Joe's Note: If you're curious as to why I've transgendered two of the Young Avengers for the early chapters of this story… well, it's a long story. It really worked for previous versions, where our protagonist's companion and her love interest were a bit more misandrist. My wife had also done a really cute sketch of the entire team gender bent, and I was looking for an excuse to use She-Hulking and Scarlet Witchlette. But also, it does play to the theme that Harry has accidentally dove into the middle of an estrogen ocean from which he can't easily escape… even if two of the girls aren't technically his problem.
Dedications & Thanks: To Nicholas, Howard, Jade, Alexander, Tibor, Alonsis2, Daniel, Clark, Adrien, erlking, ridillin, Haematite, Charles, Jacky, Edward, Andrew, Roofcrawler, Wil, PbookR, Samuel, Mikey, Beverly, Daniel, Charles, Crygon20, Subtle, Christopher, Stephen, Fablesrogue, Morgan, Joseph, Jason, RileyWestfall, bloodylord, Marc, Ziryo, Chris, George, Koby, William, Devin, JJbelle, David, Gavin, TheTenthAncestor, Lookshy, Mauday, John, Roman, Warren, and Jess for sponsoring me on , and making it easier for me to spend more of my time writing.
Anya was having an especially hard time not snickering as she looked around the table, taking in her teammates plus three. One member out of those three being the root of the majority of their problems at the moment, and it wasn't the one who most people would have picked if given the choice. Hilarious, almost soap opera-like problems. Not that she watched soap operas. Even if she was exploring her interest in seeing how the fairer sex lived while they were in Vegas, she wasn't that much of a girl. As for her fondness for telenovelas… that was just her being multicultural. Right? Yeah.
So far, her day was off to a rather interesting start. After sending a final round of texts to each of her teammates for good measure, Anya had waited for Jenny to emerge from the bathroom before casting a basic status spell that she'd learned from Helreginn early in the girl's tenure as a Young Avenger. The spell had thankfully shown that all four of her teammates were perfectly fine, albeit anxious in Cassie's case and alarmed in Nadia's. Kate had come back as irritated but… well, that just meant the brunette was awake. From there, she'd moved on to a locator spell, which placed them all at various points within the suite that shared a common wall - and connecting door - with their room. And so finally they'd been forced to shrug and invade the quartet's privacy, making their way through an empty bedroom into the suite's living area.
That was when things had taken an abrupt turn for the… equal parts unbelievable and hilarious. Amora Incantare had been in the process of making herself scarce, momentarily capturing Anya's attention because, well, since when was Amora being present not a cause for alarm? Or for that matter, since when was she back? But Anya kept her mouth shut due to the fact that nobody else seemed to mind… and because she was fairly certain that Kate would murder her if she destroyed part of the suite battling with Amora.
Doing her best to put the blonde Asgardian out of her mind, Anya's gaze had then drifted over to where a very blue Helreginn was perched atop an utterly unfamiliar dark-haired man's lap as she sat and talked with her mother… who had an equally unfamiliar brunette sitting by her side. It'd been hard for her to decide which of the unknowns to focus on first: the one that her teammate was cuddling with, or the one with a golden arm who was wearing one of Loki's dresses. That contest had been won hands down when Helreginn turned to her with an uncommonly large smile and introduced Anya and Jenny… to her husband.
Before that conversation could get too far, a sheepish Cassie had emerged from the suite's master bedroom with a disgruntled-looking Nadia in tow and announced that they were ready for some breakfast. Or technically brunch, seeing as how it was pushing noon by that point. Interested as she was in hearing some - if not all - of the stories that were awaiting her, Anya had opted not to argue and they'd set off in search of food. Unfortunately for all of them, while Kate was paying, it was Cassie's turn to pick where they ate… and the girl's tastes were still decidedly pedestrian for someone who'd been hooking up with a celebutante on and off for a while.
Now they were sitting around a table at the nearest Denny's - which was oddly classy on the inside as befitting a restaurant in downtown Las Vegas - waiting for their breakfasts to arrive. Helreginn and Cassie were currently occupying the chairs on either side of their new husband - something that Anya was still trying to wrap her head around - while Kate sulked off to Helreginn's left and Nadia was leaning up against Cassie's right side. That left Harry and Hermione stuck speaking across two people, but that didn't seem inclined to stop them as they did their best to catch up. Loki was surveying it all with a bemused look and a possessive arm thrown around her paramour's shoulders… and before Anya could evaluate the situation any further, Jenny lost her battle with her sense of humor, letting out a peal of laughter before pointing to the girls clustered around Harry. "Okay seriously, am I the only one who thought we'd avoid the typical drunken Vegas stupidity by leaving Tommy home? Or failing that, maybe that Loki would be the one to get up to something like this? How the hell did this happen? You guys are supposed to be the responsible ones. Or at least Kate is."
Loki opened her mouth with an offended expression on her face, only to pause before looking over at her companion. After a few seconds, she settled back into her chair with a faint smirk. "I suppose that given what I got up to last night, I thoroughly resemble that remark."
Letting out a derisive snort, Nadia took a sip from her soda before gesturing toward Harry with her cup. "To be fair, at least we were responsible enough to only get ourselves irrevocably tied to one guy. It could be a lot worse; we could be trying to figure out how we're going to make things work with multiple strange guys. Speaking of strange guys, though…" Turning to face Harry, she saluted with her cup. "We still haven't been properly introduced. I'm Nadia Pym, the Unstoppable Wasp. Not to be confused with the Winsome Wasp, which is my step-mother. You've probably heard more about her than me at this point."
"Don't worry, I've heard of you too. The MACUSA keeps very up to date files on all of the superheroes and supervillains running around in America. You were part of my required reading when I landed in New York. Wasn't sure why, seeing as how I was just passing through on my way to Vegas… I guess they knew you guys were on vacation and wanted me to be prepared for if I ran into you." Harry grinned as he leaned across Cassie, plucking the cup out of Nadia's hand and setting it down so that he could capture her hand and press a kiss to the back of it. "Pleasure to meet you when you're rested enough to not threaten me, though."
Blushing faintly, Nadia ducked her head a bit to hide behind her chin-length black bob. "I'm really not a morning person."
Harry let out a soft chuckle at that, pressing another kiss to Nadia's hand before releasing it. "To be fair, the only reason why I've been as coherent and functional as I am right now is the anti-hangover potion that I knocked back. I'm definitely more of a 'sleep till noon' type of man if given the choice. Not that I am often because of work, but when I can… don't expect to see me during any hour ending with AM."
That earned him an uncouth snort from Hermione even as she stirred her steaming cup of tea. "As the one who had to make sure he was up and moving for the better part of seven years of schooling, I can personally attest to this. You two sound like a match made in lazy heaven."
"Strong words from the girl who relied on the tea I brought her to stay awake long enough for Astronomy class."
"You mean the tea that enslaved elves made for you?"
"Hey, Dobby was a free elf. All the other elves would spit in drinks if they knew it was for you."
"That's revolting. I knew they didn't… share my vision for their future, per se, but-"
"This is so cool. Your school had astronomy class? And elves? That hated Hermione?" Cassie looked back and forth between the two eagerly, her eyes wide and excited. "I have so many things I can learn from the two of you. Why was there astronomy class? I mean, from a magical perspective, what's the point of it? Oh, and can I meet an elf? What do I have to do to make sure he doesn't spit in my drinks?"
While similar questions were actively swirling through Anya's head - especially astronomy; she'd never really encountered a situation where she had to take anything beyond Earth's atmosphere into account when she worked with her powers - the brunette had a feeling that they could spend all day discussing this new magical world that her teammates had married into. And while that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, that entire day should probably come after the day where they figured out… well, what exactly the fuck was going on with the marriage, her teammates' new husband, Loki and her new 'friend', et cetera and so forth. "Not to be that girl, but is now really the time for this particular discussion?"
Cassie opened her mouth to respond, closed it as she reconsidered her opinion, and then ultimately nodded affirmatively before gesturing to Harry. "Seeing as how I've already surrendered to the inevitability of my unbreakable marriage with Harry, I feel like the existence of elves and the nature of magical astronomy are the perfect things to be discussing right now. Oh, I've got another one. Since this obviously isn't the first time you've had to explain it to someone… what's the dumbest question you've ever had a muggle ask you?"
After pondering that one for almost an entire minute with a thoughtful look on his face, Harry finally arrived at an answer. "I legitimately had one ask me about poop once. As in, how did we poop." That earned him a mixed look of confusion and disgust from Cassie, and so he elaborated. "He'd seen me vanish a few things and so he was wondering if we actually took the time to use a bathroom like muggles did or if we just… took care of business and then vanished everything when we were done."
"That's revolting. Who even thinks of something like that?"
"I shouldn't have told him yes. He kept giving me funny looks any time I shifted in place the entire rest of the time we were together."
"Harry Potter, ladies and gentlemen. Savior of the Wizarding World. Trashed trouser prankster. This is the man who you have tied yourselves to for the rest of your lives. My condolences." Hermione let out an exasperated sigh before turning to look up at Loki. "Just think, he's your son-in-law now."
Loki offered a faint shrug in response, leaning down to press a quick kiss to Hermione's forehead before shoot a speculative glance over at Harry. "He could be yours."
Straightening up a bit, a wide-eyed Hermione looked back and forth between Harry and Loki several times as the implication processed, before shaking her head despondently. "I feel like asking me to marry you after a one-night stand is the epitome of impulsiveness and stupidity. The sort of thing that the old - and admittedly less functional - Loki would have done. Also, literally what She-Hulkling was making a joke at your expense about."
After pouting for a moment at having her overture rebuffed, Loki eventually sighed in defeat. "Hmm, perhaps you're right. I'll broach the subject again in two days. Get a three-night stand under my belt first, see how you feel about things."
Any further conversation - or debate about the realistic feasibility of Loki's plans for Hermione - was cut off as a pair of waitresses came over and began setting down plates of food, a total of three of them working in tandem to deliver all of the food to the table. As Anya began unwrapping the napkin from around her silverware, Hermione began conversing quietly with Loki in what sounded suspiciously like Asgardian, the older woman nodding in acknowledgement before leaning over and cutting the brunette's sandwich in half for her. Hermione pressed a quick kiss to Loki's lips in thanks before turning to her food, a faint blush stealing across her cheeks, and Anya found herself unable to stop from addressing the pair. "So. Loki and… Hermione. Interesting name. Very Shakespeare. How did you two end up meeting? And how did Amora fit into everything? Where is Amora, for that matter?"
"Amora decided that I was no fun when my legs were shut and made herself scarce accordingly." Hermione scowled faintly at that before gesturing over at Loki with the halved sandwich in her hand. "As for how we met? I cleaned both of them out over a game of poker. I'm not entirely sure what I said to one - or both - of them to catch their interest, but we sorta went from there to a few other places and then back to the hotel."
Loki shrugged faintly at the opening she was being handed, reaching up to run her fingers through Hermione's hair gently before going back to her food. "Mortal magical users are so very rare - at least from my perspective - that I would have been intrigued by that alone. But it was mostly how intelligent and opinionated you were that drew me to you. Amora, on the other hand, merely stayed around because we quickly realized that you were going to be a 'sure thing' for me and she wanted to have a bit of fun last night."
Arching an eyebrow as her blush returned, Hermione bumped one shoulder against Loki. "I was by no means a sure thing, thank you very much. I don't even remember at what point I agreed to let you take me to bed, but it certainly wasn't very quickly. And for the record, I'm still not sure when I decided I was into the fairer sex. Or if I even am, or if you're some sort of exception."
"Well, you'd certainly decided you were by the time we got back to my room. You were very demanding and sure of what you wanted from us last night." Loki licked her lips slowly before offering Hermione a lascivious wink. "You were breathtaking. Literally, at points."
Not really sure that her stomach could handle hearing more about a teammate's mother's sex life, Anya cleared her throat before interjecting herself back into the conversation. "Okay, there's something… well, a lot of stuff I still don't understand at this point. But I guess my biggest question is… so what if you got married by the Universal Church of Truth? You can still get divorced when that happens. See also: like, six of my classmates' parents in high school."
Looking up from his breakfast, Harry raised his hand sheepishly. "That one is actually wholly my fault. You see, unlike you muggles, the wizarding world actually recognizes polygamy under specific circumstances. I happen to be eligible for one of those specific circumstances: I'm the sole extant head of multiple noble houses. So my people actually would recognize the marriage without the agreement that the Universal Church of Truth operates under… and we don't have divorce. Unions blessed in the view of magic are until death do we part."
Anya furrowed her brow as she slowly shoveled a piece of waffle into her mouth, chewing it slowly and swallowing before pointing her fork in Harry's direction. "So what I'm hearing here is that we need to kill you to fix this." When Helreginn straightened up, eyes flashing and a furious expression on her face, Anya quickly raised her hands in surrender. "Kidding. Kidding. I'm sure you're a perfectly decent guy who wasn't planning on having this happen any more than we were. We're not going to kill you."
"You, uh, don't really have a choice in that regard." Harry jerked a thumb in the scowling Helreginn's direction before letting his hand drop to rest atop hers comforting. "You're looking at the future King of Niflheimr on account of the fact that I'm about as mortal as Helreginn here. So you could try to kill me, but it'd pretty much just piss me off." Oh. Well that was certainly… game changing. Especially because all of her teammates were as mortal as she was, Anya realized, and Harry could very easily free himself from his predicament through those same means without ever putting himself at actual risk. "With all that said? After we're done here, I'm going to pop over to the local branch of Gringotts and see what the goblins have to say about all this. For all I know, alien marriages don't count in the eyes of magic and we're all worried for nothing."
With a soft chuckle, Helreginn looked down at their hands and intertwined her fingers with Harry's before meeting his gaze again. "Perhaps then I should come along on this errand? On the off chance that we might need to resolemnize things in the eyes of magic?"
Bringing their joined hands up to his lips, Harry pressed a kiss to the back of Helreginn's hand before shaking his head. "If that's what needs to happen, I'd like to have something a bit more romantic than the two of us looming over a goblin in the bowels of Gringotts. If it's all the same to you, of course." Helreginn pondered that for a moment before nodding in agreement, leaning in to rest her head on Harry's shoulder as she went back to eating her brunch. "Although that does raise the question… what are you lot going to do while I'm gone? Apart from finish sobering up, that is."
From her spot between Helreginn and Hermione, Kate tentatively raised her hand. "I can categorically state that being pampered has never been a bad thing when I'm hung over. Spa afternoon? My treat?" The last part was a bit redundant in Anya's eyes, given that the entire two week vacation was by and large the heiress's treat but… it was nice to know they wouldn't have to pay if Anya decided she was feeling adventurous and wanted to explore another element of stereotypical femininity. Did she? She… definitely wasn't against it. After all, she'd always been curious about what her mother and her friends got up to when they disappeared for the majority of a Sunday every so often. "Unless anyone here has a better idea, that is?"
"Well, now that it's just the two of us, I was thinking of taking Hermione back to my room for a while. Amora's not a terribly big fan of it, but given that you don't seem entirely sold on the idea of female partners? I thought maybe…" Loki leaned in, whispering something in Hermione's idea that sent the brunette's face cycling through expressions of shock, intrigue, and arousal. "If you're interested."
Hermione looked from Loki down to her lunch and then back, before ultimately picking up the remaining half of her sandwich and taking a big bite out of it. "Well, Harry's safe and not dead. My one job for the day is complete. Let me eat a bit more to replenish my strength, and then you're on."
"Or you could be on. If you know what I mean."
"I do, and that's a solid yes in my book. Both our books, really, if you're as into me being dominant as you claim you are…"
Anya… quickly decided that she really didn't want to know what they were talking about, turning her attention to her plate and attacking her food with gusto.