There was a flash of green light and an alleyway full of dead men. Lily, her face streaked with dirt, her left eye barely visible amidst the skin that had puffed up and turned black when she was punched, got up, her wand out. I turned around, and saw a man falling down, a knife bared in his hands. He had probably snuck up behind me without my noticing him. “Are they d-dead?” Lily’s voice broke.
I walked towards her and pulled her away, out of the alley. As we left, I saw two shadowy figures melt into the darkness, but I was too tired to inquire. We ran back home and tried to forget the whole thing. Lily was all messed up, with a black eye, a puffy face and torn clothes. We quietly snuck inside and I helped her change and get into bed.
Later that night, our father called me to his study. Mother was already there, running her fingers up and down the piano seamlessly, like a gushing stream.
“How did it feel?
“Tuney, how did it feel to kill a man?”
I was at a loss for words. “Wh-what do you mean?”
Mother stopped playing. “Petunia, don’t bluff, we saw the whole sordid affair,” she burst impatiently. “You are quite good with a gun aren’t you, dear?”
“Tuney, we’re going to let you in on a little family secret, but you can’t tell your sister, alright? If you do, there’re going to be all kinds of problems.”
My parents were taking me into their confidence and not Lily? Did that mean I was their favourite child?
“Of course. I would never tell, mama. You can trust me.”
“You see Petunia, your father and I, we work for the Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, as the kids are calling it these days. We work in a special unit called the Extermination of Magical Creatures Cell, or EMCC. Our primary job is to eradicate all creatures, whether human or otherwise, who possess even an iota of magical blood in their veins. Our secondary job is to recruit young people who show promise. And it’s absolutely wonderful to see that our daughter, someone we can trust implicitly, is the one we’re thinking of recruiting.”
“Honey, we understand you’ll need time to think all this over and that you’ll have many questions that shall be addressed at a later stage. But do think over whether you would like to join us to make this world a place where we humans can enjoy a peaceful existence. We’ll be waiting for your answer.”
“What about Lily though? I mean… She’s your daughter too, right?”
My parents averted their eyes.
“If you really do detect and kill magical creatures, what about Lily? She’s a witch. Surely, you wouldn’t…”
“No, Lily is not on our radar. She gives us invaluable information about the magical world without knowing it, all of which aids us in our quest to annihilate them gradually. Her innocent chatter is, in reality, the best source of information we could ever hope to have. Never, in our wildest dreams, could your father and I have imagined that we would give birth to a magical creature. It was just too good to be true. However, it is our second daughter of whom we have high hopes. Are you sure you would be up for it?”
“It was on that fateful day that a new life began for me. Everything was clear. My parents were on my side and Lily was on the other. She had made her choice when she went to that school and joined that world. A choice to leave our world and go to theirs.
Would I be up for it? Of course I would. If it meant I would be their favourite, I would do anything. After that day, my training began. The details are unnecessary to the story – all you need to know is that I became one of the best EMCC ever had. I was born to hunt, my intuition was next to none. However, I was quite surprised that we had very little information about the wizarding world, almost all of it hearsay from Lily and a few other sources. Muggles, as we non-magical folk are known, couldn’t enter Diagon Alley, as that required the use of a wand, something that Lily had shown us. I couldn’t even see the doorway until Lily pointed it out and dragged me through it. My job was then to gather as much information as I could about the wizarding world in order to carry out secret exterminations. This was how I met your father.”
Tony stirred at the mention. “What was my father doing at a place like EMCC?”
“Your father had been carrying out espionage for the United States government, informing them about the wizarding world. When he came to know that the wizarding population was highly concentrated in Britain, our governments decided to carry out a joint operation by the name of Black Doberin. Your father was somehow able to detect the magical doorway and pass through to Diagon Alley. We’re still unsure of how he was able to pull it off, but we’re assuming it was some advanced Stark Industries equipment that he used. He sneaked in and carried out a covert operation that lasted eleven long years. He found most of the data that we had been looking for. Unfortunately, he was on the cusp of a breakthrough when he was killed.”
“Your father had been researching about the dark arts that some wizards practice. He wanted to find out how magic could be used to alter human consciousness and our physical form. Your father was an ardent nationalist at heart; but more importantly he was a good father and husband. All he wanted to do was protect his family. That night, the night he and Maria died, he spoke to me about something he had discovered. Something that would change the world as we knew it, a secret that their world had been hiding even from its own kind. Howard said it was dangerous, but it could be done. If a war arose between us muggles and the magical folk, he said this was how we’d win. We were to meet at the Leaky Cauldron that night, but he never came.”
“So, what you’re saying is that wizards killed him, but you don’t know who?”
“Yes. Which is why, Tony Stark, I believe you are the best person for the job.”
“You want me find out what this secret is, don’t you? You feel I am the best person for the job because I have all the wrong kinds of motivations, am I correct?” Tony’s eyes were ice.
Petunia calmly looked back at him, matching his stony glare with a calm expression.
“Vengeance, hatred, murder… All these were motivations I left behind when I assumed the helm of Stark Industries. They have no place in the progress of humankind. However, if I can find out who killed my parents…” Tony’s brooding grimace suddenly turned into a bloodthirsty grin. “I’ll be at peace again.”
“Are you willing to take your father’s place as our informant? It will be very dangerous. We still do not know of their motivations; if they find out a muggle has infiltrated their world, they’ll kill you without hesitation.”
“Oh, don’t worry about me. I’ll make sure to be as magical as they are.” Tony grinned.
“Good. I’ll be sending you all the information we have gathered on them in the past, but they may have made advancements since your father’s demise. We ourselves have been running into difficulties. Since they have carried out no major operations against us, our government has been cutting funding for us, and threatening to shut us down if we show them no findings of the threat they pose. Even I am currently working only temporarily for them, I quit this job a long time ago.”
“Really? What have you been doing?”
“I told you. I got married and settled in Little Whinging. I have a son now.”
“Congratulations. Send me the reports whenever. If there’s nothing more, I’d like to get back to business.” Tony said, shooting sidelong glances at his car keys.
“Very well. However, do me a favour. Once you get there, be sure to not hurt one particular individual. He is of some value to me.”
“Oh yeah? How will I know who is?”
“Oh, everyone knows him in their world.”
“Who is he?”
“Why is he so special then?”
“He’s the boy who lived.”