Harry gets a new suit, and Dobby pays him a visit. The Grangers pick Harry up at the airport... along with a friend. Lockhart manhandles Harry, Hogwarts needs a new DADA Professor
Harry Potter and The Invincible TechnoMage
Chapter Nine – Year Two Back to School
May 18 1990:
New York City
The Avengers Mansion:
Harry watched wide eyed as Mistress Harkness guided Wanda through her exercises.
“Focus on your body Wanda, focus on your power, feel the flow within you.” The ancient woman was in full teacher mode. The young mutant woman was moving slowly through movements of her body and limbs. Those movements reminded Harry of the aikido katas Steve had taught him. Quietly in the back of the room Harry began to emulate Wanda’s movements, trying to follow Mistress Harkness’s instructions. From somewhere deep in his chest he felt the beginnings of a flow of power, like when his magic was just starting to work, but somehow different.
This was so cool. Everyone would be so impressed if he could do what Wanda did…
Harry grimaced as the gel started to set around him. “Go limp, just float” sounded like an easy thing to do, but he was realizing that not moving for several hours wasn’t going to be as easy as it had sounded in the kitchen this morning.
Nirvana was cranking in the headphones, Harry focused on looking into himself to do his daily exercises as prescribed by Mistress Harkness. Trying to change the flow of his magic without moving was exhausting; mostly because of how intimately magic was tied to your physical body.
There was a click and the music was gone.
“How can you listen to that? You can’t even understand the words.”
“I don’t want to hear music criticism from someone from the generation whose musical tastes was defined by disco. After all, it’s 1992 and disco still sucks.” Harry said, thinking how odd the facemask made his voice sound. “You know of course that yelling ‘turn that noise down’ is the first, best sign of old age right?”
“Young whippersnappers.” Tony groused good naturedly. “When I was your age we didn’t get our biotech interfaces auto constructed by nanobots in a nutrient gel, no we had to do it the old fashioned way, with servo interfaces, magnetics and transistors, hand soldered with acid based flux.”
“Yeah, right. And you hiked five miles to school, through waist high snow, uphill both ways. The only place you ever played with discrete transistors was when you disassembled old radios when you were younger than me. Is this going to take much longer? I mean I know the Nanos are far too small for me to feel, but I swear I think I can feel them swarming all over my body and it’s kind of creepy.”
“Sorry kiddo, that’s psychological, nothing I can do about that. As far as the Nanos go, I’m showing that they are having trouble dealing with your magic, but the computer is learning from their mistakes and projects another two hours to complete the interface. Techsuit Mk 4 looks good. If you find another troll this year you shouldn’t have any problems with it.”
“The computer projects two hours, which means it will be at least three. Wonderful.” Inside his mask, Harry grinned. “You know in the movie, they’ll show this as a montage with an inspirational soundtrack, so that it would look cool and not be boring.”
“You think there will be a movie about your life?”
“Sure, of course they’ll show you as all heroic and stuff, not the aging music hater you are, always yelling at kids to turn down their music and to stay off your lawn.”
“And you of course, will be the star.”
“That goes without saying.” Harry resisted the urge to scratch his shoulder. “The actor would have to be some fresh new unknown of course.”
“Of course.” Tony smiled. “But you would need some established star power to pull the audience into the theater, who do you suggest would play me?”
“Hmm. It would have to be an actor that could carry off your personality… I wonder if Burt Reynolds would be willing to leave his television show?”
Tony almost did a spit take. “Burt Reynolds? He’s at least twenty years older than I am.”
“He’d only be a bit player in the back ground Dad; still, I guess you’re right, I just can’t see him complaining about someone’s music. There’s that Robert Downey guy from Chaplin… I could see him doing you.”
“I’ve always thought that my character could only be captured by an actor of quality.” Jarvis said having entered the room to bring Tony some paperwork that had been delivered. “Michael Caine perhaps.”
“I can’t see Michael Caine as a Gentlemen’s Gentleman Jarvis.” Harry said from the gel tank. “Besides, knowing Hollywood, they’d probably just have your character be the AI for Dad’s home computer and have J.A.R.V.I.S. be a silly acronym for something.”
Jarvis left the lab laughing at the concept of his responsibilities to the Stark home being relegated to an AI.
“What about Pepper?”
“Oh, I don’t know.” Harry was starting to itch all over his body as he imagined he could feel the Nanos crawling all over him. “Someone like Marilu Henner.”
“Merilu Henner? From Taxi?” That selection had surprised Tony. “Isn’t she a little old to play Pepper?”
Harry shrugged, forgetting that he shouldn’t be moving and that Tony couldn’t really see him in the tank. “I don’t know, is she? I didn’t really think of that.”
Tony smiled. Imagining what Pepper’s reaction might be when he told her what their boy had said. He reached out and turned Harry’s music back on.
After the Nanobots were finally finished, (the total time in the gel tank was 5 hours 9 minutes.) Harry treated himself to the longest hottest shower of his life. He was completely aware that there was no way he had actually felt the Nanos, but he imagined the sensation of millions of tiny pincers and claws all over his body. His dad had said that he would have to wait until the next day to start on the calibrations of the new interface.
Exiting from his bath naked save for the towel he was rubbing his hair with, he stopped suddenly when he spotted a small creature sitting on his bed. Harry managed not to shout, but it was a close thing. The little creature on the bed had large, bat-like ears and bulging green eyes the size of tennis balls.
The creature slipped off the bed and bowed so low that the end of its long, thin nose touched the carpet. Harry noticed that it was wearing what looked like an old pillowcase, with rips for arm-and leg-holes.
“Um… hello,” said Harry uncertainly.
“Harry Potter!” said the creature, in a high-pitched voice that Harry found oddly disturbing. No, this was not a creature, but a being. Nothing that could hold an intelligent conversation was a creature. “So long has Dobby wanted to meet you, sir… Such an honor it is…”
“Thank you, but my name is Harry Stark now.” said Harry, wrapping the towel around his waist. He wondered how the being had managed to get inside the mansion without setting off the alarms. He would have to check the building telemetry to see where the sensors had gone wrong. He wanted to ask, “What are you?” but that would be a bit rude, instead he asked, “Who are you?”
“Dobby, sir. Just Dobby. Dobby the house-elf,” said the small being.
“Not that I’m not pleased to meet you Dobby,” said Harry quickly, “but, why are you here?”
“Oh, yes, sir,” Dobby said nodding earnestly. “Dobby has come to tell you, sir… it is difficult, sir… Dobby wonders where to begin…”
“Sit down,” said Harry politely, pointing at the bed.
The elf burst into tears “S-sit down!” he wailed. “Never… never ever…”
Harry was horrified. Trespasser or not, this little elf didn’t seem to mean any harm. He decided then to get this situation recorded. He hit the switch that turned on the recording suite for his room.
“I’m sorry,” Harry said, “I didn’t mean to offend…”
“Offend Dobby!” the elf sputtered. “Dobby has never been asked to sit down by a wizard… like an equal…”
Harry escorted Dobby back onto the bed where the elf sat hiccoughing, looking like nothing more than a large and very ugly monster action figure. At last the little being managed to control himself, and sat with his large eyes fixed on Harry in an expression of tearful adoration.
“It’s just common decency Dobby. You probably haven’t met all that many well-mannered wizards,” said Harry.
The Elf shook his head. Then he leapt up and started banging his head furiously on the window frame, shouting, “Bad Dobby! Bad Dobby!”
“Don’t do that! Why are you hurting yourself?” Harry hissed, springing up and pulling Dobby back onto the bed.
“Dobby had to punish himself, sir,” said the elf, shaking his head again, having gone slightly cross-eyed. “Dobby almost spoke ill of his family, sir…”
“Your family? I don’t understand Dobby. Why would your family care if you speak with me?”
“The wizard family Dobby serves, sir… Dobby is a house-elf — bound to serve one house and one family forever…”
“Do they know you’re here?” asked Harry curiously.
“Oh, no, sir, no… Dobby will have to punish himself most sternly for coming to see you, sir. Dobby will have to shut his ears in the oven door for this. If they ever knew, sir —”
“But won’t they notice if you shut your ears in the oven door?”
“Dobby doubts it, sir. Dobby is always having to punish himself for something, sir. Dobby just gets on with it, sir, my family does not care. Sometimes they reminds me to do extra punishments…”
“But why don’t you leave? Run away?”
“A house-elf must be set free, sir. And the family will never set Dobby free… Dobby will serve the family until he dies, sir…”
Harry stared. “Can anyone help you? Can I help you?”
Almost at once, Harry wished he hadn’t said that. Dobby dissolved again into wails of gratitude.
“Harry Potter asks if he can help Dobby… Dobby has heard of your greatness, sir, but of your goodness, Dobby never knew…”
Harry, blushed, “Harry Stark, Dobby. People say a lot of things about me Dobby, don’t believe any of it.” Harry moved his chair until he was almost nose to nose with the elf. “Why did you come here Dobby? Did you have something to tell me? Or ask me?”
“Harry Potter is humble and modest,” said Dobby reverently, “Harry Potter speaks not of his triumph over He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named…”
“Voldemort?” said Harry.
Dobby clapped his hands over his ears and moaned, “Do not speak the name, sir! Do not speak the name!”
“Sorry,” said Harry quickly. “I know lots of people don’t like it.”
“Harry Potter is valiant and bold! He has braved so many dangers already! He is not afraid of the Name. But Dobby has come to protect Harry Potter, to warn him, even if he does have to shut his ears in the oven door later… Harry Potter must not go back to Hogwarts.”
“I don’t understand.” Harry said. “I’m going back. It’s… necessary.”
“No, no, no,” squeaked Dobby, shaking his head, his ears flapping. “Harry Potter must stay where he is safe. He is too great, too good, to lose. If Harry Potter goes back to Hogwarts, he will be in mortal danger.”
“Why?” said Harry in surprise.
“There are those who conspire, Harry Potter. They plot to make most terrible things happen at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this year,” whispered Dobby, suddenly wobbly. “Dobby has known it for months, sir. Harry Potter must not put himself in risk. He is too important, sir!”
“What terrible things?” Harry asked. “Who are the plotters?”
Dobby made a funny choking noise and then banged his head hysterically against the wall.
“Ok, ok, you can’t tell me. I understand!” cried Harry, grabbing the elf’s arm to stop him. “But why are you warning me?” A sudden, unpleasant thought struck him. “Hang on… this hasn’t got anything to do with Vol… sorry… with You-Know-Who, has it? You could just shake or nod,” he added hastily as Dobby’s head tilted worryingly close to the wall again.
Slowly, Dobby shook his head.
“Not — not He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, sir —”
But Dobby’s eyes were wide and he seemed to be trying to give Harry a hint. Harry, however, was completely lost.
“Well, that’s good… He doesn’t have a brother, does he?”
Dobby shook his head, his eyes wider than ever.
“Thank you for your warning Dobby, but I can’t run away. There are things I must do.”
“Harry Potter must not return to school!” The elf said and vanished.
Well that was odd. Harry got dressed then set out to find his father. This visit merited discussion.
May 18 1990:
New York City
The Avengers Mansion:
Harry continued emulating the exercises that Mistress Harkness was guiding Wanda through. He could feel the new magic in his chest, just a tickle. It was very like his normal magic that Mistress Harkness had taught him to control years before, but despite the similarities, this kind of magic was very different.
Harry turned his attention into himself, focusing on the tickle of power. Using his magic he grasped the tickle and then he, for lack of better terms, pulled on it. The tickle grew in strength, becoming a throb in his chest and a tingle all up and down his arms.
Frightened, Harry attempted to push the throbbing back down. His magic took hold of the sensation in his body, but whatever it was twisted free. The dull throb grew into a painful pounding in his chest, and the tingling in his arms felt like the blood in his veins had turned to acid.
Harry gasp of pain caught the attention of Wanda and Agatha Harkness. They watched as the boy staggered backwards into the wall, a look of panic on his face… Harry’s eyes went totally white when his pupils suddenly faded from view and he slumped to the ground convulsing. Harry’s last conscious thought noted that the pounding in his chest was so very hot, and his arms were on fire.
The Chaos was unleashed when the boy lost consciousness. Unleashed straight up, the arcane energy erupted from the boy’s body and left the mansion, slicing through four floors, destroying everything in its path.
Witnesses on the street took note that a section of the Avengers Mansion was destroyed… again. Several of the tourists on the street marked the occasion by snapping photographs. Native New Yorkers, as is their wont, ignored the situation entirely. The destruction of that particular piece of property had lost all of its novelty long ago.
“Remember where we parked.” Kristine Granger said as she led the two girls toward the International Arriving Flights terminal at London City Airport.
During the ride to the airport, Padma had asked a running string of questions about what an airport was like. Hermione did her best to answer all those questions, happy to be, for once, the one with the cultural answers.
“What time is Harry due to arrive Hermione?” Padma asked as they entered the terminal.
“In about ten minutes.” Hermione studied the monitor showing the arriving flights. “Mum, there’s no listing for Harry’s flight.”
“That’s because Harry isn’t using a commercial flight dear.” Kristine Granger said. “His father has arranged a private flight. Tony said that we should meet Harry outside the Customs area.”
Padma looked around amazed at the turmoil of a modern Muggle airport. “So many people”
“It seems wasteful for Harry to use a private plane.” Hermione said, wondering just when her mother started calling Harry’s dad by his first name.
“It’s not so much an airplane as a VTOL capable, hypersonic suborbital lifting body Hermione.” Harry’s voice came from behind Hermione.
“Harry!” Padma squealed before lunging at her classmate.
“You snuck up on me!” Hermione spun on her classmate. “You know I hate that..” she then glared at Padma who was hugging Harry. “How can I yell at him properly when you’re doing that?”
“Oh get over yourself Hermione!” Padma said hugging Harry harder. “It’s good to see you you prat.” She released the hug and was immediately replaced by her Muggle born friend. “We’ve missed you.”
“I’ll yell at you later Harry. Padma’s right, phone calls aren’t the same as seeing you.”
Harry Stark blushed. “I missed you guys too.” He stepped back and gestured for a Brunette woman in a conservative business suit to step forward. “This is Ms. Jennifer Walters. Dad couldn’t make it due to some meetings; Ms. Walters agreed to come with me to keep me out of trouble.”
The two girls greeted the woman then returned to Harry.
The Brunette smiled shaking her head. She extended her hand to Kristine. “Jennifer Walters.”
“Kristine Granger.” Smiling Hermione’s mother shook the offered hand.
“They’re so young to be that close….”
“We’ve noticed.” Kristine shook her head. “We’ve had family meetings about it, the Patils, the Abbots, the Bones and my husband and I… We’ve discussed our daughters relationships with Harry and the Longbottom boy. We think they’re really just friends. For now anyway.”
The two women watched the children for a moment. “So, you’re his body guard?”
“Pretty much. Tony couldn’t make it himself. He had commitments to be somewhere that was scheduled before it was decided that Harry would return to school. I was asked to make sure he made it on the train.”
“You’ll forgive me if I ask, but are you REALLY a body guard? You don’t seem to be overly… frightening.”
The Brunette smiled, Kristine’s inner dentist noticed the other woman’s perfect teeth. “Appearances can be deceiving”
It was quickly decided to get Harry’s school shopping out of the way on the way to the Granger’s home.
Harry smiled at Jennifer’s reaction to Diagon Alley. The wide eyed look was unusual for her. Evidently she hadn’t seen ‘everything’ quite yet.
A quick stop at Madam Malkin’s for alterations to last years robes and various new items of clothing Harry needed, the apothecary for the required ingredients for 2nd year potions, then lunch at Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor. Jennifer raved about the quality of the food, and Fortescue himself gushed over her.
Following their meal they headed for Flourish and Blotts. As they approached the book store, they saw a large crowd jostling outside the doors, trying to get in. The reason for this was proclaimed by a large banner stretched across the upper windows:
Will be signing copies of his autobiography MAGICAL ME today 12:30P.M.to 4:30P.M.
“We can actually meet him!” Hermione squealed. “I mean, he’s written almost the whole booklist!”
Harry’s cynical side had a healthy lack of respect for anyone as young as this ‘Gilderoy Lockhart’ appeared to be being egotistical enough to actually write an ‘autobiography’. Something about the man preening in the animated photograph set Harry’s teeth on edge. The group waited in the line until they could get into the shop. Once inside Harry pulled out his book list.
SECOND-YEAR STUDENTS WILL REQUIRE:
The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 2 by Miranda Goshawk
Break with a Banshee by Gilderoy Lockhart
Gadding with Ghouls by Gilderoy Lockhart
Holidays with Hags by Gilderoy Lockhart
Travels with Trolls by Gilderoy Lockhart
Voyages with Vampires by Gilderoy Lockhart
Wanderings with Werewolves by Gilderoy Lockhart
Year with the Yeti by Gilderoy Lockhart
Having found the stacks of Lockhart books Harry looked up from his school list to the book in his hand. “Do you think this is real? What possible reason could anyone have to calling this glorified travelogue a text book?”
“Harry!” Hermione appeared to be scandalized. “I’m sure the professor has very good reasons for using these books!” Padma nodded her agreement with her bushy haired friend.
“We’ve both read through them Harry, they’re amazing.”
“Even so, think about it, this stupid list has seven books by this Lockhart guy, at four galleons each. Not a problem for my budget, or either of yours I assume, but what about the kids from families not as comfortable as ours?”
“I hadn’t thought of that.” The Muggle born witch said glancing at her mother and seeing a small look of disappointment in the older woman’s eyes.
Their exchange was interrupted when Gilderoy Lockhart came slowly into view, taking his seat at a table surrounded by large pictures of his own face, all winking and flashing toothpaste advertisement dazzlingly white smiles at the crowd. The real Lockhart was wearing robes of forget-me-not blue that exactly matched his eyes; his pointed wizard’s hat was set at a jaunty angle on his wavy hair.
Hermione and Padma both squealed like the school girls they were.
“Oh jeez, this guy looks like he should be in an infomercial selling some useless thing that no one would ever need.” Harry said, rubbing his arm where Hermione had pressed her nails into his bicep.
Gilderoy Lockhart appeared to have heard him. He looked up, spotting Harry. The author stared, his eyes wide, almost calculating. Then he leapt to his feet and shouted theatrically, “Can you belief it? Harry Potter coming to see ‘Magical Me’?”
The crowd parted, whispering excitedly; Lockhart dived forward, seized Harry’s arm, and pulled him to the front. The crowd burst into applause. Harry’s face flushed as Lockhart pulled him in front of the photographer, who was clicking away madly, wafting thick smoke over the crowd.
“Nice big smile, Harry,” said Lockhart, through his own gleaming teeth. “Together, you and I are worth the front page.”
Harry had had enough of this clown. Barely able to feel the fingers in his right hand, Harry attempted to pull away, but the adult wizard was too strong.
“Let me go.”
Lockhart ignored him, still vamping for the crowd. Harry was seconds from activating the weapons of his Techsuit, when Lockhart suddenly yelped in pain.
Hermione, Padma and Kristine were all shocked to see Jennifer Walters holding Gilderoy Lockhart’s left hand between her thumb and index finger.
“Mr. Lockhart, there are twenty-seven bones in the human hand.” The diminutive brunette said. “For manhandling my young friend Harry, I have just broken your first metacarpal. If you let him go now, I’ll leave the rest of them intact.”
Lockhart released his grip on Harry. Jennifer smiled sweetly, and released hers on his hand. “In most parts of the world, what you did was assault Mr. Lockhart. Never touch Mr. Stark again.”
Lockhart stared up at her, taking in her clothing. He had been hurt by a Muggle? His right hand sought out his wand, whipping it out to point at the small woman. In a smooth motion the tiny brunette backhanded the world famous Dark Hunter/Author across the room, where he collapsed in a pile of his own books.
Harry paid for his books and the party left the book store under the glare of Lockhart’s fan club. Their shopping finished, they headed for the exit into the Leaky Cauldron.
“You were right.” Kristine said to Jennifer as they passed out the door of the Leaky Cauldron to the London street.
“How was I right?”
“When I suggested that you didn’t look all that dangerous, you told me appearances could be deceiving. When you’re right, you’re right.”
May 18 1990:
New York City
The Avengers Mansion:
The surprise that the two women felt when Harry suddenly unleashed a bolt of pure chaos froze them in there places for almost three seconds, then both reacted without thought of their own safety.
Agatha immediately set about damping down the energy pouring out of the boy’s body by pouring her own into him, she managed to slow, but not stop the chaos energy.
Wanda’s first action was to hit the communications panel next to the door to signal a medical emergency. That done the woman known as the Scarlet Witch joined her mentor at the boy’s side. Lacking Mistress Harkness’ level of sheer power, the Mutant turned magic user had a natural affinity for Chaos Magic. She set about pulling the raw chaos from the boy’s body.
Neither woman spoke, yet worked together as if they performed these actions daily. It took almost three minutes to stop the energy cascade, and another minute for Wanda to draw the caustic magic from Harry’s flesh.
Tell me about Harry Potter.
Percy says that he changed his name. He’s Harry Stark now.
He defeated a great Dark Lord and hides by changing his name?
No, I don’t think so. He was adopted and that’s his new family’s name.
Are these ‘Starks’ a powerful magical family?
The Twins say that Harry’s family are Muggles… Though it is rumored that Harry’s new father stormed into Hogwarts and intimidated Dumbledore over how the Headmaster dealt with the Troll getting into the castle.
How could that even be possible?
I don’t know… We went shopping today.
Did you? What did you buy?
We got the week’s groceries. I picked out the vegetables. The carrots were lovely, as was the kale. You know the lovely smell of a big pot of kale on the boil? That’s all around me right now.
From within his diary Tom Riddle fumed. He was finding that getting information out of this empty headed girl and nigh on to impossible. It had taken most of a month just to ascertain that his other half had almost succeeded in their plans to dominate the Wizarding world, just to be stopped… killed? Eleven years before by a mere toddler named Potter.
He needed this girl to begin to pour her emotions and soul into his diary, with that finger hold he could set about taking control of her pitiful mind, but all he was getting was the minutia of her life.
Still, that was probably for the best. If he assumed control before she started at Hogwarts that damnable Sorting Hat would see him and be in a position to alert Dumbledore of his presence. Riddle had waited more than forty years for his chance. What were a few more days?
Albus Dumbledore stared at the parchment in his hand in complete disbelief. School started in four days and his Defense Against the Dark Arts professor had just resigned. What was he going to do? Severus wanted the post, but why tempt fate? Besides, who would replace Severus in the dungeons? It would take more time than he had left to FIND Slughorn, much less the time needed to convince the man to return.
Perhaps Lockhart’s unexplained withdrawal could be turned to an advantage. Dumbledore still chafed under the carefully worded Oaths to treat the Potter boy (and he would always be a Potter in Dumbledore’s mind.) as nothing more than a student. Oh, he was trapped by his oath. Agatha Harkness had made very sure of that… but others…
Perhaps the best route to the boy would be through his blood family. The Evan’s branch was utterly gone, as was the Potter branch. From Minerva, Dumbledore had discovered that young Harry had no emotional connection with Sirius Black, nor was he looking to create one. That left a single Marauder to forge an emotional tie.
Rising from his desk, Dumbledore crossed to the fireplace. He tossed in a pinch of floo powder, stuck his head into the suddenly green flames and said “Remus Lupin.”
May 21, 1990:
New York City
The Avengers Mansion:
Harry slowly woke. Pain was everything.
“He’s coming around”
Harry cracked open his left eye to see Hank McCoy smiling down at him.
“Hey kid. You had us worried for a while there.” The furry man said.
“What happened? What did I do wrong?” Harry rasped with a parched throat.
“Just a second Harry. Sip this.”
A straw was placed at his lips. Harry sucked weakly, and was rewarded with some of the best tasting water he had ever had. The pain in his throat subsided, calling his attention to the pain on his chest and arms.
“What ever hocus pocus you did burned you badly Harry. I thought we were going to have to do skin grafts, but then some kind of crazy accelerated healing started almost like you were a junior league Logan. Agatha says it’s your magic healing you. It doesn’t seem to do much for the pain you’re in though. I do know it seems to eat any pain killer we give you.”
“It was the Chaos magic wasn’t it? I hurt myself playing with a kind of magic I didn’t understand.”
Hank McCoy paused, then decided to tell his patient the truth. “Yes. Wanda said you tapped some huge chaos source within you and lost control of it.” Harry was taking this in a most subdued manner. “Here comes your Dad.”
Tony Stark rushed to his son’s bed. “Harry? How you feel kiddo?”
“Stupid. I was careless and stupid.”
“I would agree that you were careless Harry.” Tony cupped his boy’s chin, raising it to look his son in the eye. “Not stupid. You don’t have it in you to be stupid.”
“He’s healing at a phenomenal rate.” McCoy said. “If he continues at this rate, he’ll be up and around tomorrow, and completely healed in a week.”
Dinner at the Granger home was an informal affair consisting of simple yet tasty foods and conversation. The three adults and three children enjoyed their time at the table. When the meal was finished Harry dragged the girls into the kitchen to do the dishes.
“I never thought I’d have a millionaire’s son washing my dishes.” Kristine said with a small laugh.
“That’s just Harry. In reality the Stark home is run pretty much like that. Tony has a staff, but each person is expected to clean up after themselves. I’ve seen bigwigs invited into the Stark home making the mistake of treating the staff like menial servants. That’s a mistake that is rarely repeated because doing so almost guarantees no return invitations.”
“Jennifer, I’m curious.” Stuart Granger said, sipping at his glass of wine. “Kristine described what you did to day to that idiot in the book store. That didn’t sound like any kind of martial art I’ve ever heard of. You mentioned being a lawyer, and you have something of an in-depth knowledge of the workings of the Stark household… You don’t really fit the mold that I would think a ‘body guard’ would be like.” He fixed the woman with a stare. “Who are you really? Are you using some kind of illusion?”
“Why Stuart, what a suspicious mind you have.” Jennifer patted her mouth with her napkin to hide her smile. “What gave me away?”
“The third step on the stairs. It’s on my list of things to fix around here. It creaks when I step on it, but not when Kristine or Hermione uses it. That tells me that the creak requires a certain amount of weight. You appear to be smaller than Kristine, but you caused the step to creak.”
“Oh very good. It’s always the simple things that trip you up.” Jennifer smiled widely; she loved working around intelligent people. She touched something on her waist and… changed.
“Oh my.” Kristine said, raising her hand to her mouth.
“For the record, I really am Jennifer Walters, and the image that was projected is actually what I look like when I don’t look like this. It’s just that I’ve been stuck like this for a year or so.” She manipulated the device on her waist and the diminutive brunette returned. “On the plus side, I can wear any outfit I want and never spend a dime on clothes.”
Remus Lupin was pacing back and forth in his small apartment.
“What do you think I should do Padfoot?”
“I don’t know Mooney; this whole situation has got me tied up in knots. The more I think about it, the more sense Harry made. Dumbledore left me to rot in Azkaban until he needed me. He got me out of that Hellhole to try and influence Harry.”
Remus stopped pacing and threw himself into a threadbare chair. “I don’t know how we were fooled for so long, looking at the whole situation now it’s obvious that Albus has been manipulating us since 6th year.” He shook his head. “His offer of employment is obviously a thinly veiled attempt to put me in a position to earn Harry’s trust so that Dumbledore can influence the boy through me.”
“But you would be near him. After you’ve got the job, you don’t have to pass Dumbledore’s influence on.”
“Yes, I’d be near him… But should Jame’s and Lily’s boy be exposed to a Werewolf?”
“Remus, don’t be a fool. Your name was his first word.”
“Well, I thought he said ‘Moonie’, but Lily thought she heard ‘Mummy’.”
“Take the job Remus. If nothing else, you’ll be near our boy.”
Laying in the bed he had been offered at the Grangers, Harry was staring at the ceiling, excited to be returning to Hogwarts. He wondered how long it would take him to get to sleep.
There was a quiet pop in the darkness, then suddenly a weight on his chest.
“Harry Potter has returned to England! Dobby told Harry Potter that he must not return to Hogwarts.”
The elf was back. Harry groped to the side table to turn on the lamp.
“Hello Harry Potter. Harry Potter must not return to Hogwarts. If Harry Potter goes back to Hogwarts, he will be in mortal danger.”
Giving up on the Elf ever understanding that he was no longer Harry Potter, Harry took the small being’s hand. “Dobby, listen to me. I have to return.”
The elf shook his head, his ears making an odd smacking noise as they flapped front to back. “If Harry Potter goes back to Hogwarts, he will be in mortal danger.” He repeated.
“Dobby, please listen to me. There is a prophecy. It says that if I do not return, thousands will die. I cannot let that happen.”
“Harry Potter is valiant and bold! He has braved so many dangers already! Now he takes on more to save us all.”
“Dobby, please. I’m just doing what should be done.”
“Harry Potter should be vigilant. If Harry Potter says he must return to Hogwarts, Dobby will help where he can.”
“Thank you Dobby.”
The elf vanished with a pop. Harry found himself wondering what was going to happen at the school. Knowing that he wouldn’t be able to sleep for a while, Harry rose from the bed and began to run a series of diagnostics on his Techsuit. If something was going to happen, he might as well be very ready for it.
May 27, 1990:
New York City
Hank McCoy had been right; Harry had healed completely within a week.
Harry was reflecting on his future. Walking about the estate he admitted to himself that he had survived only because Mistress Harkness and Wanda had been there to keep him from killing himself. Since coming to live with his Dad, he had truly been somewhat happy go lucky. Getting along on being relatively powerful, young and cute. His father’s associates treated him like a favored nephew. Pepper treated him like he was her own child.
He had to change. He had to grow up. If someone had been in the rooms above the gym, his power would probably have killed them. He needed control. Harry looked at the silver sheaths on his forearms. His father had designed them to damp his access to the chaos. Mistress Harkness told him that as he matured he would gain the capability to control the chaos within him. She suggested that it would be his 20th year at the soonest. Until that time, he was a threat to those around him.
No more goofing around. No more running around the mansion hiding from Hank and Simon. He needed to study, to practice, to learn. Harry couldn’t afford to be a child any longer. It was time to focus. It was time to grow up.
In order of appearance
Tony Stark - Billionaire industrialist, Genius level IQ, if it can be made, he’s got 2. If it can’t be made, he’s only got the prototype. Secretly (at the time of the story) Ironman. The Ironman Armor is form fitting Mech, with flight capabilities (ground to orbit with auxiliary boosters) near infinite defensive capabilities, many many offensive capabilities.
Jennifer Walters – Also known as the She-Hulk. First Cousin to Bruce Banner The Incredible Hulk, Jennifer received her powers due to an emergency blood transfusion from her cousin, picking up some of his more… demonstrative traits. Like Banner, Jennifer possesses great strength, durability, endurance and a healing factor. Unlike her cousin, she almost always retains her full intelligence and personality as She-Hulk. At the time of this story, Jennifer is locked in her She-Hulk form.
Wanda – Wanda Maximoff, also known as the Scarlet Witch. A mutant with the ability to affect probabilities. By the time of this story she had mastered Chaos magic.
Mistress Harkness – Agatha Harkness, survivor of the Salem Witch trials, and for the purposes of this story, alum of Hogwarts. Hufflepuff 1680. The single most powerful Witch in the world.
Hank – Hank McCoy PhD. Biochemistry. PhD Genetics. PhD Physics. M. D. Large man, covered with Blue fur, his feet are as dexterous as his hands, very strong, very agile, and very fast. Most commonly associated with the X-men using his imaginative codename “Beast” He spent several years with the Avengers
A/N: A few thoughts.
I said it before, but you all continue to amaze me with the interest you have in this silly little story. Thank you for all your kind words.
Since last update I’ve finally seen the Ironman movie, as evidenced in my scene in the lab. Overall, I loved the flick, some things annoyed me, Jarvis being an AI, but over all a great popcorn flick.
In answer to a few questions, I have no intention of having Bruce Banner nor his alter ego making an appearance in this story. He tends to cause messes that would make even Tom Riddle sit back and say “Damn!” That level of destruction isn’t really in my plans.
There have also been questions as to what happened to change Harry from the goofy giggling nine year old running around Stark Manor with Beast and Wonderman to the Type A personality with failure issues that is attending class at Hogwarts… In this chapter I attempted to show just what happened.
- Just remember, when you come to the boring parts, imagine a montage with inspirational music…