Magi Ranger By: Tenstar12
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or Power Rangers.
Chapter 55, in which Harry Bounces Back, and Then Gets Confused
Upon leaving the Command Center, Harry's first priority was to find somewhere else for him to stay, at least for the time being. The obvious choice then, was to set up another rune-expanded area like he had in the Command Center, but where?
Spending some time wandering around Angel Grove, Harry considered his usual stomping grounds. The first place to come to mind was Angel Grove Youth Center, since he spent more time there than anywhere else outside of the Command Center.
That idea was ultimately discarded however since, although it would provide easier access to the bathroom facilities he had been using during his stay in the Command Center, the security cameras Ernie had had installed were a potential issue. After all, he had never had an opportunity to test out his notice-me-not wards against electronic surveillance and his secret would be quite exposed if they didn't work. So that was one idea down.
The second thought he had was Angel Grove Park. Aside from having a truly massive area to find a suitable location in, nearly so much for him to have too many options, it was his second most frequented non-Command Center location, so convenience was a factor too. Plus, it had its own bathroom facilities, with limited shower facilities set up around the lake, so it was another source for that need as well.
The issue here came in that it was also wildly popular. Harry had noted in the past that there really wasn't a lot to do in Angel Grove aside from hanging out in the park, or at least not a lot that the other Rangers, and specifically Trini since he was dating her, liked to do. With that popularity came a massive crowd and he was sure that sooner or later it would be noticed that he was vanishing in a certain area, and that would only bring unwanted attention, especially if Bulk and Skull caught on to the odd happenings and set up their own surveillance, either in person or with cameras, which came back to that electronic surveillance issue.
Aside from that, the only really suitable surfaces for his runic engravings were on the aforementioned bathroom and shower facility buildings, with none of the trees even being large enough for a properly sized doorway he could then enchant, and he just didn't like the idea of making his new residence out of a bathroom.
Especially a public bathroom…
Ultimately though, he made his decision when he apparated from a private location in the park to his typical alleyway near the Youth Center late in the evening. As it was so late, his performance at the Youth Center having ended mid-afternoon and the whole deal with Jason not even taking half an hour but then being followed by his so far fruitless search for potential residence, Harry was planning to pop into the Youth Center and try and sleep under some concealment charms, security cameras or no security cameras. If nothing else, he would be indoors. But when he appeared in the warded location he used to keep his magical transit secret, he paused and looked around.
The alleyway already had some rudimentary protections on it, even if only anonymity based spells to keep others from noticing his comings and goings, and it was less than a block away from the Youth Center, which served well for convenience. In addition, there was plenty of debris around for transfiguration, even if most of it was garbage which was a bit distasteful, so he had material to work with for furnishings and the doorway itself.
As for downsides, well it was rather public. Not much besides his spellwork keeping random passersby from spotting him entering or leaving the alley, though that could be mitigated by some personal muggle repelling charms or something similar. In addition, the existence of trash here meant that people did frequent this place already, even if only irregularly, so he couldn't just ward off the entire area lest someone pick up on something odd, like a frequently used alley randomly disappearing, and come investigating.
Also, again because of the trash, it stank a bit, but nothing a few air freshening charms couldn't deal with… if applied regularly anyway…
Still, it being the best place he had found thus far, Harry decided to go for it, and set about transfiguring a few cardboard boxes into an appropriate door frame and door that was then stuck onto the wall halfway down the alley and right in the middle of his previously warded area. It was then the work of around 2 hours, the last 30 minutes of which were accompanied by magically created light as the sun had ducked down far enough to make it hard to see what he was doing, to engrave and charge the necessary runes.
Standing up from his work, Harry sighed in satisfaction as he reflected on the ease of magical work when one had a wand as compared to working wandlessly. It had taken him 18 hours, nine times as long, to create the original working in the Command Center. And while some of that could be explained by the Power in the Command Center resisting his rune work, Harry knew that most of it was down to the tools at his disposal.
With full darkness rapidly approaching, Harry opened the doorway to his new hidey hole, idly noting again at the superiority of wanded versus wandless as the interior space was easily double the size of the previous in every dimension, and levitated in a few full bags of garbage. These bags were then transfigured together into a single mass before that mass was then changed into a replica of his old Gryffindor four poster from his dorm back at Hogwarts. It was then the work of a few minutes to move the bed to a corner of the room and extract his remaining furniture from his pockets and resize it.
His room all unpacked, if not properly arranged just yet, Harry finally let himself relax after securing his doorway and the alley outside with a few extra charms just in case. Stripping down and changing into his sleepwear, the exhausted Magi Ranger attempted to find a hint of comfort in sleep as he put an end on what had truly been an exhausting day.
Harry awoke the next day with a groan. A series of unforeseen events had prevented him from really getting a good night's sleep. First was the lingering traces of garbage stink drifting around the room. He hadn't quite noticed while he was still awake and active, but once he had lay down and closed his eyes, the scent became that much more noticeable. After an hour of fitful starts and stops, dancing on the edge of true sleep, he had finally just gotten up and started casting air freshening charms, a process that, while not taking too long, did manage to bring his brain back up to a level of activity that made achieving sleep much harder.
Once he laid back down again, it was nearly another hour before he managed to relax enough to fall asleep, only for his other senses to once more betray him. This time, it was his sense of touch as, upon shifting his position, he notices an oily residue that seemed to cover a portion of his sheets. Once more waking up, he created a magical light and found that parts of his bed, from portions of his sheets, to bits of the headboard, footboard, and even the posts and curtains around it, were indeed spotted with a grimy… something. A few minutes thought, once more waking him up more than he would have liked, brought him to the realization that he hadn't actually used any cleaning charms on his new bed, meaning that the mess was most likely from the surface of the garbage that the bed had once been.
One suitable freak out later, accompanied by a battery of cleaning and disinfecting charms aimed at both his bed and his person, and Harry finally found himself able to fall asleep, if a tiny bit more raw from the magical scrubbing he had just gone through. The final issue of the night came when he finally woke up with a pain in his lower back. As it turned out, garbage did not make a great Transfiguration base for furniture, especially, in Harry's opinion, a bed. His mattress was entirely unsuited to be called such as, while it was the right shape and carried the right outward appearance, it was utterly without the ability to bring any real comfort overnight to any but the most desperate sleeper. And while it could be assumed to have something to do with Harry's own Transfiguration ability, he was more inclined to believe it was the base material at fault in this case.
As it is said: garbage in, garbage out. If perhaps a bit more literally in this case.
Whether Harry was just rationalizing to make himself feel better or not, he still felt something was… off. As he stood from his bed and attempted to work out the kinks and pains from sleeping as he had, his mind was attempting to figure out the feeling of wrongness. His initial thought was the lack of anticipation that he had felt while within the Command Center. Even within the dubious protection offered by his former accommodations, the ever-looming threat of the Grid Energy in the main area of the building, waiting to induce yet another migraine onto is person was an almost palpable feeling to the Magi Ranger. It came to the point where he was sorely tempted to teleport or apparate directly from his room to start the day, and he would have if Zordon and Alpha had not requested he at least check in before leaving each day, which pretty much meant stepping out where the Power could affect him.
He discarded this though as he wasn't really feeling baseless tension or anticipation of pain as far as he could tell. After his poor night's sleep, he was already feeling quite enough pain as it was, though this odd feeling wasn't really from his general discomfort either.
By this point, Harry had finished stretching and working out his joints, regaining most of his mobility with only a lingering hint of soreness that would probably stick with him for most of the day. He really needed to look into a different mattress, or at least some better transfiguration base for his next attempt. At this point, he was quite sure that he would have slept better on his old cot he got from Alpha than the travesty of sleeping furniture he had used.
He almost wished he hadn't used it to bind up Jason… almost.
With a groan, Harry gave one final stretch, reaching his arms up over his head in a vain attempt to brush his fingertips against the top of the expanded space he was in several feet further out of reach, before relaxing again. "Alright then," he spoke to himself as he cast his gaze around the room. "First things first, I need to figure out what I'm doing today… Let's see… yesterday was my magic show… so today is Sunday and I do have a short shift today around noon… I also need to finish straightening this place up… maybe a few wards outside too… so then, let's see what kind of time I have… Tempus."
As Harry idly waved his hand before himself and cast the time telling charm, his sense of wrongness was explained. As the floating numbers manifested in the air before him, Harry found that it was not morning, as he had previously thought. It was, in fact, shortly after one o'clock in the afternoon. He had overslept, most likely because of his difficulty finding a place to stay the night before and his issues with sleeping throughout the night. But the reasons behind it didn't really matter at this point…
"CRAP!" Harry shouted, summoning his wand immediately and waving it, magically cleaning and straightening his clothing even as they changed from sleep wear to jeans and a t-shirt. With little fanfare, Harry dashed out the door into the alleyway he had set up in. Without further thought, Harry took off at a dead sprint while stashing his wand back into this disillusioned wand holster, the magically concealed doorway slamming shut behind him.
In less than two minutes, a heavily panting Harry covered the block or so between his alley and his place of employment, weaving his way through the early afternoon crowd as he went. When he entered the main doors and found himself in the locker hallway leading to the main area of the Youth Center, he slowed to a fast walk, mostly because there wasn't really enough room to dodge around everyone inside, and caught his breath while he continued making his way.
Each step felt like it took an hour as the people ahead of him slowly made their way into the Youth Center. It seemed as though he had arrived just as the early afternoon crowd got heavy, a time when he should have already been at the grill, making up lunch orders while Ernie manned the register and Richie did whatever he could to sabotage Harry while trying to appear the model employee that he pretended to be.
Harry groaned softly under his breath. He just knew that Richie was going to try and make a big deal out of this.
The relatively short hallway seemed to stretch on forever, but Harry finally reached the main room to find the usual Sunday crowd in full swing. Ducking to one side as soon as he could, Harry hopped up and hauled himself over the railing leading to the raised section of the Youth Center around the snack bar. His actions caught the attention of both his employer and coworker and, just as Harry had predicted, the latter was the first to comment just as Harry slipped through the half-door behind the counter to don his apron.
"Nice of you to finally join us, Potter," Richie snarked. Anything further was cut off when Ernie spoke up.
"You alright there, Harry?" the jolly man asked, concern in his voice. "You're usually early if anything… is everything ok?"
Harry sighed, ignoring Richie and turning to face Ernie, knowing that it would be better to deal with this up front instead of letting the almost painfully helpful man bug him about it all day, only to get the info in the end. "I had a bit of an issue with the place I was staying after the show yesterday. Long story short, I had to find somewhere else. I'm all good now, but I didn't manage to get too much sleep, and I was apparently more tired than I thought. I only woke up a little bit ago and saw the time. Sorry about that, Ernie."
The big man merely eyed Harry steadily for a few more minutes before turning to glance at the television he kept behind the counter. Harry's own eyes were drawn to it and saw that it was playing a local news station. "Alright, Harry, if you say you're alright… Just let me know if you need any help, ok?"
Harry was more than a little off balance at this point. He hadn't expected Ernie to outright fire him or anything, but he had thought that his boss would at least be a little upset about him showing up an hour late with no excuse other than "I overslept."
"Thanks, Ernie. I'll be alright." With that, Harry turned and quick-stepped over to the grill to take over from where Ernie had been managing a few orders between transactions at the register. With Richie handling the cold items, Ernie could focus more on taking orders and payments (and making smoothies) while Harry picked up the grill, able to manage more orders at once than Ernie could since he could devote his entire focus to it.
In this way, the three managed to get past the initial backlog caused by Harry's lateness and settled into an easy rhythm. After about an hour of work, as the lunch rush calmed down and more of the regulars settled in for their usual activities at the most popular youth hangout in this part of Angel Grove. It was only once this comparative lull settled in that Ernie once more turned to Harry. "You know, Harry," Ernie chuckled. "For a bit there, I was actually worried you had been ambushed by putties or something."
Harry flinched a bit, pausing in his scrubbing of the flat top before him to face his boss. "What? Why would you think that?"
Richie looked equally confused, but more along the lines of not expecting Harry to come out of such an interaction alive than anything else. Ernie just shrugged as he straightened up a few loose items on the counter. "Well, ever since you started learning karate from Jason and Tommy, you and that entire group have been seen fighting against those putties all the time. Protecting people and all that whenever they show up. At least until the Power Rangers arrive anyway. It's even been mentioned on the news. It's really rather admirable, even if you kids do worry me all the time." Ernie chuckled a bit. "Honestly, to hear that you just overslept was both a relief and a disappointment. I guess you are just a normal teen after all, eh?"
Harry blinked, but any comment was cut off by Richie's snide comment. "Wait, you're telling me that Potter can fight? I mean, I know he stood up to those guys that were causing problems here a week ago, but there is no way he's fought some of those putty things!"
Ernie chuckled as he nodded. "Oh yeah, Harry's more than a magician on the stage and with a grill. He was in Jason's karate class and later started learning from Tommy Oliver, another promising martial artist. Based on what I've heard some of Jason's other students and Tommy himself saying, he picked it all up surprisingly quickly."
Harry's face was turning bright red from his embarrassment at this point, and he quickly turned his focus back to his cleaning. Richie wasn't one to let things drop though as his faux-casual voice sent another question his way. "So… what belt have you reached?"
Fighting down his blush as best he could, Harry responded shortly while vigorously scrubbing at the cooktop. "Technically I only have a white belt since I left Jason's class before getting any further and Tommy can't give me a belt since I'm not really a formal student that he can award a rank to."
"I see…" Richie hummed thoughtfully for a moment before turning back to his own cleaning work. Quickly putting that rather odd tangent out of his mind, Harry finished cleaning up the cook top.
His shift was only supposed to last 4 hours, but it wasn't until halfway through that last hour that the inevitable happened: Jason and the others walked into the Youth Center. He hadn't seen them since the day before, and even though they parted on relatively good terms, with Jason being the obvious exception, Harry was still somewhat concerned as to what their reactions would be. Call it being off balance from a bad night, but his old insecurities were rearing their ugly heads just a bit.
It turns out though, that he really needn't have worried, not that he should have been surprised. Jason, of course, gave no reaction to Harry's presence as he stepped into the room and cast his gaze around. In fact, Harry was more than convinced that the Red Ranger didn't even so much as flinch when he noticed his presence. It was as if the Ranger had decided, or more likely been ordered by Zordon, to ignore Harry's presence as much as possible until the situation could be resolved. In all honesty, Harry felt it was probably the best outcome that he could expect after their altercation the previous day.
The other three who were immediately present, that being Zack, Billy, and Trini, each offered Harry a wide, shy, and happy smile respectively, but stuck close to Jason's side as the Ranger then headed over to a table across the room from the snack bar.
Harry, as it turned out, wasn't the only one to notice their entrance, though their interpretation of events was rather different. "Oh, that had to hurt a bit there, Potter."
Harry closed his eyes briefly in exasperation at the snide tone in Richie's voice before turning to face his smirking coworker, idly noting that Ernie had apparently ducked out from behind the counter for something. There was really no way Richie would be attempting this kind of confrontation if he had still been around. "And what, pray tell, would 'that' be, Richie?"
Richie's smirk somehow grew more obnoxious. "Not even a wave, just a few half-hearted smiles and then nothing. You're 0 for 4, and it looks like you may be out of some friends and a girlfriend before too long."
Harry just blinked. "Seriously? How'd you come to that conclusion?"
Richie took a self-satisfied look as he casually buffed his nails on his shirt in an attempt to look suave. "I told you, Potter, I always get what I want. You're an obstacle to that, so I'm taking steps to start removing that obstacle. Who would've thought that Jason would be so receptive to my words though… Oh, right, I would have! And I didn't even have to say anything to him directly, either. Just a small conversation held within easy earshot and the stupid hothead blew his top. I just wish I had been there to see the outcome."
As Richie trailed off into derisive chuckles, Harry processed his words. If Richie was to be believed, then Jason's big blow up, while certainly fueled by his Grid influenced anger, was sparked off by Richie. He doubted that Richie had specifically pointed Jason toward Harry as the Magi Ranger abusing his Power, but he could've undoubtedly set of Jason's hair trigger temper and set him down that path unknowingly without really trying.
So, not necessarily the path he was shooting for, but with visible results that made him think it was.
Not only that, but he didn't know that Jason was really the only one of the group that was against him at this point, so he thought his "master plan" had been a total success.
But thinking on Richie's apparent plot, brought Harry's mind back around to the fight with Jason. In retrospect, he had blown his top and been just as responsible for the argument as the Red Ranger. Yes, Jason had crossed a line, but Harry had been the one to blow it even further out of proportion. Jason was probably not looking for Harry's Power Coin, all the Rangers knew that he kept his coin/wand on his person at all times, and he doubted that Jason would have forgotten that in his anger, so there was really no point in looking in Harry's room for it. He had then probably just reacted to Harry's challenge when the Magi Ranger stood up to him and everything went downhill from there.
That didn't mean that Harry was willing to admit to being in the wrong and be the first to apologize though. If nothing else, Harry knew we was stubborn, and he wasn't going to let the Red Ranger out stubborn him into an inferior position just to end up back in the same place that he had been in before: stuck at the Command Center with the migraine inducing Power all around him, and probably with a magical oath to Jason that would end up being just shy of magical slavery in regard to not using his power, personal or Grid, for anything the Red Ranger didn't approve of. It wasn't really a situation he wanted to find himself in at all, but especially not with Jason acting as he was, Grid influence or no Grid influence.
Bringing himself back to the present, Harry noticed Richie's self-satisfied chuckles had come to an end and the other teen was now looking at Harry with his smug smirk once more on his face. "Trying to come up with some way out of the trap I got you into, Potter? Well, you can't, its perfect, and I've won. Best part is you can't even go squealing to any of them about my having set all this up without looking like a whiny little child. If I'm honest, that's my favorite part of this whole thing."
Now, it was Harry's turn to chuckle as he shook his head in pity. "Richie, Richie, Richie… I think you may be thinking too little of my friends, and especially of Trini. They aren't going to abandon me just because Jason blows his top. He may be the unofficial leader of their group, a group that I'm only barely on the outside of at this point," Harry had to stifle a smirk at this point but soldiered on. "But the rest of them are free thinking people too and aren't going to leave anyone just because Jason doesn't like them. Especially not Trini. I'm afraid you're going to have to try again, mate. Though if you're just going to resort to such underhanded tactics all the time, you may as well quit now. Those kinds of things always backfire in the end."
Richie opened his mouth to respond, but quickly closed it as his eyes focused on something over Harry's shoulder. The teen scoffed before turning and returning to his work. "I suppose that, despite your delusions, you aren't entirely wrong. At least one out of six isn't a total loss, Potter, but this still isn't over."
Turning, Harry saw that Kimberly and Tommy had now arrived. Kimberly was smiling at him similarly to how the others had before tilting her head in the direction of Jason's table. Harry smiled back and gave her a nod in return before turning to fully face the approaching Tommy as Kimberly headed off to join the other Rangers.
"Hey, Harry." Tommy said as he stepped up to the counter, hopping onto a stool. "I come bearing a message and an order."
Harry chuckled as Tommy fished out a scrap of paper with writing on it and passed it over. "Hey, Tommy, how's it going?" Glancing over the paper, he found a collective order for six different fruit smoothies, each written in different handwriting and, ironically enough, different and rather telling colors of ink. Though he did notice two of them in pink and assumed Tommy must have used Kimberly's pen. "I'll get these together for you, just give me a minute."
It was the work of ten minutes or so to mix up the various fruit drinks, including switching out the pitchers from the blender as needed and drafting Richie to actually do his job and wash the used ones out instead of just giving Harry the stink eye as he held the counter up in his laziness. Once he had them done, though Harry brought the tray back over to Tommy and accepted payment for the drinks.
Before departing, Tommy spoke again. "Hey, listen. Kim told me about what happened. Its rough man, but we've all got your back. Jason will come to his senses sooner or later. Don't worry about it."
Harry just smiled and nodded at his Karate teacher and friend, almost able to feel Richie's anger as he overheard Tommy's words, as the teen moved to step away from the counter before pausing and reversing direction. "Oh, I almost forgot about the message." Tommy's eyes shifted briefly to where Harry knew Richie was standing before he spoke again. "Uh… Kimberly said that she took Hedwig out to the park this morning and let her… uh… go hunting like you told her to do. She was really excited that you let her look after your owl like that. But anyway, uh, Hedwig did her thing and then… went to sleep in a tree and we couldn't get her down. She knew that you said she did that sometime, so she just wanted to me to let you know what happened. I can, uh, take you there when you get off so you can pick Hedwig up if you want."
Harry blinked as he translated Tommy's cover story, 'uh's' included, and got the message that Hedwig was in the park waiting for him. The whole thing with Kimberly being entirely for Richie's benefit. Mentally, he flinched at having left his familiar/Zord behind again. He was really gonna get it later on, wasn't he?
"Sure thing, Tommy." Harry responded, glancing over at the clock. "I should be off in twenty minutes or so if that works for you."
Tommy nodded and once more stepped away from the counter. "Sounds like a plan to me. Just give me a shout when you're ready and we'll head out."
The rest of Harry's shift was spent with a grumbling Richie, Ernie not reappearing from wherever he had gone after the earlier rush, and occasional glances towards the Rangers' table.
"We're all with you, Harry," Tommy said as the two walked down one of the many paved paths through Angel Grove park toward the remote corner of the property where Hedwig had been left earlier that day. "Well, except for Jason of course… I still can't believe what happened. I mean, Kimberly told me all about it, and I certainly believe her, but I still can't believe it. Jason was always so levelheaded…"
Harry snorted good naturedly. "You mean, once you joined the team and got out from under Rita's mind control. He had a few moments while you were still charmed that were similar to his reactions yesterday. Granted, they weren't nearly as extreme, but…"
Tommy chuckled. "Yeah, I guess being a part of the main team gives us a bit of the old rose tinted glasses, doesn't it?"
Harry shrugged. "A bit, but it doesn't help that Jason has disliked me, if not been openly antagonistic about it, since literally the first moment I met him. This has been a long time in coming to be honest."
"But still, it's not right, man." Tommy insisted, the concern in his voice touching the Magi Ranger. "I mean, you basically had to leave the only home you have because of his reactions. I just… I can't imagine how that must've felt."
Harry chuckled at that. "Oddly enough, it was rather freeing. I'd been feeling trapped there for a while, what with all the problems going on. And Jason's outburst gave me the push I needed to get away from there before I drove myself crazy."
"So where are you staying now?"
"I set up another magically expanded area in the alley I use for apparating near the Youth Center. It's much larger than the one I had in the Command Center, though whether that's from having a wand to create this one or just the lack of magical resistance when compared to the Command Center is up for debate. The neighborhood isn't quite as good, seeing as all my neighbors tend to dump their trash right outside my door, but you take what you can get when you're basically squatting. And considering my other options included the wall of a public bathroom here in the park… yeah, not gonna complain about a bit of trash when compared to that."
Though if he couldn't sort out his sleeping situation, he may end up reconsidering that position.
By this time, the two were passing a small playground. It had a wooden fort set up for children to play on, one with a ladder at one end, a rope bridge with solid wood sides in the middle, a slide at the other, a set of monkey bars on the side nearest the path, and a swing set on the far side. The entire setup was isolated in a raised area filled with tiny rocks and surrounded by a row of heavy timbers to keep them in the area. At the time, there were three young girls running the circuit, climbing the ladder, crossing the bridge, and sliding down the slide before repeating the process, chasing each other and giggling the entire time. Their parents, or at least the three adults accompanying the children, were all chatting off to one side near the slide end.
None of this would have been of any import to the current and former Power Rangers, were it not for one of the three girls, this one looking to be around 5 or 6, suddenly letting out an ear-piercing scream. Now, with a child of that age, such a reaction could potentially be caused by any number of stimuli. From tripping and hurting herself to seeing a spider. In Angel Grove, California however, there was another, altogether more worrisome potential cause, and in this case it was confirmed when Harry and Tommy heard the telltale deep warbling of a Z-putty, which was standing at the slide end of the bridge, where the children had been running to when they saw the golem.
Exchanging a quick glance, Harry and Tommy both immediately broke into a sprint toward the fort. Tommy, having been on the closer side of the two and honestly being marginally better shape, pulled ahead a short distance and, as they got near the edge of the structure and the railing nearly 8 feet up, spun in place and slid to a stop in the loose rock until his back bumped up against the fort, grunting a bit at the impact even as he cupped his hands together and braced himself.
Seeing what Tommy was intending, Harry adjusted his stride and high stepped at the last moment, putting his right foot into Tommy's cupped hands which then allowed the martial artist to help launch Harry up into the air, easily high enough to clear the railing without having to scramble over. At the peak of his jump, Harry flipped forward, spinning even as he did so, and reached out to plant a hand atop the railing to help guide his fall. Twisting once more when he had the hand placed, Harry tucked himself in and transferred his momentum down to land directly between the three children on the rope bridge and the Z-Putty in front of them. The landing was nothing to write home about as he almost immediately staggered as the bridge flexed beneath him, preventing him from finding his footing, but Harry was just happy he had gotten there before the clay construct had done anything to the kids.
"Just stay behind me, kids." Harry said, glancing back quickly toward the three visibly terrified girls, though not taking his entire attention off the putty. "I'll handle this guy."
The putty, for its part, tilted hits head in confusion for a moment before seemingly recognizing Harry. Then, entirely contrary to what the Magi Ranger was expecting, the putty patroller rapidly backed away from its position, allowing Harry the chance to advance onto the solid floor of the slide end of the fort. With an internal shrug, Harry pressed his attack, launching a flurry of punches with his Tommy-influenced kiai. "Si-Aiyah!"
The golem gave ground, blocking as it could, but not really moving to counterattack, and it wasn't until Harry heard another scream, this time from all three girls behind him, that he realized there may be more going on. Sparing a quick second to glance backwards, Harry spotted a second putty at the other end of the bridge, though this one was close enough to the ladder that he suspected it has just climbed up. And based on the children's position at that end of the short bridge now, they had been hoping to climb back down that way before seeing it. "Tommy, I've got another one up here!"
"A little busy here myself, Harry." Tommy's reply, shortly followed by his own kiai, shut down that avenue of help. With little other choice, Harry delved into the Power within him, giving a bit of control to the Grid. He hated it, but he wasn't going to let any civilians, let alone children, get hurt if he could help it.
A surge of strength and confidence flowed into Harry from near the center of his being, where his reservoir of Grid Power rested near his Magical Core, and with it, Harry moved. Launching a quick left-right combo, Harry managed to break the first putty's guard, sending its arms wide before hopping up and delivering a straight kick. The kick was a little too high to properly hit the golem's chest emblem, but it did manage to send the thing stumbling backwards into and over the railing to fall to the ground. It was a fall that would have, at the very least, knocked the wind out of a normal person, but he had no such illusions on its effectiveness at damaging one of Zedd's shock troops. But the fall did let him move to engage the one that was now threatening the three children.
Breaking into a sprint, Harry jumped up onto the high railing that ran alongside the bridge. This rail was a solid part of the fort, and so didn't give under his feet and throw off his balance as the bridge itself would have. In addition, he was granted a higher base to leap from, which let him clear the heads of the three children and catch the Z-Putty completely off guard with a flying kick to its emblem accompanied by a fierce kiai.
The golem lit up as it flew through the air, the force imparted by Harry's kick enough to knock it back off of the fort where it hit the ground mere moments before it fell apart and crumbled to nothing. Turning quickly, almost expecting to find yet another putty patroller, or at least the first one again, Harry was instead relieved to only see the three children, though one looked surprisingly familiar. "Marie?"
The twelve-year-old in question canted her head to one side in confusion. "Do I know you, mister?" Her eyes narrowed briefly before the widened suddenly in recognition. "HEY! You're the magician guy from the Youth Center! But… how did you know my name?"
Harry blanched and glanced around hurriedly for a distraction. Where was a damn Z-Putty when you needed one? Seeing nothing to interrupt the conversation, even Tommy's kiai had died down, leading Harry to believe that the putties had been finished off, the Magi Ranger thought quickly. "Uh… Ernie told me what it was. He noticed how much… uh, fun you were having at the magic show and pointed you out to me."
"Mister Ernie did that?" Marie's eyes lit up in happiness even as the other two girls, visibly younger than her, huddled behind her back out of fear or shyness, the latter of which seemed entirely foreign to Marie. "I really liked your show, mister… uh… what's your name?"
The girl's innocent question made Harry chuckle even as he gestured for the three to proceed him back across the bridge and released his hold on the Power within him. "My name is Harry, it's nice to meet you officially Marie." Even as he spoke, Harry was reminded of his first encounter with this girl and how Tommy had unknowingly called him by name while in morph. Harry had had to memory charm the info from her that time, but he seriously hoped that that didn't somehow become necessary this time.
"Alright, girls." Harry said when they had all crossed the bridge, during which time, Harry spotted Tommy and the three adults that were presumably with the children at the bottom of the slide, with the adults looking especially frantic. "Why don't you three head on down, I'll be right behind you."
The two younger ones seemed especially clingy, both holding tight to Marie and each other, but after a few words from the eldest of the three, they slid down the slide and ran to their respective adults/parents where they quickly reattached themselves. Marie was another story entirely. As soon as she got to the bottom of the slide, she stepped to one side and looked expectantly up at Harry.
For his part, Harry had planned on just jumping over the side to get back down, but seeing that expectant look from Marie, along with a stern look from the only woman present without an attached child who seemed able to read his intention and strongly opposed it. With a sigh, and a grimace when he caught the amused look in Tommy's eyes, Harry crouched down, grabbed a hold of the bar above the top of the metal slide, and scooted/swung himself through. It was a rather tight fit, though his skinny stature kept him from getting completely stuck on the sides of the slide. Still, he felt more than a little foolish sliding down the piece of children's play equipment.
Then, just as he regained his feet, Marie snagged his left hand and immediately started dragging him toward the woman Harry had noted before. "Mommy! Did you see!?"
The woman, apparently Marie's Mother, just wrapped her daughter into a hug, picking her up as she did and breaking the girl's hold on Harry's hand in the process. Marie didn't let her mother's hug quell her enthusiasm. "This is Mister Harry! He's the magician guy Mister Ernie told me about that we saw at the Youth Center! He saved my life from the putty thingies! He's a superhero just like the Magi Ranger, Mommy!"
Harry flinched and glanced over at Tommy in time to see the teen hide a smirk behind a hand. Seeing no help coming from there, Harry just turned back to Marie and her mother only to find the woman now looking toward Harry with amusement in her eyes. "I hope you know, young man, that you've made a friend for life in my daughter here. Anyone getting compared to the Magi Ranger is the highest praise coming from her."
"Yeah! Yeah!" Marie chanted quickly squirming until her mother put her down. "You were all like, hiyah! And the putty guy was all running and stuff! It was just like when the Magi Ranger saved me from the monkey butt!" Marie broke down into giggles that sounded at least a little bit hysterical, perhaps adrenaline running its course after her fright.
Any response Harry could've made was interrupted by Tommy's sudden shout. "HARRY! BEHIND!"
Spinning quickly in the loose rock, Harry found a Z-Putty mere feet away. Based on how scuffed it looked, Harry figured it was the one he had knocked over the edge of the play fort back for revenge. Despite its earlier actions, it didn't seem to have any problems charging him now. Out of position as he was, Harry figured that he was going to take a few hits this time, at least until Tommy got to him. But with both caught off guard and the loose rock they were on making traction a problem, there wouldn't be any avoiding at least the first few attacks.
It was then that a white blur blew past Harry's head, passing just over his right shoulder and passing close by the top of the putty's head with a sound of stone scraping on stone. The unexpected blow knocked the putty off guard, and in fact delivered enough force to throw the putty's head and torso back, leading to its feet flying out from under it and it coming to a sliding stop right in front of the Magi Ranger. This gave Harry enough time to recover his stance and jump forward, sacrificing fighting technique for efficiency as he brought his body weight down onto the Z emblem with both feet.
Hopping off again immediately to avoid losing his footing when the construct disintegrated, Harry took a fighting stance and looked around warily for any further lurking putties.
-There are no more clay things left, Harry/Wizard- Hedwig's voice came through their mental bond. -Though I am sure that if there were, I would have to deal with them for you as well. You have gotten clumsy lately, Harry/Wizard.-
Harry let out a breath of relief as he relaxed and stood fully upright again, glancing over to Tommy and waving him down. "What was that?!" Marie shouted; her excitement apparently unaffected by the additional putty attack.
Sighing and turning back to the excitable child, Harry held his arm out to one side and whistled. "Let me show you." The whistle was just for show, of course. With their bond, Hedwig knew what Harry wanted her to do almost as soon as he had the idea. Of course, being the showoff she was, he had no doubt that Hedwig would have done something similar even if he hadn't asked.
With the silent flight that owls are known for, Hedwig swooped in low to the ground, wings held out steadily before she angled herself up just behind Harry, bleeding off the last of her speed and reaching just high enough to alight onto Harry's forearm with her wings spread wide as she let out a few preks in pride. Bringing his arm, and thus his familiar, back in toward his chest, Harry knelt in front of a now wide-eyed Marie, the other two children similarly wide-eyed from within their parent/adults' respective embrace. Hedwig turned her head around to face the girl and met her stare with her own wide, unblinking eyes.
"This is my owl…" It was only now that Harry realized that the name of the Magi Ranger's Zord was probably common knowledge at this point seeing as he shouted it every time he called her into battle. Coupled with his saving her from putties and her specific idolization of his alter ego, it probably wouldn't do to create any more commonalities between the two figures in her mind if he really wanted to avoid future Obliviations on her person. And so, he made a decision that he knew Hedwig would get him back for later. "This is my owl Pigwidgeon. I've had her since I was eleven and she is very protective of me, as I'm sure you saw."
"YEAH! SHE WAS ALL LIKE, ZOOM! AND THE PUTTY WAS LIKE, GWAH! AND THEN YOU WENT, HIYA!" Marie flailed around during each part of her enthusiastic retelling of the events that had occurred seconds before, ending with an overly dramatic recreation of Harry's rather mundane hop onto the putty's chest that send a number of rocks flying as the preteen girl enthusiastically stomped around. Then she stopped as if something occurred to her and turned to face Harry fully. "You… you have an owl… and you're a magician… Mister Harry… are you the Magi Ranger?!"
The hope building in Marie's eyes took Harry aback even as he caught Tommy's slightly panicky look and Marie's mother's apologetic one. "Marie, don't be silly." The woman spoke up. "Just because this young man knows stage magic and has an owl doesn't mean he's a Power Ranger."
Marie spun in place to face her mother. "But Mommy, he has a white owl, just like the Magi Ranger, and he knows magic, and the Magi Ranger fixed my leg with magic! And he saved my life just like the Magi Ranger too!"
"I'm really not, though." Harry said calmly, hiding his inner panic behind layers of occlumency and a forced look of amusement. "besides, the Magi Ranger's owl isn't named Pigwidgeon."
Marie seemed to consider this for a moment. Internally, Harry was hoping that the utter silence and the feeling of cold coming through his bond with Hedwig wasn't much of a precursor to what she was going to do to him when they got to a safe spot. Finally, the girl nodded firmly. "I guess you're right Mister Harry, besides your owl has a silly name, and that means you're not cool enough to be the Magi Ranger."
Harry sputtered even as Tommy started coughing as he failed to hold back his laughter. Finally recovering, Harry attempted to defend himself. "Hey now, It's a perfectly valid name."
"It's a perfectly silly name. You should change her name to Hedwig, the same as the Magi Ranger's."
"But then people will start to think I'm trying to pretend to be the Magi Ranger."
Marie sighed and gave Harry an exasperated look, one that he was more used to seeing on Trini or even Hermione back at Hogwarts. "Mister Harry, no matter what your owl's name is, you just won't be cool enough to be the Magi Ranger, and everyone will be able to tell that."
Tommy's coughing redoubled even as Harry felt his consternation grow. Somehow, having this child tell him that he just can't be who he really is because he just isn't cool enough didn't sit well with him, but he really couldn't say anything more to defend himself without raising suspicions that he just didn't want to deal with.
Then Marie once more flipped his day on end. "But you just might be cool enough to be the Green Ranger! He helped the Magi Ranger save me once!"
This time it was Harry who started coughing to hide his laughter while Tommy stood in stunned silence.
Shortly after Harry's "coughing" fit died down, Marie, her mother, and the other two girls and their parents all went their separate ways. Harry and Tommy, having completed their objective in finding Hedwig, started back toward Angel Grove proper as the sun crept ever closer to the horizon. This time of year, the sun set around 7 in the evening, a time that was less than an hour away by the time Harry, having long since split apart from Tommy who had his own home to get to, reached his alley and his current residence.
Hedwig had indeed spent the majority of the solo portion of his journey berating him for daring to call him by the name of "The Red Weasel Boy's Annoying Tiny Bird" and it took a great many promises from Harry to get her to forgive his trespass. Then came the ranting for Harry fighting with "Bossy Red" again and leaving her behind in the "Sky Wall Room" all alone again instead of taking her with him. In this case, he could only apologize profusely and promise that she would like their new dwelling more than his previous room.
In fact, once they got past the slightly stinky alley part of things, Hedwig did appreciate having more room, enough for short flights if needed which meant the owl didn't need to hop around on her talons if she wanted to move around as she had had to at the Command Center. In fact, once Harry transfigured her a perch, being careful to clean and de-stink the base material as thoroughly as possible before casting the spell to change its shape, the owl seemed content to tuck her head under her wing and sleep for a bit before bugging him to let her out for the night again.
Knowing that such a thing was coming. Harry spend some time arranging his desk, trunk, and chair, before transfiguring himself a table and a few more chairs, ostensibly for eating upon, as well as another trunk that he charmed into a cold box for future food storage. He simply hadn't had the floor space for these things in his old lodgings and while his current dwelling could only generously be called a studio apartment in size, it was still bigger than his last ones.
It was a few hours after he had initially returned, Hedwig still sleeping on her perch and Harry idly considering the problem that was his mattress and what he might be able to do to ensure that he slept better in the nights to come than he had the night previously, when he heard a most unexpected sound: a knock on his door.
This was a problem on a few levels. One being that the door itself was magically hidden from casual observers. In fact, one would have to have had their attention drawn specifically to it for them to find it. Not to mention that he had set up proximity wards around the area his door was in to alert him to any foot traffic outside so he wouldn't open the door while someone was there and none of those wards had been triggered.
But when the knock came again, Harry found himself drawing his wand, idly summoning a silver shield to hover over his left arm, and opening the door with a swift jerk to catch the person on the other side off balance.
And catch them off balance he did as he found a Z-Putty stumbling back frantically, mumbling as it went and falling to the ground before him to scrabble back further out of his easy strike zone. This oddness, so like the putty's behavior earlier, led to Harry pausing in his instinctive reaction to destroy the construct, and it was this that gave the putty the time to recover its feet and reach into an unexpected accessory that hung over its shoulder: a messenger bag. From withing this bag, the putty produced a large red envelope embossed with silver writing and sealed by a large blob of wax.
Still looking exceptionally hesitant, the putty held the letter out toward Harry by the tips of its oversized fingers and practically leapt away when Harry took the letter. Glancing over it quickly, Harry found the words "Magi Ranger, Harry Potter" written in a flowing silver script on the smooth side of the envelope while the wax sealing it shut was embossed with a stylized "Z" identical to that on the chest of Zedd's putties. When he glanced back up, it was just in time to see the putty give what was unmistakably a salute before it vanished in a flash of light, leaving the alleyway once more empty aside from Harry.
Looking around for any other unexpected visitors, even casting a few detection charms to be sure, Harry stepped back into his room, closed the door and spelled it shut before stumbling over to his new table and slouching into a chair, eyeing the letter in his hands.
"What… the fuck…"
There was really nothing more to be said.
AN: Ok, so long story short, my computer tried to commit suicide in January. This resulted in me nearly losing all my notes for Magi Ranger since I hadn't backed anything up in, like, six months at the time and had a lot of info and ideas that would've been gone. I managed to save all my files, luckily, but my muse wasn't so quick to bounce back. I also had to get another laptop since I didn't really trust my old one anymore. In my defense, it was nearly 6 years old and I had more than gotten my money out of it. Heck, it still works great in all honesty, but I like my new and improved, updated computer with more than double the ram and double the memory with a processor two generations newer as well quite a bit better. But hey, can you blame me? The only issue I'm having is that the touch pad is in a different position on this one and I keep finding that the cursor has been moved because I accidentally hit the touch pad and click the mouse to another position. Grr…
Random side note, I occasionally find myself talking Harry's lines aloud in a faux British accent. I realized with this chapter that it is kind of difficult to say "Richie" without reverting to pure American English. Maybe it's just one of those words that you can't accent up. Or maybe it's just me. Meh.
As for Richie blabbing his "master plan" so easily like he did here, remember that the grid makes bad people, or those with more negative personality traits, rather foolish when around a positively aligned focal point, such as the one in Angel Grove, and increasingly more so over time. This is why Bulk and Skull are generally bumbling all the time, so Richie is turning into a corny James Bond villain type and monologuing his plans while patting himself on the back at how brilliant he is.
Thinking back over Power Rangers Seasons 1 and 2, I remember a few playground fight scenes, but never any with children on them when the fighting started, like I did here. I feel like the only reason it was used in the show as much as it was, was to break up the monotony of the fights, mostly by using slow motion shots of flips up and off the highest levels of the equipment and down to the ground. But I still wanted to use that kind of scene here. The fort I described here was actually based of vague memories of the old one I played on in Elementary School. I'm pretty sure it has long since been torn down, but I have some good memories of that thing. : )
And yeah, Marie again. I feel like, against my original intentions, Marie is just a part of the story now. I don't know where that part is going to take her, but she's in it for good now. I just gotta watch that I don't start overusing her to the point of ridiculousness…
As for this chapter as a whole, I'm kinda neutral on it really. This is better than the last 2 which I flat out didn't like, though they were received fairly well, I guess. Here's hoping that this chapter, which I don't hate, even if I don't especially like it either, doesn't crash and burn. lol
Again, sorry for the delay, but when the technology decides to be unreliable, there isn't much to be done. *sigh* Hopefully I don't have something else stupid like this happen before I can get the next chapter up.
Thanks for reading and don't forget to review,