Perfect Illusion

Part the Second

Tony was not allowed to leave the country because he had to see a psychiatrist five times a week because—quote—he had PTSD.  As if that even existed.  He was fine.  He wanted to see his son.  Couldn’t the woman see that that was more important than talking about his feelings?

So, despite his frustration, he sent Pepper and his personal lawyer, Harvey Specter, to Little Whinging, Surrey, England.

Harvey was dressed impeccably in one of his suits, his hair slicked back, exuding confidence and charm.  Pepper Potts made no secret of only maintaining a professional relationship with him as he had a reputation nearly as bad as Tony’s. 

Still, they were there, in the middle of the day, knocking on Number Four, Privet Drive.

After a moment, a woman with a horse-like neck and a pinched face opened the door.  “May I help you?” she asked, taking in the two well-dressed people before her.

“Mrs. Dursley?” Harvey asked, taking out his card.  “I am Harvey Specter of Pearson Hardman and this is Miss Potts.  We represent Tony Stark—”

“Tony?” she asked quickly.  “As in Anthony?”

“Quite, Mrs. Dursley,” he answered, calm but confused.

Mrs. Dursley took his card and gave it a quick look, her beady blue eyes soaking it in hungrily.  “Come in,” she said politely, opening the door, the card still clutched in her hand.  “You must excuse us.  My husband is at work and my son is away at Smeltings.  And Harry—that’s Anthony Howard, of course—is at his private boarding school in Scotland.  We’re so terribly proud of him.  He’s quite a credit to my sister Lily.”  Petunia took a deep breath and showed them into the living room.  “May I get you some tea?  Coffee?”  She looked between the two of them.

“Coffee would be wonderful,” Pepper stated kindly, “unless you would rather prefer English tea, Mr. Specter?”

“I’m a coffee man, myself,” he disagreed.  “Thank you, Mrs. Dursley.”

When she had left the room, Harvey unbuttoned his suit jacket and looked at Pepper.  “She seemed to know we were coming—or at least how to react if we did.”

“Perhaps she knew of the affair?” Pepper suggested.  “That Harry was named for his father?  Lily Potter did die when he was an infant so there might not have been time to tell her sister as much information as she might have liked… but enough to give her an idea.”

They waited a few more minutes in silence before Mrs. Dursley came back in with the coffee.  The card had disappeared.  With the experience of a seasoned hostess, she poured three cups and offered them cream and sugar.

After a moment where silence covered them, Harvey Specter stated, “Mr. Stark was—acquainted with your sister, Mrs. Lily Potter—”

“You mean that he is the Anthony Howard she had an affair with,” Mrs. Dursley interrupted, her voice a little terse.  “She told me one night when she was seven months pregnant and had to get away when she found her husband with his—lover.”  She sneered out the word, clearly not approving.  “I always thought Potter was too close to his best man, though I hardly knew Black.”

“Anthony Edward,” Harvey corrected, “And, yes,” Harvey answered without missing a beat.  “Mr. Stark accepted that his affair with Mrs. Potter was over in 1979 but through recent life-altering events decided to try and find Mrs. Potter again.  He just recently learned of her death—and of Harry.”

Mrs. Dursley put down her cup.  “Let’s cut to the chase.  What does Mr. Stark want?”

“Pending a DNA test, he wants custody of Harry.  He is willing to allow visitation and will even discuss joint custody if that is absolutely necessary given that you raised him.”  Harvey Specter was all professionalism, but he knew how to get to a chase, knew how to read a person—and Mrs. Dursley wanted an out, if she wanted anything.

“We don’t want joint custody,” Mrs. Dursley stated in certainty, shaking her head firmly.  “Dudley and Harry might want to meet up over the summer for a week or so, so I won’t object to that.—I insist that Harry have his own solicitor.”  It was clear that she had thought about this.  “His mother—and stepfather—belonged to a secret society not unlike the Freemasons.  His interests must be protected.”  She pursed her lips in annoyance.  “I’m afraid it cannot be avoided, as much as it is an—inconvenience.”

“We will of course pay—”

“That is generous,” Mrs. Dursley stated, sounding surprised.  “You must understand that Harry has been waiting for this day for nearly ten years.”  She looked at him accusingly.  “We had nothing to go on but the name ‘Anthony Howard.’”

This time Pepper spoke up.  “If Mr. Stark had any idea—”

Mrs. Dursley looked like she was sucking on lemons.  “Of course,” she conceded.  “Harry goes to school in Scotland, as I said.  I should be able to get to Edinburgh tomorrow with a solicitor.  Would that be appropriate?  Then we’ll see about getting Harry leave over the weekend.  I understand he’s friends with Lord Malfoy’s son, so we can always appeal to him as he’s on the Board of Governors.”

Harvey and Pepper exchanged a confused look.

“It sounds like a prison.”

Mrs. Dursley laughed.  “It’s not that.  It’s only, we’re not welcome.  I have few rights, even as Harry’s guardian.  When he turned eleven, Harry was appointed a special guardian within the society and I’m not privy to even know this person’s identity.—I understand it’s different in America.”  She set down her cup and looked at the clock.  It was half past two.  “If I leave now, I think I can get a competent solicitor by five.”

“Would you like me to accompany you, Mrs. Dursley?” Harvey asked after a long moment, still slightly confused.  He liked to think himself unflappable, but this was just plain peculiar.  He had to get back on even footing.

“That won’t be necessary.  Call here, night or day, when you’ve checked into your hotel so I can check in as well tomorrow.”

“We’ll cover the hotel costs,” Pepper stated.  “This is very important to Mr. Stark.  The only reason he’s not here is because his doctors won’t let him after he was held prisoner.”

Mrs. Dursley looked confused.  “Mr. Stark was held prisoner?”

Harvey and Pepper exchanged a look.  “Yes, for three months, by terrorists in Afghanistan.  They were forcing him to build a bomb.  He’s CEO of Stark Industries.”

Shrugging, Mrs. Dursley began to collect their cups.  “I’ve never heard of it.  I wonder how he and Lily met—not that it matters, I suppose.  Lily and I were never close.”

She saw them out and Harvey and Pepper looked at each other as they went to their car.  “That was—peculiar,” Harvey admitted.  “I never thought I’d meet anyone who didn’t want a payout for looking after someone else’s child for thirteen years.”

Pepper shrugged.  “Let’s take it as a blessing and deal with this secret society as we have to.  I wish she’d told us the name.”

“Secret societies are never good, whatever the name,” Harvey said darkly.  “They have obscure rules and don’t like any interference.”

Petunia dressed in her roomiest dress and put a scarf over her head to hide her hair, hoping she looked vaguely magical.  She left a note on the fridge and so took the tube to London and, from memory, found The Leaky Cauldron from sheer force of will.  Managing to charm Tom the Bartender into tapping the sequence for her to get in, she went and found Barnaby & Co.  Lily had an old card with the name on it, so it must have been that dratted Potter’s solicitor.

Walking in, Petunia went up to the receptionist.

“I don’t have an appointment,” she stated.  “However, I am the aunt of Harry Potter—that is, Anthony Howard Potter—and this is an emergency.  I need to see a solicitor this instant.”

The secretary looked up, shocked.  “They’re called law wizards.”

“I don’t care what they’re called.  This is a custody case.”  She held her head high and stared the—freak—down. 

Immediately, the woman picked up the phone and whispered something into it and showed her into a back office that was made of pine wood.  It had an old wizard with a clipped gray beard and orange robes sitting behind the desk.  “I am Barnabus Barnaby III,” he introduced, taking her hand and lifting it to below his lips before releasing it.  “You say this is a custody case about the Boy-Who-Lived?”

“Who?” she asked, looking at the man as he offered her a seat.

“Harry Potter,” he clarified.

“Yes,” she explained.  “This is covered by attorney-client privilege?”

“You must pay me first.  Magical law.”

She grumbled to herself and wrote him a cheque for 100 pounds sterling, which made him chuckle.  “Thank you, Madam.  What is the problem?”

“It’s not a problem,” she told him.  “My sister, Lily Potter, had an affair, and the child wasn’t James Potter’s.  Potter couldn’t—he was incapable—well.”  She lifted her nose.  “Harry’s father has finally come looking for him—thank God—and now wants to claim custody.  The problem is he’s a Muggle and we need a Magical,” (she barely got the word out) “solicitor on our side.  Harry has wanted this since he can remember.  I want this.  This needs to go smoothly.”

“So,” Barnaby III stated, “you’re hiring me as Mr. Potter’s solicitor to facilitate this transfer of legal custody?  I will need to meet with Mr. Potter, talk with him, and I will bring our half-blood associate with me to facilitate speaking with Muggles.”  He sniffed.  “Our fees—”

“Paid.  Gall-thingies mean nothing to me.  We’re meeting them in Edinburgh tonight or tomorrow and we need to get Harry out of Hogwarts for DNA testing.”

“DNA,” he stated carefully, clearly not understanding.  Of course.  Freaks were probably stupid as well as—freakish.

“Blood,” she answered, trying not to roll her eyes.  “It’s how we test blood connections.”

“I see.  I will require our form of blood testing.  You understand.  The wizarding world won’t take this lying down.”  His voice was even, measured, professional.  She appreciated that.  Petunia didn’t need a fight.

“The wizarding world won’t know,” Petunia stated back harshly.  “From what I can tell, Harry’s father is American, and he will hopefully take him back to America where Harry can forget about his scar, which he says causes him more trouble than anything else.  I know he’s in the papers.  People bow to him in the street!  If he’s Anthony Stark, Jr. then he will have none of that.”

“Quite,” the solicitor answered stiffly.  “I will submit the petition for young Mr. Potter to have the weekend off for family purposes as his law-wizard.  I will need your signature, Mrs. Dursley.  Where will you be taking him?”


“Edinburgh, then.—As a Muggle, you cannot collect him yourself, but if you write a letter to Mr. Potter to let him know that I am working on your behalf, then that should put him at ease.”  He slid her some parchment and a quill. 

Petunia looked at it with wide eyes, and took a pen from her purse.  Quill her—behind.  Thinking of the wording and how best to put her nephew at ease, Petunia slowly began writing a letter saying that Anthony Stark had found them and that it was time to begin the process of proving their relationship and then the next necessary steps. 

With that done, Petunia left satisfied. 

It was a Friday afternoon when Harry was called into Professor Snape’s office.  An older wizard and a young wizard in a striped suit were waiting for him.  He looked around the room and Professor Snape said, looking through the parchments, “Everything seems to be in order,” before stating to Harry, “you will get you things for the weekend.  Your aunt requests your presence for a family emergency.”

“Is someone hurt?” he asked in shock, suddenly worried.  His mind turned to Dudley.  He wasn’t particularly fond of the idiot, but he was his only cousin.

“Nothing like that,” the older wizard responded.  “I am Barnaby Barnabus III.  This should explain everything.”  He held out a piece of parchment and Harry took it.

When he read it, he couldn’t believe it.  It was—incredible.  He looked up between the two wizards with tears in his eyes.  “He wants me?  Anthony” (he looked down) “Stark wants me?”

“Very much from what we can tell.  Now, young man, how do you feel like side-Apparating to Edinburgh after you pack your bag?”

Harry handed back the letter and then quickly jogged out of the office and changed into his casual clothes.  Next, he grabbed a few changes of clothing and some underwear, his homework, and then, waving to his friends, he went back to the office.

He’d never been to Edinburgh before.  It was wonderful.  There were so many people—not like London.  It was more laid back, but he let the young solicitor (“David”) lead him forward. 

Before he saw anyone, he was taken to a lab where his blood was drawn several times (for both “them” and “us”, Barnaby III explained) and then he was taken to a hotel. 

Aunt Petunia was waiting for him, looking him over and then with a nod, took him up to a conference room where he met Harvey Specter and Pepper Potts.  Pepper sucked in her breath when she saw him, but didn’t make a comment.  Her face nonetheless twisted into an ugly emotion, although it was fleeting and quickly smoothed away.

“Mr. Potter,” Mr. Specter began, but Harry cut him off.

“I’ve never liked that name.”

“Never?” Miss Potts asked, ice hovering behind her tone.

“It’s not mine,” he told her carefully.  “I’ve known since I was four.  From what I can tell, I wasn’t even adopted by James Potter.”

At this, Barnaby III sat down and looked at Harry directly in the eye.  In low tones, probably aided by magic so no one else could hear, he asked, “Are you aware, Master Harry, that if it’s proven that you are in fact Tony Stark’s son, you will forfeit the entire Potter fortune, including heirlooms—”

All heirlooms?” Harry checked, thinking of the invisibility cloak.

“Yes, Master Harry, all heirlooms.”

“What if a potential heirloom,” he began carefully, “was given to a third party and then given to me.”

“Then it’s yours,” he answered and Harry immediately relaxed.  “That doesn’t mean you can start giving away heirlooms now and expect them to come back to you.  That’s not how it works.”

“Understood,” he replied.  “Do I get to keep Mum’s stuff?  It’s only, I found this book, with this letter and a photograph from—well—Tony.”  Harry felt a little meepish and didn’t say anything else until—”There might be more like it.”

“Anything belonging to Lily Potter belongs to you,” Barnaby III told him perfunctorily.  “However, if our calculations are correct, you’re worth over 13 million in pounds sterling.  Are you ready to give that up?”

Harry looked up into his eyes and answered, quite firmly, “Yes.”

“Very good,” he replied.  “It hasn’t come to that.  But I wanted to let you know where we stand.”  He placed a withered hand on his shoulder and they turned toward the Muggles who were staring at him in confusion.  Clearly they had never been around magic and probably weren’t sure what had happened, only that they hadn’t heard a word of the conversation directly in front of them.

“Master Harry,” Mr. Specter said carefully, clearing his throat, “there’s some housekeeping we should go through.  Would you like to remain Anthony Howard Potter?”

“No,” he answered.  “I’d like to drop the ‘Potter’.”

“So Anthony Stark, Jr.”


Mr. Specter made a note.  “Harry for short.”

Harry shrugged.  “I like it better than Howard.  Who is ‘Howard’ if Tony is ‘Anthony Edward’?”

“Howard Stark was your grandfather,” Mr. Specter replied.  “He also worked on the Manhattan Project.  Your mother, as I understand it, highly regarded the Manhattan Project.”  He looked at Miss Potts for confirmation.

She nodded.

Harry bit his lip.  “What’s that?”

Barnaby Barnabus III chuckled.  “I imagine it’s American.”  Muggle, he meant.  Certainly Muggle.

“It was the top-secret project during the Second World War that invented the Atomic Bomb that, essentially, ended the war,” Pepper Potts told him carefully, clearly a little annoyed that he didn’t know.  “Your grandfather was a great inventor, an innovator of his times—”

“No need to lecture the boy,” Petunia strangely put in.  “He’s been blowing things up in labs since he was in nine and broke into the chemicals cabinet.”  She sniffed and placed a hand on Harry’s shoulder.  “Clearly the propensity for controlled destruction was inherited.”

“School.”  Harvey stated quickly before an argument could break out.

At this Barnaby III passed Harry several pamphlets about Ilvermorny.  “A representative from MACUSA will speak to Mr. Stark and explain everything about our world, Master Harry.  You need not have any worries.”

“Is this the only school?”

“It is the most prestigious and with your marks in—well, you are aware of your academic accomplishments.  Your electives are also looking quite promising.” 

A small half-grin curled on Harry’s face.  He was quite aware how well he was doing in Arithmancy.  They were talking about moving him to OWL level next year after tutoring him after Yule Break as he was moving so quickly.

“They accept mid-year transfers?  It’s only I’m skipping a year in—er—one of my courses and I don’t want to get bored.”

“I’m sure they will be able to accommodate you,” Barnaby III promised. 

Mr. Specter and Miss Potts glanced at each other and Mr. Specter took down some notes.  “So, you are interested in transferring and there will be someone who will come to speak to Mr. Stark about the program and this ‘Secret Society’.”

“Indeed,” David finally spoke up.  His adam’s apple bobbed.  “You understand that the law requires us to keep silent except within our families.”

Aunt Petunia snorted.  “I remember Lily and the Snape boy and their—unnaturalness—”

Barnaby III cleared his throat but Harry just looked at his aunt.

“Professor Snape knew Mum?” Harry asked in confusion.

“Severus Snape?  They were best friends,” Aunt Petunia told him.  “He was in love with her since before they went off to Hogwarts.  Then, when they were about sixteen, they stopped talking and she started dating James Potter to spite him.  I told her not to marry Potter, that anyone would be better, but she never listened to me about anything,” she scoffed, clearly put out.

Harry ruminated over this and finally whispered, “Is there anything else?  I’d like to go to bed or go watch a film?  There are no televisions at school.”

“There’s pay-per-view in your room,” Miss Potts told him as if she were reciting something.  What was her problem?  “Watch whatever you like, Harry.  I realize this must be overwhelming and stressful for you.  I’m Tony’s personal assistant so—if you need anything—I’m in room 202.  I’m here night or day.”  Her tone suggested, however, that she wished he would just leave her alone.

Harry turned to Barnaby Barnabus III.  “What room are you in?” he murmured.

“I’m back at my office,” he replied quietly.

A lump formed in Harry’s throat at the thought of being alone with these Muggles.

Still, he rallied.  Harry stood and looked at everyone.  He shook everyone’s hand in turn and took his room key and then left with his satchel and fought the urge to glance back. 

He collapsed on the bed and didn’t even have time to grab the remote.  He was asleep in his clothes within a matter of seconds and only woke up when his stomach rumbled the next morning.  Looking at the time, he saw it was seven, so he took a quick shower and got changed before going down to breakfast, realizing it was Saturday so he really shouldn’t be up this early.

He found Harvey Specter sitting at a table with his aunt. 

He was dressed casually in jeans and a Henley.  “Oh good,” Harry said, “we’re all dressed for leisure.  I was so glad to take off my school uniform a whole two hours early yesterday.”

“I imagine,” Mr. Specter agreed.  “We’re just waiting on the DNA.  Then, according to your solicitor, an ambassador from this MACUSA will come and speak to you about the school, and you can decide if you want to transfer or remain here in Scotland.  I strongly recommend speaking to Mr. Stark first, though.  He might want you closer to Malibu.”

“I know how these great men work.  He’d send him to school in New York if he thought it was the best.  Massachusetts isn’t that much farther away,” David said as he came up to the table.  Somehow he was still in pinstripes even if he were dressed down for the weekend.  Wizards sometimes baffled Harry, even after years being exposed to them daily.

“There are good schools in California,” Harvey Specter argued.  “Competitive Schools.  He’s missed thirteen years of Harry’s life—”

“I’m right here,” Harry griped.  “I will go to Ilvermorny or I will stay here.  If my schooling is interrupted and I can’t become an Unspeakable—”

“A what?” Harvey asked.

“Then I will be greatly disappointed.”  His voice held a menace to it, quiet, subtle, that however would have been recognizable to someone like Harvey.

Petunia looked up and raised an eyebrow.  “You could avoid your freakishness—”

“Don’t call it that,” he stated with resignation as if he’d heard it all before.  “It’s a simple case of genetics, Aunt Petunia.”  He took a bite of his blueberry pancakes and realized they were actually good.  “And you will never have to deal with me again in a week.”

“Small wonders.  If only Lily had told me her Anthony’s full name.”

The rest of the day was spent waiting.  Harry explored Edinburgh with Miss “Call me Pepper” Potts, Pepper taking pictures of him when she remembered she shouldn’t be playing the tourist herself, enjoying fried Mars Bars, and sneaking beer from Pepper when she wasn’t looking (though he suspected she knew and frankly didn’t care). 

He knew Pepper was surprised when a woman came up to him and asked him for his autograph.

“Fancy seeing the great Harry Potter in Muggle Edinburgh!  Aren’t you currently studying at Hogwarts?”

“Watch it,” he warned, “Pepper isn’t one of us.”

She looked over at Pepper, her face falling.  “Of course.  I’m sorry, Mr. Potter.  An autograph?”

“Yeah,” he agreed, taking a scrap of parchment and a self-inking quill.  Handing it back, he said cheerfully, “Enjoy your shopping!”

He turned away and walked quickly in the opposite direction.

Pepper was walking hurriedly behind him.  “Does that happen often?”

“More often than you think.  I really want to get out of this country,” he admitted.  “What with Sirius Black being James Potter’s best friend and going after Hogwarts—”  Harry sighed.  “I’m sick of England.  I’ve been sick of it since before I went off to school.”

She squeezed his shoulder, the first positive thing she’d done since they’d met.  “Well, then, let’s see what we can do about that.—Tony, though, is famous in his own right.”

“But it won’t be for something as stupid as—”  He sighed.  “I’ve been famous since my parents died.  Well, Mum and James.  For surviving.  They call me The-Boy-Who-Lived.  It sucks.  I have major political capital in this country.”  Wanting to change the subject, he asked.  “I have a picture of Tony from when Mum knew him.  I look just like him.  Do I still look like him?”

Pepper’s eyes flitted across his face, her eyes pinched as if she didn’t like what she saw.  Still, she answered him: “You’re an exact copy.  I’d be really surprised if the DNA came back negative.”

“Well then,” he replied with a skip of his step.  “I guess it’s only a matter of time.”

Tony was the first one to get the DNA results.  JARVIS informed him that they had come in and he looked over at the screen immediately at the two strands.  It was a test that matched paternity and it was a perfect match.  Harry was his son.  He had a son.

He had been prepared for this, but suddenly seeing the actual evidence was absolutely frightening.

Immediately taking out his STARKphone, he flipped it open and dialed the number he had been given in case this happened, when it happened.

“Hello, this is Tony Stark,” he told the woman on the other end of the line.  “I understand you’ve been expecting my call.”

“Oh, yes,” she purred.  “You had the paternity case.  I take it that it came back positive?  We’re waiting for confirmation from the law—solicitors.  Please hold.”

An appointment for the next day was set up at his house.  Little did Tony know that he would soon learn about the world of Magic and that his son—that his Lily—were wizards. 

Harry went back to Hogwarts in time for Monday breakfast.  He knew it was only a formality.  He would be withdrawn from Hogwarts by Wednesday and on a plane to Malibu later that day.  He packed everything away during lunch (he wasn’t that hungry) and he wanted to do this in the relative privacy he could get.

Everyone wanted to know where he had gone, but he would just smile and shrug and go on his way.

Barnaby Barnabus III showed up Tuesday during lunch with a court order that he be released from Hogwarts Custody and that he was officially withdrawn from the school, given his enrollment in Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Dumbledore looked over the paperwork and then noticed that “it has not been signed by his nearest blood relation.”

“It has,” Barnaby III replied; Harry stood in the corner.  “His or her name is merely obstructed by magic.  I have a court order that Master Harry’s identity and relations remain confidential given his celebrity status.”

“Quite,” Dumbledore answered before signing the papers.  Looking up, he stated, “I’m sorry to see you leave, my boy.  You had a promising future.”

“I’ll have it elsewhere,” he replied. 

“Though I cannot fathom Mrs. Dursley’s reasons—”

“You need not fathom them at all,” Barnaby III replied.  “Master Harry, it is time that we go.  You have your personal affects?”

He patted his satchel, which contained his trunk.  He was once again wearing black jeans, trainers, and a Slytherin shirt.


They flooed to London and then took a Muggle cab to a private airport.  A private jet was waiting for them with Harvey Specter waiting along with Miss Potts. 

“You are legally Anthony Stark, Jr.,” Barnaby III explained.  “We had it expedited.  Your father suggested—if you wanted it, and only then—you might want to be called ‘Anton’ so as to distance yourself from your past.”

“No,” Harry replied.  “I’ve been scribbling ‘Anthony, Jr.’ on my notebooks for years.  That’s how I think of myself—I’ve—I’m—”  He was suddenly lost for words.

“Very well, Mr. Stark,” Barnaby III replied.  “I release you to your temporary guardians.”

Harry got out of the cab and looked at the two Muggles before climbing onto the plane.  He knew his life was about to change.  He just didn’t know how much.

Published by excentrykemuse

Fanfiction artist and self critic.

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