Disclaimer: Harry Potter and Co. belong to J.K. Rowling, while Power Rangers and all related concepts belong to Saban/Disney/Jetix/whoever (Who does own the broadcasting rights to the series these days anyway?)
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Harry Potter and the Hogwarts Guardians
As she sat on the steps of two-storey cabin-style house that served as Alan Black's home, Hermione almost wished that she was in a mood to enjoy this situation better; the house's hilltop status gave it a very nice view of Angel Grove as a whole, to say nothing of its large porch and upstairs balcony...
As it was, however, she didn't have the opportunity to enjoy it, given that she was stuck in another reality with over half of her team's zords- including her own- having been stolen, their Ranger mentor abducted and their team leader currently MIA; as much as she wanted to relax, it wasn't exactly as easy for her to find ways to keep herself occupied as it was for the others. Ron was currently engaged in a simple passing game with Conner, Ethan and Trent while Sylvia stood on the edge of the garden with Sean, Jake and Nathan, the Black Guardian Ranger leading the other three Patronus Force Rangers in a smooth-looking practice motion that Hermione vaguely recognised from some of their old combat lessons as Tai Chi focusing exercises (Although she noted with some amusement that Nathan seemed to be having some trouble with the motions; from what she'd seen of the Black Patronus Force Ranger, he favoured a more head-on combat style than the others). Meanwhile, Tommy and Ginny were sitting quietly on the porch swing, a troubled expression on each of their minds as they stared out at the scene before them, each of them clearly focused on the thoughts of the two currently-missing Guardian Rangers, Tommy obviously worrying about Jason while Ginny contemplated what might be happening to Harry.
Quite frankly, even after Amanda had provided some background information about why Elizabeth had taken Harry, Hermione was just frustrated that this world's Yellow Ranger had taken such a drastic action without asking anyone else for advice. As much as she recognised that Lily Potter probably needed drastic help based on what the Patronus Force had told them about her condition since this world's Harry had vanished, Hermione had serious doubts about the merits of that strategy in the long term; after all, even if they couldn't go right now, Harry would have to go back to his world with them once they'd recovered the Guardian Megazord, and if they hadn't found this world's Harry by then...
It wasn't that she didn't think that Harry would decide not to come back with them when the time came for him to make a choice; she just didn't want this world's Lily to have to suffer the loss of her son all over again when he had to leave.
Trying to take her mind off that particularly depressing train of thought, Hermione turned her attention to the copy of The American Spellbinder that Amanda had loaned her, the newspaper being apparently the American wizard equivalent of the Daily Prophet. Intrigued at the headline article of Decision final! America, Australia, and Japan to resign I.C.W. membership!, Hermione had quickly begun perusing the article, and managed to piece together some interesting additional details about wizarding history in this world compared to what she knew.
Based on the article, while the Ministry in her world had been able to keep Voldemort relatively contained to Britain- made easier by his focus on claiming the country that was essentially the origin of magic, given that Merlin remained the earliest-recorded wizard in society who couldn't have just been a con-man or something like that (Some argued that Jesus and other Christian prophets might have been wizards, but generally wizards tended to stay away from Christianity, even if a few early wizards had adapted some of the religion's teachings into a policy of protecting muggles from Dark Wizards)-, this world's Voldemort had decided to expand further, leading his followers in a campaign that was somehow directed from his cell in Azkaban during the period when he was held captive after his failed attempt to kill all three Potters. The resulting expansion of Voldemort's influence to recruit dark creatures from other countries had required the International Confederation of Wizards- better known as the ICW- to take a more active role in the fight against Voldemort than they had in her world, with the result that the ICW essentially had more power over foreign wizarding affairs than it did back home, where it was more of a casual meeting of various wizarding powers rather than anything more elaborate.
Based on this article, American wizards were requesting to withdraw from the ICW so that the American Department of Magic could develop their space exploration program, as well as allowing the American magical education system to follow its own path rather than the path defined by the ICW. Apparently, the number of American wizards killed fighting Voldemort had put a greater strain on America's wizarding population, increasing the tension between the 'colony' countries, such as America and Australia, and the 'original' countries in Europe, leaving the magical governments of the colonies increasing frustrated with the new control imposed over them by the Global Ministry and the restrictions placed on their ability to grow alongside their non-magical brethren.
God... Hermione thought to herself, shaking her head as she closed the paper. And I thought that things were difficult back home...
Turning her attention to where Amanda was sitting beside her, Hermione smiled slightly as she saw the White Ranger idly studying the notebook that she'd shown her earlier. During their time at the command centre, Hermione had mentioned the team's past encounter with Wes and Eric, suggesting that Amanda upgrade the Battle Gauntlet she'd given Alan to summon a full suit of battle armour rather than the more basic upgrades it offered so far, Amanda suggesting in return that she could look into developing something similar for Harry, as well as possibly making some alterations to the original Guardian Megazord so that it could use magic the same way that the Patronus Megazord could. So far, Amanda's plans to take that possibility further were limited to drawings on paper- she couldn't do anything with the Megazords until she got an actual look at their systems, and she had said that she'd prefer to have the chance to directly analyse Harry's Guardian Gem rather than try and get a basic idea about the nature of its power by analysing and comparing the energy in the other Gems-, but the fact that it might be a possibility in the first place was something that had definitely captured Hermione's attention...
The sound of a motorcycle approaching them drew Hermione's thoughts away from such speculation and back to the present as she glanced up, in time to see Alan pulling into the driveway on a red and black Road Racer.
"Alan!" Ginny yelled, getting to her feet and hurrying over to the Ranger in question as he shut the engine off and removed his helmet. "Is Harry all right?"
"Yeah, he's fine," Alan said, his voice clearly reflecting his exhaustion at the activity of the last few days. "He's a bit shell-shocked after Elizabeth's little ambush, of course, but so far he should be all right for the time being."
"Uh... not meaning to be a killjoy in this whole situation," Conner said, looking uncertainly at his fellow Red, "but won't Lily work out that the Harry that's with her now isn't... well, her Harry?"
"Only if Elizabeth forgets to feed him the right information," Alan said with a shrug as he dismounted his bike and rolled it into the nearest garage.
"And... she'll be able to do that?" Ron asked, looking sceptically at Alan as he rolled his bike past another car. "I mean, this isn't exactly the kind of situation anyone can plan for; how's she-?"
"One step at a time, OK, Ron?" Alan said, looking firmly back at the Yellow Ranger as he positioned the bike against the garage wall and turned back to look at the other man as he indicated a few metal boxes off to the side. "Right now, the first thing we need to do is get everyone somewhere to sleep; I don't have enough room for everyone in the house, so some of you will have to sleep inside these tents. After the sleeping arrangements are done, I'll go back into town and get us all something to eat; we can work on some ideas on how to get Jason and the Guardian Zords back tomorrow morning."
"I think I have one idea that might work," Amanda said, looking at her brother with a smile. "Just let me talk it over with Billy first; I want to be absolutely sure that there's even a chance that it'll work beforeI let you guys in on it."
"Y'know, considering that this is our team-" Ron began as he glared at the Red Patronus Force Ranger.
"And this is their world and enemy, Ron; I think we have to concede to their superior knowledge of the local situation," Hermione said, looking firmly at her teammate before she turned to look at Amanda. "Just so long as you understand that we're going to want our teammate and zords back the moment you have a plan that can work."
"Of course," Amanda said, nodding in confirmation at the Blue Guardian Ranger.
"Right," Alan said, looking between the Blue Guardian and White Patronus Force Rangers. "Now that we've got that sorted, let's get these tents set up before I pick up the pizzas. If three of you can help me out, we can set them up near the treeline over there.
"Who's in the tents and who gets outside?" Sylvia asked, looking inquiringly at the other Ranger.
"Well," Alan said, taking a quick glance at the other Rangers before he continued speaking, "since Jake and Nathan share a house in town and Sean has an apartment while Amanda lives with my mother, it'll just be myself, the remaining Guardian Rangers, and the Dinos. And since I have no intention of sleeping on the couch in my own house, I'm guessing that Hermione, Ginny, Sylvia, and Kira can stay in one tent while Ron, Connor, Trent, and Ethan can sleep in the other."
"Uh..." Kira said, looking uncertainly at the tent boxes. "I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but... aren't these tents a bit small for all of us?"
"Not these," Alan replied with a slight smile. "They're magical tents; they're set up in the same manner as a two-storey house-"
"With each one containing two bedrooms, two beds in each, a full bathroom and shower, along with a kitchen and a dining/living room, right?" Hermione said, smiling slightly over at Alan as he looked over at her. "I do read, you know."
"I can't imagine Hermione Granger doing anything but," Amanda said, smiling at the other Ranger.
"That's quite a package!" Ethan said, grinning as he looked at the boxes before glancing over at his team. "Maybe we should see about getting some of these tents to take back home with us!"
"I did think about getting some for our own mission, but then we received the Gems and training with them became more of an immediate priority..." Hermione said, shrugging slightly even as she looked hopefully at the other Red Ranger.
"I'll see about getting you a couple; I know a shop in upstate New York that specialises in magical tent-making," Alan said, nodding at the Blue Guardian Ranger before turning his attention back to the tent cases. "Well, let's get these things set up; Sean, you help me with this one, and Jake and Nathan can set up the other."
As he sat alongside Elizabeth in the living room, Harry wasn't sure what was throwing him off more about this situation; the Christmas tree in the corner- this dimension must be a few months out of sync with their own; it was still mid-summer back home-, or just the simple fact that he was in his mother's house, listening to his mother singing along with Christmas carols as she prepared roast beef for dinner.
"Thanks for going along with this, Harry," Elizabeth said, smiling gratefully over at him. "Just you being here is helping my Mum recover."
"I'm still not sure if this was the right thing to do, Elizabeth," Harry said, looking grimly over at the other Ranger. "I mean, I'm... well, I want to help, but... look, I'm here because I might as well go along with it now that she's seen me, but that doesn't mean I think it was a good idea..."
"You don't exactly seem to be regretting it that much," Elizabeth pointed out.
Harry couldn't immediately respond to that statement; as much as he'd wanted to avoid this whole situation to avoid raising false hopes among the families of their counterparts, he couldn't deny that, even after Mrs Weasley had all but officially adopted him as her seventh son ever since he started regularly visiting the Burrow, there was still a part of him...
"Back on my world," he said at last, looking over at Elizabeth after making sure that Lily was far enough away not to hear what he was about to say, "I... my parents were killed by Voldemort when I was too young to even really remember them. My guardians were... well, I'd rather not think about it... and even if the Weasleys always accepted me like I was their own, I always wanted..."
He shrugged slightly as he indicated the kitchen. "Well, having her here might not be exactly what I was hoping for, but it's still the closest I'll ever come to getting my own family back."
Noting the suddenly pensive yet contemplative expression on Elizabeth's face, it didn't take Harry long to guess what she was thinking about; if he'd been alone when he was growing up, that suggested that either she'd never been conceived in his world, or she'd died with Lilly before she had developed far enough for anyone to know that Lilly was pregnant.
Personally, Harry was trying not to think too much about that particular issue; it was complicated enough trying to figure out how he was going to get through this meeting with Lilly without worrying about what might have happened to Elizabeth in his world (And that was before he started wondering about Adam and the other Rangers; did any of them exist back home?).
"Look," he said, shaking those grim thoughts away as he looked more firmly at Elizabeth, "it's not that I don't appreciate this chance, but... well, in the end, this situation only makes me realize just how much Voldemort has stolen from me; my parents, any siblings that I might have had, a normal childhood... and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that he doesn't have the chance to do it to someone else."
He looked grimly over at Elizabeth. "The point is, even if I like getting to know... well, getting to know Mum now, what are you going to do when I have to go back home and you haven't managed to find your Harry?"
"God, you and Alan must be sharing a brain or something; he asked me that same question..." Elizabeth snorted in frustration. "I'd like to believe that we'll find our world's Harry alive along with the others; but if we don't, I'll just have to come up with a cover story."
"Harry! Elizabeth!" Lily suddenly called from her current location in the dining room. "Dinner's ready!"
"Coming, Mum!" Elizabeth said, before she looked over at Harry with a grin. "Race you to the table!"
With that, Elizabeth leapt to her feet and rushed towards the dining room, Harry close behind. Arriving in the dining room, the two teens found that the small round-shaped table was loaded with the finished roast beef, along with mashed potatoes and various bottles of soda, while the room itself was filled the enticing aroma emitting from the soon-to-be-consumed meal.
Harry was unable to stop a satisfied smile crossing his face at the sight; even among the Weasleys, he'd always felt as though the good meals he'd received with them were mainly available to him because he was there, even if Mrs Weasley had always given him extra portions.
Having someone do all this exclusively for him...
"Well?" Lily asked, walking in from the kitchen with a pot of green beans. "Are you two just going to stand there or are you going to be decent enough to help me eat all of this... and where's Alan; I thought he was going to be joining us?"
"Alan?" Elizabeth said, as she and Harry sat down. "Oh, he... wanted to spend some time with his cousin; he just got into town today."
"Which cousin's that?" Lily asked. "I mean, you know how many cousins Alan and Amanda have; honestly, I'm amazed that anyone can remember them all."
"It's Sean, Mum," Elizabeth clarified.
"Sean?" Lily asked, looking thoughtfully at them. "Isn't he the one who met you at the airport when you first got to Angel Grove?"
"Yeah, him and his sister Megan were the first people here when we arrived," Elizabeth said, smiling slightly at the memory. "Then, after that, we met Bulk and Skull in the school parking lot..."
"Yes," Lily said, laughing at the memory as she passed a plate of food to Harry before fixing Elizabeth's plate. "I've met those two myself; not the most competent, but there's something... sweet about them."
"So... how long will we be living in Angel Grove... Mum?" Harry asked, trying to think of questions that his counterpart would ask rather than the questions that he wanted to ask. "I'm not complaining about it- seems like a nice place-, but I'm just... curious."
"As long as we want," Lily said, smiling at her 'son'. "We're American citizens now. Despite having building-sized monsters wrecking the city once in a while, I love living here as much as your sister does. I just thank the heavens that we have those Power Rangers around."
"Good to know," Harry said, smiling briefly at her before lowering his head, suddenly uncertain how best to phrase the next question that had occurred to him. "Uh... if you've already told me this, I'm sorry, but... well, everything's still pretty much a blur..."
"It's nothing to be ashamed of, sweetheart," Lily said, scolding him with a teasing tone in her voice that even Mrs Weasley had never used on him. "It's good that you're asking questions, and you can feel free to ask as many as you like."
"Well..." Harry said, pausing for a final moment to make sure he couldn't think of a better way to phrase this before continuing, "why did you move to Angel Grove? Why did we leave England?"
"Well," Lily said, sprinkling a light amount of salt onto her mashed potatoes in a manner that Harry recognised as an attempt to distract herself from the negative details of what she was thinking about. "We originally left on Dumbledore's orders, but now that I think about it, coming to the United States was the best decision; after dealing with Death Eaters for so many years..."
She sighed wistfully, pausing to stare at her food for a few moments before she turned her attention back to the current conversation. "I just... decided that we all needed to start new lives; lives that didn't include Dumbledore and the Order."
His mother sighed at the thought, clearly remembering the life that she had shared however briefly with James, but she shook her head as she looked back at him. "Is there anything else that you would like to know?"
"I can't think of anything," Harry said quietly. "Could we... talk about something else."
A couple of hours later, Harry found himself staring at his other self's bedroom, wishing he could allow himself to feel completely comfortable in this whole mess.
The last few hours talking with Lily and Elizabeth about the Potters' lives in Angel Grove had been interesting, ranging from Elizabeth's thoughts on the schooling she was receiving at Angel Grove High to Lily's job and Harry's interest in the martial arts- at least his other self had been interested in that before he vanished; it saved Harry having something else he couldn't explain-, but even when they'd been relaxing and watching movies, Harry couldn't stop himself from feeling like an intruder in someone else's life.
Even if this was technically a life he could have lived, it still wasn't the life that he had lived, and no matter how much he might appreciate the chance to spend time with his mother, this Lily wasn't the Lily Potter who would have raised him...
A sudden comment Lily made about him being eighteen now drew Harry's thoughts back to the present; in the face of jarring reminders like that, even the most thorough introspection could get thrown off.
"What's wrong, sweetheart?" Lily asked, looking at him with a concern that Harry both wanted to accept and reject, wanting to enjoy even this strange connection with this woman no matter how much he constantly reminded himself that she wasn't his mother, that she had her own Harry...
"Just... bit tired," he said at last, shrugging slightly. "It's nothing."
"Get some sleep," Lily said, smiling at him as she leaned over to plant a brief kiss on his scar (He was glad that she'd accepted his explanation that he couldn't remember how that had happened; at least she hadn't identified it as a curse scar). "We'll need to get you some new clothes in the morning; the ones you're wearing now look like you've been sleeping in them."
No matter how complicated things were going to be when the time came for him to leave, in that moment, as he hugged his mother, he couldn't help but enjoy this brief chance at a glimpse of the actual family he'd never had a chance to experience back home...
As he hung in Zedd's throne room, Jason fought to remain conscious despite the ache in his head from what he'd just endured; evidently, no matter what reality they were from, Zedd and his associates had all the subtlety of a brick to the face when looking for information.
From what he could hear, he wasn't sure whether he should be grateful or disturbed at the fact that Ooze apparently wanted him left alive for some reason...
"Well, Ooze," Zedd snarled, his voice drawing Jason's attention back to the matter at hand by giving him something to focus on, "were you able to pry anything useful from Jason?"
"Indeed I have!" Ivan answered, grinning at Zedd. "Although most of the information I have gained relates more to the White Ranger's past Ranger teams, I believe that with a few modifications, I can use what I have learned to destroy all of the Power Rangers, starting with the Red, White, and Yellow Patronus Force Rangers!"
As a door opened, Jason glanced up at the source of the noise, his eyes widening in horror at the sight of Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny and a third boy with red hair who looked like he was related to the other two Weasleys. For a moment, he thought that he was looking at his team, but the four he recognised were all in different colours to what he was used to; while Harry was still in red, and all four were wearing dark trousers, Ron was now wearing black, Hermione was in grey, and Ginny was in a dark yellow, while the unknown third Weasley was in blue.
Oh, no... Jason thought, as he took in the almost pure-black eyes of all five of the figures before him; if these people weren't this world's counterparts of his friends, he didn't know what else they could be.
"You wanted to see us, Master?" Harry asked, his deeper voice resonating as he spoke.
"I did indeed, my boy!" Ivan answered, grinning as he placed a hand on a metal box. "After close inspection of the Power Ranger's abilities, I have come to the conclusion that your present powers are far too weak to keep up with the Patronus Force Rangers. To that end, I have constructed new morphers for you; morphers that will infuse you with even more power!"
Oh, crap, Jason thought, his eyes narrowing as he watched the purple figure retrieve five black wrist-mounted devices, each one with a different coloured strip that was subsequently strapped to their wrists.
"Now, morph!" Ivan yelled.
"Dark Force- GO!" the five figures yelled, all of them raising their arms into the air before they were surrounded by a flash of energy. Each Ranger was now dressed in a dark costume in their respective colours with a black upside-down triangle on the chest and black lines running down their arms and legs, gloves and boots in the colour of the costume apart from black bands around the tops. Each Ranger's helmet bore a resemblance to the skull of an animal, with Harry's helmet resembling a stag's skull, Ron's looked somewhat dog-like, Hermione was an otter, Ginny seemed to be a horse, and the fifth figure seemed to be some kind of dog-like animal.
"Those Power Rangers won't stand a chance against us now!" Ron growled, studying his costume with a sense of satisfaction.
"Too bad that I won't get a crack at that annoying Lovegood bitch!" Hermione said, clenching her fists in anticipation. "But at least I can kill dear sweet Amanda!"
"What's your deal with her?" the unidentified Blue Ranger sneered underneath his helmet.
"She had the... the audacity... to get a higher grade than I did in Transfiguration!" Hermione exclaimed. "No one is allowed to do that to me and get away with it!"
As he stared at the twisted alternate versions of his friends, Jason wasn't sure what was worst about what might be coming up; the fact that his friends would technically be up against themselves, or the fact that he couldn't do a thing to help them.
"Nice costumes," Zedd said with a dismissive sneer. "But have you forgotten that the Dark Rangers were created to fight the Patronus Force Rangers, and that the Rangers have now been joined by those other Power Rangers?"
"Zeddy, Zeddy, Zeddy..." Ivan said, grinning knowingly at the other man. "Thanks to the White Ranger, I have the perfect team to go up against the Guardian and Dino Thunder Rangers! BEHOLD!"
As though Ivan's words had been a spell, the chamber door opened once more, revealing six figures that Jason immediately recognised.
Even if he'd never fought them himself, the armour and colour scheme made it obvious; only one team could look like that...
The Psycho Rangers... he thought, his eyes widening in horror as the new 'Rangers' introduced themselves.
The most dangerous team of evil Rangers to ever exist, the only ones that actually came genuinely close to defeating the Rangers they'd been created to oppose- particularly since they were just evil Rangers rather than having been brainwashed or anything like that-, and Ooze had gone and created his own version of the team?
He had to figure out a way out of this mess and get back to the others; they had to know what they were up against...
"Time to let the Ranger Wars begin!" Ooze cackled, grinning as he looked around at the eleven Rangers he had created. "And, to kick things off... I think I'll hit the Rangers where it will really hurt..."
"And what about Sleeping Beauty over there?" Rita asked, indicating Jason (One obvious advantage of them leaving his helmet on during the whole thing where they'd been scanning his thoughts; they evidently thought that the lack of motion meant that he was still unconscious).
"Oh... I have a few plans in mind for him," Ooze said, smirking in satisfaction as he rubbed his hands together. "While we return the Guardian Megazord to the Rangers who so generously leant it to us, I'm sure that Jason here will be quite willing to repay our hospitality by acquiring a certain crystal for us..."
Underneath his helmet, Jason's eyes widened in horror.
If he understood what Ooze was implying, he really needed to warn the others; there was no way in Hell that Zedd and Ooze could be given the chance to acquire the Zeo Crystal...
A few dimensions away...
As he sat in his chamber, staring at the staff that had brought him so much power, Voldemort wondered what it said about his ascent to power when he felt that things were becoming too easy.
With the Hogwarts Guardians and their 'associates' having been dealt with- honestly, why so many people felt the need to prevent the rise of the strong to rule the weak by donning such ridiculous outfits Voldemort would never understand-, he had been able to turn his attention back to establishing his power back in Britain. The Ministry takeover generally appeared to be going well, with the relevant followers placed in the right positions to do the most good for his long-term agenda while other positions were filled by those who would sympathise with his goals even if they would have lacked the courage to take action before now.
With most of the Order having kept the full scale of their operations secret from everyone to limit the possibility of further traitors- evidently Dumbledore had learned his lesson after Wormtail's betrayal-, there was no way for Voldemort to know who among the Ministry could be trusted and who should be suspected, and he could hardly fire even the obvious suspects such as Arthur Weasley without making his current presence obvious, given that Weasley's department was still performing at sufficient standards even if he disapproved of the man himself.
Quite frankly, at this point, bringing the Guardians back might almost be a good thing; at least it would give his enemies something to rally around now that Dumbledore's death had deprived them of the central focus they had possessed previously...
Shaking that thought off, Voldemort stood up and walked to the centre of the chamber, raising his staff above his head as he began to chant once more.
Before he made a decision about what he was going to do with the Guardians and his enemies one way or the other, he was going to need to confirm where he had sent them and how they were coping with whatever dangers awaited them there... and to do that, he would need a very special monster...