Chapter 1: Pre-Iron Man 1
Working so close with Tony Stark had not been what Pepper Potts had envisioned herself doing when she took the job in the accountancy department at Stark Industries, some years ago.
She had come to America at 19, enrolled into a well-respected college and majored in accountancy, with a minor in Law. All paid for by her best friend in England.
Soon after ending her education, she had seen a chance in starting at the finance department at Stark Industries, and which just graduated youngster wouldn’t jump on that chance; not only did it pay well, SI was known for their excellent Personnel policy: dental and hospital insurance for one.
Now 5 years after accepting her job in SI, and 3 years after becoming Tone Stark Personal assistant, she felt confident in being both the billionaire’s employee but also his friend.
She knew from experience just how difficult it can be to live with such fame, her best friend had the same problem, and she had seen what it did to him, at times.
Said best friend was also the reason she was on her way to speak to Tony, she’s made sure his and her schedule were clear for the next week, with only a charity gala to attend at the end of said week. She’d deliberately made it so, for her best friend was coming to stay in America too.
Giving in het access code to Tony’s workshop, the first thing she noticed was the loud AC/DC music playing, with a smile she nodded to where she knew one of Jarvis’ cameras were and the AI cut the music.
“J, what gives?”
Pepper smiled and made her way to where the voice came from; “Tony, I would like to go over something with you.”
She found the genius underneath one of his vintage cars, most likely repairing it, again, only to take it for a spin and crash it again.
“Pepper, I was sure my schedule was clear for today, and most of the week even. Did you threaten the board members again?”
Pepper smiled, “no I didn’t, and your schedule is clear, I need to speak to you about something personal.”
Tony rolled out from under the car he was fixing and sat up, looking at her; “you’re not quitting, are you? Because I am not sure I can function without you anymore.”
Pepper shook her head with a smile; “no, of course not.”
This made her companion sigh in relief.
“I just wanted to let you know I’ll be taking some holiday days for this week. I will still be at the charity gala on Friday evening. But my best friend is coming over early next morning and I would like to spend some time with him. It’s the last thing I owe him seeing as he paid for my schooling here in the USA.”
Tony looked at her and she could just see his brain whirling at 100 miles a minute. Most likely remembering that she was British born, even if she had done her best to get rid of the accent.
“Anything you can tell me of this best friend?”
Pepper sighed, she should have expected this, better to get this over with and just tell him, because the man would find out anyway and who knew just how far he’d search after that.
“His name is Hadrian Black, you already did mention him once, he’s the Brit who suddenly popped up to take over Marauder Inc. and started investing into small time cooperation.”
Tony pinched the bridge of his nose, running a hand into his hair after; only succeeding in smearing the grease that was already on there over the whole of his forehead.
“How did you get to know someone like him? I thought I was your first multi-billionaire?”
Pepper smiled, a sad look in her eyes; “that’s kind of a long story, but I am willing to share.”
Tony nodded and got up, sitting himself on the sofa he kept in his workshop, patting a space next to him as he took a drink DUM-E brought him, pulling a face after he tasted it.
Pepper took a seat and took a deep breath.
“I assume you heard of the bombing that took place in the UK some years before now. “
“I, together with a lot of schoolmates were involved, most of the terrorists had the opinion that if you weren’t likeminded, like them, you had to be exterminated. Most of my family and friends worked together in stopping them. In doing so I lost one of my older brothers, Percy and my boyfriend, Colin.”
Pepper swallowed, this still hurt to talk about, “seeing as going to school wasn’t that good of an idea at the time, I studied online and took my GCSE and A-levels with a small group at the department of education and passed them all with good grades. By now most of this terrorist cell had been caught and made to stand trial, but some still roamed free. This led to my parents keeping their kids extremely close, even though some of them were married already.
It made me so feel so suffocated that I sort of ran away, I did tell them I wanted to leave and study here in the USA and build up a new life. But they wouldn’t let me, seeing as I was the only girl after 6 boys, one of whom never came home after a bombing, only my youngest elder brother and his wife understood, they didn’t like it, but they understood. They helped me get to Hadrian’s house and he helped me set up a new identity and paid for everything. My parents weren’t that wealthy or had the connections he has.”
Pepper sighed, “it has been 5 years and I haven’t really talked to my family accept Ron and Hermione, the mentioned brother and his wife, seeing as they are all angry, I left. Hadrian finally handled everything he had to handle in England and now he’s coming here, especially since Marauders Inc. HQ is in New York. He wanted to spend some vacation time before taking the reins full time.”
Tony looked at her; “first question; what was your name before? And second question who has been leading Marauder Inc. in his stead then?”
“It used to be Ginevra Weasley, I had it changed to protect me after all the bombings and I was known in the terrorist circles, it was one of Hadrian’s demands, not that I disagreed. Being Virginia “Pepper” Potts has been liberating to be honest.
As for your second question, Hadrian’s only surviving uncle and the only surviving Marauder, they were a friend group with Hadrian’s father, godfather and uncle, had a son when things were heating up in the UK, so he didn’t think twice about getting them out of the country and setting them up in New York, Remus and his wife Nymphadora are the ones currently running Marauder Inc. at least until Hadrian will be here and enjoyed a few relaxing days.”
She knew the moment she said names JARVIS would be looking them up, so she kept quit.
Suddenly Tony whistled; “That is one best friend you have, Hadrian Black, formerly Harry Potter, has a bachelor’s degree in business management and linguistics. Was employed with Britain’s special forces and took missions with MI6. Owner of Marauders Inc. and co-owner in several small businesses who are all doing very well. He also has several charities: the Tom Riddle orphanage, formally Wool’s orphanage; Snape’s shelter for domestic abuse victims and the Lily foundation which covers scholarships for gifted children; although it says here they meant gifted in the broad sense of the word; they have some donations to mutant shelters and schools.”
Pepper smiled, tears in her eyes; “That is such a thing for him to do, I know why he named those charities the way he did, but it is not my story to tell.”
Tony nodded, a glint in his eye making her suspect he’d do just that at the first presented opportunity. It might not be that bad an idea to introduce her boss-best friend to her regular-best friend, they might just get along.
They ended the conversation with Pepper promising to bring Hadrian with her on Friday and asking Tony if it was possible for Happy to drive her to the airport. Hadrian had a rental waiting at the airport, and she’d have him drop her off, but she needed to get there first.
Tony agreed, because for once he didn’t need to be anywhere, no meetings, no evaluations for the departments, no interviews. For the next 5 days all he had to do was enjoy himself in his workshop and attend that one charity event at the end of the week. He could manage that. Maybe he should ask Pepper to take a few days off more regularly.
The next morning, Pepper was waiting on her front step for Happy, two thermoses full of coffee in her hands. She knew she asked the nice driver to bring her to the airport, but it was still 3 in the morning, so she had done the decent thing and brought coffee.
Seeing Happy pull up, she opened the passenger door to pass him his thermos and took a seat next to him. Tony always complained that Happy wouldn’t let him sit in the front, which she explained was because ‘he’s your employee, Tony, he is paid to drive you around’, while he never minded her taking a seat next to him.
Coffee in hand, they chatted mostly about Tony as he did have the strange habit of collecting his friends in weird places. Happy had been a former boxer who, after he didn’t fight in the ring anymore, took a job as a bouncer in a nightclub.
He didn’t like the job, but it gave an income. One night, a young Tony Stark had been visiting the club and had paid extra to have Happy by his side all night. The other employees at the club were star stuck by the young heir, but Happy just treated him like any other costumer.
At the end of the evening, he’d been given the nickname Happy because of his serious face. He also left a business card with the message that if Happy ever wanted another job to give the mentioned number a call.
After sleeping on it for the next days, Happy had called the number and was answered by JARVIS, who had been notified and told him to be at Stark Industries the next morning at 8 AM.
Tony had greeted him with a smirk as soon as he saw him standing there, pushed some papers from HR in his hands and welcomed him on the team as his bodyguard/driver.
Both Pepper and Happy smiled with mirth in their eyes, they had both been very lucky to have met the force of nature that was Anthony Stark, thinking fondly of how much better their lives had become after meeting the genius.
While reminiscing, the ride to the airport seemed even shorter, so when Happy pulled into the drop off lane, Pepper was shocked to see they had arrived.
“Thank you for driving me, Happy!”
Happy gave a small smile, “no problem, Pepper, have fun catching up with your friend. We’ll be seeing you Friday?”
Pepper nodded, giving a wave, and entering the airport terminal.
A couple of people were looking at her, as she was standing in the greeting area, probably wondering if Tony Stark would come out one of those doors. She sighed, Tony was very recognised, not that this was a bad thing, but seeing as everyone knew she was his PA, they assumed that he’d be there if they saw her.
Luckily, no one tried to approach her, but she did see some people either texting or calling people, so she had to be prepared for some press to be present at the exit.
She frowned, this was not how she had wanted to spend her week, especially with Harry finally coming to America. She knew how much the man hated the press; he’d dealt with enough shit back in the UK from all those vultures.
Biting her lip, she checked her watch again, it was just after 4 AM, meaning Harry should have landed by now and would come her way any minute.
For those of you who followed before 2020, make sure to go check out the first chapter too.
I rewrote it and plan on updating once a week now (I know it took a LONG time).
Hope everyone is staying safe!
Harry was looking forward to his trip to America, well not really trip, he’d go and live there too.
He had, had it with the English Magical community, especially after everything had been handled, Voldemort had been defeated- even if he felt for Tom Riddle and what the boy had been through, the Death Eaters were caught and put on trial – it had been revealed that more than a fair share of those with families had been blackmailed in supporting the Dark Lord or they would lose their family.
After he had testified on the behalf of the Malfoy family, both on the parts of Draco and Narcissa and their help in making sure he survived long enough for Voldemort to cast the Killing Curse once more and killed by the backlash. More law wizards had approached him, telling him stories similar to the Malfoys.
After losing so many people already, he didn’t see any harm in going and listening to those people, who in fear of their family; their children and spouses, had followed a mad man, hoping that Harry would indeed stop him.
A lot of Light families hadn’t been happy with that, they had seen all the Death Eaters as the perfect people to put the blame on, ship them all to Azkaban and be done with it.
The fact was, he couldn’t stand that hypocrisy nor that discriminating view most of the Wizarding world had, it was either black or white, or Light and Dark in their case, and nothing in between. As a young man fitting in both Gryffindor and Slytherin, this had been something Harry didn’t understand.
He spoke out for that, pushed the public in demanding fair trials for everyone, to make sure they didn’t put away any innocent men, like they had done to his godfather.
In the end he had succeeded, with the help of Hermione, to make sure every Death Eater got a fair trial, and was judged based on their testimony, under the influence of veritaserum, instead of the nature of their own magic.
This all, however, made him fall out with the Weasley Parents. When Percy was killed in the last battle, Molly had freaked and locked their children, even Bill and a pregnant Fleur, in the burrow.
They had been all miserable, but none more so then Ginny, she had lost Colin the fight, but hadn’t been able to say goodbye as her Mother had locked them all up, or as much as one could be locked up in their own house.
Ron and Hermione had contacted Harry soon after, telling him of how Ginny was depressed and didn’t do anything at all. That she missed Colin and their Mother had taken away her chance to say goodbye at the funeral.
She needed out, and fast at that.
What not a lot of people know however, was that even on the run, and in Ginny’s case during the war, they studied for their GSCE and A-levels, hoping to escape the Wizarding World, at least for a little while.
Harry helped get Ginny to America, giving her a portkey that would bring her to Remus and Nymphadora, where she could stay and take lessons at a college of her choosing, away from the UK. He even made sure she had another identity and give her permission to use his money to get on her feet.
This, which Molly saw as kidnapping, even is Ginny was an adult by Wizarding standards, and him helping the people she saw as inherited evil, made him an unwelcome guest in their home , those few times he did visit.
She was the only one though, but as matriarch, her words were law, or so it had been for now.
Not long after Ginny left, Ron and Hermione stormed off, coming to live with him in Grimauld Place, until they both had a job and could afford their own place.
Bill and Fleur also departed to their cottage at the seaside, telling Molly in no uncertain terms that she wasn’t welcome right now, that all of her children were grown-ups, and she couldn’t just lock them all up.
Charlie disappeared back to Romania, tending to his one and only love, dragons.
The twins, Fred and George, also went back to their joke shop, rebuilding the store and their apartment above, again with some help from Harry.
Molly saw Harry as the reason her children were like this and left her. She also saw him as the reason as to why her whole world was changing. Suddenly people were listening to him, instead of just printing lies about him, as they had also seen why he was doing this.
Why he was fighting for people who had been on the other side, but who had done so with a reason all of them could understand.
Together with Ron, Kinglsey and surprisingly Draco, they had systematically gone through everything from the ministry to saint Mungo’s. Pointing out where there had been corruption the past and how easy it was to uphold that corruption if things stayed the way they were tight now.
For Saint Mungo’s, they went looking for Muggleborns or Squibs, who had a medical degree in the muggle world, to use those practices in the Magical community as well. They even called out to their allies like France and Russia, to compare what they were doing was along the lines of what those countries did.
It had gotten some attention in the international press, to have the Boy-Who-Lived starting a revolution, to bring the British Magical Community into the present in both medicine, law, and politics.
Most had been happy to help, especially those of minority groups; like Muggleborns, werewolves, vampires, and squibs. As well as those Harry had helped during and after the war, giving him a majority, against people like Molly Weasley.
After a battle, if one could call it that, where they made changes and implemented a new way of working and thinking, Hermione was chosen as the new Minister, the first ever Muggleborn. At her side, Draco Malfoy, Luna Lovegood and Justin Finch-Fletchley – giving the new Ministry a head office consisting of 2 Muggleborns and 2 purebloods, as well as a representative of all four Hogwarts Houses.
After keeping busy with that the last five years, as well as getting everything in order to take over the company his father and Sirius had build up, Marauder’s inc., he needed to get away from the UK.
He’d had it with reporters everywhere, the questions just kept coming both from the reporters, as well as from the general public, and the nay-sayers who believed he was Dark and wanted to give the reign of the Wizarding World to the Dark aligned.
Remus was seeing over MI right now, sending though updates and questions when the werewolf didn’t know what to do.
Harry so far had taken over several small corporations, giving them the boost they needed to keep running, especially when a lot of those were headed by Muggleborns who had went back into the Muggle World after their schooling, or by squibs, who had been abandoned by their families.
He’d also taken the money he’d gotten from people who died in the war and used it to provide relief for the orphans, by converting the former’s Wool Orphanage into Tom Riddle’s Orphanage, specifically for Magic children.
Further he’d started the Snape Shelter for domestic abuse victims; more often then not either children who was magic, but who were born in a religious family (for the Muggleborns) or one parent and their children when their spouse was abusive to them or the children, no matter if they were magical or not.
The Lily foundation, was something he had put up for those who didn’t have the funds to provide an education for their children, be it magical, mutant, or just regular. In their search for magical inclined muggle doctors, they had found one in Ireland who used her magic on her patients, but who had explained it away with saying she was a mutant – giving all of them a look into the world outside of theirs.
Full of other enhanced people, who didn’t hide and lived among the civilians.
It had opened up a whole lot of possibilities and job opportunities. So, Harry made sure to jump on that, both with MI and the small businesses he owned. After all, if he could set an example to hire both magical beings and enhanced people, what is to say other corporations won’t follow his lead.
So far, since he implemented that rule, Stark Industries, Pim Tech and Rand enterprises had followed his example.
Boarding the plane, however, had felt like such a relief. He’d made sure to go and say goodbye to everyone and make sure they could reach him should they feel the need to do so. Especially Ron, Hermione and Draco had been sad to see him go but understood just what kind of pressure had been on his shoulders the last 5 years, it was time they took that over.
There had been plans made to visit for the holiday season however, and to of course keep in contact with each other.
On the plane itself, after checking in his luggage, was an adventure. He’d never flown in a plane before, only on a broom, so he was very exciting for that to happen.
He took a seat in the business class, because of the space he would have at his seat and the inclusive meals and drinks. Also, to make sure he actually could get some sleep on the 11 hour flight, which would arrive in Los Angeles at 3:55 AM.
He was really looking forward to seeing Ginny, or was it Virginia, or Pepper, again after all this time. They had kept in contact of course, but not seeing someone for 5 years was quite a while, especially when he’d helped her get out of the UK and start a live in the USA.
He had to smile, thinking about that, Gin hadn’t been idle, she went to Harvard to get a degree in accountancy, with a minor degree in law. Had taken an opportunity, when it presented itself, and did a job interview at Stark Industries, where she’d been hired as a junior accountant.
After 2 years on the job, she’d been promoted to business accountant and been told to handle all the incoming and outgoing spending, only to discover an abnormality, which she took to her boss – Tony Stark, prompting the man to hire her as his Personal Assistant.
The rest is, as they say, history, even if she technically is employed with a competing business. Not that he blamed her, besides MI, which had been idle until 5 years ago when Remus moved to America, SI was one the giants in the industry, known to be converted by Tony Stark from a weapon making company on a national scale, to a technologic empire on the international market.
MI was more focussed on medical advancements, helping small business owners to set up their project and have the backing of a company which could catch them in it failed. Beyond that they were primarily busy with converting muggle things into magical ones – for example laptops or smartphones.
They had succeeded with that in televisions and radios, but were seeing to expand, especially with the technologic advancements now in play, and the fact that a lot of people carried a smart phone now a days. If they wanted to keep advancing, as a Magical community, they needed to follow that path too.
More importantly, for him at least, were changes to something like phones for enhanced who had extra strength and had to buy a new phone every time they crushed theirs. Or for were wolves, an extra firm one that could survive the transformation and subsequent running around, without breaking or getting lost.
He took out his own phone, a prototype, to check his messages. Smiling at seeing what his friends had send him, from general updates, to Hermione’s ultrasound and Gin’s confirmation she’d be waiting for him to step foot on American soil.
Laying his seat, a bit flatter, he enjoyed those thoughts as he closed his eyes to take a nap.
As he fell asleep, Harry groaned as he woke up inside his mindscape. Sitting up, but deliberately not turning to the entity standing behind him.
“What is it you wanted, Death?”
The entity behind him, approached, putting a hand on his shoulder, making Harry turn around and look at the woman behind him, her black hair framing her face under the hood of her cloak, dark blue eyes looking at him with a gaze older than the universe.
“You will be meeting my Merchant soon, my Master.”
Harry pursed his lips, hating the title he now carried, he didn’t perceive himself to be anyone’s master, least of all Death’s. But he did look forward to meeting this Merchant, back in the UK, after the final battle, Death had appeared to him, explaining that he had ‘mastered’ all the Hallows, even if he didn’t carry them on his person.
She explained that over the course of her existence, she had found people or beings, or whatever you wanted to call them, that had proven something to her.
Her Merchant, she had said, had died multiple times, but every time that happened it hadn’t been his time yet. The man had approached death each and every time, with a smile on his face – seemingly missing the people he left behind, yet not minding being away from them either. He was a strong soul, she had told him, full of wonder, incredibly smart and according to her sister Faith, would change the world as it was known.
Her Champion, was a mercenary, so he regularly gave her the souls of people that were past their time and needed to be collected, but seeing as a reaper couldn’t just tear a soul out of a living person, she send her Champion to do it. He also learned that the man, couldn’t die and hated to never be able to get close to death again – not in a way friends would normally do, for she described him as her friend too, next to him being her Champion.
Death had chuckled and told him that he and Her Merchant were like that too, out of her grasp until they asked her to reap them, which would take a very long time.
Harry sighed, but smiled at Death.
“Ah, I do look forward to meeting him. Does he know of his title yet?”
Death made a so-so motion with her hand, “kind of, I did tell him when he ‘died’ the last time, but as he wakes up, he doesn’t remember it. I do plan on telling him soon when he is alive instead of dead.”
Harry nodded, intrigued by this man, even though he hadn’t met him yet.
“Is that the reason you wanted to come to America, because I told you of my Merchant and my Champion being here?”
Harry hummed, “just a bit, I also wanted to go to America because that’s were Gin is at the moment. And because I was sick and tired of the UK. It also helps that Mutants, enhanced and superheroes are more of a norm there then they are in the UK, meaning I can use my gifts without having to be careful who sees.”
Death nodded, “there are indeed a large number of enhanced beings in America, more so then in other countries. I think it has something to do with it being the land of the free.”
Harry looked at her, before giving a smile, “so no, I did not want to go to America just because of the Merchant, but it is a bonus that I’ll meet him soon.”
Death returned the smile and pressed a kiss to his brow, “enjoy, My Master, and we will meet again soon.”
Harry opened his eyes to look at the flight attendant who had shaken him awake.
“Sorry to disturb you, Mister Black, but we will be landing in about 2 hours. Furthermore, would you like your meal now?”
Looking at his watch, he saw that it would be 9 AM in the morning in the UK, so he nodded, he hadn’t eaten before leaving to the airport, so he was famished.
As the flight attendant brough him his food, and asked what he’d like to drink with it, he enjoyed the meal provided, he’d have a rather long day ahead of him, even if this was to be his holiday.
He’d meet with Gin, Pepper, at the airport, get a coffee with her at a local coffee shop to catch up somewhat, get his rental car from the agency and drive it to the house he’d live in, the same one Dora, Remus and Teddy lived in too. He was still not certain if he’d move out, he had missed them all, so some time with that part of his family wouldn’t hurt.
After that he would take Gin, Pepper, sightseeing, so she could show him all the special places LA had to offer, maybe shop for some new clothes too.
Drive to MI HQ and go over some paperwork with Remus, meet with his board members and management staff. Look up some small businesses he owned in the city or mail them for an appointment if they were located in other states.
As he arrived at LAX, Harry couldn’t help but look around in awe, he was used to lot of things, but this was impressive all in its own way.
Walking along, following the signs to the waiting area, he had to smile as he saw Gin, Pepper, standing there, waiting for him. He knew he was smiling, as het whole face lit up at seeing him. Putting down his carry-on case (which had everything he needed shrunken down in it) he opened his arms for the hug she gave him.
A soft kiss was pressed to his cheek, as she released him to link their arms, after he took a hold of his luggage again.
Pepper sighed, “I missed you.”
A softer smile appeared on his face, “I missed you too, even if you went and got a job at the competition.”
Pepper gave a fake gasp, “well, I never…”
They started laughing at that, falling back into their relationship of brother and sister, now that they were together again. At one point in their younger years, people had assumed that’d end up together and marry with a whole flock of kids. But Harry had confided in her that he was gay, just before the war broke out in its fullest.
But seeing as she hadn’t seen him like boyfriend-material for some time, she didn’t have a problem with it, and felt honoured he told her first, before Ron and Hermione.
As they walked through the halls of the airport, people with their phones out where staring at them, some of them talking into the phones.
Pepper groaned, “I forgot about the reporters.”
Harry looked up, a startled look on his face, “Already?”
Pepper shook her head, “none from the WW, most are from gossip magazines here in Cali. For some reason people think Tony, my boss, and I are an item. So, they assumed I was here waiting for him to come off a plane. Which is ridiculous seeing as the man has 2 private jets.”
She sighed, “they’ll be making a whole spectacle out of this, especially after seeing me with another man.”
Harry grinned, “seriously, that’s how they do things here in the USA? Should I expect Prophet BS or is it something else?”
Pepper shook her head, “it’s something else, with all the celebs living here and the known party scene in the city, at least a couple get busted every day for doing something like a DUI, cheating on their partner or getting into a fight.
Beyond that, those vultures also go looking for things that aren’t there, like a chance meeting that looks like more, or a celeb without his or her partner… and the speculations that follow it.”
Harry scoffed, “don’t they have anything better to do?”
Pepper shakes her head, “it sells, so they don’t see a reason to stop doing it.”
Shrugging his shoulders, Harry leads them towards the rental agency, taking care not to give too much notice to the people not so subtly following them.
He entered the office, ringing the bell on the front desk, and waited for an employee to arrive. Which took quite a while.
A bored looking teen finally came and sat down.
“How can I help you?”
Harry lifted an eyebrow, “is this how you great all your customers? All disinterest and making people wait.”
The teen shrugged her shoulders, “some old rich dude brought up the rental agency, so my boss took a long holiday to Hawaii, I’m just a student, and I don’t know how to run this place. How can I help you?”
Harry sighed, “you can get me your boss on the phone right now.”
The teen looked at him like he’d grown a second head, “I can’t do that, he yelled at me last week for disrupting his holiday. If I call him again, he’ll fire me, and I really need this job for college.”
Harry frowned, before turning to Pepper, making the teen stare wide eyed at the woman she knew was Tony Stark’s assistant.
“Can I borrow your phone? Mine doesn’t have an American number yet.”
Pepper nodded and give a sleek white STARK phone to her best friend, who after asking for the number of the owner of the rental agency, dialled and waited for it to be picked up.
“What”, was the first thing he heard as someone picked up on the other side.
Harry’s eyes climbed higher on his forehead.
“Mister Forks, can you please tell me why, when I came to pick up my car, you weren’t here at this moment?”
A grumble sounded from the other side, “What’s it to you, you Brit, do you tell me you disrupted my holiday for this, after some old man brought my company, I am rich and can do as I please!”
Harry’s eyebrows disappeared in his hair, this was the soft spoken gentleman he had talked to some months earlier, who wanted to be sure he could provide for his people and his family. He closed his eyes for a second, before opening them, “then you can consider this your resignation phone call, be sure to have all your assets collected before tomorrow or it will be given to the next manager I hire. Good day.”
Without waiting for an answer, he hung up the phone and gave it back to Pepper. The girl at the desk looking at him fearfully and with a little awe.
“You, miss, there should be keys here on name of Harry Black, could you get those?”
The girl nodded and went to look for the keys, coming back with them and handing them over.
Harry smiled, “can you close up for today, seeing as you said yourself you don’t know how to run this place. I plan on having a new manager hired as soon as I pass by my HQ. I’ll have HR contact you when they plan on opening again, or if not, to see if we can’t get you another job.”
The girls just nodded, turning around to go and get her stuff and lock the door to the office. She walked past them in a daze.
Pepper looked as she walked past, “that poor girl, did you not know what an ass he was when you brought over him firm?”
Harry shook his head, “he sounded very genuine and in trouble, not to mention his wife is a Muggleborn. They seemed like they could use some help.”
Pepper shook her head, “it’s sweet that you want to help, Harry, but not everyone is genuine on the phone. Lots of people pretend to be someone they are not, to get sympathy or help, without even feeling guilt about what they did.”
Harry shrugged his shoulders, “it happened, I‘ll let HR know, when we stop by, that they need to look for a new manager. Other then that, this is something to learn from.”
Pepper looks at him funny, “that’s a very special mindset, you gave yourself.”
Harry grinned, “I needed to, can’t be feeling bad about every mistake I make or made, it happened, bummer, let’s move on.”
Looking around he added, “let’s go find my car and look for a place that sells coffee.”
Pepper gasped, “you drink coffee, as a Brit?”
Harry grinned, “blame Draco for that, he has to have coffee every morning, it rubbed off on the rest of us.”
They found a cafe not that far from the airport that served a variety of coffees, much to the pleasure of both Pepper and Harry. Taking a seat at the window, just so they could people watch, they ordered a latte caramel for Pepper, and a cappuccino for Harry.
While waiting for their drinks to be made, and looking at the treats the cafe offered, they stayed silent, until the barista brought them their drinks and they ordered a fruit tart for Pepper and a piece of cheesecake for Harry.
As this was brought over and they enjoyed their drinks and treat, Pepper looked at Harry.
“So, that car rental place?”
Harry nodded, “I didn’t buy it that long ago, after Mrs. Forks called MI through a friend she had, telling us her husband was really struggling with everything and how she had heard what we did for those more misfortunes than others. Especially after she explained that her husband was the only one with an income. She had finished at Ilvermorny with quite high scores, but never got a degree counting in the muggle world as we did – so she was stuck at home, watching the kids.”
Pepper sighed, “and you love a good sob story.”
Harry grinned, “I’ve been told it’s my people saving thing. Only now I actually help people without putting my own life in peril!”
Pepper sighed, again, a smile on her face despite the expiration on it.
“You can say that again, it’s a wonder none of us have grey hairs, or in Remus case, more grey hairs, than that. Because with everything you lived through…”
She didn’t finish her sentence, smiling fondly at the man sitting in front of her, happy to see him again after 5 years of phone calls, facetime, and owling letters to and from.
“So, how is everyone back home?”
Harry grinned; “Ron and Hermione welcomed their second child into the world not to long ago, Hugo. Rose is exited to be a big sister.
Bill and Fleur welcome baby number three, so that’s Victoire, Dominique and Louis. Fleur did tell me that this will be enough, she likes children, but does not want to emulate your parents.
Charlie is still happy single and tending to his dragons.
Fred and George are still running their joke shop, and they do date, but nothing lasts for longer than a few months. Last I heard they had asked out Tracy Davis, but she said no.”
He took a deep breath and continued, “I still haven’t talked to your parents, seeing as your mother still thinks I am some reincarnated Dark Lord for fighting for fair trials for all involved in the war. Especially after Draco came on board ‘Mione’s cabinet as Minister. As far as I know none of your siblings stayed in contact with them either, your mother of course sees this as my fault, but it does seem to hurt your father a lot. Kinglsey told me last that Arthur came to him, because he was sick and tired of Molly bugging him about everything.”
Pepper sighed, but nodded, everyone knew just how her mother had seen her life, have her marry Harry, pop out babies and live happily ever after. Even if this was something neither of them wanted.
Harry grimaced, putting his hand on hers, in a show of support for her decision still.
“Draco finally proposed to Astoria; took his long enough too!
Neville and Luna are happy together, Neville as assistant professor Herbology and Luna writing her book together with Rolf Scamander, with some help of Newt.
I am just excited to be moving here, the UK was getting to much at times, especially with most of our friends busy with their own lives now that nothing is in peril, not that I blame them, but I needed some fresh air and the possibility to do whatever I want, whenever I want.”
Pepper nodded; she had felt the same way after the war. Especially with the way her mother kept her in the house and wouldn’t let anyone leave. It was so confining and restricting that she started to resent her mother for it. To know that Molly didn’t see the fault in her own actions but kept blaming Harry for them defined the notion that she was a control freak with unresolved issues she didn’t want to look for.
After coming to America and enrolling into Harvard, she had been taken aside by one of the counsellors who kept seeing certain behaviours which most PTSD victims had. It had taken a while, but she had given the edited version to her, which in turn lead to an appointment with a squib psychologist to help her deal with the trauma, both during her schooling and just after it with the war, and the loss of both Colin and Percy.
Harry had helped her find the psychologist and had admitted to seeing the same one over video call while he lived in the UK, he was planning on seeing her in person soon, for some of the same issues.
Together with Hermione, they had integrated mental health care into the Wizarding World as well, seeing as something like that wasn’t just fixed with a potion or a spell. It had really taken, especially with those of their generation and the one behind them – with the help from either squibs and Muggleborns or half-bloods who had gotten a degree to work as therapists or psychologists. Or recently, also by people just in the known, either because of a family member or by marriage.
Harry was looking at her, a soft smile on his face, probably knowing what she was thinking.
“It’s helping, Gin, Pepper, this will take some getting used to. Anyway, it is helping, I have multiple people a day writing to me how happy they are that we now offer mental health care, when before you were send to a mind healer, and in the worst case scenario, were tucked away in the Janus Thickey ward.”
Pepper nodded, she had heard the stories of people they now knew had depression or some other more common mental illness, but because no spell or potion healed them they were tucked away in the Janus ward, stapled as irreparable spell damage and left forgotten.
It had hurt her, and others so much to hear this. Especially when the healers and medi-witches had protested to treatment from ‘muggle doctors’ on those poor souls, not wanted to admit that they had been wrong in just ‘forgetting’ about them.
When one of the first ones made it out of St Mungo’s with prescription pills and a recuring appointment, but feeling so much better, lots of people had been astonished to see such a thing was possible.
Shaking her head, Pepper looked at Harry and smiled, “I am so happy we made that difference. That you kept pushing and pulling for everything and made it all happen. Even if you chose to come to America now.”
Harry wrinkled his nose, “I’m just sick and tired of the masses in the UK, everyone wants a piece of me, either to thank me or to hate me. No one just wants to be around me, except our friends, for the sake of being around me. Not to forget that dating is impossible, I tried a few times, but it was always in the newspaper the day after and I didn’t dare do so with a random enhanced…”
Pepper nodded, with Harry’s status as Master of Death, which they had all kept a secret, no one knew how others would react, especially enhanced people, seeing as there was little known about them and their DNA.
Pepper just smiled, “I am really glad you’re here though; it hasn’t been the same without you, or anyone here. Remus, Dora and little Teddy are amazing, but it’s not the same, especially now that I have my own apartment.”
Harry nodded, “I can understand that we all missed you too.”
They stayed quiet for a moment after, enjoying their coffee and treat, and basking in the presence of their best friend.
An impish smile appeared on Harry face’s, “how is your love life going?”
Pepper went red, “it goes, I went on a couple of dates with someone else from SI, we see each other a lot in day to day work, but he’s very sweet and I really like him.”
Harry nodded, “that’s important, but I am happy that you let yourself love again, after Colin.”
Pepper nodded, “it took a while, and some therapy, but Hilda let me see that I have to move on, that Colin would have wanted me to move one.”
Harry nodded, “death never waits, but that doesn’t mean you just have to wait for Death.”
Pepper nodded, Harry because of his connection to Death, and his regular talks with the deity, had the ability to talk to people already crossed over too. He started saying that sentence to everyone who was or is grieving, to let them know it is okay to move on.
It had helped a lot of people, especially after the way, with so many young people losing their lives. A lot of them had been married or in a relationship, and their partner often didn’t know what to do with their life now that they were alone.
In the plan they had made around mental health, support groups had been founded for people wanting to talk to a like minded individual, to help each other. One of the first to be founded, had been one at Hogwarts, to support those students who had lost a class- or dormmate, to help them cope.
Pepper shook her head, “enough about this topic, as much as I want to hear all about the changes in England, I would like some lighter topics too.”
Harry nodded, agreeing with her.
“So, what do you want to do, this week?”
“Well, I was hoping to go to the headquarters and make sure everything is in order for my official start next week.
After that I was hoping to just explore the city with you, buy some stuff, spoil you some – seeing as its been so long since we went shopping.
Spend at least one day just at home, maybe cooking or baking, I don’t think Dora will mind. And getting to know Teddy all over again, I don’t think he remembers me.”
At this, he pulled an exaggerated sad face, making Pepper laugh.
“On Friday I have my grand entrance into the American business world, with the gala at the Children’s hospital.”
Pepper beamed, “the one down in San Francisco?”
Harry nodded, “you were invited too?”
Pepper shrugged, “Tony was, and I always go as his plus one, to avoid some gold digger hanging onto him all night.”
Harry hummed, “so he’s also...?”
Pepper shook her head, “gods no, I love him like a brother, but Tony and I would never work out. He keeps his mask on too firmly in public for us to work out. No, I am dating his bodyguard/driver Harold Hogan, he goes by Happy as a nickname.”
“So, you’ll introduce me to them then?”
Pepper nodded, “sure, I know Tony already did a background check when I mentioned I would be taking the week off.”
Harry hummed again, he was expecting that, from what Pepper had been telling him of her boss, the man liked to know who he surrounded himself with, to make sure he wasn’t taken by surprise later. He didn’t mind, he had after all done his own background checks, every time Ginny, Pepper mentioned someone new in her life.
Pepper hummed, “so down to HQ we go?”
Harry shook his head, “got to put away my luggage first, and I want to see Remus, Dora and Teddy at home instead of at the office after missing them for so long.”
Pepper nodded, she could understand that, sending Remus, Dora, and Teddy out of the country had been one of the first things Harry had done when they found out Dora was pregnant. Stating that he didn’t want Teddy to grow up like him, without parents and wondering just who they were and how they looked like. He deserved better than that.
It had been a fight between Remus and Harry to get the werewolf to agree, but he had in the end, to assure he would be there for his son, and godson, when both of them would need him.
Paying their bill, Pepper and Harry left the little café, even if the waitress was starstruck at having recognized Pepper and googling Harry. They giggled about it after they left, looking forward to this, new life in Harry’s case, and life with her best friend back in it, for Pepper.
Getting into the car, Harry and Pepper were still laughing about the waitress at the coffee place, and the starstruck look in her eyes at recognizing Pepper, which let to Pepper telling Harry in detail just how she came to be where she was, business wise.
“So, you just pepper sprayed his bodyguard, now you boyfriend, because he wouldn’t let you in when you found a giant error in the accounting files?”
Pepper nodded, “Happy has since forgiven me for that, especially when Tony was happy I found it, he had deliberately put in the files, to see if anyone would come and talk to him about it. To find out it was the intern that came forward. Well, let’s just say the manager from the finance department still glares at me whenever he sees me.”
Harry gasped, “he was allowed to stay on?”
Pepper nodded, “it was more a test on the efficiency of the department, and not a real transaction that took place. He was talked to; shown his error and I know from others that the department is running smoother than it has in years.”
Harry whistled, impressed, “and this was what, within your first year of working there?”
Pepper nodded, “Tony asked me to become his personal assistant soon after, and except the better pay, I really love doing it. For all that he is a great boss, he’s still an engineer at heart, so he gets lost in inventing a lot, I am there to pull him out of his binges and make sure he attends a meeting or event when he forgets. Or on the rare occasion, attend for him, when he doesn’t or can’t stop his inventing binge.”
Harry hummed, liking what he heard so far, after all he loved making sure his company made innovations to help the more enhanced people of society, especially now that they were becoming more the norm.
Before they’d gotten onto the freeway, to get to the Black mansion just outside LA, someone called Harry’s phone.
With a raised eyebrow, he picked up, curious as to who would already be calling him.
“Hadrian Black, speaking.”
A timid woman’s voice sounded on the other side, “Mr. Black, this is Mrs. Forks, well former Mrs. Forks, I’ll be Ms. Abernaty when the divorce is settled.”
Harry hummed, “I assume this is because of the phone call I made with your soon-to-be ex-husband?”
Harry hummed again, “I don’t like to be cheated on, Ms. Abernaty, but I have a feeling you were as well.”
At this, both he and Pepper heard her sniffling on the other end.
“You know what, come by MI this afternoon and ask after me, so we can clear this out, seeing as things have obviously happened since we last talked. Is this a possibility for you?”
Ms. Abernaty stuttered, “yes, I mean, that should work, I can make 1 PM, if possible, sir, so I can get my kids from school at 3.”
Looking at Pepper, who shrugged her shoulders in agreement, Harry responded, “One is fine, Ms. Abernaty, I’ll be seeing you soon.”
After a goodbye he ended the call, groaning, while Pepper smiled.
“Ah, the Potter people saving thing is called in action again.”
Harry blew a raspberry at the woman next to him, smiling after, she was right though, but he had a good feeling about the coming talk.
“Well, slight change of plans, we go home, put away my things, shower, say hello to Dora, Teddy and Remus – seeing as it’s about 5 AM now, so they, at least Remus should be getting up now, go into the city around 8 when everything opens to go shopping for a bit, drive to MI to take care of some things I need to get in order so I can start next week and get HR and security posted on that meeting with Ms. Abernaty.”
Turning to Pepper, he asked, “you really don’t mind do you, I mean, this was supposed to be a holiday.”
Pepper shrugged, “and I know you, as well as myself, we’ll both be working in between holiday stuff, neither of us were good at taking down time, so I don’t mind.”
Harry smiled, taking the exit that would take him to the Black home.
Arriving at the driveway, he put his car in the underground garage, smiling at the Honda Civic, which by the taupe colour belonged to Remus and the bright blue Toyota highlander belonging to Dora. Looking at his own car, the dark green grand Cherokee Jeep didn’t stand out that much.
Taking out his luggage, he took the stairs to the kitchen, hoping they didn’t make too much noise entering.
Remus was already standing in the kitchen, a mug of coffee in hand as he checked his phone for any messages, most likely from him.
Hearing someone enter the kitchen, he looked up, beaming when he saw just who had walked in.
“Harry, Pepper, I thought for sure you’d text me when you arrived!”
Harry grinned sheepishly, before telling Remus what had happened at the rental agency, making the older man frown.
“I think it’s a good thing Ms. Abernaty will be coming to HQ, Harry, seeing as this story doesn’t add up. We’ll be hearing about it this afternoon.
Enough work for now, you were going to take a holiday this week, which I know won’t actually happen, but still. How was your flight?”
Harry grinned, “great, loved it. Well, I love flying on a broom even better, but I do like this too, wouldn’t mind taking the airplane more often.”
Remus sighed, “great, because I hate flying, so you can do all the outstate visits from now on.”
Pepper laughed, remembering the first time Remus had to fly to meet with some business owners on the east coast, he’s come back all haggard and swearing he’d never fly again. Werewolf senses were not made to be coped up in a plane for hours on end.
Harry grinned, “sure, I am planning on taking over everything as CEO as soon as next Monday, Moony, have you given it any thought at to what function you’d want?”
Nodding, Remus explained, “I’ll be your CFO, which I already was when Sirius and James ran the place, most of the top tier functions have been filled, especially now with Dora taking up HR, now that Teddy goes to school.”
Harry grinned, “so all the family under one roof, both at home and in the business.”
Remus nodded, giving a sly look at Pepper, “except Pepper here, she ran over to the competition, not willing to wait for MI to get back on its feet after everything that happened.”
Pepper huffed, “I like where I am now, thank you.”
All three of them laughed at that, Remus coming over to them and giving both a hug, Harry’s lasting significantly longer than Pepper’s.
“I did miss you, cub.”
Harry smiled, “I missed you too, I am so happy to be here!”
Remus nodded, a smile still on his face; “so what’s the plan for today?”
“Shower, get changed, hug Teddy, hug Dora, go shopping with Pepper, eat something in the city and go to HQ in the afternoon.”
Remus nodded, “swing by my office first thing, I have your new phone and American number ready. I’ll introduce you to everyone after your talk with Ms. Abernaty.”
Harry nodded, leaving Remus and Pepper in the kitchen while he went and found his room, not that it was hard. Even if Remus was older, he insisted Harry get the master bedroom, with bathroom attached. Opening the door, he was met with a green room with a dark brown wooden floor and ceiling, the large windows open to allow fresh air to come inside.
Smiling, he went and unpacked, unshrinking as he pulled his belongings out of the trolley he took as carry on luggage. Waving them towards the place they should go, clothes to the dresser, books to the closet by the window, hair, and body products to the bathroom and so on.
As he put the trolley in his closet, he picked out some semi casual clothes consisting of a green dress shirt, black jeans, a darker green blazer, and black leather shoes.
Jumping into the shower, he was glad to be able to wash that plane feel off, for all that he loved being on the plane, it was still a rather small space filled with a lot of people. Standing under the spray, he could only smile as he thought about what his life in America would entail and how different it would be from his life in England.
Getting out, he dressed in the clothes he was prepared and brushed his hair after drying them with a spell.
As he opened his door, he was almost knocked over by a small form hugging his knees.
“Harry, you’re here! You’re really here, daddy and momma and Aunt Pep said you would be, but I had to be sure and daddy said he heard the shower stop so I came to look, and now you’re here and I missed you!”
Smiling softly Harry looked at the tawny brown haired, grey eyed little boy that had to be Teddy, putting his hands underneath the boy’s arms, he hefted him up and on his hips.
“Hello to you too, Teddy, I missed you too, se much in fact that I’ll be living here for now, as well as work together with your daddy and momma.”
Teddy’s eyes started to shine, “really, really really!?”
Harry nodded, “yep, I’m here for a good while, so you won’t have to miss me anymore.”
Carrying a cheering 5-yearl-old, Harry went back to the kitchen, where pressed a kiss to Dora’s cheek as he passed her, a smile on both their faces.
“Harry, finally, we’re so happy to have you here with us!”
“Glad to be here, Dora, I take it Teddy needs to eat before he goes to school?”
Dora and Remus nodded, prompting Harry to put Teddy on a chair so he could eat the cereal set out for him.
Pouting a bit, Teddy refused to eat, probably wanting to spend as much time as possible with Harry now that the man was close by again.
Harry chuckled, “eat you breakfast, Teddy, I’ll still be here after you come home from school. In fact, your Aunt Pep and I will be eating here this evening and we can talk all the way to your bedtime, alright.”
Reluctantly, the youngest member of the family started eating, giving everyone a kiss before Dora took his hand to get him into the car and to school.
As his wife and son left, Remus pressed a kiss to both Harry’s and Pepper’s cheek, “see you in the afternoon!”
Both nodding with a smile, they too left the house and entered the car again, making their way to the city for some more catching up and shopping.
At 12:20 Harry entered the HQ of MI and couldn’t help but look around in awe, the entrance alone was very welcoming, with soft crème coloured tiles and a warm brown on the walls. Plants were put by the walls and close to the waiting areas. The front desk was in the middle of the hall, behind it a huge staircase was seen, leading towards what Harry guessed the offices. Behind the staircase was a long hallway, probably to the meeting spaces, and further, as well as underground, the labs and testing facilities.
Approaching the front desk, Pepper by his side, he saw more than one person not knowing what to say at seeing Pepper Potts standing there.
Clearing his throat, he smiled as the woman manning the front desk look up, a smile on her face.
“Welcome to Marauder Inc., how can I help you?”
Exchanging an amused look with Pepper, he told the woman, “I have an appointment with Mr. Lupin, could you let him know I’m here.”
The woman, obviously stunned that he was there to talk to her boss, made a call and told him to wait just a second, as Mr. Lupin was coming to collect him.
Remus came down the stairs, a grin on his face as he took in Harry and Pepper standing there.
He shook his head, “Really, Harry?”
Harry shrugged, smiling at the woman behind the desk, “you obviously didn’t tell anyone who I was seeing as I haven’t been recognised yet. I can’t just walk though when they don’t know me, now can I, Remus.”
Remus grumbled, and looked around, seeing that more than one person had stopped what they were doing to stare at the young man talking to their boss like that. Sighing, he took a hold of the front desk phone and put in a code that let him speak over the speakers.
“Gooday everyone, I would like to point out the black haired young man standing in front of me, is in fact Hadrian Black, my godson and CEO of Marauder Inc., Thank you!”
The woman at the front desk seemed shocked at who he was, but he waved it way, smiling at her.
“No harm done”, looking at her nametag, “Katie, you couldn’t have known.”
With that Katie smiled slightly, still overwhelmed, “Of course, sir.”
Harry shook his head, “Harry is fine, I don’t want to run a posh business.”
Katie gave a small smile.
“Ah also, a Ms. Abernaty will be coming here in about half an hour, could you let me know when she’s here?”
Katie smiled, before looking at Remus, “I take it that’s the 007 line then?”
Remus nodded, when he first started, he took the 008 line, instead of the 007 line into the CEO’s office, now everyone knew why.
With that they all walked up the stairs to Remus’ office.
Smiling as they went up the stairs, Remus went first, leading them towards an office just before the end of the hall.
Entering it, it was very obviously Remus’, from the brown tones on the walls, to the books on the shelfs, some of them were those Remus had written as a Master in Defence Against the Dark Arts. But the one thing that gave it away the most, was the picture frame hanging on the wall next to the desk.
It was one of those frames comprised from several smaller frames, showing pictures of the Marauders in their teens, one of James and Lily’s wedding, some of Harry, Remus and Sirius and most recently of Dora, Teddy and Remus.
Smiling softly Harry looked at Remus, while the older man was looking at him, a soft look on his face. Opening his desk, Remus took out a small box, opening it, it showed a green smartphone.
“I take it MI succeeded in magic proofing smart phones then?”
Remus nodded, “mine and yours are one of the first. It functions just like a regular muggle one, with internet connection and Wi-Fi, as well as apps to be downloaded in an app store.
We’re still in the process of filling our app store though, seeing as we are a newcomer on the tech market, and we need to make some name first. Some companies, who have someone in the known, are easier, but not everything is in order yet.”
Harry shrugged, “I guessed as much, we’ll get there eventually.”
Remus grinned and nodded, “your SIM card is already in it, you just need to start it up and put in your email and contacts and what not.”
Harry nodded, doing just that, as they made their way towards the office at the end of the hallway. The silver nametag on the door telling them this was Harry’s office.
Opening the door, Harry was greeted by a green office, and dark brown furniture, no pictures were put on yet, but there was a phone on his desk, the sticker on the lower corner naming it as phone 007, so that’s what Katie meant.
Harry grinned as he looked around, already planning on buying some picture frames to hang up, as well as which pictures to put in them. He also planned to take his laptop with him the next time he came by, to install that already and make sure his IT department knew what he needed to get installed on it before Monday.
“This all looks perfect, Remus, and thank you for holding the fort all these years.”
Remus nodded, a soft smile on his face, “I don’t mind, but I am not CEO material, Harry, please never ask this of mee again. I am more than happy with being CFO.”
Harry nodded, he didn’t think he’d ever have to instal Remus as CEO again, even if he had to go out of state, or even out of the country, he could keep doing his duties while away. Even if Remus had done a splendid job, he wasn’t him, and he had a lot of ideas to implement into the company as well as ideas for products they could produce, especially now that phones were able to get adapted to work around magic.
Standing around the desk, Remus disappeared to his office, before returning with a couple of sheets of paper.
“Here is the phoning list, from every internal line, it gets easier to call people when you have a list, especially the first few days and weeks, I know I kept it close to me as a lifeline the first year.”
Harry nodded, taking the list and going over it.
000 for example was for the front desk phone, 001 and 002 were the janitors, 003 was the main testing facility, with 004 the main production lines, 005 and 006 were in meeting room 5 and 6 (the largest ones they had), 007 was himself and 008 was Remus.
Starting 009 were personal lines, for everyone from a team leader to the finance department.
As he went over the phone list, his own phone started ringing.
Startled, Harry hurried around his desk, picking up and hearing Katie on the other side, telling him Ms. Abernaty was waiting for him at the reception. Checking his watch, he found it was 12:50, meaning Ms. Abernaty was punctual.
He nodded to Remus, and left Pepper in the older man’s office, while he went and got Ms. Abernaty, for a talk.
Following the hallway towards the staircase, Harry descended, seeing more than one person looking at him and nod. It seemed Remus memo over the phone had gotten to a lot of people.
Looking at Katie, he saw her pointing towards a slim, blond haired woman of around 30, sitting down in one of the waiting rooms.
He approached, “Ms. Abernaty.”
She turned, a small smile coming to her face, “Mr. Black.”
Harry nodded, shaking her hand, before mentioning her to follow him. He led her up to his office and offered her a seat.
“Would you like something to drink, Ms. Abernaty?”
The woman seemed to think about it before asking for some water.
With a smile, Harry pressed 999 on his phone, connecting him to house elves into the building’s kitchens, asking for a water and some coffee to be brought to his office. As he put down the phone, a tray popped up on his desk, holding the requested items.
He had to smile, happy that he’d hired a group of 10 house elves who kept staff supplied with drinks throughout the day, as well as snacks, should they be requested. They also manned the company kitchen and restaurant, where anyone who worked at MI could get breakfast, lunch and supper.
Smiling at the woman in front of him, he started; “Ms. Abernaty.”
“Please, sir, Carol, I’d like to be spoken to by my given name.”
“Carol then, could you tell me what happened between out first phone call and now?”
Carol nodded, “when I called you, business for Fred were going really badly, or at least, that’s how they seemed to look for me, every time I looked at bills and our bank account. We’re low middleclass, but we do have 3 mouths to feed.”
She took a deep breath, “when I called you, a friend of mine gave me your number and told me of your initiative especially for enhanced and magical people living in the muggle world. I never worked before, seeing as I didn’t have my SATs, nor did I have a college degree. Fred always told me he didn’t mind, that he would bring in the money so I could stay at home with the kids.
After I called you and you called him, offering to buy the business, I though all of our problems were solved. But weeks went by and not one dollar was put on our bank account. At first, I thought it was all a sham, and I am sorry for that, that we were set up and money wouldn’t come.”
A tear ran over Carol’s cheek, “one night, after the kids went to bed, I wanted to spend some time with Fred, when I heard him on the phone, talking to someone named Kelsey, with whom he had an affair with, who he gave so much of our money seeing as she did have a job as a flight attendant, which is how they met.
He wanted to build up a life with her, and leave me, so he took the money you wired over to him, to book a flight to Hawaii with this Kelsey, telling me to be out of the house by the time he came back home, he left divorce papers behind.”
Carol was crying now, “it’s like he never cared about me, nor about our children. I have no idea where I should go with my children, nor do I know how I can provide for them.
He called me, furious, yesterday, yelling that I had ruined everything. The other woman had heard the conversation you had with him and left him just like that, because he wasn’t rich anymore – talk about superficial.”
Taking the handkerchief Harry handed to her, Carol wiped away her tears.
“I wanted to make sure you knew this, Mr. Black, what really happened and when I did call it was for the best possible future for my family, I only after found out what a scumbag my ex-husband is.”
Harry nodded, a soft smile on his face, “it would seem, Carol, that you have had quite the hectic live for the last few months.”
Carol just nodded.
“Tell me, do you know anything about your ex-husband’s business?”
Carol nodded, “I helped him do the finances, as I always loved arithmancy while in school and even though I don’t have a muggle education, I still did the finances and loved to listen to Fred’s stories about his work.”
Harry nodded, “then would you be willing to take over the rental agency?”
Carom gaped at the man in front of her, not believing what it was she was hearing.
“Just like that?”
Harry shrugged, “I already fired him and don’t plan on hiring him back. With me taking over the company the coming week, we were going to look for a new manager anyway. But if I can already hire someone, who knows how it was run and would like to do it, I don’t see why not.”
Carol gaped some more, “I… I would love to, Mr. Black, but my children…”
Harry waved a hand, “first of all, my employees call me Harry, I don’t really do formal. And second, MI has an intern day-care for children of our employees. I know a lot of people that work for me are rather young and would like children, or have young children, that need care, even if they have to work.
To compensate I set, or had my godfather set up, a company wide day-care for children up to 12-years-old. We have people who go and collect children at the school they go to, or even at a nursery they stay during the day – so you can come and get them when you’re done working.
Would this be agreeable for you?”
Carol nodded, “Yes, Mr. Bl… Harry, thank you, I would love to. I love cars, especially after I married a nomaj who loved them and told them all about them when we were younger and still dating. I also know the girl, Charlotte, who works there.”
Looking at Harry, she added, “he probably let the poor girl open it all alone, she’s a great administrative worker, but that’s about it. Can you, is it possible to keep her on.”
Harry smiled but nodded, “I let her know we’d let her know when we had a new manager, or if we didn’t find anyone else, some other job within MI for her.”
Carol nodded, “she’d like that, she’s a student at the UCLA, majoring in marketing, so some experience in sales is great on her resume. I, how are we doing this then?”
Harry smiled and called for Remus, knowing that the werewolf would hear him, and indeed, within a minute, the man was walking into the office, smiling at his godson, as well as Carol, he shook her hand.
“Carol here as accepted in taking over the rental agency from her soon-to-be ex-husband, could you help for a moment with the contract, as well as the paperwork for the inside day-care?”
Remus nodded, waling back to his office and coming back with a contract and the paperwork for the day-care, taking a seat next to Carol, he started to explain.
They decided on a 32 hour contract, for day hours, which meant they needed 2 more managers to man the early and the late shift, but that was a problem for later. After Carol signed, Remus went over the paperwork for the day-care, telling her which papers she needed to fill out, which things they had to know about the children, and which paper to file at their school, so their workers had permission to go and get the kids from school.
As they stood and shook Carol’s hand, the woman thanked them again, thanking them for taking the time to listen to her and to even solve all her problems for her. She looked forward to starting work on Monday, Harry promised to let Charlotte know that the girl could start up then too and to drop by that week to see how everything went.
Guiding her back to the reception, Harry waved at her, waved at Katie, before going back upstairs to have Remus introduce him to everyone and show him just where everything was in MI.
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Already updating, hope no one minds I do so earlier than normal.
My country is in partial lockdown, so my almost-3 yo was home this week, while my husband is working from home and has a broken toe, so a lot of the chores and toddler watching/keeping busy has been my job.
So I am just really tired right now, won't be able to post later (as I normalle do after dinner).
Enjoy, and let me know what you think about it!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
After getting to meet all the managers and administrative staff in the building, Harry made a clip of himself – introducing himself as the new CEO, taking over from Remus. What his goals were for the company and what he wanted to accomplish for his workers.
He also asked them all to come to him if they had any questions or propositions, that he’d love to listen to all of them. He even mentioned that should they know someone who was looking for a job, to let them know and give any contact information they had on the person job hunting.
Before leaving MI with Pepper, he went by HR, to file the contract Carol had signed, as well as to ask Dora to call Charlotte and let her know she could start again next Monday, for at least 32 hours a week, until new managers were found. If she came by the coming week to sign her new contract as a working student.
After saying goodbye to Dora and Remus, waving at Katie and other people he had met during the day, Harry checked his watch to see it was only 4 PM in the afternoon, prompting him to go back into the city with Pepper to buy some picture frames for his office, as well as some plants to put there as well.
While he never liked gardening after growing up at the Dursleys, he did however like keeping plants and looking after them. Enjoying something grow and become stronger always reminded him of himself and gave him something to do on the quiet periods – like cutting away dead leaves and watering his plants.
Taking their time to wander the city after, they made their way back to the Black home just before dinner time.
As they walked in, Pepper was on her phone when she suddenly snorted, a laugh coming to her lips as she was glued to her screen.
As she looked up and saw the questionable glances of Remus and Harry, she handed over her phone to her best friend.
‘Potts to leave Stark for mystery man’
‘New love for Pepper Potts’
‘Stark out, new man in’
It went in like that for a while, always accompanied by pictures of the both of them out and about. Having fun, as best friends do, especially best friends who hadn’t seen each other face to face in 5 years.
Harry scoffed too, before handing the phone to Remus, Dora looking at it over her husband’s shoulder.
Remus scoffed too, “seems like the vultures already descended on you, Harry, this is still quite innocent, but let me know if they cross the line, I got a lot of feedback today that people were looking forward to working with and for you – so PR would love to start a law suit when they slander or use you to purposely give out bad information.”
Harry nodded, beaming at Remus when the man said his employees were looking forward to working for and with him.
Remus nodded, “the story of what you did for Carol, as well as it being your idea to provide a company day-care, won you a lot of points, cub. You might be young, but you do think thus through and are more than open to innovation from your workers – that’s a special case.”
Looking at Pepper, he added, “I think SI is the only other company in the state to use such a tactic.”
Pepper nodded, “Tony became the owner of SI, technically, at 16, when his parents died. He held off on actually being part of the company until he was 17 and had finished at MIT. He took over as head of R&D the moment he graduated and became CEO at 21.
Seeing as he was so young, he was mostly treated as someone who didn’t know their stuff, which never made sense, seeing as he has 3 PHD’s and a couple of Master diploma’s in different fields. But anyway, seeing as he was not taken seriously until he started making real changes, he got the love from his employees for providing things like dental care, a hospital insurance and the possibility to let him know if something was bothering them or if they had an idea to add to the empire that was SI.”
She took her phone back and put it away, “also, as someone who is at most time, doing 100 things at once, it helped to have people at hand who knew what he was doing, or who had suggested the idea of what he was doing and could give a helping hand.
Not to forget that we also have a very successful internship program, with a great medic and dental plan as well, and contrary to most internships, ours are paid.”
She had to laugh, as she looked up and saw Harry writing this down.
“Watch it, Potter, don’t go stealing our ideas.”
Harry shook his head, a smile on his face, “I wouldn’t dare to do that to you, Pepper, but I have to agree that a paid internship would be something I’d love to work towards. After all, right now, MI still is a new player on this field, but who knows where we’ll be in a couple of years’ times.
We have a solid base, something my mom, dad and Sirius worked for back when MI was founded. It went to a bit of a low burn when the war was fully in play and stopped for a year when my parents were murdered. Remus became the primary contact person after Sirius went to prison, so a lot couldn’t be done while he was in England.
But these last 5 years we’ve been making a name for ourselves and getting the right kind of attention to play the big games now too.”
Remus hummed, “I think, Harry, that’s because of you, for a large part, you are not afraid to help out businesses who are close to the ground, but have great ideas and just need someone to sponsor that idea.”
Pepper added, “also people like someone who supports or has a charity organisation under their name, it given them some humanity. Tony gets the same good publicity for the Maria Stark-foundation.”
This had both Remus and Harry humming, using the time before dinner to put some ideas on paper. Before Dora entered the dining room again, Teddy trailing after her to take a seat when she floated the pots and pans to the table and snatched away the paper Remus and Harry were writing on.
“No work on the dining table, and Harry you’re not officially at work yet. It’s still you vacation time, enjoy it. I will put this away and leave it on your desk in the morning, for you to continue on, after your vacation days are up.”
Meekly nodding at that, both Remus and Harry had to stifle giggles about how much Dora looked like her mother at that time. Andromeda Tonks née Black might be an older witch, but she was still a Black and one that knew her way around household spells and disciplinary curses.
Which she no doubt taught to Dora before she went to America. Blacks were known for their excellent spell work after all.
As they settled at the table and got their fill of the amazing dinner Dora had made, Harry made sure to spend some time with Teddy after they ate, until the little guy went to bed.
He drove Pepper to her apartment back in the city, agreeing to meet again the day after – he hadn’t really taken a lot of clothes with him from England, planning on shopping for those things here in the USA, hoping to enjoy doing that with Pepper.
Coming home after, he changed into his Pyjama, and went to bed, the jetlag finally catching up with him.
The week of vacation was over before Harry really knew what was happening, he spends a good portion of that week clothes shopping, or shopping for things to put in his office or in his room at the house.
When they weren’t doing that, he and Pepper were walking through the city, the redhead pointing out everything from good places to get coffee, to fine dining establishments, to the Juwelier Tony went to, to get his Rolex working again.
On Thursday, after some time bugging Pepper, she invited Happy to the Black estate to properly introduce him to her extended family.
While he was a very different type of person than Colin was, he was obviously very taken with Pepper and would give her the moon and stars, should she ask. Which to Harry, Remus and Dora was the most important part.
They did however scare Happy for a bit when they told him he had 5 other older brothers to convince in time, should he ever consider wanting to marry Pepper. He had assured them he would keep that in mind, but as they hadn’t been dating for that long, he hadn’t given that any thought yet.
Remus and Harry could respect that, it was one thing to have a relationship without thinking about the future. Or having a relationship and thinking about the future, but still enjoying the now instead of already planning years ahead.
After seeing Happy out of the door and taking Pepper home, she thanked him and Remus and Dora for doing this for her. She knew she would never be able to introduce Happy to her mother not with the way Molly was acting.
And introducing him to Arthur could only be done after the man grew the balls to leave his wife.
Her brothers were a fact, and she had mentioned this to Happy, that should he ever ask her to marry him, he had to ask her brothers, all of them, for their approval.
Harry had pressed a kiss to her hair at that, knowing just how much it hurt for Pepper to have a mother who already had planned out your entire life – only to see that crumble when things didn’t turn out that way and take out her frustrations on anyone but herself.
Not only that, but what grown woman expected her adult children to stay in the home they grew up in, only to make her feel better. Which wasn’t that big of a problem the first month, as they all are enjoying having family close while they grieved. Both after months of being cooped up at home, Molly still hadn’t relented nor allowed any of her children to leave, even those who had their own home.
When Ginny had left, the others had soon followed. Ron and Hermione, not having a house of their own then, stayed with Harry for the time being until they had their own house.
Which again, was a point Molly used in explaining Harry had turned her own children against her.
That Friday however was quite hectic, with the gala taking place that evening for the funding of a new children’s hospital, one especially decorated for the enhanced, and magical, children popping up more and more.
A lot of hospitals either weren’t equipped to deal with those kids or got backlash and other problems from patients who were anti enhanced or anti mutant. Which as a lot of hate, didn’t make sense?
With Pepper, Harry, Remus, and Dora all invited, they had hired one of the company day-care employees to babysit Teddy for the evening.
Saying their goodbye to Clara, said employee, Remus, Dora and Harry all got in the limo who’d take them to the gala – all of them quite looking forward to it, this was the perfect opportunity to get to know other people who didn’t have a problem with enhanced and who could potentially become a great partner or ally for MI.
Add to the fact that this would be the first outing any of the board members of MI had ever done, hoping to get a lot of attention on that too, now that Harry was set to become CEO and they was taken 5 years to get MI to a level they had wanted to be at.
Lastly, they were also looking forward to meeting Tony Stark, as Pepper had told them he’d be present too.
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Tony and Pepper, as always got quite the attention when they arrived, for once on time – but then again Pepper had made sure Tony didn’t need to do anything for a week, just concentrate on his own project and enjoy the time he got to spend with his bots and brain.
The last thing he could do was to be on time for this one event at the end of the week, which was to finance a new children’s hospital to take care, especially, of children from enhanced or children who were enhanced themselves whom other hospitals couldn’t, or wouldn’t, take care of.
The vultures descended on them the moment they got out of the Stark Company car, Happy for once not driving, as he had a day off today. But with Pepper at his side and so many people around them, he wasn’t all that afraid of anyone trying something.
The vultures however, where a very different story, shoving their mics and cameras into their faces the moment they stepped onto the red carpet, asking everything from SI related questions, to a personal question about their relationship (which was not, and would never happen – even if they wouldn’t tell that to the media), as well as questions directed to Pepper about the strange, but handsome man she had been seen with this past week.
Most questions, personal ones at least, were ignored and not answered. Tony stopped for a moment with a reporter from some science magazine who had some intelligent questions about the new Stark Phone that was about to come out in 2 months’ time.
Entering the banquet hall, both Pepper and Tony mingled with their acquaintances, such as Dr. Stephen Strange and Dr. Christine Palmer, both known for their ground-breaking work in neurosurgery. Dr. Strange in particular was invested in the health and care of enhanced children – his younger sister had been an enhanced, but with the mindset of people back then, she was not helped when she was ill and died from pneumonia.
Stephen had once told them that the death of his sister was the reason, he became a doctor, to help people no matter who they were different groups too much to put up with.
Other acquaintances included Professor Charles Xavier, Dr. Reed Richards (even if he and Tony didn’t always see eye to eye) and Jennifer Walters.
As they were catching up, both Christine, Susan, as well as Ororo and Jean asked Pepper about the man she had been seen with this last week.
Pepper laughed, knowing that all of the people in this circle knew she and Tony were not an item, and would never be.
“He is my best friend from back home, he needed to take care of some things in the UK, but he finally was able to come overseas and take over as CEO for his own company.”
At the questionable humming from all her girlfriends, Pepper elaborated, “He’s the new CEO of Marauder Inc., taking over from his godfather now that he has moved to the states.”
Christine whistled, “he’s doing great things, I know a lot of his medical supplies help us with more enhanced patients, where normal supplies just don’t cut it.”
Pepper nodded, “I know, he really likes helping others, made it his business to have as many departments as possible to make sure he can actively help with making the world a better place. Also, if you’d check his HR records, you’d find that MI has the highest record of enhanced employees than anywhere else in the world.
They’re doing better than SI on that field, not to mention the things he would do for his employees.”
She told them what had happened at the rental agency, and later what had happened with Carol and Charlotte; and the way Harry solved it, in such a Harry kind of way.
All the women cooed at that, none of them had children at this moment, but she knew Susan and Reed wanted to start a family soon, so to hear a CEO thinking far enough ahead to make sure that his employees who were all rather young, had an in-company day-care, was very refreshing to hear.
Susan smiles as she asked, “his parents must be very proud.”
Pepper winced, “We don’t know, they died when he was a toddler, his godfather, Remus, is the only one from the founders of MI who is still alive. We try not to bring it up, seeing as we won’t be able to answer those questions – if they would be proud of Harry.
We’re assuming they would be, so very proud, but we can’t know for sure.”
Susan frowned, a hand on her heart, “why is it that genius, and amazing people have such tragic pasts.”
Pepper shrugged, although her eyes did rest on Tony for a second, thinking about that question. She felt so bad for both her best friends that to make it, and to be able to be so great, they first had to lose everything. And even than it took years for people to recognize then as their own people, instead of the son of…
She was beyond proud of both of them, of being able to come out of their father’s shadow and make a name for themselves helping the world in their own way.
Seeing a commotion at the entrance, Pepper had to grin, especially when her phone pinged, letting her know the delegation of MI arrived, no doubt causing the vultures to fall over themselves as they recognized the MI company car pulling up and admitting the man they had described as a nobody – it was even funnier, as she knew MI’s PR department had a lawsuit ready to sue all of the tabloids for discrediting their CEO, new as he was, the first week he was in the US (great first impression too).
Breaking up the women only talks, they joined their male companions, Pepper letting Tony know that Harry, Remus, and Dora had arrived.
As soon as the car stopped in front of the venue the charity gala would take place in, Remus warned Harry about the flashing lights and the yelling from the reporters, which was a good thing the werewolf did. Seeing as soon as the door opened, it looked like the spots of a quidditch stadium were all directed at Harry, as well as enough noise to rival a quidditch match.
People did start to quit down and gape, quite unattractively, as they noticed the same man who had been seen with Pepper Potts throughout the week standing before them.
Only to start another frenzy at trying to get answers out of him, as Potts and Stark had been unwilling to answer questions.
Ignoring them and walking forward at the guidance of Remus’ hand on his shoulder, they stopped at a reporter at a business interview, who had asked if Remus was really stepping down as CEO.
Remus had smiled, but nodded, “I was always acting as stand-in CEO, to be honest. I am actually the CFO of MI, have been since my best friends founded it. However, their son, Harry, still had some businesses to take care of back in the UK, so I agreed to stand in as CEO for as long as needed.
Now, since Harry has finally graced us with his presence here in the USA, I will gladly step down and let him, officially handle everything pertaining MI.”
When the interviewer asked what he meant by that, Remus elaborated, “Harry has been the genius behind every change and product MI had fabricated for the last 5 years, he was just never around to actually see it happening – too busy taking care of his investments in the UK to come over to America full time. Now that he has, I don’t see why I shouldn’t credit him for all the things he has done.”
When asked about Pepper, Harry answered, saying that, “they were old friends who hadn’t seen each other in real life for 5 years, of course they would use that time to hang out like old times. I was kind of disappointed that tabloids here in America don’t really do research before printing their pictures, so I’m sure they’ll think twice from now on, when my legal team comes knocking with a legal suit – I am still on the fence on what to think about America.”
Turning to Remus, he casually asked, “I’m sure we could relocate, should there be a need to, to a country who does thinks before they write slander and lies into their papers.”
Without commenting further, Harry walked towards the entrance, a smirk on his face, one mirrored to a lesser degree by Remus and Dora, they both remembered the way Harry had dealt with the Prophet when the war was over and they had started writing about everything in his life again.
The paper had gotten sued within an inch of its life, enabling Xeno Lovegood to buy the paper and change it to an actually readable newspaper – bringing news like a normal Muggle newspaper did it, from everyday news, to politics, business deals and the results in the latest quidditch match.
Right now, it was more popular than the former Prophet ever was.
As they entered, Harry let his eyes run over the crowd, only stopping when he saw Pepper and the good looking man next to her, which he knew was Tony Stark.
When Pepper let him know that the delegation from Marauders Inc., had finally arrived, he couldn’t help but look over at the door, noticing that everyone around them seemed to do the same.
The first people entering, was obviously a couple: he was approaching 50 with grey in his tawny brown hair, and very noticeable amber coloured eyes. He stood at a respectable length of 6’1, with a lean build, especially for a person his age. He was dressed in a dark brown suit, with a purple shirt and a creamy coloured tie.
The woman on his arm was closer to 35, than to 40, but seemed to be young in spirit, going on from her pixy cut hairstyle, which was black with pink tips. Her eyes, a very otherworldly grey, were looking at the man with a lot of love in her eyes. She was also quite a bit shorter than her husband, standing at 5’4, with delicate curves, dressed in a purple gown with a high neck, almost like a halter neckline, leaving her arms bare as it fitted tightly around her breasts and waist, before flaring out in a full skirt.
The last person to enter, was the one who got the most attention, totally deserved it too.
Hadrian Black stood at 6’2, a little taller than he himself was, with a lean build, even if he suspected those clothes to hide quite a bit of muscle, his black hair at chin length – yet styled away from his face. His vivid green eyes were scanning the room, and he could see it when he noticed Pepper, the laughter dancing behind those greens making them all the more memorable to look at.
He was dressed in a black three piece suit, with a purple shirt, no doubt to colour coordinate with his godfather and aunt, a black tie and looked totally delicious in it.
As if reading his mind, Pepper turned and glared at him when she saw the look on his face, a hissed, ‘don’t you think about it, I will not be yanked between my two best friends because you couldn’t keep it in your pants.’
Tony just nodded, he too didn’t want this to be a one time thing, he wanted to get to know Hadrian Black, both as a competitor, but also as Pepper’s other best friend. He already felt that they would and could be friends, given time. He had to wait until Friday, even though he knew the man was in the country since Monday, to introduce himself in a way that would make him memorable – too many people believed the tabloids and wouldn’t give him the time of day, even if he was genuine interested in becoming acquainted with them. From what Pepper had told him, Hadrian wouldn’t be like that, giving him hope to add another interesting friend to his already wide circle of interesting friends.
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Seeing Pepper further down the hall, Harry made eye contact with Remus and nodded towards her, with a smile and a nod the older men waved him off, going back to talking with the senator, as well as the spokes person of the local magical community.
Taking a few steps towards where Pepper, Tony, and their friends were gathered, he could feel the looks of others on his back. Their scrutiny no doubt ending the moment they read tomorrow just who he actually was.
Getting close to the group, he was suddenly blocked by a brown haired man getting in his way.
The man was a little older than him, wearing glasses and while a nice suit, it was obviously not right for his body type – not that Harry ever let appearance deceive him, the arrogant way the man was standing in front of him rubbed him the wrong way.
“Yes, can I help you?”
The man grinned, “Yes, I think you can, you see, I have read the magazines and saw you hanging around with Ms. Potts over there.”
Harry just arched as eyebrow at that, noticing that the man hadn’t even introduced himself.
The man’s grin got wider, and if possible creepier, “I’m afraid I’ll have to burst your bubble and tell you she is a committed relationship with Tony Stark, so sadly enough you won’t stand a chance.”
Harry’s eyebrow only arched higher, now disappearing in his hairline, staring at the man as if he had lost his marbles.
Not letting that look deter him the man continued, “but if you are available, I am more than happy to accompany you today, for the right price of course.”
That last was said while giving Harry a once over, a shiver going over the Potter-Black lord as he minced over the words.
“Are you telling me you think I am some sort of escort?”
The man grinned at him, obviously not knowing just how deeply in the shit he was lowering himself.
Before Harry could reply however, Pepper was standing next to him, Tony not far behind. From the look on the older man’s face he had either heard or guessed just what this man had said to him.
“Are you alright Harry?”
Harry pursed his lips, a look of contempt on his face, queuing Pepper that something had been said that didn’t go over well with her best friend. Turning to the other man, she addressed him.
“Justin Hammer, just what do you think you are doing?”
Hammer, now finally identified, thank you for that Pepper, gave Harry a once over again, “well Ms. Potts since you are enjoying the company of Tony here, I offered myself as a companion to your boytoy ever here.”
More than one person had to swallow after that. Tony whispering something in her ear, most likely the fast that Hammer thought Harry was a paid escort.
The brit winced as he saw Pepper turn as red as her hair, knowing the following explosion would be more than Weasley worthy. From the look on Tony’s face, he too was familiar with the way Pepper could explode when she felt slighted or insulted.
A whisper came over Pepper’s lips, the sheer contempt coming with it making Harry take a few steps back, so he was standing next to Tony Stark and not in the line of fire between Pepper and Hammer.
Like flipping a switch, Pepper suddenly smirked, “Allow me to introduce you, Harry, this is Justin Hammer, CEO of Hammer Industries and one of the competitors for the weapons division of SI.
Mr. Hammer, please allow he to introduce you to my best friend since secondary school, Lord Hadrian James Potter-Black, holding the lordship of the Potter, Black, Peverell and Gryffindor lordships, presented with the title of Marquis by Her Majesty The Queen on his relentless effort to stop the terrorist attacks plaguing the UK around the year 2000. Co-owner of too many companies to count, and current CEO of Marauder’s Inc, the competitor to SI’s other divisions.”
When Pepper stopped talking, you could hear a pin drop in the hall they were in, just about everyone looking at all of them, but more notably at Justin Hammer, and the way he had been looking at the new CEO of Marauder Inc.
A slight noise escaped Hammer, before the originator of the charity event approached them and friendly asked Hammer to leave the premises. After, the man, one Dr. Alfred Porter, turned to Harry and apologised for all this happening.
Harry, finally finding his voice, waved it away, “this has nothing to do with you, Dr. Porter, but everything with the man you just banned from the event. I came here to support a goal I, and my company, want to support and the behaviour of one, pardon my words, asshole, is not going to change that.
Now if you will excuse me, I had hoped to talk to my best friend before the main event.”
Dr. Porter nodded at him, sighing in relief that one of his main benefactors wasn’t holding this against him. Turning towards the entrance, he was glad to not see Hammer anymore, the nerve of that man, to speak in such a way towards an English Lord, not only that but on the first charity event he had been invited too. What a way to stay with the people, despicable behaviour.
Nodding once more to Lord Black, he went back towards his own group of friends, excusing himself for his fast departure, only to be hushed by multiple women, them telling him they were happy he interfered. The way Hammer spoke to Lord Black was not even slightly appropriate, not in the circles they were mingling right now.
Alfred nodded, taking a hold of the drink his wife had been holding for him and sighed.
When someone tapped his shoulder however, he turned and found himself staring at Remus and Nymphadora Black-Lupin, Lord Black’s closest relatives and until tonight the representatives of Marauder Inc.
“I would like to thank you for acting on behalf of my nephew, Dr. Porter, and would like to add that beyond the donation we will be making this evening, should you ever be in need of some sturdier equipment, make sure to give us a call.”
As he said this, Remus pressed a business card in his hand, before nodding and turning around, leading his wife to speak with a congressman and a leading expert in mutant genes.
Harry blew out a deep breath as they made their way towards the group Pepper had been standing with, a hand on his arm a welcome touch after the confrontation with Hammer.
Taking a glass from a nearby server’s tray, he downed it in one go, hoping it would make him feel a bit more at ease. After dealing with UK politics, Molly Weasley, Death Eaters, Voldemort, and the mess up that was the English Ministry of Magic, you would think he could deal with an arrogant businessman who went way beyond his league.
A small giggle escaped Pepper, a fond smile on her face, “oh, that reminds me. Harry meet Tony Stark, my best American friend. Tony, meet Harry Black, my best English friend.”
The two men shook hands, fond looks directed at the woman walking in between them.
“Nice to meet you, Tony.”
A comfortable silence sprung up between them, until they were back with the group Pepper and Tony had been standing with, more than one person looking at Harry like he was some foreign royalty or something.
A voice suspiciously sounding like Hermione said in his head, ‘you kind of are, marquis and all that.’
Pepper always on point, hummed, “right introductions. Harry meet Professor Charles Xavier, he’s the leading authority on mutant genes, as well as the headmaster of the school Remus and Dora are considering sending Teddy to.
Next are two of the school’s teachers; Jean Gray and Ororo Munroe. Jean teaches psychology and helps the kids with any problems they might have, while Ororo teaches English.
Then are Susan and Reed Richards, they are part of the Fantastic 4 team protecting New York, as well as our leading experts on interdimensional travel and intergalactic physics.
Lastly, we have Dr. Christine Palmer and Dr. Stephen Strange, both neurosurgeons, with at least one enhanced family member. Both of them are willing to work part time in the new enhanced hospital we are funding tonight.”
Turning towards her other friends, Pepper added, “everyone, this is Harry Black, current, starting Monday, CEO of Marauder Inc. and my best friend from the UK.”
Harry nodded at everyone he was introduced to, getting smiled and nods back from all of them.
Professor Xavier asked, “your family is thinking of sending someone to my school.”
Harry nodded, “Teddy’s 5 now, and he goes to a local school that does cater to more enhanced students, but they are also more of a day-care facility and not a real school. With him turning 6 soon, Remus and Dora have been looking into schools that cater to enhanced individuals and yours came out on top.”
The professor smiled at that, happy to know that his institution was known through out the circles it had to be known about and that parents were aware their children were welcome there.
Jean asked, “Might I ask what his mutation entails?”
Harry nodded, “he got something like a feral mutation from his father, even if it hasn’t manifested yet, we don’t know if it ever will. It might set in with puberty.
From his mother he got an easier one, Dora can change her appearance at will, as can Teddy, he has it mostly under control, but as a child it slips his control at times and with the stigma around mutants in certain schools, we’d like it if he could go to a school were his unique ability only makes him more special.”
Pepper snorted, “it particularly handy when he doesn’t want to share his emotions with us, seeing as his hair acts like a mood ring at those times.”
A voice piped up from behind them, “see Remus, I knew out niece and nephew were talking about us.”
Turning around, Remus and Dora were standing there, grins on their faces. Making both Pepper and Harry snort.
“Like the two of you haven’t been talking about us.”
Remus smiled, “of course we did, one of the youngest CEO’s of the country and one of the most sought after PA in the history of PA’s, we’ve been bragging to hell and back about the two of you. As well as confirming that everything that Pepper here said was indeed true. Making it so that a lot of people present today have put Justin Hammer on their Blacklist.”
Tony snorted, “I am sure with how many phones were out that the world with know what Hammer did and put him on the communal Blacklist. Acting like that here of all places if a stake in his socialite career.”
The people around them nodded, it was indeed social suicide to assume anything of anyone you met at events such as this. And to assume was one thing, but to assume someone was an escort, only to find they outrank you on every side was just downright killing anyone’s socialite status.
The group mingled some more, before the speakers announced the start of the main event, a presentation of what the hospital should and would look like once construction was finished, both on the inside as on the outside. As well as what they would be offering in short term and long term care.
Making their way towards the tables assigned, they were pleased to note that Professor Xavier, Ororo and Jean were sitting on the same table as Pepper and Tony, as well as Remus, Dora, and Harry.
Stephen, Christine, Reed and Susan were also at the sale table, accompanied by some other doctors or scientist who either were enhanced or had family that were.
Directing their attention to the front, they were all entertained with a detailed map and plan of, and for, the future hospital for enhanced children.
At the end of the event, Harry was sure he had found a new group of friends to keep in contact with here in America. He of course still had his friends in England, but he also knew that he wouldn’t be seeing most of them for some time, as they were all busy with reforming the British Ministry of Magic, as well start their own lives – now that there was no war going on.
From the people Pepper had introduced him to, he got along the least with Stephen Strange, and Christine Palmer, not that he didn’t like both. But with both of them being neurosurgeons, the topic of conversations went to medical jargon a lot of times, and this was one thing he never had an interest in.
Susan and Reed Richards were a very strange couple, in the fact that it seemed that they didn’t fit together at first glance, until you got to know them, and then it all made sense. Sue was the very social part of that pairing, always knowing what to say and enjoying attention when she got it. Reed on the other hand was a bit of a socially awkward nerd, but he always followed Sue’s guidance, so it didn’t matter that much.
Professor Xavier, as well as Jean and Ororo were people he admired, mostly because they invested in the next generation, especially a part of the next generation that might not be welcomed elsewhere. To hear from themselves, just what they had to go through, and the troubles they had gone through at the start of the school, was only awe inspiring. Add to that, that the X-man, consisting of most of the teachers, and quite a part of the off-age students, did everything they could do when a situation with an enhanced went out of hand.
Remus and Dora had spoken some more with the professor, as well as with both teachers, and had agreed to come and enjoy a tour, as well as an introduction to the other teachers, and some students. Their minds were already made up, but they did want to be sure, seeing as the school was on the other side of the country.
This would mean they would look for a property closer to New York, as to not have to scramble up Teddy’s schedule more than was needed, Dora and Remus could work with the 3 hour time difference, knowing that Harry wouldn’t mind them doing part of the work from home, to pop over to HQ after they dropped off Teddy at school.
Now, the person Harry connected the most with was Tony Stark, which shouldn’t be all that surprising seeing how well Pepper got along with him. Tony, to Harry, was a very intellectual conversationalist, they could both talk about their companies, as well as their policies and the view of the future they had for their company, and for their own lives.
Pepper had only smiled secretive as they both got lost in talks about their new lines of phones, between the Stark Phone, which Harry had to admit was an advanced piece of electronics.
Yet, Tony was also singing praises over the new Marauder Phone, with its durability and the magical component which allowed magical inclined to use it, without it blowing up.
Before talking business, and more specifically the magical side of things. Harry had asked Pepper if Tony was up to date, to which the redhead had replied that he indeed was. Back when she first came to work as his PA, he had done, or tried to do, a background search, but seeing as Pepper Potts hadn’t existed long enough, he hadn’t found any real information.
While she’d been able to keep him at a distance about that for some time. The moment they started to become friends, next to being boss and employee, Pepper had gotten all the correct paperwork in order and had given Tony a class in Magic 101. Much to his delight, even if he had tried to explain most of what had been happening by science. Both of them had a very fun weekend with Pepper explaining and showing anything Tony had asked, and Tony giving his own explanation to everything, as well as a closer bond between the two of them.
So, Harry knew he was all right with telling Tony about the magical component of the new Marauder phone, he had erected a privacy barrier first though, not that anyone had noticed; and if anyone did, they most likely thought it was because of some mutant gene.
At the end of the night, Tony had invited Harry to his Malibu mansion, to talk it all over some more – after all, while Harry didn’t have the IQ Tony had, he was a very enjoyable conversations partner, and it helped that he knew Harry wasn’t some gold digger out for the Stark fortune. He hadn’t been able to find back statements, but he had asked Pepper once, and she had told him Harry was worth more than he was, and that was quite the statement.
The evening had also ended on a joyous note, the money needed for the new hospital had been gathered, with some extras. So Dr. Porter had come personally to thank Marauder Inc., and Stark Industries for their contribution, knowing both companies had given the greatest contribution.
Dr. Porter was also pleasantly surprised to find that both companies wouldn’t mind donating another time, should they need it. Both CEO’s gave him a card and told them to forward an invite should it be needed.
The next morning, social media, as well as most of the gossip rags were filled with the confrontation between Pepper Potts and Justin Hammer. As well as more information as to who the mysterious man seen together with Potts was.
Social media in particular was eating Hammer alive, for his behaviour towards Harry, as well as the way he talked to Pepper, as if he one up-ed her over something that he had not done at all.
To add to that, a lot of people saw Pepper as #Goals for the way she defended her friends, and the way she put Hammer in his place. More than one woman magazine had contacted the redhead for an interview, and several online forums were declaring her a hero for being a strong and confident woman in a man’s world, not afraid to say what needed to be said.
With Pepper’s introduction the gossips rags were also cowed at the words they had written about him, Tony had however warned that they changed opinions, faster than the snap of a finger, so to look out for them, as they would write dirt about him the moment they even suspected it.
Tony had shared with him, that as a teen, just graduated from MIT at 16, and taking over as head of R&D, he had partied a lot, mostly to deal with the changes in his life, as well as a bad coping mechanism for everything that went wrong. Anyway, that image this followed him everywhere, meaning that the moment they saw him leaving with anyone it was his newest conquest, just as the moment he was seen with a drink in hand, he was losing himself to booze once more.
Several forums, as well as people on social media were speculating what a multiple British Lord was doing in America, at least until statements from MI were released, putting the company in America all the way back to the 1990’s, having been founded by Harry’s parents, and their best friends.
While it didn’t calm down, Harry had learned to ignore it by Monday, fresh and ready to start his new adventure as CEO of MI.
Tony was so glad Pepper had introduced her other best friend to him, not only was the man a great conversation partner, but be was also good looking. The moment however, Pepper had seen the look in his eyes, she had talked to him in the car on their way home from the fundraiser. Telling him that she couldn’t dictate what he did, but if he screwed this up, she would choose her longest friend.
He had nodded and put it onto a backburn. He was attracted to the Brit, but wanted to get to know him better, as a friend first. Not that he doubted Pepper, but it wouldn’t be the first time he thought he connected to someone, only to have them do a complete 180 the moment he had either slept with them or wanted to begin a relationship with that other person.
Being known by the media since he was a child, also held a lot of drawbacks. With the way he had appeared at his parent’s sides back when they were still alive, as well as in magazines for as long as he remembered, people were undoubtedly going to form an opinion of him, even if that opinion was formed on the things they had read in magazines and on the internet.
He had thanked Pepper for the great evening, before dropping her off at her apartment, glad two of his friends were happy together. They might not know it, but he had recognized Happy’s car out front, as well as the way both of them looked at the other when they thought he wasn’t looking.
He thought it sweet that they actually thought they could hide this from him, but he would wait for them to tell this to him, on their own time.
Driving, for him, however, was bliss, especially after spending it with so many people who saw through his mask and knew the real Tony. Even if he and Reed didn’t see eye to eye on most things, the man was a friend when it counted, and when he needed one.
At home, he entered his workshop and called out to his bots and JARVIS.
Asking his AI to start a folder, on his private server to see where SI and MI could potentially co-operate in the future. He wanted to keep it quiet first, as to make sure he had a whole plan, and of course Harry’s approval before he put anything forward to the board.
Partnering with another tech company might just satisfy the old bastards, and Obie, if he could present a better way to use their resources, as right now a lot still went to the weapons division, as no one, except for him and Pepper, wanted to change that.
Don’t fix what isn’t broken, of however the saying goes, even if he never felt comfortable with making so many weapons. He’ll look it over, hopefully he’ll be able to present a plan to the board in about 6 months, he’d have that weapons demo in Afghanistan then, pertaining their new Jericho missile.
Closing off, he nodded to himself, he’d give himself just under 6 months to let the board see that going more towards electronics was a better solution, than only concentrating, or mostly concentration on weapons development. Weapons might not be needed anymore in the future, but the futurist in him knew that they electronics, and technology would stay long, very long, after their time.
In, or around, LA, two men spend their weekends thinking back fondly about the new friendships they made at a charity gala of all things. Looking forward to what this would all bring them I the future, especially with the slow marching of different societies, enhanced weren’t staying hidden and it was time the world accounted for that.
What neither knew however, was that in 6 months, the world would get to know something else, something only minorly mainstream right now, something that would kickstart a lot of event in the future.
Death could only smile, knowing her Merchant, and her Master had met. Now they had to meet in a slightly more secluded setting, and she could explain it all to them. Soon she would see them making a name for themselves, as Earth’s Defenders.
Harry couldn’t help but look around in awe at the entrance hall of Tony’s Malibu mansion. They had agreed to meet up a few weekends after the gala, to see if a partial merge between MI and Si could be in their future.
After all, both of them were entrepreneurs in their field, not to forget that neither did this to make big money, as shown by the prices they put on their products, which still sold like hot buns. Not only that, but both Harry and Tony did a lot of what they did as philanthropists, to actually help the world with their progress.
Tony had also at one point told him that he wanted to shut down his weapons division, even if it was the biggest, because he didn’t feel like it helped the world like he wanted to help it. If anything, war just became more brutal, with Stark products becoming only more effective, feeding the endless circle.
They had been in contact quite a lot after the benefit, having exchanged numbers and keeping each other posted on things that happened in their private lives as well.
Harry, for example, had shared the story of how Remus and Dora’s visit to Xavier’s instate had gone, and how exited they had been when coming back. Having met most of the teachers, as well as some full time residenting students, to see just how well Teddy would fit into the school. The answer was very well.
The fees were paid, and Teddy was ready to start school in Xavier’s institute in a few months’ time, giving Remus and Dora enough time to look for a home closer to North Salem.
Tony had in return told Harry about the weapon’s presentation he would have to hold in little less than 6 months’ time in Afghanistan, hoping it to be the last one he had to do, as he doesn’t plan on renewing his contracts with the military. He hoped that coming with plans of a partial merger, or concrete ideas for products which had both MI and SI working on them, would turn over his board of directors to not see the loss of the weapons division as a major defeat for SI.
In fact, those plans had been why Harry was here, standing in this gorgeous entrance hall in the first place. He had agreed on doing that, partly because a cooperation between SI and MI would give him more acknowledgement, and because he liked working with Tony, or would like to do so, his gut feeling was telling him the both of them could be at the head of quite some changes in the near future.
JARVIS had already welcomed Harry to the mansion and told him that ‘sir’ will be right there. Which for Harry had been quite the shock, Tony had told him about his AIs, but to actually hear and interact with one was magnificent.
When tony did appear, it was in a grease stained pair of jeans, and an old ACDC shirt, a smile on his face.
“Sorry for the wait, Harry, I was fixing up one of my old timers and forgot to keep an eye on the time.”
Harry just dismissed it with a wave of his hand, “I really don’t mind, Tony, I know I can get distracted at times too. What kind of car are your working on?”
Tony stopped for a moment, “you don’t mind?”
Harry shook his head with a smile, “why should I? I already know you are a genius, so your brain must be going 100 miles an hour, every hour of the day. If you can get it to quiet down while working on your car collection, who am I to have a problem with that – self-care is important you know.”
Tony just smiled, like he couldn’t believe he had someone in his life, as a friend, that didn’t mind him forgetting or being late to an appointment, for the exact reason Harry had described. Pepper and Rhodey were the only other people who understood that he didn’t arrive late to make a statement, but because his brain had something it wanted to figure out, and the only way to make it stop bugging him was to figure the thing out.
“And to answer your question, it’s a vintage Austin Martin. Recently bought it at an auction, and I’m restoring it as a hobby.”
Harry hummed, “yeah, Pepper did say you had multiple degrees, with one in engineering.”
Tony nodded, “also several doctorates.”
Harry hummed and smiled, seeing just how proud Tony actually was of his academic accomplishments, which he should be, no other 16 year old could graduate MIT with 3 PHDs and several other degrees, masters, or bachelors.
Suddenly, Tony shivered, “JARVIS, turn on the heating.”
When there was no answer, Tony started looking around, hoping that the AI wasn’t damaged, or there wasn’t anything else going on.
Harry looked around too, noticing something outside that made him sigh.
“Tony, JARVIS is alright, the outside world was brought to a standstill, we are for lack of terms, trapped in a bubble outside of space and time at the moment, if you look outside, you can see some of the birds just hanging in mid-air, instead of flying.”
Tony looked outside, and saw the same thing Harry had seen, making him look back at the wizard, still in worry.
“So, this is something magical, then? Did you get followed or tracked down, or...?”
A voice suddenly spoke to them, “My master has nothing to do with this, My Merchant, I captured the both of you in this space-time bubble, for I need to speak with you.”
Harry sighed, a grumbled, “I should have known”, passing from his lips as he turned around.
“Hello, Lady Death.”
A figure seemed to materialise before Tony’s eyes, a dark hood covering her features, for the voice that spoke had been undoubtably female. A cloak also covered her hands, although a scythe appeared in one of them as she materialised fully.
“I remember you…”
Death smiled at the American, “I am glad that you do, My Merchant, you spend enough time in my realm to know who I am.”
Tony paled, no doubt remembering all the times he had met Lady Death, as she had explained to Harry, he had visited her quite often before. She had wanted to see the both of them together at one time, to tell them something, but also to make sure her Merchant remembered.
“But I’m alive now, right?”
Both Harry and Lady Death nodded, making Tony look at Harry, “you knew something about this?”
Harry shrugged, “I knew there was her Merchant, and her Champion, here in the USA, but I didn’t know who they were, no. So, just to be fair, I didn’t befriend you because I knew this. I was made aware of who you were, at the same time you were made aware of who I was.”
Tony hummed, still not knowing what to think of all this.
“I never told My Master of who you were, Anthony Stark, the fact that the both of you have bonded so quickly is party because of the nature of your bond to me, indeed, but also because both of you are compatible, in more ways than one, outside of the bond all three of us share.”
“Then why come out, and tell us now?”
“Because it is vital for the survival of this world that you meet. I cannot tell you more at this given time, seeing as I too am bond to certain secrets. But I can tell you that together you both will have a much better chance to conquer that which will come on your path.”
Harry frowned, “does this have anything to do with the alien that thinks he is courting you?”
Lady Death sighed, but nodded, “it does.”
Tony looked between Harry and Lady Death, a questionable look in his eyes.
Harry sighed, “long story short, some lone survivor of an alien race has got it into his head that by wiping out half the universe, he can win the affection of Lady Death, he has gone from planet to planet to kill off half the population, and leave the other half be.
He’s still a long way from Earth, but I know we need to keep an eye on him in case he might take more drastic measures.”
At this Lady Death looked away, making Harry frown, “he had, or he will, in the near future then.”
“I cannot say, My Master.”
Harry huffed, but nodded, knowing that some truths have to remain hidden, even from his as the Master of Death.
Tony looked between the two of them, “what does this have to do with me then?”
Lady Death smiled, “I gave you the name of Merchant of Death, after the many times you have visited me, unwillingly, yet never afraid to be in my presence. Just as my Master and my Champion, I granted you boons, one of which is your durability. There will be other boons, but they are not needed yet, so they will not show.”
Tony swallowed, a pained look on his face, “the press me the Merchant of Death as well, but that’s because of the impact my weapons have on the planet and the warfare still going on.”
Lady Death nodded, “I did not give you that name to imitate that, you were given that name the second time you entered my realm.”
Tony opened and closed his mouth a few times, “so, when I was 6? At the second kidnapping gone wrong.”
Lady Death nodded, a sad smile on her face. Harry was looking between Lady Death and Tony.
“Wait, how many times has he visited you, then?”
Lady Death thought for a moment, “15 times.”
Harry blinked, before approaching Tony, “you died 15 times already?”
Tony nodded, a little uncomfortable, “yeah, I had a lot of kidnappings done when I was a child and seeing as my f… as Howard never paid, the people kidnapping me sometimes went to drastic Measures. There was also and accident, where I wasn’t the one driving where I didn’t have a pulse for about 5 minutes. And I think one or two, fairly recent, where assassins got a hold of me.”
Lady Death nodded, “that should be all of them indeed, but I never let you stay in my realm, knowing you didn’t belong and were needed here, are still needed here, and will be needed here for a long time to come.
I made this bubble to make sure you both knew what the other was, as events will be set into motion soon that would be more pleasant if the both of you had each other to lean on.”
Tony and Harry looked at each other, before looking at Death, “I think we were getting on quite nicely before too.”
Lady Death nodded, “indeed, but your cooperation, and the ideas already on the table for a semi-merger can save both of you a lot of trouble in a few years. I needed to give you both the last push to connect on this level, and to know that the both of you, and one other, are bound in a way that hasn’t been seen since ancient times.”
Harry nodded, “I’ll fill Tony in on that soon enough, does this mean we also have full disclosure on everything and anything?”
Lady Death nodded, “My Merchant will not be affected by anything you do with your powers, and vice versa, My Master. So, this gives you a place to do practice, without harming anyone.”
At Tony’s look Harry explained that he had known what he was since he was 17, about 5 years ago, but he never could act on those powers, or use them, seeing as he could harm others with it. He was also always in the presence of someone else who could be hurt by those powers, so he just didn’t want to risk it.
“Now that you have met, some powers or boons might manifest, and some others will not. I cannot tell you this.”
With a last smile, Lady Death bid the both of them goodbye before everything started moving like it should again.
“I’ll turn up the heating, sir, although it is a nice 21 degrees Celsius right now.”
Chapter 12: Iron Man 1
The first hour after Lady Death had visited them were slightly awkward, after all who wouldn’t be unsure of what to say when you were just visited by a primordial being. Those things didn’t happen every day.
“Does Pepper know?”
Harry looked up as Tony asked him this, but nodded, “most of my friends in the UK know, since when she accepted me as her Master, so did the magic of the function.”
Harry gave a soft sigh, “you have to know that I didn’t have the best home life growing up, I was dropped with my mother’s sister and her family. Who knew what magic was but hated and feared it. My childhood wasn’t a good one, and one I later came to see as abusive.
But that notwithstanding, I was a scrawny little thing even at 17, I was short for my age, with almost no muscle build, and the same haircut for the last 15 years. But accepting, and being accepted, by Death’s magic, it changed me. I grew taller seemingly overnight, my hair started growing again, and I filled out. So, I knew I had to tell some people what was really going on.
Already people were pointing their fingers at me, convinced I had drabbled in dark magic and that the effect of that magic was showing now. It also didn’t help that I and my friends were trying to change things in the Wizarding World in the UK, changes that a lot of people didn’t like because they went against the things they were used to.
Blaming me seemed the best solution for some of them, so I had to come up with a solution of my own. I told Pepper before she left for America, together with my best friends, Ron, Pepper’s brother, and Hermione, Ron’s wife.
Together we were able to explain that I had been taking a potions regimen to counter the signs of abuse I’d carry with me whole my life. This got a lot of people to back down, especially when it was backed by most of the people I went to school with. The only others who kept believing I was grooming myself to be the next Dark Lord were finally silenced when I moved here.”
Tony tilted his head, “how can they be silenced by your moving here?”
Harry grimaced, “because I sold everything I had in the UK, liquified every asset I had, and publicly announced I would never show up in England ever again. MI does not have any holdings there, which will be something that they’ll find out soon enough.
I… it seemed to be the best solution at the time, seeing as my friends and family can still come and visit me here, or we can meet up in Europe. But I had enough of the UK, and especially the Wizarding World there, and felt it best to start a new life here, in America.”
Tony frowned; he couldn’t understand how Harry had essentially let himself be bullied out of his home country. Not for something like this.
“Because the main voice behind me turning into a Dark Lord, is Pepper’s mother. She had it into her head that Pepper and I would marry, and she would get beautiful grandchildren who unlike her family, would have money to spare.
But we didn’t because we never saw each other that way. I’m gay, and not at all interested in a relationship with a woman. And Pepper just always saw me as another brother, after her first year at school at least, and didn’t see herself married to me either.
Her mother disagreed with a lot of things, even tried to keep every one of her children, and in-laws, away from me by forbidding them from leaving the house. Partly because of me, partly because she had lost a child to the previous dark lord, as well as Pepper’s fiancé, and didn’t want to lose anyone else.”
Tony looked at him with giant eyes, “that’s a very difficult woman, I imagine.”
Harry nodded, “all her children don’t speak to her anymore, not after what she did to them, and especially not after how she did to me. They all moved away and refuse to see her, or their father, unless he files for divorce, which he’ll probably never do.”
Tony whistled lowly, “that’s some life you got away from.”
Harry nodded, “I really just want to focus on MI right now, to be honest, to do my best to provide a future for the world. Especially with the hints Lade Death has given, we are going to need an edge.”
The rest of their planning session went great, and both Tony and Harry had several plans to show to their own boards about a future, near future, collaboration between MI and SI.
They met up several times in the course of the six months before they wanted to present their findings and plans. Which lead to Tony introducing his business partner, who had been his father business partner as well, Obadiah Stane.
Which didn’t go so well, Harry could see the way the older man looked at the both of them, but also the way he looked at Tony when the genius wasn’t watching, which concerned him greatly.
After Stane had left, and Harry mentioned this to Tony, the other man had waved it off, telling him that Obie was just a shark who wanted the best for the company, as well as for him, as his godson.
This had Harry wincing even more, as Teddy’s godfather, he knew that if he ever looked at Teddy like that, he wouldn’t be allowed to see the little kid again. It really worried him, and made him push through, which in turn made Tony angry at him.
He backed off then but did warn Pepper about what he had seen and what he thought might be going on, even if he hoped to all primordial beings that this wasn’t the case.
With both of them taking space from one another and concentrating on their own project that needed to be launched, it took some time before they saw each other again. As a matter of fact, Tony delayed his own flight to Afghanistan, to be able to talk to Harry before he left.
They talked it over, and Tony promised to be careful, now and in the future, even if he didn’t think that Obie would ever try and harm him.
Harry would stay in the workplace for the entire night, talking things over, but also sharing what had happened in both their lives, while the other didn’t appear in it.
Harry very enthusiastically told Tony of how well Teddy’s first week as Xavier’s institute had went, and how happy he was that he didn’t need to hide that part of himself anymore. He had told them all about his teachers and the other students, and how odd a lot of students found it that he just went home again at the end of the day. Until they found out both his parents also had a ‘mutation’.
However, Dora and Remus had found out that working with a 3 hour difference still brought trouble for them. So, they had written Andromeda, Dora’s mother, and asked her if she wanted to move in with them.
The older woman had been alone since the passing of her husband in the war but hadn’t wanted to leave initially. But now, with all of her close family in the States, she had been all for it, especially since she would be the one picking up Teddy at his school and spending some time with all of them at the house in New York.
Harry tried to come over as much as possible, but he still held the house in LA, and with MI’s headquarters also there, he didn’t want to move everything to New York, at least not yet.
Tony on his part had told Harry about the new weapons the board was pushing for, which he was delaying, as to make sure that he wouldn’t need to make them, as they were planning on announcing their collab soon enough.
The military had similarly approached him an effort to renew the contract they had running. Even sending his best friend Rhodey to try and talk him into signing early, which didn’t help, seeing as he had told Rhodey everything about what he had been doing, and the airman had agreed that waiting for a bit was the best option.
He also shared that he had told Rhodey about him, Harry, and his oldest friend had expressed a desire to meet the man who had become so close to Tony in such a short time, without any negative intentions.
Harry proposed they all come over to his house and he’d cook if Tony would like. Tony having tasted Harry’s cooking, didn’t see anything wrong with that and agreed, after sending a text to Rhodey to ask if the man could get some days off as soon as they returned from Afghanistan.
Plans were made, and their talks were only disturbed quite a few hours later when Pepper entered the room and chastised Tony for not already being on a plane halfway around the world. The Stark just waved it off, saying it was his plane, so they’d wait for him to get there before taking off.
This in turn made Pepper sigh and turn to Harry, chastising him for keeping Tony talking so long, so they were behind on schedule.
The Brit had just shrugged, before also inviting Pepper and Happy, who finally confessed to Tony that they were dating. To the surprise of no one, even Tony had admitted to already knowing, but wanting to let them come to him with that news.
Pepper agreed, before chasing Tony out of the workshop and into the shower, stating that Happy was ready to leave at any moment, but Tony smelled so he had to take a shower first.
Which brought us to roughly a week later, where Harry was putting the finishing touched to the meal, he was preparing for his guests later that evening. He hadn’t gotten a text yet, but Tony had said he’d be home and in La in time for dinner.
So, when his phone did go off, he picked up without checking who it was, and instantly regretted it. Pepper was on the other end, her voice filled with emotions and tears, telling him there had been a situation in Afghanistan.
Harry turned down the fire and slowly sat down, listening as Pepper told him what Rhodey told her; that they had been in separate vehicles. That Tony’s had been attacked and the people he had rode with killed, their bodies accounted for.
Only Tony had been nowhere around, no body to be found, and no live Tony Start running towards then either. Best case scenario he turned up soon, but worst case terrorists had gotten to them and had kidnapped him.
With no lead, and no extra support, Rhodey was coming back to American soil, to arrange extra forces and ask for permission to go and look for Tony Stark in the Afghan dessert, knowing that the ending might not be pretty.
The other side of the line became silent, before Pepper talked again, “Harry, I know you don’t like using that part of your powers, but… can you check, if he’s at least alive?”
Harry hummed, he knew Tony was still alive, because his status as Merchant of Dead he could only die when Lady Death herself reaped him, which she already said she wouldn’t do. But he couldn’t tell Pepper that, Tony should be the one to tell her that.
Sighing, he answered, “I will, look that is, and keep you posted if I find anything or hear anything through… other channels than the one you and Rhodes are using.”
He could hear the smile in Pepper’s voice as she thanked him, making him run a hand through his hair and place a statis charm over the food he had prepared. He wasn’t hungry anymore, but maybe someone else could benefit from it.
The first few days after he had heard about Tony getting kidnapped in Afghanistan left him feeling slightly empty, one of his best friends here in America, as well as someone he had a crush on, had been taken while protected by the US Armed troops, by a group of terrorists no one know the hiding place of.
To make matters worse, Lady Death hadn’t been able to answer his call, too busy with the destruction of a planet on the other side of the universe. His heart, and the bond they shared with her let him know Tony was still alive, but he couldn’t feel that out on his own and needed Lady Death to confirm this for him.
It was roughly a week after the first news, that Lady Death did appear next to him, a grim look on her face.
“He is alive.”
Harry looked at her, “that doesn’t sound very reassuring.”
Lady Death looked down, “he will be forever changed by what he experienced and will experience there in those caves. It will help to have a support system ready for when he gets back.”
Harry lifted an eyebrow, “so he will come back?”
Lady Death nodded, “Tony Stark always made his own way from where the kidnappers held him, this time will be no different.”
Harry nodded, before calling up Pepper and letting her know they should be looking at caves, but that Tony most likely will make his way out of them.
A month passed with him checking in on Tony, through Lady Death, without any more promising news. Keeping Pepper up to date, while the redhead did the same for him.
She also kept him up to date whit whatever Rhodey found, as they still hadn’t met, but wanted to keep the other posted as well, as they were looking for their friend.
About two months after Tony’s kidnapping, Harry did notice something strange in the numbers of SI, he had taken to looking at them from time to time, after Tony had shown him how to get to them, and they didn’t deem to be adding up.
Frowning he called Pepper again.
“Pep, not Tony related, but have you ever run the numbers of SI again, after you became Tony’s assistant?”
The redhead stayed silent on the other end of the phone call, before replying negative, “no, I didn’t. Why?”
So, Harry told her what he was seeing, and how the numbers didn’t add up with what was sold, as a matter of fact, for that much money to be coming on, some of SI’s supposed scrapped stock would have to be sold?
“And another thing, why don’t we hear from Stane? I mean, he is Tony’s godfather isn’t he, shouldn’t he be a little more invested in his godson’s life?”
Pepper didn’t say anything for a while again, “I don’t know… you do make a point, but with Tony missing, he took over as CEO again, and he seemed all too happy to be doing so.”
Harry hummed, “I just find it odd that not a week after Tony told Stane what the future plans are, he goes missing, and the other man takes the CEO spot again, just in time to agree on a continuation of the weapons deal with the military, that Tony wanted to stop now that it ends in 2 months’ time.”
Pepper clicked her tongue, “you have a point there.”
Harry shrugged, “I don’t want to point anything at mister Stane, but this all seemed a little bit to planned out for it to be coincidence.”
He could hear Pepper biting her lip, “I can go and snoop around a bit, see if I can find anything that suggests Stane had a hand in all this. But I wouldn’t know what to do with it after, it’s not like we can just hand it over to the police, he would pay them off.”
Harry hummed, “true. Let me ask Professor Xavier if he might know something of government agencies that he knows might be able to deal with this.”
“Alright, keep me posted, Harry.”
Harry confirmed, before saying his goodbyes. Clicking on the number for Professor Xavier, he called and posed him the question. To which the man gave him the number of a certain Phill Coulson of the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement Logistics Division, who might be able to help him or point him to someone who could.
Keeping that in mind, Harry got swept up with things at MI, with the launch of their magic proof phones, they had a lot on their hands. It just so happened to be now, that they had planned the launch and he knew Tony wouldn’t want him to postpone it. Not when it wasn’t needed, he could look for the other CEO on his free time.
Multiple people still came and asked him if he had heard from the Stark, or the effort in finding him, knowing he was close to both the billionaire, as well as Ms. Potts.
He smiled at those people who came up to him and asked, telling them he didn’t know any more than they did.
Remus, Dora, and even Andromeda, asked him in the privacy of his own home, and he told them he knew the other man was still alive, even if he didn’t know any more, and that Lady Death had told him he would come back a changed man. Something which scared him if the change was too much for the man to handle.
They might be chosen by a primordial being, that didn’t take away that things they experience could still ruin them. Harry knew all too well that he had PTSD from the war and expected Tony to have the same after everything that would be happening in Afghanistan.
Another month passed, making it 3 months since Tony had been kidnapped, and the more they waited, the more they noticed the way Stane was handling things.
The older man was sucking up to several higher up at the Armed Forces, assuring them he would keep supplying weapons to them, even if neither Pepper nor Harry believed that this was the only reason.
They had seen the bank statements, and Pepper had gone snooping around, finding statements of deals with undesirables, or even known terrorist groups. Meaning they at least had enough evidence to put Stane on trial for selling to the highest builder, and to buyers outside of the contract SI had with the Army.
Now all they needed was for Tony to turn up again, and to take his place as CEO once more. They could brief him as soon as he was back on American soil, about what they had found and have the man look for himself to see if he could unearth anymore shady schemes.
Luck was on their side however, when Rhodey called to say he had been in Afghanistan, and had found Tony, wandering through the desert.
Both Harry and Pepper held their hearts, glad to know their friend was alright and would be coming back home as soon as doctor checked him out at the army base they were relocated too, before they got flown back home.
Meeting Tony on the army airstrip had been a whole affair, Harry had been invited by Pepper, and despite them trying to keep it under wraps, the press was there to look out for the wounded genius.
Pepper pursed her lips as they arrived at the airstrip, the multiply journalists standing there, hoping to get a shot at seeing Tony Stark all beat up had her angry, and feeling like someone must have told them where he would get off.
Sighing, she got out of the car and approached the airplane that just had landed, relieved to see Tony get out of it, on his own two feet. He looked at her and made a joke about the tears in her eyes.
As soon as they were in the car, Tony let go of the bravery he held on to, laying his head on the shoulder closest to him, which was Harry’s.
Harry’s eyes were drawn to the light seeming to come from Tony’s chest, before the words Lady Death had said came to mind, “He’ll come back a changed man.”
Sighing, Harry didn’t want to start this conversation now, they would have time for that. He wanted to be here for Tony right now. Happy drove them to the Malibu mansion where they all gathered in the living room, letting Tony lead the conversation as well as tell what he wanted to say.
“I saw a lot of SI weapons standing there, in the terrorist strong hold I was kept in.”
Pepper and Harry looked at each other, before sighing, “we figured.”
Tony concentrated on him, “you know something, more than just this.”
Both of them nodded, Rhodey who had come inside from the kitchen and Happy shuffled closer.
Pepper started telling what they had found, and who seemed to be at the helm of those practices.
Tony sighed, rubbed his eyes with the palms of his hands, “I guessed something like that, even if I didn’t want to believe it.”
Telling them of that one time he had been dragged in front of a camera, he had recognized his own name, as well as Obie’s name. He had remembered as much as he could, which was a lot, to ask his fellow prisoner to translate.
Tony sighed, “it seemed that Obie paid them to kill me, so he could take over SI again and continue his back deals. I… I should have listened to you, Harry.”
The brit shook his head, “this was not something I wanted to be right about, Tony, not when this is your godfather.”
Tony sighed again, “do we have proof?”
Pepper and Harry nodded, “and we already contacted a government agency who deal with this, they will go and puzzle everything together, before arresting Stane on account of treason.”
Pepper added, “the only thing I hate to be asking of you after all this, is that you need to go to the office as soon as possible. Stane has been whispering the right ears that he’ll keep up the weapons contract, even if you told him you wanted to stop doing that.”
Tony grimaced, “I guess that’s a sacrifice I have to make, but as soon as that’s done, I’m taking a weeklong break.”
Pepper nodded, “of course, mister Stark.”
Tony grinned, “than we should start planning, because I believe a lot has happens since I got kidnapped.”
All of them nodded, and started planning on what they could do, after all the kidnapping of a CEO did have an impact on the stocks SI had. Harry followed their rate and was glad to know they started climbing the moment people knew Tony was back on American soil.
“I think the most important things are to stop the contracts you don’t want to have anymore, but maybe you can still keep the army as your allies with providing protective gear?”
Rhodey hummed at that but nodded at the idea. He and Harry had finally met at the airport, with Tony introducing them to each other, the moment they entered the Malibu mansion. Both had noticed why Tony liked the other man, friends were hard to come by for the genius.
After their planning, Tony stayed quiet for a long while, before confessing to how he had gotten out of that cage, and how he wanted to keep doing that – not getting kidnapped, but experimenting with the armour, and going after groups that had his weapons, destroying them so they wouldn’t be used to harm US troops.
Rhodey was the only one opposed, mostly because of army protocols, but he agreed that the bureaucracy of getting permission to destroy those weapons would take too long.
Pepper and Harry just agreed that if this is what he wanted to do, he should do so, they will help, Harry especially with Magic proof technology. Seeing as they had a very wild sort of internal magic in the Middle East.
With those plans laid out, they relaxed the rest of the day. There would be changes and soon, starting with the rejection of the next weapon’s contract with the military.
They had gotten word from Agent Colson that they had everything they needed to arrest Stane the following day, seeing as tonight was a gala for the Maria Stark Foundation, where oddly Tony hadn’t gotten an invite for.
Calling Pepper, the redhead let him know he most certainly had an invite, but that someone must have made sure he didn’t get it, further fanning the rumours that he was being put on probation as CEO after the board had voted and given him ‘leave’.
Scowling for a moment, before fishing his phone out of his pocket to dial one of his best friends, who picked up after the second ring.
Tony grinned, “how would you feel to crash a party?”
Harry hummed on the other side of the phone, “what kind of party?”
“There is a Maria Stark Foundation Gala starting in 30 minutes for which I didn’t get an invite, kind of odd, seeing as I am the founder. But that aside, Pepper should be there, and I would love to look O -Stane in the eye, only to see him get arrested tomorrow.”
Harry hummed again, “sure, but you’re picking me up.”
Tony laughed, “it would be my pleasure, I’ll be there in 20 minutes.”
As Harry put the phone down, he could only smile, happy that Tony had called him for this. He was starting to get attached to the man, even more attracted as the days went by, and he always had fun when the two of them were together.
Remus, who was sitting next to him, had to hide a grin, “well, cub, you certainly have a crush.”
Hushing his godfather, Harry got up and ran to his bedroom to change. Dora, Teddy, Andy, and Remus had come over as it was a Sunday, to spend some time together over the weekend. But none of them minded, well Teddy did a little bit, that he ditched them for a fun evening with friends.
After all, Harry had never had the opportunity to be a teenager before, so for him to try and catch up now, made them all so happy for him. Coming to America had been good for them, but also for Harry, especially for Harry.
So, seeing him happy and finally putting his own happiness at the forefront only made them like Tony Stark more, the man had after all been a friend to their godson/cousin, and had helped him adapt both to living in America, but also to being CEO of a major company.
When Harry came out of his bedroom, he was dressed up to the nines in a dark green suit, white shirt, and an emerald green tie. His hair had been brushed back from his forehead and gathered at the nape of his neck with some gel (or a spell).
Looking up, he saw his family looking at him, making him look a bit self-conscious.
“What, wrong choice in clothing?”
Andy shook her head, “just right, it brings us joy to see you so happy, Harry, and invested in fun times with your friends. Have a great evening!”
Nodding, Harry made his way out the door, as Tony had texted him, he’d arrived. Rolling his eyes at the bright silver Audi the man was driving, with of course the custom licence plate shouting out it was Tony stark driving.
Opening the door, he got a seat and was met with Tony also all suited up.
Laughing, but nodding, Harry fastened his seatbelt as Tony took of towards the Gala, hoping to wow people attending with Tony arriving, with another CEO as his ‘date’. Not that it was an actual date, but still, it helped to shock the media now and again. Especially after most got scared for publishing anything about the CEO of MI, with the lawsuits his legal team had laid at the gossip rags for slander.
Laughing as the valet took the car to be parked, Harry and Tony walked up the stairs to where the gala would be taken place, more than one reporter taking pictured of them as they walked past, more than likely already contemplating what this meant, for them to arrive together.
Seeing Stane up ahead, Harry made sure to steer Tony clear of the man, they could go out and have some fun, before the man ruined it for them.
Entering the ballroom, all eyes were directed to them, Tony directing to where Pepper was smiling and waiting for them.
“I see you both made it.”
Tony grinned, “of course we did. That is one stunning dress.”
Pepper laughed, “I’m glad you like it, you picked it out for my birthday.”
Harry had to laugh, Tony was notorious to forget birthdays, so he had just told Pepper, Rhodey and Happy to bile his credit card when this happened, so they got themselves a present on his dime. It might not be all that normal, but it worked for them.
He hadn’t offered it to Harry, but this was just because the younger man hadn’t had his birthday yet.
Harry just gave Pepper a kiss on her cheek, before telling her, “I am so glad I convinced you to take that dress when we went shopping, you look stunning.”
Tony looked between the two of them, “do you go shopping often?”
Pepper giggled, “quite a lot, yes, after all we do have 5 years to make up for. And it helps that he is just as rich as you, and just as generous to his friends.”
Tony fake gasped, and pressed a hand to his chest, “Ms. Potts, are you telling me you’re only friends with rich CEO’s for the money benefits?”
As soon as he spoke, all three started laughing, knowing of course Pepper didn’t work like that, not to forget she made more than enough to spoil herself now and again. But then again, the press had fished after such a reason being the reason for her becoming PA so soon after being hired by SI. All of their favourite past time was setting the press on the wrong path.
They had been having fun for about an hour, when Stane noticed Tony had shown up and came to talk to him. All three of them made sure to keep it at small talk, fake smiles and giving the impression they had no idea that Stane was the person who had Tony kidnapped, almost killed, and who wanted to keep SI for himself. Not to forget backdoor deals, shady business, and ties to organisations like Hydra.
When the man finally left, they were approached by a blond woman, who Pepper introduced as Christine Everheart, a journalist who did more serious articles, and their go to journalist for any information they wanted released, or if they had a story they wanted to publish.
Pepper had told them she had invited Christine as her extra, so she had an in for this gala, and for a way for them to be able to talk about what was going to happen tomorrow without Stane overhearing, or for them to be seen in a normal situation and not bring attention to what they were talking about.
Pepper had already told her to be at Stark Industries tomorrow, as she’d get quite the story out of it then. They all knew they shouldn’t give information to the press when an investigation was still ongoing, but with this, they just couldn’t let it be swept under the rug. And they knew the American people would feel the same way about it – so even if some corrupt judge would release Stane, the people would know, as would the board, making SI, and Tony, just that bit safer.
After enjoying themselves at the Gala a little but more, everyone of them went home, looking forward to tomorrow.
That morning started as any other, Pepper came in to get Tony, and make sure he was ready, for a day at the office. Both of them were dressed to the nines.
Arriving at SI, driven there by Happy, both of them entered and made their way to the board room, entering it without a care in the world. Even if Stane was giving a presentation on the new weapons deal he planned to accept for the American forces.
With a forced smile on his face he welcomes both of them into the room, not even suggesting they leave, or asking what they were doing there. He might have been able to get Tony a vote of no confidence from the board, setting him on hold as CEO. But Howard Stark had always held a 52% share in the stocks of SI, which were inherited by Tony, when Howard came to die.
So, even if Tony wasn’t CEO anymore, he still was the owner, and major shareholder of SI, no matter what had been done to his position as CEO, only his death could prevent him from going anywhere in SI, as well as sitting in on every meeting held.
And Stane knew this, kept looking at Tony and Pepper, and grinding his teeth, knowing there was nothing he could say at this moment to make them leave. No one, especially him, could do anything to stop both of them from sitting there and listening to plans that would land in the garbage as soon as the day was over.
Tony, and Pepper, made sure to keep an extra eye on the board, to see who of them were so far into Stane’s pocket, they most likely also profited from his back door deals, and whose names they should give to Agent Coulson after he came to arrest Stane.
They didn’t have to wait long now, both of them got a text from Happy, telling them Christine and Agent Coulson had arrived, the later with a platoon of backup.
Texting their confirmation back, they just sat back and waited, trusting Happy to lead the correct people, to the correct places.
Before the meeting could end, a knock sounded on the door, it opened to let Happy in, a tight smile on his face as he looked at Stane.
“Mr. Stane, these people here are looking for you.”
Coulson took a step forward, standing next to Happy, a cold look on the man’s face, quite odd, seeing as sounded friendly and open that one time Pepper spoke to him on the phone.
“Mr. Stane, you are under arrest. You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can, and will, be used against you in the court of law.”
With that he mentioned some of his men forward, two who went and retrained the former CEO, before taking him away before he could react. Turning to Tony and Pepper, both of them pointed out the others they thought could be in on the deals, all of which were also taken in for questioning.
Stane was already proven guilty by the evidence they had, but as the law dictated, he would get a chance to defend himself. Even if all of them knew it wouldn’t matter much, the army, the president, and most likely the press had already been informed and would release statements which would kill Stane’s career worldwide.
As soon as Coulson and his men left, the Agent nodding to Happy, Tony and Pepper, the latter two took to the front of the meeting room.
“This is your one and only chance to confess if you had any knowledge of this. If you had I will try and arrange a deal for you, have you not come clean and will evidence pointing your direction, I will destroy you.”
After he said this, Tony took a seat, not having to wait long, before all 4 remaining board members confessed to having known. Coulson who was waiting at the door opened it again and took those four with him as well.
Running a hand through his hair, Tony groaned, “now I can’t take a weeklong holiday, as I need people for my board of directors.”
Pepper just giggled, “I already called around, Remus, Charles, Reed, Stephen and I are happy to step in until replacements can be found. None of us will go along with whatever you are saying just because it is you saying it. And we’ll know for sure we’ll have a team that is competent, willing, and whom we both trust.”
Tony heaved a sigh of relief.
“What every would I do without you, Ms. Potts.”
Pepper giggled again, “the same thing Harry would do, be miserable and not know what to do with yourselves.”
Tony grinned, before he nodded, “sounds about right.”
With Stane arrested, and the press going crazy over the story how this all could have happened while they were the biggest contractor with the military. As well as this being the reason so many men and women lost their lives while overseas.
Some other reporters or even bloggers, started digging, and with a little help from Tony and Pepper letting the right people know what it was that they had found it, the whole world knew what Stane had done, who he had dealt with and how he had put a hit out on his own godson.
So matter what he tried to say in court, Tony and Pepper knew that he would still get his just deserves, exactly their intention, they wanted to be able Stane was put out of play, between names and dealings of his customers being found online, as well as the army and the US government who wanted to have him incarnated for treason.
In the end the whole Stane thing was world news on day, and almost forgotten the next day, when word got out that he had been murdered in his cell before the trial could take place. The things they found on the scene pointing in the direction of a terrorist organisation being able to get in and be able to take him out before he could give up names of other people who dealt under the table.
While it stung that Stane would never get tried for the things he had done, Tony had it difficult the most, that this was how his godfather had to end. Having gone against anything and everything SI once stood for. To protect their American forces, to know that the head of such a large company had been dealing with their enemies stung with more people.
The same generals who had been nodding to Stane’s ideas not 2 weeks back, had already approached SI with their doubts about continuing their contracts with SI, even if they delivered the best weapons on the market.
Tony had nodded, and told them he understood, that he didn’t want to be making weapons anymore after what he had seen in Afghanistan. Leading to them parting on still friendly terms, and with a contract with SI for protective gear, and for their wounded soldiers to be able to get a prosthetic fitted by SI, once they ironed the kinks out of the design they had on the table right now.
Veterans who were willing could even apply as testing subjects to make the process run smoother.
With all that over, Tony could enjoy the last few days of his week long vacation, he started it the moment they were sure no one would forget what Stane had done, and whom was lost because of what he had wanted to do.
He planned on getting back after that, and slowly transitioning the company from largely weapons to a more technical aligned company, concentration of new phones, computers, tablets, and Bluetooth appliance. Together with more medical material, together with MI, he knew SI would survive this and he would become even greater than his father thought it would be.
Without the contracts for supplying weapons to the American government, he was free to expand worldwide, and make SI grow even more than he already had done.
With Pepper on one side, and Harry, with MI on the other, they could accomplish amazing feats and start preparing for a united Earth, on one part, and for the inevitable invasion that would come sometime in the future.
With Stane taken care of, Tony could also concentrate on his own little project, he had told Pepper, Happy, Harry and Rhodey about the armour he wanted to create and use, in first instance, to track down the organisations Stane had sold too, as well as make sure they got destroyed and couldn’t be used on innocent civilians, or other military troops.
The making of the suit went easily, with the blue prints still in his head from his time in the cave, only this time he had JARVIS, much more sophisticated materials and tools, and no pressure in fear of getting killed by the people standing outside the door.
With the first one finished, he made sure to start easy, he knew in another situation, he would run before he could walk and try to fly the suit the moment it came out of production. But for some reason, he didn’t, not this time.
He took his time and made sure to be able to keep up with all the problems that showed themselves, starting with stabilizing himself, and ending with the icing he got as he made too much altitude.
In the end, it took him a week, to finish the design, and to paint it in red and gold colours, after all subtility was never his style. They might keep it under wraps now, but the pilot of the suit would need to be made public at one point.
His first self-appointed mission was to Gulmira, as a way to liberate the hometown of the doctor who had saved his life in that cave. Whose sacrifice gave him time to escape, and to pick up his life again – cutting out the snake in the grass of SI, who made it possible for this terrorist to be such a terror to these villagers.
While he was flying halfway around the world, Harry, Happy and Pepper were in the mansion, following through the feed of what Tony was seeing, as well as commentary from both Tony and JARVIS.
On the way back to Malibu, Pepper made sure to text Rhodey to let him know that the radar might be able to pick up Tony when he flew over, to make sure no one started firing, or the army base thought a missile was on its way. As usual, the excuse of a training exercise was used, for new not to be confirmed weaponry.
With that out of its way, all of them were happy Tony made it back home without any trouble.
The days, weeks and months after, Tony kept on doing missions to destroy the SI weapons in the hands of anyone who had gotten them through Stane, with the news coming to light that someone, or something was destroying these weapons, the opinion were divided.
Some people believed this person, or this ‘Iron Man’ was doing the right thing and making sure these weapons wouldn’t be in the hands of groups that would misuse them.
While others believe that it might be extra-terrestrial wanting to strike on every weapon wielding group, or organisation. Which of course send the conspiracy theorists in a frenzy in an effort to prove this was either an alien, or a person hired by the government to clean up their messes.
A whole different group of people, mostly enhanced, had the idea that Stark himself was behind it, having hired someone to clean up the mess Stane had made. But none of them were of the opinion the pilot of the suit was the billionaire himself.
Pepper, Rhodey and Harry made sure to keep an ear on the ground to make sure not too out there rumours were being told. No one suspected Tony to pilot the suit, even if some people were close in believing this was SI cleaning up messes.
While this was going on, Tony and Pepper were also rebuilding SI from the ground up, in a manner of speaking. With the weapons department closed, they made sure to relocate all those employees, so none had to be let go.
Presenting their future project in select groups, and asking team leaders or managers to keep everyone up to date, and to press upon everyone that there would be no people fired, they had a solid plan to work off and explant already existing departments.
This was a huge relief for some of the people working in those departments, as it meant more funding, more projects, and hopefully with time, the possibility to work on their own project with support from SI, or from MI, it had become an open secret on the floor of SI that the two companies would have a semi-merger, to give MI some more name in the circles it lacked that in.
And for SI to get a boost in developing their new departments, as well as some help in their future projects. They planned on setting or re-entering the business world with a whole new way of working, largely based on the cooperation between the two companies.
Both Tony and Harry looked forward to working together like this, after meeting and getting to be friends, and getting along amazingly well. As well as the unresolved sexual tension neither of them wanted to acknowledge just yet, they knew this would turn into something magnificent, and something that would help the world in more than one way.
Add to that, that both companies had a great image with enhanced communities, it only helped them to prepare for what Lady Death had told them, as vague as she was, it never hurt to be aware of the communities they had on their side and who they could call upon, if the time should come.
About 3 months after Tony had returned from captivity, and 3 months after the normal launch of their merged project, Tony and Harry had a combined press conference where they would let the world know what they were planning, and what the future for SI would look like.
This started with introducing the ‘new’ companies as they were, before switching to let their audience know what they hoped to accompany together.
Tony grinned as he explained, “my captivity gave me the insight that I needed, but already had on my mind for some time. That I didn’t want to make my legacy with weapons alone, not after the war and terror that already haunt the world.
Harry and I got talking after we got introduced by Pepper Potts, my secretary, and Harry’s best friend, about where we wanted to take out companies, and found out goals to align. We want to help the enhanced community, as a minority, to find employment more easily. This because we both have people; we are close to that fall into that category.
Next, we want to leave a legacy that people will look back to, in let’s say a couple hundredth years, and remember the things we did for the world and its inhabitants as a whole, medical, social, and financial.
So, without further a due, we are proud to announce, a partial merger between SI and MI, which will mostly go about electronics, as well as a line of prosthetics and other tools to help those with a disability. More project will be soon to follow, but these are the ones we are starting with.
Thank you for your attention, we will now be taking questions.”
Taking a seat next to Harry, with Remus on the other side of Harry, and a newly instated Pepper as CFO on the other side, they answered the questions asked to them by their audience of reporters.
Most of the questions, luckily, stayed on the matter of the merging, and future projects. Some were more personal, but left unanswered, as they tried to find out who the enhanced were in their bubble. One reporter made it look like Tony was leading Harry by his nose into a failed merger, but he was soon disproven by Harry and Remus, and wisely shut up.
Christine was the only one who got a non-merger question asked, if only because they had asked her to ask, as the press conference came to an end, Christine stood to ask her question, a grin on her face, as she gave a nice introduction to her question before turning to Tony, and asking; “So, Mister Stark any comments on the matter of the ‘Iron man’?”
Tony looked at her, before glancing at Harry and Pepper, and smirking, “the truth is, I am Iron Man.”
Chapter 16: Ironman 2
I wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to those of you who don’t celebrate!
Have this little gift from me, an extra chapter outside the usual posting days!
After that press conference, and the reaction this caused, he could say he didn’t mind having an evening where they went out to eat, just him, Pepper, Happy and Harry. After all, they had managed to clean up after Stane, most of his dealings had been destroyed, and the safety of people in those areas once again free, instead of living in fear about the terrorist on their doorstep.
He had never forgotten what the apparent leader of the Ten Rings had told him, that the person holding Stark Weapons was the biggest player on the field.
He wanted to take that advantage from people who hadn’t used his weapons fer the betterment of people, or a country. Most of the shipments he had found, or even intercepted, had been on route to known terrorist groups, who wouldn’t be doing this to help their people.
He shook his head and enjoyed the evening out with his friends. Looking at the other dark haired man seated next to him, he was happy to have found this man, even without the bound they had with Lady Death.
Ever since he had met the other men, he had felt lighter, that he mattered, that there were people who wouldn’t be fooled by the things they had heard from the media, who gave the benefit of the doubt. Even without knowing that he was a favoured of a primordial being, it helped him keep perspective.
Even now, he knew he needed to start doing something to exchange the palladium core in his arc reactor, and before he might just try to do this on his own. But right now, he knew he needed help, with Harry being the person he trusted to help with this.
As they got out of the restaurant, he asked the Brit if he could come to his place for a bit, that he needed help with something.
Harry looked at him a little funny, which made him smile, Tony Stark was indeed not the person without a plan, or who needed a lot of help. But he nodded, saying their goodbyes to Pepper and Happy, who took the company car to Pepper’s apartment.
Harry, meanwhile, led Tony to his car and drove towards the Black mansion, to talk over what he needed help with.
Once inside the mansion, Tony looked up to his phone, getting a notification that JARVIS was shut off from his own house. Frowning, he had half a mind to just up and check it out. But Harry made him wait, after all, this person most likely wanted a direct shot at Tony, but he was at the Black mansion, and as such safe at this moment.
Tony sighed, but nodded, Harry had a point, after all JARVIS had his server in SI’s mainframe that existed, he would be fine even if he were shut down for a moment. He was safe at his friend’s house, where no one could just enter because of the wards.
Harry tilted his head at him, “what is it you need help with?”
Tony buttoned down the shirt he was wearing, showing Harry his chest, which had dark lines showing coming from the arc reactor.
“It’s poisoning you.”
Tony nodded, “I know this is different for us, but I still want to find a solution for this. So, do you think you can help me?”
Before Harry could answer, a cold swept through the room, making them both look up at the figure now standing behind them.
“My Merchant, My Master. This I can help with.”
Both of them hummed and looked at her.
“My Merchant, your father figured out a new element to use in the arc reactor. You would need his model of the Stark Expo from 1974, he hid in there for you to find later.”
Tony blinked a few times, “in the Stark expo model?”
Lady Death nodded, “at the time he discovered it, there were no methods to make it, or to synthesise it. You can, and you should, as soon as possible.”
Harry narrowed his eyes at Lady Death, “something is coming?”
Lady Death nodded, “it is nothing you cannot handle, but it would be better if My Merchant is not suffering from heavy metal poisoning. Also, the person in your home, My Merchant, does not mean any harm.”
Harry and Tony looked at each other, nodding, before taking the car to Tony’s home. Once inside, they did find JARVIS on non-active. They rebooted him first, before making their way to the living room, where a person was waiting for them.
“That is quite the announcement, Mr. Stark.”
Tony narrowed his eyes at the man, while Harry had recognized him as someone Kingsley had told him about. While Tony was still processing, Harry spoke.
“Nick Fury, or is it still Nickolas Shackbolt?”
The man looked at Harry, shocked, “so, Kinglsey wasn’t lying when he said you had moved to the America.”
Harry scoffed, “as if you didn’t know. I know you’re the director of SHIELD, and what spy organisation doesn’t know every person that comes in and out of the country. Especially one such as me.”
Nick grimaced, “that was flawed on my part.”
Tony answered, “just a bit. Why are you here.”
To both their astonishment, he pitched his superhero team to them, where he wanted Earth to have an extra defence force for when they were invaded again. Tony and Harry looked at each other, before looking at Fury.
“Send us both the details, and we’ll consider it. Can’t promise a full-time time commitment, though, as we both have our companies to consider.”
Fury nodded, “that’s all I ask. Even as consultant both of you could help us more than of the others.”
Tony tilted his eyebrow, “the others?”
Fury nodded, “I’ll send you a list of people being considered to be on the Avenger initiative.”
Tony frowned, but nodded as Fury walked past him.
“One last thing, next time just come through the front door, and stay away from my AI.”
Fury nodded, giving a salute before leaving.
After Fury had left, Harry filled in Tony on what he knew on the one-eyed spy. He was the head of the organisation called SHIELD, which was the same organisation Coulson was part of, they dealt with threats on a global scale, or extra-terrestrial ones. They had been founded by Howard Stark and Margaret Carter, after Word War II, back then to deal with the threat that had been a left over of Hydra. As well as to look for Captain America.
Harry shrugged as he said, “Kingsley said he had family in the organisation, Nick has been in it for a long time, and probably also knew your father. But anyway, they operate in the shadows, and with us accepting to look into the Avenger Initiative, they won’t send someone in to spy on you.”
Tony hefted an eyebrow, “why would they spy on me?”
Harry looked at his friend, “Tony, seriously, you’re a civilian who designed a suit that could act like a one man army. Of course, they’d be watching you, if only to be on scene the moment you turned to a darker path. I know you won’t, but they won’t. They just see a billionaire, who until a few weeks ago was known for being the best weapon maker in the world, only for you to make an armour decked out in more weapons than the standard tanks.”
Tony hummed, “you have a point there.”
Harry continued, “with you letting the world know you made the suit, be prepared to get asked from all sides if it’s for sale.”
Tone scowled, “I won’t sell it, but I do plan on making one for Rhodey, and maybe Pepper, if she wants to, so I can at least placate the military.”
Harry nodded, “that would be a strategic move, even if it’s just Rhodey, he is an airman, which will get the army as a whole off your back. I would add in a clause that all upgrades, maintenance and other things pertaining Rhodey’s suit have to go through you.”
Tony grinned, “way ahead of you, sweet cheeks, I already drafted the contract and had Pepper check it, I plan on letting Rhodey read it over as soon as I get a hold of them.”
Harry blushed at the name Tony gave him but found that he didn’t mind. They had been growing closer over the months, even more so after the reveal from Lady Death, and Tony’s return from Afghanistan. He would see where this goes, he was happy with the pace it took.
He nodded, “I just heard that Hammer got signed on as the new supplier for arms to the military, and I know you wouldn’t want him to get his fingers on your stuff.”
Tony pulled a face, “after everything that happened at the gala, he still got a weapon’s deal with the military.”
Harry nodded, “he claims to have a way to build suits like yours, just more of the drone kind, as to be able to send those to war zones, instead of people, and risking losing lives.”
Ton frowned, “that sounds fishy, as far as I know I’m the only one capable of making something similar to the Iron Man armour.”
Harry nodded, “I know, and I’m sure I can get a few people to look into it, I just wanted to let you know. As we both dislike Hammer, and don’t want him to get away with adjusting Rhodey’s armour or using your designs in this plan of him.”
Tone scoffed, “that’s an understatements, we both hate him after that one gala, where he implied you were a hooker. Not to mention the constant measuring thing he has going on with me.”
Harry snorted, “maybe he’s just feeling insecure, and wants to measure himself to the greatest on the market, not that he gets even close, but you know, he can try.”
Tony grinned, “you think I’m the greatest?”
Harry nodded, suddenly shy, “I think you’re amazing, and very smart and sweet, and nothing at al like the media depicts you. You can be a bit arrogant, but you deserve to be, with the things you have accomplished, and the things you want to accomplish. I… I am very happy to have met you, Tony.”
Tony just grinned, wrapping his arms around the other man’s waist, “so, where does this leave us?”
Harry hummed as he rested his head against Tony’s, “I don’t know, I like the way we’re gravitating towards one another, and I like this pace we have going on. I want to keep going at that and see where we find ourselves.”
Tony grinned, and tightened his arms around Harry, “does this mean I can kiss you?”
Harry smiled, “yes, it does.”
They gravitated towards each other, their first meeting nothing more than just a press of their lips, but it felt like so much more. Even with such a short meeting, both of them could feel the whole sparks and fireworks routine happening.
As they parted, they looked at each other, with smiles on their lips, and stars in their eyes.
“I’m going to do that again.”
As he said it, Tony pressed close again, his lips finding Harry’s again, pressing against them much longer, although he kept it to that. He respected Harry’s wish to take it slow. He might have had experience, but he didn’t think Harry had a lot of that. And he cared to much about to Brit to even try and scare him away.
Not after he was feeling so comfortable with him, like he always had seen Edwin and Ana Jarvis be, separate persons, but also extensions of their partner. That’s what he wanted, and was quite sure, he could have with Harry, so a slower pace it was.
They exchanged several kisses, before both went their own ways, Tony to tinker on some new schematics for the Iron Man Armor – and to see what he could dig up from the ’74 expo. Harry to go home and sleep, he would have a busy day at the office tomorrow, with hiring new people now that MI was expanding their departments because the merger with SI was such a success.
Normally Tonks would handle the hiring process, but Teddy had gotten ill, so she was staying at home. He’s told her he’d take over and do the first interviews with prospecting employees.
Tony had gotten a hold of Rhodey and asked the man to come by his house. He had something for his best friend, which would also please the Higher ups in the Military.
Intrigued, the other man had given this message to the brass and was allowed to take leave to go and visit his best friend, curious, as were his superiors, as to what the genius would give him that would also please the higher ups.
He had an idea, but quickly dismissed it, there was no way that Tony would just give him a suit.
Once at Tony’s Malibu mansion, his best friend sat him down, and put a contract in front of him.
Arching one eyebrow, he looked at the genius, “What’s this?”
Tony just grinned, “read it first, honeybear.”
Rhodey snorted but took the contract and went through it. He could recognize Tony’s way of putting things, with some alterations made no doubt by Pepper. As he got to the end of the multiple page contract, he looked his best friend in the eyes.
“Is this for real?”
Tony nodded, “I’m done with making weapons, but I also know that if I were to keep this technology for myself only, I’d have a court case within a few months – especially with his effective the suit has been proven.
I don’t plan on making multiple copies, maybe one more for Pepper. But anyway, I trust you with a suit, and I know the brass trust you – so me and Harry thought it would be a great idea to give you one of your own.”
Rhodey’s eyebrow arched again, a grin on his face, “me and Harry?”
Tony huffed, but the smile on his face betrayed him, “yeah, me and Harry. Anyway, Harry told me that Hammer got the contract with the military, so anyway, its why I put in that only I handle maintenance, and upgrades and the like – I don’t trust him and neither does Harry, I don’t want his hands on my tech.”
Rhodey shrugged, “I don’t see anything wrong with that, I need to get permission from the brass though. Do you mind if I call them?”
Waving a hand, Rhodey called his superiors, JARVIS making sure to put the conversation on the house system, so it was on speaker, and Tony could hear everything that was said, and answer any questions directed to him.
To say that the brass was jumping in their seats, was putting it mildly, they were on cloud 9, to have a suit for their own mission, for as long Rhodey could fly it. They also agreed to all the clauses Tony put in contract and told Rhodey to sign right away.
Ending the call with his superiors, Rhodey took the contract Tony had given him and signed it, Tony taking it after that and signing too. JARVIS made sure to scan it in before Tony gave it to Rhodey for him to file at the military.
Grinning at his best friend, “want to go and choose the colours? I can get JARVIS to have this painted before you go back to base.”
Like a kid in a candy store, Rhodey followed Tony down to the lab, where his suit, HIS suit, was laid out in all the parts, giving him a chance to also look it over.
Tony might be the genius between the two of them, but he had still graduated MIT with quite the grades, at a normal pace too. So, looking over this piece of technology, was great to see. While he knew why Tony didn’t make weapons anymore, the fact that he wanted to owe up to those people that had been hurt, killed, or forced to flee their houses because of this weapons and wanted to clean up after himself told him a lot about his best friend.
He’d already knew Tony was not at all like the media depicted him, but the genius also had a habit of hiding who he really was, in fear of being taken advantage off – as some had done before.
But gifting his best friend a multi-million armoured suit, to placate the military, and probably to be sure he had backup he could trust, was nice anyway you looked at it.
Nodding, Rhodey looked at Tony, “this looks great Tones, Can I look at the specs too?”
Tony nodded, “choose a colour scheme first, so JARVIS can start painting.”
Humming, Rhodey asked for a grey and blue colour scheme, kind of like the colours of the US military uniforms. It would also help to camouflage him, contrary to Tony’s bright red and gold suit.
Nodding, they decided on the colours and let JARVIS get start painting. While the AI was doing that, Tony pulled up the specifications of Rhodey’s suit on one of his hollow tables, letting the other look them over, ask questions, and have requests for the weaponry in and on the suit.
As they sat upstairs in the living room with something to drink, Rhodey turned to Tony.
“That you don’t like Hammer, I understand, but what happened that Harry doesn’t like the man?”
Tony grinned, before telling the other just what had happened between them at the first gala Harry had gone to. Which also explained how it was that Hammer, despite having a sizable fortune, wasn’t invited to high class events anymore. After all, doing something like that to someone who outclassed you several times over, was social suicide.
Rhodey had choked at hearing that, “he said what to Harry?”
Tony nodded, “indeed, Pepper put him on his place soon after, and I was once again reminded why she is one of my best friends. Not to forget Harry, and I, we had this instant connection. I kept some distance, just wanting friends to start with. Because you know, that had been known to be a ploy to get something out of me.”
Rhodey grinned, “but Harry isn’t like that.”
Tony shook his head, “Pepper told me his worth once, and it is almost double of mine, so I don’t worry he’s out for my money. And us working together, came because we both wanted more – but MI is more focused on the enhanced, while SI makes great leaps in electronics, and hopefully also in other departments with this partial merger.”
Rhodey hummed, “so it was to further both SI and MI, not because he wanted to ride on your coattails.”
Tony shook his head, “not at all, he takes this very serious, and puts a lot of time in his projects. He never missed a deadline, and more than not, he comes over with ideas to improve both his own products, as well as mine. I don’t think he wanted to take advantage of me in any way.”
Rhodey nodded, “I already knew that to be honest, Tones, the man really likes you.”
Tony grinned, “yeah, I figured that out too. The feeling is mutual, by the way. We had a talk about it yesterday.”
Rhodey arched an eyebrow, “really now?”
Snorting, Tony grinned, “enough fishing, Platypus, we plan on taking it slow, and let this natural attraction we have led us to wherever we go. Keeping it quiet too, for now, we did kiss a couple of times yesterday though.”
Rhodey grinned, “I’m happy for you, man, you deserve this. A chance at happy, without keeping watch that the other person is trying to take advantage of that. I wish you both the best.”
Beaming at his best friend, “Thanks, sugarplum.”
They enjoyed their day together, with Tony helping Rhodey suit up for the first time soon after the paintjob was done. The stars in the airman’s face were enough to make Tony smile.
When Rhodey had left, suit flying back to the airbase, with Tony promising to get his car back to him as soon as possible, the genius took a moment to make a mental to-do list.
He needed to get that model of the Stark expo of ’74, all the other things could wait for a bit.
If what Lady Death were true, not that he doubted it, the model would hold the secret of a new element his father discovered, and which would, or could, be compatible with the arc reactor and as such solve his heavy metal poisoning problem.
Looking it us, he saw that it was in storage in SI HQ, so he could go and get it the next day, when he went in to have a meeting with Pepper, as his new CFO she was doing a terrific job, taking some things out of his hands, and helping with others, like the well-oiled machine they had been before.
He believed his father might have discovered an element before, but as he had been told, the technology to synthesise this element wouldn’t be available, not even to a man like Howard Stark. Once again proving that he, Tony, had taken SI beyond what Howard had wanted, or dreamed it to be.
Even with this element, who knows what steps could be taken to use this is electronics, or in technological advancements, or maybe even medical ones.
He couldn’t wait to find out, the moment he rediscovered it, and could synthesise it.
Harry on the other hand, had quite the day so far, with him stepping up to take over Dora’s job, while she was at home taking care of a sick Teddy.
He had to give it to his aunt, for the way she had been able to deal with this, before. Part of the applicants didn’t turn up or turned up late without any reason.
Others turned up solemnly to see him, and weren’t even looking for a job, or too young to be hired, making him sigh once again. He didn’t get it; he was a new player on the market – and maybe they wanted to get to know him – but some of these people were approaching stalkerish behaviour.
It took him until the afternoon to filter out all those who hadn’t shown up (their resumes were kept in the event they ever applied again, as to ask about it – they didn’t need someone on board who didn’t show up or didn’t have the human decency to let the company they were applying at that they wouldn’t be coming), those only coming to this job day to catch a glimpse of him (which didn’t help that today of all days was the day he’d take over from Dora), and the last remaining group: the actual candidates.
They needed several new people on board, with the was their production had grown since the announcement they would be working together with Stark Industries.
So far, he had a group of promising college students, who were looking for an internship, but with most of them being enhanced, or closely related to an enhanced, they didn’t have that much luck with other companies – while he, and MI, was happy to take them on.
He had told them that and asked them to come back the following week to get a tour, and to get introduced to their supervisor with whom hours had to be arranged. They would even get paid for the internship hours, even if it were in the lower category in terms of pay.
A few promising others, where for desk jobs around the company, he needed an extra hand at the reception, and he wanted at least 2 more accountants working for him. The last job was for his personal assistant.
Four women, and three men had been chosen from the initial applicants and asked to come back for a second interview the following week, when Dora was back, and their future department heads could be present too.
One applicant however, had him sighing, one Natalie Rushman, who he asked to stay for a second interview right that moment. The smile she gave made it look like she was confident she would be getting the job of PA right this moment.
The moment his door closed, however, Harry looked at her with a smirk on his face.
“Did Fury actually think I wouldn’t notice an agent trying to sneak in?”
Her face changed, a look of irritation on her face, as she regarded him, “he said I was welcome to try. I had been expecting someone else here today – not you.”
Harry shrugged, “Dora would have been able to spot you too, just so you know. Kindly leave.”
Nodding stiffly the woman left, prompting Harry to text Tony and Pepper to let them know that Fury, or someone else in SHIELD was trying to infiltrate. He got texts back that both of them would look into it, and a thank you for the heads up.
Tony also texted that everything had gone well with Rhodey, which made Harry happy for his partner.
Happy New Year everyone! I wish you all the best for 2021.
To start off the year amazingly, have a new chapter!
As Tony got the text from Harry he had to snort, Harry would notice a spy, or a SHILD agent, a while away. Not only that, but the only ones they had met – Fury and Coulson – had left a good impression, with this Nathalia Rushman character, Fury had only put them on edge.
They had both agreed to be on stand-by should anything happen that needed enhanced individuals, as part-time forces of course. But now, with an attempt of espionage, Tony didn’t really want to take chances and asked JARVIS to start looking up everything he could find pertaining to SHIELD.
Making a note to look at it tomorrow, Tony went to his bedroom, he needed sleep – as he knew, for sure, that figuring out the ‘new’ element, or rediscovering the element his father had, would take him some time.
Seeing as it impacted his health, however, he wanted that to be done as soon as possible. Most of his on-going project were going well, and those that needed work would be passed by him anyway, either by Pepper, JARVIS or by Harry.
For now, he needed rest, he could feel the heavy metal poisoning going on, even if the more severe effects hadn’t started yet, he was glad he had other people looking out for him. If he hadn’t, who knows what would have happened. He would be a lot less rational about all this, that’s for sure.
Might have even promoted Pepper to CEO, thinking he’d die before the end of the year. Or he’d do something stupid like go to Monaco to drive in a F1 race, or other things like that.
Shaking his head, Tony got ready for bed. After telling the bots and JARVIS goodnight, and texting Harry, he slept, for once since his return from Afghanistan, without any nightmares.
If he had opened his eyes, he would have seen Lady Death standing over him, making sure he had a good night’s sleep. After all, her Merchant needed to be in his best shape to change the course of history tomorrow. With him being healthy sooner than would have been in another universe, he also would be able to make use of the new element he synthesised.
As her Merchant slept, she disappeared and appeared in front of her Master.
Harry, having expected Lady Death, looked at her.
“You’ve been dropping an awful lot of hints recently, any particular reason?”
Lady Death didn’t answer right away, but when she did, she said, “the events that I have warned you about, they are coming closer. I have seen other scenarios of this time play – and feel like these changes I nudge you both to will be very beneficial in the long run.”
Harry blinked a few times, “I thought you couldn’t influence the universes as they were?”
Lady Death nodded, “I can’t, but I can give hints or clues to you, My Master, My Merchant, or My Champion – and influence it all indirectly.”
Harry hummed, “so you’re making use of us Mortals who have your favour to change the course of this universe.”
Lady Death nodded, “if you hadn’t come to America, I fear I would have enclosed my Merchant in my arms a whole lot sooner than I would have wanted.”
This made Harry frown, “so there are universes that we never met.”
Lady Death nodded, before adding, “there are those where there is no MI, and no wizarding world connected to this one. You must understand My Master, that for every choice ever made, another was also made in a different universe. It is the art of making all the right ones, that dictates the continuous survival of a universe within the Multiverse.”
“So, you have multiple Masters, Merchants, or Champions?”
Lady Death shook her head, “I have only one of each, all of whom resident in this universe – per chance. There have been others, before you, who have joined me in the realm outside the Multiverse as my Reapers, but inside the Multiverse, only one of my connected can exist at the same time.
There have been others who might have become a connected, but they made a different choice, or the world around them was shaped differently, leading to them not making the same choice you made, because that wasn’t a choice to make to them.”
Harry hummed, “can I get an example of that?”
Lady Death thought about it for a moment, before nodding, “there is a universe were you never accepted the title of My Master, and where you in time Married Ginny and had 3 kids with her. In this universe, there is no Tony Stark, or SHIELD, or even enhanced, except the magical community.
In another universe, there is no Magical community, but there is a Tony Stark, who ends up marrying Pepper Potts, and having a daughter – Morgan. He also loses his life, in the battle against the Mad Titan.”
This had Harry cringing, to think that some version of him married someone who looked a little too much like his mother.
Lady Death rested a hand on his shoulder, “they did have a very different life, to the one you had here, My Master, never forget that you become because of what happened to you. The same thing is happening to them – no universe within the Multiverse is the same.”
Harry nodded, and banished the thoughts he had about this to a far end of his mind, he lived here now, in this universe, as the Master of Death, and with a great partner, or Boyfriend, they hadn’t decided on that, who he would support in whatever happened next.
“So, in the coming months, things will happen that will kickstart our introduction to this Mad Titan?”
Lady Death nodded, “one of his brainwashed minions will arrive on Earth, to conquer it in his name. This must not happen.”
Harry nodded, “alright, I think that can be prevented. What about SHIELD?”
Lady Death once again waited for a moment before she spoke, “SHIELD will meet its demise from an inside enemy, but I cannot reveal more at this moment. They are not a priority right now, My Master. What is, however, is making sure My Merchant doesn’t get ill, or more ill, by the heavy meatal poisoning already going on in his body. He needs that new element.”
Harry nodded, before he looked over his schedule for the coming weeks and cleared it as much as possible. He also texted Pepper and Remus to let them in on what they were doing, and if possible, to take over, for a little while so he and Tony could concentrate on this new element, and whatever came forth from that.
He got two texts back, from both the CFOs that they would do their best to delay or reschedule any meetings coming up in the next week. After all, both of them, and everyone in the companies wanted their CEOs to be al healthy as could be. Especially after everything that was boing done for them by said companies.
Meanwhile, several people of the MI IT department, were doing their best in cracking Hammer Tech’s servers, to get into whatever it was the man was doing. After the public insult heh ad given their boss, none of the MI employees were that big of a fan of him.
So, when one of those had noticed the shipments coming into his company, as well as the big promises he made to government and military alike, they smelt something fishy going on, and set out to discover just what that was.
On the SI side of things, JARVAS was assisting the people from MI in discovering what Hammer was up to, as well as searching anything and everywhere for mentions off SHIELD and what it was, they were doing.
On the other side of the country, Justin Hammer couldn’t contain his glee as he was contacted by several of his spies, who told him of someone else able to create an arc reactor, not unlike the one Tony Stark used to power the Iron Man suit.
If he could get his hands on that technology, and make it weaponised, the Army would love him even more than they loved Stark. Even if the man had thrown the army a bone, by giving his best friend James Rhodes a suit of his own.
But now, with his new business partner, Ivan Vanko, he would finally be able to surpass Tony Stark, and Stark Industries, and be the headline for the things he did for the US people. Right now, that title went to the coalition between SI and MI, and their amazing technological advancements.
Grinding his teeth, he never forgot how humiliated he was after meeting this supposed English Lord, he didn’t seem to be much, so him working together with Stark, didn’t mean anything good for either of their companies, even if he was the only one who saw it that way.
Once his newest projects were finished, and the military signed on for the suits he would deliver them, there was no reason for Stark to even exist anymore – Leaving Black and Potts to also fade into the background.
He almost rubbed his hands at the anticipation of getting the fame and glory he deserved, after he disposed of Vanko of course, he wouldn’t need the other man once he got what he wanted. Stark would also have to go, if only for the grievances the arrogant bastard had caused him in the past.
Somewhere else in the facility, Vanko was making almost the same plans, in the way that he was also in this to get back at Stark for the man’s father stealing the design of the arc reactor from his father.
Now, while working with this Hammer person, he would have the means, the funds, and the possibility to get revenge on the Stark legacy. Once he had done that, Hammer didn’t mean anything anymore – and by the way the man made his things, once Vanko was through with him, he wouldn’t even be anyone anymore.
Americans were stupid sometimes, but in this case, it only worked in his advantage, and ha would use it to get what he wanted out of it, the end of Tony Stark.
Across JARVIS’ server, as well as the IT department of MI, several files appeared, which they all analyse with precision, if what they had found here was true – it would bring about quite the backlash.
JARVIS, looking over both the search into Hammer Tech, and into SHIELD, would have winced had he been human and capable of wincing. This was disturbing in the truest sense of the word. Sir would have to look through this, together with Mr. Potter, Ms. Potts, and Mr. Lupin, before any other steps could be taken. But steps needed to be taken, and fast at that.
Knowing all he could do now, was to save this information, and already filter through it once, to separate non-interesting information from the interesting parts, he did just that with both searches. SI and MI had a role to play in the future of Earth, that much he knew from the talks Mr. Potter and Sir had, they wouldn’t be hindered especially not by an out-of-date terrorist organisation, or a pair of men with different issues pertaining Sir, or Howard Stark.
As all of this was happening, Lady Death looked over Earth and the little changes she had brought upon by doing what she did. Directing her gaze towards Asgard, she had to hide a wince at what she could see playing there. This would always play out the same way, Odin sadly enough not capable of taking any other decisions than he did in all the other universes in the Multiverses.
She hoped, however, that with her Merchant and her Master close by something could be done about the outcome this time around. For all those caught up in this first phase.
Surprise! Bet you weren’t expecting that as I usually don’t upload on weekends, and unless you read the recent reviews, or you are part of my Discord Channel, you wouldn’t know I was planning to. But today is my birthday (yay, 28 as of today – the 3rd of January).
Enjoy the reading and let me know what you think of it! :D
The following week, Tony made sure to get everything pertaining the 1974 Stark Expo out of storage and had to admit that watching that footage brought with it some nostalgia, almost enough to make him consider building another expo.
Shaking his head, he put it to the back of his mind, there would come a time when the expo could be revived but it would not be now. The most important part was for him to rediscover the element his father had discovered – so he could synthesise it and put it into his reactor.
Halfway through the day, JARVIS let him know that Harry was entering the building, looking up startled, he saw the Brit standing at the door of his workshop, smiling slightly as Tony looked at him.
Telling JARVIS to open the door, he made a mental note to give Harry his own entrance code, so even in the future his partner, boyfriend, soulmate – could get into the workshop on his own, this was after all something for the long run.
Accepting the kiss on his lips, he smiled as the other man sat down next to him.
“So, what are we working with?”
Tony hummed, “I got into the clips stored with the model, got all nostalgic and might revive the Stark expo at some point in the future. But for now, I have everything Lady Death hinted at I would need. I just need to crack the puzzle.”
Harry nodded, looking over the model as it lay on the table, tilting his head to the side and squinting his eyes, “it looks like an atom.”
Tony blinked, before going to stand next to Harry and looking at it the same way he was doing. His mouth opening in a gasp, before he pressed a kiss to Harry’s lips.
“Genius! JARVIS, make me a 3D scan of the model, but lose the pathways, threes and greenery, restaurants, and food stands. Keeping only the pavilions and the centre statue.”
As the AI did just that, Harry went further into the workshop to say hello to U, DUM-E and Butterfingers, leaving Tony to do what Tony did best.
“Now, use the centre piece as the nucleus and arrange the pavilions around it.”
As the AI did that, Tony could only smile as he found the secret to the model, and to the arc reactor.
Harry appeared next to him in the next moment, “did you figure it out?”
Tony nodded, “thanks to you, babe, thanks for that.”
Harry beamed up at him, before looking at the sphere in Tony’s hands, “that’s it?”
Tony nodded, “this is it, now I just need to synthesise it.”
Harry grinned, “well aren’t you lucky I have a miniature particle accelerator at MI that you’re more than welcome to use.”
“You really are the best significant other, ever.”
Harry cocked an eyebrow, “I hope I am your only significant other, Tony.”
The genius grinned, “of course, gorgeous, I wouldn’t want anyone else, not after everything you do for me.”
Harry grinned, “as long as you keep saying things like that, you won’t hear any complaints from me.”
Tony laughed, “good! Now, let’s get to MI, so I hopefully will have enough time so that this heavy metal poisoning isn’t getting any worse.”
Harry nodded, leading Tony to his SUV and driving to the MI HQ, waving at people they passed. Most of the employees at MI, and SI, were used to seeing them together. Making their way to the basement, Harry opened a door at the end of the hallway.
He had been very surprised to find this had been at the basement in HQ, until he found out that this was how they added magic to some particles found in most metals. To use them in the electronics MI produced, to make them resistant to Magic in a way normal electronics weren’t.
And it worked, as they introduced the magic gradually to the atoms making up certain materials, they could use those easily when making their enhanced proof technology. With the element Tony would synthesise now, who knew what they could use it for.
Pepper and Remus looked up when they received a notification of an incoming mail. JARVIS, and the MI IT team as the senders.
Both weren’t together, but still looked at the mail at the same time, seeing the other had gotten the mail as well. Looking over the information they found, their eyebrows climbed upwards on their foreheads.
Both reached for their phones and called the other in a video call.
Pepper looked at her uncle figure, “we aren’t telling them this, not after we cleaned house first. Not only that but Hammer and Vanko need to be caught first, I don’t want either of those men close to Harry, or to Tony.”
Remus nodded, making copies of everything that he had received. Putting them into secure servers they had at Mi, able to withstand even a magical attack.
“Now we just need to think about who we can trust with this information. The files on SHIELD are disturbing, so I don’t know if we can trust them to handle this.”
Pepper grimaced, but nodded, she had liked Coulson, but to know what SHIELD had done in the past, and who had managed to slip through the cracks, it scared her a bit. She always saw HYDRA as a mirror of Voldemort and his Death Eaters, only HYDRA wasn’t shaped by the childhood they had, but their interest in the mythological, and magical, and the need to weaponize that.
If they had managed to find the magical world in the way they wanted to, after they found out about Grindelwald, the world would be in a lot of problems. The fact that aliens, enhanced and the mythical were slowly introduced into the world never would bode well for them if HYDRA managed to weaponize it.
Frowning the both of them came to an impasse with not knowing what they needed to do, in order to protect their family from both two men willing to destroy the Stark legacy, as well as a group of power hungry psychopaths who wanted to take over the world.
Back in MI, Tony and Harry were gaping at the triangle they had put the new element in, the light it gave out was more of an icy white shine, instead of the electric blue the current arc reactor gave out. Without looking around all that much, they put the new heart of the arc reactor in a protective case and drive it back to Malibu, Tony itching to make a new reactor which could house it, solving his problems with the heavy metal poisoning.
Sitting next to Tony as the genius tinkered with the new element he now had, calculating the best casing he could make for it. Several designs had appeared on paper, with some other calculations he had found around it.
At one point, Harry had taken hold of the new element, finding that the core seemed to be absorbing minimal parts of magic that every wizard excreted.
Gaping, Harry turned to Tony and told the other what he noticed, “do you know what this means?”
Tony nodded, “we now have a magic absorbing element, which can be synthesized and looks to be stronger than any other metal on earth, except maybe vibranium.”
“That opens so many possibilities, for SI and MI, but also for the enhanced community.”
Tony nodded, looking up from where he was putting in the data, he needed to have a laser cutter carve out the new casing for his arc reactor, he took a relieved breath.
“I am so happy that I listened to you, and to Lady Death, and didn’t become a reckless suicidal wild card, who knows what would have happened then.”
Harry hummed, “Lady Death parted with some interesting information the last time I saw her.”
As they waited for the laser cuter to be finished, Harry told Tony what Lady Death had told him about the choices made, and the decisions that formed the other universes into the multiverse. When he finished about very different versions of themselves, Tony shuddered, “I love Pepper, but I don’t think I could marry her.”
Harry nodded, “same, she is like my little sister, I wonder what that version of me saw in her that he was happy with such a life.”
Tony shrugged, “I guess things played out differently, and as Lady Death said, we didn’t exist in each other’s universes, so this bond we have here must be to someone else, in their cases Pepper and Ginny.”
Harry bit his lip, but nodded, “well I for one, am happy I am here with you, in this universe. Together we can handle whatever happens.”
Harry hated that he had said that, after everything that had happened when he jinxed it, this also seemed to be one of those moments.
A few days after they made the new casing for the new arc reactor, he and Tony had enjoyed some time off, when Pepper and Remus had sat the both of them down – showing them what Hammer and Vanko were trying to recreate.
They had both confessed to not wanting to bring this to their attention, until after this was cleared up. But with what JARVIS had dug up about SHIELD, or rather their shadow, they didn’t trust the organisation to take care of this without using this as the perfect moment to get to arc reactor technology.
Tony frowned, but understood why Pepper, and Remus, didn’t want to come to them with this.
“Call Rhodey, have him look up why Vanko Sr. was deported, and use that as a warrant to fall into Hammer industries. I don’t know what they have planned, and even if it would benefit the troops, in the hand of a moron like Hammer, it will do more damage than it will do good.”
Pepper nodded, before calling Rhodey and explaining the situation to him. The army man cursed on the phone, telling them he suspected something going on with Hammer, as he kept promising things that no one believed he would be able to deliver. Now he knew how the man though he would be able to do so.
Finding information on Anton Vanko was easier than he thought it was, texting Tony and Pepper after an hour that the man was deported back to Russia when they found out he was double dealing with the Russians and had made plans of selling the arc reactor technology to Russia, doing so, and making an army with it – to give the Russians an edge in the Cold War.
If the army found out Hammer was working together with a Russian spy, or the son of one, he would be dropped sooner than the moron could try to come up with excuses.
With those files, as well as the aerial pictures he got courtesy of JARVIS, Rhodey went to the higher ups, expressing his concerns in what was happening at Hammer industries. As well as the fact that a man who had already had to almost beg to get this gig, was working with a known Russian spy to even his chances with his competitor, who wasn’t even that anymore with the closing of Stark weapon making, he thought it had to be because of some petty reason.
The higher ups of the bras issued a court hearing with Hammer and interrogated him about what they had found.
The man tried to place the blame on Tony, saying the man was trying to cut off his competition. Only for the bras to remind him that SI had stopped manufacturing weapons, so there was no competition on a professional level anymore. This was obviously a personal vendetta, which was not something they wanted to see in their weapons manufacturer.
Hammer was consequently sacked, which made his stocks plummet, and allowed Tony and Harry to buy Hammer industries, keeping the employees working, instead of them having to take the blame for the mistakes Justin Hammer had made.
Vanko, hearing this had raged against Hammer, the two had gotten into a fight – which had blown up part of the factory and killed both of them in the explosion. Many of the people coming over from Hammer industries had thanked Tony and/or Harry for catching them when they were falling. Already letting them know the contracts they had at their companies was leagues better then at HI, making both billionaires shake their heads at the legacy Hammer left behind with his death, al because of his vendetta against them.
Lady Death was watching over her chosen, a sigh leaving her as she saw the God of mischief breaking under the strain the Mad titan put them under. Soon, he would be free – her chosen would make sure of that.
Chapter 20: The Avengers
With the new element in Tony’s, the man’s symptoms vanished, the newly named Starkanium cleaning out all of the damage the palladium had caused.
After that had been done, and with the death of Vanko and Hammer, that was one more worry from their list. The whole HYDRA thing was something they kept an eye out for, but with only files they found while hacking the SHIELD server, none of them saw a reason to start taking counter measures.
For now, they would just keep watching all of this, and act when they found out HYDRA planned on coming back out into the light. SHIELD did do quite a lot of good things, so to put a stop to that, wasn’t something they wanted to do.
Pepper and Remus first didn’t want to hear about it, wanting to project these two men who were doing such great things for the community, both the mundane, as well as the magical. With this new element too, there will be so many ways they could use it.
Pepper was already calculating the numbers, with Remus telling Dora to start recruiting.
Tony, after meeting Remus and Dora, as Harry’s boyfriend this time, had told HR to work with her as well, for all the SI HR department did magnificent work, an enhanced who could change her appearance, to listen to the people coming to ‘work’ for SI or MI, while thy ewer either send by other companies to spy on them, or they came to see the men leading those companies.
SI’s HR had found, as had a lot of other departments, that MI could keep up with them, even if SI had quite a lot more years in the industry, it was refreshing for all of them – with having another company, who worked together to better the world, instead of wanting to steal something of them.
Especially now that SI was getting a building in New York City too.
Tony had pitched the idea to Harry, Dora, and Remus. Telling them that he had grown up in the city and wanted back, but he didn’t want to leave all of SI in LA alone. Harry would be taking over that part and would still be going to LA – looking over SI and MI in that state.
Tony meanwhile wanted to open a tower in NYC, where MI and SI could work from, making it easier for Dora and Remus to still do their work instead of shifting to and from LA and NYC.
It also helped that Harry would be living with Tony, the other man had offered. With the apartment in the tower below them for Andy, Dora, Remus, and Teddy – so all of them would live close by again.
Pepper would also be moving, but not to the tower, Happy still had a house in NYC, so they would be moving there, the two of them – much to the joy of their families. The Weasley boys and their partners had even made it across the pond, just to meet the man that made their little sister so very happy.
After they left, Happy had approached all of them and asked if both of them were okay with him asking Pepper to marry him.
Not that he doubted that he would get their blessing, he confessed that he was glad he got it, from all the Weasley men, as well as from Tony and Harry. He planned on asking her just after they moved to New York City, tarting a new chapter in their lives.
Harry had smiled sadly, telling Happy he was sure he was the best thing that had happened to Pepper in a long while, but to also warn the other man that Pepper would always remember his first fiancé, Colin, a brave man who lost his live by fighting in what he believed.
Happy had just nodded, and told both of them he knew, while none of them knew, Pepper had made all the right steps in being able to tell Happy all that had happened the UK. It was that happening that made him decide he wanted to marry the redhead, after everything that had happened, she was still such a strong woman.
Which lead them to standing here, in what would be Stark Tower in a few more weeks. Most of construction had been done, the interior decorators were busy with making it all, ready to move into.
Tony was also planning on taking the tower off the grid, he had even built an arc reactor in the basement, with Starkanium at its core, to power it all in a nature friendly way. The only thing he needed to do was take them out of the electric network, which would be done after everything was finished.
Taking a hold of Tony’s hand, Harry and he made their way inside of the tower, seeing the floors that would be holding SI and MI workers alike, the SI floors were a blue colour, while MI had red colours. Going up towards their penthouse, Harry smiled as he got out of the elevator.
“Have I thanked you yet for giving me a chance to be here? The manor was getting lonely, and I already spend most of the night close to you anyway. This is a logical step, and I am glad we took it.”
Tony chuckled, “I also wanted to reunite the family, I know you miss Remus, Dora, Andy, and Teddy every week. This way you won’t be missing them so much. With you being the Master of Death, you won’t need as much as sleep as a normal human, same with me – meaning you can make it to LA with plenty of time to work from there. Even more so, even if you don’t want to – you can take an office here and use that for the day. If any of them need you, they know to call you anyway.
Not only that, but I think everyone at both our companies knows that we’re an item. They are just keeping it quiet, to respect our privacy.”
Harry smiled, “I know, but I think it’s cute, that they keep trying to congratulate me on that. Even Carol, I told you about her, right, she called me a week ago to thank me for loaning her the MI attorneys in the court case against her ex-husband. But she also told me she was happy I found love here, and after seeing us together, when he came through the hall of LAX, she saw how happy I was with you.
Even if you’re Tony Stark, she kept telling I shouldn’t let a man who makes me as happy as you do, go.”
Tony grinned, “than I am so very happy, I make you happy, sweetheart, I hops to keep doing that – for a very long time to come.”
Harry grinned, “so, we’re staying here for the weekend, right?”
Tony nodded, grinning too, none of their family knowing they had already moved to NYC, the power of magic on their side. Now he just needed to tell his lover the last surprise.
“That’s the plan, and with tomorrow being a Friday, I thought we could go to Charles’ school and pick up Teddy together with Andy. Or ask Andy if it’s alright we pick him up – Dora and Remus should still be at work at that time.”
Grinning even wider, Harry turned around and pressed his lips to the other man’s.
“Good plan, then?”
Harry nodded, locking their lips again, pulling away to say, “the very best, as I came to expect from you, love.”
Tony just grinned, wrapping his arms around the other’s waist, “you ready to explore every part of this penthouse?”
Harry arched an eyebrow, “who do I get a feeling we won’t get much further than the bedroom.”
Tony leered at him, “because I like exploring you in the bedroom.”
Harry just laughed, but turned and ran to the bedroom, his lover closes on his heels, falling onto the bed in a tangle of limbs, their clothing being pulled off as they kissed heavily. Their coupling after that was just as heated, and full of love.
After, they were laying together in the bed, Harry resting his head on Tony’s shoulder, a small smile on his face at being able to have this.
“I love that you get along so well with my family, Tony, I love you, but I don’t know if I could do so with anyone not able to get along with Remus, Dora, Andy, and Teddy.”
Tony nodded, before pressing a kiss to the other man’s hair, “yeah, I figured that out very soon. Especially with the way you all treat each other. It’s the kind of family I always hoped I would have, but of course my old man didn’t know how to give love to his genius son – only thing he wanted to do was look for a super soldier on ice.”
As he said that, a cold spread over the room, looking up, they saw Lady Death standing there. If they felt embarrassed, which they didn’t, both Tony and Harry would pull up the blankets, instead both of them let the sheets pool at their waists.
“Lady Death, normally you wait after we were intimate.”
Lady Death nodded, “normally I would, but I came here to warn the both of you. The first phase of Thanos’ plan will start in 2 weeks. He found someone close to this planet that knows how Earth, or Terra, works, breaking his mind so he would lead an assault on it.”
Harry and Tony grimaced, “so we’re dealing with a prisoner of war who will act under coercion?”
Lady Death nodded, happy that her Master and her Merchant picked up on that. As she knew they would, they would look for those signs other would miss, making it so that one of her favourite beings in the multiverse, as well as the parent of a deity which embodied her will on his plane, would be able to be saved – instead of what happened to them in other universes.
“You should pay attention to their eyes, in particular. You’ll know what I mean when you see them.”
Harry and Tony nodded, “thank you for the heads up, My Lady.”
Lade Death nodded, “this is all I can do for now, but I know you both will make sure everything will go the way it needs to go.”
“We will try out best, to make sure it goes like that.”
Lady Death nodded one last time, before she finished, leaving her chosen to enjoy their evening together.
The next day, about an hour before school let out at Xavier’s institute for gifted youngsters, Tony and Harry ware driving to the school with the Brit’s SUV. They had called Andy and told her they had already moved and wanted to get teddy from school.
The older woman had agreed, a smile on her face, and had called the school to let them know that Teddy’s uncle would come to collect him.
Tony in turn reached out to Charles to let the man know it would be them. After meeting Remus and Dora, the telepath knew Tony and Harry were on the approved people to come and collect Teddy at any time.
The school’s headmaster had given his agreement and asked them to step into their office when they were close by. Both of them had agreed.
Walking up the field around the school, some of the older teens were gaping at seeing them on the school grounds. Teddy when he saw them pushed past his classmates to wrap his arms around Harry.
“Uncle Harry, Uncle Tony, you came!”
Tony laughed, as he tousled the boy’s hair, “sure we did, kid, we wanted to surprise you today. And your grandma let us come and pick you up.”
Teddy beamed up at them, taking both their hands as he walked back to Jean, who was smiling at them.
“I hear a congratulations is in order.”
Tony and Harry beamed at her, “thanks, Jean. Is it alright if we go and see Charles now?”
Jean nodded, mentioning them to go past her. All of them knew that if they didn’t find the headmaster’s office, Teddy could take them there, or Charles would guide them there. Both of them were looking forward to seeing what Charles wanted from them.
As it appeared, Charles wanted to ask them if either, or both, of them wanted to come to the school at another moment to give something like a business class, as well as to talk to them about letting some of the older kids intern at SI or MI.
Seeing as both their companies already had an internship program, and were opened to accepting teens who were enhanced, this would be a great way for them to gather experience, and maybe even get a job after college. Especially with an internship at MI or SI on their resume, would increase their chances later on in life.
So, without any trouble, Harry and Tony agreed to do that, discussing some days in the near future that would fit one, or both of them.
Charles smiled as they said goodbye, Teddy holding onto Harry’s hand as he kept on talking about what had happened at school today. Harry and Tony just smiled, both at the kid between them, as well as each other.
Making their way to the house Remus, Dora and Andy lived in, Teddy ran inside and hugged his grandmother, babbling a mile a minute about school, Harry and Tony picking him up, his friends, the teachers, and the things they would be doing next week.
Andromeda just smiled and entertained the little boy, sneaking glances at her nephew and his boyfriend, she had been so happy to hear that the Black heir had found love. After everything that had happened to him these last years, he was one of the ones most deserving of it.
The fact that his partner was also wealthy, and just wanted Harry for who he was, instead of his money, fame, or status. In fact, Anthony Stark had his own fame in America, had been born to one of the most successful businessmen – and had taken that company to a whole new level.
Seeing them together brought a smile to her face, and warmth in her heart, knowing that the Potters, as well as Sirius would have loved the other man. The man that managed to make their (god)son smile again and enjoy life.
“What are you smiling about, Andy?”
Andromeda shook her head, “nothing, Harry, just happy to be here close to my family. As well as seeing you laugh again – it has been a while…”
Tony grinned, “I try to bring him joy every day, I know he deserves it.”
Andy nodded, once again enjoying the way Tony did everything, he could, to make Harry smile, and enjoy life, as well as concentrate on himself instead of trying to carry the whole world on his shoulders.
When Remus and Dora entered, looking slightly tired from the trip back from LA, Harry and Tony grinned at each other, before turning to the married couple.
“So, how would you both like to only have to travel 30 minutes to work, which would still be in the same time zone?”
Dora and Remus blinked a few times, here looking at them, “the tower is finished?”
Tony nodded, “we already spend the night there, your apartments are ready too, they just need some more furniture and paint, but I thought we’d be able to get that done this weekend.”
Teddy cheered, he knew that the house they were in wasn’t totally theirs, they rented it so he could attend Professor X’s school. With his family living once again together in the tower Tony had been building, his parents would be there again when he came home from school and would be able to come and get him from school too.
He knew why they couldn’t, or more correctly, knew they would be able to – as Uncle Harry was their boss, but they didn’t want to take advantage of that.
Remus and Dora smiled, “I guess it wouldn’t hurt, and I look forward to that. To living together again. It’s really finished?”
Tony nodded, “well, almost, I still need to pull it off the grid, but I wanted to do that this weekend too. Maybe so Teddy can finally see Iron Man take off in front of him.”
Teddy cheered again, after finding out Tony was Iron Man, his uncle’s boyfriend was his favourite person on the planet. Other children at the institute didn’t believe he actually knew Iron Man, but after today when uncle Tony and Uncle Harry came and picked him up, none of them could doubt that.
Their Saturday was spend going from store to store to make sure everything was brought for the Tower, so they could spend the Sunday decorating, painting and just making it their new home.
With their apartments having taken priority, the business parts from SI and MI wouldn’t move in until next week, but that didn’t matter. All of them could live here already, with Dora and Remus taking time to get their offices in order, going between LA and NYC for now, to get everything they needed to New York.
When Tony took off them the landing platform on the tower, Teddy looking on and cheering as the American took a lap around the tower before he made his way to the energy supply line in the bay.
Harry put in an earbud and tapped it a few times.
Tony’s voice came from the other side, “I can hear you loud and clear, love, I’m going underwater now, I’ll hear you when I put her off of the grid.”
Harry hummed, before turning to the tablet he was holding, looking over several things on MI, such as the stock prices, new plans he had gotten on mail, or even just the ratings of their products.
A hum in his ear made him take his attention off of the tablet, “Are we ready to light her up, babe?”
Another hum, followed by, “yeah, I took her off the grid, you just need to turn the switch.”
Laughing, Harry opened another app on his tablet, “are we ready for this, JARVIS?”
The other British voice sounded, “we are, sir, I ran all the numbers. You are free to turn the switch.”
Humming, Harry turned a button on the app, putting the tower from grid power to power from in built in arc reactor. The light turned off, before it went back on again, JARVIS adjusting the settings, to make sure the light intensity was the same as it was before.
Looking around their living room, Harry spoke into the earpiece, “how does it look from the outside?”
Tony scoffed, before saying, “like Christmas, but more… us.”
Harry snorted, before laughing out loud.
“I can imagine, it looks great then?”
Tony hummed, “it does.”
Harry looked outside the window, seeing the little light that was Tony approaching the Tower. Teddy had already been put to sleep, Remus and Dora retreating to their own apartment, with Andy following to her own apartment linked to the one Remus, Dora, and Teddy were in.
The moment Tony touched down; Harry got a notification from JARVIS that Agent Coulson was on the line for both of them. He could hear Tony telling JARVIS to tell the agent that they were busy right now, to let the man call them back.
Harry had to chuckle as Coulson made an override on JARVIS’ systems, which the AI most likely allowed, but still. Hearing Tony enter from the balcony, while telling Coulson to speak to the real-life decoy of Tony Stark.
Looking up when the elevator opened to let Coulson in their apartment, Harry frowned.
“JARVIS, I really hope Coulson did an override, seeing as it’s not just us in the tower. No offence to you, Coulson, but we don’t know you that well and my godson is running around here too.”
Coulson help up his hands, “I did an override, and we knew you weren’t the only ones in the tower. We checked, but this is very important.”
Harry and Tony looked at each other, before looking at Coulson, “What can be so important?”
Giving them a tablet, both of them looked it over, seeing very different people on the screen, as well as a blue cube thing – one that seemed to be stolen recently.
“We had a contact with an alien force a few night ago, it killed, or took some of our agents, seemingly without their will. Not only that, but they managed to get into a secure facility, and managed to leave while we were just standing there. The artifact that this identity took is something we would like to receive as soon as possible.”
Harry and Tony looked over everything on the tablet, looking at Coulson as he finished talking, looking back at the tablet again.
Harry sighed, “I’ll go and talk to Remus, can you call Pepper that we both won’t be in next week. I think this will take priority now.”
Turning to Coulson he added, “I take it Fury asked you to come and get us, to help with this?”
Coulson nodded, “we’re counting on the both of you, mostly because we need everyone we have on board.”
Looking at Harry, he added, “we might also need someone with knowledge of magical, and the mythical. As the entity that attacked us was verified as Loki of Asgard.”
Harry blinked a few times, before looking at Tony, communicating that they needed to talk to Lady Death as soon as possible, especially as she had hinted that something had been happened in Asgard, which was linked to the Mad Titan making his way to Earth.
“I’ll just go and let the family know, Tony, can you look over the information we got from Coulson. Come on, Phil, I’ll walk you out.”
Phil nodded, “you know where to reach us, don’t you, Stark.”
Tony nodded absentmindedly as the elevator closed, making Coulson turn to Harry.
“We don’t know what is going on, but this is something we aren’t prepared for. We’ll be happy to see you both come by, for whatever way you can help – as I said before, we’ll need everyone we can get.”
Harry hummed, “I take it we won’t be the only ones coming to help then, seeing as this is something we didn’t expect to happen.”
Coulson nodded, “yes, we’re calling in everyone we can reach, and who are willing to work together with us.”
Harry grimaced, “yeah, I heard SHIELD doesn’t have the best reputation with the enhanced community.”
Coulson nodded, “yeah, sadly enough, we’re happy we have you both as part-time consultants, which will make all our jobs that much easier. We have no idea what is coming from this, the only thing we do know is that it’s something new, but not something good.”
Harry sighed, “We’ll have to wait and see, I guess. The best thing we can do is prepare with everything we have and hope for the best.”
Remus and Pepper reacted as both of them knew they would react. They both sighed, before agreeing to take over some of their CEO duties, while they went off to save the world. Both of them had their own brand of saving people thing, which was something they had to live with.
Back into the apartment, they called out to Lady Death, asking her to come and see them.
“I take it, it has begun.”
Looking at the entity as she appeared, her eyes for what they could see appearing to be looking around miserably.
“You have found Loki then.”
Harry nodded, “we were informed he managed to get into a secure base and get away with some artifacts, as well as some of the SHIELD agents on duty there. I am guessing the Norse God was taken up by the Mad Titan, and persuaded, or even brain washed to come here and do whatever it is they wanted to get done here.”
Lady Death sighed, “he was brainwashed, you should look at his eyes.”
As this was the second time Lady Death had mentioned Loki’s eyes, and them looking at them. Looking at each other, they made it a point to do so – to make sure they made it their own project to look at the Norse God’s eyes, and whatever Lady Death wanted to see.
“I wish you luck with what is happening, My Merchant, My Master.”