A.N. I don't own anything. I'm just a nerd playing around with characters and worlds. HP characters/world references belong to J.K. Rowling.
Summary: Hari Potter spends 10 years travelling and learning after the fall of Voldemort. She's finally able to live her own life, it's too bad that none of her friends or family are there to enjoy it with her. During her travels she discovers various interesting abilities the 'Master of Death' is supposed to have. She walks through the Veil of Death in the Department of Mysteries to put them to the test, as she has nothing else to lose. Instead, she wakes up in the MCU. She spends roughly 15 years as an assassin known as 'Phantom' only to be brought to Shield; joining them as Hari Rose Black. What misadventures will she get up to? Read and find out.
Warnings: Contains canon typical violence/language and likely references to abuse (An AN will be put in if it's included). This will be a Femslash (F/F) fic. Don't like that? Don't read this, you won't be hurting my feelings any. Story will be a HP/NR (eventual slash) story containing fluff and references to smut (idk if i'll write the smut or not).
Harriet "Hari" Lillian Potter-Black – the Lady Potter-Black, "Girl-who-lived", "Woman-who-conquered", and a whole list of other hyphenated names – felt at peace for the first time she could remember, aside from a few moments like: when she first met her godfather, Sirius Black, and helped clear his name, meeting her girlfriend and being told she was loved, and the few memories she had of her parents, before they all died. The reason for that peace? Well, she just found a ritual that would allow her, as Mistress of Death, to take her to a different world. Or did it say different reality? The ritual is very complex and has so few notes it's almost impossible to tell. But after 10 years of travelling the world, she has pieced together enough information to understand the ritual components and chants. Unfortunately, for her at least, she must go back to Wizarding Britain. The place that has all but authorized her legal murder. Calling her a Dark Lady, murderer, anarchist, or Undesirable No. 1 (again).
She first left the wizarding world of the British Isles a little less than 2 years after Voldemort's death. Why wouldn't she? She had been alternately praised and vilified for the past 9 years of her life thanks to them. She thought that since it was finally over, she might finally have some peace. She was wrong, she was so very wrong. The public that put her on a podium shortly after birth as the "girl-who-lived", then later as the "woman-who-conquered" right after the self-stylized dark lord's death, went right back to vilifying her when she didn't immediately go back to Hogwarts or become an auror, just like they had when her name came out of the Goblet. But excuse her for wanting to make her own decisions for once. Now that the stupid prophecy and meddling old goat-buggering headmaster were finally dealt with.
For 2 years, she was hounded my Ministry personnel, the journalists, and her so called friends. She couldn't do anything without it being scrutinized by everyone. She had to resort to burning her trash so that people wouldn't steal anything, for whatever purposes, just because she owned the items. She just wanted to live her life as normally as she could, but she wasn't allowed to.
The only people who supported her decisions during her time in the wizarding world of the Isles were the few real friends she had: Neville, Luna, Fleur, Tonks, Daphne, Tracey, Blaise and probably most surprisingly (at least to the public because it looked like they hated her) Professor Snape and Draco Malfoy. They had supported her and comforted her after each life-threatening event. They helped train her when Dumbledore said she didn't need any training, even though she was the supposed center of the war. They wrote her when none of her "friends" checked up on her after the deaths of Cedric and Sirius, they were there to help her regain her footing. They stood by her, supported her and her decisions, held her, comforted her, and most importantly loved her; and she loved them for it, considered them family even.
One above the others taught her what real love was supposed to be like though; one Nymphadora "Don't call me that" Tonks, who despite her tough exterior as an auror and threats to hex you, was a spunky, fun loving, prank playing woman. She taught Hari what real love was, by supporting all of Hari's decisions and only getting on her case when she needed to, not by being overbearing or bossy but because she loved her, and just being there to listen to Hari. She was also quite the sweetheart who liked it when Hari called her Nym. The pair had become good friends the summer after Hari's third year when they were both at Sirius' new place, who was freed after Professor Snape helped Hari bring Pettigrew to the aurors and finally given a trial. After having only briefly met the year prior, for Auror Tonks and Madame Bones of the DMLE had to get a statement regarding the madness with the basilisk that had happened that year. If you're asking why Hari was giving a statement period, it's because Hari quite honestly thought that Dumbledork was a senile bastard, which he may have been, and Hari didn't trust him to get the situation sorted. After that, Madame Bones was friendly with the young girl and allied House Bones with House Potter. She even took her to get all her inoculations, which should have been done prior to first year but hey, what's an abused orphan who's being shown the wizarding world by a half-giant going to do?
She thought back to all the real friends she had made and realized that she would miss the few that were still alive. Only Neville, Luna, Fleur, and Draco were still alive; and while she loved them dearly, she couldn't stay in the wizarding world for them. When she told them her plans to leave the wizarding world and travel for a while, Luna nodded with a smile like she expected it, Neville had a sad smile and told her it was her life to live now, Fleur hugged her and told her to be safe, and Draco sent an owl saying that he understood and didn't blame her and to thank her for her help with clearing his and his mother's names by saying that she wouldn't have even been alive to end the war if they hadn't helped her.
She would always carry the ghosts of the ones that died in the battle with her. Especially Nym, Professor Snape, and Daphne. Because she always felt she could have done more. 'What if I had actually been trained to deal with this? What if I had done something different? Who all would still be alive?' were thoughts that constantly plagued her mind before leaving.
She pushed those thoughts to the side long enough to go to Gringott's and get her will and accounts sorted out. She left Draco and Narcissa 350,000 galleons each from the Black family vault, the Black family properties and most of the library, annulled Narcissa's marriage to welcome her and Draco back under the banner of the Black family, along with making Draco Head of the Family Black. She left Luna the odd discoveries in the Peverell vault, the books on magical creatures from the Potter and Peverell vaults, and 500,000 galleons. She left Fleur some books from the Potter vault, 200,000 galleons, and the Potter family properties in France in case she needed somewhere safe to go anytime. She left Neville some Defense books and auror handbooks from the Potter vault so he could continue learning to defend himself and those he cares for, almost all of the books she had on magical plants and duplicate potions books she could from the Potter and Peverell vaults, and 250,000 galleons.
After sorting that part of her will, she spoke at length with Director Ragnok and the Potter and Black account managers to explain her plans, why she was doing what she was, and withdraw everything else she owned and had access to, which honestly was quite the process. Converting most of her gold to the currencies of the popular nations of the world, keeping close to a small roomful of galleons; why, she didn't really know. She got separate money pouches for each currency and then packed everything into a custom-made trunk she had commissioned almost 2 months prior. The trunk had everything she could need: a small flat, a few dimensional pockets for storage, various other useful rooms in other pockets (like a dueling room, potions lab, greenhouse, and library all connected to the flat) and it was warded enough to make Hogwarts wards look downright simple and Gringott's wards seem friendly.
After packing up her trunk, Hari departed Wizarding England and travelled the world. Learning as much as she could from cultures all over, magical and non. She learned everything she could; warding, wandless and non-verbal magic, thought to be lost magics, potions, and more about runes in the magical communities to all types of sciences, languages, technology, and fighting in the nonmagical world (seriously, she was fucking tired of always relying on magic).
She couldn't help but think along her travels of what it would be like if she still had her friends with her during these adventures. Learning wandless magic was something Daphne always talked about and was something she loved working on prior to the Battle and she would have loved some of the places Hari visited. Nym would have loved spending time doing just what they wanted to, not what anyone expected of them; she would have pushed Hari to try new things and experience the fun side of life and would've loved that bungee jump in New Zealand. Some of the teachers she met remind her too heavily of Professor Snape, who had explained some shortcuts to be used in potions or different ingredients (magical and non) that would accomplish the same tasks, when they spoke.
After 10 years, she writes her friends that are still alive to let them know she's coming back and that she's figured something out to hopefully have a better life. They have dinner together at one of her older properties so no one else will know she's back just yet. Neville and Fleur are crying when they greet her with hugs her, telling her they had missed her and that they love her. Draco's eyes are suspiciously misty as he offers a kiss to her knuckles and welcomes her back with a short tea, before leaving and wishing her well, something about prior arrangements. Luna welcomes her back with a hug and whispered thanks. It was almost like old times, having everyone around the table for a meal together again, but they can all tell it's different. There are too many chairs and the silence that falls is heavy. Hari isn't talking as much, she's more subdued, and no one seems to know exactly why. She just got back from travelling the world! She should be normal. After finishing dinner and bidding her friends goodnight, she packs her shrunken trunk in a moleskin bag along with her cloak and some clothes and money. She considers using the stone briefly but decides against it. Instead just telling her fallen friends, her family, in her mind how sorry she is that they died, that she loves them, and will carry them with her, even though she knows they'd want her to move on.
The following morning, she puts her moleskin bag around her neck and apparates to the public ministry entrance disillusioned so she's not swarmed by the sheep who she wishes to escape. Once in the atrium of the ministry, she slips into an alcove where she won't be seen and puts her invisibility cloak on. She hops into an elevator that just emptied all occupants and uses the Elder Wand to overpower it to take her straight down to the Department of Mysteries.
Coming across the Veil for the first time in 12 years really throws Hari for a loop for a second. The last time she was here, she watched Sirius fall through it… 'Enough!' she snapped to herself, 'So much has been done and it's too late now.' She got to work preparing the area surrounding the Veil and clearing her mind. Once everything is set up, she begins the chant.
As she finishes the chant, she hears a voice call to her, "You wish for a new adventure. What will you give us to consider such a request?" The voice is beautiful, in a surreal and almost unholy way. It seems to come from everywhere around her.
"My life" she answers simply. She knows that this will either work and send her away, or it will kill her. And at this point, she can't find it in herself to care too much. Because at least if she died, she'd be able to see her parents again, see Sirius again, see Nym again.
"That will do. Be aware, some of the items with you won't stay as they are." The voice responds in a purr, and she's pretty sure it's Death at this point, but who is she to say anything.
Only taking a moment to consider the second part of that statement, she gets up, double checks she has her bag, and walks straight into the Veil…
A.N. Feel free to leave feedback and/or constructive criticism (If you don't like the ideas I'm throwin out. Don't read this story, won't hurt my feelings any.)
AN: Still don't own anything. MCU characters/world references belong to Marvel. HP characters/world references belong to J.K. Rowling.
Anything in Italics is in a different language.
Ch. 1: Introducing Widow, Phantom, and Hawkeye
"This is Widow," the redheaded woman murmured into the earpiece hidden by her held up phone. This redhead being one Natasha Romanoff, Black Widow super spy for S.H.I.E.L.D. and a member of one of their S.T.R.I.K.E teams. She was currently on assignment in a hotel bar, waiting for her target to check out.
"We've got a new assignment for you. You'll be fully briefed after this, but you might be interested." a man's voice replied.
"Anything you can tell me now?" she asked semi amusedly back.
"Not really. Continue as planned, intel says the target should be checking out today." the man answered before disconnecting the call.
'Hmm, wonder what could be so special he had to give me a heads-up about it in the field.' Natasha thought. Her thoughts were interrupted as she spied the target on his way to the desk. The big revelation about the next assignment could wait until she and her teammate were on the way out with exfil. "He's checking out now." She called to her teammate over the comms device as she got up to leave the bar.
She followed the target out of the hotel, while her teammate tracked them from the rooftops to provide eyes and backup if needed. After walking a few blocks away, the man turned down a side alley. Natasha followed closely to see why this detour was taken while her teammate provided a birds eye view. Neither could find anything abnormal, just a shortcut through to a more crowded street near some street performers. As she moved through the crowd, she saw something, rather someone, she hadn't in years; a face that had haunted her nightmares for almost two decades. She did a quick double take, but it seemed as if they vanished.
Her team kept following the target to his destination, a warehouse. Frankly, if Natasha were being honest, she might buy something like this to throw people off; exterior being quite decrepit, while still having the opportunity to access utilities and being close enough to the city to be able to have some form of internet services. Natasha called out to her teammate, Hawkeye (AKA Mr. Smartass and Pranks Clint Barton), over comms to see if he had any intel. "You got eyes on up there or we flying blind?" she asked with lips slightly quirked up.
"Looks like a standard warehouse from here. Some windows higher up that don't look as nasty as the ones I can see through currently. Give me a few to confirm" came his reply.
A few minutes later, Clint's voice comes back over the comm, "Warehouse is open layout and empty, not even shelves or a mezzanine. No cover other than a small shack looking structure in the North-East corner."
"What are your sight lines like from there?" Natasha asks him as she slinks up to the gateway that their target walked through prior.
"Not the best, but if you can keep him in the eastern facing half of the structure, you'll have some backup if needed." came the slightly frustrated response. Clearly not liking leaving his partner alone without cover for any reason on mission.
Natasha grunted a confirmation as she climbed over a gate to get to the main door. After reaching it, she quietly tested the doorknob, and to her surprise, it opened. Even more surprising, the rusty metal door opened completely silently. She snuck in and moved silently along the wall after closing the door to allow her eyes to adjust to the dark. She scanned her surroundings and couldn't see anyone or anything of note, so she moved towards the structure Clint had called out. She moved about four feet when she stopped. She could hear water running and got the feeling something was wrong. She moved towards the structure carefully; the closer she got, the louder the water got and the more she felt something was wrong.
She got to the structure and pulled on the makeshift handle of the sheet metal door, again silently somehow despite it being mostly rust. Stepping into the makeshift structure, she realized why she felt something wrong; at least mostly, something was still bothering her. Lit up by a utility light in the corner of the room, in a chair next to a pipe with cuffs hanging off it, was a body. But not just any body, it was her team's target. Natasha looked the body over and was surprised to see that it looked like he had a broken collarbone, wrist, knees, and elbow, if the way his arm and legs were positioned was any indication, along with a multiple gashes across his torso and pelvis, finishing her observation she saw there was also a small hole in his temple. "Someone beat us here" she relayed to Clint over her comm, "Target is dead."
She moved through an archway leading further into along the structure, following the sound of the running water. Entering into what was supposed to pass as a kitchen, she saw the back of a figure hunched over a deep, industrial looking sink. She noted a feminine figure, hair black as a raven's feathers, and pale, pale skin. She saw what looked like a rag and a knife on the counter next to them. She was about to call out, when the unknown woman tenses and in the blink of an eye, she's is in a fighting stance and facing Natasha. Natasha gets into her own stance.
Before she can placate her, the other woman advances. The two women circle, waiting for the first strike. It comes from the raven-haired woman, striking out like lightning. Natasha goes on the defensive, blocking and dodging hits. In an opening, Natasha counters; striking with a kick aimed at the woman's side. She blocks it, then shifts, trapping Natasha's leg against her ribs and arm. Natasha uses her other foot to jump and launches herself off the woman's bent leg and pulls her leg free in a flip. The woman doesn't let Natasha recover and advances as she lands, attacking with jabs and kicks, blocking and countering with clinical precision, and moving faster than Natasha thought was possible.
As they're fighting, Natasha analyzes the woman for any weakness or mistakes to exploit and finish the fight. 'Something about this is familiar' she muses and then realizes she is unlikely to beat this woman in hand to hand; so, she directs the fight back into the main warehouse to get some assistance from Clint. The fact she's being countered with clinical precision and the other woman seems unbothered, as if a fight is something she does daily, rankles her more than she can say. "Need some help" Natasha manages with a pant to Clint as she falls back enough to exit the structure.
The woman follows a second later, now with a skeletal grin face mask covering the lower half of her face. Natasha stiffens slightly at the sight of it. She's fighting The Phantom, 'of fucking course' she mentally scoffs. As soon as Phantom steps through the doorway, a window breaks and an arrow comes flying towards her. Natasha watches, stunned, as Phantom snags it out of the air and drops it on the floor.
Before she can move, Clint fires off more arrows. She watches, shocked, as the other woman easily dodges them. Phantom turns toward her and is about to move when her shoulder jerks forward, an arrow through it enough to see the head. Natasha sees Phantom reach up and rip the arrow out in one move before testing her arm. Seeing that it is still (mostly) usable, Phantom nods and drops the arrow. As soon as Phantom drops the arrow, she's back in her space, throwing punches and trying to grapple the masked woman into a hold. Phantom counters easily; even after just being shot, blocking every hit she throws and dodging or countering her holds.
Phantom jumps, using Natasha's exposed thigh as a platform, and pushes her away as she spun over her. Then turns to Clint, who just ran in. Phantom dodges or blocks his blows and sidesteps his rushed advance. She gets behind him and throws him with a suplex, surprising both Natasha and Clint. She kips up to her feet as Clint rolls out of the way. As Clint is getting up, he stops on a knee and lets Natasha launch herself from his thigh and shoulder. Natasha lands with her thighs on Phantom's shoulders and throws her weight back; throwing Phantom off balance and flipping forward, flipping herself to land on her feet and twisting to stay ready.
Phantom lands on her wounded shoulder causing her to grunt out a curse of "Bloody fuck." She rolls to the side to dodge a downwards blow from Clint using his bow as a staff. She pushes through the pain and kips back up to her feet in time to use her other arm to block another blow from Clint. She pushes him back and moves around him, forcing him between her and Natasha to see them both. She raises her good arm in a loose fist, letting her injured arm hang against her body, and moves on Clint. She's able to block most of his hits with her one arm; the ones she's not able to block, she adjusts herself so that they're only glancing blows.
While they trade blows, Natasha's brain is firing on full cylinders, working on putting the pieces together for what was bothering her about the fight with Phantom. She knows that fighting from somewhere, from the speed and precision in the one on one to the counters and movement during the outnumbering, she just can't remember where. She pieces together what she knows quickly; raven hair, pale skin, skilled hand to hand combatant, familiar movement… She jolts as if struck when Phantom's voice finally registers, and she can't stop the noise of distress she makes. In the quiet of the warehouse and lull in fighting, it's loud enough to be heard.
Clint glances back at her in askance to make sure his partner was okay. He saw his partner, his teammate and friend, gape at the masked woman with arms by her side. He turns to her and asks, "You okay Nat" just before being kicked in the back.
She doesn't hear him though; she's lost in her thoughts of 'can it really be her? If so, where has she been? More importantly, HOW is she here?' It isn't until Clint tumbles into her and they're on the floor, that she comes out of her head. She looks past him and sees Phantom's back as she bolts back toward the structure. She quickly pushes Clint off her and calls out, "Milaya devushka" as she stands on shaky legs. She barely notices Clint's questioning look.
She and Clint watch as Phantom slides to a stop and go stiff as a board, then whirl around. She looks at Natasha and her eyes are hard and calculating before they widen slightly and soften. They watch as she takes a few steps towards them and hear the choked whisper of "malen'kiy pauk?" Before she's in front of Natasha and grabbing her shoulder, looking her over.
Natasha's mouth moves silently, she can't find her voice. Her mind is racing, trying to figure out what to say. She finds her voice, however choked and emotional it is, and asks softly, "i-is it really you?"
The woman pulls her mask off and gives her a watery smile. She answers in a choked whisper, "It's really me."
Translations: (Or what I was going for and was able to piece together)
Milaya devushka : sweet girl
Malen'kiy pauk : little spider
AN: Still don't own anything. HP to J.K. Rowling and MCU to Marvel.
A few things to address from reviews:
AcyFus : From my understanding (very limited, i'm more a knife or firearms guy) that's more if the arrowhead is inside the target or if the arrow is pulled back through the target. (This could be completely wrong, I'm just explaining how it seems in my head.) So if she had reached around her back and pulled it out, yes it would've been a bad time. However, in my head she just reaches across her shoulder and pulls it through (we're not gonna talk about the fletchings) I bounced around with having her break the arrow shaft and use it as a pry bar or her just muscling it out through her, I went with muscling it out. We can say that her magic shielded her internals enough that she could continue (sort of) using her arm. It's a fanfic, real logic doesn't apply right?
(As for the guest review, I'm new to this whole posting thing so cut me some slack for not realizing I could review it before posting) Obviously, that's why I'm writing the story this way. With a female main character and as a wlw character. Also, if you're going to insult me, use something more creative.
Ch. 2: The Cost of Becoming a Legendary Assassin
Black Widow Operative Natalia is cornered by eleven men of muscle hired by her target. They chased her for 30 minutes, looping around the city, in and out of buildings, across various rooftops. She gets in a fighting stance, planning to dispatch enough of them to get away. The group of thugs make a wall at the entrance of the alley she found herself in.
The leader steps forward and moves to smack her. She blocks the hit and grabs his wrist, yanking down and twisting before flipping him onto his back. Two more of the goons advance on her and she's put on the defensive. She moves quickly, gracefully dodging most of their hits; the few that connect are blocked efficiently. She blocks a punch and pushes him back. When the other places a hand on her shoulder, she counters by grabbing his hand and bending his wrist back; then bringing her elbow up quickly, slamming into his elbow, breaking it and putting his palm against his shoulder blade. She lets go of his wrist and spins, breaking a few ribs with a hit from her shinbone.
The others take this as their que to attack at once, they move slowly towards her. Their formation not terrible, a half-circle, but poorly executed. They leave an opening on her right, about eight feet away. She angles herself toward it to be able to move when the one closest to the alley entrance drops; knocked out or dead, she doesn't know. The group's attention now split, but she sees it; a girl, no older than fifteen just… appears, like she melts out of the shadows near her. She gets into her own stance next to Natalia, immediately covering her openings as if they've been teammates for years.
Shaking themselves out of the sight of their fallen comrade, the thugs turn back to the two girls. Those surprised by her sudden appearance stop moving and gape, those unaffected keep advancing on them. Natalia can't think on that now, she has to make a plan for the approaching fight. A group of, now, nine men versus her and this girl. She catalogues what she can see in the dim light of the streetlights: three have brass knuckles, one has a baseball bat, two are holding knives, and three aren't currently holding anything. She has to dispatch the knives first; sharp weapons are deadly in a close fight. The bat goes next, blunt weapons can be deadly if used correctly or on a distracted target. The brass knuckles, while heavy hitting, can be dealt with later. She's broken from her planning as the girl next to her slips a knife into her hand. She looks back and sees her holding a boot knife in a reverse grip in her other hand.
A beat. The thugs move.
The girl next to her moves, faster than she's ever seen, and is in the face of one of the ones with a knife. Before he can react to her being in his space, she slashes at his arm. Catching him off guard, she cuts his upper arm with her reverse grip while using her off hand to punch his throat. He drops his knife and grabs at his throat. The girl wastes no time, flips her grip and slips her knife in between his ribs.
Natalia shakes herself and follows suit; moving on the thug with a bat, intercepting his path to the other girl. She dodges his wild swing and jabs at his kidney. He jolts forward in pain; she raises a leg up slightly and uses her heel to hit the back of his knee. He drops to a knee and she stabs his neck. She moves towards another with a knife before he's dead. She realizes that the girl has dispatched the last knife user sometime during her fight.
The girl is taking on two of the brass knuckle users at once. She gracefully dodges their wild punches. She ducks one punch and throws a few of her own into the man's stomach before slashing with her knife at the man's thigh. He drops on his side, pulling his hands to the gash, trying to stem the blood. She continues dodging the other's pitiful attempts at hitting her. She sidesteps a swing and counters with a few jabs to his torso before breaking his pelvis with a hit from her shin. As he falls, she punches his throat.
Natalia dodges all the wild slashing and thrusts the last knife wielder throws. She ducks under a slash and uses her offhand to grip his wrist. She stands up and slashes the inside of his elbow and releases his wrist. He drops the knife and hugs his arm to himself, hand on the joint to hopefully stop the bleeding. She slips her knife between two of his ribs. She turns to one of the unarmed goons and throws the knife; it hits him in the eye, he drops.
One of the remaining thugs turns and high tails it out of the ally, leaving his two standing comrades behind. The last two share a look, then bring their arms up to a fighting stance. Natalia slips into her own, as does the other girl. Natalia swears she hears her sigh.
The two advance on Natalia and shift to a boxer's stance. One throws a quick flurry of jabs at Natalia, forcing her back. The other comes in and throws a right hook. She ducks under the right hook and throws a few jabs his exposed side. She sees the other girl sneak up behind the one who threw the jabs and kick the back of his knees, bringing him down and stabbing him in the side of the neck. The other goon sees and goes for a kick of his own. She blocks his kick with her arm and shifts, trapping his foot against her ribs. She brings her knife up and stabs the man's thigh before he pushes her back. He pulls the knife out of his leg with a grimace and sloppily throws it at Natalia. She rolls sideways under the blade, seamlessly transitioning into a one-handed round off to get up. Suddenly, the other girl is there with her with cupped hands launching her up. She flips and lands on the goon's shoulders. He tries to wedge and arm between her legs and his neck but gets hit by a hard kick on the front of his knee. He drops to the ground and Natalia tightens her legs to choke him.
A few minutes later she rolls off him and is helped to her feet by the girl. Natalia watches in silence as the girl picks up the knife the last thug threw and then as she pulls the one she threw at another, clean them off on a thug's shirt, then re-sheathe them. She watches as the girl walks deeper in the alley, then come back rifling through a backpack; sees her taking out a short length of rope, then walk to the first thug that fell and tie him up before shouldering her bag.
Natalia speaks up after a second, "Thanks. I have a place nearby; you want to come use the shower?" she asks, slightly panting, while pointing her thumb over shoulder as she moves to the alley entrance. She's aware it'll likely upset her handlers, but she can't find it in herself to care. This girl just helped her in a fight, and likely saved her life. Plus, she's curious about her; wondering if she's from a similar program to hers, why she was in this alley, and in the pale-yellow glow of a streetlight, she can see some sort of mark on her wrists. She knows what it's like to be chained up and hurt. She sees similar marks on the girl, 'and likely more if her hand is anything to go by' her brain whispers harshly. "You look like you need one… also some food" she said after a few minutes of observation with no reply.
The girl turned to fully face Natalia and tilted her head, likely having an internal discussion. Natalia, now that she had a good look at her face with lighting, however bad it is, can see a pale face with high cheekbones and just make out emerald green eyes . The girl looked down at herself and her hands, then back to Natalia and nodded. Natalia shoves her hands in her pockets and started to walk down the road towards the apartment that Red Room had set up for her. She heard the girl's footsteps catch up to her and was about to tell her to do the same when the girl's hand twitches and she mutters something under her breath, it sounded Latin to her ears, and feels an odd sensation pass over her as they approach a small group of late-night partiers.
Natalia tenses, ready for any one of them to point out their bloody clothes. But nothing happens; in fact, they seem to completely ignore the two girls. As if seeing two bloody teenagers walking down the street in the middle of the night was a common occurrence. They walk in silence until they're inside the apartment building, walking up the stairs.
Natalia says, "Thanks for the help back there. Really. I'm Natalia" on the landing of the floor she stays on.
The girl looks at her surprised for a moment. Then says in a hoarse voice, with a barely noticeable accent, "I'm Liliya."
Natalia lets them into the room, a small open floor plan, and points out the bathroom as they enter. She moves to the closet to bring her bag out and get new clothes. Then turns back to Liliya and is surprised to see what looks like a miniature steamer trunk being rifled through, noticing that there's a pair of jeans next to her. She sees her put the small trunk back in the bag, how it fits she doesn't know, and then grab both the bag and the clothes, now with a shirt, and move to the bathroom.
Natalia waits until the water is running, then picks up the phone and dials a number. A second later she connects and speaks into the receiver, "Romanova checking in. Target is neutralized. Minor deviation in plans: target had hired personnel that followed me out, they are dispatched of now."
"Affirmative, there is something that has come up. You will be reached in a few days' time, ten in the morning. You are to stay in the current location, at least until then"came the voice on the other end of the phone. Natalia confirms she will stay and await further contact, then hangs up the phone to wait for Liliya to finish in the bathroom.
A few minutes later, the door opens and Liliya comes out in a small cloud of steam, free of blood, dressed in a pair of dark blue jeans, a forest green short sleeve shirt, and a black pair of boots, hair just slightly damp. She's already got her bag on her back and is holding a jacket. Natalia notices a mark on her arm, that upon closer inspection is a tattoo; she looks at it, trying to identify it, and sees that it's a triangle with a circle in it crossed by a line up the middle. 'Odd design' she muses but is broken from her observations by Liliya's quiet voice, "Thank you. But I should really be going" before she's moving towards the door.
Natalia should just let her leave, do her own thing, and wait for her new mission. But she can't, she's already noticed a few things that don't quite add up about the other girl's behavior. Things like how she moved during the fight; like she's too used to that, being outnumbered in a fight. How she has a very slight accent; how her voice was hoarse from disuse.
Faster than she would have liked, she is away from the desk she was sitting at, in between Liliya and the door, and grabbing her wrist, filing the minor flinch away, and asks "Why wouldn't it be a good idea? You look bone tired. And like you need a good meal. How long have you been on the streets?"
Liliya appears to struggle with an argument she's not privy to, then says, "I've attracted some unsavory attention and would like to put distance" and tries to pull her wrist free.
Natalia's grip is near vice-like though and doesn't budge. "Stay. You need something to eat before you fall over. And it's cold out on the street" she claims, quickly thinking up a cover to get this strange girl to stay. She belatedly realizes that she shouldn't care about this girl, this stranger, who seems to so strongly just want to be left alone.
Liliya weakly tries pulling her wrist free again and says, "I'll be fine. I just need to find a place for my stuff."
But it's said without any conviction that Natalia doesn't respond. She smirks when her stomach rumbles slightly and commands in a soft voice, "You're staying. You need food. Plus, I haven't had any good conversation with friends recently. I've been so busy with work" quickly coming up with a cover to make her stay and so she can find out more about her. She's running questions through her mind, trying to figure out what might be safe to ask. Questions like where the trunk went, where did she learn to fight, how she just appeared, or who hurt her. The last one threw her because she shouldn't care, but for some reason she does. She can easily see the smattering of scars on her exposed arms and hands in the light of the room; can see she was right in her assessment of having been chained up.
Liliya looks between her and the door. But before she can say anything, Natalia adds on, "How about you stay here for a few days. Stay out of the weather out there and eat some proper meals. Then we'll figure out what to do?"
She sighs softly and responds with her head down, "Only if it's not an imposition."
"Not at all." Natalia assured. Causing Liliya to look back up at her; though this time, she looked her in the eyes.
Liliya cast a brief legilimency on Natalia and quickly scanned her thoughts, 'Red Room Black Widow operative Natalia Romanova. Recently finished assignment, I guess it's technically work,' she mused, 'Hates the Red Room for stealing her from her family and her chance at a family in the future. Running away would mean being in trouble with some very powerful people, so she's not yet.'
The two shared very little conversation for the remainder of the night. Just eating a quick meal of some solyanka before heading to bed. Natalia took the bed and Liliya the couch.
Liliya blinked awake the next morning, seeing the movement of a foot rocking to an unheard beat. She followed the leg it was attached to up and met the eyes of Natalia over the rim of her cup.
"Good morning" she murmured quietly, her eyes looking over Liliya, seemingly searching.
"Morning" Liliya responded around a yawn.
"What do you want to do for breakfast?" she asked, "I'm kind of in the mood for some oladushki at the kafe down the road."
"I was thinking just getting some stuff from the market and cooking. Though I've not had that before…" Liliya trails off seeing the shocked look on Natalia's face. Though if it was shock at her being able to cook or her admission at not having that dish, she didn't know.
The decision is made by Natalia after that, she demands "Kafe first. I can try your cooking some other time."
So, they walk to the local kafe in stilted silence. Neither girl really used to someone else's company. In Liliya's case, she's been on her own since coming here and is haunted by ghosts. Natalia because she hasn't had anyone be genuine with her since she was abducted and put into the Red Room.
Entering the kafe, Natalia steers Liliya to a back corner and orders them both an order of oladushki and coffee. They get their orders quickly and start to eat. Around bites, Natalia asks, "So… where did you live before this?"
Liliya finishes her current bite and answers, "I've lived in England, Scotland, and then Japan for a bit. At least those are some of the ones that I've been in longer than a month. What about you?"
Natalia seems a little excited at her answer and she says, "Oh? You travel a lot? To answer though, just a few various towns here in Russia, nothing exciting like Japan."
Liliya nodded as she chewed another bite; and spoke after swallowing, "Yes, I travel a lot. I've been many places. Some beautiful, some not. Have you ever left the country?" she finished with a question.
"I went to Germany once. That was kind of… nice." Natalia answered slowly.
The conversation tapered off as the two finished their breakfasts. Natalia moved to pull money out to pay but was beaten to it by Liliya dropping a couple bills on the table and standing up to leave.
They walk back to the apartment in slightly less awkward silence; still a little icy, but they're thawing it.
During the walk, Natalia is thinking over what she knows and has observed of this other girl – no, young woman – with her. Organizing her thoughts and observations while trying to figure out how to ask the first question without sounding careless.
After Natalia lets them in, she moves to sit on the small couch and gestures Liliya to sit as well. She hesitates briefly before softly asking, "Who hurt you?"
Liliya stiffens slightly before taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, forcing herself to relax. She plays with her sleeve and tries to shrug indifferently, but it comes off as more despondent and says, "My relatives. People I thought were my friends. Others that I trusted. Some that I didn't… I guess it depends how you mean hurt?"
Natalia's chest tightens, she relates to that more than she would like; she takes multiple deep breaths to calm down. And asks, "You thought were your friends?"
Liliya's face turns to a scowl for an instant, before it's back to a blank mask. She tonelessly says, "Some of my classmates from school. I thought they were my friends, they weren't. They were just using me." She then adopts an almost pleading expression and asks, "What about you? Any family or friends I'm keeping you from?" with forced levity.
"I'm pretty busy with work, so not many friends…" she trails off slightly, then sadly says, "And my family… well they aren't the most supportive."
Liliya reaches out and lays a hand on her arm and says, "I'll be your friend. If you'd like" with a small smile.
Natalia returns the smile and pats her hand saying, "I'd like that Liliya." They fall into a comfortable silence, listening to the sounds of the city outside. After about ten minutes, Natalia stands up and goes to the bookshelf over by the desk near her bed and grabs two books. She brings them back to the couch and hands one to Liliya.
They pass a few hours' time reading the books. Liliya amusedly notices that the book has the name Sergei on the inside front cover of her's and, rightly, deduces that the book was stolen.
Natalia asks, sometime during the third hour of reading, "Why did you help me last night?" still staring at her book, but no longer reading.
Liliya looks up from her book and observes Natalia. She's tense, as if waiting for bad news. Liliya shrugs and says, "I was there. You were outnumbered against armed opponents."
Natalia looks up and meets Liliya's eyes. She sees earnestness and honesty, not something she's exposed to very much. She looks away, feeling more vulnerable than she should after just a few words. Liliya gives her a sad smile and turns her attention back to her book.
They pass the day reading and with inconsequential discussions and vague statements. Only stopping to eat reheated soup.
Before Natalia heads to bed she lays a hand on Liliya's shoulder as she passes the couch and says, "dobroy nochi, Liliya" causing the other girl to smile sadly.
Natalia's woken a few hours later when she hears a scream and a small thud. She quickly slips out of bed, grabs a gun, and looks around. She sees Liliya curled in a ball, rocking back and forth on the ground in front of the couch. As she moves closer, she hears her murmuring, "my fault… 'm sorry… my fault… 'm sorry" like a mantra. She moves towards the other girl and is about to reach out when red rimmed, terror filled emerald eyes look up and see her. She scrambles away and into the wall, trying to curl in more on herself.
Natalia notices the air is a bit heavier around her and realizes she's out of her depth here. She tries to remember what her mother did when she woke up in a similar fashion when she was little. She walks over and crouches in front of her and holds her hands low, palms up and speaks softly, "Liliya… shh shh Liliya. You're okay." She moves closer and sits next to her. Reaching her hands towards her, pausing as she heavily flinches back, and then softly grips Liliya's hands, rubbing circles with her thumbs. "Breath dorogoy. You're okay" she murmurs to the terrified girl.
Natalia kept rubbing soft circles in her skin and murmuring nonsensical words. Eventually moving to carding fingers through her hair and softly singing a lullaby she remembered her mother singing to her when she was little. Taking around thirty minutes to calm her down.
"Are you okay?" Natalia asked, worried for her friend.
"Ni-nightmares" Liliya stutters out, then going wide eyed as she notices her slip.
Natalia sees the look and says, slightly accented, "Hey. Hey, shh. It's okay. Shh" as she continues to card her fingers through her hair. A few seconds later softly asking, "Do. Do you want to talk about it?"
Liliya hesitates for a few minutes before resting her head against her knees; sighing before saying, "I guess thinking about my relatives and the people I thought were friends knocked a few things loose."
Natalia hummed as she let her hand drop to her ankle and admitted, "I'm a little out of my depth here. But if you want to talk about, I'll listen."
Liliya stays quiet for a few minutes, then speaks into her knees, "The headmaster" spitting the title out, "of my old school was a manipulative bastard. He wanted to mold me into his perfect successor, never once caring I just wanted to live my own life. He paid a few of my classmates to befriend me, only to keep an eye on me. Using my name to better themselves."
Natalia didn't know how to respond to that, so she just wraps an arm around her shoulders; and pulls her into her side, doing her best to offer support.
Liliya falls asleep with her head on Natalia's shoulder; Natalia's head on hers.
A couple hours later, they wake.
Natalia yawns and asks, "You okay?"
Liliya gives her a small smile and nods, then moves to stand up. She grabs her bag and moves to the bathroom. Ten minutes later, coming back out freshly showered and dressed. She speaks up getting Natalia's attention, "Do you want to come with me to the market?"
Natalia nods and they leave to the market. Returning half an hour later with fresh eggs, produce, and some sausages.
Once back, Natalia moves to the bathroom to shower; and Liliya moves to the kitchenette to cook breakfast. Coming out of the bathroom, Natalia hears a soft tune being hummed. It sounds vaguely Scottish. She sees a plate set for her on the table and moves to sit down. They eat in a comfortable silence.
After they eat and move back to the couch, Natalia asks, "Where did you learn to fight?"
Liliya's answering snort is derisive, sounding out of place on the soft-spoken girl Natalia's come to know over the past day and a half, and says, "Depends which part. Some of it was learned in school. Some while I was travelling."
"You traveled to learn to fight?" came Natalia's follow up question, changing the topic away from her school. And now even more curious about this haunted young woman she's befriended.
Liliya thought for a second, getting a far off look on her face. "I wasn't just learning to fight on my travels. I was also being taught sciences" she hedged.
Natalia was now even more curious. This girl can't be older than she is, yet she's been all over the globe, and mainly to learn to fight no less. "Who made you do this?"
"They did" Liliya spat in reply. It was said with such venom behind it Natalia almost flinched.
They sat in silence for a few minutes, before Liliya suddenly sat up and said calmly, "I've taken enough of your time up. I'm sure you need to get to work. Thank you for letting me stay these few days but I should go" as she moved to stand from the couch.
Like the first night, Natalia reached out a hand and stopped her, gently grabbing her wrist. She spoke quietly, "No stay. I've enjoyed having someone to talk to that isn't a work partner. Your company is nice even, milaya devushka."
Liliya raised an eyebrow at the nickname and asked with barely suppressed amusement, "Milaya devushka? Giving out nicknames, are we? Well then, I'll have to make one for you" she joked.
"It fits you. You're small" she ignored the squawk of protest "and soft spoken, despite the horrors you've been through in life. And that's only taking into account the stuff I can see." Natalia reasoned.
Liliya was stunned. She shook herself and said, "In that case, I think you'll be… moy malen'kiy pauk" with a snicker.
Natalia's eyes narrowed slightly as she asked, with hidden nervousness, "Why's that?"
She smirked. "I don't know… I just feel like it fits" came Liliya's vague reply.
Again, the day passes by them reading books and having small conversations. Natalia enjoys the quiet, easy companionship. Liliya enjoys the peace and quiet. The two becoming friends; possibly due to kindred spirits, maybe something else.
Natalia found her first real friend since being abducted to the Red Room. Seeing that Liliya appeared to be trustworthy; she was intelligent and quick witted, always had a comeback ready; and that she so clearly needed some sort of support after everything she's been through.
Liliya made her first friend since coming to this strange new world where magic didn't exist. In briefly looking into her mind she found that Natalia was loyal to a few people, some that she shouldn't be in her opinion; a very capable and talented young woman, despite the fact that those talents are in combat skills; and looked about ready to collapse if she doesn't have someone to talk to that will just listen.
After dinner, Natalia softly grabs Liliya's wrist and says, "If you wake up with nightmares again, feel free to come wake me up to talk." Waiting until Liliya nods before releasing her.
Liliya yawns herself awake the next morning, realizing she was in a bed… and had a body at her back and an arm over her waist. She was about to panic when she remembered the previous evening.
She had woken up with a jolt and a whimper, then rubbed the heels of her hands in her eyes tiredly, before getting up and softly padding over to the bed and sitting down on the edge; rousing Natalia. The redhead just blearily cracked an eye open and raise her hand to Liliya's head, carding fingers through her hair. Before shutting her eye again and softly singing the lullaby her mother sang to her again.
As she shifted to get up, she felt Natalia also stir. She quickly went to the bathroom to wash her face, hoping to hide her blush, coming back out she sees Natalia sitting on the bed, softly smirking.
"Good morning" she murmured. Her eyes looked at Liliya, getting their searching look again. "You sleep okay?" she asked amused.
"Morning. Honestly? Better than I have in a while." Liliya responded quietly.
"Do you want to go to the market and get ingredients for breakfast? Your cooking yesterday was good." she asked.
Liliya agrees and leaves to go to the market to get some ingredients to cook with, she doesn't want oladushki again and says as much to Natalia. She looks scandalized and tells her to leave with a haughty sniff. Liliya laughs her way out of the apartment at 9:45.
At ten o'clock, Natalia heard the mail slot open; then heard the phone ring. She picks up the phone, waiting for her handlers to brief her on the new mission. "You are to be on the lookout for a new target. Full file has been dropped off. Target is to be eliminated. Recently confirmed to be in Moscow. They've already escaped our attempts twice. If you see her, take her down. Any means necessary."
"Affirmative. Will go over file and be on lookout for target and call back when completed" Natalia responded, before hanging up; knowing that they wouldn't give her something so soon after her last mission if it wasn't important. She moves towards the door and picks up the file. Sitting down at the table, she opens it up.
Target: Liliya Chernova. 14/15 years. Black hair, green eyes, aristocratic features. Tattoo on arm of a triangle with circle in it cut by a line. Fluent in English and Russian, suspected to know French as well. Proficient in hand-to-hand combat and with use of blades. We believe she is an operative from the British agency, sent to gather intelligence on our operations. She was observed walking back to the hotel she was in when she was originally picked up, before mysteriously disappearing. Bested Widow Belova when she was sent to eliminate her and escaped again. Confirmed to have moved to Moscow, stopping at a hotel outside a small town a few kilometers South.
Natalia stopped reading and slammed the file shut, glaring at it. She swallowed hard and let her mind race. 'The tattoo, the barely there accent, the description. Liliya.' They want her to eliminate her only friend, the only truly trustworthy person she's met since being abducted as a child into the Red Room to be used by and for the KGB. This soft spoken, mild-mannered girl with a strange backpack is her target. It doesn't matter the girl is as well trained as she is or that she's downright lethal. And in that moment, she would have sworn you could hear her heart break, that last little bit. She seriously considered disappearing from Russia, 'Run to the market. Grab Liliya. Make contact with Alexi, he'd get us papers. Get across the border' before she stopped and realized that the Red Room would hunt them forever; unaware that a new guest and Belova were already in Moscow, just a kilometer away.
Natalia goes over the file, what she was told on the phone, and what she had found out from Liliya through talking with her. 'Soft hair as black as raven feathers. Gorgeous, haunted emerald green eyes. Well trained fighter. Traveled the world, learning various sciences and fighting styles. Barely noticeable accent. Signs of abuse and/or torture; differing flinches when touched or from sudden movements toward her. Has nightmares that she wakes from with a jolt and a whimper (usually).' She's broken from her musings by her stomach rumbling. She looks to the clock and sees an hour has passed. And Liliya's not back yet she realizes with growing dread.
She gets dressed and double checks that she has her knife and gun on her, before leaving the apartment and heading downstairs. Out on the street, she moves in the direction towards the market Liliya had taken them to the day prior. She's only a block away from her apartment when she hears a scuffle and a familiar voice curse from an alley across the street.
She positions herself at a bus stop nearby and cautiously observes the alley. What she sees makes her blood boil. Liliya, her friend, her newfound support, her milaya devushka, is rolling a blonde-haired woman off her. 'The blonde-haired corpse of Widow Belova' her brain corrects, and she swears under her breath.
She's about to move across the street to check on her friend when a man dressed in black tactical gear drops from a fire escape behind her. She watches as he drags her to the ground and screams in her head as she catches the telltale glint of light off metal from his briefly exposed arm. She can only watch as her friend glances his temple with an elbow, only to be hit in the back of the head and have further movement stopped by his grabbing of her arms and pinning them back. She sees him pull a knife out and bring it to her neck and slits her throat.
She's frozen to the spot as her eyes meet her friend's; those beautiful, haunted emerald green eyes meet her, now, misty celery green eyes for a few seconds. She watches as her friend's eyes settle with resignation and acceptance, before flicking frantically to the side. She sees her lips moving and belatedly realizes her friend is saying "I'm sorry. Just go." She watches the light fade from those enchanting emerald green eyes and lose their glint of life. She closes her eyes and can't stop the lone tear from escaping. In that moment, she swears vengeance upon Red Room and the KGB. Natalia takes her friend's advice to heart and goes back to her apartment. She picks up the phone and dials her handlers and mechanically says that the target is down, staying on the phone just long enough to find where extraction is, and slams down the phone. She quickly packs her stuff and heads there.
The next five years are brutal for any targets Natalia receives. This is where the legend of the Black Widow program is born. Only a select few are privy to the knowledge that it's all based off of one operative. The ruthless super spy, eliminating target after target with extreme proficiency. But none are privy to the fact that with each kill, her hatred of the Red Room grows. For each target could have been her milaya devushka.
The Widow learns to operate on less than thirty hours of sleep a week. Every time she closes her eyes, she's staring into those fading emerald green eyes; sees them look back at her in pleading question, wondering why her malen'kiy pauk is still there. But she can't just leave her, not after what they did.
So, Natalia climbs the Red Room ladder, becoming the best Black Widow. She takes assignment after assignment; regardless of what it is, stealing for them, lying for them, killing for them. She saturates her ledger red. And learns all she can about the influential figures of the Red Room; their financers, recruiters, heads of operations, anyone that has information, to make her vengeance that much better.
They had taken her as a girl and transformed her into a machine of destruction, to be The Black Widow. They will learn just how good a job they did. And if she could have it her way, it would end, painfully. Not just the program, but everyone who was involved in putting the hit out on Liliya, her dorogoy, her milaya devushka. And The Black Widow always gets her way.
One target, five and a half years after Moscow, is a scientist, working on some breakthrough for some alphabet soup organization she can't be bothered to really remember. And it's here that her life changes... hopefully for the better.
Shield Agent Hawkeye is sent to kill her. But, he doesn't. He can't bring himself to kill this… child; despite her body count and the information in her file, she's a child. He watches as she tenses upon him speaking. "You don't have to do this" he says.
She turns to him and looks vaguely amused when she responds, "Your accent's terrible. Who are you?"
If he's shocked, he doesn't show it. But he does allow a little irritation to slip through his mask, "I'm Hawkeye. I work with SHIELD, the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division."
"Quite the mouthful. I can see why you choose to abbreviate" came her dry response.
He looked her over before saying, "You've acquired quite the record."
"What do you want?" came Natalia's response.
He moved just a few steps closer and stared into her eyes, "What if you put your skills to better use?"
He thinks he sees her eyes get a strange glint to them, before she asks, "Better use how?"
"Defect" he says simply. "Join us at Shield. Fight the good fight."
Now that he's watching her closely, he definitely sees her eyes gain a glint. A cross between hopefulness and sadness? As she replies, "Okay."
He looks at her strangely, "Okay… just like that?" he asks.
"Just like that" she confirms with a nod.
He looks at her a few more minutes, before speaking into his communicator that it's all clear and to send pick up.
Natalia's a mask of cool indifference and confidence as she boards the quinjet as Hawkeye, Clint he insists, called it. Inside though, she's gleefully screaming. She gets to leave Red Room and KGB, keeping her promise, and Shield might even send her to destroy Red Room. And if she solemnly promises 'I swear to you Liliya. I will get vengeance for you' as they lift off, no one has to know.
AN: there you have it. How Black Widow became so legendary (at least in my version of this world), how she recognizes Phantom, and her introduction to Shield.
Sorry for the lines like "spent the day doing x" I couldn't think up much dialogue outside of the main topics I wanted them to discuss. Also, sorry if translations are wrong (specifically if Russian has gender agreement and I didn't do that (I know some French). If you want to help with their Russian in the future let me know, though it would likely just be small words/phrases as I'll likely make a note of the language used)
Feel free to leave criticism (constructive and not being an asshole is appreciated, but if you make me laugh with your insults I guess I'll be okay with it)
Translations (and food items I found in a cookbook my mother bought overseas years ago) :
solyanka : a soup served warm or cold made with any number of ingredients
oladushki : a breakfast dish (kind of like small, thick pancakes)
dobroy nochi : good night
dorogoy : dear
milaya devushka : sweet girl
moy malen'kiy pauk : my little spider
AN: still don't own anything.
Ch. 3: Weeping Widow, Confused Clint, Penitent Phantom
Natasha stands there, crossing her arms and glaring at Phantom, Phantom sheepishly scratches the back of her head; Clint breaks the silence by coughing and asks, "So, you two… uh… know each other?" while glancing between them.
"Yeah. You could say that" came Natasha's tight response. She keeps her glare on the raven-haired woman and after raising her hand to her ear, speaks into her comm, "This is Widow. Target is down. Proceeding to rendezvous. Have a medevac on standby if needed." Then lowers her hand.
Phantom softly says, "For what it's worth, I'm sorry."
"You're sorry?" Natasha said eerily calm, voice rising as she continued. "You're… Sorry? YOU BETTER BE FUCKING SORRY!" she thundered.
Phantom steps back and ducks her head. Clint just looks between them curiously, then says dryly, "While I would love to hear this story, we need to get going."
With one last glare at Phantom, Natasha curtly nods and leaves the warehouse. Clint glances back at Phantom then follows her out. Phantom sighs, puts her mask back on, and summons her bag from the structure before following them out.
Neither look at Phantom during the journey, so she just follows them in silence to the rendezvous, trying to figure out how to explain what happened while using her magic to heal herself.
Upon entering the safe house, Phantom freezes seeing Natasha pacing then watches as she spins around and stride back towards her. Before she knows what's happening, Natasha reaches out and slaps her, before pulling her into a tight hug. Phantom's very confused but hesitantly hugs her back. Clint just gapes as he watches the exchange and thinks, 'Natasha doesn't hug people. It's like a rule for her, she doesn't show emotion.' He's broken from his musings as Natasha's whispered "How?" reaches him, before she releases the other woman and stands back a step.
Clint moves to sit at the table and interrupts, "First, I'd like to know who you are. And then you can get into how you two know each other," as Phantom thinks on how to answer.
Phantom sighs and says, "That's… fair." She reaches up and pulls her mask off and turns to Clint, "Hi, I'm Hari" she said with a little wave. "As for how we know each other, I knew her from before her Shield days" the newly identified Hari explains. "As for your question, moy malen'kiy pauk" she says with a fond smile as she turns her gaze back to Natasha, "Apparently, I impressed some higher being back home. I woke up a few hours later. I went back to the room, but you were gone," she explained, smile turning sad.
Natasha looks shocked at hearing that. 'She looked for me?' she wonders as she closes her eyes and breaths deeply, thinking over those years. Then opens them, slightly misty and softly commands, "Don't do that again."
Hari gives her a watery smile and offers a playful "yes ma'am."
"Happy reunion yay" Clint speaks up sarcastically but didn't get further than that as Hari spoke up.
"Watch it Robin Hood. Unless you want to wake up blue" she threatens, ignoring Clint's affronted look.
Natasha's reluctant snort brings attention back to her. She asks, "How's your shoulder?" before moving to sit at the table. Clint drops the mock affront and looks at her in question.
Hari shrugs and rolls her shoulder and says, "It's alright. A little tender but will be fine in about an hour," while following suit and moving to the table.
They just gape at her as she sits across from them. Hari rolls her eyes in response.
"How?" Clint asks.
"Magic" Hari responds with a cheeky smirk.
Natasha blinks in confusion, before she realizes and widens her eyes slightly, asking with a small smirk, "The backpack?"
She looks at her with creased brows, before they smooth and her eyes alight in recognition and simply says "Yep" popping the p.
Natasha's about to ask more when their comms activates, "Are you at the rendezvous? Medical's on standby" the man's voice comes through.
Clint responds, "We're here Coulson. No need, we'll see them when we get back. But we do have someone with us."
"Copy that. Extraction at 1900" comes the man's – no Coulson's – voice before asking, "Who?"
"Phantom" Natasha answers on her own comm, causing Clint to not so subtly scoot his chair back. Hari raises her eyebrow at him.
They hear Coulson's sharp intake of breath before he says evenly, "The Director will want to meet them."
Natasha looks at her and asks, "Wanna come with?" leading her to mutter under her breath, sounds suspiciously like "you'd just drag me anyways," before nodding her acquiescence.
Natasha smirks, amusement in her eyes, and responds, "Probably" though if it's to whatever was said on the other side or her comment, Hari doesn't know, "Permission to" she starts.
"Approved, classified version until debrief." Coulson interrupts before disconnecting the call.
"Exfil's at 1900" Clint tells her, who just nods. Before continuing, turning back to Natasha as he asks, "So… How far back are we talking with you knowing her?"
Natasha sighs and looks down at the table, before muttering, "5 years before you found me."
He lets out a low whistle and asks, "Before the program?" glancing at her, wondering if she knew.
"No." Natasha answers simply.
He looks between them. Observing Hari's coiled strength and tense shoulders, and Natasha's subdued mood. He bluntly says, "Based on the back end of what happened at the warehouse and what happened here, something happened. Spill."
Natasha looks to her in askance and she just shrugs. Natasha starts, "She helped me in a fight after I got cornered by some thugs who chased me after a job in Moscow. She came back to my apartment so she could shower."
Hari snorts and interrupts, "She dragged me back to her apartment for a shower."
Natasha turns to Hari and asks with a raised eyebrow, "Yeah, why didn't you just magic all that blood off you then?"
Hari responds, "Don't you start. You shot out and grabbed my wrist, basically demanding I come back 'for a shower and food.' And I did use magic that night. Remember that group of people?" she asks with a raised brow.
Natasha looks at her puzzled, before understanding crosses her face and she nods.
She explains to Clint, "I brought her back with me to take a shower, she was covered in blood, and to get some food. She looked like she hadn't eaten in days. As we're walking back, this big group of people come out of a bar, I thought we would be questioned, but they just look past us as if we weren't even there." Before turning back to Hari briefly to say, "Sorry, but it's true. You looked like you were on the streets, and the fact that you walked back into the alley and came back with a backpack."
Hari just nods and says, "Technically I was. Still kinda am," with a shrug. Leaving Natasha to look at her in question with Clint staying silent, just listening to the story and observing them. He makes a mental note, 'guess this doesn't have the best of endings based on Nat's reaction. She's usually pretty in control.'
Natasha resumes after a moment to digest that, "She ended up staying with me for a few days. At first it was awkward, but we warmed up to each other. She became the first person I could be myself around since they took me. It was… nice. That easy companionship" she admits with a small smile, forcing aside the hurt at knowing her friend was alive all this time.
Hari sighs sadly, and continues, "A few days after I met her, I left mid-morning to go to the market and get some food for us."
Natasha shakes herself out of her thoughts and interrupts, "You seriously need to try some of her cooking, it was like a restaurant chef," before her voice goes into what Clint recognizes is the voice she uses in debriefs, "While she's out though, I was contacted; saying I had a new target, and they were in Moscow," she trails off. She hates thinking about that day. It's an awful memory and the true start of her ledger.
Clint watches as Phantom, no Hari, struggles for a moment, before she reaches across the table and lays a hand on Nat's wrist, softly saying, "It's okay. Remember? Breath dorogoy. You're safe." He muses, 'It must be something one of them said back then' as he sees Nat, his teammate, partner, and friend look up and into the raven-haired woman's eyes and softly smile.
A few minutes pass before Hari pulls back, ignoring the protest inside as she does so. And hears, "She was my target" in a voice barely there.
Clint watches as she looks up at Natasha, shock and anger visible on her face. Sees her hands slightly clench, but then it all vanishes, and he sees her look of heart break. Looking at Nat, his heart also breaks a bit. She's got her head down, red hair hiding her face, and her slightly curled posture.
Not stopping to think if it's a bad idea or not, Hari stands up and walks around the table to her. Stopping at her side, she leans over and hugs the redhead, humming the same lullaby she sang to her after her nightmares. She's got it memorized now. She often uses the memory of that night to calm down after a nightmare; she has fingers carding through her hair and a soft voice singing to her; balms soothing her. She remembers the external stimuli that she focused on to bring her out of her head. She stays that way until she no longer hears the labored breathing from the woman in her arms, before she lets go and moves to sit back down.
After a few minutes, Natasha finds her voice again.
"The file I got contained the target's name, Liliya Chernova, and a picture that looked just like the girl I met. The description, the picture, the name. It was her" Natasha says, nodding at her.
After a few minutes, she continues, "An hour later she wasn't back yet from the market; so, I went to look for her. I found her a block away in an alley…" she trails off.
Hari's heart bleeds for the redhead. She just wants to take her away and apologize forever. But she knows how words can be just empty platitudes and despises it; and she would bet a mountain of galleons it's the same for the other woman.
Clint sees various emotions cross Hari's face; from sadness, to longing, and as it settles on resignation, he hears her sigh softly, before saying in her own detached voice, "I was on my way back from the market, with a few bags of groceries, when I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I looked around to see what caused it but couldn't see anything. So, I shrugged it off. As I'm crossing an alleyway a street away from her apartment, I'm tackled into the alley. I fought back, but she was good. We were stuck in an even fight for probably 15 minutes before I was able to move her far enough back to pull a knife out, but before I could follow it up, she lunged at me. She wrestled me to the ground and a few minutes later I was able to maneuver my knife enough to push it between ribs." He hears her pause for a moment, taking a deep breath, then continue, "I rolled her off of me and as I was getting back up. I get attacked from behind, the brief side glances I had of them showed a man in black combat gear, before I'm on the ground again. I fought back but was only able to hit him with a few elbows. He punched me in the back of the head, harder than anyone's ever hit me, like his glove had metal plating in it or something."
She pauses again and he looks at his teammate; gone is the calm, confident woman he's come to know, in her place is a scared, shaking girl. He looks back across the table and sees the top of Hari's head. He hears her continue in a shaky voice, "I… I remember him pulling my head back by my hair and then I feel something cold move across my neck, before it's just warmth on my neck and hard to breathe. He let my head drop to the ground and I look out the alley and see shoulder length red hair across the street. Through my blurring vision, I can see it's her, and I look between her eyes and down the street. I remember softly saying 'I'm sorry. Go.' Then I blacked out…" she trails off.
Silence permeates the room, soft sniffles being the only sound. Clint lays a hand on his teammate's arm and offers what silent support he can. A few minutes pass before anyone can find their voice. It's Nat who breaks it.
"And… I… I just watched," she chokes out. Before her body is racked with silent sobs, tears running down her face.
Clint watches the other woman suddenly be around the table, faster than he's ever seen someone move. He watches her pull his teammate out of the chair and hugs her tightly, muttering to her in Russian, "Shh, Nat. Shh, it's okay you didn't get involved. Moy malen'kiy pauk, I'm glad you got away." Before she pulls back enough to look into her eyes, willing her to understand. He has a sad smile on his face as his partner – his teammate and friend, sister in all but blood – gets comforted by this woman, an old friend, in ways that only make sense to them. He sees her release the hug, only to cup the redhead's face and tilt it up, thumbs wiping the tears away.
A few minute pass before the women part; this time though, Hari sits on the table. Collecting herself and her voice, she continues softly, "I woke up a few hours later shoved behind a dumpster. I used a standard cleaning spell to get the blood off of me and my clothes. Two of my knives and my gun were missing. I went back to the room to see if you were there, but you were already gone. I spent the next few months changing my hair color and style regularly, looking. But I couldn't find you. I tried everything I could think of. When it became clear I was just getting lost over and over again, I left," she finishes sadly, looking down at her lap.
He's beyond shocked at this. The story, the display of emotions on his normally ice-cold partner's face, and how easily Hari radiated comfort and concern for Nat, despite how she fought in the warehouse and how reserved she is now. He also notices that he's hurt, he's hurt she never told him.
Clint realizes with sudden clarity what the odd glint in her eyes when he asked Nat to defect was for; what he remembers as hope tinged with sadness and something more. The hope at leaving behind a bad memory and sadness for her loss. As he racks his brain, trying to remember exactly what 'more' was; he recognizes it, the desire for vengeance. As he thinks back on Nat's easy acceptance of defecting, he speaks up for the first time since the start of their story, asking, "Is that why you accepted?" bringing the women's attention back to him.
Nat just nods mutely, accepting a handkerchief – from… somewhere – and wiping her face.
Clint accepts the silence and tries to bring the mood up. So, he asks Hari, "Magic? Like a broomstick riding, pointy hat witch?"
Hari looks up at him, meeting his eyes and casts a quick legilimency; only breezing through surface thoughts – she's of the mindset people deserve privacy cough Dumblefuck cough – and sees that he and Nat have been teammates for years and they trust each other. Though her eyes are still misty, she smirks and jokingly says, "Pointy hats were part of my school uniform."
Nat remembers how bitter she was when they spoke of her schooling last time and softly asks, "What did you like in school?"
They watch as Hari's expression goes through a myriad of emotions and expressions in a few seconds as she looks at the wall. First thoughtful, then a smile, then a loathsome scowl, a grimace, a smaller smile, a look filled with contempt, another fonder smile, an angry glare, a look of disgust, and settles on a weak smile. Before she says, "I've always loved flying, and yes Green Arrow on a broom, I enjoyed potions and transfiguration, but I excelled at defense against the dark arts." Seeing their questioning looks she explains, "It was a class that taught, mostly, identification of creatures and curses that could hurt you and how to counter them." Their questioning look don't go away.
Clint asks, "Transfiguration? Like making one thing another?"
Hari nods as she says, "Yeah. Conjuration would also fall under that category I believe" conjuring a pitcher of water and a few glasses in example.
"Transfiguration…" Nat mutters, before saying louder, "Would that work on a person?" as she reaches forward for some water.
"To an extent, yes" Hari hedges in answer. "Before our stroll down memory lane, you asked for permission. On what?" she asks, changing tracks before they can follow up.
Clint subtly grins at the change, reaching for his own cup, and Nat gives her a look that says they'll be talking later, though she also seems okay with the change.
"I was seeing if we could let you in on what we were doing at that warehouse." Nat answers.
"We got it too!" Clint says happily, sitting back and bringing his booted feet up to rest on the table. "We're part of the government organization SHIELD, or the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division."
"That's quite the mouthful and I see why you abbreviate." Hari responded, before quietly saying, "Sounds like someone just wanted to be called Shield though." Her statement must not have been as quiet as she thought, because Clint let out a bark of laughter and Nat smirked around her glass.
"I'm Hawkeye by the way… just realized I never introduced myself. Clint also works." Clint says looking up at Hari, offering a hand.
Hari shakes it and deadpans back, "Who?" causing Nat to snort.
Clint opens and closes his mouth, floundering, for a few seconds before whining out a "You too ?"
Nat's still sporting a smirk as she explains, "I said the exact same thing when we first met. Shield line and all" seeing Hari's questioning glance.
"Completely the same way too." Clint huffs.
Hari shakes her head and pulls her cloak off, setting it on the table beside her, before leaning back to rest on her palms. Clint and Nat's eyes go wide at the fact that with her cloak coming off, the armor on her torso and arms just… fades away. Nat uses the opportunity to get a better look at the woman she thought died years ago; only to notice something strange. She can't see any scars. Not on her hand, arms, or neck. The only mark that's still there is the tattoo.
"Liliya where are your scars?" she blurts out in Russian before she can stop herself.
Hari looks shocked for a moment, before answering with a sad smile, "Magic. Specifically, a concealment charm."
Clint's confused as he glances at Nat before he recognizes what she means. He looks at Hari, looking specifically at her neck; he can't see a mark either.
Hari's expression turns thoughtful before minutely shaking her head, having an argument with herself. She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath before hanging her head and dropping the concealment charm she has almost permanently cast on herself. She hears a sharp intake of breath from Nat and a growl from Clint.
"And she had these 5 years before I met you?" Clint growls out. He loathes, absolutely abhors, anyone who would harm a child.
"Most of them, yes." Hari answers quietly, not looking up from her lap. Only raising her head because Nat stands up and puts a finger under her chin tilting it up.
"Who. Did. This." She says lowly, eerily calm. Despite being an array of emotions that she doesn't really know how to deal with at the moment, she still cares for her friend; and she will help destroy anyone responsible for hurting the people she cares about.
Hari's answering snort is just as derisive as it was when she first asked. "Like I said back then."
"That's not an answer." Nat says evenly. "That was also in answer to a different question, if you'll remember."
Hari's eyes glow slightly as she responds, "My relatives" – spit harshly enough to make Clint minutely flinch – "People I fought with, fought for" – said with a sneer – and then, just as fast as it happened, her eyes stop glowing and become hollow, she finishes softly, "when I was captured."
Nat pulls her into a hug and whispers, "Don't hide them. It proves you were stronger than what you fought" before letting her go.
"Tell me you killed them. Or at least that they're dead." Clint demands, expression pleading.
Hari grins a shark's smile, all teeth, as she replies, "All but four were before I left home."
"Good." Nat responds. Inside though, she's seething with rage.
"What do you guys do at Shield?" Hari asks after a few minutes of tense silence.
"We're a special law enforcement. We help keep the peace worldwide." Clint answers.
Nat snorts and expands that by saying, "Espionage. Counterterrorism. Sometimes protection detail. Stuff like that."
"Ah. Greater good types." Hari nods, tracing a rune on the table with her finger.
"What have you been up to recently?" Clint asks curiously after a few minutes of silence. It doesn't bother him, the silence, he's just curious about this woman that knows his partner; he's fiercely loyal to and dangerously protective of those he cares for, so he's gotta vet her. "Aside from stealing our kill and derailing our op" he adds jokingly, trying to bring the mood up.
"For a time before meeting her" Hari started, nodding at Natasha, "I looked for someone I used to know. Never found them" she says slightly sad, before gesturing down at her cloak continuing, "Then I started doing that. In between jobs I would be learning all I could about different languages and sciences or training. I could probably get a degree in just about any science now," she finishes thoughtfully.
Nat follows up with a question of her own, "Where have you been? I remember you travelled a lot."
Hari looked thoughtful before she replied, "I think there's only a handful of countries I haven't been to. And Antarctica."
Clint's eyebrows rose at that; he travelled a lot, kind of necessary when you grow up in a travelling circus and as an agent of a worldwide organization, but there were still quite a few countries he hadn't been to yet. He's broken from his thoughts at Nat's whisper. He turns a curious gaze on her and sees she's tense shouldered, barely holding it together. 'Damn. She really meant a lot to her huh?'
"Where were you?" Nat asks, sadly, voice barely audible. Hari looks at her in confusion but finally sees her eyes, so full of pain and anger and hurt; she can't answer that, she doesn't know how to. So, she doesn't, and she looks down, like a coward. "Where. Were. You?" she growls out, before she stands and starts pacing.
"I…" Hari tries to answer but trails off. Fiddling her hands in her lap.
"You had five years, five fucking years, where I was still in Russia" she spits, "You said you looked for me?" she questions harshly as she stops in front of her.
Hari looks back up, glassy emeralds meeting a furious sea. "I… I'm sorry" she breaths. "I tried for months… but I couldn't find you. I'm so-" she chokes out.
"You couldn't find me." Nat interrupts. "What about your magic?" she scoffs.
Hari just looks at her, pleading, and opens her mouth, only for no sound to come out.
"Tasha," Clint starts.
"I was devastated that day. I lost my only friend. The only person I could talk to without being judged" she says, cutting him off. "You looked? Obviously not very fuckin hard," she finishes, breathing heavily. Hari doesn't know how to answer, just scoots back on the table pulling her legs up to her chest.
Hari watches as Clint stands and steps in between them and puts his hand on her shoulder. His fingers grip her shoulder tightly, forcefully staring into her eyes, prompting her to calm herself. Nat takes a few deep breaths and nods after a minute. He pulls back and leans against the table.
She's shocked when Nat walks around the table to hug her, saying, "I said it once. Do not do that to me again." Hari just nods, head resting on her shoulder, before Nat pulls back and sits down again.
"Now that that's done," Clint starts, yelping as he receives a punch to his shoulder and a stinging hex to his thigh, "you want to hear about some pranks I've done?" he asks in a tone that says, 'we are changing the subject or so help me God.'
"Alright Flit" Hari says with a smirk, "Let's trade prank stories." Nat sees the smirk and knows that Clint has already lost.
"I got our handler with a syrup filled balloon and covered him in feathers" Clint states proudly.
"Should I go with my magic involving pranks?" Hari asks innocently, looking at Nat. From the corner of her eye, she sees Clint frown slightly.
"Yup" Nat says with a smirk, popping the p, laughter in her eyes.
"I helped create chocolate biscuits that turn you into a bird" Hari states, dryly. Continuing with, "I once made it so that any time someone spoke, it became a snake's hiss. That was a fun couple days, people went from ignoring/running away from me to using me as a translator."
"Translator?" Clint asks.
"I can speak to snakes. Well, I used to be able to, not sure if I could anymore, haven't tried recently." Hari explains with a shrug.
Nat's eyes narrow and she tilts her head to the side, biting the corner of her lip; causing Hari to feel something funny in her chest, something she hasn't felt in a long time. While Clint looks at her in awe.
The conversation turns away from pranks as Hari one-ups everything Clint's done and he deflates, before he perks back up realizing, 'if I can get her to prank again. With her magic and my brain, we'll be unstoppable.'
They spend the last hour telling Hari all about their handler, the misfit collector, Agent Coulson. Ten minutes before they're set to leave for extract, Hari banishes the glasses and pitcher and puts her cloak and mask back on, pulling up her hood. Her face becoming hidden in shadows, regardless of the light, her skeletal mask on display, and glowing green orbs where eyes should be. She smirks when she sees Clint's awed and Nat's calculating looks as she pulls up the hood. She says in a distorted voice, "Well. Let's go" with an overdramatic bow and waving them to the door. It's enough to get Clint to smile and Nat to smirk, so she counts it a win.
They leave the safe house and take a blacked-out SUV down backroads to a small, dried out farm. Hari looks at the aircraft sitting there amazed, very sleek in design with engines at the back and turbines in the wings. The back hatch opens up and a man dressed in a crisp black suit and black sunglasses steps down it. He stops briefly and looks between the three of them, only continuing when he receives a nod from Clint and Nat. He approaches the group and calmly asks, "So, what does my team owe the pleasure for you to be here tonight?" looking straight at Hari, or more Hari's mask of Phantom.
"It wasn't intentional." Phantom says, barely suppressed amusement in her distorted voice. "Nor was it a hit on either of them." She says dryly.
"She got our target" Clint says, rolling his eyes as he moves past Mr. Suit.
"Agent Coulson of Shield. You're going to have to come with us for debriefing." Coulson, name now matching a face, replied after a minute of his analytical gaze.
Phantom shrugs indifferently and follows Clint up the ramp.
Coulson looks after her curiously, before looking back at Natasha; she gives him a nod and watches, with hidden amusement, at how the man lights up and strides aboard. She follows them into the quinjet and straps in next to Phantom.
They hear Coulson radio back to base, confirming the team is in extraction and informing the other end that they had a guest. Natasha smirks when she hears a muttered 'Collector Coulson.'
Hari rests her head back and dozes off, ignoring the investigative look from Agent Coulson.
Coulson watches the three of them during the flight, slightly concerned for his team; Phantom's record speaks for itself and they're notoriously hard to contact. He sees Hari dozing, Clint listening to music and playing with an arrow, and Natasha with Phantom's head on her shoulder completely unbothered. He curiously observes Phantom, pondering over what's causing the shadows on their face; it's interesting because regardless of light source, it's still shadowed. Sees the dark grey cloak that seems to fade into wisps of smoke, black leather-like boots up to mid-calf, dark grey, almost black, pants of the same material, a utility belt of some sort with pouches (and no doubt weapons) all around it, a black top, a grey armor of some sort with a harness, and the skeletal face mask.
AN: Next chapter, Fury meets Hari. I've got a few ideas I'm bouncing between for how that conversation will go plus what else will happen in the chapter (possibly a small flashback to answer some questions introduced in the prologue). If you want a certain line / situation in, leave a review and let me know!
Also, if you're curious, as of now this is only mapped out to Avengers. I'd like to continue beyond that, I just haven't thought that far ahead yet. (This online uni stuff is cool for me not having to go anywhere, but a major pain to get help from the teachers.)
Moy malin'kiy pauk : my little spider
Dorogoy : dear
AN: Still don't own anything. MCU to Marvel. HP to J.K. Rowling.
Ch. 4: Fury and Co meet 'Phantom'
After an hour-long jet ride, Coulson has Phantom, Clint, and Natasha all follow him to a conference room where they could debrief. Knowing what little he did of Phantom; he wasn't going to take any chances and wanted the debrief and impending interview to go smoothly. If they used the normal interrogation rooms, she would likely not be cooperative and when Shield let them go, they would disappear again; and the Director wouldn't want that, he wanted to meet this character after finding out they were in route back with Coulson because the file that Shield had on Phantom was painfully thin.
Walking into the conference room, Hari dropped her bag – her moleskin pouch she had transfigured to look like a backpack – next to the seat closest to the corner and sat down with her back at the wall, waiting for the debrief to start. Eyes scanning the room, she sees a wall of opaque glass with the door, a wall with a large screen on it, and 2 blank walls. Natasha sits next to her, across from them sits Clint, and Coulson goes to sit at the chair to the left of the head.
Coulson spends the time waiting for the Director observing the three; it's clear Natasha knows the person behind the mask of Phantom and Clint has met them. It's also clear that Phantom has seen many things based on the way she observes the room and where she chose to sit. He wants to find out who the person behind the mask is, as well as a bunch of other questions brimming in his mind but figures he should wait for the Director to show up.
They only wait for a few minutes before a tall, bald African American man with an eyepatch wearing all black and a trench coat and a no-nonsense looking woman with brunette hair up in a bun and a standard Shield jumpsuit enter.
"I am Col. Nick Fury, Director of Shield and this is Agent Maria Hill. Now, let's debrief this mission first and then our guest can talk. Hopefully along the lines of what you're doing here and who you are." The newly identified Fury says, walking into the room with his trench coat billowing in a way that would've made Snape proud. He moves to the table and sits down at the head, with Coulson on his left and Agent Hill standing slightly behind him on his right.
Natasha starts the debrief, voice devoid of any emotion as she states, "We waited for the target to check out of the hotel based on the intel that we had and after he did, we tailed him to a warehouse. Barton got eyes on the warehouse and scouted it briefly before I moved in to neutralize the target. Upon entering through the door, I noticed a few things were off. Firstly, the door was rusted over completely and should've made noise while I opened it; it didn't. Second, I could hear water running, which wouldn't seem bad, except that the power for the building was out and likely the plumbing as well. Third, outside of the water running there was no noise in the warehouse, when there should have been the noise from outside the warehouse, despite the walls being basic sheet metal on a standard i-beam frame."
"After reaching the warehouse behind the target ahead of Romanoff, I got up to a vantage point to try and see in. When I couldn't, I waited for her to catch up before going up higher and looking through a less cloudy window to establish sight lines and get the layout of the warehouse to find that structure." Clint explained further.
Fury looks to Coulson, receiving a nod, asks, "What happened to the target?"
"I found him inside the interior structure, dead in a chair. Looked like a broken collarbone, wrist, knees, and elbow, multiple lacerations across his midsection, and a small hole in his temple; not quite a gunshot. Likely internal damages as well." Natasha answers.
Everyone's eyebrows rose a little after hearing that, except for Natasha's and Phantom's; not that they could really tell as her hood was still up and mask on. Clint, Coulson, Hill, and Fury all turned to look at Phantom after that.
"Safe to assume you're responsible? And can you remove that hood and mask?" Fury asks, internally slightly impressed.
"Yes" comes the slightly distorted voice, before she reaches up and pulls her mask off and hood down. They see black hair to her shoulders framing a face with high cheekbones and green eyes.
"Can I ask how?" Fury questions, mildly annoyed. Thinking, 'Seriously, we've been after this guy for months and this individual shows up and makes us look like chumps?!'
"I had gotten information he would be checking out today. It was apparently his routine; leave for a trip, come back a week to a week and a half early, stay in a hotel a few days, and then pick up a target or contact, then leave to his warehouse. I shadowed him for the last few days before your team showed up and found his warehouse. Went ahead of him and made sure there were no civilians. Then waited. I took him down and a few minutes later, the Black Widow was behind me." Hari explains, surprising everyone present, bar Clint and Natasha, as her voice is decidedly feminine. She ignores the analytical gazes and just stares at the wall between Coulson and Clint with an impassive face.
Fury observes her curiously for a few minutes before speaking, "What's your name? Where were you trained?" ignoring the looks sent to him by his team and Coulson.
Hari snorts softly, then answers, "I didn't come here to be grilled by you, Director Fury, I was asked to attend the debrief. However, if I answer your questions, can I leave and have you guys not bother me?"
"Maybe, maybe not. Depends on your answers. Now?" Fury presses.
Hari sighs a little and answers, "Fine. Go with Hari Black. As for where I was trained, that's a bit difficult. It depends on what training you mean. I went to a boarding school in the UK, I've been to some Asian countries, the US, Germany, and France as well to learn various sciences, languages, and fighting styles. I've also been many other places learning various other things."
"Hari Black? Ok. Can I ask a few more questions?" Fury questions, making a note to look up 'Hari Black' after the meeting.
She doesn't respond verbally, just waves a hand for a go-ahead.
"How old are you?" he questions, the others staying silent.
Hari looked thoughtful for a moment before answering, "I've been on this planet for 23 years, but I am slightly older than that."
Fury blinks, confused by the answer, and asks, "What do you mean 'on this planet?' Are you an alien?"
"I was British once." Hari answers dryly.
Fury holds back a groan, "Once? What the hell does that mean? Are you an enhanced? Is that how you were able to take down that man in the few minutes before my agents entered?"
"Enhanced is an individual who is made better from science right?" Hari asks, slightly amused. Waiting until Fury slowly nodded to continue, "In that case, no. I am not an enhanced. I've been the way I am since birth, now I'm just stronger, faster, and more skilled with my powers."
Fury exhaled a breath, almost a sigh, in exasperation. He wasn't getting anything useful. He would begrudgingly admit, internally of course, that he was impressed with her ability to play the game. He changes tracks, "Why did you kill our target?"
Hari finally looks away from the wall, only to look at him as if he were stupid, "He was a weapons and people trafficker, usually targeting children."
Fury nods, likely to himself, then says, "I've heard of you before, 'The Phantom,' you show up and take people out. But they're always the lowest of the low. Why do things like that?" he questions.
Hari answers with her own question, "If you had the opportunity to take people like that out, wouldn't you?"
Fury nods again, and says, "That's what Shield does; and what I do. That doesn't answer the question though."
Hari sighs softly, "I was raised for war, turned into a weapon to be deployed when needed and stowed when not. I just want to help people," she admits, voice soft.
Fury can see his agents tense slightly and frown at that statement, hell he himself almost frowns at that, but continues on. Phantom is a powerful unknown, either group or just this individual, and he doesn't like not knowing. So, he says, "Like I mentioned, I've heard of 'The Phantom' before. You show up and take people out. Sometimes reappearing less than a few hours later on a different side of the world. How do you do it? Is there a group of you wearing the same outfit? Or is it just you?"
Hari responds, "It's just me. Like I said, I just want to help people. Sometimes people give up information and I follow those leads. Occasionally that information leads to other groups faster than other times."
Coulson has been sitting quietly, thinking over what has been said and makes a mental note of suggesting she should be marked as an ally of Shield and also thinks she could be a valuable agent if she joins.
Hill makes a mental note to find out more about 'Phantom' and run 'Hari Black' through FRS. As well as internally being impressed at the drive to help people.
Clint is curious about the woman. She goes from joking prankster to war veteran in the blink of an eye. He, like Coulson, deduces that she's seen some terrible things; her eyes seemed so haunted and hollow at the safe house.
Natasha is concerned for her old friend. She thinks similarly to Clint, she's been through too much. Her ability to read people has helped in the past and what she sees in her friend worries her. She sees a woman who is pushing herself to the breaking point in between trying to enjoy life; trying as the key word. Her placement in the room, the way her eyes scan everything, her instantaneous change in demeanor, the way her eyes spark with life then get snuffed out so quickly. She resolves to try and help her whenever given the opportunity.
"How do you do these things? You said you weren't an enhanced." Fury asks after a moment to digest what he's been told.
"If I'm to answer truthfully, I need your word that it goes no further than this room. You as Director will know, as will your right and left hands," Hari starts, pointing at Hill and Coulson, looking into Fury's eyes – er, eye – casting a quick legilimency. She briefly scans his thoughts and sees he's a walking plan with contingencies on his contingencies; a real spymaster's spymaster. 'He and Moody would've gotten along like a house on fire' she muses, coming out of his head to see him looking thoughtful. She watches as he leans back to talk quietly with Hill, and at her nod, then leans forward to speak quietly with Coulson, and at his nod, finally lean back in his seat and steeple his hands in front of him.
"Okay. It goes no further than this room and I've had the monitoring temporarily disabled," he states.
Hari nods and asks, "Do you believe in magic?"
Fury looks to his people and sees Romanoff's and Barton's small smiles and nods, Coulson's awed expression and wide eyes, and Hill's slightly raised brow. "An example might help" he says after a moment's thought of, 'it certainly wouldn't be the weirdest thing.'
Hari sets her hands on the table and twitches one of her fingers, instantly there's two pitchers of water on the table along with enough glasses for everyone.
Fury watches as Barton and Romanoff don't react and just fill up a glass and Coulson take a glass only to closely inspect it, before reaching forward himself and filling up a glass. He sits back taking a drink, noticing it tastes like normal water and the glass feels real in his hands.
"Okay. What else can you do?" he asks, inside wondering how he can work to hire this woman. 'There's about to be a witch on my payroll if I have anything to do about it… which I do' he mused.
Hari thinks for a few moments before responding. Remembering that while she was searching for Sirius, she never found any other magic users on this planet, minus those few people in Hong Kong, London, and New York; but they were different, not quite using magic the same way she did. She decides to answer honestly and open up just a little more, "Just about anything. Part of the training I did was traveling to various magical communities and learning what I could from them."
"Magical communities? I've not heard of such a thing," Coulson says, entering himself into the conversation.
"There aren't any on this planet," Hari starts in answer.
"You keep saying 'this planet' but you said you weren't an alien." Fury interrupts.
"Technically I just said I was British once." Hari replies, a tiny bit amused.
"Where are you from?" Fury asks, refraining from headbutting the table or shooting something – probably Black.
"An alternate universe." Hari replies.
Natasha now knows why she always said, 'back home' when they talked before she had 'died,' but never saying where home was.
"Alternate dimension? I'm gonna be honest and say that doesn't sound very believable to me." Fury says a bit skeptically.
Hari shrugs, "I'll be honest and say I find your disbelief amusing. Basically, I walked through a portal on my home world. It spit me out here on this world," she explains. Continuing, "I'm telling the truth though. I wouldn't just sit here to lie to you. I can leave anytime I want."
"How is that?" Fury asks, knowing she's telling the truth but trying to figure out more about this unknown.
"Teleportation or portals is the simplest answer." Hari responds; but Fury reads between the lines and deduces near instantaneous travelling. She continues, "I have some trust issues so forgive me for not saying much right now. As of now, I trust you guys about as much as you trust me. Which probably isn't very much based off the calculating looks you and Coulson have been giving me and the way Hill's body language is showing that she can easily grab her pistol that's not strapped in," she points out, surprising everyone out how easily she read the room. "If you want that to change, I believe I would be a better ally than enemy," she finishes.
Fury is slightly surprised by this, both how she was able to read the room and he wasn't expecting her – The Phantom – to admit that, "You want to work for Shield?" he asks.
"Yes and no." Hari answers. "Again, trust issues. So, forgive me if I don't want Mr. Spymaster to be breathing down my neck constantly; ordering me around and dictating my life choices. But I could work with you and maybe them," pointing at Nat then Clint, continuing, "if you had something that was too much for a normal agent. I can get places no one else can and faster than anyone else, then leave just as quick."
"Why do you want to do this? What's in it for you?" Fury asks; mask in place, inside though he's smugly smiling.
"Honestly? I'm a weapon with nothing to aim at anymore." Hari answers quietly. Before raising her voice back to normal and continuing, "I also don't really know what to do with myself anymore. I've been helping people since I was a kid, been told I have a 'saving people thing.' I've had a lot of down time between jobs recently and that leads to me thinking a lot. And when I think a lot, I start to remember things."
"Things?" Nat speaks up entering herself into the conversation, already partially knowing where this is going. Before she hears an answer though, she feels Clint's booted toe tap against her calf, his way of showing support from across the table.
"Things like how many people I've lost or how a bed is too soft. I remember pain: getting shot, stabbed, burnt, blown up, tortured, and more unpleasant things that I'd rather not relive right now. I've been fighting my whole life and now I'm not sure if I can stop. It's like fighting has been the only constant throughout my whole life. I get challenged and fight to live another day." Hari answers.
Her voice is factual, unbothered. As if it's normal for a '23'-year-old to have dealt with all of these things. Fury sees Barton's clinched fist and tense shoulders, Romanoff close her eyes in resignation and tense shoulders, Coulson's openly horrified expression. He thinks for a few moments before asking, "Sounds like a less than ideal life. Why tell us these things? Why not find a therapist?"
"It's not." Hari agrees, then answers, "As for your first question, I've had people trying to kill me pretty much since I was 11 years old," she points out dryly, continuing, "This though? I guess I know how this works, how people like you work. I tell you something about myself, just enough that you'll find me more acceptable than someone you just found straight out of the academy or somewhere similar. I told you I've suffered; and you've seen some of my resume, I guess you could call it. I told you I can get places quickly and not noticed. I also know multiple languages and can fight just about anything or anyone. And you know I want to work with you."
"And the second thing?" Fury asked when Hari fell silent.
"I don't exactly have a permanent address," she points out with a wry grin. Before dropping it and continuing, "And I've gone through far too much for a normal shrink to help much."
She takes a breath and says, "Look, we can go back and forth with this and talk in circles all day. The way I see it, we can do one of a few things: become enemies and you guys chase me until I get bored and likely take everyone you send out; stay neutral and I don't attack you or any of yours and you don't attack me; or we can become allies, combine our resources and powers to make the world a better place. From my 'Shield: All You Need to Know' brochure they explained while we were waiting," with a gesture between Clint and Nat, "you guys are greater good types and that's what Shield is about; letting people sleep at night comfortably and without worry for their children outside of normal family things."
Fury sits silent for a few moments going over what he's been told, before speaking up, "Coulson, what do you think?"
Coulson looks thoughtful for a moment before answering, "Well trained, and that's just what we have as after-action reports and autopsies of targets. Trust issues, but those can be fixed in time and she seems to have been honest so far. Flexible skill set. I imagine I'd be her handler should she come on, seeing as she was found by my team and brought in. Go ahead sir."
Fury nods and turns to look at Hill, "Your thoughts?"
Hill observes Hari for a few minutes, seeing the coiled strength, her calculating eyes, and how she correctly deduced her body language, "Green, sir. If she's to be believed, she has incredible training and knowledge that would be valuable should something of that nature come up. She also knows how to read a room."
Fury turns back to Hari and asks, "What do you think Black? SHIELD Agent or consultant?"
She answers with her own question, "I can deduce what being either would roughly mean. But what does each mean specifically for Shield?"
"If you were a consultant, you would be called in to help with things we have no way of doing, but you might. You could possibly be called in to help train in stealth or espionage, since you seem to have a high proficiency in those areas. If you joined as an agent, your skills and past as an assassin show you would be an exceptional ghost operative; off the books work in stealth, covert ops, reconnaissance, recovery, and key target elimination. I think you would also make a valuable addition to one of our STRIKE teams. Delta; made up of those two," he explains, finishing with a gesture at Romanoff and Barton.
Hari thinks on it for a bit. 'Same thing I'm doing now. I'd see Nat more. Steady income instead of stealing the money from the gangs and dirtbags. Could probably get them to develop some better tech resistant to magic.' After she realizes that, it's an easy decision; bulky tech is annoying and not very surreptitious in the modern age. "Haven't had the best past with secret clandestine agencies that deal with the supernatural and occult," she points out dryly. But continues, "Put me down as a consultant for now. I'd like to think more on it tonight. Oh, and I'll need some papers," she warns, realizing she's just been using a piece of paper in a wallet charmed to look like whatever official documents she needs for a certain country.
Fury nods and turns to Hill, "If you would."
Hill nods to him and moves to leave, just before the door turns back and looks at Hari, "A middle name would make the papers more authentic. And a DoB is needed."
After thinking on the 'middle name' bit for a minute, Hari answers, "31 July. Let's go with Rose for my middle name."
Hill nods and leaves the room. Fury turns back to Coulson, "While she's doing that, set up a hotel for our guest. Once she gets that done and brings it to you, take Miss Black here to the hotel."
With that done, Fury stands up and strides out of the room, coat billowing – again, Snape would be so proud Hari muses – talking into his comm as he leaves; "Reenable sound and cameras in conference room" is as much as Hari hears before he's out the door.
Coulson stands and adjusts his jacket, saying, "Once I get that done and those papers I'll come back and get you Miss Black. Then we can get you to the hotel for the night."
Hari nods and asks with a small quirk of the lips, "Before you release back to the real world, can I use a bathroom or locker room and change?"
Coulson nods and heads out of the room, leaving Clint, Hari, and Natasha.
"Rose?" Clint asks Hari with a raised eyebrow, speaking for the first time since the debrief.
She sighs softly before answering with a small smile, "My mother's name was Lily. And the females in my adoptive family were named after flowers or celestial beings." Before she drops the smile and scowls instead, "And my aunt was named Petunia."
She stands and transfigures her outfit to a simple pair of dark blue skinny jeans, forest green Henley shirt, and a pair of black combat boots, before putting her cloak and mask in her bag, then sitting back down.
Nat looks at her curiously and asks, "I thought you didn't want people to know about your abilities? That's why you asked Fury to turn off cams."
Hari shrugs and answers, "It's going to come out eventually. Plus, I confused the camera to make it look like I just pulled off my cloak and armor that was on my legs and chest."
Nat's look changes from curiosity to thoughtful and Clint just smiles at the answer.
"So. Consultant for now? You think you'll change your mind to an agent in the morning?" Clint asks, smile still on his face, leaning back in his chair bringing his booted feet up on the table once again.
Nat answers before Hari can, "Of course she'll want to join. She'd get to see me more often," she jokes, batting her eyelashes at Hari.
"That's not the only reason." Hari points out dryly.
"Are you saying you don't like me anymore?" Nat asks, eyes wide with a few tears starting to form in them.
Hari instantly wants to take it back and apologize, but stops short and lets out a delighted laugh, "You are dangerous."
Clint just shakes his head at the two women.
"What did you find on Hari Black?" Fury asks Hill over comms, "And where are you with those papers?"
"They're just about finished, I used the information she gave and a picture from FRS that we found that most matches what we saw. But, sir, there are multiple names with that face. Along with the fact that 'Hari Black' also has multiple faces." Hill responds, sounding slightly impressed.
"What?" Fury asks, not surprised at the fact that it might have been an alias, after all she said it herself 'trust issues,' but surprised by the fact that she might have had cosmetic surgery while not having a permanent address.
"Sir, the results from FRS show Hari Black as mostly the same person we met. Only changes are hair color, eye color, or subtle changes to her nose shape. Cheek bones, chin, and space between the eyes are the same. They fluctuate in their matches, being from 65% to 90% matching the woman we met," Hill explains.
"First result of Hari Black is 20 years ago, she just seemed to pop into existence. Pictures are from all over; England, Japan, Russia, Germany, the US, and more in airports, train stations, and ports. None of them return an address, bank account, or phone number," she continues.
Fury doesn't say anything for a few minutes, thinking over that while walking through the halls to his office. Just as he's about to get there, "Copy that. For now, get those papers done and to Coulson so he can take them to her and get me a file on her. We'll figure out more after we talk to her again."
The scene Coulson comes back to is… odd. Clint and Hari are laughing at what sounded like a prank story, Natasha is groaning with her head down on the table, and Hari is no longer in her Phantom uniform. He clears his throat and all three look at him. "I thought you were going to wait and use a bathroom before leaving?" he asks, looking at Hari.
She just shrugs and answers with a wry grin, "It's not the most comfortable thing to wear."
He looks between the three of them curiously, before shrugging it off and saying, "If you'll come with me, I have your papers and will take you to your hotel."
She stands and says, "You guys be good for Mr. Coulson okay?" looking between Clint and Nat.
Clint sarcastically replies, "Yes mom," as he and Natasha stand; clearly, he hasn't gotten used to Hari yet or he would've realized how much of a smart ass she can be. Only Natasha notices the sad smile she has for a brief moment at his comment.
"Make sure you eat supper and wash behind your ears tonight," she responds not missing a beat, bringing an amused smile to Coulson's normally stoic face. She waves Coulson ahead of her to the door saying, "Lead the way Man in Black," leaving the, now, chuckling assassins behind.
Coulson leads her down to the parking garage and gets into another blacked-out SUV. They leave and he drives into town towards, presumably, the hotel; after 20 minutes of silence in the car, Coulson pulls up in front of a semi lavish hotel, "Here are you papers," he says, turning in the driver's seat and passing a folder back. "You've got a room; all you've got to do is check in. It's rented for a week. We'll be in touch," before driving off right after Hari grabbed the folder, pulled her bag out, and shut the door.
AN: First meeting of Fury meeting Hari. I realize Fury and Co. might be a bit OOC here but it's just their first meeting, as time goes on I will (hopefully) flesh them out more.
Thank you to Fishkaka for pointing out some fixes for the Russian from the last chapter. Hopefully I'll be better at it next time.
AN: Still don't own anything.
Warning! This chapter mentions some stuff that is not pleasant (Descriptions of / References to: torture and rape) So, if that kind of thing is not your cup of tea, you can skip the italics. (Ctrl+F "Hari jolts awake" and you'll pass it)
Ch. 5: Nightmares and New Dawns
(Hari pov for Italics)
After checking in and getting into her room, Hari wandlessly and non-verbally casts locking and silencing charms on the door and windows. She tosses her bag and the folder with her papers on the bed and moves through the room to check for bugs. Finding none, she sends out a small wave of magic to look for others; not finding any, she uses her magic to look as well. Satisfied that there are no bugs inside the room, she moves to look out the window; her sharpened gaze thanks to her animagus form allows her to see an agent across the street on a rooftop, she shuts the curtain and moves back to sit on the bed. As she sits on the bed, she thinks about what she's doing.
After a few minutes, she gets up with her bag and takes it into the bathroom. Once inside, she opens her bag and retrieves her trunk. Setting it on the counter, she drops the transfiguration on her bag and reverts it to its original moleskin state and putting it back around her neck.
She checks her pockets to make sure nothing is in them and is surprised to find a small note in one. Opening it up she sees it's a quick note from Natasha reading, "Liliya, or Hari I guess, this is mine and Clint's numbers for our phones not traced by Shield. If you ever want to talk." She pulls her phone out and opens it before inputting the two new contacts. After making sure her other pockets are empty and her phone is set down, she drops the transfiguration of her Phantom gear. She then goes through the process of removing her armor and weapons, almost ritualistically. She then toes off her dragonskin boots, strips off her dragonskin pants and basilisk hide top before transporting her Phantom gear to its place in her trunk.
She then gets in the shower, quickly washing herself before getting out. Summoning a pair of sleep shorts and a tank top from her trunk as she dries off. She moves to the bed after getting dressed and collapses down, asleep before she's laid flat. Dreams turning into nightmares as the night goes on.
I'm on an uncomfortable stool with a ratty old hat on my head.
"I'm not ratty, though I am old" a voice speaks into my mind.
I barely suppress a jolt. Seeing as the voice didn't sound like someone speaking directly, I think back. "Hat?"
The hat sends a chuckle through my mind before it replies, "Yes Miss Potter, Hat works. Or if you fancy using a name, I was called Coeus when I was with Godric."
"I would be honored to call you Coeus once again." I reply.
"Now, where to put you?" Hat, or Coeus, muses in my head.
"I want to be with my first friends." I respond immediately.
"You could do great things in Slytherin though, Miss Potter. You would make great friends there." Coeus reasons.
"Is it really cunning to be in the House of the Cunning though? It's far more cunning to hide elsewhere." I think back with a bit of a smirk on my face.
The Hat lets out a full-blown laugh, something that's apparently never happened before, before answering, "That is a fair point Miss Potter. Do come by and converse with me sometime. If you need help, ask the portraits or the ghosts and tell them Coeus sent you. They shouldn't give you any problem. Last chance to change your mind."
"Thank you for the offer, but I'd like to be with my friends." I respond.
"Okay Miss Potter, word of warning. Be careful with the headmaster for he enjoys playing chess with people." Coeus warns me.
"Thank you for the warning sir. I'll be sure to try and come by to talk to you." I say.
"If you're sure," Coeus starts; I give a nod. "Better be… GRYFFINDOR!" he finishes out loud.
I'm sitting at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall eating breakfast when I get a letter.
"Jolly Rodger has asked me to pass on a note for you 'Talk with the Child of Celestial Gathering about the Bright Hound's living situation. I've been told the Rodent problem has been taken care of.' – S" it reads.
Confused by the coded message, I look to the head table and see Snape is already there. I raise an eyebrow at him to which he replies with a barely noticeable nod. I start to piece together the clues.
Bright Hound can only mean my godfather, Sirius; referencing his namesake and animagus. Dogfather Padfoot I snicker internally.
Jolly Roger is the pirate skull and cross bones, so that has to be Madam Bones of the DMLE – I'm friendly with her niece, Susan, and she was helpful in getting me to school second year (Ron's a bloody idiot) and taking my statement after the basilisk ordeal.
Rodent problem? Wait someone caught Pettigrew? The fucking traitor I think viciously.
Child of Celestial Gathering is a bit trickier though. Reasoning it has to be a Black, or an ally of the Blacks, that I'm in contact with, or can be in contact with easily, because why else would they bother wanting to talk with me on it. Thinking back on the few conversations I've had with Narcissa as it might be her? But no, I realize with sudden clarity; Tonks, the note means Tonks. Her mother, Andromeda, is named after a galaxy; a celestial gathering.
Despite the soul sucking affronts to nature and the grim atmosphere of the students – I'm seriously starting to think almost all wizards are either complete idiots or just lack basic reasoning skills – I can't help but to be happy. My godfather's finally going to be free! Seriously, (mentally snorting at the joke) anyone who asks those who knew my father and Sirius would know they were like brothers. Add on that he did the godfather oath and he would've died if he was the real betrayer.
The whole thing that Ronald was saying about how he was the one to betray my parents to Voldemort is such a crock of shite. And Hermione just reciting what she read adding in her two knuts. I shove those thoughts aside and focus on maintaining my mask; the hat didn't want me in Slytherin for nothing. I've got to play the long game, Dumbles wants to play chess, we'll play chess you arse.
But my mask slips just a little and I'm now sporting a vicious smirk. Thankfully, the only people in the Great Hall right now are some of the Slytherins, a few Puffs and Claws, a couple older Gryffs not paying attention to me, and the Twins who just walked in. They see my smirk as they sit down and double check themselves to make sure they've not been pranked.
I wave them off not even looking up from the note saying, "No. You're good. I've just got some good information."
"Oh, do tell-" Fred (or Forge as we like to call him) starts. "What has you so excited" George (Gred) continues. "Little Harikins" they finish together.
I glance around making sure no one is nearby before looking to them and answering in a hushed voice, "Padfoot's comin home." I tell them with a less vicious smirk.
They look shocked before a wide grin breaks their faces. Saying, "That's some great" "news. We're so" "happy for you."
My smirk turns into a smile as I quickly say thanks before making myself a plate.
I'm pacing down back and forth in the Room of Requirement, pretty much where I've been staying since my name came out of that Merlin Damned cup. Morgana! I can't help but be glad I left the Gryffindor dorms; with Hermione's constant nagging and belittling for not doing the work the exact way in the book or Ginny and Ron's anger at me being chosen, their anger over me being blood adopted by Sirius, or their constant attention hogging.
After the whole basilisk incident and the start to this year, I cut off ties with them. The older two never stood up for me during the start of the basilisk fiasco and only talked to me to tell me I had to stop it. Ginny being given some crazy idea how I'm only supposed to be a heroine and rescue her. And then they turned their backs on me with the rest of the Gryffs, minus Neville and the Twins, this year with this stupid tournament. They tried to come back after the first task and apologize (they were some really shitty apologies) before telling me to stop spending time with the Snakes. My friends were just congratulating me on the egg when they came up and I lost it; I told them that these snakes had more courage than the lions did so far and have been friendly with me since I met them, I said how the 'House of Lions' was really the 'House of Jackals' always turning on each other and being cowards before I stalked off.
But the reason I'm pacing isn't because any of them did anything recently. No, it's because I need a date for the Yule Ball as champion. And I've already shot down multiple guys asking me. The thing that only a handful of people at Hogwarts know, my real friends, is that I'm what you would call a 'witch's witch.'
The only people I can even think about going to this stupid Ball with are Daphne and Tonks. Daphne's like my sister but we could have fun at the ball; and I know she's shot down as many as I have. As I think about Tonks I stop pacing and get lost in thought. The bubbly, charismatic, and kind Tonks, an auror and my trainer for this stupid arse tournament. She threatened to hex me when I called her Nymphadora – even though it's a beautiful name, like her – but she's a sweet, fun loving woman.
I spent some time with her over the summer with Sirius and Andi, and I loved it. Her color changing hair looks so soft and I just want to run my fingers through it. Her vibrant eyes are bright like the stars. She was one of the first to look past my scar, or that awful epithet of 'Girl-who-lived,' to see Hari. She's just… perfect. Whenever I was with her, it felt like my magic was singing. With these, not really new, realizations, I move to a desk provided by the room to pen a letter to her.
"Tonks, I hope you're well. This letter is me asking a question and finally coming to terms with something. I'd like you to at least think about both before deciding anything. I want to ask if you'd like to go to the Yule Ball with me? I know you're already doing so much in helping me train for the tournament, and I can't thank you enough for that. But I can't lie to myself or you. I like you, like as in I think I might be falling for you. Over the summer when we were hanging out together, I always had a warm feeling in my chest and I'm pretty sure my magic was singing when I was with you. I just felt so happy when I was with you. If you don't feel the same way, that's fine. I just hope it doesn't make things awkward between us. I still need your help with this dumb tournament. And I don't want to lose you as a friend, you… you mean a lot to me Nym. – Your friend, Hari." I finished, setting the pen down – honestly, fuck a quill for a note to a friend – and read over it. Satisfied with it, I put it in an envelope and sneak out of the room to go find Hedwig.
"Thank you Nym. For helping me with this and for a fun time tonight." I say quietly, moving through the halls back to the Room with Tonks, or Nym as I started calling her in my letter and after her smile at it during the Ball, walking alongside me, with her arm looped through mine after the Ball.
"No problem Hari. I had a good time tonight," she answers softly with a small smile on her face.
I stop in an alcove around the corner from the entrance to the Room and tug her arm to get her to face me. She starts to ask a question before I gather up whatever courage I have left in me and I lean in to kiss her. She doesn't respond at first, before she catches up and her hands come to rest on my waist. After a few glorious minutes, I pull back panting slightly and rest our foreheads together.
"Nym… I think I love you." I say murmur quietly, looking into her now emerald eyes.
"I think I love you too Hari," she says just as quietly with a shy smile.
A huge, face-splitting, beaming smile now plastered on my face, I kiss her again quickly, before leading her to the Room.
I'm in the Death Chamber in the DoM at the Ministry. I've got Neville and Luna at my back and the Order just apparated in.
I see Nym, Sirius, and Kingsley and others start firing off curses to the Death Eaters. I trip over some debris near the Veil.
I hear over the sounds of spell fire Sirius swear and see him move to my side as I get back up.
Just as I rise to my feet, he's struck in the chest. He falls backwards into the Veil. The standing DEs all apparate out or run away.
I feel Nym's arms wrap around my waist and shoulders as I stare at the Veil, crying out in rage and pain. I feel her tears on the back of my neck as she quickly kisses it before leaving with Kingsley to alert Madame Bones.
I just got back from Gringott's. I'm now Lady Black on top of my other titles. I still can't believe it, Sirius is dead. It feels like my world is crumbling and Nym's back at work after the will reading so she's not here to stop it.
My legs collapse out from under me and I crumple to the floor of Siri's place. He barely lived here two years and now it's mine.
I don't know how long I'm there on the floor. I only come out of my trance to the sound of the door closing and footsteps heading my way in the hall. Looking up, I see Nym come through the doorway and I can't help the new tears that come as I ask 'Why' over and over.
She turns the corner and rushes to my side, dropping to her knees and gathering me into her arms. She starts to hum a soft tune I don't know the name of as she rocks me. We stay like that for what feels like eternity; but at the same time, not enough time at all. She pulls me up some time later and guides me to sit on the couch.
Just after doing so, Hedwig comes flying in. She drops a small bundle of letters in front of me before settling on my shoulder, nipping my ear softly. I numbly stroke her plumage with one hand and the other cards through the letters. They're from my friends, minus Luna and Neville.
I see one from Daphne and Tracey offering condolences and to let them know if I need anything.
One from Fleur – the champion from Beauxbatons during the Tri-Wiz, we became friends after I rescued her little sister in the second task and she found me wandering the grounds one day and thought the betrayal of Hogwarts' students was awful and she and her friend group welcomed me and Nym – saying that if I wanted, I could come visit her and her family in France.
One from Draco asking to meet in muggle London with his mother, saying they had no knowledge of what had happened that night.
A note from Blaise offering me a vacation to his family's villa in Italy.
And surprising me, one from Snape saying how even though he disliked the man, he didn't deserve to die this soon.
There's a secondary note on the back of Draco's; from Bellatrix Lestrange. She's asking for a chance to explain.
I break down crying again after reading through the notes, especially at the note from Bellatrix as she's the reason he's dead.
I turn to Nym and bury my face in her neck while I fist my hands in her shirt as she hugs me. She pulls me closer and murmurs over and over that it'll be okay and that she loves me.
I look up at the ceiling in Malfoy Manor, this time under much less hospitable circumstances, and see Nott Sr. standing over me, holding a wicked dagger in his hand with his robes partially open.
I will not give in to this motherfucker, I will not cry or scream. I've known pain for too long in my life. He bends over me with a sadistic grin; before ripping the sleeves of my sweater off and laughing as he carves out the words 'Traitor' and 'Whore' in my skin. He continues sadistically chuckling as he cuts randomly over my body. Through his laughter, I can hear quiet retching.
I tilt my head to the side and see an incredibly pale looking Draco turning away. I see that Narcissa has a few tears on her cheeks. And surprisingly, I see Bella while she has her normal insane grin, it seems forced; her eyes seem hollow, giving her away.
I refocus my attention back on Nott as I hear a zipper. Looking back at him I see his wand pointed at me before he mutters out "Petrificus Totalus." I can do nothing as he maneuvers himself on top of me before forcing himself upon me.
I retreat into my mind, so I don't have to see the disgusting acts he does. I think back on my friendship with the Malfoys and Bella and how from an outside perspective it seems wrong. The 'Gryffindor Golden Girl' friends with dark wizards and witches of their sort.
How when I first met Bellatrix, I wanted to hex her upon seeing her at that café with Draco and Cissa, but then as the meeting went on and she told me of the arranged marriage and potions; oh, my heart broke for the woman. As much as I wanted to hate her, I couldn't. I annulled her marriage the next day and to thank me, she took me shopping on the continent using her ex-husband's gold.
How Draco was a snobbish, spoiled child when we met on the train – I had gotten a book on wizarding culture with my school supplies and knew enough to at least curtsy and introduce myself – but through the years has become a decent young man. How he's been respectable and polite in my company despite his father being a blood purist.
How Narcissa has been a godsend of help in preparing me for my station as the Lady of an Ancient and Noble House. She, along with Daphne and Mrs. Greengrass, has taught me so much about the wizarding world's customs and its etiquette. She's also a lovely conversation partner over tea, telling stories of her life or advice from her mistakes. I even got her talking to her sister, Andi, again.
I'm broken from my thoughts after his pathetic, and rough, performance by his spat curse of "Crucio."
As I come out of my mind, I see Nott with an evil smirk on his face and wand pointed at me again; before it feels like my every nerve is on fire. It seems to go on for eternity before it stops.
I'm twitching on the floor, eyes growing increasingly unfocussed for just a few minutes reprieve. And then he curses me again.
It goes on like that for what may have been thirty minutes, hours, or days; him spitting out the curse, me writhing on the floor, a minor pause, and it repeats. It continues to the sound of dark, sadistic chuckling until I black out.
Voldemort just ordered his Death Eaters to fall back and gave Hogwarts an hour to turn me over. I'm exhausted, the fighting has been going on for hours. Walking through the halls, I see how much damage has been done and I can't help but blame Fumbledork for him trying to keep me in the dark about this. I'm near the Great Hall when I see the bodies. I see Daphne's body, and Fred's. And then I see her body. "No. No no no. Nym." I say quietly, rushing the last few steps.
I kneel down next to her and stare numbly at her still warm body. I reach up and softly close her once so vibrant and colorful eyes, now a hollow brown and devoid of that light of the stars I fell in love with. I rest my head on her chest as I clutch her hands in my own and hope against hope that she'll wake up. My tears fall silently onto her robes and I can't breathe as I sit there, leaned over the love of my life. "I – 'M so sorry, L – Love." I choke out. I kneel there next to her until my legs are numb.
I move on autopilot through the entrance. The Hall going silent as I collapse onto the end of a table. I don't even react when someone shouts out to just turn me over. After listening to their arguing for thirty minutes, I stand and leave. People staring after me in shock.
I only walk two or three halls over before I run into Fleur. She says nothing as she pulls me into a strong hug. Pushing me back to arm's length, I see it in her eyes; the things she doesn't, or can't, say.
"I'm sorry," I say quietly, tonelessly. I lean in and kiss her cheek before giving her another quick hug and walking away.
I move towards the main entrance and easily find Neville; walking up to him I say, "Nev. Whatever happens. Kill the snake."
He looks at me; and he knows what I'm talking about. After all, he helped me get the one here in Hogwarts after I got back from my camping trip through Hell that Granger and Weasel abandoned me on. He nods and pulls me into a hug, "I'm glad I could call you my friend," he says in a choked voice, tears in eyes as he looks me over one last time.
I nod to him and squeeze his hand, before moving away and opening my bag.
Walking out of the castle under my invisibility cloak, I see the damage is much worse than I originally thought. The quidditch pitch is ruined, hoops missing. Some of the bridges are collapsed. The walls have large gouges blasted out of them.
At the entrance of the forest I pull out the snitch Dumblefuck – the great old goat buggering walking whisker left me. Its writing is clear.
"I'm ready to die." I whisper to it before lightly pressing it to my mouth.
It opens up floating out a small black stone. I take the stone in my hand and spin it thrice. Instantly, the phantoms of my parents, Sirius, and Nym are there in front of me. My mother reaches out a hand to me and I walk forward to her, raising my own. Only for it to pass through hers.
"You've been so brave sweetheart" she tells me.
"Why're you here? All of you?" I ask, looking between them all.
"We never left," she answers.
"Does it hurt? Dying?" I ask, looking at Sirius.
"Quicker than falling asleep," he tells me.
"You're nearly there princess" my father says.
"I'm sorry. I never wanted any of you to die for me." I say, looking between them.
"It's okay love," Nym says, "We love you. I love you." Bringing a few tears to my eyes once more.
"You'll stay with me." I state, more than ask, looking between my mum and dad.
"Until the end," my dad answers.
"And he won't be able to see you?" I ask.
"No. We're here you see." Sirius says as he points to my heart.
"Stay close to me." I say.
"Always," my mother says softly.
I walk to a clearing in the forest where the Death Eaters were camped. Seeing the unwilling presence of Cissa and Bella, the sadistic Nott, the Feral Greyback, the rest of the cowards, and Lord No Nose himself. Not bothering to raise my wand, I stand there looking at him, defiant.
"Hari Potter. The girl who lived… come to die." Voldemort speaks, raising his wand lazily. "Avada Kedavra" he snaps out.
I stand there, watching the sickly green curse coming at me in slow motion. I can't help but to be at peace. 'I'll be with you soon Nym. Siri. Mum. Dad." I think as it hits me in the chest.
Hari jolts awake with a muffled anguished scream, covered in sweat. She frantically looks around the room and sees that she's no longer in a Hogwarts dorm, a tent, or Siri's old place; no, she's in a modern hotel room. She looks for the clock, 03:17, it mocks her.
She gets out of bed and goes to the bathroom; stripping down, she gets in the shower, turning the water up and letting the almost scalding water run over her. She stands under the spray for what feels like hours; but at the same time not enough time to clean her.
Once done, she casts a quick cleaning charm on her sleep shorts and tank; then banishing them back into her chest, pulling out a new pair of shorts and tank. She grabs the trunk off the counter and expands it, opening the compartment for the flat.
She goes down into it, and behind the ladder, into her comfort room; hidden by a Fidelius and more silencing charms than she can count while having a few wards for whatever's outside the trunk. It holds a loveseat, a small sofa, a fireplace, a bookshelf housing a few books and pictures of her family, and a portrait charmed to look like a window overlooking a cycle of cities on a rainy day.
She curls up on the loveseat and looks at the pictures of her family. Sees Sirius wave at the camera with an arm around her from one frame, her parents smiling arm in arm in another, a kiss blown from Nym in a different one. She loses track of time just looking between all the pictures and the window, ending up asleep curled up on the loveseat.
She wakes again a few hours later, still curled around a pillow on the loveseat. She casts a Tempus and sees that it's a little after 9. She gets up and stretches, listening to the satisfying pops as her spine straightens. She leaves her comfort room and goes to the kitchen portion of the flat; it's stocked with food after all, she's been living out of the trunk.
After eating a small breakfast, she transfigures her clothes into some yoga pants and a loose tee putting her hair up into a loose bun. She moves into the training room of the trunk. She loses herself in the movements of her workout; going between conjured targets seamlessly with her magic and weapons. After an hour and half, she stops and exits the trunk back into the hotel room.
Absently casting a cleaning charm at the bed, she summons out a pair of dark wash skinny jeans and a dark blue Henley, before brushing her teeth and stripping down then taking a shower. Once done in the shower, she changes and moves into the room and turns the tv on for some background noise. She turns the news on and loses herself in thought.
'What am I doing? Am I really thinking about working for a spy agency? Same situation of those in power controlling information; just with new people. Do I really want to do that again?' she thinks.
A voice sounding like her family and friends answers, 'You can't run away and stay alone forever. You'll need help eventually.'
'I've been getting by just fine on my own,' she counters – and great, now she's arguing with herself.
'And how long will you keep this façade up?' the voice asks.
'If I agree to be an agent, I would just make sure not to get close. Just do my work,' she thinks.
'Always a solo act. You don't have to be alone anymore,' the voice reasons.
'So what if I could see Nat more? It would end up the same way it did with Nym. I… I don't know if I'm ready for that,' she admits. 'What if I get close to her and she dies because of me? Nym already did that,' she thinks sullenly.
'You've seen that she can protect herself, remember?' the voice still argues.
'So could Nym. And look what that got her? She died because of me,' she snaps out irritably. Then thinks sadly, 'Then see where that left me. A broken child who basically committed suicide.'
'Hari. Love. You take too much blame,' comes the voice of Nym; the voice no longer being that of her family together.
'If it weren't for me, you'd still be alive,' she points out with a tear on her cheek. 'You'd all still be alive,' she thinks stubbornly, not willing to believe she's worth another chance.
'Everyone dies eventually love,' Nym's voice says reasonably.
'Except me,' she thinks bitterly.
Hari's broken from her somber thoughts by a knock at the door.
Getting up, she moves to the door, and after checking the peephole, answers it, "Good morning Agent Coulson, come in while I grab my stuff," she says, opening the door and walking back into the room to grab her gear.
"Good morning. Director Fury has asked me to come pick you up for the follow up meeting." Coulson replies, stepping into the room only to stop a few feet in.
"So, Patches wanted you to collect me? Okay," she calls from the bathroom while securing her weapons and making sure her trunk is in the bag secure on her neck. Not seeing his eyes showing his amusement. Coming back out now with black combat boots and a jacket; along with various knives and a gun in a shoulder holster on her person.
She sees his raised eyebrow at the shoulder holster as she shrugs her jacket on. "Yes, I have weapons on my person. No, I will not surrender them to get back into your little secret club" she tells him.
"That's about what I would expect honestly. Though your ability to have that prepared so quickly makes me curious" he says as they walk out the door, down the hall to the elevators.
"Well, I'm sure Black Caesar is going to ask more about my abilities today and/or test me somehow. So, maybe you'll get some answers," she says with an amused smirk, seeing Coulson smile at her joke.
Nothing more is said as they move through the lobby to the car he brought, though Coulson looks thoughtful.
Like the last time, nothing is said for the duration of the drive. Hari uses this time to pull up some minor occlumency barriers to keep a mask on during the impending talk.
At the Shield base, Coulson leads her through a maze of hallways to a conference room again, shows her a seat then leaves the room. She's slightly amused at their trying to confuse her. She's able to keep up with the turns and distances of the whole journey thanks to her almost picture-perfect memory, something not many people knew about.
Hari sits waiting in the conference room, double checking her occlumency barriers, for 10 minutes before Director Fury and Agents Coulson and Hill enter the room. Fury again taking the head of the table, Coulson on his left, and Hill standing at his right. Fury sits quietly, observing Hari for a few moments before speaking.
"Okay, Miss Black, recorders are off again. What can you tell me about your magic?" Fury asked. Getting straight into the main things he wants to know.
"As I told you before, I can get almost anywhere in the world quickly and mostly unnoticed, then leave just as fast; provided I've been there before and by now there is few places I've not been." Hari answers, face stoic and voice flat.
"What else? Yes, fast travel is well and good; but if it's just for you, not the best outside of ghost ops." Fury asks. He needs to know more if he's going to put her on active field duty.
"I'm skilled with multiple styles of combat magic. I can also do minor healing." Hari answers, not telling him everything yet. After all, a girl needs some secrets.
"What other skills do you have? Other than your magic; yes, it's impressive, but if you'll be needing excessive training, you'll stay as a consultant." Fury says, unimpressed. Internally though, he's impressed; combat magic and basic healing plus near instantaneous travel.
"I'm skilled in multiple styles of martial arts, proficient in using multiple different weapons, and I know multiple languages. I've been taught multiple sciences and could easily qualify to be a doctor or field medic without magic. I also have a near eidetic memory." Hari summarizes her skills in answer.
Hill's eyebrows raise slightly, she's very impressed with this woman this far. Coulson just has a slightly smug look on his face. Fury remains a blank mask, but he's impressed with what he heard so far.
"That's quite the selection of skills Miss Black. If you've changed your mind to be an agent, are you open to being tested on these topics?" Fury asks, his mind racing; already planning what he could do to test her skills. 'Accuracy would be done against Agent Barton, martial arts against Agent Romanoff and others, languages with Coulson and Romanoff, field medicine with someone in the hospital wing. Science talks with Shield's R&D. And her magic could be studied' he muses.
Hari sees his question a mile away; it's how organizations like this work. She'd be surprised if he hadn't asked about testing her. She answers, "That'd be fine."
Fury turns to Hill and speaks quietly to her, "Get Barton to the empty wing we have on sublevel 2. Also grab around 8 other agents to test her in an outmatched ambush. Send Romanoff this way on your way out."
Agent Hill nods and leaves the room.
Fury turns to Coulson, seeing his smug grin, and speaks to him, just loud enough for Hari to hear him, "Go set up in room 3B. You're on languages."
Coulson does the same as his colleague.
Fury turns back to Hari and thinks about what she had told him so far today and at their last meeting. Something's missing, like a mystery. He doesn't like mysteries. So, he needs to figure this one out. Or at least as well as he can in their current state.
He speaks up, "Before you go off on these evals. Something about this doesn't sit right with me. You've never let people close enough to talk before, why now? There's a reason you didn't run after being dropped at the hotel. Something other than we help people. I need you to be honest and tell me what it is."
Hari nods, conceding the point, and answers, "It's a bit of two things. First, I don't want too many people knowing about me having magic; people would just use me as a lab rat and experiment on me or expect me to solve all their problems. Second, I… I guess I'm scared. The terrorist leader I mentioned was a dark wizard. Strong, smart, loads of fighting experience. I'm more powerful than I was when I eliminated him or than he ever was. And I guess I'm scared I'll be like him and hurt people who don't deserve it."
"You think we can keep you in check? Balance you out or something?" Fury asks. He understands, to an extent, where she's coming from. But he has to vet people out if they were to work for him.
"Yeah." Hari answers with a nod.
Just then, the door to the room opens. Natasha entering and standing by the door. She speaks directly to Hari, "Miss Black, if you could come with me."
Hari stands and moves to follow her, walking out of the room a step behind Natasha.
Hari speaks up a few minutes later as they enter a stairwell and asks, "So, you the pretty distraction for an ambush?" with a raised eyebrow.
Natasha just looks back at her with a small smirk and amusement barely hidden in her eyes as she continues to lead them to wherever it is that they're going.
A few more minutes of walking down boring grey stairs, through some boring grey hallways, Natasha opens a door and waves Hari in. Once both in, Natasha slinks away in the shadows. Hari allows her eyes to adjust to the semi darkness of the room. Then uses her magic to map out the room and occupants. She finds a large open room with 10 people in it and a group of 3 people elevated and off to one side of the room. Likely a viewing area she muses.
3 of the 10 were straight left the door, around 15 feet away. 1 was in the far-right corner. 1 was hanging in the rafters above. A group of 3 were in the middle of the room, near the lights. And the last 2 were off further back in the room.
Hari notices that the 2 further back have guns loaded with a sedative, along with the one in the rafters… and that they were the only ones armed. 'Hm. This'll be fun' she thinks as she spots the 3 on the left moving in.
Once they get within range, Hari moves. She quickly gets into the first one's space, dropping him with a jab to the stomach and leg planted behind his. A second quick hit to the head insured he won't get back in the fight.
Shifting focus to the second as he picks up pace to move in on her. He swings for a right hook; but Hari ducks the punch. Then moves to stick her shoulder under his and wraps her arm around his chest and opposite shoulder, sweeping her leg under his and throwing him to the floor.
Her magic warns her of a kick coming at her from the third. She sets her arms to block the hit and as soon as she looks back up, pushes the offending limb away. Before stepping back and bringing a powerful kick of her own to the side of the woman's chest, forcing her to the ground.
Hari's focus soon shifts as the one in the rafters fires at her twice. The first one flying harmlessly past her as she rolls to the side, but the second lands in her neck as she springs up. Seeing as she's immune to most toxins and poisons, thank you basilisk, she just pulls the dart out of her neck and moves towards the second group in the middle.
Two of them instantly go on the offensive as soon as she's close enough. One going for hits to the legs, the other for torso hits. Hari blocks the hits to her torso and shifts enough to only be glanced by the hits to the legs, thus not losing her balance.
She retaliates with a few well-placed hits of her own to the legs of the one going for her legs, only to be trapped in a headlock by the one who was standing by. She responds with a few elbows to the stomach before slipping the hold. She spins away and catches the man with a kick to the back of the knees then a follow up to the ribs.
The last goes to kick high but Hari blocks with her arm, then shifts, catching the leg between her arm and ribs. He bends his leg and twists, glancing an elbow across Hari's forehead, foot coming free and staggers a few steps back. Hari doesn't wait, instantly back in his space, and jumps off his still bent off knee, wrapping her legs his head and flipping them.
She suddenly drops flat, dodging 5 more shots. As she stands, she gets hit by 3 more darts.
Not bothering to stop and give them more chances, she quickly moves on the two on the ground with the dart guns. She easily disarms the first, throwing the gun to the side and throws multiple quick jabs to the chest and stomach of the man. Pushing him back she changes focus to the other one. She notices she's holstered the dart gun, seeing as it had no effect, and moves into her space quickly.
She easily grabs the woman around the back of the neck and brings a knee up to her chest twice in succession, then aims a low kick at her shins to off balance her and pulled down harder on her neck and brought her to the ground. Shifting focus back to the other, she ran at him and drop kicked him, before kicking back to her feet almost instantly.
Stopping for just a moment to pull the darts out of her, she reaches her magic out to look for the last 2. One's still in the rafters, though in a different spot than before. The other is moving in; and moving in fast.
Natasha jumps out of a shadow nearby after Hari pulls the last dart out and instantly goes on the attack. She goes for a back kick only to have Hari dodge it. She blocks a punch sent her way, then jabs at the opening of Hari's ribs the punch created. Hari tries to block the jab but doesn't in time, leaving her to bend forward after the hit.
Natasha tries to grapple Hari into a submissive hold but is easily countered or dodged.
Hari going for a quick flurry of jabs that puts Natasha on the defensive. She's barely able to block most of the other woman's hits.
Natasha goes for kick in the break of jabs, only to have her leg caught; and then have herself thrown over Hari's back.
Fury's voice comes over the intercom as she lands in a heap, "Agents, stand down. This eval is done. Romanoff, take Miss Black back to the room."
Hari helps Natasha up and says, "Sorry for that throw. I don't think I had you lined up right and your leg will be a little sore for a bit."
Natasha smirks and asks, "How'd you do that? That launch," she specifies with a slight pant as she begins leading them back the way they came.
"I just jumped from his knee." Hari answers, not even breathing heavy as she follows.
Natasha just nods and leads them back through the maze of boring grey halls and staircases.
Upon entering the conference room again, Hari sees only Director Fury there. She moves to sit at her previous chair.
"How the hell did you shrug off like 5 darts? Those were some of our stronger sedatives." Fury asks, incredulous.
"Oh. Err… Most poisons and toxins, if not all, can't do anything to me anymore." Hari states, a little sheepishly.
For a moment, Hari sees Fury's completely shocked expression before it goes back to a mask.
"How?" he asks. Seeing her look hesitant to answer, he clarifies, "Monitoring is still disabled."
Hari nods and answers, "Do you know what a basilisk is?"
"Big snake that kills with its eyes. What's that got to do with you being immune to toxins?" he asks, slightly confused.
"They were real in my home world. Their venom was the strongest poison around, and I was bit by one. Thankfully, I had a phoenix cry in the wound, counteracting most of the damage. I never got the antivenom, so my body adapted." Hari answers.
"Okay then." Fury says, baffled at the idea. Then continues, "Based only off what I just saw and the, admittedly very, little we know of you. We could use you as an agent; but before you can join. We have a few things to discuss."
"Okay. I'm guessing I'll do the other evaluations later?" Hari half asks, half states. She would be very surprised if Fury didn't make her do the evaluations with how paranoid he is; he reminded her of Moody, missing eye and a healthy heaping of paranoia.
"If you've changed your mind to be an agent, yes. They would need to be done before being cleared for field work." Fury responds, before continuing, "Easiest things first. You've got some official papers now, stating you're an American citizen. What about housing?"
"I don't have a permanent address that would accept mail right now." Hari answers dryly.
"We can set you up an apartment near one of our main offices, either in New York or California, if you'd like." Fury offers.
Hari thinks about that for a few seconds, 'Permanent address? Could be helpful, place to keep some minor stuff.' Before nodding and saying, "That would be nice. Set one up in New York I guess."
Fury types something on his phone and says, "Now, big question. Have you changed your mind on being an agent?"
Hari thinks back on her mental argument for a few minutes; realizing she's been bored sitting around waiting for good intel to come in. She knows here it'll be basically the same thing, but she can take it. She wants to help people, and Shield can make that happen. She finally answers; voice firm and leaving no doubt she'll do her job, and she'll do it well, "I'll be an agent."
"Wonderful," Fury starts, internally smug 'I got a witch on my payroll!' he shouts in his mind. "Shield bases have dorms for the agents to get some shut eye if needed. There's also the apartment we'll be setting up for you, paid for until you can figure something for yourself out, or you buy it." Fury explains while typing something else out on his phone. Hari nods in answer.
"Next is your code name." He continues, "Your skills as a possible ghost op are just too valuable for me not to keep that as an option, so you will need two codenames. One can stay Phantom, if you wish, as your off the books name. But you'll need a new one for normal field work."
Hari thinks on what she wants her other codename to be. She could do something direct and on the nose like Witch or LeFay. But decides something slightly less would be better. She speaks up after a few minutes. "Keep Phantom for my off the books work. For normal field work, let's go with Harris" Hari says with a smirk.
"Harris?" Fury asks with a raised brow. Hari's smirk still in place as she nods.
"That works. For the majority of the time you're called, it'll be Agent Black or Harris. You'll be put with Barton and Romanoff under Coulson." Fury says.
Again, Hari nods. Knowing that Coulson said he would take her on yesterday, but it seems there's something more going on.
"I know you don't trust me much," Fury starts after a few minutes, "but I hope one day you will. You have some serious skills not even counting your magic. I have one last question."
Hari's slightly surprised at Fury's admission, but doesn't show it, and nods at him to continue.
"How do we contact you?" he asks.
"My phone. It's a bit bulky," she starts in answer, wry grin on her face as she pulls it out, "but my method of transportation usually has ill effects on tech. I know how to fix it; I just don't have the tools to do so."
Fury wants to laugh when he sees the phone, 'One of the world's best assassins, if not the best, has a phone like that?' but he doesn't. He just nods and says dryly, "If you talked to R&D, they might have the tools needed to bring you into the 21st century."
Hari sees his barely there amusement and sense of humor; acknowledging his statement with a nod.
A few minutes later, Agent Hill enters the room with a folder. She hands it to Fury before leaving again.
Fury opens the folder and nods, before closing it and sliding it to Hari.
Hari opens the folder to see a small leather folder, opening it to see it's a Shield badge and ID, a set of papers about the apartment, and a new phone.
Fury stands and strides out of the room, saying, "Welcome to Shield, Agent Black."
AN: There it is. Hari officially joins Shield. This one's a bit longer since I couldn't really find a good place to split it without losing momentum.
Constructive criticism is still welcome.
AN: Still just a nerd playing in other people's worlds. Before we get to the new chapter, some notes from the reviews. Also, an apology for making you all wait so long.
Everyone who says they've liked it so far : Thank you! All of your kind words are much appreciated as I've never really done any creative writing before.
Those that wanted me to update soon : Here it is, sorry for the wait for this one, but hopefully with me finishing up my semester I'll be able to write more.
Valdiusmacto : Hopefully with this chapter it pushes more out of 'prologue' feel. Needed to get Hari to Shield first.
Griezz : Pranks are on the way!
Aidansidhe : Sorry pal. Hermione in this story is a bit OOC (more like very but shrug).
Sorry for the long wait everyone, now without further interruptions. Check the new chapter out!
Ch. 6: Evaluations
Hari jolts awake thanks to a ward on the door letting her know she has an unexpected visitor. She silently slips out of bed and grabs a knife. Call her paranoid but being trained by 'Mad-Eye' Moody and having his protégé as her girlfriend, she's developed a few skills in survival.
She slips against the wall near the short hallway leading to the door and waits for the intruder to push further into the hotel room.
As soon as the person passes into her vision, she lashes out; kicking the back of the knee of the person and tilting their head while bringing the knife up. As her knife nears the target though, she pauses as she finally sees who it is she's got 'visiting.'
In the dim light of the hotel she sees a head of red hair. And for just a split second, she considers continuing with the knife because of the last redhead's betrayal. But doesn't, as she remembers she's not there anymore and hears her guest speak up.
"Impressive." Natasha says quietly in an almost amused voice.
Hari lets a slightly shocked Natasha out of her grip and backs away. She turns the lamp on the nightstand on as she places her knife back on it and sits on the bed, staring expectantly at the redhead through tired eyes.
Natasha observes Hari silently for a few moments, her eyes holding a slightly searching and knowing look in them, before speaking up, "Some sort of alert system to wake you?"
Hari nods and hides a yawn behind her hand before answering, "A proximity ward."
Natasha nods back and leans against the wall where Hari was a few minutes prior before getting into why she's there. "I came to talk to you about what the next little while is going to be like, or rather some of what you can expect. But if you want to fight, we can…" she says, trailing off a bit.
Hari shakes her head for a negative and replies softly, "Sorry… it's just hard sometimes to get out of my head."
Natasha gives her a knowing look before saying, "Where's the folder Fury gave you?"
Hari summons the folder and waits just a moment for it to get in her hand, dragging with it a dirty shirt. Hari tosses the shirt back towards the bathroom and hands the folder to Natasha as she approaches the bed.
Natasha opens the folder and pulls out a small leather folder, just bigger than a wallet, and a phone and hands them to Hari. "You should've already looked through this, but if you haven't. Here's your Shield ID and badge, keep it on you and accessible at all times; especially if you're planning on going to a Shield office or base. The phone is the one that you'll be contacted through for work things; if you need to come in or similar."
Hari accepts the items with a nod before placing them on the nightstand next to her knife and current phone.
Natasha continues on, "You'll be going through physical and psych evals. The physicals will deal with your skillset and training, also a medical check. You will likely be going through different tests to gauge your level in armed and unarmed combat and weapons handling. The psych eval is just to make sure you aren't going to double cross us or harm yourself or your teammates."
Hari nods, having expected something like this before saying quietly but in a firm voice, "Unless the shrink is someone I think I can trust, I won't be talking about back home or my other skills."
Natasha stares back at Hari before nodding slowly, "That's… fair. I'll talk with Fury about it. He may order me to be the one you talk to as I already know about it."
Hari shrugs indifferently, she's not going to tell them everything anyway; between them knowing she's from a different world and magic, they know enough about her.
Seeing that Hari won't say anything more, Natasha speaks again, softer this time as she sits down next to Hari, wrapping an arm around her shoulders, "If you want to talk about it, you can come to me or Clint."
Hari nods and sags into the redhead's side before speaking up, "Thanks," content to just ignore, or outright combat, the strange feelings she has in her chest; ones she hasn't felt in a long time, not since the bubbly pink-haired walking hazard.
After a few minutes of comfortable silence, Natasha pushes Hari back to lay her down and stands from the bed. She walks towards the door before pausing and saying, "Coulson will be here at nine," then leaving the room.
Hari sighs and wonders what the hell she's doing, before mentally saying 'fuck it' and setting an alarm for 7. Hoping to get just a few more hours of sleep.
Hari wakes up a few hours later, just before the alarm goes off. She hits the off switch and moves to the bathroom, opening her trunk to the training room for a short workout to start the day. Going light as she knows Shield will be testing her, likely all day and maybe longer.
After lightly running laps in the magically expanded space, she works briefly on her martial arts; going for approximately an hour.
Once she finishes her workout, Hari moves through the space to the flat section of the trunk to eat some breakfast. Settling at the small table with some fruit and oatmeal.
After eating she goes back to the bathroom proper and takes a shower. After cleaning herself, she summons a pair of jeans, a black tee shirt, and a red and gold flannel. Getting dressed then banishing her workout clothes back to her trunk after a quick 'scourgify' before shrinking her trunk and putting it back into the moleskin pouch. Finishing up with her trusty combat boots, which are really dragon skin boots with some basilisk hide as well.
Hari moves to collect her new phone and badge and the few weapons she never leaves without; a set of knives to be strapped against the small of her back, a small pistol to be in a shoulder holster, and a pouch of throwable potions and small blades. As she finishes putting her gear on, a knock comes at the door.
She moves to the door and sees Agent Coulson through the eyehole, then opens it up.
"Good morning Agent Coulson." Hari says pleasantly.
"Good morning Agent Black," Coulson replies, putting a bit of emphasis on 'agent,' "make sure you have your phone and badge then we'll be going."
Hari nods and waves him out the door as she already has them.
Coulson spots some scarring on the back of her hand as she does, it looks like someone carved out 'I must not tell lies' in her skin, but as he tries to look at it again, it's gone. Deciding to ask about it, he speaks up, "Sorry if this is insensitive, but what was that on your hand just now?"
Hari slightly tenses but continues walking down the empty hallway to the elevator, not answering until they get into the lift. "A scar from back home. The ones from back home are covered using my extra skillset. And will be staying that way unless absolutely necessary," she explains, voice turning a bit forceful at the end.
Coulson recognizes her tone and backs down with a small nod, saying, "Of course," before changing the subject, "Today is going to be a psychiatric evaluation and a medical check slash physical. Just making sure you're ready to go to work. You can leave the covering through it if you like, will that be okay?"
Hari nods her agreement and asks, "And after?" as they step into the lobby.
Coulson doesn't reply until they're in another blacked-out SUV, "If everything goes well, you'll be cleared for field duty and start your agent work. First days are usually just making sure you know our procedures and protocols, more classroom topics than down and dirty. If it doesn't go well, you'll be put on the ally list and only be a consultant."
Hari doesn't respond verbally, only thinking over what she's been told. 'Am I ready for this work?' being the main line of thought until they arrive at the Shield office.
Upon reaching the office, Agent Coulson leads Hari through a maze of hallways to a different level than the conference rooms they used previously. He opens a door to a small room with a high back chair and a sofa, the room itself has warm colored walls and a cream-colored floor rug. He waves her to the sofa before leaving the room, saying nothing.
A few minutes later, a slightly nerdy looking man just a bit shorter than average height enters the room. He's got a kind face with light brown eyes with flecks of gold and a head of slightly messy hair, the color of espresso. He almost reminds Hari of Moony without the scars.
He shakes Hari's hand with a warm smile and says, "Good morning Miss Black. I'm Doctor Evans," in a voice far too chipper for Hari this morning.
Hari returns the smile, albeit less warmly – partially from his attitude and partially from the name – and returns the greeting, "Good morning Doctor Evans."
Evans sits in the chair and opens a notepad up and pulls out a pen before speaking again. "Okay, I'm going to say some words. Think on them before saying five or so that you would use to describe yourself," before softly clearing his throat. "Ambitious. Brash. Intelligent. Logical. Courageous. Sensitive. Lazy. Considerate. Honest. Confident. Slob. Loyal. Hardworking. Patient. Troubled Past. Dedicated. Trustworthy. Resourceful. Persevering. Creative. Troublemaker. Lackadaisical. Leader. "
Hari goes over the list in her head before answering, "Hardworking. Persevering. Patient. Resourceful."
Evans scribbles something down on his notepad before speaking again, "And your close friends, how would they describe you?"
Hari thinks back on her real friends before answering softly, "If they were here, they'd likely say I'm dedicated, a leader, courageous, loyal, hardworking, and a bit of a past."
Evans scribbles along with her talking before setting the pen down and looking up at Hari, "I'm sorry for your loss," then making another note. "And what of a past would they have been referencing?" he asks.
Hari snorts bitterly before answering, "I didn't have a very pleasant childhood. Then I went to a training program and was put into highly dangerous situations on the whims of a manipulative old man."
Evans writes down some more notes and asks, "Have you had any issues with depression or self-harm in the past?"
Hari nods sadly and answers, "Some depression yes. I saw my godfather die when I was a teenager; after that, I went into a bit of a funk."
And so it continues, Doctor Evans asking Hari questions about her past or mental health in regards to her past. Hari answering in vague terms or just the barebones facts of what happened, with Doctor Evans scribbling along in his notepad and folder. At one point, he stands and goes to a small waste basket before throwing up. Hari was slightly amused as it was after she explained that she was bitten by a poisonous snake and never given the antivenom; though it might've been from the little she spoke of the Dursley's as well.
After about two and a half hours, Doctor Evans waits until Hari's done explaining how her previous teammates, whom she refers to as W and G, had left her for dead on a mission, before speaking up, "That's enough for today I think," as he hands a water bottle to the raven-haired woman on the sofa. "I'll be honest with you. You've been through Hell on Earth it seems, and you're still going. I think you're okay to work in the field. Just remember to talk to your teammates and I can make myself available to you should you need it…" he pauses briefly.
"Something I will recommend that I think might help you is to make a routine with yourself and your teammates to check in, if you will. An external stimulus or a task for you to complete should you get lost in your head like you did today. Other than that, I think you'll be fine," he recommends.
Hari nods and says, "Thanks Doc. I'll keep that in mind, external stimuli have helped in the past, I'll just have to actually communicate with people," with a rueful smile.
Doctor Evans smiles a warm smile before leaving the room. A few minutes later Agent Coulson reenters the room.
"I hope you take his advice seriously. Your skillset would be very valuable to Shield, but you need to know you can ask for help should you require it," he speaks softly, with a trace of warmth Hari hasn't yet seen from the man.
Hari, again, nods as she stands, "I'll keep it in mind Archer. What's next?"
Coulson acknowledges the subject change and doesn't press further, instead saying, "Now is a visit to medical."
Hari wordlessly follows him through the halls while thinking if the next Doctor will be like Poppy or not.
Again, Coulson leads Hari to a room before leaving without a word. Hari waits a few moments before a woman with wavy brown hair and dark brown eyes enters the room.
"Hi there, I'm Jemma Simmons. I'll be doing your physical today along with a few scans to make sure you're in working order," the woman – or Jemma – introduces herself with an offered hand and a toothy grin.
Hari's lips quirk involuntarily at the cheerful attitude and almost joke. 'Almost exactly like Poppy so far. Well if you know her at least,' she muses. Before returning the grin, though softer, and shaking the offered hand, "Hari Black. Sounds good."
Jemma pulls on a pair of gloves and opens a closet door. Briefly shuffling through it before pulling out a pair of yoga shorts and a sports bra, both of which look like they'll fit Hari.
Hari raises an eyebrow when Jemma turns around holding the items out towards her.
Jemma explains, "It'll be easier if you don't have anything on you and the less clothing, the faster we can get everything done."
"I usually don't strip until the fourth date." Hari quips as she takes the clothing before moving to the privacy screen.
Jemma's eyes widen more and she's still got a faint blush when Hari comes back from changing, holding in one hand her clothes and her other her weapons, due to a few things.
First is that Hari has an incredibly detailed scene tattooed across her upper back. A moonlit night in a forest clearing with a stag and doe facing each other and a big black dog sat watching them. And she'll swear she sees the dog wink or tilt its head.
Second is that she has a smattering of scars crisscrossing her skin; some of which look like they should have been fatal wounds.
Jemma has to take a few deep breaths to calm herself seeing someone so young with such injuries, something easier to accomplish looking at the beautiful piece of art on the raven-haired woman's shoulders.
Hari sits on the exam table and waits for Jemma to get started. Once Jemma collects the few things she'll need, she moves over to Hari and states, "Based on the amount of scars, you are not leaving until you've had a few dozen MRI scans and x-rays."
Hari nods, it's a fair thing to put a new agent through, plus if she fully released her glamour – showing injuries from her home world too – she has a feeling that a few people would be very unhappy, so she keeps her mouth shut. She does realize that Simmons is almost exactly like Poppy though, which makes her smile slightly.
Jemma moves to check Hari's lungs, then her heartrate, and a few other standard checks – like weight, height, and eyesight. Once done she softly asks, "Can I take some photos to put in your file for us to have later should you get hurt so we know what is older?"
Hari pauses briefly before nodding her agreement. Then patiently waits while the photos are taken. 'Sirius would be so proud of that pun… I miss you guys,' she thinks sadly.
Once Jemma is done with taking the photos, she leads Hari to a room with an x-ray machine; before directing Hari to various positions, sitting and standing, to catalogue her. Hari finds herself listening as Jemma explains how the machine works and what x-rays can be useful for, something she finds oddly endearing as even though she knows fundamentally what Jemma's talking about, it's as if the brunette is fascinated by looking at what makes up a living organism.
After the x-rays, Jemma leads Hari to a different room with an MRI machine, and after giving Hari some earplugs and getting her situated for the first scan set, leaves.
For the next few hours, Hari does nothing but lay on the table and be adjusted like a ragdoll before being scanned.
Until about 6 hours after the first, Jemma sits her up and says, "That's it today for medical. You're mostly okay. A few old injuries that didn't heal properly, like that arm and your hip. You're also underweight, so we'll be recommending you a dietary plan."
Hari nods, though slightly distracted by what she's been told, and makes her way back to the exam room she started in to collect her things and change back into her own clothes. She comes back from around the privacy curtain and barely suppresses a jump and drawing her weapon as Coulson is standing there, waiting for her.
"Come on. Next up, weapons and accuracy. Then, since you've already proven your skill in unarmed combat, you should be free for the evening." Coulson explains as he opens the door.
After leading Hari to the firing range and in the capable hands of Clint, Coulson makes his way back to Fury's office after being summoned, stopping briefly by his own office to pick up a copy of Hari's evaluations as instructed.
Entering into Fury's office, Coulson is not surprised to find the man there, along with Agent Hill; he is slightly surprised to see Agent Romanoff there as well though.
Fury says, "Read through the folder if you haven't," without looking up from his copy.
Coulson sits down and opens it up, reading the results for his newest agent.
It doesn't take long for the occupants of the room to be saddened at best by what they read in the file of one 'Hari Black.'
Fury sighs and rubs one hand over his face tiredly before speaking up, "Your opinions? Speak freely," he clarifies after a moment of silence.
Agent Hill looks up from her folder and answers, "I'm certain what's in these reports isn't everything. But given that she admitted to having some trust issues, that's not surprising. I think with enough time, she might open up to us more. But looking past that, I'd say she's ready for field work. The skill she's already showed in hand-to-hand and the reports we have of her previous work shows that she can handle herself. She's shown she can speak at least 7 languages, near fluently, and understand at least another 5. Her psych profile doesn't raise any flags. But, proceed carefully with her."
Coulson sets his folder in his lap and leans back, sighing softly before answering, "She's ready to be put in the field. I think the main reason, or one of them, for joining us is that she's tired of the way she was doing things previously. I don't even want to know how long she spent developing her targets. But she doesn't seem to be a risk. The only thing that worries me is her medical report."
Fury looks at Natasha and waits for her to start. She does so after a few more moments.
"She's either going to get targets from us or the way she's been doing it for however long. Let her work. Just be careful with how you bring her on. From the little she told Barton and I while waiting for extraction and what she mentioned in the debrief, she doesn't have a good past with authority personnel withholding information. I suggest being up front with her about what she would be needed for without talking around the subject." Natasha reasons.
Fury nods at the responses before saying, "She's going to be a consultant for a few weeks. She'll get some needed R&R as she gets healthy. Agent Romanoff, can you go see what stage she's at now with Barton?"
Natasha nods and leaves the room. Once she's gone and a few more moments pass, Fury looks back at his right and left hands and asks, "Does she need to go through some easier missions, field tests if you will, or is she ready to be thrown into the fire on a full op?"
They look thoughtful before Coulson answers, "I'd suggest a few training scenarios at a base first or the easier missions and consultations. Romanoff is right, we have to proceed carefully with her until we know what her triggers are. She clearly has PTSD from something, either her childhood that 'wasn't the best' or something else."
Hill reasons out, "A test mission with specific ROE and being tasked to bring a target in alive would test restraint and ability to follow orders. But lying to her seems… unwise. It's possible she would just spook and go back to ground and we'd lose her or worse if it comes to that. Having her work with us keeps her somewhere we can monitor her as needed. However, I think she was right in our first meeting. She doesn't trust us, and we don't trust her. Her skills, yes. Her, no. I suggest telling her exactly what it is she'll be doing."
Natasha enters the firing range to find Hari and Clint leaned against the wall in the back corner, Hari against the wall facing the room as a whole with Clint next to her facing the door, talking about the use of corn syrup and maple syrup in pranks.
Clint sees her coming and offers her a toothy smile, "Hey Nat. What's up?"
Nat sees Hari's eyes flicker in amusement with a glance at Clint before focusing on her and softly smiling before blanking her face. It's slightly concerning to Nat how easily the other woman can do that.
"Fury told me to come check her progress. But seeing as you two aren't working, she's done?" Nat asks, slightly confused as to what happened with Hari's glance, but figures she'll find out soon.
Hari nods and answers before Clint can, "Yep," popping the p, "I believe I'm in the top 5 for accuracy marks at Shield now."
Nat's slightly impressed by that; in the few times she's fought with Hari, she's never used a ranged weapon, preferring a short blade or unarmed combat. Even when she got a good look at her gear, there were no ranged weapons. She nods at that and asks Clint, "Better than you or me?"
Clint smirks and shakes his head in the negative before saying, "Not quite. I'm still the best here and I think she's just behind you actually. Maybe five or six behind."
Nat's about to say more but is interrupted by her and Clint's comms activating.
"Barton, Romanoff, get Black and get to my office. Something came up that you three are going to deal with," comes Fury's voice.
Nat and Clint instantly go into 'Agent Mode' – as Hari has dubbed it after their few interactions – and Nat says, "Guess you're cleared for field work Agent Black," putting special emphasis on the Agent title, much like Coulson did that morning Hari realizes.
After wordlessly following the others from the firing range, Hari finds herself seated in front of Fury, framed by Agents Hill and Coulson, with Nat sitting next to her and Clint standing behind her. She doesn't avert her gaze or fidget as most people would while being under the scrutiny of Fury. She does note that Fury looks pleased with himself and Hill and Coulson are slightly frowning. She refrains from using legilimency on any of them… barely.
Fury breaks the silence and staring contest and says, "We recently got intel that an upstart smuggler group is trying to bring some sort of chemical weapon into South America. Satellite shows them on an island near Brazil. You have two primary objectives. Take down and retrieve the targets, Dominic Valasquez and Tom Santiago, and intel retrieval."
Coulson takes the brief over, "You guys are first team of two in. Once you're on the island, it'll be radio silence barring emergencies. Lethal force is not authorized on this mission. First flight is early morning for a nighttime infiltration. Dress for wet heat and pack whatever gear you think you'll need. Wheels up at 0600."
Hill speaks up, still slightly frowning, in an almost kind voice, "After this Agent Black, you'll be on consultant work for the first bit of healing and finishing your scans. Mainly, you'll be learning our protocols and going over old mission files. Also being tested on other topics to get a more thorough range of your skills."
Hari nods at this; despite her magical healing capabilities and being a qualified medic, she understands that they need their agents in top shape. Also, she's too tired to argue with it… plus she knows it won't get her anywhere, Simmons is too much like Poppy.
"Romanoff, please show Black here to the dorm. Barton, stay for a minute." Fury dismisses Hari and Nat.
Nat nods and stands, waiting by the door for Hari to follow, then leads the other woman away.
"What do you think of her readiness?" Fury asks Clint after a few moments.
"Off the very little I know of her, she's clearly capable of handling herself in a fight. I'm assuming the healing she's required to undergo is because she looks underweight." Clint states.
"Her medical results are worrying, to say the least. She'll need another few days' worth of scans to please them in medical; a number of injuries that don't seem to have healed properly and to make sure there's no lasting internal damage. On top of being underweight," Coulson shares.
Clint gives a terse nod and speaks up, "If that's all?" attempting to stand.
Fury gives him a nod and dismisses him. But not before seeing his clothing change colors to red pants and a neon green shirt as he crosses the doorway.
'Another fucking prankster. Great.' Fury internally sighs.
Early the following morning, the team is in the back of a quinjet, going over the mission folder and adjusting their gear.
Hari asks around a yawn as she's retying her boots and placing localized silencing spells, "Do you guys have NOD's?"
"NOD's?" Clint parrots back in question.
Nat watches in amusement as Hari looks up at him, rolling her eyes, and responds, "Weren't you military?"
Clint nods, confused.
"I'm using your own terminology and you don't know what I mean? Un-fucking-believable. Night vision." Hari clarifies.
Nat snorts at the look on Clint's face, then answers for him, "We didn't bring any. We usually see just fine in the dark."
"What about you? You afraid of the dark?" Clint asks sarcastically.
Hari snorts and dryly replies, "No problem there. I can see clear as day in the dark," as her eyes emit a slight shine.
They go back to discussing minor things for the mission, before they all doze off.
A dozen hours later the jet lands, jolting them awake. As the back hatch opens up, Coulson's voice comes over the radio, "Only radio back once the objective is complete. A jet will be on standby. Remember, no lethal takedowns."
The team exits the jet, meeting the oppressive heat of the jungle. Thankfully, Clint and Hari's arms are bare; Nat slightly glares at them as her hair frizzes a bit.
Hari recalls the location of the compound as she looks at the map, going through a few pathways they can take before marking one and showing the map to the other two, "Compound's 6 klicks north-west in a straight shot. But it goes straight over a mountain. That path marked is the fastest while staying off the main path. It's about…" she pauses, doing the calculations, "10 or so klicks."
Nat nods and says, "Take point. We've got about 6 hours of darkness left. Barton, bring up the rear."
"A night hike through the jungle? Yay!" Clint says sarcastically, before moving into position while slinging his quiver on his back, filled with stunner arrows, and collapsing his bow to rest in its holster on his hip.
Nat checks her guns and gear one last time, making sure she's loaded with non-lethals.
Hari waits until given the signal to move, then she leads them through the jungle.
The team makes it through the forest easily with Hari's guidance. Then stops about 100m from the edge of the compound in the early morning light. The only noise through the three of them has been their breathing and Hari's occasional muttering about, '7 is the most powerful number. So, what is it with me being put in groups of 3?'
Hari pulls out some thermal binoculars and observes the compound.
It's a rough square with sides around 40m in length, one warehouse / hanger in the back corner from her position, a few small temporary buildings and shipping container offices, and a dozen or so tents around the grounds. She sees around 15 people walking around the grounds, positioned terribly in case of an assault, can make out the signs of another 5 in the temporary buildings, and gets 2 more signatures in the warehouse.
She grumbles about the last time she was in a tent as she hands the binoculars to Clint, who takes them after sharing a look with Nat.
After looking around the compound, Clint hands the binoculars to Nat and speaks up, "No guard towers or barbed wire. We should be able to circle around and cut through the fence behind one of the structures to cover us. If we move quick enough, we'll be in before it's too bright out here. Take five minutes, then we move to the East side of the fence and cut through. Widow and…" he faulters slightly, not remembering Hari's normal code name, before continuing, "Ares, push through and get close. Knock them out quickly if possible. If not, bind and gag them."
Hari gives him a vaguely amused look, pulling out a bottle of water before responding, "Alright Artemis." She takes a few moments to catch her breath and drink her water, before crumpling the bottle and shoving it back in her bag. The other two look slightly confused as to why they couldn't hear the bottle before pushing it aside and focusing on the mission and catching up with Hari as she walks off.
Clint pulls out some wire cutters and makes an opening in the fence for them to move through behind the warehouse.
Clint and Nat push through the fence and creep up to be along the warehouse, watching each other's blind spots, before signaling for Hari to come in as well.
Peeking around the back edge, Hari notices a lone guard in their path. She summons a small rock to her and charms it with a stunning spell before throwing it at the man. It hits him in the back of the neck, and he crumples. Hari eases out of her position and drags the man back around the corner, tightening some conjured zip ties around his wrists and ankles.
Hari watches both Clint and Nat's eyebrows raise and give her questioning looks. She sighs softly before saying quietly, "Non-lethal remember? He's just unconscious," as she pulls off his bandana and balls it up stuffing it in his mouth.
The team quickly moves through the outside perimeter of the compound, stunning and knocking out any and all goons they come across. Clint with his special tipped arrows, Nat with her gauntlets, and Hari either throwing something charmed with a stunner or windlessly stunning them as she grapples them.
After clearing the grounds, they move into checking the tents and buildings. The ones in the tents are put to sleep and bound before moving on. The ones in buildings are next, along with Hari and Nat checking for any intel to bring back while Clint keeps a lookout. Nat and Hari find old Shield files, leading Nat to deduce one of two things. Either these smugglers are trying to use old tricks or… this mission is staged. Nat sighs and mutters something under her breath as she passes Clint, receiving a questioning look in return. She subtly shakes her head and orders them to move on the warehouse.
Hari's eyes widen slightly upon entering the warehouse, inside is a small lab setup and an office on the mezzanine. She signals up to the office to let the other two know her intentions, and before either can say something, she's moving silently up the staircase.
Nat and Clint follow Hari into the warehouse, staying on the ground floor and searching the lab area. Giving Nat confirmation this is a setup; the lab is using Shield equipment. Their eyes widen when they hear a small explosion and a voice shouting, with a slightly British lilt, "BLOODY MANIPULATIVE FUCK."
They run up the stairs and to the office, only to stop short in surprise. In the middle of the office is Hari, pacing and occasionally glaring at the other occupants, a hole the size of a yoga ball in the roof, and two Shield agents from the base they were at the day prior… dressed in fluffy pink onesies. Their eyes are just losing a glassy sheen before closing and they turn back to Hari at her hissed cursing, only to step back slightly, a look of absolute fury across her face as she punches the wall. They watch as she glares at her bloody, and likely broken, hand – as if it is responsible for her troubles – before her hand glows slightly as her finger twitches.
Nat steps forward and speaks up quietly in Russian, hoping to distract the angry woman, "Rozi, what's going on?"
Hari finally stops moving and glowering at the two Shield agents to look back at her team before answering, "I have a near eidetic memory. These two were on the base from yesterday. So, I'll ask your question back at you two. What's going on? This some sort of fucking test? See if I'll be a show monkey for you?" Her voice gaining more heat as she asks more questions.
Nat gives a questioning look to Clint, who shakes his head in the negative, and speaks up, "I didn't know about this. I was with Fury and Coulson before I came to get you two from the range and I told them it would be a poor decision to lie to you."
Clint sighs and rubs his hands over his face before speaking, "Fury asked about your readiness after you guys left. I told him you were capable and should be good to go. I didn't know this would be a set up. I got the same brief as you, no extra details after."
Hari casts a mild legilimency on them to confirm this; after seeing they're telling the truth she says, slightly strained, "They have some explaining to do," before waving her hand at the hole and grabbing the collars of both men and dragging them out of the office.
Nat and Clint follow behind silently, both slightly worried for their new teammate. They watch as she drags the 'goons' to the center of the compound and make a daisy chain with them, linking their arms together then retying their wrists, before throwing the intel she collected in the middle.
Clint activates his comm and speaks, slightly disgusted, "Objectives complete. Send pick up."
Coulson's voice comes back over the line, "Copy. Extraction en route. Casualties?"
"None. ETA on extract?" Clint asks.
"15-20 minutes." Coulson answers.
Nat barely registers this though, as she's observing her once friend and new teammate. She hears the raven-haired woman muttering about 'how it's exactly like dumbledork and voodletort all over again' as she paces, wearing down a path, and is worried for the woman. She's also confused as to what she's talking about but figures it's something from her home world.
Twenty-five minutes later, a quinjet lands and opens the back hatch. Coulson steps down the ramp, moving towards the two standing agents and goes to ask where the last is before he suddenly catches a half dozen balloons filled with syrup and feathers to the torso and head. Looking down, he sees that it's pink feathers he's covered in and his suit is also a different color now. 'Great' he internally grouses, 'but I suppose I deserve this.'
He watches Clint try to stifle his chuckles and sees Natasha's smirk, then his eyes widen as Hari just… fades into view. She looks… beyond angry, her eyes are slightly glowing and in a truly impressive glare.
He holds up his hands in surrender and says, "This wasn't my idea. Please stop," as calmly and dignified as he can wearing a bright green suit covered in pink feathers.
Hari looks as if she's going to keep going for a moment before hissing out, "Explain," as she moves past him and up the ramp of the jet, scowl firmly in place.
Coulson looks back at the other two and easily reads the looks on their faces. Both basically asking, 'Really?' as they move to the jet as well. He radios a pickup for the daisy chain(?) of people sitting on the ground before following them into the jet.
The mood in the back of the jet is tense. Hari still looks pissed off, Clint looks a little upset, and Nat looks disappointed.
Coulson finally breaks the quiet and explains, "The decision was made to put you through a fake mission to test you. I suggested a few scenarios or training missions at one of our bases instead. You passed though… if that's any consolation."
It very much wasn't. And Hari had no problems explaining that, "It bloody isn't. Didn't I mention, in both our discussions and to the shrink, that I have trust issues? And what do you do? You lie to me the first chance – the very first opportunity – you have." She pauses, taking a few deep breaths before continuing, "I'm not going to be some thing for you to take out and parade around when you feel like it. I'm not being used again. I said I was a weapon with nothing to aim at anymore. That was only partly true, I could still get targets. I might be a weapon, but I'm the only one who can wield me now." Her voice is flat, toneless, giving nothing away. And it makes the others feel terrible that they've basically forced her to withdraw so soon after joining.
Coulson sighs and rubs his face tiredly for a few moments before responding, "I'm sorry you feel that way but, as your handler, I am in your corner. I tried to remind them that this wasn't the best option for you. I said we should ease you into this. We don't know much about your past, whether or not you've worked with a team before or if you've only done solo missions. I suggested we wait and see if you have any triggers before pushing you into something. Sorry if that's unacceptable for you, but I really am just trying to look out for you," he says earnestly. Hoping to get some of her ire away from him.
Hari looks thoughtful for a moment, before her face contorts back into rage for a split second before going completely blank, "Is that what this was? Test my 'team playing' ability? What's next, I find out that you're," she says, gesturing between the three of them, "all being paid to get along with me? Welcoming me into your team just for a paycheck?" she spits out the questions. Her face blank, voice toneless and flat, giving away nothing.
Nat can see that this isn't going well and angles herself in her chair, bringing her hand up slowly. She starts to hum softly as her hand reaches Hari's hair. She can feel the other woman tense even more under her touch but continues on. 'It worked in the past when she was upset about something from her home world, might work now,' she thinks.
Hari slowly relaxes some and says softly, "Sorry. It's just… the last time I was on a team, they left me for dead on mission. I thought they were my friends, they weren't. They were being paid to report on me and basically push me into certain scenarios."
Coulson watches his normally ice-cold agent comfort his newest agent. He hasn't yet spent enough time with Hari Black yet to know what she'll be like, but he makes the assumption it'll be similar to Romanoff's adjustment to Shield; he just has to find her triggers, and hopefully sooner than later. He clears his throat and says softly, "For what it's worth, I'm sorry. We should have told you what we were doing."
His voice sounds remorseful and Hari sighs before nodding and casting a quick cleaning charm at Coulson and undoing the color change.
The rest of the ride to New York is awkward. There's very little talking, and the atmosphere of the jet is still tense with the only noise being a muttered apology from Hari, who ignored the rest until she fell asleep, or her soft whimpers and the whispered conversations between Natasha and Clint.
Coulson spends a good portion of the trip worried for his newest agent as she appears to be in a nightmare the entire time she's asleep. He also can't help but think that Fury is going to have Hell to pay for this.
In between hushed conversation, Natasha worries about her new teammate silently. Despite her face being a blank mask, she really is concerned for the woman. She gets lost in her head for the last bit of the journey, 'I need her to trust me. I want that easy companionship back. It was nice to have a friend like that. Clint's great and all but…' she trails off with a mental sigh. 'Hopefully I'll be able to break through to her. I just need to figure out how,' she resolves.
Clint does something similar; except instead of worrying for his new teammate, he's trying to figure out how to make it up to her. 'Maybe a prank war? She got Coulson (and me) pretty good… No, she's too upset for that… Spar with her to let her vent her frustrations? No thanks. I don't wanna die yet… Show her she's a part of the team and include her? Yeah, yeah that might work.'
As the jet touches down, Coulson clears his throat and speaks up, "We've got the debrief. Meet in Fury's office." The back hatch opens up after he's done talking and he walks off, not glancing back at them.
Clint and Nat glance at Hari and see her slightly glaring at Coulson's retreating back.
They follow Coulson off and to the building. Hari trailing slightly behind Nat and Clint. A few minutes later and they're in the director's office.
As Hari enters, she notes Hill looking a little disappointed and Coulson's face is blank, but his eyes are hold a small bit of hurt. She glares at Fury as she takes the seat closest to the corner.
Coulson speaks up and says, slightly strained, "Debrief needs to be done. Then Agent Black, you're on medical leave for at least two weeks."
Hari starts the debrief, voice toneless and mask in place, "We got off the jet at 2347 and proceeded to move through the jungle to the compound. We stopped 100m from the fencing to observe the layout for any changes from the aerial pictures. After that and a brief rest, we moved to the fence behind the hangar. Agent Barton cut through the fence before he and Agent Romanoff pushed in, a few moments later they signaled me to follow. After dispatching the closest guard, we continued moving through the base. We took any combatants out of the fight before moving into the temps and collecting intel. After that, we moved on the hangar and I signaled to Agents Romanoff and Barton that I would move up to the office along the mezzanine while they searched the lab. I dispatched the two primary targets. Then we extracted."
Hill and Coulson have visible frowns, along with Clint and Nat, at her tone of voice, referring to them by their titles, and the emphasis she puts on certain words.
"Any casualties?" Fury asks.
"None. Your precious little agents are all fine." Hari says, glaring at the director.
"It was a test, yes I admit to that. But it wasn't only a test for you, some of our bases have been getting hit recently and I needed to know how the security was." Fury argues back.
Nat sees the look on Hari's face and takes over, "The security there was extremely lax. The positioning would've left them wide open to attack from any direction. There were no guard towers, only 2 guards on the perimeter, at least 3 people I came across were sleeping at their stations, and there were files all over the place."
Hari interjects before Fury can answer, "I know you looked at the reports from the shrink and saw that I have trust issues. I mean bloody fucking hell I admitted it to you too. AND THE FIRST GOD DAMN OPPORTUNITY YOU GET, YOU FUCKING LIE TO ME!" she yells, voice gaining a slight British lilt.
Hill and Coulson's eyes widen at the shout and the accent, Nat frowns, and Clint looks disappointed again. Only for all of them to gain a look of surprise and incredulity as the room drops in temperature at Fury's words and his attitude.
"It was for the Greater Good!" Fury snarls back.
Hari's eyes are glowing with power and electricity bouncing across her skin as she loses some control over her magic as she replies in an icy tone, "Don't you fucking dare use that as your jurisdiction for being a manipulative asshole. I lost my entire family to that philosophy."
Clint breaks himself out of his shock first and speaks up before it can get worse, "Black with me," and stands for the door.
Hari follows him out not looking back, missing the looks the others are giving the director. After a few hallways she snaps out of her daze and asks, "Do you guys have an R&D or lab on base here?"
Clint gives her a side glance before answering, confusion in his voice, "Yeah?"
"Can you take me there? If you guys want to contact me ever again after tonight, I need to modify my phone." Hari says.
Clint nods and leads Hari down to the labs. Hari finds the most senior looking one and goes up to him and asks, "You guys have anything that can laser engrave a circuit board here?"
The scientist looks between her and Clint confused, and a little fearful, before Clint nods him to answer. "Y-yeah. W-why?" the man stutters out.
Hari hands him her Shield given phone and says, "I need to input something that will help my phone keep power in severe circumstances," thinking up the easiest way to explain it on the spot while she's still mad, "I have the design and need to put it in the path of the power on the board."
The scientist takes the phone in a shaky hand and leads them over to the engraver. Taking the cover off the phone and battery out before disconnecting the board and setting it in the machine. He looks back at Hari, only to find her already on the computer for the machine. She inputs the design quickly and sets the machine to engrave the designs – a rune sequence she created to allow tech to work with magic, useful for a cellphone to be put through apparition (as long as it isn't on) – and hits start. Fifteen minutes later, Hari gets the man to put the phone back together and leaves with just a nod and a quiet "thanks."
Outside the lab, she runs into Clint and Nat having a hushed conversation. 'When did Clint leave the lab?' she wonders before seeing that Clint's speaking.
"-ry. So, what do you say?" he finishes in question.
Hari sees his slightly hopeful expression and looks to Nat to see an inquisitive, but also hopeful, look. She shakes her head and asks, "Can you repeat that? I zoned out for a second."
Clint rolls his eyes and says, "We're going for food. Kind of our thing after missions. You wanna come?"
Hari thinks over it for a few seconds before saying, "Sorry but not tonight. I think I need to be alone and cool off some," apologetically. She didn't really want to turn them down, but she couldn't afford to get too close to someone again.
'You can't be alone forever,' that pesky voice in her head reasons, before letting out an affronted sound at being called 'pesky.'
Clint nods his acceptance at her reasoning, even if he does look a little saddened by it, and Nat blanks her face after the answer before the two walk off.
Hari walks a few hallways back the way she came before ducking into a janitor's closet and apparating back to her hotel room. She collects the few things she left out and putting them on the table in the flat section of her trunk before apparating back to an alley she put a notice-me-not on in New York. She then gets a cab for her new apartment.
Once at her apartment, she gets a phone call.
"Black," she answers.
"Agent Black," Coulson's voice comes back on the line, slightly muffled – she moves the phone slightly and takes out her broken earpiece – "I couldn't reach you on the communicator. Do you need a ride to your apartment?"
"It wasn't suited for my travelling. I already made it to the apartment issued but thank you for offering," she answers, voice slightly nicer.
Coulson makes a slightly shocked noise before a hum of recognition, then says, "Okay. You're needed on base tomorrow morning at nine. Doctor Simmons is coming to get some more scans and then your dietary plan."
"Okay. Is that all?" Hari asks.
"Also, Agent Hill wants to talk to you so don't be surprised if she calls too. Didn't say why," cutting of her question, "Other than that. Yes, see you tomorrow," before he hangs up.
Hari looks at her phone for a moment before saving the number in her phone.
A few hours later, Hari's broken from her thoughts while she washes up after dinner when her new phone rings.
"Black," she answers.
"Agent Black, it's Agent Hill. I wanted to apologize for-" Hill's voice starts.
Hari interrupts, "It's fine. Well, it's not really. But I'll get over it. I noticed during both the brief and the debrief you looked upset with something. I'm guessing it was the decision for the op?"
Hill chuckles briefly before saying, "Yeah, pretty much. Coulson and I both argued against it… but the director can be kind of stubborn. But really, sorry for the way that all went. Hopefully you don't change your mind about working with us because of it."
Hari snorts and says, "As of now, I'll still work there. But Nicky's got to prove that he can change. He reminds me too much of someone back home…" she trails off.
Hill's quiet for a moment before suddenly saying, "I've got to go. But know I'm in your corner, as is Coulson. Fury should've gone about that a different way… Also, feel free to call me Maria in private."
"Okay. Thank you for the apology even though it wasn't needed. And, in that case, call me Hari." Hari replies before hanging up and saving the number.
Hari goes down into her trunk, going to her comfort room. She grabs one of the pictures of Nym from the bookshelf and curls up on the loveseat.
She stares at the picture for a long while, silently crying and asking her if what she's doing is right. Wishing for the first time since coming to this dimension that she could have the resurrection stone back. She used it as a bartering chip to come through the veil almost thirty years ago. She jumps suddenly at the voice in her head, a different voice than the one she's conversed with before. A beautiful voice.
"You don't remember what I told you do I?" the voice asks.
Hari racks her brain trying to figure out what it means, the voice sounds familiar. She gasps when she places it. It's Death she realizes.
"Correct Mistress" the voice – Death – says in that unholy beautiful voice.
"I'm not your mistress anymore." Hari says with a scowl.
"Answer me this." Death commands, "What did I tell you before coming here? And what happened after the man with the metal arm in Moscow?" they ask.
Hari goes back in her mind some thirty years, trying to find out what it was Death told her before her journey. She doesn't have to think too hard on the Moscow thing (though she is surprised it wasn't a plated glove); she has nightmares of it often enough… along with Nym and Sirius. She lets out a shocked squeak when she remembers. She takes a few deep breaths to calm herself before answering.
"You warned me that 'some items won't stay as they are.' And after what happened in Moscow, I… I spoke with someone here who has control over the souls of the dead." Hari says. Before she realizes something about that, "Wait! Is that how I've been having conversations with a voice that sounds like my family?" she asks quickly.
"Correct. You are now infused with my Hallows. Your conversations also don't drain them – like they would've back home – as you carry them in your heart. Even those you only briefly knew." Death answers, voice soft and lovely, before issuing a final warning, even softer than before, ending in just a whisper, "Do not dwell on the past. Move and grow."
Hari's heart is pounding at this reveal. She takes a few minutes to calm herself down slightly before thinking hesitantly, 'N-nym? Siri?'
'Wotcher love.' Nym's voice answers, cheerful as she always was.
'Hey pup!' comes Sirius' voice. She can just picture the smiles on their faces.
Hari can't stop the sound that comes up, a mix of a sob and hysterical laughter. She cries out loud for the first time in decades for a few minutes before regaining slight composure and asks, 'Am I doing the right thing here?'
Sirius answers first, 'Only time will tell. But so far, you seem to be doing well.'
Nym's voice is silent for a few moments longer before saying, 'With the job? I think it'll be fine. If you're asking about the other thing, it's okay. You don't have to do this by yourself anymore.'
Hari has tears running down her face as she thinks, 'But look where it got you and Pads. And mum and dad.'
'I know I've already told you this. You take too much blame. You deserve to be happy. Merlin knows you've worked hard enough.' Nym reasons.
'She's right pup.' Sirius says, 'Prongs and Tiger Lily would want you to be happy. Regardless of where you are.'
Hari's about to argue more when another voice interrupts, followed immediately by another new voice.
'That's right sweetheart.' Lily's voice says softly.
'Of course we do princess.' James says happily.
Hari breaks into body wracking sobs at hearing her parents' voices again. After she cries herself out, she says the only thing she can, "I love you. All of you."
She falls into a restful sleep for the first time in years, listening to their voices tell stories and jokes, with a smile on her face.
AN: Again, before you leave, sorry for the long wait. Hopefully I'll be close back to the original schedule I had for this (aiming for twice a month updates) and I'll be able to figure stuff out so that there are still interesting things happening between Avengers movies.
Reviews are always welcome, constructive criticism is encouraged, and if you plan to review just to be hateful or something, make me laugh.
Rozi is just Rosie in Russian. Nat used a new nickname to try and snap Hari from her funk.
AN: Still don't own anything (which is sad) and all rights to respective owners. Now, addressing some reviews.
Those who said they wanted more, I'm still working on it; sorry for the wait. As of now, this is only mapped to Avengers while touching on the other MCU properties up to that point.
Thodekke: Thanks, I think I'm slowly finding her character in a way that makes sense with some of source and this version of her. As for the pranks, sorry? I couldn't think of much other than some (mostly) harmless stuff. If you have some crazy ideas for a prank, feel free to send them!
Tripmight: Yeah, I kind of got that feeling too after rereading it; but I'm trying to show that she's a bit off? I don't want to say unstable (though she could be called that) but more instead that she's more or less used to this by now and will push things aside to do what she needs to. Feel free to interpret what isn't said how you wish so that you like the way she is (kind of tried to keep some things open so people could fill in their own opinions and thoughts)
AcyFus: Thanks for the kind words! 'Greater Good' may or may not come back again.
Bearmauls: Thanks for the feedback. I'm still new to this whole creative writing process and I'm figuring it out as I go. I'll keep that in mind though and hopefully do better.
(Full Italics – Hari POV; Small phrase / Sentences – foreign language; single words – emphasis)
Ch. 7: Adjusting as an Agent (Interlude Pt. 1)
The next two weeks are boring for Hari. All she does is move between medical, an office – well her office now she guesses – and her dorm. She's told to stay on base for the duration of her scans and primary healing to make sure the dietary plan is having a positive effect. But Hari didn't really listen to Poppy back home so she's not really going to listen here.
When she's not forced into 'bed rest,' Hari is in her office or 'her' bed in med bay, looking over old mission files and Shield protocols that Coulson or Maria have brought her or being in and out of machines to scan her. She's honestly amazed none of them have broken yet. She takes breaks from the scans and files by going flying in her animagus form, something she did because she was bored between targets. And if anyone sees a bird of prey on base particularly interested in Team Coulson, no one says anything.
Fury found out just how much of a grudge she could hold. At least, a minor one. She could, and did, recognize his reasoning and would, internally, admit that it was a fair concern to have; however, he should have admitted it beforehand, not sent her and the team in without true intel. Almost every day for the past two weeks, she's attacked him with pranks. Well, some might say with borderline psychological terror – just minor things like a pink eyepatch, minorly changing his office, or a snake in said office; nothing too damaging.
The tests Maria and Coulson give her to test her recollection of protocols or facts from old missions are laughably easy to her. She can quote all the streets in a five-mile radius of the base – and further – and their crossings, specific stats from old mission files, and even reported a few Shield agents for harassment according to the contract they signed verbatim – and when they didn't get the hint, she pranked them relentlessly. One agent who wouldn't back off found himself waking up in an interrogation room, half naked with blue skin and hair in front of very unamused Agents Hill and Coulson as he told them of each agent he bothered in a monotone voice.
Fury calls her into his office on the last day of her medical required bed rest over her new comm. "Black, my office."
Hari makes her way to his office, slightly confused and still a good bit angry. Upon entering her eyes start glowing a bit again, and she glares at him; she almost doesn't realize Maria and Coulson are there with him.
"After many conversations," Fury begins, with a mild frown towards the other two, "I realize I need to apologize. I said I wanted you to trust me and you were right, the instant I put you out there, we went the opposite direction."
Hari snorts, interrupting him, and says icily, "If this is your attempt at an apology, try again in a month or two after you prove you can change. Your words don't mean shit to me right now."
Fury sighs, before nodding and saying, "That's… fair. If you're put on an assignment, you'll get as true of intel as I can for that assignment. I meant what I said before you joined, you have a valuable skillset even not counting your knowledge on the occult. But I let that get in the way. I saw an asset to use and control. So, I'm sorry."
Hari registers his words, his slightly remorseful tone – she'll have to ask Maria or Coulson later if he's ever apologized before – and his eyes… rather eye shows truth. She blinks, confused, at him as she thinks, 'Wait… Authority personnel apologizing and showing remorse? If this is real…' she narrows her eyes, 'Then Dumbledick was up to something… other than preparing me to die,' she finishes with an internal eyeroll. She takes a minute to clear her head and says flatly, "Work on changing before I accept." Pausing for a moment, "If that's all?" she asks, pointing to the door.
"Actually no. Now that you're cleared from medical; how do you feel about assisting in espionage training?" Fury asks.
'Teach? Me?' Hari thinks with an owlish blink. 'Well, I was conned into teaching for the D.A.' She sighs tiredly. "If I agree, what would I be teaching them? I'm not a teacher or instructor," she says with a slight frown. 'Not entirely true. They just can't be dunderheads,' she internally snickers.
"Well, as a well-known assassin, what do you think you could teach them Phantom?" Fury asks.
Hari gets lost in thought for a few minutes. 'What can I teach them? Almost everything I did used magic in some way.' After coming out of her head she says, "Probably the only thing I could teach them would be…" she trails off. "Actually, I'm not sure I could teach them anything. Almost every job I did used my extra skills to some extent."
Fury frowns at that and the two senior agents look thoughtful.
Agent Hill speaks up after a few moments, "What about reconnaissance? Your eye for detail could be helpful."
Hari nods slowly and says, "That could work."
"It's set in TR5A from 1000 to 1700 for the next two weeks. When would you like to come in?" Fury asks.
Hari smirks and answers, "Set it for the back end. Just let me know when." While thinking about how she can mess with them and teach them at the same time.
Coulson sees the smirk and sighs before saying, sternly, "No. No screwing with them. It's not new agents. The group is mainly people from Special Forces and some with Black Ops experience."
Hari sighs heavily, as if he has just put a huge burden on her, and says, "Fine, nothing fun. Is that all?"
Fury nods and dismisses her.
Clint and Nat don't see their new teammate for the next month. Hell, Coulson barely even mentions her. The only thing that he's told them is, "Agent Black is no longer allowed to help train anyone."
They finally find her on their way to the gym one day; she has a few feathers in her hair. As they approach her, someone bumps her and they hear, "Watch where you're going girl." They watch Hari visibly bristle and intercept her before she can attack the man.
Clint wraps his arm around her shoulders, ignoring the way she tenses more at the movement, and pulls her towards the gym.
Nat just raises an eyebrow curiously at the exchange and the movement. "Come on Rozi. Sparring time," she says in Bulgarian.
"What is it with you and nicknames?" Hari asks over her shoulder in French.
Clint shakes his head with a grin and speaks in Russian, "How about a language we all speak?" as he leads them the rest of the way to the gym. Nat walks to the edge of the sparring area and turns to Hari, giving her a searching look before nodding, causing Hari to raise her eyebrows.
"Go on." Nat says.
Hari slowly got into position facing Clint. Clint got into a ready stance. Hari eyed him for a moment before lashing out. She strikes fast and in a different pattern than the last time he fought her. Natasha stays on the side, watching Hari intently.
'She fights like Nat. Using my own movements against me like that.' Clint muses.
As soon as Clint thinks he's got Hari's pattern down, she changes it. He dodges a right hook and lunges in. Hari jumps off his partially bent knee before wrapping her legs around his head. But he's fought with Nat so many times that he's able to bring his forearm up and breaks the hold, throwing himself and Hari to the mat in the process.
Hari's ready though and flipping herself back up by the time Clint rolls back to facing her. He offers her a cheeky grin as he stands.
As soon as he's back up, Hari's moving. Going in with lighting fast jabs and kicks, Clint just barely managing to block them.
"Stop." Nat calls out; they freeze. They see Nat frowning; not necessarily in displeasure but more in thought. "Run it again. Lead with your right," she says, looking at Clint.
They get back into their stances before going at it again. And like the last time, Hari's style changes constantly. He lunges again, this time leading with his right. Again, Hari uses him as a human springboard; but this time she doesn't wrap her legs around his head, she goes for an arm lock instead.
"Stop." Natasha calls again. She comes closer and looks at their frozen positioning, again frown on her face. "Swap with me," she says, looking at Hari.
Hari gets off to the side and watches, curious as to what she's doing.
She watches as the two partners go through almost the same movements she and Clint did, but she's just a bit taller than the redhead; surprisingly though, they're the same speed. But this time, Natasha goes for his throat.
Clint manages to get his arm between hers and his throat before dropping them to the mat. Nat's already moving, twisting herself and pushing up into a roundoff when Hari's suddenly there, launching her with cupped hands. Nat flips up, landing on Clint's shoulders like Hari did the first time.
He brings his forearm up again, just barely getting it between her leg and his neck. He bends and spins slightly, ready to throw her off when something solid hits the back of his knees. Nat tightens her hold and spins as Hari kicks his chest with her other foot. He lands on the mats with a thud and sharp exhale, blinking up at the lights.
"Not. Cool," he pants out, not looking at Hari or Nat who are sitting cross-legged next to him.
Nat looks extremely smug, almost like a cat that ate the canary. Hari's face is a blank mask, except for her eyes; they have amusement dancing in the emerald depths.
"That's not cool," he repeats, sitting up.
Hari's eyes are dancing and her lip twitches with suppressed laughter as Nat asks with faux concern, "Did we hurt you?"
"Obviously not." Clint answers, stretching, "So. What was that about? Sparring with her first?"
"Well, I've already fought her." Nat starts, voice slightly tinged with amusement, "Plus, she fights like me. I wanted to see it from an outside perspective, so I know what to work on," she finishes with a shrug.
Hari says nothing, just observing them. Thinking for the first time since joining Shield, she might find new friends here.
'Only you Hari. Only you would join some secret government agency that's actually quite patriotic for a country that isn't even your own,' the voice in her head spoke, with enough hidden mirth that it could only be…
'Daphne?' Hari thought back in surprise, blinking owlishly.
'The very same, sister.' Daphne's voice replies, haughtiness very present this time.
Hari's about to answer when she realizes Clint's hand is waving in front of her face. She shakes her head, thinking quickly, 'We'll talk – or think? – later Daph okay?' turning to him with an eyebrow raised as she hears Daphne's laugh.
"What?" Hari asks flatly, face blank.
"We're getting food. You in?" He questions; repeating himself – not that Hari knows.
Hari sees the same hopeful expression from the first time, along with Nat's inquisitive and hopeful look. She sighs softly before nodding her acquiescence.
Nat offers her a hand up saying, "Come on. I'm hungry."
"Pizza." Clint declares happily.
Hari walks with them out to the parking garage with Nat's arm around her shoulders, listening to them banter like only old friends and teammates can. 'Come to think of it. They're more like siblings,' she muses, listening to what sounds like a repeat argument in the car.
They end up seated in the corner of a pizza parlor furthest from the door with Hari in the corner, Clint next to her, and Nat across from her. The conversation is light, easy. Something that Hari never really realized how much she missed.
'See, you need other people too.' Nym's voice cheekily butts in. 'Reminds me of the times we went to get pizza actually. But like, deadlier topics.'
Hari can't stop the snort that comes out, waving off the curious glances from the other two.
About halfway through the meal, Nat moves her foot to rest on Hari's chair next to her leg. It's her way of showing she's comfortable with someone; she does it with Clint when they eat after missions. And it shows Hari is welcomed into their group. The little time the three have spent together show that Hari fits seamlessly.
Unconsciously, Hari drops her hand on Nat's exposed ankle and rubs her thumb back and forth while telling them about what happened to make Coulson upset with her.
"The new guys walked in and the first thing I did was divide them up. I was told they were ex Special Forces, and some had 'Black Ops' experience, so I divided them up in two groups. First was who's done this kind of stuff and second was who is new to the espionage stuff. After that, first lesson was identification; see who doesn't belong type deal. Then it went downhill." Hari starts her story. The next thirty minutes are spent telling them how she pranked them and put them through their paces for all of two days of the two-week class, then Coulson finding out and taking her off the task. All without moving her hand from the redhead's ankle.
By the end of the story, Clint is laughing hard and bumps shoulders with the raven-haired woman and Nat chuckles softly. Their plates get cleaned at some point during the story and the trio starts to argue on payment. Hari insists on paying her share while Clint and Nat bicker. Nat insisting it's Clint's turn to cover her and Clint retorting Nat should 'pay her own damn portion.' They don't see a waiter come back only to leave again with a handful of bills.
Hari watches with a bemused smile as the waiter brings her change back only for the arguing to start again on the tip. It ends with Nat and Clint splitting the tip per Hari's suggestion.
After finally figuring out the bill, they drop Hari off at her apartment. Once she gets inside, she pulls her phone out and dials a number.
"Hill." Maria answers.
"Hey Maria, couple questions." Hari starts.
"Okay, shoot." Maria replies.
"First, is there monitoring in the dorms?" Hari asks.
"Only the hallways. Why?" Maria says, confusion evident in her voice.
"I don't have a car and need to be able to get to work tomorrow." Hari answers.
"Oh. Uh, you should be good to go. The dorm is yours until you aren't around anymore." Maria explains, still sounding slightly confused.
"Second question. Has Nick ever apologized before he did with me? It's been bugging me, but I haven't been able to ask you or Phil yet." Hari says confused. She still feels he might be up to something; but so far, he's been forthcoming with her tasks.
Maria chuckles briefly before answering, "Not really. He's a proud man. Also, I'm telling him you called him Nick."
Hari lets out an affronted noise and complains, "It's like you want him to shoot me."
"Only half of the time," Maria consoles.
"Thanks." Hari replies dryly.
There's some garbled talking on Maria's end before, "Any time Hari. I've got to go. Bye," before hanging up the phone.
Hari moves through her nighttime routine of a shower and brushing her teeth before getting into bed. As she lays there, she gets a sudden thought.
'Wonder if Mum and Dad ever forgave Sev?' she muses.
'Of course we did sweetheart.' Lily replies.
'I didn't want to at first, but in the end, we forgave each other.' James grumbles, but he does sound pleased that their differences were put aside.
'Right. Got to figure out if there's criteria like the physical stone.' Hari thinks dryly.
'There is. It's the power of a name.' Lily says.
Hari happily spends the whole night talking to her parents and theorizing with Lily about the triggering of her discussions with them, then going to work after downing a Pepper-Up.
The next few months pass without too much problem for Hari. She just does her work (mostly paperwork that she hates), the few assignments with Coulson or the team (usually just reconnaissance for them), or occasionally being an errand runner for Phil or Maria.
The only real problem she has is her first solo assignment as a Shield agent instead of independent assassin.
"Phantom, my office. Got something for you." Fury says over her new comm.
Hari makes her way to his office wondering why he's calling her Phantom now and whether or not he'll be honest with what she's doing. She walks into his office and seats herself in one of the chairs, looking at him expectantly.
"Phantom," Fury nods at her, "A situation has come up that you're needed on. An upstart warlord in South Africa," he starts, sliding a folder across his desk to Hari. "This is all the intel we have on him. Short of it is weapons trafficking, hit and runs on U.N compounds, and bribing officials to look the other way for all the other shit. I want you to go in and take care of it. How you do this is up to you; quiet and frame a rival or loud and messy. You've got an hour to get your things and meet Coulson in a jet. Then you have a week to complete." Fury says, dismissing her.
Hari takes the folder and leaves his office, going back to her room to collect the few things she leaves out of her trunk and to change. Also, to double check the man's information to make sure he's upholding his word.
An hour later, Hari's dressed as Phantom and has a pistol under her shoulder, a few knives on her thigh, hip, and forearm, and her pouches of throwable potions and blades on the harness crossing her chest plate. She moves through the base ignoring the looks of awe – and the few fearful glances – as she strides towards the hangar. She sees Coulson on the back ramp of a jet as she exits and makes her way over to him.
"Phantom." Coulson nods to her before heading back into the jet to alert the pilot for takeoff.
Hari follows him up the ramp and seats herself in the back before pulling the folder back out to look over the details of her target again as they take off.
Coulson walks back to her as they're gaining altitude and hands her another earpiece. "We'll get you in country to a safe house. From there you're on your own until objective is complete. Radio check in on days four, five, and seven at 2100, 1300, and 0900. Radio back before then if target goes down or between. After radioing back that the target is down, we'll confirm a set of coordinates for you to be picked up from. Try and make it not the middle of a city, those pickups never go well," he finishes with a rueful shake of the head.
"Got it." Hari says with a nod as she puts in her comm before going back to the file and figuring out the best way of doing this.
On day five, Coulson starts to freak out a little bit as Hari – No, Phantom in the field – misses check in again. He got word from her the previous afternoon that the target was dead. After she missed the first check in. 'What was preventing her from checking in?' he wonders with worry as time approaches forty-five minutes past scheduled check in.
He goes over what he knows, 'She explained that she had eliminated the target. Then she was dealing with his hired help.' He's broken from his thoughts as his phone rings.
"Coulson," he barks out in answer.
"Coulson, I need pickup," the voice of his worries coughs out once he answers.
"I've been trying to reach you on comms for the last hour to check in after you didn't call back and then missed today. Where is your comm?" Coulson asks, trying to figure out what happened.
"I need a pickup Philly." Hari repeats, sounding strained. "My comm is busted so I had to call," she rasps out.
He recognizes the strain in her voice and variations in breathing and can only think that his newest agent is likely bleeding out to make this call. "Can you make it to the safe house you were let off at?" he asks with some worry, trying not to react to her obvious distress but not completely succeeding.
"How long do I have to get there?" she asks, slower; before muttering, "might splinch myself but I'll get there."
"I can get a medevac there within two hours. What's splinching?" he asks confused.
He hears Hari sigh, sounding both tired and annoyed, before she says, "Didn't mean to say that loud enough for you to hear. It's basically what would happen to me if my travelling goes wrong. Think something taking pieces, or chunks, if I fuck up."
"Do your best to not have that happen. Get there as fast as you can then stabilize yourself, medevac will be there ASAP," he says sternly.
He looks down at the phone in worry as Hari hangs up. Before getting up and borderline running to the medical wing of the facility he's at – a Shield location hidden in Madagascar – and shouts out, "Need a medevac team with me! Got an agent down!" before turning back around and heading for the hangar using his comm to call for a Strike team to meet in the hangar.
He hears a few people shouting as he leaves and is joined by a medical team and a Strike team as he enters the hangar. They get on the jet and fly off to, hopefully, save his newest team member. 'She's more than that,' he realizes as they lift off. 'She's like family now. Hell, the couple times we've gone in the field together, father/daughter was our cover story.'
An hour and fifteen minutes later, the jet lands and the teams rush out, moving into the safe house. Coulson and the Strike team take point and search through the building with the medics trailing behind slightly.
"Phantom? You in here?" Coulson calls out, slightly concerned; seeing in the corner of his eye one of the Strike members stiffen slightly.
They hear a groan, then someone spit, before a distorted voice reaches them, "Ye-yeah Phil. 'M here."
They push through the safe house towards the voice. He's the first through the door that the voice came from and he has to call upon all his training as a Shield agent to stop from throwing up. He sees his new agent – Hell, someone that's like his fucking daughter – sitting against the wall opposite the door, covered in blood with her weapon drawn and aimed at the door. Her hood is down and she is covered in blood. 'A head wound, a knife through her leg, and her arm bleeding heavily,' he catalogues what he can see quickly.
'Guess she wasn't lying about being a medic,' he muses with a grimace as he watches her fix a dressing on her arm after lowering her gun. He tells the team to wait a minute so he can talk to his agent. He turns back to the room and sees Phantom, no Black – 'no Hari… she's earned that right' he thinks – beckon him in.
He quickly crosses the room and kneels down next to the woman, taking in the downright terrifying sight – 'even more so now than the first time I saw her,' he internally chuckles – of her skeletal grin face mask covered in blood along with half her head. As he gets closer, he hears her rasp something out.
"Under my chest plate, there's a small pouch on a necklace… Pull it out and open it. You won't be able to take it off, but you should be able to open it." Hari instructs between heavy breaths.
Coulson does so and pulls the little pouch out to be in front of her chest piece and opens the little bag up. Watching in awe as a little vial jumps out at Hari's muttering.
"Pour that down my throat," she instructs him. "Now!" she coughs out as he hesitates.
Coulson pours the contents of the vial down her throat and watches in awe and fascination as she regains some color in her face only to be caught off-guard as another little vial hops out of her bag. He catches it and looks at her before pouring it down her throat at her nod.
He sees her seem to relax some before the few open wounds he sees slow their bleeding. He then hears her muttering in what sounds like Latin, but it's under her breath enough that he can't say for certain; and sees the last of the open wounds get covered in bandages. He pulls her up half guides half drags her to the rest of the medics between the Strike team.
They get her on the jet, then start fussing over her; he hears her groan, steadier than when he first spoke to her, and speak up, "I'll be fine until we get to a base. I'm not losing blood anymore and my wounds have been covered."
"You can't know that," one of the medics snaps at her as they hook up some IVs.
"I'm a certified medic and I qualify for multiple PhD's." Hari says strained. 'Well, strained might not be right… more like tiredly?' Coulson muses as he listens to her talk as the medics work.
"Now please, I need some fucking sleep. I've been up for fifty something hours and I am knackered. I will be fine. Monitor my vitals or status if you bloody have to but let me sleep and do not fuck my work up." Hari snaps out before leaning back; shocking the medics, and Coulson, at the British lilt and slang.
Hari dozes off as the medics work on her; reapplying dressings and making sure her wounds are clean.
A little over a day later, Hari wakes up in the medical wing of the Shield base. She sits up and stretches before getting out of bed.
She goes over what happened and tries to figure out a way to explain in a way that Fury and Coulson will understand as she stretches her legs and back, listening to the satisfying cracks and pops.
She's broken from her thoughts as the door opens and a noise of shock reaches her ears. She looks up and quirks a brow at Jemma Simmons.
Jemma gapes like a fish out of water for a few minutes before shaking her head and saying, "You're supposed to be out for another few days with just the sedatives. Not to mention your injuries. Yet here you are, up and alert. How?" she questions, sounding horrified.
"Snake bite when I was little." Hari explains with a shrug, and half-truth, before continuing, "And, these aren't the worst injuries I've had."
Now thoroughly horrified, and confused, Jemma turns and exits for a few minutes before coming back as Hari's getting dressed… with clothes brought from… somewhere?
Jemma tries to lighten the mood and exclaims, mock sternly, "Honestly Ms. Black. You can just come see me you know; you don't have to get injured."
'Poppy said almost the same thing…' Hari muses before shaking her head and replying, with a mild grimace, "Not intentional. I just have the worst good luck ever as one of my friends once put it."
Jemma raises an eyebrow at that and has confusion visible on her face.
"Things usually work out for me, but in the worst way possible." Hari clarifies with a sigh.
Jemma moves through the process of checking all of Hari's vitals and dressings before marking on a chart and saying, "Since you're up and not showing signs of pain, you'll be free to go tonight. But, take it easy for the next couple days. I left to alert your handler; and it's likely he told the director, so they know you'll be available to talk to by tonight. Go sort them out then go get some rest. If you need any pain meds, come back."
Jemma hears her mutter something like, 'wouldn't do anything,' before she leaves.
Hari walks out of the medical wing towards her room. On the way, her phone rings.
"Black," she answers.
"Good to hear you're awake," comes Coulson's voice, sounding slightly relieved, "but now it's time for work. Meet in CR3D for debrief."
Hari nods and says, "Can do Phil. See you there," before hanging up and changing direction.
Hari walks through the hallways and enters into the conference room and is slightly shocked to see she's the first one there. She shakes it off and moves to sit in the corner, facing the rest of the room, and waits for her senior agent to show up. She only waits for a few minutes.
"Black," Fury nods to her as he, Maria, and Coulson enter.
She sees, to her shock, Maria smile a bit at her, Coulson looking relieved, and Fury lose some tension at seeing her. 'Well, him actually apologizing and it seems he cares about me,' she realizes with an internal jolt.
Fury starts the debrief, "You were tasked with taking out the target, known as Ekene, in South Africa. You were inserted into country just short of a week ago. You followed procedure and went to radio silence. You broke protocol when you didn't answer at the specified check ins. Then further broke it when you called instead. We have satellite confirmation of the base being destroyed and that the target is dead. We know what happened on our end. What happened on your end?"
They watch Hari grimace slightly before she blanks her face completely, giving nothing away, as she starts to speak in a toneless voice.
I get out of the jet and quickly made my way inside the safe house. I cleared the building to make sure it was empty.
Once I was sure the building was empty, I set up my gear and made a small area for me to put my information on the target. 'Ekene has been spotted recently in the north of the country. Near the city of Vryburg. Satellite imagery shows convoys of trucks moving through a compound,' I read in the file again.
The first night I don't go anywhere. I stay in the safe house, preparing my gear for the next day and going over everything in the file and looking for more information on the computer. I'm thankful I took the time to learn how to hack before coming to Shield as I likely wouldn't have been able to find Ekene's cell phone without doing so – it was protected.
Early the following morning I pack my gear into my bag and move out. I travel the two and half hours to get there from the safe house and stop on the edge of the city. I spend the next two days, still as a statue, under disillusionment in one of four places along the route he supposedly travels. Just watching for any sign of him. I don't move back to the safe house or set up a camp site anywhere; I'd lose valuable time to track the target.
As nightfall approaches on the second day, I spot the target. He's in a silver sedan, license tag: Yankee Bravo Mike Seven Four One, moving towards the compound on file. I wait until the car is stopped before approaching slowly; making sure to not move too quickly or risk being visible again. Once I'm at the car, I place a tracking spell on the frame, gas tank, and wheels.
Once the trackers are in place, I move back to my position and wait for the target to come back out of the compound. Knowing that I'll be able to find the target should he move; I get a few hours of sleep – more just dozing on and off – and then get back to work on day three.
I get notified that the target is moving early on day three. I start to follow the target, seeing where he leads me; he goes through a daily routine of coffee then going to an office building. I mark the office building before the target leaves so we can search it later. I follow him back to the compound and wait for an opportunity.
It's almost too easy as the target comes out, alone, for a smoke at the back entrance to the compound later that night. I move closer to take him out, as I'm about to move on him. He moves back inside.
I make the decision to follow him in, thinking if I'm patient enough and move slow enough I'll get another chance like this.
I follow him back into the compound to what seems to be his living quarters, moving at a pace slower than a snail then standing in the corner of the room, watching his movements like a hawk – laugh at that pun later – waiting for him to leave.
It takes fourteen hours, and a missed check in, before he finally leaves the comfort of his room and office. After hearing his side of the phone call, it looks like he has a deal coming up; can't let that happen, I need to take him out before he gets there and stop the deal.
He moves too fast for me to follow him under disillusionment, so I wait for the trackers to start moving. As soon as I get notification that they are, I apparate to the overlook I had the previous day. Ignoring the pain in my ear, I watch the car stop at the gate of the compound and make my move.
I apparate right next to the car and pull my modified pistol on him. I gesture for him to get out of the car.
He slowly gets out, staring at me with hatred I haven't seen since I left my home world.
Not giving him the chance to talk, I put two rounds in his chest; as he falls, he gets another to the head.
After the third shot, an alarm rings out. 'Potter Luck.' I muse with a sigh.
I see a force of roughly fifteen men coming out of the compound towards me. My attention splits though as a crack sounds from behind me and a sudden pain shoots through my arm; also reminding me of the pain in my head.
I turn around and see a guard near the gatehouse with his gun drawn on me, I raise my arm and fire at him before he can shoot again; putting three rounds quickly through his chest.
The sound of shouting getting closer forces me to start moving. I get into the target's car and drive off, speeding through the gate. Using my magic to stem the blood flow of my two wounds.
I'm driving through the city a few hours later, looking for a place to lay low, when another vehicle rams into the driver side of the car I'm in. As the vehicles stop, gunshots ring out. Bullets smashing through the windshield of the car I'm in; taking out the mirrors, hitting the other windows, and one more hitting me in the shoulder.
'At least twice now I've been shot in that shoulder; first with an arrow now a bullet.' I think with a groan.
I crawl across the center console to the passenger door and wrench it open in a break of the gunfire. Throwing myself to the ground and then shuffling to the backside of the car as the bullets start flying again.
I fire back until my pistol is empty. I've enhanced the strength of the gun and made it longer lasting and impervious to the elements, but I forgot something like bigger magazines? I groan tiredly at that realization and add it to my checklist of things to do.
Storing my pistol, I open up the pouches on my harness. I pull out some potions I've made more volatile and remove the cushioning charms surrounding them. I throw them at the truck that rammed me and watch, with a sort of horrified fascination, what it does to the metal and glass of the truck – melting it. I throw another few potions at the people in the truck and watch them gain disgustingly huge boils on their necks and faces.
I open up one of the other pouches on my harness and pull out a few throwing knives. I throw two into the heads of the poor sods in the truck to end their misery. I pull out three more knives and reach out with my magic to find the person, or people, that were shooting at me. Finding one, I move around the car wreck and throw a knife into his thigh before another finds a home in his temple.
I turn my head as I'm alerted to another presence to my left and let the last knife fly. I see it embed itself in the neck of the target's hired help.
Finally clear of the threat, for now, I relax slightly and continue my search of finding somewhere to lay low to contact Coulson or Maria and ask for extraction.
I finally find what looks like a suitable building for a temporary safe house; and just in time as I'm starting to run on fumes and I'm nearing exhaustion – I've probably got another two apparations and some minor healing before I'm done.
I move through the building to clear it, pistol finally reloaded and drawn along with a boot knife. Absently wondering what happened to the rest of the guys I saw at the compound. As soon as that thought crosses my mind, Hell breaks loose again.
'Of course. Potter Luck strikes again god dammit. Why am I your chew toy Fate?' I ask in my head as bullets are whizzing past me.
I reach out with my magic in the most basic of locator spells, I need to save my power, and see there are eight people in the building with me. I groan in frustration.
I double check the chamber of my pistol before moving. I fire on the first visible target, three shots into the chest. Moving onto the next visible target, I duck more bullets as I run to a pillar in what looks like a parlor before opening fire on that target; four shots to the chest and neck. Another target runs into the room to support the last one with me, I fire on them; five shots between the two targets. In the lull of the fight, I recount my shots and realize I have two bullets left in the magazine.
I don't have another magazine available; the rest are in my trunk around my neck, and I can't get them out now. I need to get close and use my knife. 'Should've summoned the others back to me.' I groan internally.
My magic reminds me of a target pushing down the stairs and heading this way. I move to a darkened corner and wait for them to turn the corner. As soon as the barrel of the gun crosses the threshold into the room, a bullet goes through their temple.
I move up the stairs to find the last three targets. One is sitting at the top of the stairs with a knife. He(?) rushes me as I top the stairs. I move to dodge his wild slash attack and block it with my knife hand. I grip around my knife to his forearm and wrench it up and over me before turning my pistol onto his head and fire. Two left.
I stow my, now empty, pistol back in its holster under my shoulder. I flip my knife to a reverse grip and continue moving through the building towards the final two targets.
I enter the last room of the hallway and find both hostiles there. One has a knife and one appears to have only brass knuckles. I move to deal with the threat of the blade first. Blunt weapons can be affective when wielded properly… and I don't think this guy knows how.
I move into his space quickly, slashing at his deltoid using my off hand to punch him in the throat. He drops the knife and moves his hands to hold his neck and the open wound on his arm. I flip my knife back to a standard grip and stab his chest, between two ribs straight into his heart.
The last hostile rushes me as I'm pulling my knife out and tackles me to the ground. We wrestle on the ground for a few minutes, trading blows. Him going for elbows and half-closed fists. Me going for jabs and kicks.
He rolls to the side after close to five minutes, grabbing at something as he does so. I kick to my feet to stay in stance facing him, ready for anything. I can't see anything different; I move in closer. I kick at his ribs, hard, aiming to knock his breath from him.
He catches me by surprise as he grabs my leg and then swings a closed fist down at my calf. Suddenly a knife is in my leg as I jerk it free. I jab his throat and eyes quickly to dispatch the threat. I move to the previous hostile and pull my knife free as he chokes and paws at his neck. Moving back to him, I slash his throat.
While I still have a little energy, I apparate back to the overwatch I had in the compound. Upon arrival, I immediately sink to a knee as my head pounds with the pain. I place the compound under Fidelius so that Shield can come back later and search the place.
I collapse all the way down, conjuring some strips of fabric to wrap on my leg. Blinking away the dark spots in my vision, I pull my phone out.
After hanging up, I apparate back to near the safe house. After entering the safehouse, I work on stabilizing my wounds before sitting back and resting. Eventually Coulson and the med team – and others? – reach me, and I'm evacuated out.
Fury, Coulson, and Maria are concerned at how Hari explains how she got hurt with no emotion or tone in her voice, her face blank. On top of that, they're varying levels of horrified at how nonchalantly she treats these injuries; and the fact that she's already up and moving from them and being filled with sedatives. However, they're still concerned over a few things: the head wound, the compound, and her comm.
They all look thoughtful for a few moments before Maria breaks the silence that follows Hari's recounting of the mission.
"What happened to your comm? And what caused your head wound?" Maria asks, concern evident on her face.
Hari doesn't change her face from a mask or inflection of her voice as she replies, "Comm was disabled during my transportation from the compound to the primary target's car. Head wound caused by the comm breaking."
"It basically exploded." Hari clarifies seeing their confused faces.
Fury frowns in contemplation at her while Maria and Coulson still look confused. Before Fury blinks and realization dawns on his face.
"Similar to your phone?" Fury asks, working to piece together the information.
Hari nods, not looking away from the spot on the wall she's focused on.
Fury leans over and speaks quietly to Coulson, then back and speaks quietly to Maria. Then Fury refocuses on Hari and asks, "And the compound? You said you 'secured the location for intel retrieval later.' What does that mean?"
Hari hesitates in answering, thinking quickly. 'Can I tell them? They lied to me at first. What would they say for this?' she's broken from her thoughts by Maria speaking.
"Recording is off in this room. What did you do to the compound the target was at?" Maria asks, tone softer than usual.
Hari sighs before hedging in answer, "I made it so everyone there forgot it existed. Theoretically, it should be empty by now and you can send a retrieval team in."
Fury dismisses Hari before speaking over the topics of intel retrieval in the compound and the communicators while thinking over what her parting statement means specifically. 'Could we use that? Hiding bases completely,' before realizing, 'I could get a place to actually relax at… I just need to earn her trust back,' he finishes with an internal sigh.
Later that night, Hari's on the roof for some air and to think over what she might want to tell them, having an internal discussion of pros and cons with Daphne, when a proximity ward alerts her to someone sneaking up on her. She breaks free of her thoughts and turns to see Nat looking at her with that damn searching gaze again, but also with some relief evident in her eyes. She raises an eyebrow to prompt the redhead to talk.
Nat doesn't say anything, only pulls Hari into a hug. She feels the raven-haired woman stiffen at the contact, as if she isn't used to contact that isn't with hostile intent; before she finally returns the hug, albeit hesitantly. After a few moments, she pulls back and looks at the slightly taller woman with thinly veiled amusement in her eyes, masking her concern, and snags Hari's wrist; dragging her along towards the dorms – towards a room that is not Hari's.
After moving through the dim hallways, Nat opens a door and Hari's eyes adjust quickly to see a human shape on the bed that Nat just walks to and, quick as a snake striking, snatches their wrist from under the pillow and blocking the other hand. Hari watches Clint's head shoot up and hears his sleepy, "Hm. Wha'?"
Hari moves to the edge of the bed, tucking her knees up to her chest, and tunes out what they're talking about as she gets lost in her head thinking about her time with Clint and Nat at Shield.
Very quickly, Hari was welcomed into their group. Far quicker than an established group should be welcoming a new team member. It might be down to their professionalism, her knowing one of them previously, or how well she fit, or any number of other things.
She found out within a few weeks of working at Shield that her two new teammates had a strong relationship, beyond just work partners and friends, but more like siblings. It's true they're teammates and colleagues yes, but they act more like siblings with their scuffles and arguments.
She learned very quickly that Clint loves pranks and dirty jokes. While she, normally, could be described as 'cold and aloof' or 'works with clinical professionalism;' but with them she responds to their joking in kind by sprouting off a truly impressive number of dirty jokes. She 'proved' herself to him by coming up with as many bird or archers' names to use to get his attention. Even going so far as to discuss more pirate themed nicknames for the Director.
She just fits into their group as one of them. Being included into their little rituals; at first as a way to make her open up and now just as easily as breathing. Regularly getting food after they come back from a mission, going to the movies or doing other 'civilian' things, and sitting in each other's rooms talking, watching movies, or playing board – or card – games.
Hari's broken from her musings as Clint taps her thigh with his foot as he asks, "Where are you two coming from?"
"Roof." Nat answers. And then to no one's surprise, moving on to Clint's movie player asking, "Whatcha got in here Clint?"
"Turn it on and find out. The others are in the same box they always are" he sleepily snarks back. "So, why were you up on the roof this late teen angst?" He asks Hari as he scoots up and settles against the headboard of his bed.
Hari sighs and answers, as she scoots back towards the headboard, "I just needed some air."
Nat grabs the remote and collapses on the bed, turning on the tv and dvd player. Wrinkling her nose at what was left in the player, "Really Clint? Transformers?"
"It's not as good as the cartoons, I'll give you that, but if you're just going to bad mouth my selections Tasha, you can just leave." Clint says, stealing the remote from her and starting the movie.
Hari listens to their bickering with a small smile. She's missed this kind of companionship and is getting used to having other people around again; especially in a relaxing scenario. Then soon after, began to doze.
Clint and Nat notice about 30 minutes later that she's asleep. Not from her lack of response to the movie or discussion, but because she's snoring. And they're concerned about their newest teammate and friend.
Now, usually when someone snores it's not a concern, you might roll them over or wake them up. But Hari's snore sounds like a broken motor and a jackhammer, interspersed with occasional hissing – actual hissing.
Nat's lips thin to a line and Clint tilts his head, looking at her.
He whispers, "What do we do? Leave her be or wake her up?"
Nat lets out a sigh and answers, "Wake her up obviously. Look at her, that can't be comfortable."
Hari's still sitting up, with her head tilted sideways and to the back, and has one arm seemingly bent the wrong way and wrapped partially around herself.
Clint nods and speaks up to wake her "Hari… Hari wake up… Haaaarriii" When he receives no reaction, he reaches out to try shaking her awake.
As soon as he touches her, Hari jolts awake and jerks into motion. She spins her body and twists Clint's arm and presses it against him, conjuring a knife and bringing it to his neck causing him to squawk.
Nat's eyebrows go up high as Hari's eyes lose their signs of sleep. She huffs and releases him before dropping the conjuration of the knife, speaking while tiredly rubbing her eyes, "Wha'? 'M up. What's it?"
Clint rubs his arm before relaxing back into the headboard and says, "Nothing. Just didn't look like a very comfortable way to sleep."
Nat interjects here, starting in Russian then switching to English – what's sort of became a way for them to check on each other – "Rozi, you need sleep. Before the recent mission, you had what? Thirteen hours last week? Then roughly ten this week?" She knows the raven-haired woman is busy with visits to medical to make sure she isn't at risk of making her old injuries worse – especially now with the recent mission, assignments with Coulson, or occasionally Hill, and being an information bank on the occasional occult question.
Hari turns to look at her and raises one eyebrow.
"Either get comfy and rest or I'm taking your ass back to medical to get something that will knock you out." Nat says flatly as she wraps her arms around the other woman, ignoring her tensing.
Hari mutters, "Good luck with that" as she forces herself to relax and get comfortable in Nat's arms. Then continues, "I just needed some space to think and breathe. Plus, nightmares. They're not as bad as they were thanks to something, but they're not gone; can't bring you guys into that."
Clint sighs sadly and shares a look with Nat. Then speaks up from Hari's other side, "But you don't have to deal with that stuff alone anymore. You're not alone here. Not now, not ever again. You have us." He speaks passionately while Nat hugs her closer.
A few hours later, Hari yawns herself awake enough to watch the credits of a different movie. She sees through hazy eyes that Nat is in the middle now, with a book resting on Clint's knee across her lap. Also notices that she is still snuggled against Nat's side and now has a loose grip on Clint's ankle. She considers moving but is still quite tired; not to mention comfortable.
"Wha're you doin?" She murmurs, blinking blearily. Not necessarily what she meant to ask, but Nat's hand moving from her side to her head and lightly scratching at her scalp, causes her eyes to close once more and stop her worries.
"I'm on watch" she's pretty sure she hears before drifting back to sleep.
A couple hours later, she wakes up fully and well rested. Then goes on to start her day, ignoring the feelings in her chest that emerged once again after last night.
The first time Agent Black goes missing is on Halloween the first year she's at Shield. No one knows where she is and she's not answering her phone and is unreachable on comms. Nat and Clint haven't seen her and don't find her at her apartment or dorm. The next day, she's back on base and working like nothing happened; the others push the thought to the back of their heads, one day as a break isn't the worst that could happen when she's becoming one of the best agents at Shield.
The second time she's unreachable is in the beginning of May the following spring. Again, she can't be found or reached; there's no signs that are left saying where she went, she's just gone. The next day she's back again, working without any sign of worry. The others are concerned what happened to make her leave for a day again, but she seems fine now, so they don't worry too much.
It goes like this for the first couple years she's at Shield. Halloween and that day in early May, she disappears for the day before coming back with no issues or search parties sent out.
The third year she's at Shield, Nat and Clint are on missions starting the end of April and aren't there for her usual disappearance. However, this year, Coulson's surprised to see Hari at her desk on the day she's supposed to be gone. She looks almost normal; but her face slightly falls every now and then, so Coulson keeps an eye and ear open for her in case.
Nat comes back from her mission first. After her debrief, she moves through the base to the breakroom near her dorm for some coffee. But she stops short of the machine seeing Hari already there before continuing to the coffee pot.
"Hey," Nat murmurs out, pouring herself a cup. Hari doesn't answer. Nat looks up at the other woman and sees an odd look on her usually stoic face; longing, sadness, and fairly lost?
Shaking herself out of the shock at seeing her like this, she moves closer to the raven-haired woman. "Hey, you okay?" she asks, placing a hand on her arm. Again, she doesn't answer.
"Rozi?" she asks concerned. Remembering what she did for Hari back when they first met, she reaches up and runs her fingers through the raven hair. Hari's face doesn't change its look, if anything it looks sadder. She's not the best at dealing with people or emotions. That's always been Clint, the solid link between the team, he's the rock for them to fall to when they need support.
A few minutes after Nat starts running her fingers through the raven hair, Hari shakes herself out of her daze.
"Oh, hey Nat." Hari says slightly distracted in Bulgarian, forced cheer in her voice.
"You okay?" Nat asks again, concerned for the woman she's come to care for strongly; maybe even as more than a friend.
"Yeah. What's up?" Hari asks confused. Though, she has a good idea why the redhead's asking; she just doesn't want her pity. She's grown fond of the slightly shorter woman; almost as fond as she is of Nym.
"Well… usually, you disappear today. But, you're here. What's going on?" Nat questions.
Hari finally looks away from the wall and sees the visible concern on the normally cold agent's face. She sighs softly before saying, "Just memories, you know?"
Nat's lips quirk up quickly before dropping back to a grim line seeing the look on the other woman's face. "I'm not the best at this, but I'll listen if you need to talk," she repeats what she said all those years ago in Moscow.
Hari smiles softly and nods slightly. Then speaking quietly in Russian, "If we're going to do this. We need to be somewhere we can't be heard."
Nat nods and reaches out to grabs hold of her wrist. Hari lets her lead the way to her dorm.
A few minutes later, they're in her room. Hari realizes, with some mild amusement, that the redhead's room is almost as empty as her dorm.
Nat sits them on the bed and turns to look at Hari, raising an eyebrow as Hari twitches her fingers a few times; feeling a strange sensation wash over her as the background noise of the base fades away.
"Privacy spells basically." Hari explains seeing the look.
Nat puts that information to the back of her mind, so she's not distracted by the main reason for dragging them here. "Where do you go on the days you disappear?" she questions, more bluntly than she usually would.
She watches a range of emotions play across the raven-haired woman's face in just a few seconds. Sadness, anger, a fond smile, then resigned acceptance.
"Today was the day," she starts off with a deadly flat voice, "that I… that I walked to my death back home."
Nat's shocked at the thought and speaks up around the growing knot in her stomach. "Why were you walking to your death?"
"I… I was ending the war I had been in since I was 11… or earlier." Hari says sadly; horrifying Nat.
"Did anyone go with you?" Nat asks softly after a few moments of silence.
"Yeah. Nym, Sirius, and my parents. But I didn't really know them… other than Nym." Hari says, finishing with a fond smile; taking comfort from the soft murmurs and reassurances in her head from her family.
Nat's speechless as she processes the fact that the woman she knows as the usually stoic assassin at the top of her game just… walked to her death. Before her brain reengages and she asks, horrified, "What were you doing in a war at 11?"
Hari sighs, exhaustion evident, then says, "That… is a long story."
Nat considers that; then says, "You don't have to say everything now. But it might help if I knew why there was a war."
Hari nods slowly, before moving to lean against the headboard of the bed, dragging Nat with her, and starting her story.
"It started before I was even born. There was a prophecy – divination's big in the magical world. I hated it, but some people put weight behind that type of shit – while the terrorist I first mentioned in the interview was terrifying the magical world with his crimes against them and the non-magicals. That terrorist was a dark wizard; called himself Voldemort, an anagram of his name: Tom Marvolo Riddle."
Hari pauses, conjuring a small table to float next to them and a pitcher of water with glasses. Pouring herself a glass and drinking for a moment. Then continues.
"Riddle had a spy who overheard part of the prophecy and told him. The part the spy heard told how the one who could defeat him was born at the end of July to people who had defied him three times… As you know, I was born at the end of July and my parents fought him and his sympathizers many times, but directly countered his plans three times. He murdered my parents on Samhain – or Halloween – and tried to kill me; but something that my mother did shielded me. His body was destroyed, turning him into a wraith and ending what came to be known as 'The First Wizarding Blood War.' After that, I was sent to live with my relatives."
Nat minutely flinches at how harshly Hari spits the title. Then says, "You didn't like your relatives, did you?"
Hari snorts derisively and says, "They were of the mindset I should've died with my parents. Treated me as something less than human."
Nat remembers that Hari said some of her injuries were from her relatives, and that puts a few very disturbing thoughts into her head.
Hari pauses again and takes a drink, giving Nat time to digest what she has explained so far. A few minutes later continuing.
"When I was 11, I found out I was a witch and I went to Hogwarts – a magical boarding school – and Riddle was there possessing a teacher. He tried to kill me again that year. He didn't, I killed his host and he fled as a wraith again. I later found out he was using anchors for his soul to not die; that's how he was a wraith. The next year a diary – one of his anchors – partially possessed someone I knew – someone I thought was a friend's little sister – and he used her body to unleash a basilisk on the school to 'purge the unclean.' I killed the basilisk, getting bit in the process, before destroying the diary. Basilisk venom can destroy the anchors I found out."
Nat interjects here as Hari takes a breath. "You were bit?" she questions, worry on her face.
Hari nods and pulls up her sleeve, showing the mark on her arm from the fang. "Yeah. That's why I'm immune to toxins and poisons."
"Wait, how does a basilisk bite mean you're immune?" Nat asks, confused.
Hari sighs lightly before answering, "Basilisk venom was the strongest, deadliest venom on the planet. I never got the antivenom. Just had a phoenix cry on the wound to keep me alive. My body adapted," she finishes with a shrug.
Nat opens and closes her mouth for a few seconds, looking horrified. Before sighing in resignation – 'can nothing be normal for her?' she questions internally – and signaling Hari to continue.
"Two years later Riddle has another spy enter the school disguised as a teacher while a deadly tournament was schedule to be hosted at the school. His spy entered me into the tournament and after the final task, I was kidnapped and used in a ritual to give him a new body… After, I was able to hold my own in a duel to a tie with him after he tortured me with something called the Cruciatus; the literal torture curse."
Hari quickly explains the Tri-wizard tournament in the briefest way possible, briefly mentioning how she was abandoned by her 'best friends.' Listening to Nym rambling in her head how 'Dumbledick should be glad he's dead,' Mum agreeing with her vehemently, and Sirius and Dad thinking up how they could've pranked him so hard that he would've left the country.
After a few more minutes of silence in contemplation, Hari continues.
"The next year, I was tortured in detention by a corrupt Ministry official that was one of Riddle's sympathizers and now a teacher. She used a dark artifact called a blood quill on me – a quill that literally writes using your blood as ink and carves the words into your opposite hand – and the Cruiciatus, multiple times a week for hours on end,"
Hari pauses, looking down. Not wanting to see the pity she's sure is on Nat's face. She rubs at her hand, dropping the glamour briefly, before startling as Nat puts her finger under her chin and grabs her hand. She looks up and sees compassion on the redhead's face; shocking her.
"I said it when we met again. Your scars show you're stronger than the challenges you faced." Nat murmurs quietly in Russian, thumb rubbing the back of Hari's hand along the scars.
A few tears trail down Hari's face before she continues the story. Voice going from mostly flat to carrying a tinge of disgust.
"The next year the so called 'Leader of the Light' is killed. He was just a manipulative old bastard if you ask me. And that was seen as the start to the Second Wizarding Blood War. The next year I go on a mission – that said manipulative bastard wanted me to do – to hunt down the rest of the soul anchors. He sent two people with me – G and W, people I thought were my friends – but they abandoned me, yet again; just like second year and fourth year."
Hari pauses, forcing herself to calm down as she feels the room drop in temperature slightly. Continuing after she gets her breathing and magic under control.
"I destroyed all the anchors but two; technically three – but that manipulative bastard didn't tell me about the third. I went back to Hogwarts – I found out one was hidden there – and the next day, Voldemort and his followers attacked the school. After hours of fighting he calls a break and tells us to dispose of our dead with dignity and to get them to turn me over or else he'd kill everyone."
Hari pauses, thinking about the next part of her story causes her body to start shaking as she chokes on her sobs. Nat's heart bleeds for the woman; the continuous hardships her teammate and friend has gone through. She pulls Hari into a hug and lets her cry on her shoulder. A few minutes later, Hari continues with a dead voice and the light gone from her eyes.
"I… I was walking back to the main hall… I saw the bodies. The bodies of my sister in all but blood… of one of my real friends… and… and the body of my girlfriend. The love of my life that I was planning to marry."
Hari chokes out, seeking comfort in the redhead's arms and from Nym's voice in her head. She continues after a few minutes.
"I found another friend and told him what, I thought, the last soul anchor was; before walking out of the school to the forest on the grounds where they were camped out… I found their clearing and stood there as Voldemort fired a killing curse at me."
Hari finishes her story – or the very brief version – with teary eyes. Thinking back on those times is something she doesn't like doing. Though, it's slightly easier now that she can talk to her family.
To say Nat was shocked would be an understatement. She couldn't believe that the woman she's come to know – this, this warrior with a seemingly unbreakable will – someone incredibly skilled in both magical and non-magical fighting, healing, and a number of other tasks. The woman who fights like no other; who can prank like it's her job; who would tell Fury to 'fuck off,' just stood there… and didn't fight back.
Nat is shocked to her core that the raven-haired woman trusts her enough to show this vulnerable side; exposing pieces of her soul to her. 'I-I'm a monster though. I don't deserve this trust… But I'll be damned if I do anything to her to make me unworthy of her trust,' she muses.
A few minutes of silence – minus the sniffles and hiccups coming from Hari – before Nat breaks it with, hopefully, a lighter topic. "Can you tell me about your Nym?" she requests softly.
Hari chokes out a laugh, at both the topic change and Nat's use of a possessive.
She answers with a fond smile, "Nymphadora… She was a metamorphmagus – she could change her appearance at will without using a spell or something – a real spitfire too. She was a walking bloody hazard though," she says with a snort; ignoring the indignant squawk of protest in her head. "Hazard of constantly changing body mass and proportions is what she always said. She was a prankster, an auror – basically magical police – and just a generally fun-loving person. She could always put a smile on someone's face."
Nat's lips curl into a soft smile listening to her friend talk about the woman who stole her heart until they pass out, curled up together on the bed.
A week later, Hari's phone rings on her way out to get food.
"Black," she answers.
Coulson's voice comes over the line, "Hari, we need you to come in."
"Immediate or can I get food first Phil?" Hari asks, suppressing a groan; she only got four hours of sleep last night and didn't eat breakfast.
Coulson sighs and answers, "Immediate. Sorry kiddo."
Hari groans this time and says, "Fine. Make sure the office has monitoring off and is empty like usual."
"After the brief, we'll get something to eat before you leave." Coulson offers; not responding to the request – he knows what to do when Hari's called in suddenly.
Hari agrees with a hum before hanging up the phone before making her way to a secluded spot. Then turning on her heel and apparating away without a sound.
She sighs at the gun raised to her by Fury and says, "Confirmation code: Nevada Yankee Mike Zero Five Two Green."
"Black. After a weapons demonstration, an HVT was kidnapped; we need you to locate him." Fury says as he lowers the gun.
Hari smirks as she replies, "No jokes today Nick? You know I love the banter."
"It's Fury. And no, this needs to be done quickly." Fury grinds out.
Hari replies, "Maybe next time Patches Pan. Who's the target?"
Fury sighs before answering, "Tony Stark. He was giving a weapons demonstration in Afghanistan before 'disappearing,'" as Coulson hands her a file.
Hari's eyebrow raises at the name before she skims the file; then looking back at Fury, "Am I on my own for this or do I have company?"
"You'll have help getting in country and out once you've retrieved Stark." Fury replies.
Hari nods and moves to the door, calling over her shoulder, "I'll get it done Mary Critchett."
"It. Is. Fury!" Fury yells at the door. Then shaking his head as he looks back to the desk muttering, "Frustrating magical asshole."
Coulson grins and says, "She's good at it too," as he walks out after her.
AN: Finally, we're getting to the MCU stuff now! As always, send a review and criticism is welcome.
Hopefully this wasn't too all over the place but I know it's not the most organized in terms of time (sorry?) but I was able to talk about the things I wanted to and move the story along (probably a little fast, but I don't want to take 20 chapters to reach the main part of the story so).
Full overview of the interlude time frame and Hari's relationships at this point in time will come after the next chapter. Also might touch on Hari's character/mental state (maybe Natasha's too?) if you guys want something like that.
Still don't own anything (outside of this story) though if I did, I'd probably be living large. Addressing some reviews.
Those who said they were enjoying it and complimenting the story : Thank you! Honestly, I'm still pretty new to this type of thing so all of you saying you like it is wonderful.
RealMnSun : Worry not my friend, MCU content is here (next ch. is first part of Avengers movie so look out for that)
WolfBrotherTitan : On the topic of money, yes the money she has of non-magical cultures (left over after her travels) should be counterfeit, I agree. But, it's a fanfic where the main character dimension hops after bargaining with a deity. The galleons might be melted down but then it would inflate the market of the new world so *shrug* She basically kept some galleons as a piece of home I guess. As for the offer of her life; Hari is, admittedly, a bit broken. She's lost her whole family, most of her real friends, her girlfriend, etc. Obviously, she's not really going to care if the cost of 'a new adventure' was her life. If she dies, she sees her family and girlfriend again; if she doesn't, she gets away from the stagnation without being hunted down.
Crywolfseven : Thanks for the feedback. Fury's 'Greater Good' line was OOC and heavy handed as hell (Especially considering no one in MCU should know about Hari's hatred of it, sooo). I admit, after reading that part of the story back similar thoughts came to mind; 'Why didn't I just make Hari do X?' so I get where you're coming from. Mainly, I just wanted to put Hari in a situation where she would be frighteningly injured when Coulson/Clint/Nat find her and then have her shrug it off and that was the first thing that came to mind. But I did kind of mention her exhaustion so ?
This chapter is a bit shorter than the last couple, I apologize, but after this we're getting to the first Avengers movie! So, don't be too upset with me please - I'm a little fragile.
Ch. 8: Acclimating (Interlude Pt. 2)
In a cave in the middle of a desert town surrounded by terrorists with guns, a gaunt man hammers what appears to be a piece of armor while another thin, almost sickly looking, man works on a computer.
Suddenly, they drop their tools and freeze at the shouts from outside the door. It sounds like someone is ordering them around in… Bulgarian?
The responding shouts are answer enough to what the first said. Shouts might not be entirely accurate, they're more shrieks and screams of terror.
"Yinsen. Do something!" the one with one with brown hair addresses the bald man in a, mostly, hushed voice.
The bald man, Yinsen, looks towards the other man incredulously and fiercely, "And what am I to do Stark? Open the door and tell them to be quiet? I don't even speak Bulgarian."
Before Stark can answer, the door opens and admits a bloodcurdling scream. Suddenly, there's another person in the room with them.
She(?) turns her covered and hooded head towards Stark and speaks, distorted with a hint of annoyance in her tone, "Stark?"
Stark looks at Yinsen who shrugs before answering, "Yes? You are?"
The mystery woman hums before speaking up, "Phantom. For now, you need to finalize whatever you're doing and then we're getting you out of here."
Stark shrugs and says, "Fine, we're just about done." Before muttering, 'phantom? More like demon.'
Phantom nods and stays in front of the door while the two men work. A short time later, she turns back towards the men only to see Stark stepping into a huge suit of armor and Yinsen helping him then moving to a computer.
"How'd you get here anyway?" Stark calls out from inside his suit.
"Systems are good to go." Yinsen says before the woman can respond.
Phantom nods and looks to Yinsen, "As the non-combatant of the group, you're with me."
Just then, the door opens again, this time amidst a volley of small arms fire.
Phantom snaps her arm out and a semi-transparent half-dome appears in front of her and Yinsen. She looks back at Stark's suit and shouts, "Ready to fight your way out?"
"Uh… sure." Stark answers, a little half-heartedly.
Phantom nods and says, "Let's go," in a much calmer voice than should be acceptable in a situation like this Stark and Yinsen think. Then suddenly, men are falling.
Stark thinks he sees a flash of light but he's severely dehydrated and suffering from malnutrition so it's possible it's just a hallucination.
He raises an arm and shouts, "My turn," with a smile under his helmet, then spraying fire at the men in the tunnel.
The sound of helicopter rotors approaching breaks the silence that fell over the group as Phantom destroyed the entirety of the terrorists that were holding them.
After seeing the final man fall Stark and Yinsen were quietly guided away by Phantom as she spoke over an earpiece, doing their best to not get sick.
The helicopter lands and a formation of military men jump out and set up around the man in the center; one James 'Rhodey' Rhodes, USAF Colonel.
He walks up to sans armor Stark and pulls him into a brotherly hug and says, "Next time, no fun vee." Clearly referencing something only known to them; before pulling back and seeing the other two. "Who are you?" he asks.
"Yinsen; he was with me. Other one is called Phantom and she rescued us." Stark says. Guessing that the mystery person is a woman based on the body, seeing as the voice is distorted.
Phantom nods at Rhodey, who returns it, and says, "Might want to continue this in the bird boys."
Tony and Yinsen are half lifted into the back of the helicopter as Phantom just looks back over the desert.
Rhodey turns back to talk to Phantom only to see her gesturing with one hand as the other is pressed to her covered ear… as she walks away.
Natasha ducks into another alleyway with Clint hot on her heels as they run from another set of goons. She slides around another corner into a small alcove and drags Clint with her.
He breathes heavily before saying, "We need some help."
She gives him a look that clearly says, 'Yeah. No shit!' and calmly states, in a slightly more stable voice, "And who are you planning on calling? The Director told us we have no help for this, and Coulson agreed with him before he sent us."
He scowls lightly at the reminder before a mischievous grin crosses his face; which instantly causes alarm bells to ring for Natasha. "We call Maria," he says, so matter of fact as if it's the solution to all their problems.
She gives him another look before bringing up, "And she's the Director's second. She'll listen to him more than Coulson."
He frowns as he looks away, before looking back into Natasha's eyes and raising his eyebrows.
She scowls in response and says, firmly, "No. If you're going to call anyone, call Coulson. He might be able to do something. Do not call her, she just got back and from what I know she won't hesitate to help. Let her rest."
He nods, a little too eagerly – if Hari were to see it, she would be reminded of a certain elf – and pulls out his phone.
"Coulson." Coulson's voice comes over the line after a few rings.
Clint almost sags in relief before speaking up, "Hey. We need some help."
"Alright, let me see who can help." Coulson says, before putting Clint on hold.
A few minutes later, Coulson's voice comes back after a heavy sigh.
"Challenge is 'Lima Echo.' Counter is 'Sierra Bravo.'" Coulson informs him.
"Challenge 'Lima Echo,' counter 'Sierra Bravo.' Who's coming to help and where are we meeting?" Clint parrots the information and questions.
Coulson's voice comes back tighter than normal, "The only one who can get there in time and she'll come to you. Sit tight. She'll be there soon." And with that, he hangs up.
Clint stares at his phone as Natasha looks back at him. "Well?" she questions.
"Sit tight. Great fuckin advice." Clint scoffs, looking up and seeing the look on his partner's face, he sobers up. "You heard the counter and we have help coming."
She did hear the counter. 'SB… hmm,' she muses, before slightly frowning as she comes to a realization. "Who's he sending?" she asks, hoping she's wrong.
He gives her a flat look that has her frowning more and muttering a few choice curses before speaking more clearly. "Okay. Where are we supposed to meet her?" she questions.
He sighs and drags a hand through his hair as he answers, "He said she'll come to us. Let's move back towards the jet and hope we don't run into too much trouble."
'Should've kept his fucking mouth shut,' Natasha muses as another hail of bullets crack by overhead.
Clint jumps at the distorted voice saying, "Lima Echo," behind them.
However, it's the hiss that follows that makes Natasha look up and her breath stops at the sight. Hari's here… well more accurately, Phantom's here, she's very injured, and her voice is annoyed?
Her earpiece is broken – again, though it's not that they know it – and there's blood coming from the side of her head, there's a bloody patch on her stomach, her sleeve is torn and there's a deep gash on her arm, and there seem to be holes in her legs.
"Why must you move around so much?" Phantom questions, voice distorted and agitated. "Where's the ride?" she asks, looking at Clint.
He can only gape and look at her in question.
The emerald orbs in place of Phantom's eyes spin a bit – 'Did... did she just roll her eyes?' Natasha thinks semi-amusedly – and she turns towards Natasha. "Lima Echo. Where's the ride?" she repeats.
"Sierra Bravo," Natasha murmurs the counter, having been told about the raven-haired woman's godfather, and continues, "about a mile to a mile and half north of here."
Phantom nods and stands back up, ignoring her injuries, and points her fingers towards the visible assailants. Little jets of red light dropping them, others suddenly gaining cuts and gashes, some being thrown back, some flying back as they lose hold on their weapons.
In just a few moments with just a handful of hand gestures, Phantom easily dispatches the group that was attacking them. A few twitches later and a strange sensation passes over them; one that feels very similar to Natasha.
And then Phantom is collapsing back to her knees, only being saved from hitting the floor completely by Clint reaching out and steadying her shoulders.
"Move now. But not too fast." Phantom wheezes out. "Disillusion…" she trails off.
Natasha looks like she's trying not to panic, and only mostly succeeding, and Clint is already about to drag her like they did in the Army when Natasha points to her shoulders and then her ankles.
Clint gets the message and nods before grabbing her shoulders as Natasha grabs her ankles. They slowly walk back to the quinjet and lay Phantom out in the back.
Natasha doesn't pay attention to Clint confirming the mission and alerting medical as she removes Hari's mask and cards her fingers through the bloody black hair.
Natasha hears the woman blearily mutter, "Need to fix comms," before she's curling towards her and smiling softly; likely from the ministrations of her fingers.
Natasha shoves those feelings aside, 'she's a coworker and friend. I won't be getting involved with her.'
Hari wakes up in the medical wing, again; only this time she's not alone and there's a weight on her hand. She turns her head and smiles sadly at the head of red hair that's spilling onto the bed next to her.
She carefully extracts her hand from under the sleeping assassin and stands up before pulling her pouch out and retrieving her trunk. She opens it to the flat and disappears into it.
After a shower and changing into some jeans and a Henley, she exits the trunk; only to find an awake Natasha looking slightly panicked.
Upon seeing her, the redheaded woman visibly relaxes. Then raises her eyebrow with a small smirk as she speaks up a little sleepily.
"Did you just come out of a steamer trunk?" she questions.
Hari snorts at the question and answers, "It's a bit more than a steamer trunk, but yes."
"Really? Looks like a trunk to me." Natasha taunts with forced levity in her voice.
Hari sighs at the tone and speaks softly as she reaches the redhead, "Hey, Nat. I'm fine. Okay?"
"It's just. You keep getting hurt and I don't want you to disappear again." Natasha says, voice heavy with emotion, as she grips Hari's hands tightly.
Hari pulls one of her hands free and pulls the other woman into a hug and murmurs softly, "I'm pretty hard to kill. But, to make it up to you… How about I take you on a tour of my trunk and cook something for you?"
Natasha pulls back and stares at Hari incredulously; before starting to giggle hysterically at the change.
"You still cook?" she asks, once she's gotten under control.
Hari just nods with a soft smile and pulls her along towards the trunk.
Hari's woken up by a phone call on her birthday; seemingly not forgotten this year.
"Hey kiddo, sorry to wake you." Coulson's voice says from the other end. Causing Hari to wave him off (despite the fact they're not talking in person). "But what do you know about Norse mythology? I would've waited to ask, but this is kind of urgent and you're our ear to the ground for the occult and supernatural."
"Uhh… Norse Mythology?" she repeats, shaking her head a few times to clear it. "My understanding of that is a bit more limited than what I'm usually asked about," she warns; before continuing to explain, "If their deities are real, they're likely other old civilizations or foreign beings that the ancient cultures mistook for gods visiting Earth. Uhh… They're considered stronger than us and more advanced; might have a size difference? They'd likely talk a little different than we do now."
"Alright. You think you would be able to identify some markings or symbols?" he asks in follow up.
"What, like runes?" Hari asks, getting excited at the idea. She loved learning about ancient runes on her travels, she would've taken the course in school but she allowed the walking garbage disposal to convince her what classes to take, and learning how to ward was fun.
"I guess so. I'll send you a few pictures." Coulson replies as he types away on his computer. "They should be on your computer now."
Hari moves to her desk and barely spares a glance to the pictures of her and the team during previous birthday outings and boots up her computer. Opening the files Coulson just sent; bypassing the slideshow wallpaper of her and Natasha on previous birthdays or missions: at an amusement park, curled up on a couch (thanks Clint), and one of the hospital wing.
She's shocked to see a small war hammer with various runes and designs on the hammer head. She's able to identify some intent and lightning runes (along with some she couldn't identify), some rune words telling a story and the name Mjolnir; and was able to see markers that pointed to it being keyed to someone.
"Question before I say what I think; when you guys first got there was there a strange smell to the air? Especially around the hammer?" Hari asks.
If Coulson's surprised at that, he doesn't let it be known, "Yes. Almost like ozone, strongest next to the hammer." He answered.
Hari hums as she nods to herself, then speaks up, "Okay. Looks like you've got Mjolnir, the hammer of Thor, Norse God of Thunder. It's not going to be able to be moved by anyone other than him and is likely a focus for his powers" she explained.
"Thanks Hari. I appreciate it." Coulson replies.
Hari sighs before muttering out, "I'd appreciate if you guys were back."
"I know; and I'm sorry. Barton and I should be done here pretty soon, but Romanoff should be free for tonight." Coulson says, fondness and teasing evident in his voice.
Hari looks to the picture of her and Phil – Phil off duty, you don't call someone who gives the best hugs by their surname, that's weird – on his last birthday, where she had given him the last two cards needed for his Captain America set, before saying, "Just stay safe. I miss you guys."
"Miss you too kiddo. Don't get into too much trouble." Coulson replies, then hangs up.
Hari moves back to her bed, getting lost in the mental discussions with her family after an almost deafening, if that's even possible, 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY PUP!' from Sirius.
A few months later, while Natasha is away on a deep undercover mission, Clint is standing in Hari's room in the low light of early evening, finally seeing that there is nothing in the room to give it any personal touches. He's always believed you can learn a lot about someone from their room; beyond just if the room was messy or not.
Natasha's room is neat but not sterile, and he's aware she knows where everything was; he once snuck in and rearranged her desk.
She retaliated by sneaking into his room and reorganizing his entire room and taking a few things. It had taken him almost a week to get back the items she stole (all of his underwear), as well as being his first insight into her sense of humor; he found it understated, sharp as knives, and truly amazing.
Standing in the semi dark of Hari's bunk, he sees that there is nothing in her room to give it a personal touch. Other than a coffee maker that went missing from one of the break rooms when she was supposed to be on bed rest, a few chipped mugs, and a handful of bottles on the small counter. He realizes that Hari probably doesn't have much of anything to remind her of simpler times.
Only her uniforms, likely in the wardrobe or dresser, and the bag he had seen on the mission when they met; even during the rescue mission she did, she didn't have anything on her, but she kept herself, and them, alive despite her many injuries.
He realizes that it shouldn't matter, but it does.
His childhood hadn't been the nicest, but he still has some mementos of happy times, but it seems as if Hari has nothing to remind her of happier times or her home world. Granted, if he knew what had happened to her there, he definitely wouldn't blame her for not bringing anything to remind her of it.
And that's the scene that Hari comes back to after a meeting, Clint just standing in the middle of her room in the semi dark.
She doesn't bother reacting to the, admittedly, odd scene other than sparing him a quick glance, before she starts the ritual of unloading herself of the gear she never goes anywhere without; the two modified handguns (now with runes for ammo replenishing), the various knives attached to her legs, hip, and forearm, and the few pouches she keeps on her of potions and throwing knives.
She lays them out on top of the dresser, systematically in clean lines; organized by size for the knives and, after clearing them, the guns on the end.
She thinks back over the meeting she just had with Fury. 'It seems he's finally owning up to his mistake and he's been doing his best to uphold his agreement,' being the main point of her musings.
She still thinks the rumors about the agent referred to as 'Ghost' or 'Specter' are hilarious. Apparently, no one outside of the Director and his number one and two had seen this agent; but they're incredibly skilled and must be some sort of enhanced to do the things the rumors have said they've done.
The one she thinks is the best is about a deep cover operative who's enhanced; they're never seen or heard and can get anywhere.
Fury, obviously, hasn't confirmed or denied anything, so the agents think it's true. And to an extent it is; if you realize that the agent that walks around base or through the Helicarrier without a care in the world – and scares everyone with the mask and shadowed face – is the one that the rumors are talking about… and change the name to Phantom.
After laying her gear out, and withdrawing from her thoughts, Hari starts to pull off her armor; treating it with less care than her weapons – just dropping it in a pile next to the bed. Now dressed in yoga pants and a tight tank top, she pulls her pouch from around her neck and withdraws a small box from it.
She sets the box down and Clint's eyes widen as he watches it expand to the size of a steamer trunk and then as Hari disappears down into it.
He walks over to it and looks around it, trying to figure it out. Before a few minutes later, Hari comes back out dressed in skinny jeans, a tee shirt, and boots. She reshrinks the trunk and places it back into the pouch before quirking a brow at him.
"See something you like Woodstock?" she asks, teasing lilt in her voice.
Clint performs a good impression of a fish for a bit before asking, amazed, "Did you just go into a trunk?"
Hari sighs and is about to answer when a soft snort is heard from the door. They turn to see Natasha standing there, dressed like a secretary; or almost like a career girl Barbie, if you want to make jokes.
'She must be done with her undercover work.' Hari muses.
"Yes, she did." Natasha says to Clint, before turning to Hari, "Need to pick your brain. What do you know about palladium poisoning?"
Hari raises an eyebrow at the question before her eyes go a little unfocused as she recalls the necessary information.
"Palladium may cause skin, eye, or respiratory tract irritation, can cause skin sensitization. Liquid form can cause burns to exposed skin and eyes, if ingested you need to get a lot of water. It's highly toxic and should be treated as a carcinogenic. Some compounds with it can cause bone marrow or liver and kidney damage. Though it can be used as a treatment for tuberculosis at a small dosage without too many negative side effects."
Natasha hums before speaking, "Anything else?"
"Well, if it's in the blood stream, the person only has a few months to live. Lithium dioxide would slow the poisoning if injected daily. But after a few weeks, the body will stop accepting it. Not really a cure, just treating some symptoms. Why? Someone being poisoned with palladium?" Hari finishes her explanation in question.
"Yeah. The target I've been tailing." Natasha replies.
Clint raises his eyebrows at the explanation of the poison only to furrow them in confusion at Natasha's statement.
"Damn Stark, God help the bastard." Hari says, semi sad tone.
Clint looks at her incredulously while Natasha gives her mild glare.
"Do you have to snoop so much." Natasha asks, exasperated.
Hari nods with a grin.
Clint speaks up again, again in an incredulous tone, "Are we not going to talk about the fact that she," pointing to Hari, "just disappeared into a trunk then made it the size of a matchbox?"
Natasha turns her gaze back on to Hari and smirks; amusement in her eyes and raises an eyebrow.
She's only seen the trunk once since the time they ate in it after the taller woman's time in hospital after rescuing them; when she caught Hari wandering the halls at 3am, and she had to physically drag her back to her room and pulled her onto the bed, and Clint was away on a solo mission and she needed a change of clothes other than the ever present Shield issued base uniform – that neither Natasha nor Hari will ever wear.
"Oh. Uhh yeah. I forgot I hadn't shown you yet." Hari sheepishly admits while rubbing the back of her neck.
Clint looks between the two women and says, "Wait Nat already knew?" Before pouting and holding a hand above his heart, "That hurts. That hurts me here."
Hari snorts and replies, "Yeah, Nat already knew. Sorry I hadn't told you yet. It was made back on my home world; has basically a whole bunch of rooms in it for different things I may need. I'd lived out of it pretty much since coming here and still keep most of my stuff in it."
"Wait you have an address now and we didn't know about it?" Nat asks evenly, picking up on the phrases used.
Hari recognizes that tone, it's a dangerous tone. The redhead's a little bit mad, a good bit hurt, and is likely just a few seconds away from shooting something, probably her.
"We resent that." Clint adds as he steps up beside Natasha and slings an arm over her shoulder, Hari has to shake herself free of the image of two redheaded devils that did the exact same thing long ago.
Hari realizes in that moment; she never told them the secret to her new address – 'fucking shit' she thinks.
A week after her birthday, she went and… commandeered an old building that looked close to falling down.
She fixed the place up with magic, added wards for her protection (and peace of mind) and to keep everyone else unaware, threw on a Fidelius, and made it unplottable. She told Phil and Maria the secret so they could come see her if they wanted, or if they needed a place to lay low.
She's yet to tell Fury, but she might soon as he's actually kept his end of the bargain. And now she's reminded that hasn't told Clint or Natasha yet. Clint because they just haven't hung out just the two of them in a while; and Natasha because she's been undercover.
"Fuck. I thought I told you guys last time we all hung out. It's a… safe house basically. It holds a few things that I don't want left out but still want access to. My normal stuff is at the apartment still." Hari admits. She knows they're only asking because they care about her.
It's a weird concept for her to get used to again; having people who care about her; Phil, Maria, Clint, and Nat – and to an extent Fury.
Clint looks at Natasha, who looks just as lost (but still a little upset), before speaking up, "Well, I was thinking of going to get food; originally why I came here Sabrina. Soo, Chinese okay?"
Hari shrugs her acquiescence and follows them out of the dorms. They speak of inconsequential things on the way to the restaurant.
Once there, Clint orders enough food to feed a small army and sits in a chair in the front corner to wait; with Hari following shortly after, leaving a space between them.
Natasha sits on Hari's other side, slightly turned and puts a foot up in the raven-haired woman's chair.
Hari places a hand on her exposed ankle, rubbing circles with her thumb, and jokes with Clint while they wait for the food. And if she pointedly ignores the cooing from some of her family, and the terrible comments from Sirius, no one outside her head has to know.
Clint finally gets the food and pays before leaving; Hari directs them to the basic area of her safe house, deciding to have a bit of fun along the way.
"Stop here. What's that?" she asks, pointing to the building as they stop in front of it.
Clint looks at the dilapidated building and frowns in thought, before speaking up, "An old office building turned complex that's scheduled for demolition soon." Natasha nods along to what he says.
He realizes there's a few things off about the building; first being that Hari wouldn't lead them here without reason, second is that he shouldn't know anything about this building as he's never been through this area other than to pass by, and third is Hari has a shit eating grin on her face.
Hari looks amused and pleased at the answer, before handing the other agents a small scrap of paper with the address. "Look at this then hand it back," she commands.
She hears a sharp inhale of breath as the building seemingly fixes itself in front of them and sees Natasha looking thoughtful and Clint gaping, for once not making a joke about her magic.
"This is my safe house in the city." Hari explains, as she moves towards the side door carrying the food. She notices that Natasha's face is back to a mask of cool indifference, but her eyes hold a small gleam to them. And Clint has stopped gaping and adopted a serious, thoughtful face.
'They're both spies. Of course something like this would appeal to them,' she muses, barely refraining from facepalming at the obviousness.
Hari hears Natasha's Latin muttering as she passes through the door, "Dead useful for missions I bet," and catches her eye and nods. She sees the spider assassin's eyes light up at the idea of a safe house being safe.
She wonders what joke Clint will make at this but instead, he still sports the thoughtful seriousness, an expression rarely seen on the prankster archer, along with a degree of hope and concern, also like he's trying to figure the 'security system' out.
They eat as friends, as family, and talk comfortably through dinner.
After eating, Hari points out the different sleeping areas she has, and Clint takes the one with the best vantage point – obviously.
At some point in the night Hari wakes up to a weight dropping on her.
Nat's come to the bed Hari's using and curls up, half on top of her, causing Hari to smile softly before going back to sleep.
The next day, Clint comes up to Hari after they've gotten ready for the day as Natasha's finishing her morning habituals and quietly asks, "How'd you guard this place? Obviously magic," he cuts her off, seeing the cheeky grin on her face. Before finishing, "but what's all to it?"
She thinks over how to answer and why he's asking, remembering his look the previous evening, his now slightly tense body language, and realizes he wants to do the same thing somewhere else, but wants to find out about it first.
"There's the Fidelius charm, basically a wipe for everyone to forget about the building or property who doesn't know the secret (that piece of paper from last night). It's unplottable, meaning it won't show up on maps. Plus, intent wards, basically a wall of magic around the property that if people are lost, they're pushed away, or if they're trying to attack, they're attacked themselves. There's also some structural support stuff but that's just to make sure the place doesn't fall down on top of me." Hari explains.
"The fiddleus?" he parrots in question, "That's how I recognized where you were pointing and the story, even though I've never given conscious thought to this area?"
"Fidelius" she corrects, "and yes. Why're you asking?" she asks, turning to give him her full attention.
"If… if I told you I wanted something similar set up for me and some others, would you need to tell anyone?" he asks softly.
"Not really. I would just have to give you the secret to keep safe so you can bring other people there should you need to. What do you need it for?" she questions.
She could just use legilimency, but she doesn't like using it too much; thanks to a few people, cough Dumbledick, Moldyshorts cough.
"I can trust you with this?" he asks. It's not that he doesn't trust her, they're friends now, teammates and she's already saved him once. Plus, he trusts Nat and Nat trusts her, so he'll trust her judgement. But it's his family, he needs to stress the importance of it.
"Do you want me to swear an oath or sign a contract; that, should I break my word, comes at the cost of my life?" she questions him, serious look on her face and any trace of levity gone.
"No. No, it's just. It's my family. It's my family and I want them to be safe," he admits quietly.
"Done" she says simply, "When do you want to do it?" she questions as Nat comes out.
"Barton, Black, I need you two in my office." Fury's voice comes over the speakers on the Helicarrier.
Hari's with Natasha on one of her few base days when the call comes, so she leaves and meets up with Clint on the way to the Director's office.
"Are we finally going to be sent on a mission just us? I've been dying to do a mission just us," Hari says coyly, batting her eyelashes at Clint.
She knows nothing would ever happen between them; he has a family, that has come to include her strangely enough. Being called Auntie Hari was a strange experience, but it's also the closest she'll come to children, outside of adoption.
He snorts, slinging an arm over her shoulder and says dryly, "You'll be dying if we're late to this meeting with Fury."
"If he cared about my tardiness, I would've been killed ages ago," she retorts.
He grins as he asks, "What about the other rules? Or your habit of hacking into our servers?"
"I don't know what you mean," she replies with a sniff, "Nicky likes me too much; I'm the exception to the rules."
"Even dying?" he asks, mock innocently.
Hari smiles ruefully and says quietly, "Even that one."
Walking into Fury's office, they see he's just hanging up the phone. He looks up at them as they shut the door and speaks, "Barton, I just got off the phone with New Mexico. You're going there to guard some scientists working on a project and one of them is getting antsy for you or Agent Coulson to be there. Wheels up at 0800 tomorrow."
He nods his acceptance of the mission but asks, "And Coulson is?"
"Busy with so many things it makes my head spin. The scientist you're meeting is Dr. Selvig, remember him?" Fury asks, seeing his nod, he continues, "He's part of Project Pegasus now and wants someone familiar with the New Mexico case. Since Coulson's got his hands full, I'm sending you."
Hari interjects here, "Sir. Wouldn't I be a better choice for this?"
Clint nods again here because if it's stuff similar to Thor and the Destroyer, Hari would be a better option.
Fury turns his attention to Hari, "I agree, you probably would be Black. But Dr. Selvig is adamant that it's someone he knows; and Barton was there, didn't just read files," he says with a small glare at her, "I just want him happy so that he'll get back to work." He finishes, handing a file to Clint.
He turns back to Hari and continues, "I'm sending you to England. We've got intel that there is a trafficking ring trying to start up that's moving children; if the missing persons reports are accurate. You'll be going in deep cover. Shut him and his team down, free any civilians you come across, and get your ass back," he quickly explains her mission, handing her a file.
"How long?" Hari asks looking through the folder briefly, only to freeze and then turn furious at the name that shows up; one Vernon Derling – not quite the same, but enough to make her blood run cold and bring up unwanted memories.
The room suddenly plummets in temperature and Hari's eyes glow with barely restrained power as her breathing goes labored.
"Hari?" Clint questions from her side. He questions her again after a few moments of no response, "Hari? Hey, Hari?"
"BLACK!" Fury shouts, snapping Hari's attention back to the present.
She looks at him and nods slightly, prompting him to continue.
"You good?" he questions, sounding genuinely concerned – whether that's concern over her or her ability to complete the mission, Hari doesn't know – and seeing her nod again, continues, "You've got two months, though with your skillset you'll probably get done faster. Based on that reaction can I expect this to be bloody?"
Hari nods and smiles a shark's smile, all teeth and unpleasantness.
"Very well," Fury sighs, "I don't really care. I just want it shut down. You leave Monday. We clear?"
Hari's smile is still unnerving to Clint, and disconcerting for Fury, as she replies, "Crystal sir."
Fury turns back to Clint, who nods as he says, "yes sir," before dismissing them.
AN: There it is, last bit before Avengers stuff. Reviews are welcome as always. Now, a small poll if you will for a new (potential) story. I might end up doing all of these ideas or maybe none of them, just some things that were holed up in my headspace that I wanted to put out there.
1: Snape meets a young(ish) Harry at the Ministry during a self study type deal and recognizes his potions skills (Harry's not at Hogwarts, and through self study and what not becomes some sort of super wizard) Snape then puts his name into the Goblet to get back at Dumbledore for saying that Lily, James, and their boy died that night. (Story would either be a WBWL or NO BWL AU where Snape still disliked James Potter but didn't let his dislike fester on the child of a dead man.)
2: Harry acts the perfect pureblood after gaining a stupid amount of titles (hereditary and other) and dislikes Dumbledore/Potters for abandoning him. (Thinking a WBWL and Harry comes 'back' to the wizarding world as a perfect little pureblood. Dislikes James for agreeing with Dumbledore on sending him to Petunia, might forgive Lily as she knows that Petunia is rotten.) I'm well aware there are multiple other fics that have the same basic premise of WBWL and HP dislikes Potters/Dumbles. I would just be adding another story to it, but the idea has some merit.
3: Oneshot Idea between Harry and Captain Marvel/Carol, I've not seen many fics based around the two of them and it's an idea that interests me enough to maybe try it out. Basically, they're both just so tired of how long they've lived (MoD!HP)
4: WBWL, Fem!HP dragged into TriWiz because Snape, Voldemort, and a few others know she's the one to defeat him. After winning the TriWiz, she tells Dumbles to shove it and that Britain is dumb then leaves, letting them deal with the war themselves.
AN: Still don't own anything outside of the story. Characters and world(s references) to their respective owners of Marvel and JKR.
Addressing some points in reviews.
People who gave compliments : Thank you! Hopefully I'm getting better at this as we go along with this story and that it stays interesting for you guys. Any feedback is welcome and constructive criticism is always appreciated.
Crywolfseven : A similar thought came to my mind when I first had the idea. A few xover fics I've seen have had Harry be super overpowered and I'm trying to balance the way I write Hari after her years of travelling and learning, her (partly/mostly) broken psyche, and the new universe she's in so as to hopefully not have it be 'Oh look. Hari killed Thanos after beating Loki in NY' or something similar. But yes! Kiddies seeing Real Magic here! Hopefully I captured some of the childlike wonder/amazement.
WolfbrotherTitan : The topic of Stark's rescue (and Phantom's absence in the Stane fight) will come soon, hopefully to give Hari more of a working point with Stark so he isn't completely awful going into the Avengers. On the topic of Hari's trunk and Clint's family; Hari and Clint didn't ever really hang out just the two of them, Nat was also there. And usually after Hari's already changed in the trunk (or she just didn't use it). Yes, the three of them have hung out a lot, but like I mentioned in the interlude: it was mostly to force Hari out of her shell/comfort zone and to adapt to being part of the team. Also, thanks for the words on the buildup. In my head, Nat (pre CW) is a very antisocial/antiemotional kind of person. I might be wrong, but that's how I always saw her MCU character.
Lavendor Queen : Not a profile poll! Just something for people to give their input on via a review. I do have a plan for Hari/Nat/Shield to meet people that are very similar (either by name, mannerisms, etc) to those Hari knew 'back home' and it will likely be a small part in the overall story. Check Raven by JustBored21 for something similar.
Jeff Roy : Kind of already addressed that topic. It's a fanfic where the MC dimension hops after basically committing suicide from a universe with magic to a universe with superheroes, super villains, and a different kind of magic (technically).
(Full Italics : Flashback/Memory. Single word : Emphasis. Sentence/Phrase : Different Language)
Ch. 9: Welcome Trickster God and Enter the Team
Clint could do nothing as blue took over his mind. Almost everything now on display, able to be viewed and controlled by someone who looked like a male version of Hari, he realized just before losing control of his own body and mind.
The only thing that could give him comfort now is that his family was protected, regardless of what happened to him, they'd be protected and remain hidden from everyone else.
As he was told to flee the base, he retreated into the memory of the last time he was with his family.
Clint, Natasha, and Hari pop into existence on a long gravel driveway. Immediately after, Clint leans forward with his hands on his knees and dry heaves while Natasha stays standing but looking a bit uncomfortable.
Hari raises an eyebrow at Natasha before patting Clint on the back and telling him, "Focus on your feet and breathing. It's the worst the first time."
A few minutes of Clint following Hari's advice leads to Clint standing back up with a small shiver and exclaiming, "I'd rather not do that again."
Natasha and Hari smirk at him before they walk up the drive.
"Will they keep my secret?" Hari asks, as they walk.
Natasha nods with a small smile.
Clint nods and speaks confidently, "Without a doubt."
Before more could be said, the front door on the porch of the house opens and out steps a woman with two kids behind her; a boy and a girl. Before the woman smiles at Clint as the kids run past her towards them.
"Incoming." Clint chuckles.
"Daddy!" the kids holler as they run into him.
"Hey buddy." Clint says with a big toothy smile as he picks up the boy, before kneeling down and hugging the girl as well with a fond, "Hey sweetheart."
The woman reaches them at this point and pulls Natasha into a brief hug saying happily, "Hey Nat!" before pulling back and looking at Hari.
"Hello. I'm Laura," she says, offering her hand.
Hari smiles kindly at her and shakes the offered hand, "I'm Hari. Nice to meet you."
Clint stands back up after his moment with the kids and says to them, "Guys. This is a friend of daddy's and Auntie Nat's. She's gonna help us out with something. Speaking of, you want to do that first?" he asks, turning to Hari.
She thinks for a second and speaks up, "I'm assuming you want the whole property protected? Instead of just around the house?"
"That'd be nice." Clint says with a nod.
"Okay. Either I fly us around the property, and you point out the boundaries, or we use a four-wheeler or something you have to get there. Seems like a large plot." Hari points out with a wry grin.
Clint chuckles before nodding and pointing over to the garage before turning back to Laura.
"She's going to put protections up for us that are better than anything available and hopefully make a way for me to see you guys more," he says softly while hugging her.
She leans back and looked into his eyes before beaming at him and kissing his cheek, before turning to the kids and Natasha, "Come on guys. Let daddy and his friend do their work real quick and then we'll spend the day together. In the meantime, why don't you show Auntie Nat your new drawings yeah?"
Natasha looks at Clint for a moment before nodding with quirked lips and following the kids, happy for her friends to be protected.
Clint walks over to Hari and speaks as he opens the garage door, revealing a car and two four-wheelers, "Thank you, honestly. I don't see them as much as I'd like but I'll sleep easier at night knowing they're protected."
"No problem. Something I can relate to," she says softly, shrugging off the thanks.
Clint looks at her, recognizing that family seems to be a tough discussion for her and decides to attempt to help, before speaking softly, "Hey, no. None of that. This is a big deal for me. You're welcome here anytime after this gets done. Plus, the kids get to see real magic," he points out in a stage whisper, hoping to lighten the mood.
Hari smiles, a bit tight at that he notices, before speaking up with a shrug, "Like I said, something I can relate to. Protecting the ones you care about."
Then she gets on one four-wheeler and starts it before backing out of the garage, not giving him a chance to respond. He shakes his head sadly before following suit.
He gestures for Hari to follow him, before speeding down the driveway, smiling a bit at the laughter that leaves Hari's mouth as she picks up speed.
'Finally, she's living a little.' Clint thinks, both sad and happy that his friend is able to relax a bit now, even if just for a moment.
He leads them to one corner of the property and stops, waiting for Hari to stop with him and points at the boundary edge.
Hari conjures a knife and channels some extra magic into it to act as a beacon before throwing it into the ground and nodding to Clint.
Twenty-five minutes later, they're pulling their four-wheelers back into the garage after repeating the process three more times.
Once off his, Clint speaks up, "You're a speed demon. Aren't you?" he asks, with a knowing grin.
"Back home I played Quidditch. I was a seeker, youngest in a century. Once caught the snitch in under five minutes." Hari says with a shrug and smile.
Clint shakes his head with a grin, remembering the brief overview he got of Quidditch and hears the thinly veiled pride at the statement, before leading the raven-haired woman inside.
Once they get inside, they hear the kids laughing with Nat and Laura as they walk into the kitchen.
Clint moves to get some paper and pen for Hari to write the secret down and briefly explains to Laura what's going to happen. Well, as best he can understand it from Hari's explanation.
"I'll need the address." Hari says once he's back. Upon being told, Hari makes the property unplottable and adds the intent wards, moving to then explain what's going on and going to happen.
"Your property is now hidden from satellite imaging and mapping. As well as having protection against people. In a minute, you're going to get slightly dizzy until you read this note. Okay?"
Once she got nods from everyone, she places the Fidelius on the property.
After that was done, she wrote down the secret and handed it out to the others.
A few seconds later, after shaking her head a bit, Laura speaks up, "Clint said this was better security than anything available. What did he mean by that?"
Hari chuckles briefly before saying, "You want to explain to them what happened when you saw it the first time or should I explain my experiences with it?"
Clint smiles, a bit ruefully, before speaking, "We had just gotten food and Hari here directed us to this old building, looked close to falling over actually. Before giving us a piece of paper and then, before mine and Nat's eyes, the building just starts to look presentable and when we got inside it was livable. The address is… We were at… Why can't I say it?" he asks, looking back at Hari, who Laura notices looks pleased.
"Magic." Hari answers, with a cheeky grin, before saying, "You, Nat, and me are the only ones present who know that secret so you can't say it. If everyone in company knew it, you could say it. Try for here."
Clint nods to that and speaks the address for the farm and smiles wide, before pulling Hari into a hug.
"Wait. Magic? As in bubbling cauldrons and such?" Laura questions with disbelief.
Hari laughs and answers, "Yes. I'm a real magic witch."
The kids light up and start asking for a bunch of demonstrations, mostly talking at the same time. And even some pushing to get in front of Hari first.
Hari looks to Laura, who nods, before conjuring a small unicorn Christmas ornament and then charming it to be unbreakable before animating it to move around at a trot or gallop if chasing something or being chased.
The little girl squeals happily with a beaming smile and starts chasing it.
Hari then does the same for the boy but changing the ornament to be a wolf for him, he laughs that delighted laugh only a child can have as he starts playing with it.
Laura looked on in amusement, and amazement, at the scene before speaking up, "Wow," before frowning in thought as a realization came to her, "I know they're small. But the animals don't need food, do they?"
"No. They're just a Christmas ornament really. I only made these to last a few hours; but I can make something similar happen to one of their stuffed animals if they wish and you agree." Hari explains.
Laura smiles and nods at her before calling the kids, "Lila, Cooper, why don't you go pick a toy for Hari to do that to since those won't last too long."
The adults hear an 'Okay mom' and the pattering of their little feet running up the stairs.
Hari turns to Clint and speaks up, "If you have a ring, now you can wear it as no one can take the secret from you by force. I can even turn it into a portkey for you to be able to come more often."
Clint nods and pulls a chain from off his neck and hands it to Hari. Then taking it back after a brief glow and puts it on, marveling at it disappearing when he does so.
"I added some extra stuff, like not being seen to others but her. To use it, say 'Hawk's Nest,' and you'll be put in front of the porch and say 'Back to Base' and you'll be put back in your dorm." Hari explains, seeing his look, with a nod to Laura at the first part.
Hari finds herself pulled into a hug by Laura, who doesn't seem to notice her tensing (the others do), and being thanked.
Hari ends up charming a stuffed dog for Cooper, one that looks similar to Padfoot – only Natasha notices the momentary crestfallen look on Hari at seeing it – and a pink bear for Lila.
They stay for lunch at Laura's insistence, with Clint saying he'd see them on base the next day, and the kids hugging their 'Aunt Hari' before they leave.
Again, only Natasha notices that Hari's face falls at the title or that she has that sad smile on her face when she says goodbye – the same one when Clint had jokingly called her mom – before she follows the raven-haired woman out after her own hugs goodbye.
Fury fires his gun at the vehicle driving away, then hears his comm crackling to life.
"Director? Director Fury, do you copy?" Coulson's voice comes over the line.
"Tesseract is with hostile force. I've men down. Hill?" Fury speaks.
Maria grunts and answers on her radio, "A lot of men still under, don't know how many survivors."
"Sound the general call. I want every soul not working rescue looking for that case." Fury commands. Hill responds a short confirmation.
"Coulson get back to base. This is a Level Seven. As of right now, we are at war." Fury orders.
There's a beat of silence before he hears a response.
"What do we do?" Coulson asks.
In an abandoned warehouse somewhere in Russia, a phone rings.
A brutish looking man answers, "Da?" After a response from the other side, he holds it out to a pudgy man in an officer's uniform, "it's for you" he claims in a thick accent.
"Who the hell is…" the uniformed man starts, only to be cut off by the voice on the other end.
"You're at 114 Solenski Plaza, 3rd floor. We have an F-22 exactly 8 miles out. Put the woman on the phone or I will blow up the block before you can make the lobby." Coulson's voice sounds.
The man in the uniform places the phone against the ear and shoulder of the redheaded woman sitting in front of them.
"We need you to come in" Coulson states.
"Are you kidding? I'm working." Natasha counters.
"This takes precedence" Coulson insists.
"I'm in the middle of an interrogation and this moron is giving me everything" she says.
The man in the uniform looks at his lackeys and says, "I… I don't give everything."
Natasha gives him a flat look then says, "Look, you can't pull me out of this right now."
Coulson sighs softly before saying, "Natasha… Barton's been compromised."
It takes only a second or two for Natasha's face to become a mask and her eyes to harden. She speaks curtly, "Let me you on hold," then she nods to the man in the uniform.
He moves back to her to take the phone, only to be kicked and then headbutted. She stands up, still tied to the chair, and begins to kickbox the taller of the lackeys. She trips the brutish looking one and rolls over him, then stomps the foot of the taller man with the leg of the chair. Following it, she slams her head back into his face, likely breaking his nose, and knocking him out.
She flips in the chair and breaks it over the body of the taller thug. She rolls to her feet only to be caught by the other lackey, she twists his wrist breaking his hold, then uses a piece of the chair still attached to her to hit him in the ribs before drop kicking him. She quickly kips back to her feet and runs at him; only to jump at him and using her thighs to hold his head, flips backwards and throwing him into a front flip.
She grabs the man in the uniform and wraps a chain around his leg, throwing him through a hole in the floor before moving to pick up the phone and her shoes.
"Where's Barton?" She asks, walking away.
"We don't know" he answers.
"But he's alive" she states more than asks.
"We think so. I'll brief you when you get back. But first, I need you to go talk to the big guy," he says.
"Stark trusts me about as far as he can throw me," she states flatly.
"Oh, no I've got Stark." Coulson replies, "You get the big guy."
"Bozhe moi. Rozi will be pissed" she mutters in Russian as she hangs up the phone.
Across the globe, Stark, now in his refined Iron Man suit, says "Light her up" over a radio.
"How does it look?" a woman's voice asks.
"Like Christmas, but with more… me" he answers.
A few minutes later, they're inside a penthouse and the woman pokes the glowing circle in Stark's chest and says, "No. All this came from that."
"Give yourself some credit, please. Stark tower is your baby. Give yourself… give yourself 12% of the credit," he says with a charming smile.
"Twelve percent?" the woman repeats incredulously.
"An argument can be made for 15," he counters easily.
An electronic voice comes from the walls, "Sir, the telephone. My protocols are being overwritten."
"Stark, we need to talk." Coulson's voice sounds.
"You've reached the life model decoy of Tony Stark, please leave a message" Tony says in a monotone voice.
"This is urgent" Coulson says.
"Then leave it urgently" Tony replies. Just then, the elevator opens and reveals a not pleased Coulson hanging up his phone. "Security breach!" Tony declares, then turns to the woman "That's on you."
"Phil!" the woman exclaims. "Come in." she says.
"Phil?" Tony says.
"I can't stay." Coulson says.
"his first name is agent" Tony states.
"Come on in, we're celebrating" the woman says.
"Which is why he can't stay." Tony says with a fake smile.
"We need you to look this over" Coulson states as he holds out a tablet towards the man "soon as possible."
"I don't like being handed things." Tony claims as he holds his hands up.
"That's great cause I love to be handed things" the woman responds with a bit of sass. She trades her champagne flute for the tablet. Then hands the tablet to Tony and takes his glass.
"Official consulting hours are between eight and five every other… Thursday." Tony says.
"This isn't a consultation." Coulson replies easily.
"Is this about The Avengers?" the woman asks, then continues hurriedly "Which I...I know nothing about."
"The Avengers Initiative was scrapped, I thought. And I didn't even qualify" Tony answered.
"I didn't know that either" the woman murmurs.
"Yeah, apparently I'm volatile, self-obsessed, don't play well with others." Tony says, moving over to a table with the laptop.
"That I did know." The woman says.
"This isn't about personality profiles anymore." Coulson states.
"Whatever. Miss Potts, got a minute?" Tony asks as he's pulling up the files from the tablet on his own displays and databases. "You know, I thought we were having a moment" he says softly.
"I was having twelve percent of a moment." Potts answers with a wry grin, "This seems serious, Phil's pretty shaken. What is all this?"
"This is, uhh…" Tony makes a gesture and different holograms appear. "this" he finishes lamely.
"I'm going to take the jet to D.C. tonight." Potts claims.
"Tomorrow." Tony counters.
"You've got homework. You've got a lot of homework." Potts replies.
"Well, what if I didn't?" Tony asks.
"If you didn't?" Potts asks slyly.
Tony nods, "Yeah."
"You mean if you finished?" Tony nods again. "Well, um...then..." She whispers something in his ear, making Tony gasp.
"Square deal. It's the last date." Tony says, getting a kiss from Potts.
Potts and Phil leave in the elevator, talking quietly, leaving a slightly worried looking Tony behind looking at various holograms, only to widen his eyes as he sees the file on his rescuer.
In the middle of the night, in a small village, a redheaded woman is talking to an unassuming man with dark curly hair and glasses.
"You here to kill me Miss Romanoff?" the man asks.
"No. Of course not Dr. Banner, I'm here on behalf of Shield." Natasha says.
"SHIELD huh. How… how did they find me?" Banner asks nervously.
Her thoughts fall to Hari; that soft raven black hair, those beautiful haunted emerald eyes, her kis-'BACK TO WORK' she scolds herself before answering. "We never lost you, Doctor. We've kept our distance, even helped keep some other interested parties off your scent. Thank Black's sleepless nights for that." she says with a smirk.
"Why?" Banner asks.
"Nick Fury seems to trust you, or at least your skills. But now I need you to come in." Natasha says.
"What if I said no?" he asks, sounding vaguely amused.
"I'll persuade you." she counters easily.
"And what if the... other guy says no?" he asks, with more of an edge.
"You've been more than a year without an incident. I don't think you wanna break that streak. Plus, we might have someone who can help with that," she says softly.
She pulls out a phone and shows him a picture of a glowing blue cube. "This is the Tesseract. It has the potential energy to wipe out the planet."
Banner looks closer at the photo, and asks dryly "What does Fury want me to do? Swallow it?"
Natasha takes it in stride and says, "Well, he wants you to find it. It's been taken. It emits a gamma signature that's too weak for us to trace. There's no one that knows gamma radiation like you do. If there was, that's where I'd be."
She stops talking for a moment as Banner looks at the image before throwing out a final offer to make his decision easier. She speaks up, calmly, confidently, without a trace of doubt on whether or not Hari would help.
"You help us locate it and I'll talk to someone to help keep the number of incidents with your alter ego down."
In a gym next to some punching bags, Fury tells a blonde man "The world has gotten even stranger than you already knew."
The blonde man sighs and says, "At this point, I doubt anything would surprise me."
Fury snorts and dryly states, "$10 says you're wrong." The blonde gives him a strange look and he says, "You haven't met Black yet. Make it $20 for when she does something weird."
Meanwhile his thoughts are racing and one very loud thought of, 'As soon as Black hears about this, she's going to make Loki wish he hadn't been born.'
The following afternoon on the deck of an aircraft carrier, the blonde man steps out of the back of a jet with Phil, Agent Coulson sunglasses on and all.
"Agent Romanoff, Captain Steve Rogers." Phil states proudly, introducing the two.
"Ma'am" the captain says with a nod.
"Yeah, hi." Natasha answers. She turns to Phil, "They need you on the bridge. Face trace time."
"See you there," he says, before walking towards the door to take him into the ship. Leaving Natasha and Steve on deck.
"It was quite the buzz around here finding you in the ice." Natasha says, as they walk on the deck, "Thought Coulson was gonna swoon. He ask you to sign his Captain America trading cards yet?" she asks with thinly veiled amusement.
"Trading cards?" Steve repeats, sounding slightly confused.
"They're vintage. He's very proud." She confirms, as they walk up to Dr. Banner who's looking around nervously.
"Dr. Banner" Steve steps forward extending a hand.
"Oh, uhh. Hi. Yeah, they told me you'd be coming." Banner answers and shakes the offered hand. "And, Bruce please."
"Word is you can find the cube" Steve says.
"That the only word on me?" Bruce asks nervously.
"Only word I care about," is Steve's immediate response.
Bruce accepts that with a minor nod, then tilts his head more and says, "Must be strange for you, all of this."
"Well," Steve starts, as he looks around the carrier, "this is actually pretty familiar."
"Gentlemen, you might want to head inside. It's about to get hard to breath." Natasha says, reentering the conversation.
"Is this a submarine?" Steve asks with eyebrows at his hairline, awe evident in his voice.
"They want me in a submerged, pressurized metal container?" Bruce asks shakily as they move to the edge and see a huge rotor start to lift them. "Oh. No, no. This is much worse" he says with a tight smile.
They walk inside the main room, "Gentlemen" Fury says as Steve hands him a $10 bill. He takes the money then steps towards Bruce and extends a hand. "Doctor. Thank you for coming."
"Thanks for asking nicely." he replies, semi-reluctantly shaking the offered hand. "So, how long am I staying?" he asks, glancing nervously at the armed agents.
"Once we get our hands on the Tesseract, you're in the wind." Director Fury answers.
"Where are you with that?" Bruce asks.
Fury turns to Agent Coulson to explain, while Natasha looks at an image of Clint on a screen.
"We're sweeping every wirelessly accessible camera on the planet. Cellphones, laptops. If it's connected to a satellite, it's eyes and ears for us." Coulson explains.
"That's still not gonna find them in time." Natasha mutters, turning away from the monitor and pulling out a phone. "This would be easier if Black was here Sir."
After speaking, she opens her phone to type a quick message to Hari's personal number. 'We need to talk,' she types out in Hebrew before hitting send and pocketing the phone to look back to the bridge.
"You have to narrow the field. How many spectrometers do you have access to?" Bruce says while Natasha texts, taking off his jacket and rolling up his sleeves as if to show he's ready to get to work.
"How many are there?" Fury asks looking at him. "And Black is busy with an assignment in England Agent Romanoff."
"Call every lab you know, tell them to put the spectrometers on the roof and calibrate them for gamma rays. I'll rough out a tracking algorithm based on cluster recognition. At least we could rule out a few places. Do you have somewhere for me to work?" Bruce rambles on, going into lecture mode.
Steve interjects himself into the conversation and states, "I would like to know who this 'Black' is that you keep talking about. Could they help?"
"Yes" comes the decisive answer from Agents Romanoff, Coulson, and Hill and even a random tech at a computer. Steve's eyes widen at the answer.
Fury turns to look at Steve and explains, "Black has a specific skill set and peculiar range of knowledge that would be useful to us. But I don't want to give Loki the opportunity to turn her."
Natasha turns a glare on the Director and speaks in a slightly strained tone, "So. Even though Barton knows where she is, you'll leave her out there. Without her team or backup; alone."
"Black is not a child Romanoff. She can handle herself. I know you know that." Fury replies sternly.
"She'd sooner die than hurt Clint," she responds.
"Agent Romanoff, would you show Dr. Banner to his lab, please?" he asks – read orders – in dismissal.
Natasha glares at him a moment longer, then nods stiffly and walks off, leading Banner down the hall. "You're gonna love it, Doc. We've got all the toys."
Bruce looks confused as he follows after her.
"What was that?" Steve asks Phil.
Phil sighs before speaking up.
"Agent Romanoff is one of Agent Black's usual teammates, along with Barton; on top of being the primary agent that brought her in. Plus, she's likely the only one Black actually trusts," he answers, lowering his voice a bit at the end. Then turns to Fury and continues, "I agree with Natasha on this Sir. She needs to be brought in."
Phil's trying to talk Steve into signing his trading cards on the bridge when an agent calls out, "We've got a hit! 67% match." Coulson looks at the agent who spoke, "Wait. Cross match. 79% match."
"Location?" Coulson asks.
The agent points at the monitor and says, "Stuttgart, Germany. 28 Königstraße. He's… Well he's not exactly hiding."
Fury orders, "Captain. You're up."
As the captain walks quickly away, Fury turns to Maria and Phil who stare back with a grim look.
Hari eyes the bloody corpse in front of her with disgust and fury – disgust with some of the methods Bella told her to try and some of his thoughts and fury because of his past actions and admissions – ignoring Bella's borderline purring of 'how effective it was.' Before turning and walking away, leaving a copy of the tape from the recorder and his written statement behind; and stopping just long enough to cast some cleaning charms on herself and pick up a briefcase after placing his phone in it before continuing out the door.
She exits the building and turns down the sidewalk, before ducking into an alley. As she's about to turn on her heel to leave, her phone rings.
"Evans' Euphoric Black Book of Indecency, who do you want to see naughty?" she answers, somehow in a tone that is both cheery and husky.
Phil's exasperated, and slightly disgusted, voice comes over the line, "No. Jesus Hari. Don't."
"Sorry not sorry Phil; couldn't help it. I needed something to cheer me up some after what I just found out. Thank the goddess that I'm finished or else we'd be in trouble" she exclaims, finishing in a faux scolding tone.
"Something's come up." Phil says, in his 'Agent Coulson' tone.
"What's up?" she asks, in her own serious voice, all traces of levity gone.
"A base was attacked by Loki. Yes, that Loki" Coulson says before she could interrupt, continuing, "He successfully stole an object we were experimenting with. He also compromised some of ours with some sort of staff. We need you to get to Germany. Stuttgart, in between Frankfurt and Zurich. Address of 28 Königstraße. Romanoff will be there for extraction, leave the stuff you've acquired in the apartment and someone will be by to collect. You need to be quick," he orders.
"Phil," she starts, only to be cut off.
"I've got to go Kiddo. Put your comm in." he says before hanging up.
Using one of the few nicknames she allows, he started using it after an intel retrieval op with them posing as a family on holiday a few months after she joined. Something to introduce her to field work at Shield. Also, his hugs were great, like a dad's would be. She knows it's something bad because usually he calls her by her name.
She sighs before pulling out her trunk and putting the briefcase in the flat on the table before reshrinking the trunk and stowing it, then turns on her heel and apparates back to the apartment Shield rented for her mission.
Quickly retrieving the briefcase and new earpiece, now resistant to her apparating, she leaves the case on the apartment table before changing from her cover outfit into her Phantom gear and putting in her earpiece.
Double checking that she has everything, she nods to herself before turning on her heel and vanishing with little more than a soft pop to Germany.
She arrives a few miles from the middle of Frankfurt in an old alleyway she charmed and quickly changes into her animagus form.
She flies Southeast and arrives a mile or so, by her estimation, away from the address Coulson gave her and changes back after making sure no one was looking. Then applying some silencing charms before moving quickly and quietly towards the mission address.
She arrives at a plaza outside a museum to see a man in black and green armored robes with a gold headpiece armed with a staff or spear, commanding all the civilians that had been running to kneel before him, before he makes copies of himself and screaming "I SAID KNEEL!" stopping people in their tracks.
She stops to observe what's happening and to apply the properties of the Invisibility Cloak to hide herself. Then watches, with a mild (almost morbid) amusement – 'That's about what I'm thinking.' Nym cheekily butts in – as an elderly man stands up and claims, "Not to men like you."
The robed man she assumes is Loki responds with a laugh, "There are no men like me."
The old man responds confidently, "There are always men like you."
Loki points his staff at the man and says, "Look to your elder people. Let him be an example."
Hari raises a hand to shield him, but a blue blur beats her to it as an energy beam fires from Loki's staff. The beam is reflected by the Captain's shield and pushes Loki off his feet.
"You know, the last time I was in Germany and saw a man standing above everyone else, we ended up disagreeing" Captain America says.
"The soldier, man out of time" Loki sneers as he stands.
"I'm not the one who's out of time," the Captain says as a quinjet overhead aims a large gun out of the bottom at Loki.
"Loki, drop the weapon and stand down." Natasha's voice comes from the speakers.
Loki instead shoots a beam of energy at the jet, Natasha tilts to avoid it and Captain throws his shield at Loki.
The Captain tries to fight Loki using his skills as a boxer, but Loki is reliant on the staff and knocks him back and down. Loki sets the end of the staff on Steve's head and commands, "Kneel."
Captain's response of, "Not today," comes as he knocks Loki's legs out from under him.
Just then, AC/DC's 'Shoot to Thrill' comes blaring over the quinjet speakers and a robotic voice saying, "Did ya miss me Agent Romanoff?" stopping Loki and Steve in their fight.
Both men turning to watch as Iron Man flies down and aims a glowing palm at Loki. "Make your move, Reindeer games" he says.
Hari, not one to waste a perfectly good distraction, apparates directly behind Loki and kicks the staff (now seeing it's a scepter) from his grip, summoning it as she pulls a knife out and disabling the Cloak's powers.
Before Loki knows what's happening, he's face down against the stone with a knee on his back, a knife at his throat, and the tip of the scepter at the back of his neck. Along with Captain America in a ready stance with his shield and Iron Man aiming every weapon he has at the God of Mischief.
"Move and I carve you like a turkey," comes Hari's cold, distorted voice.
Loki's robes and armor fade away leaving a black suit and Hari wastes no time putting some magically reinforced and inhibitor manacles on him.
Loki's eyes widen as he feels the effects of the manacles. He can hear the shark's smile on Hari when she says, "Sorry. I didn't have time to grab my fluffy cuffs."
"Good move Prancer" comes the warbled robotic voice of Tony Stark in his Iron Man suit.
"Mr. Stark." Steve greets.
"Captain." Tony responds without taking his eyes off Loki.
Hari stands before huffing softly at the civilians still nearby and then ordering, loudly, "Run. Leave. Go quickly!" and then repeating it in German.
She then slings the scepter on her shoulder and strolls off to where Natasha has landed the quinjet and calls over her shoulder to the men, "Well come on then."
On the jet, Steve and Tony look at Hari curiously; Loki glares at her; and she smiles benignly beneath her mask.
"We didn't get your name back there." Steve finally says, breaking the quiet of the jet.
Tony answers, "She's called Phantom; got a file that has next to nothing in it, just a code name and a blurry photo that could be basically anyone and a potential birthday."
"I am Agent Black. And yes, also sometimes called Phantom. Hello again Mr. Stark," she replies as she pulls her hood down and removes her mask.
Leading to Tony's eyes widening at the woman, who – in actuality is older than him, but – looks like a teenager.
"You can't be older than what? Like 18? I got rescued by a teenager?" Tony blurts out in surprise.
"Shield's recruiting kids now?" Steve asks stiffly.
Hari smirks as Natasha answers from the front of the jet, "She's 28 according to her file, but in actuality she's probably older than you Stark. And no Captain, she wasn't trained by Shield. Don't let her fool you, you're looking at one of the best assassins in the world, if she isn't the best. Now you guys shut up for a bit, I've got Fury on the line."
Hari calls up to her, "Say hi to Patches for me Nat."
The mischievous smirk she gets in answer is reward enough for her and makes her feel those strange warm feelings in her chest again.
'Those lips, her eyes…NOT BLOODY NOW! Deal with that later,' she tells herself; outright ignoring the outrageous cries of 'Why?!' from her family, a very loud 'But Pup! Look at her!' from Siri, and a thoughtful sounding hum from Nym.
She resumes staring at Loki, who's now frowning as he looks at her curiously.
She overhears Steve mutter, "I don't like it."
"What, Rock of Ages giving up so easily?" Tony retorts.
"I don't remember it being easy." Steve starts, only to be interrupted by Hari's soft snort.
"It's not supposed to be easy Captain," she says.
"And how would you know?" Steve questions.
She sighs tiredly, and a bit sadly, before replying, "Because you're not the only one that's been to war."
His eyes narrow slightly as he says, "He packs a wallop is what I'm saying."
"Still, you're pretty spry… for an older fellow. What's your thing? Pilates?" Tony says, entering himself back into the conversation.
Before Steve can answer, Hari turns to look at Tony. "Mr. Stark, your modus operandi will just confound him and cause problems between you. He comes from a time where sarcasm was considered rude and honesty was heavily valued. That said," she turns to Steve, "Captain, don't be so hard on him. He's not a soldier, he doesn't have to be here, but he is and he's putting himself at risk in that suit. Most of the time he's a snarky asshole, but few really challenge him intellectually which I believe he values more than anything else." Hari explains, before looking back at Loki.
"It's like calisthenics." Tony continues, as if she hadn't said anything, "You might've missed some things, you know, doin time as a Capsicle."
Steve frowns and is about to respond when Hari speaks up again, not looking away from Loki, "Boys. Argue later unless you want to be in timeout with Loki."
Natasha snorts softly from the front, causing the two superheroes to look at her briefly before going back to each other.
"Director Fury didn't tell me he was calling you in. He talked about maybe adding Black" Steve says, nodding at Hari for the last part.
"There's a lot of things Fury doesn't tell you." Tony replies easily.
Hari stops her staring contest with Loki and turns to Natasha, "Nat. Why was I only a 'maybe?'"
A couple moments of silence pass before Natasha sighs tiredly before speaking, "It'll be explained back at the Helicarrier. But if it helps any, you were right."
"Right? What was I right about? I gave a lot of different advice and consultations before going undercover." Hari responds, slightly confused.
Natasha can't answer as a crack of lightning and the rumble of thunder cut her off. She peers curiously out the window, "Where's this coming from?" she asks softly.
"What's the matter? Scared of a little lightning?" Steve asks Loki causing Hari to turn her attention back to him.
"I'm not overly fond of what follows" he answers cryptically.
Hari realizes what he is actually saying, and her eyes widen.
"Nat we're about to have some company," she calls up to the front.
Just before more thunder and lightning surrounded the jet and a loud thunk shakes the jet causing those standing to be on the floor.
The back of the jet opens and in comes big, blonde, and beefy. He's dressed in a strange armor with a red cape and wielding a hammer. Hari recognizes him as Thor and attempts to reason with him. "Prince Thor," she says, trying to gain his attention, "What purpose brings you here?"
He doesn't respond, just pushes past her and uses his hammer to break the manacles from Loki's wrists then picks him up by the back of his neck and flies out of the jet.
"And then there's this guy." Tony pipes up.
"Another Asgardian?" Natasha asks.
Steve asks at the same time, "He a friendly?"
"That was Thor, Loki's brother. He levelled a small town in New Mexico last year, though kind of Loki's fault." Hari says; causing Tony and Steve to give her strange looks while Natasha's lips quirk slightly and she looks vaguely amused.
"That doesn't matter now. If he frees Loki or kills him, the Tesseract's lost." Tony says as he puts his Iron Man helmet back on, stepping towards the ramp of the jet.
"Stark, we need a plan of attack." Steve says, trying to be the reasonable soldier.
"I have a plan. Attack." Tony says; and with that he jumps out the back of the jet.
Hari shakes her head at his brashness. With his red and gold suit and that attitude, he would've been a Gryffindor for sure. 'Or maybe a Claw actually,' she muses thoughtfully.
Steve grabs a parachute and moves to jump out as well when Natasha speaks up from the front, "I'd sit this one out Cap."
"I don't see how I can" Steve responds as he buckles the parachute on.
"These guys come from legends. They were hailed as gods," she argues.
"There's only one God ma'am. And I'm pretty sure he doesn't dress like that" and with that, he straps his shield on his arm and is about to jump out the back when Hari stands up and moves towards the back. "What're you doing?" Cap hollers over the wind.
"Getting them back. You'd be surprised at what I can do." Phantom's distorted voice calmly states.
Steve shakes his head and says, "Fury said the same thing" and then jumps out the back of the jet.
Hari moves up to the front and crouches next to Natasha, "Nat, find a place near them to put the jet down. I'm not getting blamed for this, nor are you," and with that sprints back out and jumps out… without a parachute.
"ROZI?" Natasha yells. Then mutters a collection of choice swears in Russian before maneuvering the jet down.
Phantom, or more specifically a hawk, lands on a tree branch, close down to where she could see the trail from Iron Man's boosters before hearing Loki calmly say, "I'm listening."
She changes back and moves to a position on the same mountain as Loki where she can provide backup and keep him from leaving.
She hears Thor's booming voice, "Do not touch me again!"
"Then don't take my stuff" comes Stark's reply.
"You have no idea what you're dealing with" Thor loudly proclaims.
She sees Tony glance around then, "Shakespeare in the park? Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?"
"This is beyond you metal man!" Hari mentally snorts at that along with Sirius and her dad, "Loki will face Asgardian justice."
"He gives up the cube. He's all yours" the faceplate on his mask slides back down, "Until then. Stay out of my way tourist."
Hari watches as Thor throws his hammer at Iron Man, sees him go flying into a tree. Watches from the sideline (with Loki) as the two destroy a part of the forest.
As she moves to intervene, "Hey that's enough!" a stern voice shouts from a little above. Hari watches as Captain America floats down in his parachute. He looks at Thor, "Now, I don't know what you plan on doing here."
Thor, loudly, tells him, "I've come to put an end to Loki's schemes."
Steve says, "Oh yeah. Prove it. Put the hammer down."
Stark's robotic voice interjects, "Yeah, no. Bad call. He loves his hammer."
Hari sighs and casts a sonorous then whistles sharply and speaks up.
The distorted voice of Phantom calls out, "No. Stop it. All of you. You're acting like a bunch of fucking children," before dropping the sonorous; then throwing an incarcerous at a wide-eyed Loki and dragging him over to the 3 men, still ready to fight.
"I just watched you and the tin woodman over there try and destroy half this forest. NO! You don't get to speak right now," she says, cutting Thor off as he opens his mouth. "I don't care if you're Asgardian royalty, King of Atlantis, or the Queen of England, you don't get to come here and do that type of shit. I already gave you the option of talking before you lashed out like a child throwing a tantrum. Now, we're going to take your crazy brother back to the Helicarrier where you can sit and have a conversation civilly or I will force you to. Do I make myself clear?" she asks the three of them.
The men look around and see the damage Thor and Iron Man have done. Thor lets his hammer fall from a war ready grip, Steve lowers his shield, and Stark lowers his arms. They nod and move to where the quinjet just landed in an opening.
Hari again grabs the chains holding Loki and drags him along, tuning out the laughter in her head from her family at the performance; and the borderline reverence she's receiving from the pranksters at her casual dismissal of Loki.
Steve's thoughts are racing. 'How'd she get down here so fast? And where's her parachute? But she jumped after me though… Also, what was up with that whistle and shout?'
But he won't speak those thoughts aloud, lest the hooded woman's ire be turned onto him.
AN: As always, constructive criticism and feedback is welcome and appreciated. Feel free to tell me what you like or don't in the story. Although, if all you want to do is insult me, please be entertaining with it.
On the topic of the 'Poll' that's posted at the bottom of the previous chapter. It's there to stay, feel free to keep leaving whichever one you'd like to see (or pm your thoughts to me); just know, it's not a definite story at all. They're just ideas I might end up doing. It's possible I'll write (at least a blurb) for all of them.
Also, just realized I never did an overview of the time frame of the interlude (sorry). Basically, the interlude happened over 5 years (dialogue points that out in this Ch.) And Hari's been on this version of Earth for around 30(ish?), been doing the whole 'Phantom' thing for 15-20. But the main gist of it is, she's been at Shield for 5 years, prior to the events of the MCU.
AN: Still don't own anything, obviously. Now to some reviews.
Those complimenting : Thanks guys! Honestly, I think I'm finally finding a groove for me and this story. Constructive criticism is welcome and appreciated. Sorry for the long wait.
WolfBrother : Thanks! As for Loki, some of how he recognized her will be touched upon here. But the majority of the conversation between the two will come later (likely after NY and some time away on Asgard. I'll probably do the normal FF thing where Loki is required to come back to Earth as part of his punishment). As for Mjolnir breaking the cuffs, you were on the right track of her not expecting Thor to show up and break them. Especially seeing as he should be acting the Diplomat visiting Earth and not a warrior. but oh well.
CryWolf : Thanks for the input. As for Hari, I hope I'm not making it seem like she's super powerful in one chapter only to have her struggle with basic things the next. I just don't want her to show up and decimate everything then pop off. IE: I'm not going to make her thrash Loki in NY then go and destroy Thanos. As entertaining as that might be, it wouldn't be a good story to me. Though I will say, it's possible in some instances she will run in with a half baked plan because of certain circumstances.
Kkmememesha : As for how old Hari is mentally? Who can accurately say, with all that happened at the Dursley's and in her life, she's bound to be more mature than most people 'her age.' In truth, she's been alive for 55ish years (Around 30 home world, 25+ MCU).
SarahTaylorTam : Thanks for the kind words! I had planned on it being in the first meeting between Shield and Hari but ended up scrapping the idea because Hari's supposed to be not trusting and a big thing like that she wouldn't reveal straight away. Yes, I do plan to have a big discussion why she does what she does but I'm working out where in the timeline I want to put it. And yes, the other topics that I've barely touched will come back.
Ch. 10: Fury's Flying Fun House
Arriving back on the Helicarrier, Phantom steps out of the jet and heads to speak with Maria who is there with a team of agents to escort Loki to the Brig.
Oh, how Hari loves pirate jokes for Fury and the Helicarrier. And the mental agreement from her family – primarily from James and Sirius, the occasional snort from Daphne, and the laughter from Nym, a sound she truly misses… along with her starlit eyes – encourages her to continue them.
The most memorable, which happened to be the first time, led to Clint's unrestrained snickering for a good fifteen minutes, Natasha's amused smirk the rest of the day, Phil breaking into a bemused grin, Maria shaking her head, and Fury muttering, loudly, about 'how there were two of them now.'
"Fury needs to speak to you." Maria says softly as Phantom approaches.
The hooded woman nods and a distorted sigh escapes her before she speaks, "Of course. You know what about this time?"
"I imagine either a full debriefing on the target you were abruptly called away from or something about this… particular team." Maria says, tone short, after a brief pause before the team comment.
Hari removes her mask and hood to look at Maria; only to notice the tightness around her eyes and lips and deduces that she's not a fan of this new team, the previous target, or the possible discussion with Fury. She questions the brown-haired woman softly, "You okay?"
Maria sighs before answering, "Yeah. Yeah, I'm good. It's just… between everything with Loki, this likely ill-advised team, and the stuff you sent back," she breaks off suddenly, staying silent a few moments before continuing, more strained, "I just... Is what we're doing here enough?"
Hari stays silent a few moments, pondering over what the normally stern agent has said, not giving into the desire to discuss this for the night with her family just yet, before replying softly, "It might not be. Hell, the world can be a right shitty place. But as I see it, we're doing the best we can. And that counts for something. It has to." She finishes, thinking back to her own war fought and those she lost.
With her piece said, she reaches up and squeezes the other woman's shoulder before pulling her mask and hood back up to walk off towards Fury's office. She ignores, grinning like a loon under the mask, the agents that jump out of her way as she stalks to her destination.
Entering the office after a sharp rap on the doorframe, she greets the Director, this time without a joke, "Hill said you needed to see me."
"Yes, sit," he commands – though if he's surprised that she hasn't used a joke, he doesn't show it – before continuing, "For this team I've put together, safe to say you don't want to be lead?" he asks, dryly.
Hari takes her mask and hood off again only to look at Fury with a flat look that says, 'Seriously?' – before immediately saying, 'No Siri' in her head – and snorts, "Good guess."
Fury sighs, then speaks up, "Looks like the Captain will have to lead. Assuming no one voices issues with that. Actually, can you at least talk them into following him? Or at the very least, not being hostile to each other?"
Hari nods at the requests, before saying, "I can talk to them. Though I make no promises. Especially regarding Stark."
At Fury's gesture, she continues, "There was already a bit of bickering between them on just the way back. I'll do my best to stop it, but I'm not sure it will entirely work if they don't push those differences aside."
"That's all we can hope for I guess." Fury mutters. Before sighing tiredly and saying, "We need to do a full debrief as well, but that's going to have to wait. We need to deal with Loki first."
Hari nods and exits the room, summoning her hood and mask back on, heading to her room to change. Absentmindedly pulling her personal phone out to check for messages. She sees Natasha's message and sighs.
Hari enters the room she commandeered for herself only to find Natasha pacing the length of the bed. At the sound of the door closing, she stops and looks back to see Hari's mask and hood dropping away, leaving a concerned look on her face.
'I don't deserve her concern… I-I'm a monster' the redhead tells herself, before shaking that thought away… again.
Hari speaks up, softly though it carries in the silence of the room, "Can I change while you gather your thoughts, or do you want to talk about whatever it is now?"
Natasha waves her on to change. And after a quick retrieval of her trunk, changing, and putting her hair into a single plait braid – to almost twin Natasha's jeans, tee, and leather jacket – Hari comes back out only to find Natasha sitting on the edge of her bed, tense.
Hari softly sighs and sits next to the redhead, laying an arm around her curled shoulders and waits for her to start.
"He compromised some of ours. He… he took Clint." Natasha says, tone flat and almost quiet enough to not be heard by Hari, even with her enhanced hearing. Though Natasha swears she can hear the raven-haired woman's heart break just a little more, before burrowing further into Hari's side.
Hari squeezes the redhead to her side and lays her head on top of Natasha's; trying to comfort the redhead. She notes with some mild amusement that it's the reverse of what happened all those years ago in a flat in Russia.
Then suddenly, Hari stands from the bed and makes it halfway to the door before Natasha is up as well, stilling her with just a hand on her arm and her soft question, "Where do you think you're going?"
Hari turns to look at her, face a blank mask; empty, just like her. And she wishes for nothing more than to destroy Loki's mind for putting them through this.
She tries to shrug the slightly shorter woman's hand off so that she can accomplish this task, only to be stopped by the slender hand grabbing her wrist. And the repeated question.
"I want to go to his cell and shred his mind. Until he can't even remember how to breathe." Hari spits, tone flat, not facing the other woman.
Natasha pulls on her wrist to get her to face her, then adjusts her grip; cupping the raven-haired woman's face and tilting it down slightly to be forehead to forehead and speak softly in Russian, "I know Rozi, I know. And I know you think it will make you feel better. But it won't. We have to beat him." She starts gently rubbing her thumbs on the other woman's cheeks, before continuing in English, "Outsmart him. We get Clint back and beat him. That'll make you feel better."
Hari's stoic mask falls, and she mutters, "I want him back Nat. And I want Loki to suffer for doing this."
"I know Rozi. I know." comes Natasha's soft voice, now soothing her. "Help Stark and Banner find the cube and we find Clint. Be better than Loki."
'Perfect opportunity to kiss her.' Sirius interjects in Hari's mind.
'I swear you weren't this much of a brooding bitch when I was with you.' Nym says cheekily. Only to continue, 'Then again, if I'd said no to the Ball who knows where you would've ended up. Maybe as the next Mrs. Weasley!' she finishes with a cackle.
Their banter leads to a scowl to briefly be on Hari's face before it went back to the sad look; greatly confusing the redhead in front of her.
She hears Sirius sigh before he screams – 'screeches like Walburga' she muses, cackling internally at his affronted squawk along with Nym's laughter – at her, 'FOR THE LOVE OF MERLIN, JUST KISS HER ALREADY YOU SOUR SPAWN OF SATAN!'
Hari immediately counters, 'What about the wrist? I'm not sure I can do this again.'
Her whole family immediately gangs up on her to 'Just kiss her already and that it'll be okay. But even if it's not, she won't know unless she tries.'
Hari nods, whether to Natasha's request or to her family's rambling even she doesn't know; and turns her head to kiss Natasha's wrist. It's a compromise and the closest she will come for now.
She immediately turns away blushing, listening to the howling laughter of Siri and Nym's full belly laugh while cursing Siri, before moving to the bathroom to wash her face so they can leave for the meeting.
However, she turned and moved away before she can see Natasha's eyes light up – in, seemingly, amusement – as a soft smile graces her lips – probably the most real she's had since the last time she and Hari spent extended time together months ago – as she softly rubs the inside of her wrist where the raven-haired woman's lips were.
"In case it is unclear. You try and escape. You so much as even scratch that glass." Fury's voice comes from the monitor, before howling wind rips through the detention center as there is now an open hole straight beneath the cage Loki is in. "Thirty thousand feet. Straight down in a steel trap. You get how that works?" he asks as he closes the hatch and points at Loki, "Ant" then back at the control panel, "Boot."
Loki chuckles as he looks around the cage, "An impressive cage. Not built, I think, for me" he says, looking straight into the camera.
Fury's smile is all teeth, that of a shark, "Built for something a lot stronger than you. And tested by someone like you but better."
"Oh, I've heard." Loki answers as he looks to the camera. "A mindless beast. Makes play he's still a man." Bruce crosses his arm looking at the screen. "And the sorceress who hides in shadow. Able to curb the God of Thunder" he says with a sneer, leading to various reactions of those watching. Thor looks intrigued by the sorceress comment before looking like a kicked puppy at his brother's tone. Maria and Natasha are unimpressed.
"How desperate are you, that you call on such lost creatures to defend you?" The way he speaks and looks in those robes remind Hari of the persona that Snape put on for everyone, all sneery and grumpy. 'Is sneery even a word?' she muses to herself, hidden by the invisibility cloak that's now fused with her.
She hears Snape's silky voice drawl in riddle as answer, 'It might be or might not be, Potter. Though I am surprised you still think of me after all this time.'
'No. It's made up,' she concludes, not getting into that topic of discussion with her previous Potions professor now.
'All words are made up.' Sirius jokes, leading to a soft sigh from Hari.
"How desperate am I?" Fury asks, looking annoyed, "You threaten my world with war. You steal a force you can't hope to control. You talk of peace, yet you kill cause it's fun to you. The one who chained you up? Twice I might add. She's fought people like you before and taken them all down. You have made me very desperate. You might not be glad that you did."
Loki sneers again as he says, "Ooh. It burns you to come so close. To have the Tesseract, to have power, unlimited power. And for what? A warm light for all mankind to share, and then to be reminded what real power is."
Fury snorts at that; going on to say, "So close you say. I see shit like that almost every damn day thanks to Black. Let me know if 'real power' wants a magazine." He finishes keeping his shark's smile on, before turning and walking out of the room.
As the feed on the screen cuts out, Bruce speaks up, "He really grows on you. Doesn't he?"
"Loki's gonna drag this out. So, what's his play Thor?" Steve questions with a shake of his head at the first part.
Thor appears to come out of a daze and answers, "He has an army called the Chitauri; they're not of Asgard or any world known. He means to lead them against your people. They will win him the earth; in return, I suspect, for the Tesseract."
"An army? From outer space?" Steve asks skeptically.
"Please Captain. That's not the strangest thing you've seen or heard today." Hari says as she… just fades into existence.
She glances around and sees the techs have stopped working. She makes a show of looking at her, nonexistent, watch and claims, "It's not time for tea yet. Get back to it" she shakes her head as they jump back to work.
Maria just sighs, Phil smiles in amusement, while the team, minus a slightly amused Natasha, look stunned.
"I'm sorry. Is no one going to point out she just materialized?" Stark questions, incredulously, at the silence that follows her stunt. Continuing with, "No? Then allow me. What the Hell?"
Hari snorts from her spot against the railing and snarks back, "Feel better?"
Tony shrugs in response before Bruce quietly asks, "Is that all you can do?"
Hari sheepishly scratches her head and admits, "No, I can do that… and a few other things."
"Are you like Loki?" comes Steve's voice, slightly strained, as he pulls out his wallet before grabbing a $20 bill and holding it since Fury isn't in the room yet.
"Yes and no. Yes, we both use magic. Shut it Stark," she interrupts the man before he can get going about her breaking Physics laws, "I'm aware if we sat down, we could find a scientific reason for it. Like how it's essentially just bioelectrical manipulation or energy field manipulation. But that's too much to say, so… magic. And no, I'm not like him in that he's basically a megalomaniac mass murderer whose power is different than mine. Plus, I only use my powers for good. I wouldn't take control of someone's mind like he has. I… I've experienced something like it before… was even possessed once, and it's pretty awful."
Bruce is the first to shake himself from the shock of that admission and says, hoping to get on track, "So, he's building another portal. That's what he needs Erik Selvig for."
"Selvig?" Thor questions.
"He's an astrophysicist." Bruce explains.
Thor frowns and replies, "He's a friend."
"Loki has him under some kind of spell, along with one of ours." Natasha says, seeing Hari close her eyes and her hands clench into a white-knuckle fists.
Steve glances between them before saying, "I wanna know why Loki let us take him. He's not leading an army from here."
"I don't think we should be focusing on Loki. That guy's brain is a bag full of cats, you could smell crazy on him." Bruce chimes in, causing Hari to snort softly.
"Have care how you speak. Loki is beyond reason, but he is of Asgard, and he's my brother." Thor replies in a heated tone.
"He killed eighty people in two days." Natasha says flatly.
"He's adopted." Thor weakly counters.
Hari's eyes open, just slightly, and Nat makes a gesture for her to sit down; waiting until the empty seat beside her is occupied to wrap an arm around the other's shoulder subtly shaking her head. Hari rests her temple on Nat's shoulder after giving the redhead a small smile with a light blush on her cheeks.
Bruce looks at them curiously before asking, "Iridium, what did they need the Iridium for?"
"It's a stabilizing agent. Means the portal won't collapse on itself, like it did at Shield." Tony answers, reinserting himself into the conversation.
He walks over to Thor from his spot and pats his arm, "No hard feelings, Point Break. You've got a mean swing."
Hari snorts again, more humor in the sound this time, and speaks up, "Mean swing is right. You two jackasses took out a good portion of forest and almost a mountain before the Captain arrived or I intervened. On top of that, you left the prisoner unsecured and alone."
Phil shakes his head at her before giving her a mock stern look and says, "I meant to ask you about that. You jumped out of a quinjet?"
Hari just grins at him in answer.
Only for Tony to speak up again, "Also, it means the portal can open as wide, and stay open as long, as Loki wants."
Tony, seeing an opportunity to snoop at the empty command post as Fury is still out of the room, exclaims, "Uh, raise the mid-mast, jib the top sails." Then pointing off to a random agent, "That man is playing GALAGA! Thought we wouldn't notice. But we did."
He covers an eye and looks at the screens, "How does Fury do this?" he asks, half sarcastic half serious.
Hari notices that he's placed something on the center when he mentioned Galaga.
"He turns" Maria replies; in a bland, unimpressed tone.
"Well, that sounds exhausting. The rest of the raw materials, Agent Barton can get his hands on pretty easily. Only major component he still needs is a power source. A high energy density, something to kick start the cube."
Natasha feels Hari tense slightly and knows Phil and Maria take notice as well. She can't wait to get Clint back; Hari was close to breaking down. Clint was always the composed one, helping her and Hari both, with their pasts and traumas.
Herself with a new opportunity, a second chance, when she was at her lowest, ledger dripping red, and now he's gone.
Hari with living again; sure, she could comfort the raven-haired woman but that doesn't mean much if she doesn't try to move on.
"When did you become an expert in thermonuclear astrophysics?" Maria asks, sounding slightly impressed.
Tony looks back at her and says, "Last night. The packet, Selvig's notes, the Extraction Theory papers. Am I the only one who did the reading?"
"Does Loki need any particular kind of power source?" Steve asks, trying to keep the discussion on task.
"He's got to heat the cube to a hundred and thirty million Kelvin just to break through the Coulomb barrier." Bruce explains.
Hari interrupts him, head not moving from Natasha's shoulder, "It'd actually be a hundred and twenty million Kelvin; but not bad for learning about it last night Doctor. But that's only if Selvig hasn't figured out how to stabilize the quantum tunneling effect."
Everyone minus Phil, Natasha, and Maria look at her strangely, as if they can't believe she would be able to understand science.
"Well, if he could do that, he could achieve Heavy Ion Fusion at any reactor on the planet." Bruce says slowly.
"Finally, people who speak English." Tony says, sounding pleased.
Steve mutters something that sounded like, "Is that what just happened?"
Tony walks over and shakes Bruce's hand and his eyes light up at the prospect of science discussions; also, maybe to talk about Hari. "It's good to meet you, Dr. Banner. You're work on anti-electron collisions is unparalleled. And I'm a huge fan of the way you lose control and turn into an enormous green rage monster." Tony compliments.
Bruce's lips thin to a line and he looks down awkwardly and manages a "Thanks."
"Dr. Banner is only here to track the cube. I was hoping you might join him." Fury says as he walks in, stopping by Steve with a hand outstretched expectantly.
Steve sighs and hands the bill over, then says, "Let's start with that stick of his. It may be magical, but it works an awful lot like a HYDRA weapon."
Fury barely glances at Hari, showing no reaction to the fact that two of the deadliest people in the world are basically snuggled up to each other, and says, "I don't know about that, we'll need to get our occult specialist to check it, but we do know it is powered by the cube. And I'd like to know how Loki used it to turn two of the sharpest men I know into his personal flying monkeys." The last bit coming out quite annoyed. He sees Hari's eyes close in, seemingly, resignation and the tightness around them and her lips.
"Monkeys? I do not understand." Thor speaks up, sounding lost.
"I do! I understood that reference." Steve says, sounding pleased.
Hari snorts softly and mutters, just loud enough to be heard by Natasha, "Fly my pretties, fly." Leading the redhead woman to smile softly.
Tony rolls his eyes; before turning to Bruce and asks, "Shall we play, Doctor?"
"Let's play some." Bruce replies. With that, the two head for the door to go back to the lab.
Before they get too far away, they hear Hari speak up, "I'll need to talk with you two at some point, Dr. Banner especially."
Tony shrugs as Bruce looks to him confused, proceeding to look back to Hari and nod.
After they depart, Hari stands and moves over to the Director and his right and left hands and asks quietly, looking between them, "Is Tweety alive?"
Phil sighs and answers just as softly, "As far as we know yes."
Hari nods and turns away, briefly talking with Natasha before motioning to the Captain; then goes to catch up to Thor.
Thor was moving away from the meeting room, needing to find somewhere to think on what could have caused the magic he felt. His current guess was the woman with pale skin and raven colored hair that was comforted by the redhead because of her illusion trickery. Something that his brother likely would have enjoyed were he present and thinking clearly. Another thing for him to ponder.
But he thought that the Midgardians had no seidrs and was very confused by the sense of the magic. It felt almost familiar? But the woman was seeped in Dark, in Death; and the magic itself felt like it had been as well many years prior.
He's broken from his musings as the likely candidate approaches him and addresses him, "Heir Apparent Odinson, Prince Thor, may we greet as strangers and depart as friends. Might I bother you for a discussion? Under the stars perhaps?"
A formal greeting made with a shallow curtsey finished with a polite request has certainly captured his interest. And perhaps in return, he might also learn more of who his brother called a sorceress.
He extends a hand, palm up – hopefully remembering correctly all the dreadful etiquette lessons his mother put him through centuries prior – and kisses the air above her knuckles before answering, "Certainly. Might I know the name of my companion for this discussion?"
Only for Hari to apparate them to the deck of the Helicarrier. Once landing, Thor blinks in confusion before his eyes widen at the method of transportation. He genuflects down to one knee saying, "My apologies Lady Potter. Had I realized it was you, I would have done better in our first meeting."
Hari scowls briefly at the title, "I am Hari Black, Prince Thor, though it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance." Hari counters, doing her best to call upon the pureblood etiquette she remembers being taught by Narcissa and Daphne to keep her mask in place while mentally musing, 'Do I outrank him as the apparent Mistress of Death? Even though I never wanted the title.'
She barely hears Thor's response as he stands, "Of course. The pleasure is mine Lady Black. In turn, I hope I might have some inquiries answered as well," absently nodding as Daphne answers in her head, haughtiness present, 'You were a better Slytherin than most of our year. Wear the mask I and Narcissa taught you to befitting your place as the Lady Black and Potter.'
"Prince Thor, apologies for snapping the title, it's just I've not yet told the people here of my status or my past." Hari starts.
Thor interrupts, "Aye, the past can hurt."
Hari nods, continuing, "The main reason I have asked you to accompany me is twofold. First is that I wish to correct what happened on the quinjet before your fight with Iron Man and second is that I wish to get to know you. If we are to be teammates for the upcoming fight, I would like to know your potential weaknesses, strengths, and your priorities." Hari explains after leading them away from people on the deck and absently putting up a silencing ward and notice-me-not.
Thor nods before speaking, "That is fair. In return might I ask some questions of you, Lady Black? Mayhap how you came to be in this realm? And please, call me Thor. It is customary on this realm and I wish for us to not be separated by birth or rank."
"That's fine. In that case, please call me Hari." Hari answers, partially to return the sentiment and also to not be reminded of her home world too much. Before answering his first question, and finishing with her own, "As for how I came to be here, I walked through a portal on my home world and ended up here after a bargaining. Now, I can guess that you have a priority to your family and the return of Loki to Asgard correct?"
Thor nods again and speaks, "Yes. Loki will face Asgardian justice. But on top of that, he is different than I remember. Your illusion trickery in the meeting hall would have been something he greatly enjoyed were he thinking correctly. I wish for my brother to be as he was," he finishes sadly.
"How is he different?" Hari asks, hoping to fish some extra information out that could help fix Clint.
Thor smiles fondly, closing his eyes briefly, going back in his mind over the many adventures he and Loki shared before speaking up, "My brother was never quick to violence as it sounds he has been here, he preferred to attack from the shadows or use his poisonous tongue to spit barbs at you. He also sees with different eyes now; I remember them from before he fell from the Bifrost. They were once the color of the meadows in summer and now they seem to be that of the lakeweeds in winter."
Hari files this away with a nod, and asks, "Would you rather I ask all my questions first? Or do you want to ask some now?"
Thor makes a noise of consideration before speaking, "Could I ask some now? It might help me sort my thoughts."
Hari nods him to continue, "My brother called you sorceress. And I'm sure he will recognize you when thinking clearly and that makes much sense now. But I was not aware Midgard had any seidrs…" he trails off.
Hari chuckles briefly before answering, "He's correct. I've yet to meet anyone here that's like me. Like I said, I… I left my home for this place."
"And where is home? The legends never stated where you hail from. Clearly you are not of Asgard, nor the other realms I've visited. But your magic feels old, incredibly old, almost similar to some of Asgard but… darker; deadlier."
Hari smiles sadly and says, "Originally, I'm from a version of Earth where witches and wizards lived across many lands and I traveled them learning as much as I could."
Thor nods to her answer and says, "Mother always warned us to never slight or antagonize a skilled sorceress. And if the rest of your talents the tales state are as powerful as your illusionary, you are very skilled. I never thought I would meet you."
"The only thing you could've done to anger me is ignoring my attempt at conversation on the jet. You are a Prince of Asgard, on top of a skilled warrior, but you acted the brute instead of the diplomat."
Thor looks chagrined as he answers, "Yes, Loki was always the one with the clever tongue."
Hari nods, before backtracking slightly, "You said your mother was the one to warn you against antagonizing witches."
Thor nods; slightly confused to this train of thought.
"Hm. Well, if my knowledge of Asgard is correct, you have a gatekeeper yes?" Hari asks, sounding vaguely amused.
Thor answers, now very confused, "Yes?"
"In that case," she pauses to look skyward, "Gatekeeper, please pass my regards to the Lady Frigga as she instilled a wonderful lesson in her sons."
Thor looks both delighted for his mother and scared at the request.
Hari turns back to him and smiles before saying, "Now, your strengths I believe are your abilities with your hammer and physicality, correct?"
"Indeed. Mjolnir has been with me through many battles and has always done well. Might I ask about your magic? What all can you do? The sorcerers and enchanters I know of have certain areas they excel in. Loki is quite skilled in illusions and shapeshifting. I know of one enchantress who is skilled with ensnaring men to do her bidding. What is it you can do?" Thor questions.
Hari snorts and answers, "Just about everything."
"In the tales, it's spoken that your magic requires a focus. Yet I did not see you use one for your illusionary, do you not need one?" Thor asks. He's starting to warm up to the raven-haired witch, so he wants to know more about this topic. Perhaps once Loki is thinking clearly again, he might be able to converse with him about magic!
"I used to." Hari starts in answer, tone sadder than it has been through the discussion, "What do you know of the Deathly Hallows?" she questions in lieu of answering.
Thor looks shocked and wary at the question, "The Hallows? Very little. The legends claim that Death bestowed gifts to three individuals for completing her riddle and then claimed their souls when they thought they could best her. The gifts being a weapon, armor, and a summoning. But why are you asking me this? Surely you know your own tales?"
Hari nods to his answer and replies, "Well, I wasn't even aware I made up some tales for the Asgardians. On my home, you lot were the legendary figures. Gods to choose for backing in aspects of magic or in accordance to the old ways. For example, my father and his friends were pranksters and chose Loki. Anyway, on my world, the Hallows were real. And I somehow collected all of them; and then when I went through the portal to come here, they fused with me. The weapon in your tales was a wand in mine. It was the most powerful focus ever made. Now, instead of owning it, I am it."
Thor softly prompts her to continue after she trails off, "And the others?"
"The armor is a cloak; an invisibility cloak specifically. Said to hide whoever wore it, even from Death." Hari answers, turning herself invisible to point it out. "And finally, the summoning. It was a powerful magical stone on my home world. Allowing you to pull the dead back to the mortal world briefly to speak with them. Now, I'm able to talk to my family." Hari finishes sadly.
Thor looks saddened as well, and also disturbed at the implications, "You practice necromancy?" he questions softly, seeing her sadness, and a bit warily.
Hari shakes her head negatively before answering with a small smile, "Theoretically? I could, but no. I was always told that summoning them disturbs their rest and causes them pain. But now, in my mind space, my family is as they were in life."
Thor seems mollified by that response and steers the discussion away, "Is there anything else you wish to discuss tonight?"
Again, Hari shakes her head before answering, "I just wished for us to have a discussion to learn a bit about each other to build some trust. Also, to understand your reasoning for being here. There are battles coming, I won't be the leader, but I'd be honored to fight beside you," and offering her hand.
Thor grasps her arm in a warrior's grip and says, "Aye, I'd fight beside you. And you have a wise head on thy shoulders to not wish the dead disturbed."
Hari nods and watches as Thor walks off before activating her comm, "Fury. You read sir?" as she walks to the edge of the ship, staring into the star filled sky. Instantly spotting some stars and constellations: Sirius, Lupin, Orion, and Bellatrix, even Arcturus, among others.
"I copy. What do you have?" Fury's voice comes back after a few moments of her stargazing.
She takes a breath before explaining, "Thor all but demanded Loki to return to Asgard with him after this. He also somehow recognized me; I mean my true name. Apparently, I'm in Asgardian legend. He's agreed to fight with us after hinting that Loki might not be fully there." Finishing with a gesture to her head, even though she knows he can't see her, rushing through the last bit so he, hopefully, won't ask about her real name.
"Copy. I won't press it now, but eventually I hope I can learn the whole story. Loki will be interrogated in the morning, so that can rest for a few hours. Get some sleep. I know you had next to none working that case in England." Fury orders before disconnecting the call.
Hari sighs before softly mumbling, "I miss and love you guys." Absently listening to the responses from the others as she twists on her heel to make her way back to her room.
Hari arrives in her room with the whisper of a pop and sees Natasha jolt awake from her position on her bed. Smiling softly to the redhead, Hari transfigures her clothes into something she can sleep in and softly questions the other woman as she sits on the bed, "What's up Nat?"
Natasha sighs before answering, "I… I don't know. We need to get Clint back and then take the fight to Loki's army."
"What brought this on? You're not one for the front lines." Hari questions, wrapping an arm around the redhead.
She hears Natasha sniff and feels her shake slightly, before she speaks up, "I guess I just want to help him like he helped me. I can't do anything for him like this even though he risked everything for me to give me the opportunity to come here. He was sent to eliminate me, but he didn't. And now he's like the annoying brother I never had."
The redhead woman takes a shuddering breath before being softly interrupted by Hari, "Everyone deserves a second chance dorogoya. If I got one after some of the things I've done, you do too."
"I don't. I… I'm a monster." Natasha admits quietly.
Hari sighs softly before speaking up, slightly firm, "You're not a monster Nat."
Natasha says nothing for a moment, just leaning into the raven-haired woman; accepting the comfort she gives so readily, before starting quietly, finishing in a strained tone, "There's a… graduation ceremony. It's a sterilization procedure, one less distraction to worry about. Perfect killing machine, nothing to matter more than the mission. Still think I'm not a monster?"
Hari smiles sadly at the redhead before pulling her down to lay beside her on the bed, "You're not the only one. Enough on that. You're not a monster and that's final. The kids love their Auntie Nat. When we find Clint, we'll lay him out and I'll take a look and if necessary, break him free," she promises, unaware that the redhead has started to doze off.
"Now sleep." Hari commands, to the now sleeping woman, with a kiss to the top of her head causing the sleeping Natasha to smile softly.
AN: Hopefully this chapter can lead you to some explanations (you guys are smart, I bet you can piece some stuff together.) Leave a review with your findings if you want, I'm interested to see what you guys think up.
Also, this was a bit 'slower' than the movie because I'm not quite sure on the amount of time they spend on the Helicarrier. If I remember right, it was night when they brought Loki in then the lighting in some of the scenes changed a bunch so... Anyway, next chapter will have a little more action.
AN: Previous jokes about not owning the recognizable bits still applies. Review time.
Well wishers : Thanks for the encouragement. Hopefully you lot are still enjoying this.
Vttir Bjorn : Thanks! Hopefully as we progress, the more major aspects and questions get revealed and answered.
Hiareportsyou : I see where you're coming from about not wanting OC of OC. And going back now, I really should've handled that differently but now I know moving forward. But I'd prefer to keep progressing the story forward rather than going back to adjust a few paragraphs of a few chapters. Yes I agree that it should've been handled differently, but I was finding my grove (still am) for the characters and hopefully it won't happen again!
Now, enjoy. As usual (Full Italic is for memories/flashback, Single Italic is for emphasis, Phrase or sentence for language change)
Ch. 11: Fury's Flying Mad House
Hari wakes early the next morning, being pulled out of a conversation with her mother and Nym. Looking through the window in her room she sees that the sun is just barely peaking over the horizon. She looks down at the weight on her chest and feels a surge of affection coming from within; extremely similar to how she felt waking up with Nym.
She leans her head down and lightly kisses the head of red hair before shifting her away so that she can get up, hopefully without waking her. 'Goddess knows she needs the sleep,' she muses. Unfortunately, her hopes are for naught as the redhead stirs.
"Mm. Hari?" Natasha sleepily mutters, opening her eyes a bit.
Hari smiles and answers quietly, "Yeah Nat. I'm just getting up for the day. Go back to bed if you want."
"No… no. 'M up." Natasha mumbles around a yawn as she sits up. Fortunately – or unfortunately, depending on how you look – for the redhead, Hari hadn't gotten all the way out of bed yet and Natasha ends up face to face with the raven-haired woman; lips only a few centimeters apart.
'I shouldn't do this. I SHOULD NOT do this… but her hair's so soft, her skin's so smooth despite the scars, those lips…' Natasha muses with a light dusting of pink on her cheeks.
She had been trained to use her beauty to attract targets, mostly male, but she honestly didn't care for men much. Most of the time they were arrogant, immature, and sex-driven idiots or show-offs. Though she reckoned she could make a few exceptions like Clint, though they're just friends – closer to family really, and Rogers. And maybe even Banner… he's cute in a dorky kind of way.
But overall, she knew that it likely wouldn't work with them as she just couldn't get fully involved in a relationship with a man. She had tried in the past when she thought Hari was dead and they all ended badly.
Not because of the deceit about who she really was or the constant periods of no contact, but rather simply; because they weren't her.
But now that the raven-haired woman was back…
She comes out of her thoughts seeing the warring emotions in Hari's eyes. She sees a longing desire, sadness, and apprehension on top of some others. She decides to take the plunge and leans her forehead against Hari's. Letting her choose to proceed or not; Natasha's well aware of her last love and knows that the hurt is still there.
"Nat, what're you doing?" Hari asks softly in a shaky tone; slightly scared of breaking the moment, but more than that, she's terrified to go through with this and then lose her.
Natasha smiled sadly at the other woman and knew that her eyes looked the same at the moment as she answers, "Whatever you want. I've done some thinking recently and I want us to try. Despite my past and me being a monster, you still see me as a person, a good person somehow. And I don't want to lose that, but I also want to try for more."
Hari closes her eyes and swallows tightly, before letting out a shuddering breath. Opening her eyes and staring into the light green eyes of the woman across from her, she asks in a shaky voice, "Can… can I think on this for a bit? I really like you Nat, I do. It's just… I don't know if I can yet. Can we get through this Loki stuff and I give you an answer after?"
Natasha smirked before placing a chaste, closed mouth kiss at the corner of the raven-haired woman's mouth before pulling back and answering, "Of course. Take the time you need. Now, time to get to work."
And with that, Hari watches Natasha stand and stretch before leaving the room as she raises a hand to her face and places her fingers gently on the spot Natasha kissed.
She doesn't even respond to the wolf whistles her family let out.
A short workout, cold shower, and change of clothes later, Hari exits her room tucking her trunk back into her shirt and activates her comm.
"Anyone interrogated Loki yet?" Hari asks over the line.
"Not yet, Romanoff was going to head down shortly." Fury's voice answers.
"Mind if I go first?" she asks.
"Go ahead." Natasha replies.
"Very well Black. Be careful around him, I don't want him getting in your head, staff or not." Fury orders, mostly nicely.
"My mind is shielded pretty well, but copy that sir" she replies, coming up on the door leading to the detention center.
She enters the room silently, disillusioned. Waiting for a few minutes before moving closer to the cage and dropping it.
"There's not many people who can sneak up on me," Loki states calmly, turning around.
Hari shrugs in reply saying, "Glad I'm not most people," looking around the room, appearing more interested in it than Loki but using her magic as a sort of second set of eyes to watch him.
"After maybe. After whatever tortures Fury can concoct, you would appear as a friend, as a balm, soothing the burns. And I would cooperate" he murmurs to himself.
She snorts, and dryly replies, "If that were the case, you would not want to see me. I'm not a balm. You see, I'm the type to add fuel to the flames. If Fury gave you burns, I'd add more."
"You emit strong magic, it's almost familiar. I was not aware any mortals had tapped into eldritch powers" Loki says, looking at her curiously.
"Eldritch powers" she snorts, conjuring a chair, and sits back, gazing at him. Taking a mental note, with her family, of all she can at the moment about him.
"You have great power. Why do you help these mortals? They are beneath you" he says with a sneer.
"I like you. You remind me of a friend when he was young and stupid," she says, crossing her arms, ignoring his question.
"That doesn't answer the question. You walk among these creatures, but you should be hailed" he says, sounding genuinely confused. "Join me and I will show you the stars" he says.
She looks at his eyes, and sees what Thor meant about his 'different eyes.' They are a strange grey blue, when they should be green. She sends out a legilimency probe. She looks through his head, having to refrain from tearing it apart for taking Clint.
She sees the way he set the staff to manipulate people to be angrier and that he wanted to be captured. His plan of being rescued by Clint – oh she wants to shred his mind for that – while the portal is being set up elsewhere. She decides to turn his game against him.
She scoots her chair back and softly says, "I don't…" trailing off.
He walks closer to the glass, superior smirk on his face, saying, "I'll give him back. Your archer, the man with a heart."
Her head snaps up, staring at him with wide eyes, "What have you done with Agent Barton?" she questions, quietly.
"I'd say I expanded his mind" he replies, smirk still on his face.
"You haven't expanded shit," she spits back.
"Such fire in you. Join me and I'll make you glorious," he promises after observing her.
"H-how would you make a monster glorious?" she asks weakly.
"How could you not be glorious? You wield an incredible gift! You shouldn't walk in the dirt like these mortals" he spits, slamming his hands against the glass.
She flinches back and doesn't answer, instead choosing to look down.
"Your magic is familiar. Tell me," he commands after she stays silent, lacing a bit of magic into it to make her obey.
"How familiar is it?" she asks, standing and shrugging the magic off.
"It's surrounded by dark, by Death" he answers, peering at her curiously again.
Hari sighs, and answers in a sad tone, "Your brother was right. You don't see it, do you?" She barely suppresses a snort as she sees his face distort, a mix between anguish and a sneer, as he stands straighter.
"And what did he say?" he questions through gritted teeth.
She waves a hand idly and says, looking around the room, "Oh nothing, nothing. Just addressed me by my title."
She hears the howling laughter coming from her father and Sirius, her mother and Nym's melodious, full belly laughter, and the tinkling chuckling from Narcissa and Daphne, ever the pureblood princesses.
"You might even know it. Something to do with Death in your legends," she continues with a barely there smirk as she turns her attention to looking at her nails.
He looks absolutely confused as he questions quietly, almost as if to himself, "Death? She can't have a new avatar yet."
She goes back to pretending to play his game and swallows tightly before replying, "Not her avatar."
"Why?" he asks, looking back up at her with a smug smirk.
"I… I keep dying," she says quietly.
"How?" he asks, smirk growing, going evil.
"It started as my family…" she starts in a small whisper, internally screaming gleefully at his flinch and telling her real family 'not them.'
"It hurts doesn't it?" he asks, "to have the ones who were supposed to love and protect you lie like that. They never loved you. You were only a means to an end. I see it, in there," he says, pointing at her head, "Everything that happened is your fault!" he screams, slamming the glass again.
She flinches back and looks down, letting him continue.
"Every single death is your fault. Black Dog, Planter, Jokester, Stag, Prince," here he pauses for a few seconds. Finally, he finishes, in a near purr, with, "Shifter."
He pounds on the glass and screams, "AND YOU KNOW IT'S TRUE!"
She acts like she can't do anything, stuck frozen in place; listening as he spits barbs that cut her to the core. While she's really asking the opinion of Nym and Sirius on how to finish this.
"And the survivors? The ones that told you it was fine, that everything was okay. They lied! THEY HATED YOU, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM! ENOUGH THAT YOU LEFT. YOU WERE NOTHING TO THE ONES THERE. YOU'RE NOTHING TO THE ONES HERE!" he screams, smiling sadistically after his little rant.
She finally moves and turns away sniffling.
"But me? I can help you. All you need to do is help distract them for me and unleash your inner monster" he says, at normal volume, evil smirk on his face.
She turns back around, poised and says, "So Hulk's your play?"
"What?" he asks dumbly, completely flat-footed.
She stalks up to the cage and speaks in a dangerously low tone, "You're uncharacteristically naïve for a 'god.' You saw just one crack, one little split, in my shields and wove a story about the few little facts you saw. A deliberate little glimpse, because you're not the only one versed in the magics of the mind. I waved a few facts in front of you. Like they were meat and you jumped at them, like a starving dog, tail wagging. Step out of line again and I will show you just how unpleasant Death's magic can be."
"What?" he asks again, angrily, fist on the glass.
She just slams her own hand on the glass, transferring a small bit of magic into it with a banishing charm, throwing him back, before turning and walking away. She calls over her shoulder, "You're not the only trickster on board," as she strides out of the detention center; listening to the cheers of her family mentally.
As the doors hiss close, he screams in rage.
As soon as she is out of the detention center, she speaks into her comm as she moves towards the lab, "Loki's plan is to unleash the Hulk and cause some sort of distraction with him for a rescue attempt."
"Copy that." Fury replies over comms.
As she passes a door, a hand strikes out and pulls her into the unused room. Rearing for a defensive strike, she's blocked flawlessly by a redhead before being pulled into a hug.
"Are you okay?" Natasha asks quietly, voice partially muffled by her neck but still reaching her ear.
She shifts her arms around the redhead and leans her head against the top of the slightly shorter woman's, before sighing contentedly and answering, voice just as soft, "He's not the first person to try that sort of shit with me. What's the situation like in the lab?" she questions, shrugging off the topic of Loki's barbs.
Natasha pulls back and looks into her eyes, searching for something, and doesn't look terribly convinced of her statement, before answering, "Last I checked, Stark was trying to hack into our files about Phase Two, Banner still seems uncomfortable, and Rogers was trying to take charge."
Natasha then pulls all the way out of the hug, moving to the door, hand on the handle she pauses, "Seriously though, you okay?"
Hari nods and gives her a small smile, before following to the door and giving her shoulder a squeeze, then gesturing out the door.
They head to the lab in silence, not taking very long to walk there as the normal Shield agents jump out of their way; as they turn the final corner, they see Rogers show up holding a Phase 2 rifle barging into the lab and hear his, "Phase 2 is Shield using the cube to make weapons. Sorry, the computer was moving a little slow."
'That's gotta be a barb at Stark.' Hari muses, amusedly.
Right after they enter, Bruce asks, "Did you two know about this?" pointing at a screen depicting Phase 2.
Nat speaks up before Hari can say anything, "Doctor, you want to think about removing yourself from the environment?"
"I was in Calcutta. I was pretty well removed." Bruce bites out.
Natasha calmly counters, "Loki's manipulating you."
"And you've been doing what exactly?" Bruce asks.
Natasha loses her cool, strange for one of Shield's best but then Hari remembers her view into Loki's head, and argues, "You didn't come here because I bat my eyelashes at you."
Before the argument, as it's clear to Hari that they were arguing before they entered, can break out again, she whistles sharply, getting their attention. She answers, "I kind of did, but I'm an unusual case. Doctor," she pauses, looking straight at Bruce and pulling something out of her pocket, then hands it to him, "drink this. It will help calm you down. Though, the taste is pretty shit."
She pauses as he does so and everyone watches his eyes lose their green tinge; then continues, "Now, we need to discuss what we're doing with Loki. His plan was to unleash the Hulk. Let's discuss this civilly," she pointedly looks at Stark, "and figure out a plan."
Bruce looks at her, still in awe and appreciation over the vial – despite the nastiness of it, "Thanks."
"No problem Doc," she replies, then moves over to the staff, closing her eyes and waving her hands over it and scanning it with her magic to confirm what she found in Loki's head. She opens her eyes wide and drops a, for once visible, domed shield above it saying, "The staff is manipulating everyone. It's putting out waves of anger. I think he hoped it would be examined by you, Dr. Banner."
"How do you know?" Fury asks, still wary of Banner but as the problem seems to be solved, short term at least, he can focus on the other things now.
"I have experience with things and people fucking with my head remember?" Hari answers shortly, "The scepter was subtler. It's almost… sentient? Not like you or I" she hurries to explain seeing their looks. Then continues, "It has a goal or task and can sense when it's done," she explains.
She flicks her gaze over to Fury, getting a nod, then says, "Let's go back to the bridge and discuss this properly, away from the scepter. I'm not entirely sure how long my shield will last against its energy."
She then focuses on Bruce as he walks towards the door, "I can get you another draught later if needed."
He nods as the team files out. As they leave, a machine across the room beeps and an explosion rocks the ship.
Hari's ears are ringing, and she has a weight on her stomach when she regains vision. She shakes her head slightly and then looks around to see what, or who, is around. She finds that she is on the ground with a pipe across her torso and that Bruce is a short distance away in front of her.
She hears Natasha groan from somewhere above her and looks up at her, realizing that the pipe across her torso tapers into a slightly smaller pipe and is trapping her leg.
Hari hears Bruce's breathing becoming ragged while Natasha struggles to unpin her leg and turns back to see him turning a bit green. She widens her eyes as she had given him a rather strong dose of calming draught. Before she narrows them and angles her hand to aim at him and sends a cheering charm at him before a stunning spell follows.
Leaving a smiling in his sleep Bruce just as Natasha notices him and says, "Doctor… Bruce, you gotta fight it." Before she cuts herself off and looks closer at him to see his struggling has stopped. She looks around confused until she sees Hari laying with a larger pipe than the one across her leg across her torso.
Natasha struggles just a bit more before huffing softly and speaking up, slightly strained, "You okay Rozi?"
Hari snorts and levitates the pipe section off the both of them and moves it away from them. Then turns to Natasha and briefly lets her magic run over the redhead to scan for injuries and fixes them… or at least a field fix of them so she can make it to the med bay to get it fixed properly. She answers after this, "I'm fine. You are too for the time being. Before you ask, yes, I'm responsible for Dr. Banner's state. We need to figure out what that explosion was, and it'll be a lot fucking easier without Jolly Green running around," as she and Natasha stand.
Natasha nods and glances questioningly at Hari.
Hari gestures to Bruce and then says, "Find out what happened. I'm going to deal with this then whatever comes up next."
Natasha hesitates in moving her hand to her communicator and looks at Hari.
Hari smiles softly and says, "Go. I'll be fine." She immediately ignores the reprobation from Nym in her mind 'how her fine usually translated to 'I almost just died. Just gimme a sec to bleed out over there."
Natasha nods and speaks into her com, "Romanoff checking in. Banner's indisposed, what's the situation upstairs."
A few seconds later before their comms activate and before a voice answers, gunshots come over the line, then Fury answers, "Multiple hostiles, almost all of them the turned friendlies. Barton was last seen heading toward the control room."
Natasha speaks through her com, "Barton's mine. I'll head him off."
Hari activates her com and speaks, "If possible, just incapacitate them since I should be able to break the control."
"Copy that. Go for incapacitation when possible. Black, find out what Stark and Rogers are doing and help them if possible. After that, go check on the prisoner." Fury orders over the line.
Hari answers, "Copy." Before turning on her heel to vanish, she gives Natasha a small, lopsided smile, "Go on. I'll only be like five minutes. Ten tops."
Iron Man and Captain America hastily get back to their feet after the explosion rocked the ship and rushed to collect their gear, and for Stark to put his suit on, and headed to one of the turbines. In the hallway leading to the maintenance area they run into a group of goons who open fire on them.
Steve holds his shield in front of him and ducks his head down to not get hit while Tony just lets their bullets ping off his suit. Suddenly, the guns are yanked away by an invisible force and the assailants are pushed back.
Not giving them time to collect their bearings, Hari appears in between the duo and starts to flick stunning and restraining spells to the downed goons.
By the time Stark and Rogers get over their shock, all have been dealt with and Hari's gone again.
They slowly move into the turbine room and Stark flies up alongside the turbine to see the housing is damaged and littered junk and debris. He calls out to Steve on his com, "I need you to get to that control panel and tell me which relays are stuck in overload."
Steve jumps over to the ledge with the panel and opens it up, gazing confusedly over all the switches and the wires.
"What's it look like in there?" Stark asks, looking through his HUD to find the main problem.
Steve answers, a minor 'Eureka' tone to his voice, "It seems to run on some form of electricity."
"Well, you're not wrong." Stark answers, looking through the HUD and finally identifying the main problem, before pulling off a panel and seeing his target. Then explaining, "Even if I clear the rotors, this thing won't reengage without a jump. I'm gonna have to get in there and push."
Steve still looks confused, then a jolt of realization hits, "Well if that thing gets up to speed, you'll get shredded!"
"Then stay in the control unit and reverse polarity long enough to disengage the mag," Stark starts in explanation, being interrupted by Steve's shout.
Steve yells out to him, "Speak English!"
Inside his suit, Tony looks annoyed, but answers, "See that red lever? It'll slow the rotors down long enough for me to get out."
With that said, he enters the turbine to get rid of the biggest piece stopping the rotor while Steve jumps down to the ledge with the big red lever.
Hari apparates from the hallway after dispersing of Loki's goons to the Brig in time to see Thor dive through a hologram of Loki into the cage before it falls out of the sky as he hits a switch.
Just a few seconds later, Phil comes in wielding one of the Phase 2 weapons and aiming it at the Loki at the console. That Hari just now notices is a magical construct.
She whirls around at the sound of a rush of air, and the movement her magic warns her of, and pushes Phil to the side. Just in time to get a gash across her forearm as Loki thrusts the scepter towards them.
She hisses angrily, briefly glancing at the wound and unknowingly using a parsel healing spell, before dodging another swing of the scepter.
She continues dodging wild scepter attacks, only getting minor nicks from them, and working to keep Loki's attention off Phil.
Phil charges up the Phase 2 weapon and aims it to the side that Loki's on and waits for the fighting duo to separate a bit. When Loki backs away to prepare for a charging attack with the scepter, he fires. The discharge from the weapon goes towards Loki, hitting his offhand shoulder and spinning him to the floor.
Hari keeps her gaze on him, cautious of his tricks, and speaks to Phil, "I'll watch him and restrain him. Go! Find Fury and see what's happening."
Phil nods, and after a searching glance, leaves. As he exits the room, he feels the temperature drop, and rushes to find Fury.
Clint is being dragged along by his own body down the catwalk on a lower level quickly, only for his body to tense suddenly and nock an arrow. In the blink of an eye, his arrow is set and aimed at Natasha.
He does his best to wrench control back to not harm Natasha, to turn this into one of their many sparring sessions instead of this dangerous hand to hand that it is now. The part of his brain that's still his own and thinking clearly, realizes that it's a foolish desire; as Natasha can beat him any day of the weak, in just about any fight that isn't based on distance accuracy.
Natasha ducks under a set of pipes along the catwalk down to the crawlspace underneath and quickly shimmies back to behind Clint. Jumping back out, she forces him to drop his bow. As soon as she drops the bow from her grasp though, he's in her space with a knife. Going for slashing attacks at her joints.
She blocks his attacks by striking his forearms or just dodges them entirely. After a few more attempts, with Natasha kickboxing him in the face, he goes for one slightly wider swing.
Natasha grabs his arm, twisting it, trying to take control of the blade. Clint grimaces and his eyes clear just the slightest bit, before he flips the knife to his other hand.
He goes for more slash attacks; only for Natasha to dodge all of them with precision.
After a few more attacks, Natasha finds herself in a lock hold with Clint driving the knife down towards her. She fights back best she can from her position on the floor with him on top of her.
She bites his wrist, making him release the knife.
Right after he drops the knife, Natasha's legs are around his neck. Before he can blink, she's flipping him over into an arm lock. She then slams his head into the railing of the catwalk.
After hitting the ground, hard, his eyes start to clear, and he looks up at her. "Natasha?" he questions, sounding confused, tired, and more all at once.
Natasha punches him again in the head…
Loki snarls at Hari as she moves to restrain him again. Lashing out with a blind kick that connects with her gut, pushing her back a few feet.
She growls, low in her throat, an oddly Padfoot-esque sound, and charges him. Hoping to close the distance and not let him use the scepter's blade again. She sends a flurry of jabs towards his head and torso, imbuing a little magic in them to provide differing affects. She catches him in the jaw with one that has a silent Cruciatus attached.
Loki howls in pain and rage for the second the curse is connected to him.
"Wow. Only a split second of that curse and you're near tears?" Hari taunts him between jabs. "I was first hit with that at fourteen by the most feared Dark Lord of the time and I didn't cry."
He snarls at her and swings the scepter, a gash appearing across her upper chest forcing her back further. Before she can regain her footing, Loki pushes on and tries to use the scepter's influence on her. Tapping the tip to where the heart is located.
"I'm going to enhance your mind now." Loki nearly purrs out as the scepter connects.
He watches her eyes transition from green to grey-blue, before they burn like a bright emerald fire. He places the tip of the scepter against her again. She gasps and drops to one knee, eyes burning brighter and the room's temperature plummeting even further.
Hari's mind is defended by magic, but whatever is in that scepter is incredibly powerful. She hears whispers in her mind, not of her family, trying to order her around. She fights it off and can feel it leaving… before it comes back again, stronger than before. She gasps at the strain her shields are under, dropping down to a knee; and fights hard to regain full control and purge the scepter's presence. The knowledge that she has to win this so that she can help the team with the cube, save Clint, and to be able to see Natasha again pushes her on.
She snarls as she breaks the control, looking up into Loki's eyes from her spot on her knee. "Don't. EVER! Fuck with my mind," she snarls out, jumping up to attack him in a flurry of blows. Punches, kicks, and knees fly towards weak spots – joints, neck, and head.
Loki is immediately on the defense, wondering how this human girl can best the scepter and who she is.
She follows him, striking out viciously and quickly; continuously pushing him further. Only for him to use a version of a knockback hex on her, pushing her back a few feet again.
Hari gets shoved back about five feet only; turns out Loki's magic either doesn't mix well with her own, or he's just not as good at magic as she thought. As soon as her feet stop dragging, Hari readies to charge him once again. But…
Loki closes the distance and brings up the scepter; stabbing her in the stomach.
She can feel the tip of the scepter start to push against her skin and the shirt she's wearing – 'should've put the armor on, might've helped,' she muses with an internal frown – and she can hear it snap the threads of the shirt. Before it starts to pierce the skin of her abdomen.
She can feel it splitting skin and muscle and can hear it sliding through her. She winces at the combined sensations of being hit by the magical blade; as it's unlike every other blade she's been hit by… maybe except the sword she used to kill the basilisk.
She clamps one hand over the wound and moves to attack him again. Before he swipes across the arm holding her stomach with the scepter, forcing her to release her stomach, and then blasts her with a beam with enough force to spin her to the floor. After being launched back across a third of the room.
As she spins down from the attack, he flees. Hari watches with hazy eyes as he leaves the area as she flies through the air.
She crashes to the floor and looks down and mutters a healing spell, watching it combat whatever strange magic is in the scepter before it weakly starts to close her wound. She instead looks towards her arm and tries again. Only to watch the same thing. She changes her attention to the first wound she got when pushing Phil out of the way and sees it healed. Realizing she used a Parsel healing charm of some sort, she tries again on her arm.
It works, but she's close to magical exhaustion now on top of being physically exhausted. She tilts her head back and screams at the situation. Before blacking out.
Natasha can't breathe.
Her throat closes up.
Her eyes widen after putting Clint in the med bay as Coulson's call comes over the line.
"Black's down for the moment. Paramedics on the way." he had said. Causing Natasha to feel as if she was dunked in an ice bath.
She feels the icy grips of fear clutching her heart and lungs… Her throat closes up… Her heart clenches… She can't breathe.
'Five minutes. Ten tops.' Hari had told her. Natasha wants to scream at the situation… 'Why didn't I do something?' she wonders to herself.
'Ten minutes. Max. Was that all it took for her Rozi to nearly die again?' she can't help but think; blinking back the tears that threaten to make an appearance.
Just those ten minutes was enough time to find Clint and knock him out… to fix the turbine damaged and stay in the air… for Thor to go missing… for Rozi, her milaya devushka, to be put into critical condition.
She closes her eyes and swears to herself, then and there, that Loki won't last ten minutes.
A lone tear falls from her closed eyes as she remembers the last time her milaya devushka was hurt badly. Her chest tightens at the thought of it happening again.
Her eyes open as the door hisses open. Revealing a bloody Hari – again tightening her chest – and a team of medics trailed by Fury and Coulson.
The medics flutter around Hari, doing what they can to fix whatever's wrong with her. Only to be stopped short, seeing that the wounds themselves, the deep angry gashes and stab wound she had suffered in her fight, are already reduced to some rough tissue and seem to be disappearing as they work.
Natasha stands on shaky legs and makes her way to her bedside as the medics huddle and discuss what happened before Fury comes over and orders – read bullies – them into silence before kicking them out.
The redhead grasps the raven-haired woman's hand tightly, silently pleading for her to come back.
But a weak groan from across the room drags her attention away from the injured woman. Moving across the room, she speaks softly, "Clint, you're gonna be alright."
"You know that? Is that what you know? I got… I gotta go in though. I gotta flush him out." Clint mutters groggily, shaking his head side to side.
Natasha reaches his side and lays a hand on his shoulder, saying, "We don't have that long, it's gonna take time. When Hari wakes up, she'll check you out."
"I don't understand. Have you ever had someone take your brain and play? Pull you out and stuff something else in? Do you know what it's like?" he argues back, sounding panicked.
Natasha gives him a look and answers quietly, "You know that I do." She goes to stay more, only to be interrupted by another voice.
"We all have experience with that." Hari groans from her side of the room, already sitting up.
"Why am I back? How did you get him out?" Clint asks as Natasha moves across to help her up.
"Cognitive recalibration." Natasha answers, briefly hugging the raven-haired woman.
Hari answers Clint's blank look, "She hit you really hard on the head."
"Thanks?" Clint mutters out.
Hari moves up next to him and speaks, "Alright. Let's check you out. Who are we?" she asks, gesturing between herself and Natasha.
Clint looks at her strangely before answering, "Hari and Natasha."
"Good. You still know our names. What'd we do last time the three of us hung out?" she asks, using the conversation to hopefully keep his brain on track for the legilimency probe she's preparing to use.
Clint shakes his head slightly, rolling it from shoulder to shoulder, before answering, "Uhh. Cinema. We went to the cinema. Halfway through, I left and threw popcorn at you and Nat from the rafters. I think I sent you a picture after."
"Short term memory seems fine at least." Hari explains to Natasha; before turning back to Clint, "I need to do a quick scan of your mind to make sure the control is completely broken. Okay?"
Clint nods, warily. Hari stares into his eyes, back to their normal color, and scans his mind. She sees a few faint traces of blue, but they are fleeting and actively dispersing, and that his mind is just about normal.
"Well, the magic's dissipating. Should be completely free of influence in an hour or so." Hari says at last.
Natasha looks thankful while Clint looks slightly confused and still wary, before something Hari doesn't like runs across his expression.
"What did you do?" Clint asks harshly. "What'd you do to me?"
Natasha's smile drops and she looks shocked at his outburst; before turning to Hari and seeing her close herself off. Before she can speak up though, Hari speaks up.
"I checked your mind to make sure his influence was gone. I told you." Hari answers, tone flat.
Clint scoffs in response, before spitting harshly, "Was it your magic?"
The last word being said with such vitriol and hatred that Natasha sucks a breath and turns to stare at him, horrified. Then turns her attention back to Hari and seeing… the same closed off expression she had when she spoke of her relatives.
Hari's not paying attention to Natasha though, she's back in Surrey; listening to a whale curse her existence for no reason other than being born and a cross of a giraffe and horse sniffing disdainfully at her for daring to breathe in her presence. Her mind snaps back into action after Clint explodes again.
"Shut the fuck up." Hari says, tone low and dangerous. "You don't know me Barton. You think you do but you know fuck all about me."
Natasha opens her mouth, then closes it. Not knowing what to say. Clint has a flash of realization on his face; but before he can do anything, Hari continues.
"Do you know what it's like to have your earliest memory be of your parents' murder and your attempted murder? What about what it's like to not have anyone care in even the slightest amount until you're a teenager? How about being told you should've died before reaching ten? Hm?" Hari spits, tone furious. But she won't stop now, she has their attention and despite the statements from her family in her mind, she needs to say this… to someone.
"Or what about not having an idea of what love is until you're a teenager? Oh, maybe you know what it's like to wish so desperately to die, despite not being able to at eighteen. Wishing so hard to be able to see your family again that you try to commit suicide at nineteen." Hari says, tone completely cold, flat, and lifeless.
Natasha has tears in her eyes, having never been told about Hari's suicidal period.
Clint's eyes are wide as saucers as he gapes, horrified at what he just put the woman he normally views as a sister through.
"You don't know shit about me Barton." Hari stands and slowly moves to the door but stops at the threshold. Coming back in so that the door remains closed and speaking so quietly that Clint and Natasha barely hear her, "In case it escaped your hateful mind. Don't forget it was because of my magic," she spits the word with such derision that Clint flinches, "that protected a farm."
Before she's out the door, storming a few steps away before a crack echoes through the halls.
A tense silence falls over the assassins because of the other woman's words.
"Tasha." Clint speaks up, looking horrified.
Natasha stares flatly at him, and answers in a slightly disappointed voice, "Good job Barton. She protects them and does her best to help you. And you do that? She's done nothing – absolutely nothing – to you to deserve that." She finishes in a whisper.
"Loki, he get away?" Clint questions weakly, mind racing to figure out how to apologize or make it up to Hari.
Natasha looks at him, knowing exactly what he's doing, but answers, "Yeah. Don't suppose you know where?"
"Didn't need to know and I didn't ask. Dammit!" he says angrily, before taking a breath and calming slightly, "He's gonna make his play soon though. Today."
Natasha moves from her spot at the foot of the bed and sits next to him, "We gotta stop him then."
"Yeah? Who's we?" Clint asks, giving her an odd look.
Natasha doesn't squirm under the look but does shift her eyes, before answering, "I don't know. Whoever's left."
"Well… if I put an arrow in Loki's eye socket… I'd sleep better I suppose." Clint says slowly.
The corners of Natasha's lips quirk before she responds, "Now you sound like you."
Coulson's back in the containment unit, after he departed med bay and left Fury to go back to work, staring at the floor where he found Hari. The young-looking woman who is more of a favorite niece or daughter to him now than just an agent he handles.
He stares blankly at the ice crystals on some spots of the walls before his gaze flickers to the large pool of blood that's on the floor. Remembering how close a call it was, and that Hari first got hurt saving him.
His vision narrows as he saw her spin around faster than previously thought possible, only to catch the blade of the scepter on her arm… right where his ribcage was.
Coming back into the room he sees her laying on the ground, in a pool of her own blood, eyes closed. An almost peaceful expression on her face.
His breath catches, chest constricts, and hands shake slightly as he stumbles further into the room, dropping by her side. Checking for a pulse; desperately hoping to find one.
He feels nothing when he places his hand at her wrist for a minute. Moving his hand to her neck, he holds his breath as he listens to the agonizingly slow tick of his watch pass a minute by.
Tick… tick… tick… nothing… He can't feel anything.
He's numb and a little defiant as he keeps his hand there. Borderline begging whatever higher power for his pseudo-daughter to live.
Tick… tick… there.
He finally releases his breath as he feels the faintest trace.
His words are caught in his throat as he goes to call it in. He tries again and can barely get it out.
"Bl-Black's down." he says, barely getting her name past his lips. But doing his best to keep composure and do his job.
After all, Hari always did it. She pushed through getting shot, stabbed, and various other things – if the reports from her first op and the rescue she did are correct – and still carried on.
"Paramedics needed in the containment unit" he calls over the line straight to them and Fury, not knowing the latter was already almost on him.
He doesn't want to be the one to inform Natasha of this, but he has to. She deserves to know.
Phil tears himself out of his memory as if he can her voice in the hallway, berating someone. 'Likely Stark and Rogers,' he muses to himself, still facing the pool.
"He made it personal." There's Stark.
A sigh, then, "That's not the point." Ah, the Captain.
"That's exactly the point. That's Loki's type."
That voice catches Phil off guard. He knew she healed quickly, but she shouldn't be up and around yet. But here she is, back to work.
"Yeah. He wants to beat us and be seen doing it. He wants an audience." Stark says.
A small pause, "Right… I caught his act in Stuttgart." Captain replies.
"I've dealt with his type before. Full tilt diva. Stuttgart was opening night. Now though, he wants flowers, parades, a monument built to the heavens with his name on it…" Hari's voice says, sounding wry.
A short pause again followed by Stark's, loud, muttering of, "Son of a bitch!"
Hari was walking down the hallway, going back to her dorm to have somewhere to pull her trunk out, when she ran into Maria… who looks exhausted.
Her hair's out of the normal bun, she's got a few cuts and scrapes, and she looks like she wants to sleep standing where she is.
"Hey," she says, smiling softly; before pulling something out of her pocket and handing it to the other woman, "Here. You look like you could use a pick-me-up. Just know, if you take it, the crash is rather dramatic." She pauses briefly, leaning closer to whisper, "Best to drink it behind closed doors."
She pulls back and sees Maria smile in thanks and nod before turning and continuing down the way. Hari takes one step when Fury turns the corner, hand out towards her, making a 'gimme' motion.
She snorts and hands him another Pepper-Up from her pocket. He doesn't even wait as he uncorks it and downs it, slightly tilting his head as the steam shoots out his ears. Before nodding at Hari and continuing on his way.
Hari snorts again at the wide-eyed, gaping agents before going her own way. Thinking, 'Poor agents are gonna think he's a machine now.'
Clint and Natasha are suited up and meet Steve in the hangar of the Helicarrier and move towards one of the jets.
Suddenly a standard agent comes up to them saying, "You aren't authorized to be here."
"Son… just don't." Steve says, raising a hand; before the team pushes past him.
Clint starts the startup procedures for the jet and as he goes to close the door, a sharp whistle grabs the attention of just about everyone in the hangar.
They turn around and see Bruce looking startled at the whistle, before turning back and sheepishly waving to them; and behind him, walking towards the jet, is Hari in her full kit. Or what seems to be a slightly modified version of her full kit with repaired, or new, armor.
Her dark grey shirt has been replaced by dark green, a slightly modified black armored vest is over it, black pants with no tears in them cover her legs, black leather-like boots with some dark green adorning her feet, a black cloak that seems to swallow the light hanging from her shoulders with hood up.
The only piece that hasn't been altered, is her mask. Blood covered skeleton grin coming from underneath the hood with bright, burning emerald fire orbs above it.
Phantom pats Bruce on the shoulder as she walks past, basically pushing him to the jet. Once on board, Phantom nods to the Captain and Natasha, ignoring Clint, and sits back.
AN: Hope you guys liked this chapter, sorry for the wait! If you don't like it, tell me (nicely) how I could improve. Feedback is always welcome.
Before anyone points it out, yes I'm aware Clint is a bit OOC here. Especially after Hari's met his family and what not. But, he just got done being forced to turn on everyone via magic so he's gonna be a little snappy about it. So, after New York they'll talk and figure it out... maybe without too much trouble, who knows.
Also, we've been preparing for the time when Hari and Nat will finally get together. That'll happen soon, hope that the little bit here will hold people over for the next little while as I figure out how I want the Battle to go. I want to have a good medium ground of Hari destroying lots of Chitauri just because she's able (and angry enough at the moment) but not have her be so OP that the team isn't needed.
Oh well. I'm rambling, time to peace out. Let me know what you guys think and other ideas and what not.