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Boys are gross.
No, I don’t mean that in an I’ve-just-been-dumped-let’s-crack-out-the-lesbian-and-nun-jokes way.
I mean that in a the-boy-across-the-table-from-me-just-gave-me-a-three-sixty-degree-view-of-the-roast-beef-and-mashed-potatoes-in-his-mouth kind of way.
“Hey Erica,” he slurs, spraying me with flecks of spittle and potato, “Wanna go to Hogsmeade wimme inna weekend?”
“No, I do not,” I tell him firmly, wiping the food from my shoulder.
“Guts,” he says, and moves onto his next victim, Charlotte Pinkerley, who’s sitting beside me.
“Chew, swallow, and ask again,” Charlotte tells him.
I turn my attention from this feeble flirting to see who in Ravenclaw has returned for our fabled seventh year of hell. As a general rule we have the lowest rate of dropouts, but there’s always some arrogant prick who thinks he’s above the teaching at Hogwarts and spends his final year at Beauxbatons receiving the Finest Education Europe Has to Offer or some tripe like that. From what I can observe, the arrogant prick appears to be Louis Weasley, and a few inquiries confirm my suspicions.
“Good riddance,” his twin sister Dom says passionately, flicking her long, silky blonde hair behind her and glancing around to see how many males are now watching. It’s a shame about that; otherwise I’d quite like Dom. In fact, that seems to be the case with most of the girls in my year. You’d think, in the house of Rowena Ravenclaw, girls who were more concerned with their intellect than their hormones wouldn’t be too hard to come by, but apparently not.
Charlotte’s agreed to go to Hogsmeade with Mashed Potato Man.
Case in point.
In fact, the only person who seems immune to all of that is Lysander Scamander, which is why he’s my best friend. And before you get it into your head that I have a secret burning desire for him, let me point out Lysander to you.
He’s over there in the corner. You probably can’t see his face behind the mountain of food on his plate. He’s slightly pudgy (I’m being nice here) and has several days’ worth of gingery stubble on his face. He was cultivating sideburns in the holidays. He has longish blond hair that got sidetracked on the way to attractively shaggy and only made it to startled porcupine. He wears glasses, and because he’s short sighted they only serve to make his eyes smaller and increase his resemblance to a small, blond, and rather benevolent pig.
At least he doesn’t talk with his mouth full.
“Hey Lysander,” Melody Wright begins, and Lysander jumps, gives a strangled cry of surprise and begins choking on his dinner. He looks around for help, spots me and shoots me a pleading look. I pull out my wand, cast anapneo and look reproachfully at Melody.
“Don’t do that. Sudden social contact startles him.”
“Sorry,” Melody says apologetically. “Um, sorry, Lysander, but could you just pass the rolls please?”
I’m not even sure how I became friends with Lysander. Or, more to the point, how I decided it would be worth the effort to become friends with Lysander, because it doesn’t just happen. It’s an incredibly slow process. Like taming an animal. Slow movements. Neutral conversation topics that mostly revolve around school. When I asked him if he wanted to hang out in Hogsmeade with me in fifth year, it took him three weeks to get over the shock, and that was only after multiple assurances that I wasn’t interested in him In That Way.
But it was worth it. Eventually. I pick up my plate and slide across the table to join him.
“Good holidays?” I ask him.
He grunts noncommittally. “Lorcan got a girlfriend.” He pauses, and for one fleeting, horrified moment I’m scared he’s going to start angsting it out that he doesn’t have one. But I evidently have too little faith in Lysander Scamander.
“It’s gross,” he continues, a furrow appearing on his forehead. “They just…kiss. All the time. And talk about useless things that she’s interested in, when I know Lorcan doesn’t actually give a damn.” He pauses again, and adds, in a rare display of worldliness, “Anything to get laid, I suppose.”
I raise my eyebrows in agreement. “Who is she?”
“Sophie Eggleton. Sixth year.”
“Hufflepuff, of course.”
“Of course,” I agree, nodding sagely. Lysander’s always held his twin in contempt for being in Hufflepuff, and I can’t blame him. While Hufflepuffs are definitely losers, especially in our intellectual Ravenclaw eyes, it’s the one thing Lysander actually has on Lorcan. He may be in Hufflepuff, but Lorcan is definitely the more attractive twin (I’ve always thought that they’re part of a weird science experiment, where Lysander is being deliberately fattened up and his subsequent health issues are compared with Lorcan’s) and far more capable of functioning socially.
Not that I can talk about functioning socially. I’m the typical Ravenclaw cynic, embracing the culture of reclusiveness and rampant intellectualism that exists within my house to effectively cocoon myself from the verbiage of my peers. And yes, verbiage exists alongside reclusiveness and rampant intellectualism. The only difference between us and the other houses is that Ravenclaws, particularly the boys, dress up their verbiage with correct grammar and extravagant words so they come across as intelligent enough to be here.
The feast comes to an end, and Lysander and I make our way to the library to while away the evening. We tend to avoid the Ravenclaw common room on the first day back; it’s too noisy and claustrophobic, and full of overexcited first years who haven’t yet learned that they don’t really have a place there. There’s a very strong hierarchy in the Ravenclaw common room, based on age alone, and first through third years are seldom accepted.
“Hello, kids,” the librarian, Madam Chetterley, says, intercepting us at the door. “I’m afraid the library’s closed tonight.”
I frown at her. She’s normally a happy, cheerful woman – round and soft, like a marshmallow. Nothing ever worries her. But her face looks pained, her smile forced, and because she’s one of the only staff I’ve really gotten to know, and I’m one of the only students she really talks to, I decide to investigate further.
“Madam Chetterley, are you okay?”
“Oh, yes,” she assures me, trying to make her smile more convincing. “Absolutely fine, thank you, Erica.”
I raise my eyebrow and wait for her to tell me the truth. Sure enough, she does.
“Just a bit worried about the books, is all…a few have been a bit damaged, and I’ve found a few rat skeletons around. There might be something dangerous in there, I’ve asked Hagrid to have a look around when he gets time, but it is a shame, being the first day of term and all.”
“You’re right about that,” I mutter, thinking about the first years in our common room.
Lysander and I go back to the library after school to find Madam Chetterley and Hagrid having a poke around. It’s still officially closed, but we’re on good enough terms with both that we just wander straight in and ask if they need any help.
“Might need some o’ yer Ravenclaw brains, Erica,” Hagrid says. “Bin finding skeletons and the like in the shadows – no idea what’s done it, ain’t come across anything like it – they don’t leave any meat at all, see. And we haven’t seen anything.”
“Try throwing something just under the bookshelf there. It might attract whatever it is.”
“Good thinkin,” Hagrid says cheerfully, withdrawing a small ferret from his coat. “All righ’, let’s see what you make of this.” He tosses the ferret into the shadow cast by the bookshelf.
I yelp and leap back in fright – the darkness is literally devouring it. Before our eyes, the flesh is stripped, leaving only a shiny white skeleton behind. Lysander mutters a few words I didn't even realise he knew.
“Blimey,” Hagrid says, looking slightly taken aback. “Righ’. It’s invisible then. An’ vicious. Best keep the library closed for a bit longer, Liz, till I can do a bit o’ research and find out what that thing might be.”
Madam Chetterley nods, but she looks more terrified than anything else, and hurries towards the door. “Best get out, all of you.”
Lysander and I exchange glances. We don’t need to be told twice.
Disclaimer: I don't own HP or Doctor Who. Chapter title and summary are taken from Doctor Who, Season 4: Silence in the Library.
A/N: I've never written a crossover before, and I don't read them, so this is definitely new territory for me. Please leave a review and let me know what you think, any feedback at all is welcome! Thanks to my self-appointed beta, StEpH_M :)
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!
Lysander appears to be looking for an excuse to leave as we trail behind Sprout and the TARDIS Team (I needed something to refer to them collectively) and I’m pretty sure I know why: At some point, Sprout’s going to realise that none of them are who they say they are, and we’re going to be in trouble for bringing Muggles into the castle. Even now, the Doctor is trying valiantly to scan his surroundings with his screwdriver without being noticed by Sprout, and every time the buzzing noise goes off, Lysander tenses, reminding me of a rabbit preparing to flee.
Luckily for us, and for the TARDIS Team, Sprout leaves once we reach the library, and Madam Chetterley comes out to meet us.
“So here’s the deal,” I begin, speaking very fast and very quietly, “This guy is the Doctor, and he knows what’s in the library and he’s going to help us. But he’s actually a Muggle, and an alien, and you’re going to have to keep that on the down low. I just thought you should be aware that he can’t actually see the library.”
“You brought a Muggle into Hogwarts?” Madam Chetterley whispers in astonishment. “Erica! You could be expelled for this!”
“For the last time, I’m not a Muggle,” the Doctor says impatiently. “I’m a Time Lord. I travel through time and space in a little blue box that’s bigger on the inside and I’d like to see you try that.”
“Yeah, all right, he’s not a Muggle,” I concede. “But he’s not a wizard and he can’t see the library. I just thought you should know.”
Madam Chetterley looks bewildered. I can’t blame her. I probably shouldn’t have word-vomited all that at the same time.
“Now we’ve got that out of the way,” the Doctor continues, “You have an infestation of Vashta Nerada in your library. That’s what’s been eating things. They’re a carnivorous swarm that live in shadows, and they’ve been known to spawn in books before. They’re also invisible. Sort of. They’re invisible in the shadows, but if there’s a shadow and you can’t see what’s casting it, that’s a swarm of Vashta Nerada. In short, stay out of the shadows.”
“How can we get rid of them?” Madam Chetterley asks, all business again.
“You can’t. Not completely. Not when there’s enough of them, they’ll destroy everything in their path.”
“So what are we going to do about my library?”
“Their weakness is light. But they can overpower any form of natural or electric light, if there are enough of them. How do you light your library?”
“Windows and candles.”
“Not enough. Too many shadows. Even to just go in there in the middle of the day.”
“So it’s not safe for the students?”
“No, they’d be eaten alive. You’re lucky nobody’s been killed yet. You’ll need a way to seal off the library from the rest of the school, in case the swarm spreads.”
Madam Chetterley is silent for a long time, and I get the feeling she’s not thinking about how to seal off the library. She’s trying to process the idea of sealing off the library.
I turn to the Doctor. “We brought you here so you could get rid of this carnivorous swarm and get our library back. And you tell us the only thing we can do is seal it off for all eternity? That library’s over a thousand years old—”
“So am I,” the Doctor says.
“Whatever,” I snap, beyond questioning the nonsense he’s spilling. “You’re just going to leave it to those things? There are scrolls in there that date back to the beginning of the Roman Empire, letters from the Founders of Hogwarts—”
“History never dies, Erica. It’s always there, somewhere. As long as someone remembers it.”
“Who do you think you are, Albus Dumbledore?” Lysander mutters. If the Doctor heard him, he doesn’t show it.
And then, suddenly, I remember something. Something I read in a very old spellbook.
“I have an idea!” I yell, and without waiting for a response I pull open the library door.
“No, Erica, don’t go in there!” the Doctor yells after me.
“Ericaaaaa!” Lysander wails. “If you get eaten I’ll have to write up our Transfiguration paper by myself, and I’ll fail it! You don’t want that on your hands!”
I ignore them both (but Lysander’s comment did make me hesitate for a nanosecond) before igniting my wand tip and hurrying towards the 16th century spellbook collection. Shadows, shadows, shadows. Stay out of the shadows. I leap on tiptoe back and forth, reach the shelf where it’s tucked away and stare.
Bugger. The floor between me and the book is covered in shadows.
Wait a minute.
“Accio Guide to Spellwork, 1545!”
I could have done that from outside, but oh well. Remembering my safe path, I bolt back outside. Madam Chetterley and Lysander look relieved to see me in one piece, but the Doctor is livid.
“Do you have any idea what you’re dealing with? You could have died in there. You. Are. So. Stupid. Why does nobody ever listen to me?”
“Shut up,” Amy tells him, and the Doctor does.
“Thank you,” I say, nodding at Amy, and open the book. “I noticed something when I was reading this last year, and I just remembered it. You said those Vashta things can’t stand light, right? But they can overpower electric and natural light. What about magic light?”
For the benefit of the TARDIS Team, I explain, “We have two spells for just creating light, Lumos and Lumos Maxima. And here, in this spellbook…” I flick through the stiff, crumbling pages with reckless abandon – “Look. Lumos Maxima: A spell to ward off Darkness.” That’s weird wording, don’t you think? I just thought it was typical Elizabethan language, but why is ‘darkness’ capitalised? Again, possibly normal Elizabethan language, but maybe not. So I found this. Accio Chronicles of Darkness!”
“Why, for the love of Merlin, did you not think of that before you went charging into the library?” Lysander asks, exasperated.
“Because I’m a Muggleborn. Anyway, this is kind of like a conspiracy theory book—”
“Mum has a copy of that!” Lysander says excitedly.
“Of course she does, she’s your mum. It’s all about these creatures called the Darkness. For centuries wizards have believed that there exists, in the shadows, some invisible creature, and that invisible creature is behind mysterious disappearances they can’t explain themselves. Of course, it’s a theory that’s been rubbished everywhere…but what if the Darkness that this book talks about is the Vashta Nerada? Then that spellbook says “A spell to ward off Darkness. A spell to ward off Vashta Nerada.”
Lysander blinks. “Sorting Hat knew what it was doing with you, didn’t it?”
“Took you seven years to work that one out?”
“One problem. One very big problem,” the Doctor interrupts. “What if it’s not?”
“Then let’s find out,” I say, making for the library again. Lysander, looking alarmed, reaches out and pulls me back.
“Sorry,” he says quickly, “But you might die, so I had to stop you.”
“We need something for the Vashta Nerada to eat instead of us,” I muse. “Accio chicken!”
Madam Chetterley purses her lips. “I shouldn’t be letting you do that.”
“It’s life and death, it doesn’t matter,” I reply, reaching up and catching the handful of chicken drumsticks that are flying towards me. “Ew, gross, they’re all raw and…gross.”
Armed with chicken, wands and a sonic screwdriver, we enter the library.
“There are still shadows,” the Doctor notes, “But we can see what’s casting them. Erica, throw a bit of chicken into that one.”
I do so, and in moments it’s reduced to a glistening bone. I can’t help but feel disappointed; I thought Lumos Maxima would be a miracle cure.
“Vashta Nerada die in the light,” the Doctor continues. “If you keep this lit, day in, day out, the population might reduce. They’re only dangerous in large numbers, when there’s a swarm of them. Or they could just…hide in the shadows, biding their time.”
I’m not much of a fan of that scenario, to be honest. “Lumos,” I mutter, and the end of my wand ignites. I crouch down, carefully aiming the light into the shadow. It retreats, and the Doctor buzzes it with his sonic screwdriver.
“You’re either killing them or driving them back,” he says. “But I suppose you can’t just sit here all day moving the light to reach the shadows, can you? We need some kind of bulb…something that can store and use whatever energy you’re making, something I’ve never come across before…Yes!” He leaps to his feet, spins in a circle and runs out of the library. Bewildered, we follow him.
“You get used to it after a while,” Amy tells me. “There’s an awful lot of running.”
“I…can’t…run,” Lysander puffs. “Asthma…”
Madam Chetterley and I stop, and the Doctor yells over his shoulder, “I’ll be back soon! Don’t go anywhere.”
“Oi!” I yell. “You need a wizard with you or you won’t be able to get back!”
“Then hurry up!”
Casting an apologetic look at Lysander, I take to my heels, catch up with the Doctor and point him in the direction of the shortcut into Hogsmeade. Inspired by a passage that opened up during the war, some enterprising senior student set it up to lead straight into the Hog’s Head from an out-of-the-way corridor on the fourth floor. Rumour has it he collected a commission from old Aberforth Dumbledore for the extra (illegal) customers he brought through before he left Hogwarts and Aberforth died. He left a legacy though, in the form of the password that lets you through.
I prod the tapestry on the wall with my wand and whisper, “Teddy’s awesome.”
“Teddy? Who’s Teddy?” The Doctor asks as I lead them through into the passageway.
“The guy who made this passage. No idea who he is, but apparently he’s awesome.”
“So what’s the deal with your school?” Amy asks conversationally.
“It’s a school of magic. We come here for seven years and…learn magic.”
“What kind of magic?”
“Uhm, Charms, that’s wandwork, Transfiguration, that’s more wandwork, Potions, that’s mixing stuff together to make stuff that does stuff, Defence Against the Dark Arts, that’s fighting evil stuff—”
“That sounds cool,” the Doctor interjects.
“And academic stuff like History of Magic, Ancient Runes, even Muggle Studies because most wizards don’t know the first thing about Muggles.”
“So what’s your favourite?”
“History of Magic.”
“You’re kidding.” Amy frowns. “You have all these awesome, magicky subjects, and your favourite’s history?”
“This coming from the girl who travels through time,” Rory comments.
“It’s the only way to make history interesting. What?” she asks defensively, glaring at Rory. “You failed history at school.”
“Yeah, and then I died, and came back as a plastic Roman, and lived through the last two thousand years of human history.”
“Do you travel in time?” Amy asks me suddenly.
“No. We used to have things called Time Turners, but they were all destroyed in the last Wizarding War and time travel’s been out of the question since then.”
“If they were destroyed,” The Doctor begins, “Why didn’t you just make new ones? Or did you forget how you made them?”
“I don’t know! I’m a Muggleborn!”
“What does that mean?”
“Means my parents are Muggles. Don’t know how I turned out magic and believe me, I’ve been trying to find out for the last seven years.”
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.