He got a new nanny, of course, but the damage was done and Tony couldn’t shake off the feeling that maybe having a Name wasn’t such a good idea, which led to him always dressing correctly if for nothing else than trying to make his Name impossible to find for others by mistake. He didn’t want people comenting on it. It didn’t require that much work, it being were it was, but he couldn’t let his pants slip down anymore, which was a total bust.
Going through adolescence Tony found himself enchanted with the idea of physical pleasure, which made him even less attracted to the idea of having to tie himself down to only one someone forever and ever after with sprinkles on top. The mere idea made him nauseous. It was only reasonable then, that when letters started coming from his soulmate at age sixteen he didn’t even open them. He didn’t destroy them but he found a cookie can and hid them inside. And every letter after got the same treatment until they stopped coming at all. He was twenty one and just a few short months later his parents got into the accident that took their lives. Then Jarvis followed them just a few short months later.
Everything was kind of a blur after that.
He got out of the family home and moved out to Malibu, got into business and followed Obie around like a good little puppie. He was the only one left to him. Or so he considered, as the letters continued to be hidden in that little cookie can that he didn’t even know where it was. He went to parties, slept around and generaly got lost in his own world. He was always very careful with his conquests, never showing his back to them, always keeping it covered. Not that people didn’t know which his Name was or that it mattered much to him if his supposed soulmate got into trouble, he never even knew him, but somehow, just showing his Name around made him uncomfortable.
Then came Pepper, with whom he thought himself in love, after which Happy came like a hurricane dashing his hopes. No one can compete with a soulmate bond, or so he was told. Then Iron Man and Obie’s betrayal, and SHIELD, and Vanko, and Loki and Thor along with the Tesseract and the chitauri, Bruce and Barton and the now Romanov instead of Rushman and Steve Captain America Rogers and the Mandarin, Maya and Killian and finally HYDRA and all the chaos that came with it. Steve left to look for his lost sniper/old buddy/assasin, Natasha left to look for Barton and good old Brucie decided to come visit and lift his spirits in the wake of the chaos HYDRA had left.
It was actually a question from Bruce that made him concentrate on something else but his own destruction via alcohol.
“Tony, I’m sorry to say this but you can’t keep like this”, he gestured to the tumbler of whiskey in his hands. “I know what you think, that you shouldn’t have assisted SHIELD with making those repulsors and you should have found out about HYDRA before and…”
“Of course I fucking damn well should have! I’m Iron Man, Brucie, but of what use am I if I couldn’t discover them before all this happened?”, he said moving the tumbler violently from side to side.
“And you should have this and that and the other thing and I’m done with this, Tony!”, Bruce exploded beside the couch.
“Bruce?”, Tony asked uncertainly, not having seen his friend like that ever before and honestly, kind of worried the good doctor had maybe popped a blood vessel because of him.
Bruce sighed before coming to seat himself beside Tony, gently taking the tumbler from unresisting fingers, “You can’t keep doing this to yourself, it wasn’t your fault in the first place and you blaming yourself is not going to make it any less true.”
Tony inclined his head. Maybe he was right but by that time it was an automatic reaction to just blame himself for whatever had gone wrong. Like with Pepper. It wasn’t as if it had any time to grow into anything before Happy came crashing down with his soulmate business but it still felt like a failure.
“You can’t do a lot right now, Tony. You promised to wait for word from Natasha and Steve before you did anything. Don’t you have anything to do in the meantime? Something to distract you for now.”
“Well, I could start on a new suit but you and I both know how that is not exactly conductive for keeping my mind occupied. It’s all automated process by now. So I suppose by the same reasoning anything mechanical is out too. The problem is, I haven’t done anything since I was four. Well, I’ve made programming before, what with Jarvis and all that but…”, he sighed and let his head drop in his hands.
With him in that position for Bruce it was easy to see the edge of his soulmate name and he got pensive. It was an insanely intimate topic of conversation but weren’t they looking for something that made him think? There was a riks, though, what if Tony had already knowledge of his soulmate and he wasn’t with them for a reason? He supposed there wasn’t anything else to do but try.
He brushed a hand over the inventor’s back and, getting no adverse reaction, let it rest there. “Tony, I have a question that maybe will spook you but, maybe it’s what you’re looking for. Thing is, I don’t know anything of the subjet relating to you”, Bruce winced seeing the way he was phrasing it sounded. Tony looked up from his hands and sent him a confused look.
“What of your soulmate? Do you know who they are?”, Bruce winced again.
It was as if they’d string him from the ceiling, suddenly Tony was straight as an arrow looking ahead with a determined look, and Bruce got the feeling he wasn’t looking at the wall.
The truth of the matter was, Tony hadn’t had more than a passing thought about his soulmate since the time he decided he was forgoing soulmates in full, and none since Pepper. Pepper was perfect for him and, if she wasn’t for him, who could it be? It couldn’t be anyone better than her, so he forgot. About his own soulmate. Had he contacted him about it and he hadn’t noticed? He turned to Bruce, a look of absolute horror in his face.
“I forgot, Bruce. I forgot about my soulmate.”
Bruce wanted to hit him, he really wanted, and who wouldn’t want to, but the look on his face was so miserable he couldn’t do anything more but hug him and console him. They’d find them and he would apologize and he was going to see nothing wrong had occured to him.
And so it came to be that the search started.
Jarvis was very useful up to a certain point. With the upheaval the reveal of Tony’s Name caused there were a lot of Harry Potters lying around and literal thousands of Harrys from the date of his soulmate’s birth on. The fakes were very easy to get rid of, specialy since a lot of them had already found their respective soulmates and married. Really, who named their kid as the soulmate of someone famous and expected their offspring to actually go along with it and ignore the fact that they themselves had soulmates to find? Or, at least, that was Bruce’s opinion, Tony was more bitter about the matter. After all, even if he hadn’t known at the time, as his AI told him, Pepper had had to fend off some of those fakes through the years.
But going back to Tony’s real soulmate. The only one that fully met all the requirements was born in Great Britain and, apparently, had disappeared from the system at age eleven. The same time I lost my parents, Tony thought. The kid returned every summer to stay with his relatives but the rest of the year was who knows where. And that was another thing, apparently his soulmate was an orphan from the first year of his life, and Tony found himself feeling vaguely guilty. Not that he could have done a lot at eleven years of age himself to save his soulmate the heartache, or at age sixteen when he started receiving those letters…
“The letters! Oh, god, I’m so stupid. Those damn letters!”, he said jumping from the sofa in which he was sconced with Bruce looking up data.
“What?”, said Bruce a bit blindsided.
“Jarvis, the letters! Where are they! Oh, of course, you weren’t alive back then. I got some letters when I was a kid, first at sixteen and on to when I was twenty one. Then they stopped. I was a little shit back then, Brucie, and badly behaved. Well, worse than now if you can believe it, -“
“Funny and terrifying thing, I actually can”, deadpanned Bruce.
“- so I got a cookie can and hid them there. I didn’t even read them”, he sagged and looked at his friend wide eyed. “What if he hates me? What am I gonna do?”
Bruce didn’t have an answer to that and so silence stretched until Jarvis made an insert.
“If I may be permited, sir. Maybe looking into the belongings of my predecesor might be a good idea.”
Of course. The other Jarvis was always in on everything that happened to Tony. He was actually the only one who gave a damn about him as he grew, with the dubious exception, latter crossed of the list, of dear Obie. And they did find them in a box marked as For young Anthony, which made the knife of guilt twist a bit more inside him. Why hadn’t he looked into what his old butler had left him before? He felt he was dead when he started reading the letters.
Hi, I am Harry and I am your soulmate. I saw you in the telly and I wanted to talk with you.
I am six but I am very smart, but my teachers don’t think so because my aunt tels them I am not.
I live with my aunt Petunia and my uncle Vernon and my cousin Dudley. I don’t like Dudley because he hits me
and uncle says he can and he is bad. He wakes me up in the mornings jumping in the stairs
and because the cupboard where I sleep is very dusty I sneeze a lot. The spiders too.
But I saw in the telly that soulmates are allways good to each other and I want to be good so
I am writing because I know your very smart and I want to be smart too.
I want to meet you.
There were eight letters, one per year since the first and two more, the last of them a goodbye. Apparently, he didn’t think he’d had time to write from then on because he was going to be very busy studying in a private school his parents had gone to and he didn’t think Tony had gotten any of his letters or he didn’t care so he wasn’t going to send anymore. The letters were full of pleas to come talk to him, to come help him, to take him away, questions about if he would love him and even once, tears. By the end of it Tony couldn’t do anything but try to find him and come up with empty hands. It was as if from age seventeen Harry Potter had disappeared. He didn’t exist anywhere. And the only thing left to Bruce was try to console his best friend and asuage his guilt.
o o o
On Harry’s side though, things were actually looking up. He was the youngest Head Auror ever, though at the time, with thirty four, the novelty had died out; he had an amazing and much too mischievous godson who made his days happy and tiring at the same time; several more godsons and daughters who followed the first in mayhem-making; he wasn’t hung up on Ginny anymore and he didn’t remember he had a soulmate who’d ignored him for years. That is, he didn’t until he was reminded of it.
“You want me to what?”, he asked for the fifth time, looking on to Kingsley with incredulity.
Apparently his old friend had deemed it necessary to send him on a diplomatic trip to meet with Nicholas Fury, Director of the american but still worldwide based organization SHIELD. He wanted to meet him on behalf of the Magical Community and the Wizengamot, who, again apparently, deemed him the perfect man for the job. He was supposed to be a warmer point of contact in the magical community, someone more accessible and approachable than the european magical leaders. Something about his “status of hero” appealed to the american.
Said wizard sighed, “I know that I’m asking a lot from you but you’re my best man and the best man for the job. Look, the only thing you’ll have to do is go to SHIELD and talk to Director Fury face to face, I’ve already talked with him myself and you won’t have to meet with anyone from the Avengers but Steve Rogers, if you even have to.” he fixed a serious stare upon him. “This is important, Harry, maybe before it wasn’t so much but with what happened in New York and specially London last year, we can’t go on with only the Prime Minister, or President of every country being vaguely aware of things. There could be a lot of problems if SHIELD captured one of us with the mistaken belief that we’re from out of the Earth. Director Fury will coordinate everything and only tell those with the need to be aware.” He received a compasionate look from his friend. “You won’t have to see him nor he you.”
Harry sighed. So, a visit to SHIELD Headquarters but no need to see or meet that soulmate that all those years ago had ignored his existence. It sounded much too perfect to be true, specially with the fact that he’d wanted to visit the States for a while now, but with his job the pleasure travels were sparse. He’d had this resolve since the last of his letters went on unanswered of not meeting his soulmate because he didn’t want to be rejected face to face but, what did it really matter now? Maybe it was time he put on his big girl panties and went to meet the man, if for nothing else that to shut up that little voice in the back of his mind that kept whispering that maybe, just maybe, his soulmate had never read his letters for whatever reason and he was wanted.
He breathed in deeply. Yes, maybe it was time.
“Very well, I’ll go.”
“You’ll go?”, Kingsley blinked.
“Yes, but if I find myself regreting it, trust me, you’ll regret it with me”, remarked Harry with a sharp smirk.
o o o
I’m going to regret this like mad, Harry thought, looking up into the impressive vision that the Triskelion cut against the sun. Still, he had given his word that he’d go, so it was no use complaining now, at the door. He started walking towards the outer gates and gave his name, as well as the fact that he was there to meet with Director Fury. They made him wait a little for a car to take him up to the building but it was inevitable it seemed, security protocol. Harry tried to not think about anything in particular through the ride, which was, admittedly, too short for his poor nerves, and amused himself twisting a piece of what Hagrid called “magic resistant rope”, which he had acquired the last time he went by his hut. He found that it made surprisingly less likely that he’d blow up anything electronic in his vicinity with it in his person so he always carried it around with him just in case.
“This way, Mr Potter”, said one of the agents that had accompanied him in the vehicle. “Director Fury is waiting for you in his office.”
So on he went, following behind the not surprisingly black clad agent until he was ushered into a well lit office where a dark skinned man with an eyepatch waited for him.
“Mr. Potter, it’s an honour to meet you”, he said before he was presented witha hand to shake. “I’m Nicholas Fury, Dorector of SHIELD.”
“So I’m told”, he said with an amused smile. “I was starting to think you were taking me to kill me, what with all the escorts.”
“Had we wanted to it would have been more obvious”, the smirk that appeared on his face said it was all in good fun and Harry felt almost all his reticence dissapear.
What followed where two of the less boring hours of meetings with official people he’d ever had in his life. Nick Fury was someone like he’d never met before: decided, aware of every danger, a little bit (a lot) paranoid, very down to Earth, decided, not into politics… He’d never met a high ranking officer of any sort that didn’t in any way enjoy politics. He was more happy now about having taken this trip.
“It’s the final countdown! It’s the final countdown! Ohhh!”
Even he had heard that song and he was an incultured idiot when talking about muggle music, and that was definitely not the original singer. He saw Fury’s face twist into an almost painful wince before taking his phone.
“Sorry, just a second. Stark? What the hell do you want? Now it’s not a good time.”
Stark? Harry panicked inside. It can’t be. The only time he comes, and he has to appear? Come on! Though, nothing said Stark was going to come, he was just phoning Fury. He must have something he needed from him, that was it. He wasn’t going to come, he probably didn’t need to come. Right?
“Damn it, Stark! No! Stark? Stark!”, the director slammed the phone on the table and rubbed his forehead with a hand. “Sorry for that, Stark is an asshole and I can’t stand him but it seems he is on his way here. You don’t have to stay if you don’t want, Mr. Potter.”
Harry was almost hiperventilating by that time but he hadn’t imagined what the director had said.
“I know, the Minister told me, in case something like this happened. So you don’t want to stay. I don’t know why you don’t want to meet him and I don’t care, it’s not my business. So, what do you want to do?”
What did he want to do? He wanted to dissapparate in the spot and end up in his warm home in London, maybe make a firecall to Andromeda and ask her if Teddy could come visit for the afternoon. But he wasn’t within apparating distance of his home, he was in the States and he had to make a decision. Did he want to meet his soulmate? Laid to rest all of the doubts he had?
So Harry straightened himself and took a deep breath. “It’s alright. It had to happen sometime.” And he thought that, in some capacity, he needed this.
It took Stark little more that a quarter of an hour to arrive to the balcony of the director’s office and take off his armour, folding it in a case. He didn’t look very well, he had dark circles under his eyes and a tired expression in his face that was, maybe, a little desperate. He was trying to hide it behind a carefree smile, but it didn’t do much.
“Fury, my friend, thank you for letting me come. I know you’re very busy but this is very important. I’m looking for someone but I can’t seem to be able to finf him, it’s as if he doesn’t exist, though I know he does. And,- who’s this, Nick? I don’t need anyone else here, this is a big matter!”, he said with a little frown.
“I hope this is important, Stark because yes, I was very busy. And I’m not your friend”, he paused for a second, in which Harry stilled himself in preparation. “This gentleman here is Head Auror Harry James Potter, a great ally and someone you may be seeing in the future. I hope…”
He didn’t hear the rest. It was just an instant, but in an instant Stark had crossed the office in four long strides and was almost stifling him, so close he was to him. He was looking into his eyes like searching for something and Harry knew he’d found his fear to rejection, but contrary to what he expected he wasn’t looking away disgusted, his eyes were filling up with tears and big arms were coming up around him, squeezing him in.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. Don’t leave, I’m sorry. Please, stay.”
And as Harry’s arms came to wrap around a big and strong back, there was only one thought in his mind.