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Chapter 2: The Doctor Returns
Finishing Hogwarts was the most bittersweet experience of Lucy’s life. Hogwarts history was filled with the tales of lonely children who had found a home in Hogwarts, and Lucy was no different. Especially when her parents officially separated a week before she was due to leave for the first time – she couldn’t wait to get out of the house that no longer felt like a home. Molly had moved out all her stuff over that summer, living in a flat in Diagon Alley, and it had just been Lucy and her mother left in that expansive house. Hogwarts had been a blessing, come at precisely the right time. She had been a Hatstall between Gryffindor and Ravenclaw, but had chosen Gryffindor because she hadn’t wanted to follow in Molly’s footsteps, and because she didn’t want to feel second best to the geniuses in Ravenclaw. It had been the best decision she’d ever made – Gryffindor was warm and welcoming, embracing her like a member of the family, and though it had been the home of many Weasleys over the years, she felt no burden of expectation to live up to them – except, maybe, an expectation to have fun, take risks, escape her comfort zone. She’d come to Hogwarts as a timid eleven-year-old whose parents’ divorce had streaked her face with tears too often, and was leaving it, she thought, ready to take on the world.
She’d never been immensely popular, but had found two incredible friends in the Scamander twins, Lorcan and Lysander. Lysander was a Gryffindor, his brother in Ravenclaw, but the boys were inseperable and had accepted Lucy into their tight-knit circle. Lorcan spent more time over the seven years they were at Hogwarts in the Gryffindor common room than his own, and he sometimes got new passwords before Lysander because everyone simply assumed he was in Gryffindor as well. She was also good friends with the girls in her dorm – inevitable after seven years of living and studying together, although patience was tried and friendships strained many times throughout.
She walked down the familiar route from Gryffindor Tower down to the Great Hall for breakfast, trying not to dwell on the fact that this would be the last time she ever made this journey. She stopped more often than usual, to bid goodbye to some of her favourite paintings – “The seventh-years are leaving, Edgar!” fat old Wilhelmina Winkle hissed to her sleeping husband,“get up and say goodbye, for goodness’ sake!” – and to gaze reminiscently into empty classrooms and down corridors. This was the room she and Lysander had ducked into at midnight when they were hiding from old Filch; those scorch marks on the wall were from when Lorcan had managed to set Peeves’ hair on fire “accidentally” in second year; this was where Lorcan and Harriet Langley were discovered kissing after curfew by a couple of prefects in their third year – it was the first great scandal their year group had known, made even more dramatic by the rumour that Lysander had been madly in love with Harriet himself – which could not be further from the truth.
“Get a move on, lazy bones,” Harriet called from behind Lucy, clapping her on the shoulder and falling into step beside her. “You’ll miss breakfast, and you don’t want to miss the last day feast.”
“I was just thinking, this is the last time we’ll—”
“Walk down here from Gryffindor Tower, yeah,” Harriet finished. “You said the same thing last night about the route to Gryffindor Tower. And what else was yesterday? Oh yes, the last time we went to breakfast with the intention of actually doing something school related with our day, our last lunch, our last dinner, the last time Aidan would sing his good night song to Peeves, the last time—”
“Yes, yes, I get the point,” Lucy interrupted.
“You’ve been going all year,” Harriet continued. “First day back, you were saying how this would be the last welcome feast we went to, the last Sorting we saw…hell, the last day of sixth year you were saying how it was—”
“The last Last Day of Term we’d have with the intention of coming back.”
“Exactly. I can’t tell if you can’t wait to leave or if you’re dreading it, the way you’ve been counting down.”
“I can’t tell either,” Lucy admitted. “But I don’t really have anything to do once I finish. I don’t have a job lined up or anything. Not even a flat yet.”
“Stay at home for a bit longer,” Harriet suggested with a shrug. “Keep your costs down, that’s what I’m doing.”
“I don’t want to stay at home.”
“Oh.” Harriet looked suddenly awkward, like she often did when Lucy reminded her of her less-than-perfect family life. “You could move in with Molly?”
Lucy made a gagging noise in the back of her throat as they made their way to the Great Hall, scanning the room for Lorcan and Lysander. The breakfast feast was the only thing that would make the boys get out of bed before her, and they seemed to be already halfway through when they looked up and waved her over, trying to speak with full mouths.
“Feast is good!” Lysander yelled around a mouthful of what Lucy assumed was bacon and eggs, judging by the mound on his plate. He sprayed the table with fragments of this as he spoke, and Nora Hedges glared pointedly at him from across the table.
“What took you so long?” Lorcan demanded as she sat down, clearing the surface in front of her from bits of Lysander’s breakfast. “We’ve been here ten minutes already.”
“She was taking a farewell tour of the castle,” Harriet explained, eyes lighting up as she eyed the spread. “Oh, look at those muffins, they’re giant!”
“A farewell tour?” Lysander scoffed. “It’s only school. I’ll be glad to be getting out. Freedom, independence, no more uniform or homework – me’n’ Lorcan are getting a flat in Diagon Alley,” he explained to Harriet. “He’s got an internship at Ollivanders.”
“You’re doing the curse-breaking course at Gringotts, aren’t you, Lysander?”
“Yup,” he said proudly. “What about you, what are you doing?”
“Taking a gap year, sort of,” Harriet replied. “I’m working at Dervish and Banges for a while until I work out exactly what I want to do. Y’see, Luce, that’s what you should do. Find a menial retail job somewhere and just work ’till you know exactly what you want to do. And then you’ve got a bit of money saved up as well.”
“Mm, maybe,” Lucy responded noncommittally, taking a gulp of pumpkin juice. “Though I don’t see how sweeping floors in a shop on Diagon Alley is going to help me find my true calling.”
“You’ll know your true calling isn’t sweeping floors?” Lorcan suggested.
“Nah, she’s just waiting on her mystical Doctor, aren’t you, Luce?” Lysander asked.
“Her what?” Harriet asked.
“Her mystical Doctor,” Lysander repeated. “Didn’t you hear that story? When she was eleven, she was sitting all alone in a park at night and along comes this Doctor who says he’s from outer space and that he’ll come back when she’s finished Hogwarts to – what was it, Lucy? – ‘show her the stars.’”
“Shut up,” was all Lucy could think of to respond.
“You’ve never told me that,” Harriet said, looking slightly wounded.
“It wasn’t important,” she lied.
“So you really think this Doctor is coming back for you?” Harriet continued. “Is that why you haven’t made any plans for after school? Luce – I hate to say it, but that really is quite stupid.”
“Yes, thank you,” Lucy muttered, annoyed. “I don’t actually expect him to come back. I’ve not heard anything about him since he left and nobody’s heard of him before, I’ve talked to everyone, even the Ministry. It’s like I dreamed the whole thing up.”
“Or he could have just been a very nice man who told a sad kid a story,” Lysander said. “He could have been a Muggle, I’m sure they’d have fancy gadgets for unlocking doors and stuff—”
“What, like a key?” Harriet asked sardonically.
“He said he’d met Merlin,” Lucy said, unsure why she was defending a man she was now quite sure didn’t actually exist.
“Even the Muggles know about Merlin.”
“I suppose.” But there was still that niggling doubt in Lucy’s mind, the desire to believe the Doctor was real, and that she would have adventures in space and leave her friends to their jobs in Diagon Alley working for eight Sickles an hour…
But for now, there were more important things to worry about. Breakfast was over and the first through sixth years were already walking down to Hogsmeade to catch the train home. Lucy found herself being carried along a tide of seventh years thronging in the Great Hall.
“Well, this is it,” Harriet’s cousin Guinevere, the Head Girl, began, having climbed onto the middle of the staff table. “The end of our final year at Hogwarts. I won’t make a long speech, because we’ve all got a train to catch – the train which has been bringing us here faithfully for seven years, and which will take us away from these walls for the last time this morning. I want you to know that it has been a pleasure leading you as Head Girl this year, and an honour knowing you all, sharing dorms with you, studying with you, worrying about exams with you, and growing up with you –” Here, Guinevere paused to stifle a sob, and a glance around the room told Lucy that many others were now teary-eyed, mainly the girls. She felt a lump in her own throat.
“I’m gonna cry!” Harriet warned.
“But the time has come for us to go our separate ways,” Guinevere continued, having composed herself once again. “I’m sure we’ll see each other again, walking down Diagon Alley, waiting in the queue at Gringott’s – some of you, I’m sure, on the front page of the Daily Prophet sharing your latest successes – but for now, this is goodbye. And so I wish each and every one of you the best for your future, and I know we’ll do Hogwarts proud!”
Guinevere concluded her speech to raucous applause, burying her head in the shoulder of a nearby friend. Harriet was crying loudly beside Lucy, and she wiped a tear from her own eye as her classmates circulated, hugging everyone they had ever spoken words to in their seven years. Lucy was accosted by “Goodbye Lucy!” and “I’ll miss you!” and “I’ve always thought you were amazing at Charms!” until finally Professor Sinistra came out and told them all to hurry down to Hogsmeade. They followed her down underneath the castle, where the little boats they had taken across the lake as first years were waiting, bobbing in the water.
“Well?” Sinistra prompted them. “You’ve never wondered how the boats got back across the lake once the first years had taken them across?”
“We sort of thought it might have been magic,” Lorcan explained, then ducked as she aimed a smack across the back of his head.
“You’re not my student anymore, I can hit you as much as I like,” she told him pertly. “Now get in.”
The seventh-years followed Lorcan into the boats.
“Three to a boat!” Sinistra called. “You’re a lot bigger than you were seven years ago!”
Lorcan, Lysander and Lucy piled into a boat, with an apologetic glance behind them to Harriet. She shrugged, already climbing into one with Guinevere and Sam Linden. The boats began moving across the lake and everyone twisted in their seats to watch the castle as it slowly disappeared from view.
“Goodbye, Hogwarts!” a girl’s voice called, and there was a fresh eruption of tears until one of the boys yelled, “Yeah, and fuck those three-foot-long Potions essays!”
They reached the Hogsmeade end of the lake, clambering out of the boats with a fair amount of shrieking and much threatening of being pushed into the water – “You know, in all my seven years I’ve never seen the Giant Squid,” “Oh yeah? I can arrange a meeting for you if you want,” – and met with the rest of the school as they milled around on the platform, some already claiming seats and compartments in the train.
Somehow, amongst all the shouting and the clamouring and the loud whistle of the train, Lucy heard another noise – the same noise she’d heard all those years ago in the park – and her heart leaped. It couldn’t be possible –
Muttering an excuse to the twins, she hopped off the platform, carrying her trunk behind her, and made her way to a cluster of trees just out of sight of the train. Nobody was watching her leave, not even the teachers, and she felt a wave of old resentment wash over her as she peered through the branches.
A large blue wooden box stood there, with the words “Police Public Call Box” written across the top. Police – weren’t those the Muggle version of the Magical Law Enforcement? Who was this Doctor anyway, and why was he here? Was going to see the stars some elaborate bribe, was he going to kidnap her or—
The door to the box swung open and the Doctor stepped out, looking not a day older than he did when she saw him in the park seven years ago, and she couldn’t help but mirror his smile, though she kept her wand clutched tightly in her hand.
“Well well well,” he said. “Lucy Weasley. All grown up with a wand of your own. I told you I’d come back, didn’t I?”
A/N: The summary quote is taken from Doctor Who 5.01: The Eleventh Hour.