture of Loki now plastered over the man's screen, "Sixty seven percent match. Wait, cross match, seventy nine percent."

"Location?" asked Agent Coulson from his position off to one side of the dais where he had been discussing his Captain America trading cards with their subject.

"Stuttgart, Germany. 28, Konigstrasse. He's not exactly hiding."

"Captain," Fury barked and said man pinned the director with an intense stare, ready for action, "You're up!" The man nods and quickly walks out of bridge to prepare.

"Potter," Furry drew Harry's attention away from the Asgardian face now plastered across the large screens on the far wall of the bridge, "I need you to go to the containment cell we have prepared for our Asgardian friend and make sure its secure in your own special way," Fury said, reminding Harry that they were no longer speaking privately and there were prying ears that were not to be privy to certain information.

"Agent Hill," Fury barked at his First Mate over his shoulder, "Please show Mr. Potter to the Guest Room!"

A/N 1: Hey guys, sorry this was late by a day and a half. RL got the better of me. Term papers, finals, snowstorms, getting a 48-hour bug that left me with absolutely no energy, loosing a term paper due to a saving error and having to do 14 pages of research and rewriting in the span of seven hours, nearly breaking my neck slipping in the parking lot on some ... its been a crappy past 3 days.

A/N 2: I am sorry this is a cliffie, but the next possible chapter break would be when Harry meets Loki, and if I had waited to break there this chapter would still be in progress and I would be even later to update than I already am. I am also sorry about not answering reviews. I promise I will answer them in the next chapter.

A/N 3: Good news is that I am done with ALL of my papers for this semester and will have more time to write. So probably expect the chapter about the Captain America/Loki smack down somewhere around the beginning of the weekend and the Harry meets Loki chapter on Monday.