It all started off harmless, little things that were explained away quickly and easily. But it all just didn’t add up; well Tony now knew that it all did add up and his mind just couldn’t process all the apparent anomalies. Then it was all waved in his face.
Clint and Harry’s house was cosy; nothing like Tony had every experienced himself. The Stark properties were always designed for a purpose and this had rolled over into his design for the tower. This feature also meant that the Avengers regularly crashed at the place just out of the city if they wanted to get away from the Avengers life. Tony had been at a business meeting in Washington DC with Harry about Stark Industries expansion abroad and had camped out in the Barton spare room. But he couldn’t sleep, the nightmares were getting worse and worse since the Loki incident. The bed was soft and plush but the fleece blanket was tingling all along the surface of his skin. Just as Tony had decided to give up on sleep for the night, a clatter echoed from downstairs in the townhouse. That made the decision for him and Tony padded down the stairs. The light blinded him from the kitchen but he could hear Harry swearing from inside. Once his eyes had adjusted we could hear Harry murmuring with his finger in his mouth. A broken mug laid staining the floor at his feet with dark coffee seeping in a pool around it. “Need a hand?” Tony asked, startling the diminutive Brit.
“I’m alright, but gonna have to make a new cup. You want any?” Harry asked, removing the injured finger from his mouth.
“Thanks, I’ll clean,” Tony didn’t let his host, and new friend, argue. Harry tossed him a dustpan and brush before returning to the coffee machine.
“Sorry if I woke you, clumsy,” Harry apologised as Tony cleaned up the shards, coffee, and small bit of blood that had dripped onto the tiles.
“You don’t strike me as the kind of person to be clumsy,” Tony replied with empathy as he took the cup out of Harry’s slightly shaking hand. “I get tremors too.” Harry looked slightly surprised, like he had only just noticed his hand shaking.
“Comes with coming back to life then?” Harry laughed and brought a smile back to Tony’s face.
“Along with the night terrors,” Tony managed to reply, talking to someone had never been so easy. All fell silent and peaceful until both men heard footsteps padding down the stairs. Clint rubbed the sleep out of his eyes as he stumbled into the kitchen.
“Hey hun,” Clint muttered kissing Harry’s curls as a mug was passed to him. It was so domestic it made Tony’s chest hurt. But he couldn’t help but notice Harry’s unblemished finger, hadn’t that been where he had cut himself?
“What do you mean you’re busy?” Tony screeched in outrage when Clint stuck his head into the lab. Tony had been up all night working on a new tracking arrow with nanotech and all his new trinkets; he had called Clint over to test it and had been shunned.
“One of Harry’s school friends is getting married, we’re heading to London asap. If there is an emergency I do not care, only call me if the world is ending,” Clint smiled and waved, running before Tony could grab him back. Harry didn’t talk about school much; Tony assumed it came with the childhood that was not to be spoken about. But if he was willing to travel half way around the world for a wedding then he must have some friends left.
It often surprised people that Tony Stark still used Facebook. He would then point out to them that he did not have the patience for app and web design when there was a perfectly useful and functioning programme for that already. Therefore, he would have to try and outcompete, and what was the point in that. And it was just for personal use not business; perfect for procrastination purposes. He didn’t have many Facebook friends but when he was teaching both the human popsicle and mister many names about the internet he added them as friends. And Harry was the most amusing to watch. The little Brit in question had just posted an, even Tony had to admit, adorable photo with his husband and a teenage boy. Apparently, the boy was called Teddy and was Harry’s godson who was home form school for the summer and staying with his grandmother in London. In London. Tony looked at the clock. It had been 5 hours since Clint had left his lab. Tony flew a lot, even in a private jet they must have got really good time out of the airport to make the journey in five hours. Tony shook his head to shake off the cobwebs; it was possible though. It must be time to go to bed.
For anyone meeting Thor was an experience. Tony’s first meeting was when he came storming into the quinjet and stole their prisoner. Harry’s was less of a life changing ordeal but was different to what Tony had expected from it. And when he thought about it Harry had been quite calm about meeting superheroes and people with unexplainable powers. Must come with being married to Hawkeye; that’s the only logical explanation. Surely a god had to be different. Thor never announced when he was going to arrive; the only warning the Avengers got was the boom of thunder before the Bifrost burnt a mark Tony was going to have to pay to get cleaned. “I have returned to Midgard bearing news!” Thor’s booming voice announced. The whole team was lingering in the lounge after Steve, Clint, and Natasha had returned from a SHIELD mission. Clint was laid with his head in Harry’s lap watching the pilot of Gossip Girl that Pepper had been determined Harry needed to watch. Harry blamed a secluded childhood for his lack of television viewing and the team were determined to fix that.
“Welcome back,” Steve called out, directing Thor were to go.
“My brother is imprisoned on Asgard and my father has offered any aid Midgard may need in rebuilding,” Thor announced, Harry startled a little at the god of mischief’s mention. Tony filed that away for later use; the battle of New York is probably a sensitive subject for the husband of a guy that was brainwashed during it.
“I think we’ll cope point break but it’s a nice gesture,” Tony joked as Thor circled round to near the tv. His eyes scanned the room and settled on Harry.
“I see you have a new shield brother, a seidr,” Thor beamed. Clint was thrown to the floor immediately as Harry jumped to his feet.
“Thor, I’ll give you a tour and explain, lets go now!” Clint had bounced back to his feet and herded the god out of the room.
“Any explanation for that?” Natasha asked, one eyebrow raised sceptically.
“I’m sure there is,” Harry replied with a quick swallow, nodding his head slowly, and refusing to meet anyone’s eye.
“Are you going to give us it?” Natasha continued to prod but Harry just stood staring at the door.
“I think we’ll wait,” Harry swallowed again. As if summoned, Clint and Thor came through the door.
“I am sorry husband of Barton, I believe I was mistaken,” Thor looked nervous, for probably the first time Tony could remember, at Harry.
“That is okay, do you have an explanation?” Harry asked loudly and pointedly at Thor and Clint.
“I mistakenly thought that Harry was a seidr, a magic user, however Clint explained that there are no magic users on this planet. It is believed on Asgard that those with green in their eyes possess the gift but that is not the case on Midgard,” Thor recited eloquently. Something was wrong. Tony and Natasha’s eyes met and understanding flowed between them. Thor was lying but what did he have to lie about; magic was only for gods of chaos and Thor’s mum. Maybe he and Harry had met before, during the invasion. What could have happened that they wanted to hide it with such a complicated and outrageous lie?
“That’s it, I’m done!” Clint panted as the last robot clattered to the floor. The unlucky archer had been the only Avenger in the tower when Tony had emerged from his lab triumphant with updates to his training simulation. This then meant he was the automatically select participant of the first test. The system worked. Clint could firmly testify the system worked; his bruises were evidence. Now all the irritating little bots were deactivated on the floor and Clint ached in places that hadn’t ached since the Invasion. “Come on Birdbrain, one more go. You’re not allowed to get old and creaky on me,” Tony taunted, and for once Clint didn’t rise to his challenge.
“I need a shower and bed, find someone else to be your guinea pig,” Clint dismissed Tony and left the room. Tony was not taking no for an answer.
“There’s no one else in. I got JARVIS to check,” Tony moaned, trailing Clint up to the archer’s bedroom. Both Clint and Harry technically lived out of the tower but there was always a room ready for late nights like these.
“Leave me alone Tony,” Clint opened his door and turned in the doorway to face Tony. Then it happened again, the strange popping noise. Tony had been hearing it more and more frequently. At first he thought it was something wrong with the audio in the tower but he checked everything. Then he thought it might be a fault with JARVIS but diagnostics didn’t produce anything. And this time someone else was with him, Clint did not react. It must be in his head; it must be all in his head.
“Clint that you?” Harry appeared with in view of the door and startled at Tony stood there. “Oh hey Tony, everything okay?” Tony just stared. Two hours ago he had asked JARVIS who was in the tower and to alert him if anyone arrived, when that happened there was only Clint. Where had Harry come from?
“Where were you hiding?” Tony asked jokily, trying to hide the seriousness of his question behind a joke.
“Um, I was in,” Harry paused for just a microsecond too long, “the wardrobe.” Every so often Tony managed to learn something about Harry James Potter-Black-Barton, international man of mystery, and today he finally realised a fact. Harry could evade answering better than anyone he knew, but the baby-faced Brit could not lie.
“That’s a strange place to be,” Tony replied, staring down Harry.
“It is, isn’t it,” Harry replied with a smile and nod. Clint shut the door in his face.
Harry had been bouncing round the tower all morning and frankly giving everyone a headache. “Babe slow down. You are introducing Ted to the Avengers, he won’t care what the setting is like,” Clint chuckled, grabbing Harry’s wrist and twisting him round onto the couch.
“This is the first time Andy has allowed him to fly over and I haven’t seen him a month, and he was so excited to meet you, and imagine meeting Iron Man and Captain America. Not that you aren’t amazing love but you don’t really have the star factor Steve does,” Harry continued to talk a mile a minute as he laid there.
“Teddy loved me, if I do say so myself, and he’ll love all the guys and gals,” Clint kissed Harry’s cheek to reassure him.
“Isn’t it time to go pick him up?” Natasha called from the other room where Harry had banished her to get ready.
“It is! It is!” Harry was once again on his feet, throwing the car keys at Clint’s face and sprinting from the room. Tony jumped at the same pop he had kept hearing recently; he shook his head to try and make the other ear pop as well. Clint just sighed, rolled his eyes, and then left after his husband.
Teddy was fifteen and he was just as tall as his godfather. Sandy brown hair was repeatedly nervously swept out of his eyes as he stood between Harry and Clint. Tony did feel slightly creepy watching the family chatter but he wanted to see the boy who had been waiting to meet Tony for years. When the lift slid to a stop, Tony hastily shut down the feed and turned to the door. Steve, Thor and Natasha appeared, summoned by JARVIS as Harry had requested. The lift doors slid open and Tony was immediately face to face with an excited curly haired teen. “Hi, Mister Stark sir. It’s such an honour, Uncle Harry has told me so much about you and I can’t believe my Uncle Harry is friends with the Avengers. You’re just so famous and all my, normal, friends are so jealous I know an, American celebrity too!” Teddy’s voice was going a mile a minute and Tony could barely keep up.
“Well, um, it’s good to meet you kid,” Tony patted the boy on the shoulder and Teddy whizzed off to interrogate Steve and Thor instead. It was only when Tony wasn’t being bombarded by Teddy he realised what felt off. He distinctly remembered noting the boy had too long brown hair, not short scruffy black hair. When Teddy turned back around, he noticed a stark resemblance between Harry and his godson; but they weren’t related. It was all piling up now, there was something strange surrounding Clint’s husband but Tony couldn’t wrap his mind around it. He was famous for his intuition and this mystery was tearing into him.
“Didn’t Teddy used to have longer lighter hair?” Tony eventually blurted out, surprising Harry who tensed.
“Um, yeah he changed it a few weeks ago,” Harry stuttered with a nod.
“I mean in the elevator,” Tony was not letting this go.
“No he didn’t,” Clint butted in when Harry turned to his husband for support.
“You must be imagining things Tony, maybe all that time in your lab isn’t great for you. Fresh air and all that,” Harry nodded along with Clint as they both fled. Maybe they were right, maybe he was just thinking back to the photo a few weeks ago. But in the back of his head he knew he wasn’t; the thought would not leave.
+1 – The Jigsaw Falls into Place
Ultron looked unstoppable. At the bottom of his heart Tony knew something serious had to be done to stop him, like nuke them in space serious, but that didn’t mean he wanted to do it. “Guys I have a plan but we need to get all the innocents off this rock,” Tony called over the comms.
“Back up is on the way,” both Clint and Natasha replied instantaneously and fell silent, creepy spy twins. Tony had to trust them, he started flying people down but there was only so much he could do.
“Sir, there is an unknown in play,” JARVIS alerted, drawing Tony’s attention to a hooded figure that was somehow appearing and disappearing with people in tow.
“Appears to be friendly,” Tony muttered but still alerted the others.
“That’s my back up,” Clint replied but before Tony could dig further they were drawn back into the fight. Tony had no reason to doubt Clint’s judgement even when there was an undisclosed powered person in the field. Soon after a helicarrier boomed over the floating rock and this was more like the back up Tony was expecting. The plan was working and now they had a quicker evacuation method Tony could get to work bringing down the city.
It was all ready to go. The unknown powered was now tending to the wounded when a cry of pain echoed through the earpiece. They all stopped, “Clint is down, and so is speedy,” Steve was the first to jump back into action, leaping from the people carrier back onto the trembling ground. Clint was on the ground, blood leaking sluggishly from two bullet wounds in his left side. Pietro was in a much worse state; in protecting Clint and the small girl multiple bullets ripped through his chest. Tony landed as the hooded figure popped into view over Clint. They talked so quietly Tony couldn’t here but with a wave of his hand, the unknown character was able to stop the bleeding from the wounds. Magic, off the top of his head Tony couldn’t think of another way to describe it. Steve and Tony formed a barricade around the two injured and the healer as Nastasha took the child to the carrier and the many Ultrons continued to bombard them. Pietro’s wounds needed more work, the hooded man pulled a vial from his belt and dropped one drop into each wound. Tony tried not to gawp as the bullet holes appeared to seal themselves and Pietro spluttered back to life. The figure stood and brushed past Tony with a murderous intent; they couldn’t see his face, it was hidden by some sort of shadow entirely contained to the hooded area. Magic, that word just kept coming back. Tony loathed to call things he didn’t understand magic but there was no other word that would do this justice.
“Harry no!” Clint’s voice stunned the whole battlefield into silence for what felt like an age. The figure stopped and so did all the Avengers. Harry was a common name, it was but what were the odds of Clint caring so much about another mysterious Harry.
“Potter,” Tony blurted out and the figure flinched. The hood came down and Harry James Barton was stood there in all his glory. Dust and scratched marred his face with his pitch black hair now taking a greyish tinge. But he eyes tore through souls with rage that Tony knew was entirely concentrated at Ultron.
“You know I have to, that’s why you called me,” Harry’s voice was resigned, resigned to the death and destruction surrounding them. It wasn’t a good look for the young man. Clint nodded.
“Be safe, come back,” he whispered but Harry heard and with a loud pop, disappeared from view. The popping, it all made sense, everything made sense. How had Tony not seen it before? Actually he knew how he hadn’t, he didn’t believe in magic. Until now. Natasha and Steve carried Pietro on board the last shuttle and Tony helped Clint. It left leaving just Tony alone on the rock. He needed to get to work. “It appears Miss Maximoff and Mr Barton have combined their efforts,” JARVIS informed Tony as the man blew the bottom of the meteor like boulder. All the Ultrons simultaneously screeched with pain and Tony saw Wanda and Harry floating above the destruction. They all fell, the heads exploding of some that were close to the duo, and the two magical beings popped from view. Magic, what was the world coming to?
End Credits Scene
“Come on Gandalf give me something.”
“You keep saying that but I know what I saw and you are magic!”
“I decline to comment.”
“Is that how you healed your hand?”
“Is that why Teddy’s hair changed?”
“What’s that mode of teleportation called? How do you do it? Is it some form or matter transfer? Or maybe you disintegrate and reform?”
“Oh come on Merlin give me something.”
“Gandalf I will accept but Merlin was actually an important historical figure.”
“Oh mother of god, Merlin was real?”
“You’ve set him off now Harry.”
“Does that mean Arthurian legend is true just hidden from us by magical folk?”
“We’re actually called witches and wizards.”
“You have got to be kidding me!”