By: Dirty Reid
A.N.: Hello again, peeps! I know I should be working on 'A Swordsman's Road' right now, but I just can't stop writing about Superhero Harry!
More than a few reviewers have said that the last chapter felt incomplete or Gary Stu-ish. I agree, but I was really eager to get to this chapter, so I kind of rushed it. To my loyal fans, sorry if I let you down with the last chapter, but I promise to make it up with this one.
Thank you all for trying to guess all of the references I made in Ch. 2. Unfortunately, NOBODY has gotten them all. So here they are:
-Thomas Nast: Minor character from the 'Women of the Otherworld' series.
Okay, I admit, this one is rather obscure, so I probably shouldn't count it.
-Naruto: The slightly modified Kage Bunshin no Jutsu.
EVERYONE got this one.
-Assassin's Creed 2: The modified version of Ezio's robes.
No further words need be said.
-Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike's duster.
I didn't mean for this to be in there, but I guess Sirius' vault number (117) could be seen as a reference to Halo (BTW, Reach is worth every penny it costs, so BUY IT!).
-Live long and prosper: Spock from Star Trek's signature line.
Again, no explanation needed.
-Fontaine: Identical in every way to Frank Fontaine from BioShock.
C'mon people! I practically SCREAMED the identity of this guy, and only ClanCrusher made the connection! Drawling American accent? Seemed like a con man? Bald and lackadaisical? Are NONE of you fans of BioShock?
-Kick-Ass: Harry's use of MySpace to advertise himself.
A lot of people have said that this wasn't a good addition to the story. Allow me to point out that many members of www (dot) reallifesuperheroes (dot) org use MySpace as their primary email address. And no, I am NOT turning Archmage into a Kick-Ass parody.
As an additional note, several people have noted that Harry is not acting like a superhero, most notably in the 'Tabula Rasa' scene. I justify my writing by saying that no one is above a little payback, Harry knows being a bleeding heart won't cut it, and that I have the Almighty Author Powers.
But I digress. You came for entertainment, and that's what I'm gonna give you.
Chapter 3: The Start of Something
July 26, 2010
'Harry', sitting at the bar of the Leaky Cauldron, jerked his head right to see a pair of men in cloaks emblazoned with the symbol of the Auror Corps upon them.
'Crap in a hat.' 'Harry' thought. "If this is about what I'm pretty sure it's about, then I refuse to give a statement until Albus Dumbledore is present." He told the two men. Said men blinked.
"Very well then, Mr. Potter, although we would prefer to discuss this incident in private." Said the second, shorter Auror.
"Agreed," 'Harry' said, sliding off of his stool and eyeing the watching patrons warily. He uncertainly grabbed the first Auror's offered arm, and was quickly treated to the sensation of being squeezed through a very tight tube. 'Harry' had to work very hard to keep his matrix from collapsing, and was treated to the sight of a grizzled and imposing man in fine robes standing alongside Amelia Bones, Director of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.
"… Wow, when I thought about being questioned, I wasn't expecting the Spanish Inquisition." 'Harry' said with a smile, in an attempt to lighten the serious mood. The grizzled man's mouth twitched.
"Now is not the time for jokes, Mr. Potter." Amelia Bones stated seriously. "What you have done is a very serious act that could very well result in criminal prosecution." This got a raised eyebrow from 'Harry'.
"Has someone sent for Dumbledore?" he asked his two escorts. One of them nodded. "Good. I can wait until he arrives." 'Harry' ambled over to a nearby chair and plopped down in it. The grizzled man looked ready to say something, but 'Harry' cut him off.
"I'm not confirming or denying anything until Dumbledore is present Mr.…" he trailed off, not knowing the man's name.
"Rufus Scrimgeour, Minister for Magic." Scrimgeour introduced himself gruffly. One of 'Harry's' eyebrows shot up.
"… Damn…" he managed.
Pop! 'Harry's' head jerked to the right, breathing a sigh of relief as the Leader of the Light appeared in the room, twinkling eyes and all.
"Rufus, a pleasure to see you again." Dumbledore greeted the new Minister in that 'chill' voice only he could ever pull off. "How may I be of…" he trailed off when his bespectacled eyes fell upon 'Harry'. The twinkle in his pale eyes dimmed somewhat.
"Harry my boy, what are you doing here?" he asked. 'Harry' shrugged.
"Apparently, I've done something illegal… again." He said with a roll of his eyes. Amelia shot him a quick look and both of the Aurors shook their heads.
"Mr. Potter is here because of his use of magic upon his relatives." Bones informed Dumbledore. The old man in his midnight blue robes cocked his head to the side.
"So that minor flare was not an anomaly…" he muttered more to himself. "I am sure that whatever charm Harry used upon his relatives-" Dumbledore's statement, which was more than likely chock full of how Harry could be forgiven, was stopped by Scrimgeour's sharp interruption.
"Mr. Potter performed the Obliteration Charm upon his guardians and cousin." Was his interruption. Dumbledore's eyes dimmed even more. He looked to Bones, and received only a nod.
"Harry, is this true?" Dumbledore asked. 'Harry' nodded.
"I justify my actions by saying that they deserved it." He answered curtly.
"Harry, no one deserves having their every memory stolen away from them." Dumbledore reprimanded 'Harry' softly. The clone shook his head; he knew that this was coming.
"In your opinion, sir." 'Harry' replied before returning his attention to Bones and Scrimgeour. "So Minister, Director Bones, what's on the docket for little ol' me?"
"Well Mr. Potter, using the Obliteration Charm in such a questionable manner, on Muggles, and underage… That could quite easily translate to a month in Azkaban." Bones stated. While 'Harry' felt his artificial heart begin to speed up and mana-created sweat begin to prickle coldly over his skin, he felt it prudent to ask a question that had immediately popped into his head:
"All that would only get me a month?" he asked. If Scrimgeour and Bones were surprised at his question, they didn't show it.
"Your actions fall into a form of grey area; too serious for a juvenile detention centre, but not serious enough to warrant an extended stay in Azkaban." Bones explained. 'Harry' nodded absently, pondering soundly. He had really hoped that he wouldn't have had to give up this secret so quickly.
"Something to say, Potter?" Scrimgeour asked. 'Harry' nodded.
"Okay, well… I counter the charge of underage wizardry with this." He answered, holding up his right hand where the Black Family ring rested, clearly identifying himself as an adult through emancipation. Scrimgeour and Bones leaned in for a closer look, and both could not help but raise an eyebrow apiece.
"And how did you acquire this item, Lord Black?" Bones asked. Though 'Harry' did not see it, upon hearing the words 'Lord Black', Dumbledore looked as though he had just come face to face with the Grim Reaper.
"It was given to me through the will of my late Godfather, Sirius Black. With that comes my seat on the Wizengamot, but I think I'll hold off on that for now; not really sure I want to get into politics what with some of the people in it turn out." 'Harry' kept a grin when Scrimgeour twitched at the insinuation. Amelia Bones' left cheek spasmed.
"Regardless Mr. Potter, you still performed the Tabula Rasa upon three Muggles. You better have an extremely good reason for conducting yourself in such a manner." She stated. 'Harry' couldn't help but feel that the Slytherin side of him had wrapped around his mind and was twisting him into wanting to enjoy this.
"Well, why don't we let Professor Dumbledore field this one? Being the wisest wizard in the world, I'm sure he can shed some light on my fifteen years in Arkham Asylum for the Innocent." Harry couldn't help but grin a little at the nonplussed looks on Bones and Scrimgeour's faces.
"Muggle pop culture reference. Do some research on Batman when this little debacle is over," Harry informed them. Both turned their attention to Dumbledore.
"Albus, I believe Mr. Potter said you can shed some light on this situation?" Bones asked in a clipped voice. Dumbledore redirected his attention.
"While I knew he would not be the happiest child in the world, it was the safest place for young Harry to be placed. I ensured that-"
"Professor, I'm getting tired of this. Let me give you a little piece of wisdom to cogitate on: You can coat shit in as much gold as you want, but in the end, it's still shit." (1) Harry interrupted. Dumbledore turned his pale eyes to the Boy-with-too-many-Nicknames, looking almost curious. Scrimgeour and Bones looked almost amused; the two Auror escorts, who had remained completely silent, were covering their mouths and snickering quietly.
"What are you saying, Mr. Potter?" Bones asked. 'Harry' gave her a sardonic look.
"If 'not being the happiest child in the world' consists of being forced to sleep in a broom cupboard for ten years, going for days without food or drink, being the main subject of a game called 'Harry Hunting' by my fat bastard of a cousin and his fellow pigs, and suffering physical and emotional abuse at the hands of my guardians for 'not being normal', I'd hate to see what you consider a miserable child." 'Harry' snarled coldly. Bones and Scrimgeour looked decidedly perturbed. The two Aurors were openly staring at Dumbledore, who was frowning.
"Be that as it may, Harry, you were safe-"
"Yeah, safe from things outside, Professor. That still doesn't change the fact that you protected me from the wolves by sticking me in a den full of bears." 'Harry' cut Dumbledore off with a snap. The old man had the decency to refrain from refuting 'Harry's' statement.
"But if you look at it the right way, using Tabula Rasa on the Dursleys could be seen as doing the world a favour: I just erased the personalities that damned them to being the scum of the Earth. Maybe now, when they develop new personalities, they won't be as evil as they were before." 'Harry' pointed out. The two magical officials whispered softly to each other for a moment.
"These are very serious accusations, Lord Black…" Scrimgeour began, stopping when 'Harry' held his hand up.
"Calling me Harry's fine, Minister. 'Lord Black' makes me feel old." He said with a small smirk. Scrimgeour nodded.
"Very well then, Harry. As I said, these are very serious accusations, and, in the interest of the cohesion of the Wizarding World, Madam Bones has agreed to drop any and all charges that face you upon two conditions." Scrimgeour stated. 'Harry' raised an eyebrow. Dumbledore was looking decidedly uneasy.
"… Name your terms, Minister, Director Bones." 'Harry' answered.
"The first," Bones began, "is that you provide memories of the offences against you to validate your statement." She informed him. 'Harry' nodded.
"Done. And the second?" he asked.
"That you and I have a press-covered sit down, with regards to this war." Scrimgeour stated. This one gave 'Harry' pause. His relationship with the press over the past few years was bad at best.
"Define 'press-covered'." 'Harry' requested slowly. Again, he missed Dumbledore's displeased and fearful look.
"I mean that a hand picked reporter will be covering this meeting. Be assured Mr. Potter that this reporter will not be in possession of any sort of Auto-Answering Quill, and will most certainly not be named Rita Skeeter." Scrimgeour said with a sour look on his grizzled face. 'Harry' pondered for a minute. He quickly looked up as he closed the distance between himself, Bones and Scrimgeour, and held out his hand.
"Minister Scrimgeour, Director Bones, you have a deal." 'Harry' stated. Scrimgeour allowed a small grin as he shook Harry's hand. Madam Bones did not.
"Harry, I do not believe your decision was a particularly good one. The world of politics is no place for one such as yourself." Dumbledore said quietly to him as he exited the small room, following the two Aurors that were leading him to the Memory Retrieval Room; a room with multiple Pensieves that the DMLE used to review memories while prosecuting criminals.
"Your concerns are duly noted Professor, but I wouldn't be as concerned about my involvement in politics as I would about the hits your reputation's about to take." 'Harry' shot back. Dumbledore's eyes flashed in annoyance.
"The fact remains, Harry that you have invalidated the protections I erected upon your home with a single act of petty anger." He replied coolly. What Dumbledore was not expecting though, was a restrained chuckle.
"I was in just as much danger when I was staying there as I was if I had been completely unprotected, Professor. Or did you fall asleep for that part of my tirade?" 'Harry' asked. Dumbledore said nothing in reply, and stopped just outside of the Memory Retrieval Room when one of the Aurors barred him access.
"I must insist; Harry knows not how to-"
"My colleague will readily show him, Headmaster. Besides, I believe you are familiar with the rules governing an involved party with regards to memory extraction." Said the second Auror. He was referring to the fact that any present party with connections to the memories to be obtained could not be involved with the extraction process. Dumbledore did not look happy, but he acquiesced.
It was a little less than ten minutes later when Harry exited the room. He said nothing to Dumbledore as he returned to Scrimgeour in order to negotiate a meeting time. The elderly man did not show it, but he was growing worried. Harry's desire for independence was growing far more quickly than he had anticipated.
If Harry continued to drift away from him, his carefully orchestrated plan to usher in victory would crumble like an ancient ruin.
July 29, 2010
'Man, I never imagined patrol would be so damn boring!' Harry groused as he jogged briskly across the rooftops of nighttime London. To prevent the onset of fatigue and increase his mobility, Harry had cast a mild Feather-Light Charm on himself to decrease his weight. It also aided him greatly in getting places quick, as proven when he jumped a five metre gap between apartment complexes. He had also discovered the charm allowed him to shrug off drops that would have the layman on the ground in pain, and only feel a persistent ache in his shins.
'Then again, I really have no idea where to look for crimes being committed. I really wish I could kick all those directors' asses for making it seem so easy.' He continued as he made one final leap, landing on the sloped roof of the Mage's Roost. With a quick spring, he jumped up to the lowest window on the bell tower, cancelled the charms on himself and descended the stairs. With a put-upon sigh, he crashed onto his squishy lazyboy with a can of Coke and relaxed, still in his Archmage getup. A few minutes of sipping the sweet drink later, he picked his laptop up off the Daily Globe on the Dursley coffee table, fired it up, and went to check his MySpace page.
He was incredibly disappointed when he saw that only a few dozen people had viewed his profile. His eyebrow shot up when he saw a recent email in his inbox, and quickly opened it. It was from one Alexandra Eldridge, a young girl from Enfield. Intrigued even further, Harry read her email.
Dear Archmage, ('Aw, how sweet,' Harry thought)
My name is Alexandra Eldridge. I'm a summer student at Enfield County School, where I'm constantly harassed by a group of 'popular' girls who aren't afraid to get rough with people they don't like. 'People they don't like' here having the meaning of anyone not like them. They harass me in the morning at 8:00 and when school gets out at 3:00, among other people. I've brought the problem to the teachers and Headmistress, but they haven't done anything about it. I don't want to call the police, because this isn't that big a problem. Can you help me, please?
Tomorrow is Friday; could you meet me at the corner of Gentleman's Row and Chapel Street in Enfield County at 7:30a.m so we could talk about solving this problem?
Please reply quickly,
'My first job!' Harry thought cheerfully as he hit the reply button and typed:
Let me first say that it was very mature of you to reveal your problems, and to a complete stranger no less. There is nothing wrong with telling other people these things.
In any case, I will meet you there at 7:30 on the dot.
For a fairer world,
Harry allowed himself a self-satisfied smile as he hit the 'Send' button. As he deactivated his laptop, he began to wonder about the outcome of tomorrow. If what Alexandra said was true, it was highly likely he would be facing a clique of bitches. He knew the Archmage was supposed to be a badass, but a badass with morals. That left him in somewhat of a quandary…
"I don't have to get violent with them," he murmured as he stripped his costume off, re-Transfigured his glasses and pulled on his pajamas. "All I have to do is humiliate and scare them." He ended as he climbed into bed, set his alarm and slowly fell asleep.
"I'm kinda glad I gave up on patrol early." Harry breathed as he sprinted across the roofs of the many establishments along Church Street; the final stretch before Chapel and Gentlemen's. He had remained unseen, both because of the speed at which he moved and the use of a Disillusionment Charm to cloak his movement whenever he needed to move along the ground. His body was beginning to tire, but he kept telling himself that he had to keep going, build up his endurance and all that.
It was a handful of minutes later that he landed in the small space between two houses. Sticking to the early morning shadows, he surveyed the area. There. Standing by a lamp post at the T-section created by Gentlemen's and Chapel, was Alexandra Eldridge. She looked like she was around his age. Her mousy brown hair barely touched her shoulders, which were covered by the grey and black Enfield County School uniform. Her muddy brown eyes were shifting about, presumably looking for the wraith-like superhero whose picture she had seen on MySpace. He had originally been thinking about de-cloaking as he walked up to her, but Alexandra looked so nervous that he felt that doing such would be cruel to her. He tapped his right arm against his leg- his wand still in its holster- whispered "Finite," and walked out of the alley as the charm dispelled in a way that resembled the colour of the Archmage returning in expanding circles. Alexandra's eyes performed another sweep, but stopped cold as she laid eyes upon the black and red masked man approaching her.
"Alexandra Eldridge?" Harry asked in his deep, raspy voice. He had tried for hours to alter it, but he still felt that he sounded identical to Christian Bale's Batman.
Alexandra was so stunned that she couldn't find her voice. She ended up nodding, completely dumbstruck.
"I-I can't believe you-you're actually the real deal. I thought y-you were just going to punk me." She stuttered. Harry shook his head.
"I'm the real deal." He answered. "Makes me wonder though: Was that just a BS email?" he asked, holding his hand up to his chin. Alexandra shook her head rapidly.
"N-no! That was true!" she assured him almost desperately. Harry nodded slowly.
"Alright then. What d'you want me to do to help you?" He asked, crossing his arms. There was silence for a few seconds.
"Well, um, would you mind… um… escorting me to school? Maybe suggesting the bullies leave me alone?" Alexandra mumbled, averting her eyes and looking incredibly embarrassed. Harry hadn't been expecting something so calm sounding, thus he was silent for a few seconds. Alexandra, hearing the Archmage's silence, allowed her face to fall into a look of pure dejection.
"Sure, I can do that." Harry answered upon seeing the younger girl's face fall. Almost as fast, it lit back up like a light. "You just surprised me; didn't expect such an innocent solution. Figured you'd ask me to rough 'em up a little bit, and I'd have had to say no." he elaborated. Alexandra gave him a glowing smile.
"Thank you!" she chirped happily. Harry allowed a small grin as he fell in step with the girl. There was silence between the schoolgirl and the superhero for about thirty seconds.
"What made you decide to go through with asking me for help?" Harry asked finally. Alexandra blinked.
"Well, your profile on MySpace kind of reminded me of Kick-Ass, and I thought you might be like him and actually follow up on my asking for help. Have you ever seen Kick-Ass?" she asked, their conversation turning recreational. Harry shook his head.
"Can't say I have…" he trailed off for a moment, debating about whether or not to tell her the next part of his train of thought. Her innocent look of questioning curiosity pushed him to go through with it.
"Cliché as it seems, I didn't have that great a home life. Missed a lot of good things." He finished. Alexandra frowned in sympathy, reaching out and squeezing his arm gently.
"I'm sorry," she murmured softly. Harry smiled sadly and placed his gloved hand over hers.
"That's okay. Thanks for the sympathy." He said gratefully. She smiled back.
"Did… did your home life push you to go into crime fighting?" she asked tentatively. Harry nodded slowly, becoming wary.
"Partly. Discovering my powers was more the driving force." Harry said. Alexandra's look turned skeptical.
"If you're lucky, you might get to see them in action." Harry said amusedly, throwing in a crooked grin, barely visible under his large black hood. Alexandra pouted cutely, but Harry said nothing more. They walked silently, soon coming into visual range of Enfield County School. It wasn't a half-bad looking place. Light brown stone, mixed with a more modern wall of windows on opposite sides created the image of a fairly decent educational facility.
"Nice place," Harry remarked, scanning the smattering of girls in their dark uniforms who had shown up early. Alexandra nodded, also looking around.
"There," she said, pointing out a group of five or six very pretty and very dolled-up students standing together, catcalling and laughing at passing students. Presumably, those were the students they didn't like.
"Do they do this during the regular year too?" Harry asked. Alexandra simply nodded.
"Alright, let's get this over with." She swallowed, pacing towards the nearest entrance, Harry half a step behind her. As though they could sense her, the small group of girls turned one by one to stare hungrily at plain little Alexandra Eldridge. Their hungry looks became surprised or curious upon seeing the black and red wraith accompanying her. Their looks were shared by a handful of Enfield's other summer students. It didn't stop them from approaching her.
"Hey Alex," one of the girls- a very Aryan-looking girl, Harry noted- crooned in a simpering and sickly sweet voice. Harry was forcibly reminded of Dolores Umbridge.
"Anita," Alexandra answered coolly, avoiding eye contact.
"How are you today?" Anita asked, voice utterly lacking sincerity. Alexandra rolled her eyes.
"What do you want?" she half asked, half groaned. Anita grinned; an action which was mirrored by her four cohorts.
"Well right now, I want to know who this bloke is." She answered candidly. Alexandra turned her head to look into Harry's shadowed eyes for a second. Silent message sent, Harry nodded imperceptibly.
"I'm the Archmage," he rasped, causing raised eyebrows and looks of confusion between the small clique. "And I'm here to tell you to stay away from Ms. Eldridge." He added before crossing his arms in what he hoped was a threatening pose. The group of five shared incredulous looks and one of them even laughed. Clearly they weren't about to take him seriously.
"And what will you do if we don't? Go Superman on our arses?" a second one asked, prompting another giggle from the five. Harry's eyes narrowed. Clearly a show of force was necessary.
"Alexandra," he stated, catching aforementioned girl's attention. "You're skeptical about my powers? Well, this is your lucky day." He refocused his attention on the five girls.
"I'll do this," he answered the question ominously as he raised his wand arm. With a swish and flick of his wrist, accompanied by a muttered "Wingardium Leviosa," he pointed his splay-fingered hand at the girl who had made the Superman remark. She was about to say something, but cried out in shock as she began to rise into the air. A collective wave of gasps or surprised exclamations erupted from the gathering crowd as the black-and-red masked man lifted the now screaming girl into the air with his 'mind'.
Harry slowly shifted his gaze to the remainder of the clique he had been summoned to deal with. They were advancing on him. "I wouldn't do that if I were you," Harry warned, twisting his hand and flipping his victim upside down. The four other girls stopped immediately. The chaotic actions of the crowd remained.
"Holding her up takes a lot of concentration. If you hit me… I might drop her." He threatened. In all reality, that was probably true. "Nasty way to end such a stupid little conflict, when all you have to do is listen to me: Leave. Alexandra. Alone." He lowered his voice to a snarl, bowing his head to hide his face.
"WHAT IS GOING ON HERE!" a female voice screeched. Harry shifted his eyes to see a woman- probably the Headmistress, judging by the suit she was wearing- with almost black hair and an expression of consternation on her face descending upon the scene. Her expression turned to one of fright when she bore witness to the Archmage's use of 'telekinesis' upon one of her students.
"What on earth are you doing to my students, boy?" she demanded, sounding angry to cover up her shock. Tilting his head in annoyance upon being called 'boy', Harry snorted.
"Doing what you failed to do," he answered cryptically, making the Headmistress raise her eyebrows in either confusion or interest. "Ms. Eldridge here complained to you that this group of five was picking on her and others because they were different. Out of curiosity," here he raised his voice, "who has been bullied by these five?" Nothing happened at first, but slowly, about a dozen hands went up slowly. The Headmistress looked around in complete horror.
"See what your lack of action has done?" Harry asked. "Because of you, one very brave student had to take this matter into her own hands and call in a superhero to resolve the problem." Harry paused to give Alexandra a nod of approval, at which she blushed for being called brave. "Now, I expect you to do something about this mess. If you don't, I'll be back, and you won't like what I do." Harry threatened as he twirled and released his captive. She yelped, failed to keep her footing, and fell to the ground. No one moved for a few seconds until Harry turned to address the crowd.
"If any of you are having problems like this, or worse, look me up." He said as he tapped his leg, muttered the incantation for the Disillusionment Charm, and caused another round of exclamations as he cloaked himself. Before he became almost completely transparent, he threw one last nod to Alexandra, who looked away in embarrassment.
'All in all, seems like my first job's a success!' Harry thought as he skulked through the city, two hours later, nearly invisible. 'Just hope that those girls start taking me seriously and that Headmistress starts listening to her students.' He really didn't fancy making a trip back there to affirm that his return would not be pleasant.
'The pigs might not be too happy with me either.' Harry added. He almost smiled, having called the police 'pigs' for the first time. Why had he done so? He was trying to craft a persona he could apply to the Archmage that was different from Harry Potter; soft-spoken, noble and often stupidly brave. He was creating the Archmage; mysterious, gritty and dangerous. In a few ways, he felt that he was embracing his Slytherin side.
As he looked out of an alley, he spotted a young boy- no more than six- running after a basketball that was rolling towards the street. Sense of trouble tingling, he slunk towards the mouth of the alley.
"Robby! Come back! Get away from the street!" called a woman of twenty-something years who was probably 'Robby's' mother. 'She's kinda cute,' Harry noted before refocusing on Robby. True to his instinct, a minivan came speeding along. The driver was clearly talking on their cell phone. At their current speed, they were going to turn the boy into a pancake. Adrenaline began to pump through Harry's system as he sprinted out of the alley, ramming into several people and prompting cries of outrage or surprise as a shimmering, transparent entity barreled past them. Robby's mother was crying out to her son, but the little boy did not notice anything but his ball until he heard the roar of the minivan's engine. He stopped his run as the grill of the two tonne vehicle drew closer and closer and his mother screamed in fright. That however, made it easier for Harry to stoop down, extend his arms, scoop the child up and extend his legs to dive out of the way of the speeding minivan. The grill of the car caught his ankles and spun him to his right, ending his rescue with several painful rolls, but still allowing him to exit the- thankfully- almost empty street. Judging by the squirming of the child in his arms, he wasn't hurt badly.
Lying on his back, Harry lowered his wand arm and cancelled his Disillusionment Charm, allowing himself to be made plain to Robby's mother and the people who were gathering around him. His uncloaking prompted a wave of exclamations and whispers from the small group of people watching. Robby himself was staring down at Harry with something akin to shock in his chocolate eyes. Harry, groaning at the pain in his legs, released Robby and slowly got to his feet before crouching down.
"Hey kid," he said in a less raspy, but deeper voice than his normal tone, "no playing in the streets. You're gonna hurt yourself if you're not careful. Understand?" he finished. Robby nodded vigorously.
"Thanks mister!" he answered. Harry nodded with a small grin, but was unable to leave immediately; due to the bear hug Robby's mother had forced him into. Surprise quickly melting away, Harry gently placed his hands on her back.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you!" she cried in his ear. Harry simply smiled and patted her back.
"No problem miss," he assured her "just don't be too hard on him." She broke the hug a few seconds later, hugged her son and treated Harry to a smile with teeth that were far too bleached in his opinion.
"How can I thank you?" she asked. Not used to being put on the spot like that, Harry was silent for a few seconds. After an appropriate response came to his mind- and several cell phone pictures of him had been taken, as well as a few recordings that were still rolling- he raised his hooded and masked head to scan the crowd.
"You can spread the word," he stated, turning and backing up towards the alley had come from "that the Archmage is watching, and willing to help anyone who needs it. Check me out on MySpace!" He tapped his wand against his leg again, eliciting awed or surprised noises from the onlookers as he cloaked himself once again.
He had a feeling he was going to be swamped with emails and friend requests once he got back to the Roost.
"Hermione! Supper!" Alice Granger called. Seconds later, the rapid footsteps of the one and only Hermione Granger descended the staircase and into the kitchen. Unlike most of the time other people saw her, Hermione's hair was no longer a bushy mess. It was now tamed and fell down her back in a cascade of waves with a few locks draped over her shoulders.
How did this happen? Simple. A little known fact was that Hermione's room was soundproofed, due to her swearing like a sailor over Xbox LIVE, PlayStation Network, and any other sort of online gaming service provider. Blowing off steam in that fashion allowed the young witch to release the pent up stress from her year at Hogwarts, which was the cause of her untamable mass of hair. In addition, being back in the world allowed her to sate her mild (read: scary) caffeine addiction with drinks such as Coca-Cola, Red Bull, coffee, the whole nine yards. Alice and her husband Kevin- whom had been her on-and-off boyfriend and neighbour for twenty-four years before they finally married (2) - disapproved of Hermione's drinking habits, but no matter what they tried, their daughter just wouldn't quit. She was even snippier when she was in withdrawal, such as at Hogwarts where caffeinated beverages were sorely lacking.
*Sniff* "Mmm, curry smells brilliant again, Mum." Hermione sighed, a blissful smile on her face. Alice smiled.
"Thanks sweetie," she replied, ruffling Hermione's much less unruly hair. Hermione grinned sheepishly as her mother once again performed an act from her childhood, but didn't mind. Her father Kevin did the same thing when he joined the girls at the table. The two dentists talked to Hermione about their patients that day- the funny ones, more so- and Hermione told them about the summer homework she had been assigned, background on the class included. When their conversation petered off, Hermione began to daintily eat her curry, rice and vegetables. It was not long after a movie ad flashed across their dining room TV that the sixteen-year-old witch slowed her eating speed until she ground to a stop. Kevin and Alice, knowing that the look on her face was the 'Hermione's got an idea' look, also stopped eating and watched their daughter intently.
"Knut for your thoughts?" Kevin asked, his voice snapping Hermione out of her daze. She looked at her father and grinned.
"Sorry Daddy, mine are a Galleon apiece." She retorted. Kevin and Alice laughed.
"Seriously though, what are you thinking about sweetie?" he asked once he and Alice had quieted themselves. Hermione brought her hand up to her chin.
"Well… that movie ad that just popped up gave me another idea for a get rich quick scheme." She explained. Kevin and Alice stifled snickers at Hermione's mention of another 'Get rich quick scheme'. She had been coming up with these since she was seven years old, and they never failed to generate a laugh or two.
"I thought 'I need to figure out a spell that lets me Tron things from movies and video games, sell them and make billions. Just think about it! Hermione Granger: Inventor of the space-faring shuttle! The prototype FTL drive! Particle beam weapons! Holy crap, I need to start working on this!" Hermione started shaking excitedly, imagining all the good things that could come out of her 'Tron Charm'.
"Okay honey, you can start working on how to Tron these things after dinner." Kevin laughed while gently squeezing his incredibly excited daughter's shoulder.
"Aww, do I have to?" she pouted, crossing her arms and sticking her lower lip out as far as she could. Kevin and Alice laughed again as they picked up their curry and started to eat. For a few minutes, the only sounds were those of utensils against the plates, and the sound of the 6 o' clock news beginning. Normally the Grangers would continue eating and simply listening to the news, but today, a rather interesting opening caught their attention.
"Good evening, and welcome to BBC News at Six, I'm George Alagiah. Our top story this evening begins with a question: How far would you go to help your fellow men or women? For this incredibly brave masked man, the answer is charging into a burning building to rescue two trapped siblings." The Grangers looked up from their meals in surprise as a camera shot of a burning King's College Residence complex surrounded by fire trucks, ambulances and police vehicles. The camera panned to the front of the building where, after a piece of debris seemed to explode from inside the lobby, a black-coated man ran out with someone unconscious and slung over his right shoulder. His left hand was being held by a small child, running to keep up with him, and covered by a second black coat. George continued "We now go live to Sophie Raworth, who is reporting on site. Sophie?" The camera changed to focus on the blonde reporter, waiting patiently for her cue.
"Thanks George. It was just after five o' clock when the fire broke out, and as you can see, is still raging. Shortly after, firefighters on site confirmed there were two people- Tina Oaks, a student at Kings', and her younger sister Lindsay- trapped two floors up. Captain Tom Morgan then said 'Out of nowhere, this bloke in a black coat just… appeared, somehow ripped open the front door without even touching it, and charged in. A few minutes later, boom! He comes running back out with those two kids completely unharmed. This kid's definitely earned the right to wear a mask.'"
"The masked man, who is calling himself 'The Archmage', has agreed to answer a few questions, and I am standing with him right now." The camera shot widened and showed Sophie standing next to the Archmage. Hermione raised one of her eyebrows as she got her first look at the so-called superhero. His body was covered by a midnight black tunic with a thin strip of red lining. A pointed hood acted as a cowl, but not enough to hide the mask that surrounded his dark blue eyes. The belt around his waist had a buckle styled as a golden 'A' with its tails sitting on top of an 'M'. His arms, which were crossed over his chest, were covered by the sleeves of a leather duster with some ashes as debris still clinging to it. His hands were similarly cased in black gloves with steel studs where his knuckles would be. 'The extra coat seems kind of excessive, but he looks the part.' Hermione surmised.
"So Archmage, what prompted you to risk your life to save these two people?" Sophie asked, placing the mic before the slightly shorter Archmage. Said superhero was silent for a few seconds.
'Well Sophie, I just kinda figured it was the right thing to do. I'm sure you've noticed, but a lot of weird-" He broke off to erupt in a coughing fit, clearly still affected by smoke inhalation. With a deep breath, he continued "-things have been happening lately. That bridge collapse a couple weeks ago? Stuff like that doesn't happen by accident; someone did that." The Archmage answered in a tone quite similar to that of Christian Bale's Batman. The Grangers collectively agreed silently with the masked man. The way the bridge collapsed was not natural, and there was a clear lack of explosive residue on the scene. The only answer left that made sense to the three was magical foul play.
"I don't know anything about that incident, but I do know that I can use my powers to clean up this city, make it easier on the cops so they can look into it and other situations." He finished, prompting a nod from Sophie, who brought the mic back to her mouth to ask another question.
"You keep saying 'your powers' and Captain Morgan-" she paused when the Archmage chuckled, then chuckled herself at the unintentional joke "- said that you quote 'ripped off the front door (of the residence) without even touching it,' Would you care to tell us a little bit about that?" Sophie asked. By now, the Grangers were extremely interested. The Archmage, again, was silent for a few seconds.
"… It's probably better if I just show you." He stated as he turned to his right and stared at a police cruiser. As the camera panned to the left, the Archmage raised his right arm and pointed his palm at the car. For a few seconds nothing happened. The Grangers' jaws collectively opened when the car began to lift slowly into the air. Sophie gasped into the mic. "Are you seeing this? I'm not just imagining this, am I?" she asked someone unseen, most likely the camera operator. A faint confirmation from the operator had Sophie looking back at the camera.
"As you can see George, we are currently witnessing a display of what appears to be genuine telekinesis from the Archmage. There's no doubt left in my mind that he deserves to be called a superhero." Sophie stated somewhat slowly, as though watching the Archmage lift a two-ton vehicle with nothing more than a thought had blown her mind, which it probably had. The Grangers had completely forgotten their meal as the black and red superhero slowly set the car back down on the ground.
"That's not all I can do, but I'd rather keep my secrets." He said with a grin at Sophie's dumbfounded expression. The blonde reporter took a second to regain her higher brain functions.
"I see. Well Archmage, as a true- no, as the first superhero, is there anything you'd like to say to the general public?" she asked. The Archmage gave a quick snicker.
"This is so much like a cliché superhero movie. Guess it can't be helped though, my being a superhero and all. But sure, I have a few words of wisdom." He stopped to clear his throat, only to cough a couple more times.
"Seeing me here is undoubtedly gonna inspire a slew of followers to give in to the call of the mask and the tight latex suit. Just remember, you who are thinking along those lines: I'm a professional, and I have superpowers to back up that claim. So unless you can bend steel with your mind or do something else no one but you can do, don't try anything you see me do.
"On another note, if you are having any problems of the violent sort or have any tips about crime around London, email…" The Archmage further performed an amazing feat when he began to write crackling yellow letters in the air with his finger. As his arm jerked, Hermione caught a flash of something tiny and white against his black gloves and coat. It took her a second, but the analysis made her suck in a breath.
It was the tip of a wand.
The Archmage wasn't a superhero; he was a wizard.
"… This address," He finished after spelling www dot MySpace dot com slash The Archmage. As he backed away from Sophie, he stated his motto "For a fairer world," before somehow vanishing from sight. Sophie turned back to the camera, still completely dumbstruck.
"And with that, we return to you George."
The Internet was incredibly crowded that night as people posted clips of the world's first 'Honest to God' or 'Real' superhero on YouTube, sent the word of the Archmage's appearance through FaceBook and Twitter, and spontaneously created forums discussing anything and everything known and speculated about the mysterious black and red wraith of a superhero.
And that's Chapter 3! As usual:
-1- Tell me whether or not you liked this installment
-2- Tell me what you SPECIFICALLY liked about this installment
-3- Tell me what you DIDN'T like about this installment
-4- Recommend a suitable improvement
-5- See the link in my profile for a rough image of what the Archmage looks like
-(1)- Believe it or not, that's a Dirty Reid original.
-(2)- Try and guess which song I'm referring to.