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Chapter 4: Bigger on the Inside
We reach the Hog’s Head and I walk through the bar as quickly as possible. “I’m seventeen!” I yell to the glaring bartender, raising my hands in surrender and ploughing through the door before he can judge me on my youth and/or the fact I’m blatantly not at school.
Once out on the street, the Doctor breaks into a run again, and with a sigh I roll my eyes and follow him, stopping as he launches himself into the TARDIS. I don’t know whether I was meant to follow him, and I’m not keen to go in there without invitation in case it attacks me.
“Erica!” the Doctor calls. “Come in here a minute.”
The inside of the TARDIS is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It has a strange, orangey glow, and what looks like a desk full of controls surrounding a tube that leads straight up to the ceiling on some kind of raised platform. It’s massive, and it seems to have a number of rooms leading off it.
The Doctor’s standing at the controls, staring at some kind of computer screen. “Right, you, over here.”
“That’s you,” Rory advises me.
“Oh, right.” I trot over to the screen thing.
“Now just stand there, and it’ll figure out what you are.” The Doctor peers at me. “So, you didn’t say anything when you came into the TARDIS. What do you think of it?”
To be honest, my capacity for impressed-ness has been significantly reduced since I got my Hogwarts letter seven years ago and saw Diagon Alley, Platform 9¾ and Hogwarts for the first time.
“Oh come on, you can do better than that. Did you notice anything…about the inside?”
“Doctor, stop fishing,” Amy calls.
“I can fish all I want, I’m the Doctor,” he replies. “What did you notice about the inside, compared to the outside?”
“It’s not a police box?” I venture.
“It’s bigger on the inside,” Rory says with a roll of his eyes. “That’s what he wants you to say. He always gets excited when people say it.”
“Oh. Yeah, not that impressive. We can do that too.”
“What?” The Doctor comes over, looking thoroughly unimpressed. “You can make things bigger on the inside? That’s…that’s Time Lord stuff, that’s not your domain, you’re not allowed it, it’s ours.”
“Tough. What did you want me over here for?”
“I’m going to test this…thing.” He spins around to face me, something that looks like a large lava lamp in his arms. “Got this ages ago, can’t even remember who from, but they had a lot of teeth and they were very grateful for something…which is a good thing, because you don’t want to annoy something with that many teeth. Anyway, it can apparently be powered by any energy in the universe. Could you…wave your wand and do that…thing you did before?”
“You mean cast a spell?”
“Yes, well, that sounds a bit fairytale, doesn’t it?”
Amy turns to glare at him for some reason at this point. Deciding I’ve missed something that’s probably not important, I point my wand at the lava lamp thing and cast lumos.
The lamp begins to glow, pulsating in a way that is less than comforting. I think it’s going to blow.
“It’s working!” The Doctor proclaims, bounding over to the thing and holding it aloft. I close my eyes against the light – I may as well have set a piece of magnesium alight – and consider the slight problem of blinding everyone in the library with this thing.
“Bit bright, isn’t it?” Amy calls.
“Erica, d’you think you could maybe…I dunno…put a little less magic into it?”
That would require casting the spell badly. I’m not all that powerful, but – and excuse me for blowing my own horn here – I’ve studied and practiced these spells to the point that I’m incapable of casting a bad spell. Lysander, on the other hand…
I love Lysander, don’t get me wrong. He’s a great bloke. Resembles Winnie the Pooh a bit too much for a human being, but an awesome guy nevertheless. But he’s not too crash hot at Charms.
I cast finite on the lamp before our eyes can sustain lasting damage and lead the TARDIS Team back to Hogwarts.
“What is that thing?” Lysander asks, staring at the lamp in the Doctor’s arms.
“This is a Sekubatchean light-emitting energy converter. It works with your magic, but there’s a slight problem with the brightness—maybe there are settings I can adjust—”
“I have a solution,” I tell the Doctor, standing behind Lysander and propelling him forward.
“Er, you didn’t tell me the solution,” Lysander whispers to me.
“You are the solution.”
“Oh, cool. Wait a minute! I’m the solution for what?” Lysander turns to me, panicked. “You’re not going to sacrifice me to the beast, are you?”
I have this theory that the only reason Lysander is in Ravenclaw is because the Sorting Hat mistook his jumbled mess of unconnected thoughts for deep, complicated philosophical concepts. Moments like these confirm that theory.
“No, but you suck at Charms and my Lumos is too powerful.”
“Oh. Right. You know, next time I’m the solution to an impossible problem, I’d like that to be for a good reason.”
“Good is relative. Cast the spell.”
“You are the worst thing that’s ever happened to my self-esteem. Lumos.”
The lamp begins to glow and pulsate, but doesn’t threaten to blind us.
“Is there any way we can get this into the library without actually going in there ourselves?” The Doctor asks hopefully.
“Sure. Wingardium Leviosa.” I levitate the lamp into the library, fixing it to the centre of the ceiling.
“It needs to move, otherwise you’ll always have the same shadows,” The Doctor says. “If a place is constantly in shadow, the Vashta Nerada will breed.”
“Oh, right.” I charm the lamp to roam around the ceiling, completing a full figure-of-eight circuit every hour. “That good?”
“Very good,” the Doctor confirms.
“So that’s it?” Lysander asks, taking a step towards the library. “We can go in now?”
“Not yet. You need to give the lamp time to kill the Vashta Nerada. It won’t be safe for another few days, a week to be safe.”
Lysander groans. “But the first years!” he wails. “They play Gobstones in the common room! In the Ravenclaw common room! Gobstones!”
“Gobstones?” Amy repeats, confused.
“Ravenclaws?” The Doctor repeats.
“Just…obscure wizarding references…Don’t suppose you’ve ever heard of them…” Lysander mutters.
Dear Lord, Lysander’s a hipster.
“Well, if that’s all you needed,” The Doctor begins, “We should be off…promised Amy and Rory I’d take them to meet Pericles before he catches the plague…”
“Wait,” Lysander says sharply. “You’re just gonna ditch?”
The Doctor looks to Amy for a translation.
She offers him a hopeful smile. “Doctor, we can see Pericles any day. But they’re magic! This is a school of magic. Can we have a look around, maybe watch some classes—”
“It’s Saturday,” Lysander points out.
“You’re a Muggle, you can’t see the castle,” I add. “Sorry.”
“Then come with us?” Amy suggests. “Come on, it’s Saturday, you wouldn’t miss anything! Doctor, can we take them in the TARDIS? They’re wizards!”
“We have that Transfiguration paper to do, Erica,” Lysander reminds me, backing away as if wary of Amy’s enthusiasm.
“Transfiguration?” Amy repeats. “So you turn like, a teacup into a toad or something?”
“Not really,” Lysander mutters. “Toads are gross, I prefer falcons.”
“Or kittens,” Lysander continues, missing the point. “Kittens are nice too.”
“Doctor, can we take them with us, please? They can make kittens out of teacups!”
“You two aren’t going anywhere,” Madam Chetterley says firmly, and I jump, having completely forgotten she was there. “I’m sure this TARDIS would be fun, but your first priority is your studies.”
“Yeah,” Lysander says hurriedly. “C’mon, Erica, Transfiguration calls…”
“What is wrong with you?” I ask incredulously, but I glance at Amy, with her beaming, pretty face, and light dawns.
Of course. He’s terrified of her. He’s always terrified of pretty girls.
When I first realised that, I tried valiantly to find any signs he was scared of me. He’s not.
I try not to take that personally.
“I’ve never had magic in the TARDIS before,” the Doctor begins uncertainly.
“Yeah, we might destroy it forever, better just stay here and not fail our NEWTs,” Lysander says emphatically.
“Lysander, it’s Saturday, and it’s October. NEWTs are ages away.”
I shrug apologetically to Amy. “Another time, maybe.”
“But kittens,” Amy says, looking deflated.
“Here,” Lysander says, yanking a button off his shirt, pointing his wand at it and Transfiguring it into a little tabby kitten. “Take it.” He stuffs the kitten into Amy’s arms and takes off down the corridor.
“I suppose that’s my cue to leave,” I say, staring down the corridor where Lysander’s already vanished. I didn’t know he could run like that.
“We’ll see you again, yeah?” Amy asks, holding the kitten close.
“Um, yeah, I suppose.”
“We’ll be back,” the Doctor assures Amy, before turning to me with his explanation. “You had Vashta Nerada in your library. I don’t know how they got in there, but there are creatures. Aliens, monsters, and they’re invading your world. This isn’t the last you’ll see of us, believe me.”
Disclaimer: Winnie the Pooh belongs to A.A Milne.