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Bigger on the Inside by ad astra
Chapter 2: The Doctor
The library is still closed three weeks later, which scuppers our usual plan to hide out there during the Hogsmeade weekend. Instead, Lysander and I decide, in the interests of getting out of the castle, to head down to Hogsmeade with the rest of the student population. The difference being, of course, that we avoid the usual haunts of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, Honeydukes, the Three Broomsticks and Madam Puddifoot’s. Instead, we duck into the Hog’s Head, which is still uncomfortably crowded, buy a Butterbeer each and content ourselves with wandering around the outskirts of the village.
We’re in a field not too far from the Shrieking Shack when I hear the noise. I can’t identify it – it’s sort of like a whooshing, but not quite – and glance at Lysander to see if it’s some obscure wizarding thing that I know nothing about. He, in turn, glances at me to see if it’s some Muggle thing he knows nothing about.
We conclude we’re at a loss, and turn our attention to the blue box that is now materialising in front of us. It’s obviously some form of wizarding transport, I decide, which is confirmed when a figure emerges from inside.
“Oh!” The smiling, attractive man says upon seeing us. “Hello. Would you mind telling us where we are, please?”
“Hogsmeade. Hogsmeade, Hogsmeade, Hogsmeade. Nope, not ringing any bells. Amy, Rory!” he calls suddenly behind him. “We’re in Hogsmeade.”
“Where’s Hogsmeade?” a redheaded young Scottish woman asks, poking her head out the door and glancing around.
“I don’t know, I was hoping you could tell me.”
While they discuss this, I take the opportunity to look at them more closely. The man is quite formally dressed, wearing a suit with suspenders and a bow tie. The girl, by contrast, is wearing a leather jacket, denim miniskirt and coloured tights. I’m confused. They look like Muggles, and they don’t know what Hogsmeade is. But they have to be magical, because they were flying a bloody invisible blue box. I surreptitiously begin looking for wands.
It takes me a moment to register the appearance of a second guy, who is once again dressed like a Muggle, but much more casually.
“I have a question,” Bow Tie Guy says, turning to us. “Why are you dressed like that?”
“We go to Hogwarts,” I reply without thinking, glancing down at my robes. Lysander nudges me, hissing, “Statute of Secrecy, they’re Muggles!”
“Statute of Secrecy?” Bow Tie Guy repeats. “What’s that?”
“Nothing,” Lysander says, and immediately lapses into a stubborn silence.
Bow Tie Guy looks at his friends, then turns back to us. “Oh, I’m sorry. Introductions. I’m the doctor, this is Amy and Rory.”
“He’s just the Doctor,” Amy says. “That’s his name.”
“Right. Well, I’m Erica and this is Lysander.”
“Lysander!” The Doctor says enthusiastically. “What a name. What a name. Haven’t heard that name since I stayed up with Shakespeare while he wrote Midsummer Night’s Dream…what a long night that was. Anyway, Erica and Lysander, I have to ask you a question, and I hope you don’t take offence. Do you belong to a cult?”
“No,” I say, startled.
“Oh, good. Excellent. So why are you wearing those...thingies?” he waves his arms randomly at us.
“School uniform,” Lysander says glumly.
“School uniform?” Amy repeats, raising her eyebrows. “And I thought mine was bad. Sorry,” she says quickly, seeing my raised eyebrow. “I’ll just…shut up now.”
“You said you’ve met Shakespeare?” I ask, returning to the point that I personally can’t compute.
“Yes. Lovely man, not as polite as you’d think though, horrible breath. Anyway, something brought us here, and perhaps you can help us figure out what it is. Can you think of anything unusual that’s been going on around here?”
“What, like the thing in our library?”
“Yes, like the thing in your library. Exactly like the thing in your library. Tell me about the thing in your library.”
“It eats things,” Lysander says.
“Strips flesh to the bone, actually,” I say. “And it’s invisible. Hides in the shadows.”
“Strips flesh to the bone, invisible, hides in shadows. Yes! Vashta Nerada, the library, when I met River! They hid in the books, hatched in them, yes, you, my friends, have an infestation of Vashta Nerada in your library!”
“Great,” I say. “Can you help us get rid of them?”
“Oh, right.” The Doctor seems to deflate slightly. “Well, you can’t really get rid of them. Not when there are enough of them. Where is this library?”
“It’s in a school?”
“Oh no. Oh no, no, no. How long have they been there?”
“I dunno, the library’s been closed for about three weeks.”
“Perhaps you should take us there. Just to the school, not the library.”
“Not before you tell us who you are,” Lysander says, showing a surprising amount of backbone.
“You really want to know?”
“All right. I’m a Time Lord, I come from a planet called Gallifrey, and that blue box is my TARDIS, it can go anywhere in time and space. Any questions?”
None of this registers at all with me, but I figure I may as well seize the opportunity to confess our own unbelievable abnormality.
“Awesome, we’re wizards.”
“Wizards?” That stops the Doctor in his tracks. “What do you mean, wizards?”
“As in, we can do magic.”
The Doctor smiles, glancing in Amy and Rory’s direction. “There’s no such thing as magic.”
“Then there’s no such thing as Time Lords.”
“You’re quick. I like you. But you’re also wrong, because there’s such thing as a Time Lord because I am one. I’ve got two hearts, see?” He seizes my hands, pressing them to his chest. “Two heartbeats. But there is definitely no such thing as magic.”
I step away. “Wanna bet?” I pull out my wand, looking around for something to do, and cast incendio at a nearby tree, followed by aguamenti to put it out. Following my lead, Lysander changes the colour of the Doctor’s bow tie.
“Hey, what are you doing to my bow tie?” he asks in protest, eyeing Lysander’s wand.
“Proving a point,” Lysander replies, a touch of arrogance in his voice as he tosses his wand in the air and catches it. If I didn’t know him better, I would say he’s trying to be swag.
“Well, put it back. I like red. Red bow ties are cool. Brown is not. Why did you turn it brown?”
“It’s a metaphor,” Lysander says.
It’s not a metaphor. He’s making that up. Brown’s just the easiest colour change to make, especially from red.
“Um, Doctor?” Amy asks, bringing his attention back to the topic at hand. “Did they just do magic?”
“No,” the Doctor replies with an uneasy chuckle. “No. Can’t have been. It’s some sort of…energy manipulation or…standard pigment changes, quite basic really, what technology are you using for that? Let’s have a look.” He whips out a small metal gadget with a glowing green light on it, points it at us, makes some strange buzzing noise with it, and pulls it up to his face with a flourish.
“Ah, right, let’s see…how are you doing that…” He furrows his brow. “How are you doing that? Give me those…sticks.”
“They’re wands,” I say flatly, automatically stepping back.
“All right, they’re wands. Now I want to have a look at it.”
Reluctantly I hand mine over. Lysander looks over at me, incredulous, as the Doctor inspects it, points his glowing stick at it, waves it, and stares at it some more.
“Beech wood, yes? But what’s inside it? That doesn’t make sense…” Still muttering to himself, he hands my wand back and hurries back to the blue box.
“We should go back to school,” Lysander says.
“Yes,” I agree, “But if this Doctor guy can get rid of the whatsitsface in the library, it means we can go back to hanging out in there. Besides…he’s kinda interesting.”
“Interesting? You call that interesting? He claimed to be from another planet! That’s not interesting, that’s nutters!”
“To be fair, he does have two hearts. I’m keeping an open mind.”
“Does he?” Lysander asks incredulously. “It wasn’t just some weird joke then?”
“He has two heartbeats.”
The Doctor comes back out of the blue box with a thoughtful expression on his face. “Amy. There’s no such thing as dragons, right?”
“No. I don’t think so. I thought you’d know.”
“That’s the thing, I know there aren’t…but the TARDIS never lies, and it just told me that what she’s got inside her wand…thing is a dragon heartstring.”
“Maybe it’s another name for something.”
“No, it’s actually the heartstring from a dragon.” The Doctor turns to me. “Why do you have a heartstring in your bit of wood?”
“It’s how wands are made, I don’t know.”
“So does yours have a dragon heartstring in it too, then?” The Doctor asks Lysander.
Lysander clutches his wand protectively. “No. Unicorn hair.”
“Unicorn hair!” he shouts. “Dragons and unicorns! Show me these dragons and unicorns.”
“There are no dragons in Britain,” Lysander says. “And I don’t know if Muggles can see them anyway…can Muggles see dragons, Erica?”
“Yes, they can. That’s why we hide them.”
“What are Muggles?” the Doctor asks.
“Oh, good. So I’m not one, then.”
“Yes, you are. You’re non-magical.”
“I’m not people either. I’m a Time Lord with a TARDIS and a sonic screwdriver and I bet I can do anything you can do with those stick things.”
“Change your tie back then,” Lysander says.
“...Well, maybe not everything.”
“Doctor,” Amy says pointedly, “What about the Vashta Whatsinames in their library?”
“Right. Yes. Library. Vashta Nerada. School. Going to eat people. I need to speak to your headmaster.”
“Headmistress,” I correct. “Lysander, if he’s a Muggle, how are we going to get him into Hogwarts?”
“I’m not a Muggle,” the Doctor says, but Lysander ignores him.
“Maybe just get Hagrid down here. He deals with all the…creatures.”
“Why would I not be able to get into Hogwarts?”
“It’s invisible to anyone who’s not a wizard,” I explain. “It’s been enchanted.”
“Sounds like your basic perception filter. Don’t worry, if I want to see it I’ll be able to see it. I’m the Doctor, I can do anything. Where is it?”
We get a few curious looks from other students as we lead the Doctor, Amy and Rory through the village of Hogsmeade.
“Why are there so many people here?” The Doctor asks. “Just walking around, in an empty field.”
“You’re definitely a Muggle.”
Seemingly in an effort to prove himself, the Doctor pulls out his glowing metal thing and buzzes it around. “Ah. Yes. There’s something invisible here,” he says, peering at it. “Lots of somethings. Buildings. Wooden buildings with things in them. But if I know it’s here, why can’t I see it?”
“I told you, it’s enchanted.”
I note with some satisfaction that he doesn’t try to say ‘There’s no such thing as enchantments’ and conclude he must be starting to believe us.
We reach the steps leading to the Entrance Hall before we think about how to get the Doctor and his friends into the castle. The enchantments have already come into force and they’ve managed to come this far, but I’m pretty sure there’s no point bringing the Doctor to a library he can’t see. A quick glance over my shoulder tells me they can’t see Hogwarts, or are so accustomed to seeing giant magical castles that they haven’t batted an eyelid.
“What do you see?” I ask, hesitating on the bottom step.
“A ruin,” Rory replies, and the Doctor pulls out his metal thing again.
“Okay, what did you say that thing was called?” I ask, deciding I want a real noun to work with.
“Sonic screwdriver.” He buzzes it again, waving it around the steps. “Right. Yes. There’s some sort of perception filter here…a powerful one. Very powerful.” He stares at the sonic screwdriver. “That’s unusual.”
“What is?” Amy asks.
“With a normal perception filter you can break it by being aware of it and looking for it. Like the extra room in your house. I told you to look in the corner of your eye and you did, and you could see it. But I can’t break through this filter, and I should be able to.”
Lysander folds his arms. “It’s because it’s magic.”
“Hey, none of that,” the Doctor says, sounding slightly irritated. “I decided you were cool because your name’s Lysander, don’t make me change my mind.”
Lysander doesn’t seem worried about his coolness status with the Doctor, however, and a few seconds later I realise why: Professor Sprout herself is coming down the steps.
“Bayley, Scamander, what are you doing?”
We look at each other, trying valiantly to think of explanations, as the Doctor straightens up and offers her his hand. “Hello, I’m the Doctor. I’ve come about the thing in your library.”
Sprout immediately forgets about us. “Oh, wonderful! I’m Professor Sprout, the headmistress, I assume Hagrid sent for you? Most unusual that he doesn’t know what it is – nobody knows more about magical creatures than Hagrid…are you from the Ministry?”
“Um, yes,” the Doctor says, shooting us a ‘shut-up-and-don’t-say-anything’ look. “From the, uh, Department of the…Regulation…of Magical Creatures.”
Lysander and I gape. He got it right.
How did he get that right?
Amy sidles over to me. “He just embarrassed himself terribly, didn’t he?”
“No, he didn’t,” I say, still in awe. “We have a Department for the Regulation of Magical Creatures.”
“Well, that’s handy. Now all he has to do is walk through a school he can’t see and try to fight invisible monsters in a library that he can’t see, while pretending that he can see, and that his sonic screwdriver is actually one of your wand things.” She pauses to consider this. “But if anyone can do it, the Doctor can.”
Disclaimer: I do not own HP or Doctor Who. Summary quote taken from Doctor Who, Season 6: The Eleventh Hour.
A/N: I must admit, I've surprised myself with how much I enjoy writing this story, so I'm updating again. Let me know what you think in that little box down there!