AN: WOO-HOO! Two updates in a year! On a roll it seems lol. So this is the second part of the mega-chapter I was severely unhappy with and broke up. Like the teaser-chapter before I'm still unhappy with this, but less so than with the last one. I find the addition of Teddy rather abrupt, but I simply couldn't find a better way to add him into the story before this despite his involvement being planned from the beginning. I know it's all awkward so don't bother informing me of the fact. I'm just happy to actually put something up.
Some people have pointed out my use of italics in earlier chapters. I understand. It wasn't intended for them to remain but I was too lazy to go back and change them. While writing my first draft I usually italicize things I don't like or want to word differently and go back to rewrite the ones that I didn't intend to have italicized… Though I admit I have a problem overusing it in general. I'll try to be more mindful in the future, but I'm more focused on getting over this hump and into the stuff to come than with formatting issues. #sorrynotsorry
As always I'm trying to improve with every chapter I write, so I hope you enjoy this next bit!
SUMMARY: After a life of war and adventure, all she wanted to do was live a fairly quiet life running her little café and avoid inquiries on future children from Mrs. Weasley. She didn't expect Tony Stark to wander his way into her life and decide to never leave. FEM!Harry/Tony Stark
The air on the streets still held a chill from the snow storm a few days previous. It was invigorating and helped to clear his mind as Tony took to the wet New York sidewalks freshly free of snow. He pulled up his hood to provide a sense of anonymity and slid on sunglasses to further hide his face as he wandered wherever his feet decided to take him, making random decisions at intersections and corners until he was well and truly lost within the city.
It was calming, walking mindlessly and blending in with the crowds.
"Well if it ain't Sleeping Beauty free from the Ivory Tower," a voice called out, startling Tony from his aimless wandering. He paused in mid-stride and quickly looked around for the source of the vaguely familiar voice only to lock eyes with an equally familiar face standing in the line of impatient New Yorkers waiting beside a food truck parked on the corner.
"Weren't you pink before?" he blurted before he could stop himself, staring at the blonde haired twenty-something. The rose colored streaks had been bleached away and instead her hair was now sporting teal blue tips that faded to bright grass green at the very end.
"The pink got old," Alex – he thought that was her name at least – shrugged, taking a step closer to the brightly colored food truck as the line shuffled forward in unison. "So who let you free in the city, much less in this area unsupervised? By the way," she said, "a hoodie and sunglasses doth not a disguise make…or whatever," she said flippantly with an unconcerned wave of her hand.
"Yeah, well, I'm trying to fly under the radar today," he muttered as he glanced around to get his bearings, only slightly surprised to find that he was in the general neighborhood of Blackdog. He was surprised he made it this far by foot without realizing it. "What are you doing here anyway? No work for lowly minions?"
"Dude, I'm getting the nectar of the gods here," Alex said, pointing over her shoulder to the obnoxiously bright food truck depicting tacos across the visible surface, shuffling with the line without even looking. "It be breakfast time!"
"But it's noon," Tony said, glancing down at his watch.
Alex gave him a deadpan look. "I'm in college, work a part time job, and I have an active social life. Noon is breakfast time. Besides, my only class today got cancelled last night," she shrugged. "I only woke up an hour ago. As for employment, I normally work the evening shift. What about you? Don't you have some life changing toy to invent and enslave humanity to? Cause seriously, the cell phone has ruined my life," she said blandly even as she pulled said iPhone out of her back pocket to fiddle with it.
"Not at the moment," Tony deadpanned feeling slightly offended she'd use an Apple product in his presence. The tech of hipsters was insignificant compared to the power of Starktech. The blonde merely shrugged and stuffed the phone back into her pocket and shuffled up to the truck window.
"Maria my love! My heart is filled with joy and my eyes rejoice at the chance to once again rest their gaze upon your beautiful face," Alex said dramatically, draping herself on the stainless steel counter that lined the side of the truck. Tony muffled a snort of laughter with his fist, smoothly faking a cough as the middle-aged Hispanic woman in the window merely stared at the girl with a bland gaze and a roll of her eyes. She muttered something unflattering under her breath in Spanish and handed the nuisance her order that was ready and waiting for her already, shooing the blonde menace away without another word, not bothering to ask for money.
Alex blew the woman a kiss and turned to see Tony's incredulous face. "What?" she said with a shrug. "They know me here. I've had a running tab for months now. I'm pretty sure me and that one guy that runs around with the crazy red onesie are the sole patrons that keep this place in business. You never did answer my question, by the way," she said pointedly as she dug open her bag filled with seasoned goodness. She nodded her head over her shoulder in a clear invitation to walk with her. "Walk and talk Moneybags."
"I just felt like going for a walk," Tony said with a casual shrug, falling into step with the girl as they walked on. He didn't know where they were going and he didn't really care.
"Uh huh," Alex said in an even, polite tone. Tony could see the unspoken "bullshit" in her gaze and he quickly caved.
"Alright so I'm playing hooky so I don't have to deal with a pile of crap today," he scowled. "Happy?"
"Immensely," Alex nodded. She stuffed her hand into the food bag and handed Tony a paper wrapped taco. "Here. You look like you need one."
"Thanks," Tony said happily, taking the offered taco as they walked.
[When are you coming home?]
Helen stifled a sigh at the whining tone of her adoptive son as he fired off the first question that came out of his mouth whenever she called the very second he'd was handed the phone by his grandmother. It was obvious he wasn't taking the separation as well as she'd hoped – and to be honest neither was she – but she'd count her blessings however small. Andromeda hadn't called her to tell her that the Manor had been burned down yet. Teddy had a tendency of causing chaos when he was unhappy or bored…worse when he was both.
"I won't be there for another few weeks yet," she said into her phone. She shifted on the park bench she was sitting on as Bayer decided he needed to join her, clambering up onto it to sit beside her. She gave him a wary glance as he now towered over her, sitting on the bench beside her in a stately manner as if he had every right to be there with a drool soaked tennis ball in his mouth.
[Why so long? Can't you just floo here? Or take a portkey?] the whiny voice of her adopted son complained from the other end of the line. [You always take the plane and it goes so slow. It's boring.]
"Teddy," she said with a warning tone.
[It's not my fault normal magical transportation hates you.] the boy's voice mumbled petulantly. [I miss you.]
"I miss you too squirt," Helen said, attempting to run her hand through her curls before she remembered she was holding Bayer's leash.
Little Edward – called Teddy by the family – came into her permanent care a scant two years after she took off to Cairo and bulldozed her way through an apprenticeship with the premiere Cursebreaker Ophelia Burchett. Three weeks before Helen was slated to take over as the youngest foreman in history she received an emergency express-owl in her tiny room in Cairo that would change the whole course of her life. The golden eagle waiting for her bore a letter from Andromeda Tonks-Black informing her of a sudden onslaught of terrible illness, begging Helen to return to England with haste to take custody of her young Godson.
Being who she was, Helen quickly dropped everything to travel to England via international portkey – something she utterly detested doing. She was greeted by Andromeda practically on her deathbed and was promptly urged to enact her right as Godmother to take custody of the boy. She stayed with Andromeda for two weeks before she decided to properly adopt the boy. Everyone thought she was absolutely mad to adopt the near three-year-old while literally standing on the cusp of her cursebreaking career, but Helen was determined to do right by the boy and Andy had expressed her fear for the boy's precarious position in wizarding society as the son of a known werewolf and Blood-Traitor.
Helen wouldn't know until almost two years later when Helen decided to go all the way and blood-adopt Teddy that Andromeda confessed that the sudden onslaught of terrible illness that prompted her to send an emergency express-owl was an attempt on the Pureblood witch's life. It was a howdareyou sent from a small group of purebloods angry that the disgraced daughter of the House of Black dared to step back into the social sphere, much less in such an influential position heading the shiny new Black Charity Relief Foundation. The attempt obviously failed due to quick thinking and pureblood paranoia on Andromeda's part, but she was greatly weakened by it for quite a while and was reminded of her grandson's perilous standing – especially with individuals stirring up anti-werewolf sentiments in the government again.
Helen was highly annoyed that Andromeda felt like she had to influence the situation at first, but looking back it had been a masterful stroke of shrewd manipulation that convinced Helen not only to take custody of the boy, but to formally adopt him at such a young age. She had been furious with the woman for weeks before she came to terms with it. She didn't like it, but she understood. She got Andy to promise never to manipulate her into doing something so serious ever again…and then promptly asked for lessons on how to do it herself.
In the end, Helen was confident in her choice of putting Andy as Chairwoman of the Black Foundation. She was pleased with how the old witch was crafty when she wanted to be and downright vicious when she needed to be. She made sure her grandson was properly protected before raining hell upon those upstart purebloods once she recovered, leaving them ruined as a blatant reminder to the other lingering, supremacy-minded families that one did not simply attack the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black without expecting utter damnation in return.
Now if the woman would stop trying to force Helen into ball gowns every chance she got, they'd be golden.
[Auntie Molly is dropping bad hints on siblings again.] Teddy muttered.
"That woman just will not stop," Helen wailed dejectedly rubbing a hand over her face.
For a while it was just the two of them – Helen and Teddy against the world – before the Team began to grow around them. The other cursebreakers thought she was insane, adopting a toddler while simultaneously trying to start a career at such a young age. Many of them never thought she'd last more than a year. It was hard trying to raise a child by yourself in a foreign country much less while working a terribly dangerous job, but Helen wouldn't have changed one minute of it.
Teddy's formative years were spent exploring the ancient ruins of Egypt, running through columned halls of the temples on newly found legs. He learned to swim in the shadow of Grecian ruins. By the time he was eight he was far more well-traveled than most adults, near fluent in three languages not including at least two dead ones, and had a better understanding of Ancient Runes than most NEWT level students.
He was Helen's boy and he was enough.
At least that's what she told herself.
And Mrs. Weasley.
Mostly Mrs. Weasley.
[Would it be so bad to have real kids?] Teddy asked. [I mean, I know I'm your kid, but I'm not really your kid, you know? Besides,] he said lowly, [I think it'd be pretty cool to have a little brother.]
"It's complicated, pup," Helen said, mentally lamenting the fact that woman had finally managed to start her own son in on this nonsense as well. It wasn't like she didn't want to go the whole nine yards with the big wedding and children of her own. She really did. Hell…if Molly ever discovered her secret Pinterest board – or Pinterest in general when she thought about it – she'd never hear the end of it. But her extended family never really understood how hard it was to find a man that wanted her for herself. Not the fact that she was pretty, or that she was filthy rich, or that she was the bloody Girl-Who-Lived.
[What's so complicated about it?] Teddy complained. [You just find a guy you like, you get married, and then I get to have siblings.] Helen could practically feel the careless shrug the boy was giving.
"Oh you that's how you this works, huh?" Helen said with an incredulous laugh slipping from her lips as she stroked Bayer's neck. "Just wait. One of these days you're going to have a girlfriend and you are going to get that right back at you. I can hear it now. You find a girl, you get married, and I get to have grandbabies!"
[Mu-um!] the boy whined.
"Ted-dy," she whined right back, chuckling to herself when she heard him growl through the phone. "You are behaving for your Grandmother though, aren't you?" Helen asked. "You're at least attempting to learn everything she's teaching you?"
[I don't know why I have to learn this stuff,] the boy pouted. [It's boring. Why can't I live with you in America until Hogwarts starts? I'm not even eleven yet. It's another year before I have to go.]
"You know why you have to learn this stuff," Helen said with a sigh. "Someday when you are old enough you are going—"
[To inherit.] the boy interrupting her with a grumble of annoyance. [I know. Gran tells me all the time.]
"You don't want to go to Hogwarts like I did."
[Yes I do!] the boy said brightly.
"No you don't," Helen said with exasperation. "I made a lot of unnecessary enemies in Hogwarts because I didn't know what I should have as a child from such a prestigious house. I know that learning etiquette is boring, but it's necessary. Think of it like a giant prank if you have to. Like you're infiltrating the ranks of the enemy or something," she said with a shrug and vague wave of the hand that she belatedly realized he wouldn't be able to see all the way from England.
[I guess so,] He mumbled. [I still think it's all stupid.]
"Yeah, well we all have to do things we don't like."
[Yeah, I know,] he mumbled dejectedly.
"You tell your Gran that I'll be by to see you guys when I get there for Lavender's wedding in a few weeks, okay? I know it's nearly dinner time there. I love you, Squirt."
[Love you too, Mum.]
The line cut out and she lowered her phone with a sigh, reaching up and scratching Bayer's ears. She hated this separation just as much as Teddy did, but he really did need to learn how to move in the Pureblood circles if he was going to inherit the Black Estate with a few complications as possible. It was annoying only being able to talk to her son via phone or communication mirrors and see him only a few times a year in person, but this is how it was going to be until he started Hogwarts. At least after that he'd at least have summers and holidays home with her here in New York. Until then she'd just have to suffer without him.
"Hey, Hot Wings!"
The cry startled her out of her musing. Helen jerked her head up and immediately scowled at that name she despised but couldn't seem to shake off. She glared when she saw Kitty strolling up with none other than Stark in tow.
"I hate you," she stated blandly. "I hope you know that."
"No you don't," the blonde said brightly. She gestured to the man next to her dressed in worn jeans and a thick hoodie rather than the slacks and shirts she'd known him for up till then. "Look who I found going for a walk today."
Helen's eyes ghosted over his form taking in his appearance as he stood there awkwardly. He looked better than before, but she could still see the lines of stress in his face. She stood up and approached him with a pleasant expression on her face, Bayer following obediently. She stopped just in front of him and stared him down. Without warning she drew back her fist and punched him on the arm.
"You're a bloody jerk!" she cried.
"Ow! What the hell?" Tony cried in surprise, jumping back and rubbing his arm from the unexpected hit. "What was that for?"
"You know exactly what that was for you bloody Blanket-Thief!" Helen cried, jabbing him in the shoulder with her finger. "You filched it again!"
"I have no idea what you're talking about," he said haughtily with a sniff of indifference as he stifled the smirk that threated to overtake his face. Tony thought about the garishly tacky blanket that was carefully stashed in his private workspace back at the Tower.
"I know it was you!" the petite Brit practically shrieked. "I want it back!"
"As much as I'd love to see this degenerate into a bickering match on par with most married couples, can I get to say what I want before it's too late?" Alex quickly interrupted seeing the older witch gearing up for a go at the muggle billionaire. Both of the brunettes turned to look at the blonde. "I extended an invite to Tin Man here for the party at the 501st."
"Ugh…not the Halloween party," Helen said rolling her eyes with distaste.
"You're going," Alex stated firmly, jabbing a finger at the brunette witch. "You promised Jared and Spencer you'd show up and you'll make an appearance even if Faye and I have to drag you kicking and screaming."
Helen grumbled under her breath. They'd gotten that agreement out of her under duress so she hardly thought it was valid. She was drunk out of her mind, but they were smart and got it in writing and had it bloody notarized. The only thing more legally binding was if they'd gotten it written in blood. She had to go but she wasn't going to be happy about it. Her team knew where her immense (and highly valid) distaste for Halloween came from and normally respected her urge to be miserable, shitty company on one of the only two days during the entire year she allowed herself to wallow in any sort of self-pity, however this Halloween was going to be the first time the entire team was going to be coming in from all over the globe to be in the same place in over two years.
In fact, most were already in the city.
The two troublemaking cursebreakers were the last pair that anyone would have thought to open a business. They had always talked about opening a club together, but they'd never inspired much confidence in the idea of actually settling down long enough to do it. The self-proclaimed blood-brothers had been team hopping ever since their apprenticeships rarely staying long on a team, so everyone in the community was surprised they finally seemed to settle on Helen's team without getting the boot or leaving of their own volition. It was the longest they'd been on a stationary team since their apprenticeship, up until everyone collectively split to pursue other healthier careers.
Jared and Spencer – who had become like Helen's brothers as much as Faye and Kitty had taken the title of sister – were a few of those that followed her to New York and soon enough everyone had to eat their words when they finally announced their plans of opening their own club at the annual Thanksgiving get together last year. This Halloween party was to be the 501st's first major event since opening a few months ago and as agreed, the entire team had made time in their schedules to show their support for the two.
It was a covert operation to get Helen shitfaced and shackled to her own agreement to come before they announced it would be a Halloween party.
"I am not wearing a bloody costume," Helen growled.
"You don't have to wear a costume," Alex rolled her eyes. "But you do have to at least dress up."
"It sounds like fun," Tony eventually said, adding his own thoughts to the rather amusing conversation happening before him. "It'll probably be more fun that the Stark Company party, that's for sure. I was all for a crappy college costume party, but I got out voted," he said with a pout, "by a masquerade. Who the hell actually goes to masquerades anymore?"
"I still say you should show up," Alex said to him. "Once you're done making appearances to all of the Rich and the Boring you should swing by and have some real fun. You don't even need a costume. You can just go as you."
"Which is the best costume ever, I might add," Tony said with a haughty sniff. "Only to be one upped by the Iron Man suit."
"Maybe you can convince Helen to wear a costume," Alex said with a mischievous grin.
"Not on your life," Helen said flatly. "Don't you have a lesson or something?"
"Nope. Got cancelled," Alex said smugly.
"I'm sure there is something that you could be doing other than bothering me," Helen said with a roll of her eyes.
"As a matter of a fact I do have something more important than bothering you," Alex said with a sniff. "Marisol and I have a date with Javier," she said, over-pronouncing the name with a lewd waggle of her eyebrows, "at the salon this afternoon. I swear that man has magic hands," she said dreamily.
"Not interested," Helen said flatly.
"Fine!" Alex said haughtily. "I see I'm not wanted anymore. I'll just go and have fun without all of you then!"
"Scram, Kitty-Cat," Helen said waving her off.
"Whatever," Alex laughed. "I've got to run. I'll see you tonight." She turned to Tony. "It was nice seeing you again, Tinman."
"I swear she's the Energizer Bunny in human form," Tony muttered as they watched her hurry away.
Once the common denominator disappeared from view, an awkward silence fell over the two brunettes.
"So…" Tony said awkwardly, overcome with the sudden urge to fidget.
"So…" Helen replied.
"Tell me something about you," Tony said in an attempt to stimulate conversation. "Where were you born?"
"Why do you want to know?" she asked.
"I'm curious," he shrugged.
"Wales," she said, "in a little hamlet called Godric's Hollow. What about you? Where was the Great Anthony Stark born?"
"I'm surprised you don't already know to be honest," Tony said with a small laugh that carried so much more than amusement in that little sound. "My life has been painted across the media since before day one."
"You're evading the question," she said in a sing-song voice.
"I was born here in New York City," Tony said, "at Stark House. Howard wanted me born at the Mansion upstate. It was probably the only time he ever took interest in anything in my life other than telling me what a nuisance I was, but my mother hated the stuffy place and refused to leave the city. She preferred the townhouse and the society life close to her charity work, spending money almost as fast as Howard could make it."
"You didn't get along with your family much, did you?" she prompted, eyeing him out of the corner of her eye to see that his whole countenance seemed to tighten.
"I got along with my mother just fine," Tony said. "She was always busy, but she made an effort you know? She made a point to remember the important things. She always tried to make things better. Howard just didn't care," he said with an indifferent shrug. "My butler was more like a father to me than he was. I was never enough in his eyes and he reminded me any chance he got."
"I'd still have taken indifference over abject hatred," Helen said wryly. "It would have made my life a lot easier in the beginning."
He gave her a curious look and followed her as she began to walk, the Great Dane trodding along beside her.
"My parents died when I was a baby," she explained when she realized he was waiting for her to expand on her statement. "They got caught up in the terrorist attacks in London shortly after I was born. I got sent to my mother's sister, but she was a bitter old hag and had a tendency of taking out her anger on the only available target, which was me."
"I'm sorry," Tony said with a wince.
"Don't be," she said. "It wasn't your fault. Nevertheless we make quite the pair, you and I," she said with a small laugh. "You couldn't measure up and I was despised merely for existing."
Tony didn't know what to say after that. They walked in silence for a while before he decided to abruptly shift the topic to something else.
"So what exactly is with this Halloween party that blond menace was talking about?"