Disclaimer: Anything you recognize belongs to the authors, producers, and companies with whom the material in question is affiliated. I make no profit from this work.
A/N: This is my first crossover. Until I found Book of Changes's A Study in Magic, a cross between BBC's Sherlock and JK's world, I had little interest in the category. Thanks for showing me the error of my ways, and I hope this little creation continues the tradition of merging fandoms as well as Book of Changes so admirably does. Do try it out if you find yourself in the mood. It's excellent.
Due to the nature of this story, expect a time shift forward or back dependent on the universe. Let's just suppose that the alternate Earth depicted here is a few years behind that of the "real" Earth according to Rowling's cannon beginning in 1981. Also, ignores certain comments in Season 3, Episode 3 of Doctor Who.
January 30, 2016: Edits to this story are complete. I hope you enjoy the result.
Trigger warning: references to extreme violence in the prologue. It's not super graphic, but we are talking Death Eaters viewed from an adult perspective, so you've been warned.
Chapter One: After Journey's End
3 May 1997
Sirens screeched amidst a cacophony of panic and fear. Everywhere Rose looked, burgundy splashes darkened the dewy tarmac. When finally she managed to pull her eyes away from the gore, Mickey's mouth had pulled into a sickened grimace, and his long fingers twitched against the dark metal of his rifle.
"What happened here?" he muttered.
Rose stood from her crouch over a pool of something she did not dare identify and removed her vinyl gloves. She tried to ignore the suction of the wet plastic to her fingertips. Around them, Torchwood operatives corralled police in their efforts to tape off the perimeter around the large Tudor, while others set floodlights to bathe the scene with morbid clarity.
"Family of five," she answered in the low, sharp way that made the hairs stand up on the back of Mickey's neck. "Mum, dad, two little girls, and a boy. They eviscerated the dad, and hung the boy with his dad's-"
Rose cut off, and Mikey's face took on an unnatural pallor. His hands shook. She caught his eye, and her usually smiling face seemed stuck in a state of tightly reined fury.
"When I find who did this, I'm not sure if I can just put them in stasis," she murmured, sweeping a hand under her eyes. "I won't tell you what they did to the girls and their mum."
"I'm not sure if I should've stayed," Mickey admitted, drifting closer to the blonde. "I wanted to help you, but you've got the Doctor now, and I don't know if I can hack this stuff. I mean, point me at an alien invader and I'm good, but I can't deal with this, Rose. "
He sighed noisily, and his face twisted again.
"It's been months and we haven't found a shred of anythin' aside from that damned crazy reading we get. For fuck's sake, give me something to shoot at, already."
The woman's dour expression softened a little, and the corner of her mouth twitched.
"You're such a man. Are you sure it's not because you miss a certain Martha Jones?"
Mickey pointedly ignored the attempt at levity, and his longtime friend sighed.
"I do love you for staying," she said. "These cases..."
She trailed off and he frowned at her.
"The Doctor takes every one of these on his shoulders. He needs us to show him we still believe in what he can do. Otherwise this would be too much for him."
They looked around at the mess of stone and wood that was once someone's home. Neither let their eyes stray from the destruction to the five covered bundles carefully lain to the side. Instead, they stared up at the glowing spew of green stars hovering over the scene, clustered in a writhing depiction of a snake as it slithered in and out of a skull's open jaw and into one of its eye sockets.
"So he still doesn't have any leads?"
Rose pocketed the device she held and scowled.
"No," she grumbled. "We keep trying to track down the families, but they're all dead ends. Either we find more bodies, or they haven't been in contact for years. It's bizarre."
"D'you still think it's aliens, at all?"
Both stepped aside as a lab tech carefully lifted the first gurney from among the other, smaller bodies and carried it past them toward the waiting van.
The blonde pursed her lips and ran a hand through her mussed hair.
"I don't know, Mickey," she huffed. "I wish I could say I did, but I've never met an extraterrestrial quite like this. Even Daleks didn't scare me as much. I mean, they're terrifying, but this level of pointless cruelty-"
"They're having fun," Mickey agreed. "Whoever's doing this is doing it partly out of sport."
Rose returned home much later that night. When she opened the door, she found her Doctor sitting with his head in his hands on the loveseat they had carefully selected in a second-hand shop a few months back. His long, pale fingers clenched and unclenched in his unruly hair, and when the door closed quietly behind her, his dark eyes pinned her in place.
The woman dropped her keys on the mat and launched herself at him without a word. Lean arms squeezed her soft waist, and the sobs she'd held in all day burst from her as his scent filled her nose.
Cinnamon, clover, and a hint of smoke – a remnant from any number of near-disasters – clung to his duster, and the wool of his blue suit felt powdery under her palms. Rose settled against his chest and twisted her hands into his thick hair.
"It's only in the UK," he murmured into the junction of her neck and leather-clad shoulder. "I got the same signals at those last two unexplained deaths."
"There were kids this time," she spat, her voice climbing toward a shriek of fury. "Three of them, not one older than ten!"
"I know, love," the Doctor said softly. "We'll find them."
She looked into his dark eyes, her own glistening with tears.
"But how many more kids are we going to stick in a morgue until we do?"
The Doctor sighed and squeezed her to him, burying his face in her hair.
"I don't know."
Rose and her Doctor held each other long into the night, both enveloped in their own fears. Neither knew, then, just what they had stumbled upon, but it would prove to be the greatest adventure either had undertaken.
1 November 2002
The first pale fingers of dawn stretched to wipe slowly at the dim smudge of stars along the horizon, casting the irregularly spiked skyline into relief. London, though never truly quiet, hummed somewhat lazily beneath the haze of early morning. Only a few people graced the streets, and many of those were stumbling either from lack of sleep, too much drink, or (in many cases) both.
It was a perfectly normal beginning to a Friday. Or, it would have been.
On this particular morning, however, it seemed the ranks of those wandering inebriated seemed to be swelling rather than fading in respect to the coming day. Stranger, still, nearly all of these new additions seemed to come from nowhere at all, and most of them sported the oddest clothing.
Rose yawned as she stared out of her bedroom window onto the street below. She grasped her steaming cup of tea between her hands, and its sides had started to burn her cold fingers, but she couldn't look away from the men and women gathering around the lamppost across the street.
The huddled figures, draped in long cloaks, clung to one another so tightly she thought they might fall over if anyone made a sudden move.
"Doctor," she said sleepily as she blinked at the sight. "Oi, Doctor."
She padded over to the bed to nudge the man still entangled in the sheets.
"What?" he groaned with a reluctant roll onto his back.
He squinted at her blurrily, incognizant of the bemused smile on Rose's pink face.
"I think there's a convention in town. Can we take the day off from explosions, murder and paranormal investigation to go?"
"What sort of convention?" the man yawned as he disengaged himself from the mess of covers.
Rose shot a look out at the street again.
"Fantasy role-playing, I think." She paused and frowned as two owls swooped out of the rapidly lightening sky to land on one of the figures' shoulder. "Or maybe aviary."
"Sorry, what?" the Doctor complained. "It's too early. Come back to bed."
Rose's lips quirked in wicked amusement.
"Careful what you ask for."
But the Doctor had finally woken up enough that he had processed her words properly. He looked at her for a moment, apparently ignorant of the suggestion in her eyes, shot out of bed with a great flurry of sheets, and bolted to the window.
"Owls!" he crowed. "Owls, again! It's them! We've got to go, Rose, we've got to go, now!"
The Doctor snatched his screwdriver from the bedside table and pointed it at the casement, which promptly popped open beneath the whirring influence of the device to allow its owner full access to the street below.
"Doctor!" Rose shouted, but he'd already jumped down one level to the pavement and bolted toward the huddle of oddly dressed people.
He seemed not to care that he had neglected to put on pajamas after they fell into one another's arms the previous night.
"Doctor, it's too cold! I changed my mind, so come back to bed!"
"You lot! Stop there!"
The huddle looked up in amazement at the naked man running at them with his blue-tipped sonic raised in a clear sign of aggression.
Before he could reach the centre of the street, however, a lorry screamed past. Its horn blared, and when Rose looked back at the lamppost, they were gone. She heard the Doctor's cry of frustration and shivered from her perch on the windowsill.
The Doctor started sonicking the spot the strangers previously occupied while Rose admired his naked rear, which seemed to pinch in on itself in the cool November morning. After several minutes of watching him pace barefoot over the cold pavement, the blonde retreated inside, shut the window, grabbed the Doctor's dressing gown from the hook on the back of the door, and padded down the hall to the kitchen. She flicked the television on from the small remote pad recessed into the granite countertop before beginning her morning routine.
The news buzzed to life. Pleasantly neutral voices and the flicker of light across the screen melted to a low hum in the background while she put on a full pot of tea, popped some halved crumpets into the toaster, and threw a pat of butter into a frying pan for kippers.
"Why are you cooking?" the Doctor demanded as he came through the front door, his naked chest blotched in patches of pink beneath the dusting of dark hair. "We've stuffy stuff to track."
Rose rolled her eyes and slid a cup of tea across the counter to stop by his messily folded dressing gown.
"Breakfast first," she said warningly. "I'm not running around on an empty stomach. We'll end up buying chips, and while you somehow manage to suck everything you swallow into another dimension and stay gorgeous and thin, my thighs and bum are thick enough as is."
"But we'll be running, too," he wheedled. "Ignoring that, I rather like the way you're shaped."
The blonde grinned and elbowed her half-Time-Lord lover in the ribs as he wrapped his arms around her waist from behind. The dressing gown remained on the counter.
"You're not fooling me," she chided. "I'm not as fit as I was at nineteen. Even with the constant running, my metabolism can't keep up."
Rose turned in the Doctor's arms and stood on tiptoe to snake her arms around his neck. She leaned in to kiss him, but he continued staring forward. She bounced a little, squeezing tighter in an attempt to regain his attention. She couldn't reach.
"Not now," he said urgently, squeezing her waist lightly.
She huffed and momentarily considered stomping on his foot.
The Doctor's long fingers tapped the remote panel, and the television's buzz rose and morphed until the commentator's voice filled the small flat.
"Late last night, terror and tragedy visited the community of Godrick's Hollow, a small village located east of Launceston. Police received reports of an explosion just after midnight-"
A horrible image of a caved-in cottage, smoking in the eerie red and blue glow of emergency sirens, flashed across the screen. The newswoman's voice continued speaking as the scene changed to show an ambulance surrounded by confused and upset townspeople.
"—Coroner Corey Mitchell said the couple inside died prior to the explosion; however, the specific cause remains unknown. While Police have not confirmed any involvement of either the IRA or religious extremist groups, Constable Thomas McKinnon had this to say:"
The scene changed again to show the aforementioned constable, who wore a grim, if somewhat bewildered expression on his stubbly face.
"The Launceston bomb squad has confirmed they haven't found any of the chemical residues common to most explosive weapons. Right now, it seems most likely a gas pipe burst, which later caused the explosion. This may also explain the state of the bodies found inside, although we're waiting on the results of lab tests to confirm. Really, the only indication of any sort of foul play seems to be the absence of the child who belongs to the upstairs nursery–"
The sound cut off abruptly, and Rose looked back into the Doctor's face.
"They've no idea how it happened," he grumbled, wriggling free of Rose's tentacle-like grip. "I think that's the sixth died-of-no-discernable cause case we've heard about just this month."
He left the kitchen and hopped over the back of the sofa to retrieve a TARDIS blue journal lying on the coffee table. He flipped through the well-thumbed pages to the latest entries and pencilled in a few notes while Rose went back to making her breakfast.
"How many does that make for the year?" she asked softly.
"Unexplainable death or bizarre murder in general?"
"Let's just make it the total body count since you dropped yourself with me."
"Since 1995?" he pursed his thin lips, and his eyes darkened. "Eight hundred and twenty-two adults, three hundred and seventy-five children. It's slowed down, though, since '99. Just this year, that's fifty incidents like this one, and we've got nine really bad ones no one can remember."
The blonde woman shuddered a little as she plated her food.
"How could anyone forget?" she mumbled. "Especially the last one…"
The Doctor nodded grimly, flipping to the appropriate page in his journal.
"Pair of lawyers, flayed alive, killed by brain liquefaction," he said coolly. "Of course, it doesn't help all our girls and boys had to re-learn the case. I just want to know how they're doing it. I mean, most of them wear psychic filters, so they shouldn't be vulnerable to that type of wipe."
"I wonder why we haven't forgotten?" Rose mused as she nibbled her crumpet.
"I know you get tired of hearing it, but probably exposure to the time vortex via the TARDIS."
The Doctor's bare feet flopped over the arm of the sofa and his mussed hair peeked around its back on the other end.
"Stop sulking," the blonde commanded with a crooked smile. "I'm done, so we can go hunting already."
By the time they had dressed in their customary uniforms – he in a blue pinstripe suit, ridiculous tie, converse trainers, and trench coat; and she in jeans, t-shirt, and blue leather jacket – the sun blared brightly in the sky over a bustling London. They went by foot from their flat from block to block, following the swish of many-coloured cloaks. No matter how quickly they ran, however, as soon as they came upon a secretive huddle, their quarry disappeared. Even the mass flight of owls overhead led them nowhere, as they would finally track one down only for it to disappear without a trace.
The Doctor slumped onto a park bench. Rose sighed and glared overhead at the frustrating creatures, which seemed to chirp and shriek laughs at their desperate chase.
"Want chips?" the Doctor grumped, sitting up with a resigned look on his angular face.
"'Course I do."
Several blocks away, an overlarge man with several chins and a walrus moustache grumbled to himself around his second morning doughnut about the sorts of people infesting the city, while all around the country, men and women in cloaks and pointed hats gathered in small, whispering groups to quietly toast a single name.
Miles away, a small meteor shower rained over a tiny town in broad daylight, and one of its occupants cursed as two scarlet-clad men attempted to undo the unusual light show.
In the highlands of Scotland, a wizened old professor cradled his face in his hands as he listened to the anguished fury of his most trusted agents and the soft sobs of his most tenured employee and dear friend.
The earth continued its steady rotation, and the sun sank below the horizon over Godrick's Hollow, where, in a well-appointed parlour stacked with books, a hulking man with wild black hair and beetle-black eyes carefully held a shrieking toddler to his chest as huge tears disappeared into his already moist beard. The hobbled old woman sitting across from him in an overstuffed chair sighed wistfully at the two visitors to her parlour as she reflected on the nice young family she'd known so briefly.
The baby would not be quieted for a long while, not until the giant of a man swaddled him in a blanket stolen from a ruined crib and slipped him gently into the sidecar of a huge black motorbike. The little boy's bright green eyes stared up at the star-strewn sky as it flew above him, and finally, gratefully, he eventually fell into a fitful sleep.
2 November 2002
"This way, Rose!"
A man in a trench coat ran pell-mell down the otherwise quiet suburban street. A tabby cat yowled and ran off as he jumped a low garden wall to skid, reeling, across the perfectly manicured lawn of the house numbered '4.' A blonde woman ran after him, a blocky device held in her left hand while her right adjusted the many knobs and switches around its blinking screen.
"Doctor, the scanner says twenty feet south!" she shouted, rounding the corner after him.
The man called the Doctor spun to look impatiently back at her after glancing in the indicated direction.
"Don't be ridiculous! It's just a boring old house."
But he still paused to point a silver instrument at the nondescript abode, completely unremarkable and indistinguishable from its neighbours. The end began blinking, and merry whirring broke the quiet of the early morning as the Doctor's bushy eyebrows disappeared beneath his messy fringe.
Rose jogged the last feet to join her companion and grinned as she caught her breath. The device in her hand emitted a similar noise to the screwdriver's, its small yellow screen just as excited in the presence of the suburban home.
"It's about time we found a live trail," the Doctor said in relief. "Although–" he frowned, turning on the spot to examine their surroundings. "–I thought it'd be something a little more exciting than this."
He took the scanner and adjusted the settings with his trusty screwdriver while Rose gratefully took a break to sit on the curb to catch her breath.
"It is a little anticlimactic," she finally agreed. "Considering the explosion yesterday, you would have thought it'd lead to some horrible lair or something."
The Doctor made a grumpy sort of noise as he continued his fiddling.
"What'd that put our body count at?" she said more sedately. "I mean the ones with that same sort of signature. Have we reached five hundred yet?"
"Six hundred seventy-three," the Doctor provided. "Only a fraction of those anyone can remember at all for what they were. But if we count the hurricane in Glasgow two years back, it's more like twelve hundred and fourteen."
Rose perched on the curb with a groan, closing her eyes. The grass under her bottom felt a little chilly through the fabric of her jeans, and the concrete under her palms scratched a little, but it was a nice change of pace considering the last time she'd slept had been Halloween night.
Their hunt through London for mysterious things the Doctor couldn't identify had taken them up and down too many streets, chasing the tails of disappearing cloaks until they came upon one of the most horrible things Rose had ever witnessed.
In the absence of more interesting environmental stimulus, her brain readily conjured up the destruction she could still smell clinging to her jacket.
The explosion had demolished the street and a small part of the tube system, debilitating traffic and horrifying everyone in the vicinity. Water flooded the hole, into which many of the bodies had fallen and still lay, torn and bloody, untouchable until Police and bomb squad officials finished their investigation. Torchwood operatives waited in the wings, discreetly making their own notes on the things their more mundane counterparts couldn't detect. It had been the freshest signature they'd come across, at the cost of too many bystanders whose lives had abruptly ended in one flash of devastating violence.
"What's it saying?" she asked from her semi-relaxed pose, opening her eyes again to the slowly brightening sky.
"We've still got something, but it's muddled."
A small snuffling noise caught Rose's attention through the metallic whir of the Doctor's screwdriver.
"Doctor," she frowned, sitting up to look towards number four.
"What?" he said distractedly as he began pacing up the street. "It's definitely here! I've worked through some of the distortion…"
The woman moved faster now as her eyes focused on the small bundle laying in the dim pool of light cast by number four's lamp.
"Hah! There it is! I've got rid of it completely. There's a perception filter coming from somewhere nearby. It was messing with the trail," he rambled. "Incredible! It's almost Time-Lord-y. Definite chronon activity!"
The woman couldn't care less about their hunt at the moment. She knelt on number four's front step to scoop up the child she'd found there. He whimpered and squirmed as his emerald eyes blinked open beneath the scabbed, puckered mark on his pale forehead.
"Doctor," she said sharply, turning to glare at him.
He finally looked up, his lips pursed in clear annoyance.
"What is it? I'm trying to figure this out."
Rose's eyes narrowed.
"First off, shut up. You're still too grumpy. I'm the boss, that's what you said. Start acting like it," she commanded. "And if you're quite done whinging, there's a rather more important something for you to be fussing over."
"That's a baby," the Doctor dismissed. "Nothing unusual about that. Put him back where you found him and let's go!"
He turned again to continue his pacing and muttering, and Rose cleared her throat.
"Doctor, it's November."
"And I haven't gone inside anyone's house."
"Well, how did I end up holding a baby – who's hurt, by the way, since you're being thick – if I haven't borrowed one from someone?"
There was a beat of silence in which the Doctor stared into space.
"Oh! Oh, right. I'm an idiot," he said as he spun to Rose's side.
The Doctor frowned and leaned over her shoulder to peer down into the tiny face fringed in wild black hair. A cut in the shape of a lightning bolt on the child's forehead oozed blood at its edges, and the green eyes scrunched in clear discomfort.
"Hello," the Doctor said with a reassuring smile, though his brows rose in surprise or excitement.
Rose couldn't tell which as he held the sonic screwdriver over the baby's face.
"Now that's not what I was expecting," he said, continuing his readings.
The blonde huffed and rolled her eyes.
"You know that thing where you withhold information everyone else needs to hear?"
"Hush. I'm getting to it," he stood up straight to look around again at number four and its meticulously maintained lawn and flowerbeds.
He flicked a dial on his screwdriver, spun in a circle, and grinned at her.
"So the good news is it is a baby, not someone or something pretending to be a baby. Better news, whoever left him here wrapped him in an electromagnetic heat field so he's plenty warm. Best news is he's definitely emitting the same signature we've been chasing, so that means whatever he is indicates it's not all bad. No baby's born a murderer or hurricane, after all."
"But that means there's more like him," Rose said. "And I'm sure grown-up versions are just as capable of murder as humans are."
"Yup," the Doctor confirmed, popping the 'p'. "But you're missing the interesting bit."
The blonde's face split into a slow grin.
"Heat field. Where's the tech that's making it?" she asked, re-examining the baby's swaddling.
The baby whimpered as her fingers gently poked at the folds of his blanket.
"Exactly," the Doctor said as if it were the most exciting discovery since they left the TARDIS. "There's no tech. Nothing I can recognize, anyway. I haven't been stumped in ages."
"You're enjoying this too much," Rose sighed. "So what now? We can't exactly keep going with this little bloke."
"Of course not," her partner said with a roll of his eyes. "We've got to find out why someone would put a perception filter and an inexplicable heat-pocket around a very not-quite-human kid in boring old suburbia."
Rose grinned and looked over her shoulder at the front door.
"Want to find out what's behind door number four?"
"You read my mind, Rose Tyler."
The Doctor stood straight, smoothed the front of his pinstripe suit, and rapped hard on the drab brown door.
Petunia Dursley had been experiencing an especially odd morning, which was the direct opposite of the type of day she was accustomed to having.
All morning, the strangest reports had been on the news. The delightful routine of breakfast and tea, complete with an early-morning romp with her darling husband, had been marred by the unexpected visit from her little boy at the bedroom door. Now, someone dared to disturb her as she finished mixing up the dough for her dear husband's fresh buttered scones.
This, of course, interrupted the only normalcy of her day, but, ever the impeccable house wife, she wiped the displeasure from her face and dusted her hands on her apron as she opened the door.
"Yes, may I help you?"
A hand held the identification for a Detective Inspector John Smith of Scotland Yard in front of her face. She barely registered the information listed there when its owner whipped it away.
"Yes, in fact, I think you can," said a slender, dark-haired, cheery-faced young man.
A blonde woman stood slightly behind him, cradling a whimpering bundle to her chest.
"My partner, Rose Tyler, temporary baby minder," the Doctor explained as he caught Petunia Dursley's gaze again. "Do you recognize said child?"
Petunia backed away from the door to allow them entry, her eyes scanning the street for onlookers. Rose turned slightly and Petunia blanched. Lily's eyes stared up at her anxiously from a tiny, unfamiliar face.
The Doctor and Rose exchanged a look as the bony woman crossed her arms over her chest and swallowed before speaking.
"I'm afraid I haven't an idea what you're talking about. And I don't appreciate you interrupting my morning over some… someone's bad decisions," she choked as she turned back toward her scones.
"That's not what your face says," the Doctor said, not unkindly. "You're not in any trouble, Mrs…"
"-Dursley," she said automatically. "A-and I don't care I just- You have to get him out of here."
The detective inspector took the boy from Rose's arms and joined Mrs Dursley in the kitchen. Rose followed behind him, and for a moment, neither spoke while Petunia stared into the pale face, which was rapidly turning pinker as the babe squirmed and fussed.
"I just want to understand what's going on here," the man reassured her. "Then we'll take the kid and see he's looked after. You're clearly not responsible for this."
Petunia looked between the two intruders and sighed.
"He's… he's my sister's son, I think. But she's not the sort of person who'd-" she took a deep breath and looked away from the child's face. "Lily would not leave her son in my care. And she wouldn't leave him on my doorstep. She knows how little I care for her kind."
"Is it possible he was kidnapped then?" Rose wondered. "Someone had to put him out there."
The housewife scoffed.
"No one would have been able to take her baby. She would have stopped them."
The woman looked away, turning down the hall to retreat to the parlour. Her uninvited guests followed her to sit on the obviously new and expensive lounge set.
"What's so special about her that she'd stop someone really determined and really dangerous?" the Doctor inquired a little dismissively.
The woman sneered.
"That isn't the word I would use, Mr. Smith. She wasn't 'special.' She was wrong. And any spawn of hers is bound to be the same, what with its father being the same."
The baby started crying pitiful little wails as the grown-ups spoke, and his pudgy fists managed to wriggle free of his snug blanket. The Doctor's bushy brows drew together at the yellowed envelope clutched between the little boy's fingers. He pulled it free with a gentle tug before handing the baby off to Rose while Petunia looked on with pursed lips.
"He'll wake my Dudders," she hissed as the boy's cries grew in volume.
Rose sent the other woman a glare and started rocking the child again.
"He's hungry and scared," the Doctor said without looking up from the letter. "He wants his mum."
The blonde sucked in her lower lip and clutched the baby closer.
"Tell us what's going on, Mrs Dursley," she said evenly. "I can see you're scared of him – don't deny it, I've seen that look before – but we can't help if you don't tell us what this is all about."
Petunia Dursley weighed her options. The two strangers in her living room looked nothing like the uniformed police or suited inspectors she had seen. Mr. Smiths' ridiculous trainers seemed to speak to her suspicion, too. She looked from one face to the other, then back at the crinkled eyes of her sister set in the strange face.
"You're not law enforcement," she said slowly. "Who are you?"
Rose glanced to her partner, who still seemed engrossed in the letter, then answered in clear, if somewhat frustrated tones as she attempted to calm the wriggling mass in her arms.
"I'm Rose Tyler and he's the Doctor," she said. "We work for the government under Pete Tyler's auspices investigating unusual events throughout the united lands of Greater Britain, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland."
Mrs Dursley's knuckles turned white clutching her skirt just over her knees as she deliberated. She finally looked up them with angry tears on her thin, drawn face.
"Freaks, the lot of them," she spat, wiping angrily at her eyes. "Lily ran off to be one of them when we were younger, and it just got worse and worse, and then she married that scamp Potter. I knew he'd get her killed! I just knew it!"
"What?" the Doctor frowned, looking up in complete bewilderment at the outburst.
"–Stupid, stupid girl! I warned her! I told her what would happen if she kept doing it…"
"Doing what, Mrs Dursley?" Rose interrupted.
The older woman choked around a half-formed sob.
"I'm not allowed to say. Their government would take my memories if I told anyone. Lily told me so."
Rose and the Doctor shared a look.
"Then tell us what you can," he said a little more gently, holding the austere woman in his intense gaze. "Let's start over. How about telling us the boy's name?"
"Harry," she answered after a moment. "Lily wrote me in July after he was born."
"Harry Potter?" Rose confirmed, juggling the boy a little to press the record function on her phone.
"Harry James," Petunia admitted. "After my dad and-"
"And her husband's."
"So you can't tell us specifically about your sister's kind," the Doctor asked, continuing the line of inquiry. "But can you tell us if there are a lot of them?"
The woman looked away, worrying her skirt again.
"This, for example–" The Doctor held up the letter. "–was written by someone named Dumbledore, with lots of references to others. And you mentioned a government. How big of a community is it?"
"Smaller than ours," Mrs Dursley snapped, "Or it wouldn't be secret still, would it? People would still believe in all that- That wrongness. They're all freaks of nature, living in unnaturalness and sin and hiding like criminals. And they know it's wrong too! How else could something like London have happened yesterday, or-"
"So you knew what was going on? How many more are there who had an idea what was happening and didn't say anything?"
"Do you know how many people have died because we've been on this bloody goose hunt? The Doctor could have stopped this ages ago if you just-"
"Rose!" the Doctor said more sharply.
The blonde cut off her tirade. Their unwilling hostess had stopped her bitter crying and glared at them now with clear fury on her thin face.
"Out!" she shrieked. "Out! I never wanted anything to do with her kind, and that bloody headmaster can't make me shelter her brat!"
She stood as heavy footsteps thundered overhead and down the stairs. A huge man with several chins and a bristling moustache squeezed through the parlour doorway to glare at the two people through watery blue eyes.
"Is there a problem, dear?" he grunted.
"No," the Doctor said stiffly. "We were just leaving. We really hope you know enough to stay out of trouble, though."
Petunia sniffed disdainfully.
"No, really," the tall stranger said as he tucked a blue journal and the letter into a pocket of his brown duster. "This letter says the carnage isn't over. And you probably know better than we do what they're capable of, and obviously they know where you and your husband and son are."
The woman paled and Mr Dursley stomped toward them menacingly.
"You heard my wife! Get out! We don't need whatever it is you're selling!"
"Shut up," Rose snapped at him. "Grown-ups are talking."
"Run, Mrs Dursley. If you know what's good for you, run. Because if this Dumbledore person's right," he said, tapping the pocket into which the letter had disappeared, "– then you're all at risk. I disabled the protections he put around the house by accident, and I can't put them back up. There's nothing left to stop them. Just pack up and get out of here. The explosion yesterday isn't the worst we've seen while investigating whoever's been responsible for these last few years."
And with that, the Doctor slipped an arm through Rose's, and a moment later the door of number four, Privet Drive slammed behind them.
"What does it say?" the blonde asked as they took off down the street at a more leisurely pace, Harry still crying in her arms.
"Nothing particularly useful, really," the Doctor sighed. "A lot of doom and gloom, refers to the kid's orphaning on Halloween and describes the dangers I mentioned."
"So do you think-"
"Godrick's Hollow? Yes, I do. But I don't think we should investigate this directly any further."
"Why not? What if it happens again? What about the explosion, and all those murders!"
The Doctor pulled Rose gently to a stop and wrapped her in his arms. He cradled her blonde head under his chin and buried his nose in her almond-scented hair.
"Because we're out of our league right now. I've finally worked out the flavour around him, and my screwdriver's finished with the analysis."
"Human plus time vortex exposure. Like you, a little. And a lot like me – or, a lot like I was."
"What?" Rose frowned, staring at the little boy as he tried to tunnel deeper into the front of her shirt. "Time Lord?"
"Got it in one. Almost. Not-not-human, not-quite-Time Lord. If there's any chance that any remnant of my people survived in this reality…"
"You can't risk mucking it up until you know more," Rose sighed. "And something in that letter makes you think you've got the time to do it."
They were quiet for a while. The sun had properly risen by then, and a few people went about their morning routines: getting into cars for the daily commute, mowing the lawn, seeing children off to school. Rose set the pace on their trek out of Magnolia Crescent, and eventually, her gait lulled the child to sleep again, although the evidence of his continued distress still moistened the front of her shirt, and his fist clung to the fabric even when he started to softly snore.
"What do we do now?" Rose asked once the profile of their boxy, dark blue car came into view.
She kicked a pebble, which skipped obligingly down the pavement to disappear into someone's lawn. The Doctor shrugged.
"I'm going to do a few more scans and give him to Torchwood's relocation people. They can put him in with some of the other kids we've encountered from interesting situations. Nothing like alien playmates to make a childhood interesting."
"But you can't. He can't be much older than one, and he's obviously terrified."
"He'll adapt," the Doctor said brightly. "Move on. Just like all humans do."
They turned the corner onto Magnolia Road, and a few more paces brought them to their vehicle. Rose slipped into the driver's seat while the Doctor got into the back with the baby slumped against him. The engine started up with a push of a button, and Rose eased it out of the unremarkable neighbourhood.
"Why can't we keep him?" she asked as she pulled onto the motorway.
"He's not a pet."
Hazel-green eyes glared at him through the rear-view mirror.
"You let Jack and Mickey hang around and you won't let me have a Harry?"
"It's not him, it's just-"
"I don't want to give him away."
The Doctor frowned back at her as he adjusted the baby in his lap, weaving his long fingers around his pudgy middle.
"Our life is a little dangerous for a baby," he said even as he nuzzled the boy's head.
"His parents were murdered, and he doesn't have anyone else," Rose insisted. "We can protect him, figure out what he is, and give him a life where he won't have to worry about hiding any of that."
"We're not even married," the Doctor protested. "Isn't that what humans do? Get married first before they have and or adopt children?"
"You're not all human, and I'm certainly not traditional," she scoffed. "Besides, we've already done everything else people supposedly wait for 'till after all that."
The Doctor cleared his throat and blushed.
"We travel a lot."
"We'll buy him a car seat," Rose countered, and the corners of her lips puckered slightly in frustration. "I want him."
The Doctor sniffed Harry's downy hair, and sighed when the little boy cuddled closer in his sleep.
"He smells like talcum powder and honey," he commented idly.
Rose didn't answer.
"Are you sure you, really, really want to keep him?"
"Don't you?" Rose smiled at him.
Bushy brows drew together in a long, calculating look while he shifted the child's weight in his arms.
"Whoever did his parents in might come after him, too. They didn't spare any of the other kids we came across," he said finally. "Other not-not-humans. Do you really want to risk it?"
The car sped up as it joined the morning traffic headed toward London. She looked back at little Harry and her frowning Doctor.
"You said that no matter how long we live, you'll always regret Bad Wolf Bay, right?"
He met her gaze in the mirror and sighed.
"Of course. That's why the other me left me with you."
"So you'd never want me to feel that way, right?"
He looked away.
"If we leave him, I'll never forgive myself," Rose said flatly, her eyes pinning the man she'd travelled with since she was nineteen.
The Doctor turned down to the tiny face nestled amongst the blankets and closed his eyes against the bright emerald blinking up at him from a sleepy face.
"Well, then, Rose Tyler, I think it's time I asked you a question."
"What question's that, then?"
The Doctor dug into his breast pocket for a moment, then held up a small velvet box so Rose could see it in the mirror.
"Will you marry me?"
The tires screeched as they narrowly avoided the concrete median.
"Are you serious?" Rose shouted. "You had to ask me now?"
Horns blared around them while she manoeuvred the swerving car back into its original lane.
"Always. Will you marry me, Rose Tyler?"
"Seven years! Seven bloody years and you ask me while I'm driving down the motorway with a baby in the backseat?"
"Shh. You'll upset him," the Doctor mumbled as the Harry wiggled. "Will you? I've been waiting for the right moment."
"You've been carrying around a ring in that coat somewhere for how long?"
"Since he left me here."
Rose smiled and shook her head, her eyes shining with moisture.
"But why? I mean, of course, yes, but why? We've been fine without so far."
"Well, if we're going to raise a baby we ought to give him a proper –"
Rose let out a whoop of joy.
"Oh my God, we're getting married!"
"Well, that's what generally happens when a boy, well, sort of boy, meets a girl and-"
Honks and horns and cursing rang across the motorway again as Rose skipped three lanes of traffic to pull off the nearest exit and stop, screeching, by a convenience store.
"Come here, and kiss me!"
"Anytime, Rose Tyler."
5 November 2002
"What do you mean, you're adopting? You're not even married!"
"Yes, we're doing that, too."
Rose smiled again, and tilted her left hand to catch her ring in the light. It was a delicate thing that looked more grown than poured, cut or moulded. Tendrils of burnished gold metal, so similar to the beams in the TARDIS's control room, wound around her finger in a narrow woven band to curl tenderly around a round, dark blue stone that sparkled and winked with tiny pinpricks of light from within when it caught the light.
"But your little brother's just barely started primary school!" Jackie whinged. "And what's your dad going to say about all this? You know he's running for a spot in Parliament!"
"So I've had plenty of practice, Mum. It's time. More than time. And you know Dad won't care. So will you or won't you?"
The other woman huffed, and Rose pictured Jackie crossing her right arm under her left elbow as she held the phone to her ear – the pose she always took with that eloquent puff of air.
"Won't I what?" she finally snapped.
"Help me plan the thing."
"Well of course I will so long as I get some real say-so."
Rose rolled her eyes.
"When have you ever not, Mum?" she laughed. "Anyway, why are you upset? I thought you wanted the Doctor to ask me ages ago."
"It's just the principle of the thing," Jackie explained as if it were the simplest concept in the world. "What's my grandbaby's name again?"
"Harry James Potter, but we've been calling him Jemmy."
"And you just found him?"
"Yeah. Some bloody horrible excuse for a person left him on a doorstep. We just happened to be walking by, and we saw him."
"Who'd leave him outside? It's November!"
"Yeah, I know. It's a wonder he wasn't half frozen when we found him."
She didn't mention the heat field. After all that mess with the disappearing planets and the almost-annihilation, Jackie had asked to be kept as out-of-the-loop as possible when it came to extraterrestrial or any other unusual activity.
"And there's no family?"
"Not any who want him, as far as we can tell," Rose sighed. "We can't find his records or his parents' wills, either."
It had been some of the most frustrating couple of days all her life, trying to hunt down the elusive details of the little boy's birth. Especially considering they weren't doing any of it in person, just as an extra precaution.
The subject of her worries sat on the kitchen floor nearby with pots and pans spread around him. His pudgy little hands groped in the air, and Rose passed him a wooden spoon from the countertop. Harry immediately went to work 'stirring' the pots with exuberant banging sounds.
"What the hell is that ruckus?" Jackie yelled, much to her daughter's displeasure.
She started on a rant – Rose wasn't sure what about, really – and she quickly took measures to escape for the sake of preserving her right eardrum.
"Sorry, Mum! Got to go!"
Harry went on making music. Rose smiled at him and went back to sonicking the cupboards within the toddler's reach.
"Wouldn't you know? The Doctor finally figured out a setting for wood," she told the baby. "Just so you don't go getting into too much trouble in here."
Harry went on banging things.
"Rose? What in the world is that?"
The Doctor, clad in his customary blue suit and trainers, came around the corner. Harry babbled happily at him.
"Jemmy wants to know where the cat is. Do we have a cat?" he asked before she could answer.
The blonde looked over her shoulder in bemusement.
"No. We could get one. Baby boy and a cat. Sound's almost proper, doesn't it?"
"One mortal Time Lord, one beautiful blonde, one not not-human boy, and a cat. That's proper?"
"You know, Jack told me your core trait was 'sassy' once. I think he's right."
"Sassy, am I?" The Doctor winked. "How's the tyke doing?"
"Well, he's gone through several nappies, more than a few bottles, a jar of crushed peas, and a lot of Cheerios."
"I've finished toddler-proofing all the cabinets and cupboards upstairs in the other rooms, installed a baby gate, fixed a rolling and locking step for both sinks, set up a car-seat, built a play-pen-"
The Doctor took a deep breath and frowned.
"Why do you want to pen the baby?"
Rose straightened and put her hands on her hips with a suggestive smirk.
"Because there'll be times that we need him out from underfoot."
"Right, okay," he grinned and took a deep breath. "-Put together a high chair, installed a swing on the balcony, phoned the boys and girls at Torchwood, went round to the neighbours for toys and books, and I may or may not have built a tree house."
The Doctor gave Rose a crinkly-eyed smile and a wink, twirled trusty screwdriver, and holstered the device in his recently acquired tool belt.
"What's he need a tree house for?" she laughed after a beat of processing. "He's not even two yet. And where in the world did you find room for one? We've only got the communal garden."
"Kids grow fast. Especially human kids. And I got permission, of course."
"What about not not-human kids?"
"Well. He's a bit bigger than a human one-and-four-month-old, and he speaks better, but other than that I think he's still in the normal range."
"What else did the scans say?"
The Doctor's eyebrows drew together.
"He's definitely a little generator for not not-humany things. I'll be running a few tests once he's fully recovered from cranial trauma."
"Please, don't remind me," Rose huffed. "If I ever find out who left him there I'm going to ring their stupid neck."
Harry stopped playing again to toddle over to the Doctor, who had taken a seat on a floor pouf by the kitchen entry.
"Spoo!" he merrily yelled.
"Yes that's a spoon, Jemmy boy. But what's it for?"
"Yes, stirring. Maybe you can help Rose and me stir up some cocoa later?"
"Babies can't have cocoa," she countered. "It's full of caffeine."
"Not real cocoa. Kiddie cocoa."
"If you say so."
"Co-co!" Harry squealed. "Mummy?"
His little face crumpled as he grabbed the Doctor's pant leg to steady himself. He bounced a little on his little pink knees until the much bigger man pulled him up into his lap.
"Sorry chap, she's not here."
Rose sighed and bit her lower lip.
"Mummy!" Harry wailed.
The Doctor gathered the now crying Harry to his chest. Rose joined them both to stroke the child's downy black locks as he dissolved into pitiful cries.
"I know, Jemmy. I know."
14 June 2004
"Doctor, what're you doing?" Rose called, pausing half way between the pantry and the sink.
"I dunno. I think I'm watching telly?" he shouted back.
Rose blinked and eyed the space above her countertop in disbelief.
"Well, there's a floating biscuit in here."
She frowned as it slowly made its way through the air and around the corner.
"What do you mean a floating biscuit?"
The Doctor poked his head around the sitting room wall, his eyebrows raised in bemusement. A chocolate chip biscuit floated out of the kitchen and past him into Harry's waiting hands.
"Ah. I see," the Doctor laughed, turning to plop himself down on the carpet beside the toddler. "What's up Jemmy?"
"I wann'd bis-kit," Harry said, smiling around his stolen snack.
Rose couldn't quite hold back her laugh at the crumbs that suck to the child's hands and face.
"Yes, yes I can see that." The Doctor whipped out his screwdriver and hooted. "This is brilliant!"
"Did he do that?"
Harry giggled and wrinkled his nose as he finished his treat. He seemed surprised that there wasn't another to follow it, and found Rose's face with a pout.
"Sorry, Jemmy," the Doctor said, putting the device away again. "Can't give you one. You've got to get it yourself."
Harry frowned, his little mouth puckering as he looked between the adults.
"No, don't look at me like that," the Doctor reprimanded. "You just got yourself one. Rose won't let me take one from the tin, so you'll have to do it again."
"Doctor, don't encourage theft."
"Hush. I want to see," he whispered as he adjusted the setting on the screwdriver.
It whirred and hummed as Harry screwed up his face until his cheeks flushed. Rose turned and gasped as the lid to the cookie tin shot off and hit the underside of the cabinets overhanging the countertop with a clang. A moment later, and another biscuit sailed from its open mouth, through the arched kitchen door, and into Harry's pudgy little hands.
Rose scowled. The Doctor grinned and lifted baby Harry into the air, who giggled adorably as the part Time Lord spun him around.
"Aha! Oh this is wonderful!" he crowed. "Molto bene!"
Rose huffed and joined her husband in the sitting room.
"You know, just because he can doesn't mean we should encourage that sort of behaviour," she grumbled. "Kids are supposed to ask for things. Grown-ups are supposed to say 'no' a lot."
The Doctor laughed and rolled his eyes.
"Who said we're grown-ups? And they're sugar-free, anyhow, right? This is fantastic! What he's doing is grabbing electrons, accelerating them, and bending them to his will."
His wife took a moment to unravel that.
"He's controlling the electrons in the air to-"
"Sneak a pre-supper snack, yes."
"We've a very talented son, Mrs Tyler."
"Oh, stop with that. Are you ever going to tell me your name?"
The Doctor popped the 'p' sound to make the word nearly two syllables long. The blonde gave him a very familiar glare, and her husband wisely sobered to answer her question properly.
"It'd put the other me at jeopardy. You never know. Jemmy's capable of bending the very matter of this world to his will," he explained. "Maybe people like him can read minds, too. I don't know how to train you two to keep others out, so I can't say, sorry."
"The invisible war again?" Rose sighed. "I thought we were done investigating that."
"Actively, yes. Wouldn't want to risk our boy," he agreed. "Definitely something or somebody dangerous after the little guy, if we're to believe that letter."
"It's been months. If someone were after him, they would have shown up by now."
"Well our friends at Torchwood haven't seen anything around Number Four, but that could just be because they can't see anything."
"Should we be worried?"
Harry laughed as his adopted mummy joined him and the Doctor on the carpet. He climbed into her lap to cling to her shirt.
"We're parents. We'll always worry 'till the day we're so old we wrinkle up and dissolve."
20 September 2007
Harry "Jemmy" James Potter-Tyler stared at the toes of his shoes. Around him, adults yelled and panicked and yelled some more. They sat around a large, mahogany desk in the head teacher's office, where he'd found himself after a particularly trying day at his primary school. He shifted in his seat and sat on his hands as he focused on breathing evenly.
It hadn't been his fault, after all. He had just been playing with Jenny on the swings, and the Dursley boy had pushed his best friend off. He would have just called a teacher, but Jenny had tried to take her swing back and got a punch in the face for her efforts. Dad always told him violence didn't solve much of anything, but Harry couldn't always control the odd things that happened around him. Well, at least not consistently.
"Please, I-" he began again, for what felt like the hundredth time in a half hour.
"Mr Tyler, you will be quiet!" Ms Candice Ruth, the deputy head teacher of Homefield Preparatory School, commanded.
She ran a hand over her frizzy gray hair, and her dark eyes narrowed at her charge.
"Are Mr Tyler's parents here yet?" Mrs Anderson, Harry's teacher demanded shrilly.
The boy shrunk in on himself further. He distracted himself by counting the number of buttons on his jumper, and, when he confirmed there were still only eight of them, by thinking of different words for its particular shade of yellow.
"Yes, we're here!" Rose cried, bursting through the door to join them.
She waddled a little bit, one hand cradling her heavily pregnant middle. Harry squirmed in discomfort and not a little worry, then anxiety as a man in a long brown overcoat and a well-cut suit followed after her, carrying a rucksack over his shoulder. They surveyed the room, and Harry ducked his head further to avoid their gazes.
"What's this, then? Why are you all ganging up on my son?" she demanded after taking stock of the women towering over her child.
The teachers seemed taken aback. They looked to one another before the injured party stepped forward.
"Madam-" Mrs Anderson said primly.
"Mrs Anderson, you've changed your hair," the Doctor interrupted, indicating the dark azure locks framing her flushed face.
Harry shuffled his feet nervously and shifted in his chair.
"That's exactly what this is about, Doctor and Mrs Tyler," the deputy head teacher sighed.
"Well, I think it's lovely," the child's father smiled. "My favourite colour, in fact."
Mrs Anderson gave a huff and crossed her arms over her chest. Harry very hesitantly peeked through his fringe at his parents.
"It's blue!" the teacher finally shouted in indignation.
Rose glared at the woman whose voice had started to grate on her already frayed nerves. She rubbed a hand over her distended stomach.
"Yes, and?" she snapped, waddling forward to put a gentle hand on Harry's shoulder. "I fail to see what the problem is, and why my kid's cringing. Did he do something wrong?"
"Mr Tyler is entirely responsible for this mess!"
"I am not!" Harry cried, turning to his mum with wide eyes. "Anyway Mrs Anderson was really horrible to me, and Jenny was hurt, and she just wouldn't listen!"
It was true. Dudley Dursley, the school's newest student – who he heard rumoured to have been kicked out of his last two schools for fighting, anyway – had started things, and Harry hadn't hurt him on purpose, despite how the larger boy hit his friend in the mouth, but Mrs Anderson hadn't listened. She'd just started screaming at him after she saw the great blonde whale rolling about in the dirt, never mind that Jen was crying and had a bloodied lip.
"Jemmy, sweetheart, please wait a moment," Rose said firmly, giving her son a reassuring, if stern, glance.
She levelled her gaze at the teachers, who shifted uncomfortably beneath the heavily pregnant, angry woman's scrutiny.
"Excuse me, Mrs Tyler, but we have it on camera," Ms Ruth offered, gesturing to a computer screen on her desk. "Mr Dursley clearly hit Miss Richards – that's not up for debate - But then he's suddenly on his back, and then Mrs Anderson is reprimanding Mr Tyler for fighting with Mr Dursley. The next moment, Mrs Anderson's hair goes blue."
"And you expect me to believe my son did that? What about Jennifer?"
"It wasn't her fault, either!" Harry insisted.
The administrator shook her head and ran her fingers over the kinky grey curls valiantly attempting to escape her elegant chignon.
"It's very obviously retaliation. We can't just discount these things anymore. I mean, what with all those mad Alien invaders, massive unexplained activity, and whatnot. I'm not surprised to see kids able to do odd things, too. And your son isn't the first to have done something like this," she insisted. "Anyway, that's not even taking into account Doctor Tyler's proclivity toward unusual trouble, which has undoubtedly affected Mr Tyler. Don't think I've forgotten the incident with the purple polka-dot virus."
Rose and the Doctor shared a guilty look, and the deputy head teacher smiled at them both gently. She shook her head apologetically.
"I'm sorry for shouting, Mr Tyler," she said softly, directing the words at Harry.
He nodded subtly.
"Believe you me, I shall be speaking with Mrs Anderson about her behaviour as well, but we have a no-tolerance policy for any sort of fighting here. That applies to turning teachers' hair blue and pushing boys without touching them. Also, not once did you deny doing it, love."
She leaned back against the edge of her desk and crossed her arms over her chest. The tidy lapels of her blazer puckered a little under the restriction, and her face took on a stern cast.
"Doctor and Mrs Tyler, we've no choice but to put Mr Tyler on a mandatory two day suspension. I will be discussing Mr Dursley's behaviour with his parents shortly. Rest assured, he's getting a far harsher punishment."
Mrs Anderson smirked. Rose glared at her as she felt Harry shudder under her hand. She gave him a gentle squeeze as the Doctor caught her eye.
"Ah well, then there's only one thing for it, isn't there?" he said, clapping his hands.
The other women frowned at his apparent dismissal of he tension lying heavily over the room.
"What's that?" Mrs Anderson demanded.
"Is everyone involved in the incident here?" he continued, as if he hadn't heard her.
"We decided it'd be best if we kept this to ourselves at least until we sorted things out," the school administrator said diplomatically. "Miss Richards was clearly a victim in all this, and the other children think it was a joke on Mrs Anderson's part."
"Then this is an easy fix," Rose concluded levelly. "Jemmy, darling?"
"Yes, Mum?" he said a little forlornly.
"It's time for this to be forgotten. And please, do turn Mrs Anderson's hair back to normal. And don't think this is the end of it."
Harry's toes tapped a surly tattoo against the polished wooden floor, but he sat a little straighter as he screwed up his face in concentration.
There was a flash of light, a low whooshing sound, then a beat of silence as the Doctor moved to join Rose behind their son. Harry stood and gladly took the Doctor's hand when he offered it.
Mrs Anderson rubbed her forehead and frowned, her hair restored to sandy brown. Ms Ruth yawned and blinked. The monitor behind them buzzed with snow where surveillance footage had played.
"I'm sorry, what were we talking about?" she asked.
Rose smiled politely.
"You were just letting us know Mr Dursley's been causing trouble again, but you cut off mid-sentence. Are you well?"
"Yes, yes," Ms Ruth said dazedly. "I just wanted you to know he's been warned twice before, so he'll be suspended as of Monday morning. Another incident and he'll be excluded. I'm sorry to have had to call you in. Mr Tyler was rather upset."
"Thank you so much," the Doctor smiled. "We appreciate you keeping us up to speed."
"Yes. Thank you, Doctor and Mrs Tyler. You're free to take Harry home for the rest of the day, if you like. We have the rest of his assignments here."
Mrs Anderson frowned as she handed them a folder, and Rose gave her a beatific smile.
"Wonderful," she agreed. "I think we will."
Harry followed his parents as they filed out of the posh office, down the hall, and to the little blue car parked crookedly by the curb.
The Doctor helped Rose, who had a little trouble squeezing into the front passenger seat.
"I am ready to explode," she complained. "I tell you, I'm a bloody planet. How many days do I have left before we're officially overdue? Two? It had better not be another week or I want a refund."
"I'd bet on sooner," the Doctor hummed once he'd fastened the seatbelt over his wife's lap. "Though who did you think you'd ask a refund from?"
"I've been wishing it along, too," Harry said softly from the backseat, stopping the Doctor from saying something cheeky and ultimately disastrous.
Free from the tender mercies of his teachers, the child's mood had rather transformed in the short walk between the deputy head teacher's office and their car.
"Don't think you've gotten out of a conversation," the Doctor chided lightly. "We've spoken about your psychokinetic abilities before."
"I really didn't mean to," Harry quickly defended. "Dursley hit Jen, and I got mad and it happened, but Mrs Anderson didn't see anything before that, and she started yelling at me, and then I accidentally made her hair blue. She didn't even check on Jen and she was crying."
"That's understandable, Harry, but Mrs Anderson wasn't outside of her rights to give you a talking to," the Doctor reminded him. "She definitely should have seen to Jen first and talked to you before scolding, but you've got to take the time to explain yourself without loosing your cool. That's for humans."
"Oi, your pregnant wife says you're on the sofa if you keep up the human bashing," Rose barked. "You're one of us now, too."
"Humans except for your mum, then," he amended.
"And please keep in mind we don't want to, or like wiping people's memories. We make UNIT and Torchwood file paperwork whenever they do, so you have to be responsible," Rose added. "Rather we never gave anyone cause to forget in the first place."
Harry's head slowly drooped again beneath the weight of his mum's disappointment. The car went quiet as it hummed its way onto the street and into afternoon traffic. He watched miserably as trees and buildings passed outside his window, lingering on kids a little younger than him and their mums and dads.
"How come I'm different in the first place?" he muttered. "I don't want to be like this. Nobody at school likes me because they think I'm weird. They're all afraid of me, and they make fun of Jenny for liking me, too."
"Harry James Potter-Tyler, I won't have any of that," Rose said firmly as she strained to reach around her seat to pat him on the knee. "You're mine and you're perfect. And just like the Doctor, you'll grow up someday and use your differences to help people."
"Flatterer," the Doctor quipped. "Your mum's right though."
Harry smiled hesitantly, and Rose beamed at him. Her cheeks glowed prettily and Harry's chest felt like it swelled.
The car slowed.
"Why are we at the hospital?" he wondered, looking around in confusion.
"Your mum's water's broken and she hasn't even noticed."
"What?" Rose gasped before her features crumpled.
"Owwwwwww… Oh my GOD! Doctor!"
The Doctor winced and rushed out of his seat to help his wife.
"Time to meet your baby brother or sister!"
Harry grinned and unbuckled to help by grabbing his dad's rucksack 'go-bag', which had accompanied them since Rose's sixth month of pregnancy.
"I hope they like me."
Rose grunted as a nurse helped the Doctor manoeuvre her into a wheelchair.
"Of course they will," the Doctor smiled as he took the chair's handles and set off after the nurse. "You're going to be a big brother after all. And what do big brothers and little babies do best?"
"I don't know," Harry said, struggling to keep up as he held his mum's hand over the arm of the chair.
"Love and care for one another."
Nine and a half hours later, Harry curled up on the large bed beside his mother, who lay, sweaty and exhausted, against several pillows. She held a tiny bundle against her chest, in which nestled a very pink baby girl wrapped in a pink blanket. Wisps of ginger hair clung to her head and tiny, perfectly bowed lips made a little 'o' as her little hand clung to her big brother's finger.
"She's so small," Harry whispered. "What's her name?"
"We thought you could name her," the Doctor grinned.
A huge smile stretched across the child's face to match his father's proud mien. He perched on Rose's other side, his chest puffed out with one hand stroking her lank, sweat-darened hair.
"Really?" Harry's eyes softened as he looked into the little face. "What about Jenny?"
The Doctor and Rose exchanged a look.
"My daughter Jenny?" the man laughed.
"Jenny Renette?" Harry tested the name and smiled. "Like Madame de Pompadour and Jenny from school. She's my best mate. And Madame de Pompadour was really powerful, you said."
"Yes. But why would I want to name my daughter after a girl who kissed my husband?" Rose complained with a baleful glare at the man in question.
"Well, my baby sister should grow up to be really powerful, too, right? And kind."
Rose laughed and rolled her eyes.
"Fine. Jenny Renette it is," she conceded. "When did my six year old get so persuasive?"
"Daddy's teaching me," Harry told her.
Rose laughed tiredly and kissed the boy on the forehead.