OR Five Digs The Doctor Ruined For River Song, What She Did About It, And How Sonic Screwdrivers Were Involved
Part: 1/? (Prologue)
Fandom: Doctor Who / Harry Potter Series
Characters / Pairing: Tenth Doctor, River Song, cast of Harry Potter
Summary: Adventures at Hogwarts!
Author's Notes: Written for the lovely kingcreevey for the winning bid at help_haiti. More parts will be forthcoming!
Don't forget me.
It started, as most things often do, with an idea.
Ideas, for those who are not already aware, are the building blocks of the universe. No matter what your opinion of the beginning of the universe is, there's always an idea involved. Either it was the hydrogen molecule's idea to slap the annoying hydrogen atom for looking at another hydrogen atom inappropriately; or it was the big scary old man's idea to make a new playing board to generally screw about with the human race; or it was coincidence's idea to finally do something with all this appropriated molecular junk that just happened to land in the general vicinity. Name your universal-creation, but there's always an idea involved.
This idea came to the mind of one very peculiar traveling man known only as the Doctor, and had nothing do with the universe being created at all, thank you very much. (Though if asked, he was willing to bet money on the temper of the hydrogen atom.) While traveling in his beloved ship, the Doctor had a wonderful idea. It was an idea that, rather than coinciding with irritated hydrogen atoms, damaged universal playsets, or molecular junk, just happened to coincide with the rumbling in his stomach.
"Lunch!" he proclaimed. Considering there was no one to listen to him complain, one might've thought that this skinny man was a bit peculiar, or perhaps just a bit mad, but he was, in fact, talking very loudly to his TARDIS, the only companion he'd ever had that stuck around for more than a few years without complaint.
It was lonely, traveling with a silent police box as one's only constant companion. Not that he'd ever really admit this to himself. Far too many loved ones were hurt because of him, and he'd opened himself far too often only to be hurt just as often. He wasn't about to start traveling with someone new, not now. He'd get used to the loneliness. Eventually.
Lunch, he decided, would be best picked up in London, his favorite touring spot. He'd spent more than a few years in London during the course of his lives, albeit either in hour-long segments or trapped there under extreme duress, and he'd become quite enamored of it. To the Doctor, it was rather like a first love. Oh, there was trouble with their relationship, usually involving aliens or corrupt governments or some combination of both, but, in general, the Doctor and London were very close.
Closer, now, as the TARDIS came barreling down the time vortex to the tiny Earth island. With a pull of the hand brake, the TARDIS skidded to a halt, materializing on a footpath in central London by a large train station. Strange thing, central London. He could materialize right in the middle of a busy street, and no one would even notice. He loved humans, but sometimes their ability to ignore the obvious astounded him.
Well, no reason to just stand around. He decided to head through the train station towards a nearby string of restaurants. Early 21st century, if he wasn't mistaken. He glanced at a newspaper. 2010. Very nice job, Doctor. Very well-spotted. Also well spotted was the chip shop not too far away, the lovely oil-drenched potatoes' scent luring him in like honey to a fly. He really did wish Rose was about, just so he could share a bag of chips with her, maybe ask questions about the vinegar or talk on and on about how much he knew about the architecture of the train station (or how much he'd simply guessed about it). Just…someone to be with. But that was before. Not now.
It was right about that point that several things happened. There was a scream, a bolt of lightning, and time stopped. In that order, actually.
Time stopping isn't an easy thing. The power required is enormous, enough to take a giant ball the size of, well, Earth, and stop it spinning, yet still keep the people attached through gravity. The Doctor'd seen it happen before, but it's been a very long time since he's stood in the middle of it.
Time Lords were not affected by time stops. Part of their internal metabolism was a stabilizing nucleus that kept them in tune with the rest of the universe, not just the timeline of a world. Therefore, as the bolt of lightning shot across the station and suddenly everyone stopped, he continued, first falling onto the ground, and then hopping to his feet and running across the station. Towards the danger, of course. Always towards. Onwards, as Donna would've said.
He'd expected a lot of things. Eternals, Zygons, Rutans with technology way outside of their planets' evolutionary capabilities. He could've handled all of those things. But instead, what he got was a young, blond man, suddenly sliding in front of him and pointing a stick in his face.
He was an unremarkable man, surely. Early to mid twenties, floppy blond hair, thick eyebrows crowning doe-like eyes. He was a bit too skinny, but the Doctor wasn't one to judge weight. He wore long, black robes and pointed what looked, for all the world, to be a stick at the Doctor. For someone so young, though, the man looked really very tired.
And there was something else. Something in the way he looked at the Doctor. Something in the way the grip on his stick tightened, his shoulders bunched up, and his expression changed.
Recognition. He recognized the Doctor.
It wasn't a pleasant sort of recognizing expression. It was sour, distasteful, like the Doctor was someone who disgusted him. Also, even more tired, like the young man had seen too much of whatever it was that disgusted him; that he just wanted to go home and take a long lie-down. It was an expression that didn't seem to fit his face, like the heavy robes didn't seem to fit his thin shoulders.
"Get out of here," the man said.
The Doctor stood a little straighter, the initial shock replaced by pride. No one talked to him like that. No one, not even the Emperor of Beylix Prime or the Spider Queen of Lorcrathia.
"What's happening here?" he demanded, his voice calm.
"It doesn't matter," the man said, his grip on the stick unwavering. "You don't belong here and we don't want your help."
The Doctor nodded. "So there is trouble."
"Get out!" A shout this time.
"You said want, not need. There's a choice there. I could help you---"
"Leave me alone!" The sudden flare of passion in the man's voice surprised the Doctor. Not leave us. Not leave here. Leave me. It didn't take a rocket scientist or, well, a Time Lord, to tell the Doctor that he knew this man. Maybe not yet, but one day in the future.
"Planning on telling me what I did to you, hmm?" the Doctor asked, stuffing his hands in his pockets. "Oh, and getting that stick-thing out of my face? Looks a bit silly."
The man snarled. "I don't have time for your games, Doctor, not today."
A voice called out from the other end of the lightning bolt. "Creevey! We need you!" It was a deep man's voice, authoritative and almost militaristic.
"Creevey," the Doctor said. "So that's your name, eh? First or last? Well, suppose it doesn't matter. What did I do to you, Creevey? And what's going on here that you don't want me involved in?"
The man, Creevey, looked like me might start shouting again, but then understanding slowly spread across his face. It softened his features slightly.
"You don't know," he said, sounding very nearly horrified. "You don't---"
"What I've been trying to say, yep," the Doctor's tone was unapologetically rude and impatient. "So why don't you tell me---"
It was Creevey's turn to interrupt. "It---It's me, then?" He lowered his stick and his voice was suddenly unsure. Young.
The Doctor's brow furrowed. "What's you?"
"Merlin's Beard, it's me."
"What is?" the Doctor snapped.
The voice from the other end of the train station shouted again, this time sounding magnified. "Unspeakable Creevey, we need you, now!"
Creevey ignored the voice, his eyebrows scrunched and tight in concentration. Thinking? No, no, not thinking. Making a decision. Picking a path? Choosing his own way? Deciding what to do with the Doctor?
Right as the Doctor opened his mouth to make a comment, Creevey spoke again, sounding resigned. "Hogwarts," he said. "Go to Hogwarts. 1997."
The Doctor had never heard of the place. "Where?"
"Go!" Creevey pointed the stick at the Doctor again, and the tip glowed bright blue. "Run! Allejundra Maximos!"
Suddenly, time was moving, and the Doctor was on the other side of the train station, running. Running without thought. Running as though his life depended on it. Ran away from the now-invisible crisis, ran away from the people, just ran. Most travelers thought he might just be late for his train or missing a taxi or something, but there was an air of panic in his run. A need to flee. He ran until his body burned and the muscles in his legs seemed to turn to concrete. No thought in his mind except to run.
And when exhaustion overtook him, he fell.
He'd ended up somewhere deep in the train station, in a disused railway where no cars went anymore. There was a marker there, wooden boxes to keep people from stepping through into what looked like an open grave. But exhaustion and inertia, combining forces as they often did, prevented the Doctor from landing anywhere but inside of that carefully protected grave. The exposed bones cracked and splintered as he landed. His body rested there, even as his mind continued to scream that he needed to keep running.
After a moment, a familiar female voice called out to him. "That's five," she said. Her voice was calm and yet exasperated, and somehow even slightly amused.
He coughed out a mouthful of dust and managed his voice. "What?"
She laughed. "That's your favorite thing to say after, too. You really need to work on your repertoire, Sweetie."
Sweetie. He knew someone who called him that. Well, only one person who called him that, really. Heavy work boots stepped over a bone near his head, and suddenly a slim, work-roughened hand was running through his hair, short fingernails scratching his scalp in a calming, almost maternal motion.
"This was a perfectly preserved Time Agent from 74 BC, I'll have you know," she said. She sighed. "Where are you running from, Doctor?"
He slowly raised his head from the dirt, his muscles burning with the motion. A heart-shaped face framed by wild auburn curls smiled down at him. River Song. He should not have been surprised, he supposed. He was always supposed to meet her again, he just…never found the time. Not after Donna and the planets, not after meeting Christina.
"How do you know I'm not running to somewhere?" he asked, feeling petulant after his inability to fight Creevey's instructions. How did the young man manage that?
"Right through my dig?" she asked. She gestured down the length of the tunnel. "Well, if that's where you're running, you'd better get going, then. It goes about half a mile down this section of track. Up you go, Sweetie. Don't forget to pay careful attention to the perfectly preserved skeletons. Can't have anything of historical value remain."
He sighed, but gratefully took her hand as she offered it. She had that knowing, smug look on her face, the one he wasn't sure he either liked or appreciated. The one that knew him better than he knew himself.
"So," she said. "Again. Where're you running from?"
No use arguing with her, he supposed. She was right. "Some bloke named Creevey," he said, dusting himself off. "Told me to run, and, well, I couldn't see a reason to argue."
River's expression, which was smiling and relaxed, tensed. "Creevey? Already? Have you been to Hogwarts?"
"What? What sort of a place is that?" the Doctor said. "He mentioned it to, and---"
"Go," River said, gesturing back the way he came. "Get to the TARDIS and head there. It won't be on any maps, but in 1997 I did a dig in a nearby town called Hogsmeade, you should be able to set the coordinates."
The Doctor protested. "You and him both seem to---"
River shook her head. "Doctor, there isn't any time. You have to hurry, and you have to get there soon."
The Doctor didn't like this at all. He didn't like feeling so out of the loop, he didn't like feeling like the people around him knew things better than he did. And, most importantly, he didn't fancy the idea of going off simply because someone who knew spoilers to his life told him to.
"Why do I have to hurry?" he asked.
River sighed. "Because you were when you destroyed my last dig. Go!"