Tony tapped the tip of his marker against the glass leaving little black dots. The numbers and variables started to blur together as his eyes crossed from exhaustion, but they actually stopped making any sense days ago. He sighed slumping his forehead against the surface smearing the ink. He still hadn't adjusted to the new schedule where the length of a day stretched on for weeks before darkness set in for an equal amount of time on this particular moon they chose to settle. Naturally, he used the extended daylight to work obsessively on the time paradox problem. He cursed himself for not packing any alcohol to drown out the days. After all Tony Stark was only addicted to two things.
"You have something on your face," Wong said passively. He shuffled past Tony in the confined control area within Ebony's Maw's ship, which also happened to be their makeshift kitchen. For such a large spaceship it had very little walkable floor space. Tony would never design something like this he thought. The three of them basically lived in the giant spinning (thankfully grounded) hamster wheel with excessive interior overhead space. But the smaller ship survived the crash fully intact thus becoming their shelter for the remainder of their year long mission.
Thanos' ship was almost completely destroyed, but it still carried an army of sleeping aliens half buried in the crash. Unfortunately because Sanctuary II had those dormant aliens they had to keep an eye on it so they remained on the small moon where Tony periodically made repairs. The last thing they wanted was to accidentally wake any of them up. They planned on rigging the carriers to Ebony Maw's ship and sending them into a star or a black hole when their mission finally came to an end. But for now they were in damage control mode, so they concentrated on minimizing their impact to the timeline and that included isolating themselves, so that they don't interact with anyone especially their past selves. They were the only three inhabitants on this tiny moon in the Andromeda Galaxy and sometimes tempers ran a little high.
"Oh? Getting another sandwich I see," Tony said defensively. He scrubbed his forehead furiously.
Wong shrugged, "it's lunchtime," according to Wong's internal clock anyways. "Would you like some?" he offered politely.
Tony ignored his well meaning gesture instead decided to go on a rant,"well while you've been sitting on your ass-"
"Meditating," Wong corrected him evenly.
"Doing nothing," Tony accused. "Eating, sleeping, sitting some more, sleeping while sitting-"
"That's meditation," Wong repeated his patience unwavering.
Tony exhaled in frustration. "The point is that I have been killing myself trying to..." he turned back to the windshield scribbled with his equations, "beautiful mind this fucking problem!" He banged his fist against the glass dropping his marker bruising his hand.
That reference was lost on Wong."You honestly think that will bring her back?" Wong pondered out loud while scratching his chin. "Maybe it's unsolvable."
"Nothing is unsolvable." Tony dug his hands into his hair. He needed sleep. He was tired and irritable. "There is a solution to every problem, it just hasn't been found yet."
"A solution to death? You would be very rich, my friend. If you found an answer to that," Wong said wisely.
Tony glowered at him, "I'm already rich."
"I was just trying to help." His stoic expression remained unchanged through Tony's tirade.
Tony threw his hands in the air, "you're right. She's not coming back. But I need to know why."
"And what would that achieve?" Wong was not merely entertaining Tony out of boredom. He hoped that asking these questions would lead him to a different truth.
Tony sighed,"I would have the answer."
"For you or for Thor?"
A silence fell between them, while Tony contemplated Wong's very loaded question. He turned back to the mess of numbers and variables. He honestly didn't know what he was looking for. At first it was a way to bring Hermione back. Then when he figured out that wasn't possible, he wanted an explanation as to why. The why would perhaps absolve himself of the blame, but then that would just leave Thor.
"Okay, one of us has to go and talk to Thor," Tony broke the silence first. "He's been moping for weeks now. Rock, paper, scissors?" Tony suggested.
Wong didn't budge, "he's really more your friend than mine."
Tony scrubbed his beard tiredly."Ugh, I knew we should have brought Rogers instead," he grumbled and went to look for Thor.
It took him less than five minutes to locate him in their tiny makeshift barrack. They suspected that Ebony Maw slept suspended upside down with his arms crossed over his chest vampire style. Luckily for them, Hermione had thought far enough ahead to pack sleeping bags and cots in her bottomless bags. He hadn't known her for long, but he felt an unexpected loss. Not as acute as when Peter died, but enough for him to feel a tightening in his chest when he thought of her. He dare not say it out loud in front of Thor. No one was as affected as Thor, and Tony didn't think he deserved to share in his pain.
Tony assumed that Thor had overheard the entire conversation between him and Wong. The ship had no partitions. It was like a really ugly exposed Brooklyn loft. "Thor," Tony approached him, "Hermione is gone."
"She's not gone. She simply hasn't arrived yet." Thor laid on his back with an arm folded behind his head on a makeshift cot. His other hand dangled the broken time turner from its chain above his face. His gaze transfixed on the object as he were trying to will her back into existence.
"She disintegrated the moment we killed Thanos. That means something," Tony asserted.
Snatching up the time turner in his hand, Thor suddenly sat up. "What day is today?" He meant what day it was on Earth.
"May 7, 2018," Tony answered. "Are you even listening?"
"I heard you." He stood and walked away from the conversation.
"She's not coming back, Thor. I think she was a paradox. Her and Thanos," Tony called out to him. It was the only thing he was sure about. "Bruce was right. God only knows what else we messed up. We won't know for sure until we get back to our time."
Thor spun around and closed the distance between them. Enough that Tony felt the rage vibrating from Thor's being. Thor grabbed Tony's shirt collar roughly hoisting him up. He was a whole head taller than Tony. "This was your idea, remember?"
Despite Thor's papitable anger, Tony didn't shrink from his penetrating gaze. "And I'll never forget it," he choked out.
Thor shoved him and walked away summoning the bifrost.
As if he had a death wish, Tony said one last thing, "I wasn't the one who killed Thanos."
Thor halted fists clenched, he looked over his shoulder but said nothing before turning and disappearing into the bifrost.
Norway was exactly as he remembered it, but warmer. He found the same abandoned cottage at the edge of the woods they had shared for that brief time. It looked exactly how he found it the first time. It must have been forgotten for some time. Thor had nothing but time. He dedicated the next few months to restoring the cottage, so that it was ready for Hermione's arrival. He would make this their home again, he decided.
He started by building their bed out of the wood he harvested from the nearby trees. It needed to be large enough to accommodate his enormous size and strong enough to withstand their frequent lovemaking of course.
She won't know him, he realized. She would be afraid of him at first, but he knew she would gradually warm up to him like she had done before. Thor would be patient, but in time he would reveal everything to her. How they had met before. How she had helped them save the universe. How she saved him. How he came to love her.
Thor still remembered Loki's spell along with the runes he painstakingly drew on Tony's floor, so she would not have to be trapped in her wolf form for as long as last time. He even kept her bracelets that Eitri had made. He wore them around his right wrist as they adjusted to the wearer keeping them safe until their rightful owner returned.
The size of their bathroom proved to be problematic because he could not fit a tub large enough for both of them and that was simply unacceptable. So Thor dug a sunken pool behind the cottage. It would require her magic to fill and warm, since Thor couldn't work out the plumbing situation, but it was the thought that counted. He even built a high fence to enclose the bathing area knowing how modest and self conscious humans were about their unclothed bodies.
One day he noticed how bare the walls were in the sitting room, so he lined them with bookcases he made himself. Thor planned on stuffing them with every book he could find. He could just picture her reading by the fire until she nodded off and him carrying her to their shared bed.
The months rolled by slowly. Thor kept adding more and more to the house. He thought a nice little room where she could work and study was warranted. She had so much talent and potential. He couldn't wait to reintroduce her to his mother again. He made a mental note to catch the snitch this time.
Then he couldn't help himself. One last home project and it was his most ambitious one yet. He added a second level to the small house. Children would be a wonderful inevitability he thought. If she wasn't with child already after the marathon of sex he planned for them the moment she changed back, she would be eventually when they settle into a routine that involved regular sex. The possibility of creating a child with her alone he thought justified the extra space for a nursery. He wanted a family with her. He pictured their beautiful children having her eyes and her wild hair. They would grow to be big and strong like him. He would teach them how to use weapons and how to hunt and fish. She would teach them magic and everything else because she was the cleverer of the two. Their children would be unstoppable, but noble and good because they would have come from her, the future rulers of a new Asgard.
No more Thanos. No more dark wizards. He saw a life with her in that house.
The weather had finally changed. Along with the drop in temperature came fall. Early morning on the last day of October, Thor stepped out of his finished house. He couldn't wait for Hermione to come home at last.
He fastened the time turner around his neck. Axe in hand he started for the meadow. The weather was exactly as he remembered, chilly, damp, and overcast. The mist hugged the earth dampening the ground as it thickened into a fog.
Facing the exact spot she appeared one year ago, he waited. Minutes passed. No moment in his 1500 year old existence had ever felt so long. Then his ears picked up an unfamiliar sound of trampling hooves in the distance.
That was not right. Without another thought, Thor charged into the thick fog disappearing with Stormbreaker.
3 weeks later.
The weather was cold, but uncharacteristically sunny for a late November day. Off in the distance, the Statesman descended steadily losing altitude until it met the earth. It was a little less grand and a bit rougher than it had been as a passenger liner on Sakaar, but it did its job to completion. It held the most precious cargo in the universe. The last of the surviving Asgardian race.
The door opened with a hiss releasing the cabin pressure. Thor took his first step onto the solid unmoving ground feeling the sun on his face inhaling the salty air. The breeze had a bite, but it was a welcomed feeling nonetheless especially after their long journey in space. Norway looked exactly how he remembered it, peaceful and undisturbed.
Loki, Heimdall, Hulk, and Valkyrie exited the ship following Thor. Despite being sequestered in space for nearly a year during their rather uneventful journey to Earth, the rest of the Asgardians were cautious choosing to hang back. A majority of them despite how long lived they were had never left Asgard.
"Well, it's nice to not have to breath each other's recycled air anymore," Valkyrie commented as she descended the stairs of the ship. She took in her surroundings. The land was completely unsettled as far as she could see. "Where exactly are we anyways?"
Thor stared at the spot where he witnessed Odin's passing. In his place stood Loki looking out at the sea. When he turned around and met Thor's eyes, he smirked.
Smiling in return Thor replied, "home."
Thank you to everyone that took the time to review my story. Your comments meant a lot to me. It's both bittersweet and a relief to finish my first fic. Even before the premier of Endgame, spoilers kept coming out making it harder to keep this story consistent. Some of my ideas didn't make the cut such as Hermione meeting 'Ron' in the MCU, Tony's wedding, Thor god-stomping Voldemort creating a power vacuum, Hermione caring for a vegetative Ron, Malfoys going on trial. Because by that point the story started to drag. What was supposed to be an Interlude turned into a whole act! So I'm stopping here before it becomes a bloated epic and before Endgame comes out. No promises, but a sequel/epilogue may or may not happen in the future, but for now this ending is most appropriate and fitting:)