Author's Note: This is an hugely, impossibly, inexcusably enormous clusterfuck of a crossover. A crossterfuck, if you will.
However, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE FAMILIAR WITH ALL THE FANDOMS TO READ THIS STORY. It certainly doesn't hurt if you are, but it is by no means necessary.
He stares at it thoughtfully in its hermetically sealed cage. It stands snarling and nickering over its latest meal. The raw chunks of meat are still twitching.
"It's pretty bloodthirsty," says a voice behind him.
"Yes," he agrees.
"It doesn't seem like your usual style."
He doesn't answer for a while. Some part of him knows that the assessment is not inaccurate. Perhaps he should be worried, but he is not. He stares at the gleaming, bloody, vicious monstrosity, rendered only safe by tempered glass and special goggles – he thinks about unleashing it on an unsuspecting city, about all the havoc it would cause and people it would kill – and he feels a surge of oppressive, suffocating nothing.
"Wait until it falls asleep," he says, "then turn it loose. We need to observe it in a less controlled environment before we start breeding them."
"Ah. Yes. I mean, right."
He turns on a heel and exits the lab, boots falling heavy on the tile. He remembers the days when he was working out of his basement, when he had only one henchman. Now he has an entire underground complex and a fleet of thickheaded sycophants ready and willing to do his bidding.
It is all he ever wanted. It should bring him intense satisfaction.
It does not, however.
He enters his private office and sits down at the gleaming mahogany desk in front of his computer. He flicks on the camera on a tripod beside his monitor.
He stares into the lens for a while, caught in a wave of nostalgia, of the days when he took pleasure from this. It feels like a distant dream.
"So begins Dr. Horrible's video blog update, September 9," he says into the camera, deadpan. "My creation is ready to be turned loose."
Elsewhere, Harry sits down for dinner with his wife.
His dining room has off-white walls and taupe wainscoting. The curtains are gray. The silverware is dull. The wine is bad. In the other room, the radio plays the warbling, forgettable tones of Celestina Warbeck.
Ginny is wearing a beige dress. She is drinking the bad wine and talking, but Harry cannot hear her. It's not that he isn't listening, it's just that when he listens, all her words run together, and all Harry can hear is a low, droning hum, like a distant bee's nest or buzzing static.
Harry realizes, for the first time or perhaps for the thousandth time, that marrying his first love at eighteen may have been a bad idea.
"—go to bed early?"
The second half of the question pierces the fog like fingertips through wet paper. Harry's eyes shift back into focus. Ginny sips her bad wine and shifts in her chair so her beige dress wrinkles, and she looks at Harry like she's expecting an answer.
"I'm going out," Harry says, unsure if it's an answer to her question, but finding he doesn't care about that as much as he should.
Ginny seems neither surprised nor disappointed. Harry can't remember the last time he saw any trace of emotion on her face, though perhaps he had not been looking.
Harry is suddenly aware of the fact that he does not love his wife anymore. Perhaps he should feel more startled, or sad, or anything, but he does not.
"All right," she says, and takes another sip of bad wine.
Harry looks down at his plate full of food and knows that he should eat it, but finds he no longer has his appetite. Ginny never was a very good cook.
"I'm going out now," he continues.
"All right," she says again.
Harry stands up from his dining room chair. It scrapes across blonde oak hardwood. He leaves the dining room and goes for the hallway. He does not have a destination in mind – maybe he will go to the pub at the corner (magical), or maybe to the cinema down the road (Muggle) – but, like most nights, he does not find himself very worried about the destination. It has less to do with going and more to do with leaving.
He puts on his jacket instead of his cloak, because though there are a few witches and wizards living in their sleepy little development in Sackham's Way, it is mostly a Muggle village. He grabs his keys and his wand and kicks on his shoes.
Harry's entire life changes, quite without warning, when he steps onto the stoop of his flat to a great explosion of color.
Far below, there is a rushing and churning of water as it battles downstream. It is crashing over rocks and the rain has the Severn River threatening to break its banks. Draco stares down at it, grateful for the rain on his face despite the fact that there is no one around to see him crying.
Here at the end of all things, despite everything, he is still a coward, and it eats him up inside.
He shuts his eyes and blanks his mind. His biggest curse has always been the way he overthinks things. Just do it, he tells himself. Your affairs are in order. Just do it. Just jump. Just fall.
Thunder bellows. Lightning flashes blue. This is the only way. He knows it is. This has been the only way for years. Draco has forgotten why he's held on so long.
He breathes deeply, though his throat his tight. He releases his grip on the iron palisade. He tips. He falls.
He lands far too soon in something viscous. It breaks his fall with a loud, obscene smacking sound.
Draco wrenches around, gasping and groping for something solid.
The rain has stopped. He is no longer outdoors. He is thrashing around in a completely undignified manner in a massive vat of what looks and smells like mint jelly. The entire room is roaring, deafening, vibrating through all surfaces.
In his abject alarm, he has no time for confusion.
At last, Draco's hands find purchase on the edge of the vat. His center of gravity is constantly shifting. A few piles of books and what looks like an entire sofa rolls past him, tumbling as though they can't decide which way is up.
"How did you get in here?"
Draco looks up. There is a man with a big head and a tattered suit on the far end of the room with the jelly-filled vat. He is holding onto the wall as the entire room tips and tumbles.
It takes him a minute to answer: "Where the fuck am I?" He sounds a bit more shrill than is probably dignified.
"Language!" the man in the tattered suit says.
Several trumpets and a live chicken fall out of the ceiling as the room lurches mightily to one side.
"Where in shitting fuck am I?"
"You're in my swimming pool!"
There's another great shift of gravity, accompanied by a large spark of light on the wall, which promptly falls open with a tremendous clatter.
"This is not a fucking swimming pool!"
"No one ever said swimming pools had to be full of water!"
"I'm fairly sure there's a rule about them being freely fucking rotating—!"
Dodging falling debris, the man in the tattered suit races forward and grabs Draco by the arm, pulling him up out of the not-swimming pool. Draco scarcely regains his balance before they both go stumbling again as the room spins backwards beneath their feet.
"We can't stay here!" the man in the tattered suit says.
"What is going on?"
"Long story short, this is a ship and it's going to crash – though not before its internal temperature rises to a balmy 30,000 degrees Kelvin!"
Somehow, that answer only makes this more impossible and ridiculous and alarming.
"Come on!" the man in the tattered suit says, using his grip on Draco's elbows to give him a sharp pull. "Geronimo!"
And with that, with one more lurch, Draco is once again falling.
It takes Harry a moment to realize what it is he saw, and a moment longer to really comprehend it.
It had moved so fast that it almost eluded him. It was on all fours, glowing in a bright prism of colors, moving like sunlight through water.
Also it had fangs and was coated in blood.
"Where'd it go?"
And then Draco Malfoy is there, wearing a waistcoat and bright green tie and holding – something, something large and metal, like some kind of gun – and he is staring at Harry as though expecting an answer.
"Uh," Harry says.
"Get that stupid out of your throat, Potter!" he snaps. "Where'd it go?!"
Harry points left.
Draco-Malfoy-in-a-waistcoat-with-a-gun looks briefly to where Harry is pointing, then back at him.
"Thanks," he says. "Doctor!"
"Coming!" returns an answering voice from the other side of the hedge circling Harry's front lawn. Draco-Malfoy-with-a-smart-green-tie takes off running in the general direction of left, and a moment later, a man with a large chin and a bowtie comes scrambling after him, pointing something with a tip that glows green.
"Wait," Harry says belatedly as his brain catches up with the rest of him. He takes off in a run after them. "Wait!"
"Boy, can that thing run!" the man in the bowtie shouts as he leaps over a low shrub, following Draco-Malfoy-in-shiny-hard-soled-shoes, who has just rounded a corner into a narrow alley between Harry's house and his neighbor's.
"It is a unicorn!" Draco-Malfoy-who-is-being-remarkably-calm-about-all-this shouts back. "Or at least it was!"
"That wasn't a unicorn!" Harry shouts with them as they round a corner out of the row of back gardens and into the large clearing surrounding the development.
"What the hell are you still doing here?" Draco-Malfoy-with-grown-out-hair demands, looking back at Harry – though only briefly, as they are now all running through the grassy, rocky field leading down to the creek where the neighborhood kids sometimes play. "Don't answer! Keep running!"
"Who's this?" the man in the bowtie asks, smiling brightly and wrenching around as they run so he can look at Harry. "Hello, I'm the Doctor!"
"Not now!" Draco-Malfoy-who-has-a-lot-of-explaining-to-do shouts at him.
Before Harry can righteously demand to know just what the fuck is going on, there's a tremendous sound like an unholy foghorn and a dazzling burst of color from the copse of trees on the other side of the creek.
"Remember," the-man-who-is-apparently-a-doctor says, "don't look at it directly!"
"Why not?" Harry asks as they skid down the ravine toward the creek.
"Blindness! Or possibly insanity. Depends on your retinas. You're a human, right?"
"Not now, Doctor!"
They go crashing through the edge of the forest, and Harry very nearly stops both of them on principle just to demand to know what in God's name they're talking about, but before he can, there is a renewed burst of color and all three of them stop.
"Eyes down!" the Doctor says, grabbing Draco by the shoulder with one hand and using the other to shield his own eyes. "Don't look at it!"
"I need to aim the tranquilizer!"
Harry squints and holds up his arm, but he can see it through the slats of his fingers, little bits and pieces – the long legs, the gleaming golden hooves, the skin glowing in an impossible prism of blinding colors, the long horn – and the fresh, arterial blood running down its massive fangs and splattered along it's neck.
"Fucking hell," Harry says, which he surmises is just about the only sensible reaction to seeing something like that.
The not-unicorn makes a deep, guttural sound, like a horse nickering but deeper. The light it emits seems to be charring the trunks of the trees near it, and only then is Harry aware of the nearing, radiating heat.
"It's almost in range," says Draco-Malfoy-who-is-bizarrely-in-control, and the massive gun he's holding beeps at an ever-hastening rate. "Almost – if I just—"
"Don't be a hero," the Doctor says severely. "Don't approach it. One step too close and the radiative heat will deep-fry you."
"It's so close—!"
All at once, there's a great, deep whinnying sound that rumbles in the air and the living earth. The not-unicorn rears up, kicking its hooves, and the light around it intensifies to such a degree that Harry feels almost like he is in an oven—
The gun in Draco's arms goes off with a great burst of energy and the light and heat vanish just as abruptly as they arrived.
It takes a moment for Harry's eyes – and the rest of him – to readjust. When he does, he sees the not-unicorn sprawled on its side on the forest floor, still glowing, but much dimmer. Its skin is dusted with some kind of bluish particulate.
"What the fuck just happened," Harry says, and it doesn't quite come out as a question.
"What is it with wizards being such potty mouths?" the Doctor asks.
Draco-Malfoy-who-is-panting-and-tossing-back-his-windswept-hair drops the heavy gun onto the undergrowth and heads toward the not-unicorn. "Seems safe to look at now," he says.
"Must be an artifact of conscious will," the Doctor says. "I'm going to start keeping a swear jar."
"You won't get a knut out of me."
"Will someone please explain what just happened."
"Keep your pants on, Boy Wonder," Draco-Malfoy-who-is-such-a-little-shithead answers, crouching down in front of the not-unicorn. "You're not in any danger. Not anymore, at least."
It's not easy for Harry to put a name to what he's feeling. Some bizarre and disarming combination of anger, confusion, fear, and the unmistakable feeling of being kicked in the head.
The Doctor crouches down next to Draco and runs the green-tipped thing he'd been running with – Harry notices that it looks rather like a wand, but thicker and shorter and made of metal – along the not-unicorn's body. It hums and buzzes.
"Anything?" Draco asks.
"Mutation," the Doctor answers.
"I should hope so."
"The TARDIS practically killed us taking us here," Draco says, and before Harry can ask what in God's name a TARDIS is— "rather without our input, I might add. So it must be interfacing with it somehow."
"It's not giving off nearly enough energy to be doing anything to the TARDIS," the Doctor answers dismissively.
"Then what dragged us down?"
"Maybe whoever mutated it."
Draco and the Doctor share a significant look.
"No, it's fine," Harry says. "No need to fill me in."
They both turn back to him.
"You didn't have to follow, Potter," Draco answers, and though his tone is tepid, Harry can detect traces of resentment. He rises to his full composure, brushing traces of the forest off his pinstripe trousers. "So far as I can see, your confusion and alarm is no one's fault but your own."
"So Draco Malfoy with a tranquilizer cannon blasts through my front garden chasing a mutated unicorn, and it's my fault for caring enough to follow?"
"It's not my problem you never managed to shake your kneejerk hero complex," Draco returns with a sniff, grabbing the discarded gun and settling it on his hip.
Harry bristles. He is amazed, quietly, that even after the long years in which he never saw him, Malfoy still managed to retain his ability to get under his skin. "You don't have to have a hero complex to care about monsters rampaging through your neighborhood!"
"Do you to know each other?" the Doctor suddenly asks. His voice is a mite too chipper, like he's trying to forcibly deflate the tension in the conversation.
"Unfortunately," Draco answers, frowning, eyeing Harry. "Old friends."
"We were never friends," Harry says tightly.
"I'm glad to see you still have that keen ability to pick up on subtle sarcasm."
"Well, what a coincidence!" The Doctor claps his hands, rubs them together. "But we really should be going now. I think I've managed to pick up on a radiation signature that should lead us back to this creature's origin."
"Good," Draco says. "Let's follow it."
"I'm coming," Harry says.
"Like fuck you're coming."
"Draco, language!" the Doctor chides.
"It's a bit personal, Malfoy! And besides, you owe me an explanation."
"Oh, so it's about what I owe you, is it?"
"This is awkward and should probably stop," the Doctor continues when he goes ignored.
"Yes, let's all talk about what the world owes Harry Potter, the grand savior, the hero of the light—!"
"Fuck you, Malfoy!"
"Not even in your wettest of dreams, Potter," Draco says, leaning forward to punctuate his point, and his gray eyes flash silver and his bright blonde hair flashes in a shaft of moonlight through the trees. Harry notices, quite without meaning to, the remarkable way in which he's grown into all the harsh angles of his body.
The Doctor suddenly inserts himself between them. Draco groans and spins on a heel to face away from the conversation and whips out – of all things – a Muggle mobile phone from his pocket, which he turns on and unlocks with a swipe of his thumb. Harry doesn't have time to ask how he knows how to use it, because the Doctor is very close to him now, looking him up and down.
"Harry James Potter? Boy-Who-Lived? Defeater of the Dark Lord?"
"Uh," Harry says.
"The very same," Draco says acidly, tapping through something that looks like Google Maps on the phone. "He was unbearable in school."
"You weren't Prince Charming yourself, Malfoy."
"Well!" The Doctor suddenly claps Harry on both shoulders, smiling manically. "Well, well, well! Harry Potter! This is a surprise. Good to meet you! Good job saving the world!"
"Doctor, please stop," Draco says, "this conversation is physically painful to me."
The Doctor claps his hands once, as though struck with a sudden epiphany. "He should come with us!"
"No," Draco says, spinning on a heel.
"Yes!" Harry answers. "I want to come; we need to report the psychopath who made that thing to the DMLE!"
"Well," the Doctor answers, "this is a bit above their pay grade."
"And out of their fucking galactic cluster," Draco snaps. "Doctor, we can't take him with us."
"Because whenever Potter and I are in the same area for more than ten minutes at a time, we have a tendency to rip each other apart!"
"You seem to be doing well so far," the Doctor said, "relatively speaking."
"I'm an auror, Malfoy."
"Of course you are," Draco says. "You are pathologically incapable of not saving the world."
"Which means," he continues, glowering, "that I have an ethical responsibility to find the guy who did this and lock him up."
"An adventure with Harry Potter!" the Doctor says, beaming, which makes for a strange foil to the way Harry and Draco glare at each other. "This will bring my getting-into-trouble-with-famous-humans count up to triple digits!"
"Doctor," Draco groans, "don't make me do this."
"Don't be so sore," the Doctor says, patting Draco on the cheek. "It's good to face your demons!"
"So are we going?" Harry asks.
Draco's nose wrinkles in protest. He slaps his thumb against the screen of his mobile phone with undue force. "For the record," he says, "I protest tremendously." Then he turns on a heel and stares at the phone as he marches out of the trees, blonde hair flashing, navy sky shining with stars. "Also for the record, you're both terrible!"
"This is going to be great," the Doctor decides.
They have to scale their way up a floor and run along great circular walls, but they manage to escape, crashing through a pair of doors and landing face down in water.
In between everything else, there is a part of Draco that finds it funny how he managed to land in a river, after all – even if it didn't kill him.
He lifts his head and sputters and coughs. He opens his eyes in time to see a large, blue box tumbling through pale lavender grass until it lands awkwardly on its side. Steam pours out of its open doors.
"What the fuck," Draco says between coughs. "What the fuck."
"You're fine," says the man in the raggedy suit. "I'm fine, we're all fine. Everything is fine! There is absolutely no need to panic, probably."
"Will you please tell me what—"
—and then Draco looks up and the question changes so abruptly it makes him dizzy—
"Where the fuck are we?!"
Because judging by the crimson sky, the pale violet grass, and the enormous, transparent mountain range growing out of the horizon, the answer to that question cannot possibly be anywhere on earth.
"I have no idea!"
His voice is cheerful. Draco pulls himself up about of the river – it's really more like a creek, with clear water babbling over smooth river rocks – and tries to find his center of gravity.
"Which is fine!" he continues. "It's completely fine that I don't know where we are. Considering the vastness of the universe, the fact that we landed someplace with breathable air is pretty lucky! Well, I say pretty lucky, the chances are actually infinitesimally small, but I think the TARDIS managed to active emergency protocols that—"
"I'm on another planet," Draco says. He leapt off a bridge and landed on another planet. That should not be possible, and yet there it is.
Draco suddenly realizes that he is not so much searching for a center of gravity as he is for some proof that he's not losing his mind.
"Yes, you are! And you're also slightly stranded. Just for a little while. Hello, I'm the Doctor!"
Draco looks at him deliriously. "Doctor who?"
In the spirit of it not by any means being the strangest thing he'd heard that day, Draco decides to let it go. "Okay."
"What's your name?"
"Draco Malfoy," he answers. "Did you say we're stranded?"
Draco's head swims. "What's the rule about being lost? Aren't you supposed to stay put until someone can find you?"
"Got friends who can hop galaxies?"
Draco shuts his mouth tightly.
"Don't worry," the Doctor says. "As soon as my TARDIS is up and running again – and that shouldn't be too long, she's already started the self-repair cycle – I'll take you right back home. In the mean time, I'm a tiny bit curious about that."
The Doctor points right. Draco follows his gaze until he sees, rising up out of a dark blue forest, a mighty silver pyramid shining in the white sunlight. Draco has to squint at it for how bright it's gleaming.
"What is that?" Draco asks despite himself and despite the fact that there are many more pressing questions.
"Don't know," the Doctor answers. "Keen to find out?"
And the obvious answer is no. The obvious answer is absolutely no. Draco should be hiding or running or screaming to be taken home right now.
But instead, Draco only says, "A little bit," because even though that is not the obvious answer, it is the only one that happens to be true.
The Doctor grins at him and Draco wonders what he just started.
"What did you say your name was?" Harry asks.
"I told you, I'm the Doctor."
"No, your proper name."
"That is my proper name."
"People just call you 'the Doctor'?"
"Right." Harry doesn't believe him, but thinks perhaps he should let that one go. "How did you meet Malfoy?"
"He fell into my swimming pool."
"Stop talking, Potter," shouts Draco from up ahead, "your voice gives me a headache."
"More to the point," Harry continues, glaring at the back of Draco's head, "how can you stand to keep him around?"
"I quite like him," the Doctor says, apparently nonplussed that anyone would think otherwise. "He's clever. And he has very good fashion sense."
"Found it," Draco says.
They've arrived back on the street, down a ways from Harry's house. There's fewer cars than normal and a blue telephone box on the corner, but otherwise Harry can see nothing different. Draco tucks his phone into and pulls a key out of his front pocket.
"Found what?" Harry asks.
"I could have found it on my own," the Doctor insists, "but Draco was adamant about using an app to find it."
"I don't trust your sense of direction!" Draco says over his shoulder.
"You crash into a mountain just once," the Doctor says, "and suddenly you can't be trusted to navigate anything!"
"I still don't know where we are, what you're talking about, or what the hell is going on," Harry reminds them both tensely.
"Welcome to the explanation, Potter," Malfoy says, using the small silver key to unlock the door of the blue phone box. He pushes his way inside. The Doctor grins at Harry and pushes in after him.
Harry hesitates, then enters last.
Then he exits again, double checks the size of the telephone box, and – much more slowly this time – reenters.
What strikes Harry first is the colors. Deep golds, vibrant turquoise, bright bronze. The central pillar thrums softly, and there is a deep and low humming, almost like purring, rumbling along the floor beneath Harry's feet.
"This…" Harry says.
"Go on," the Doctor tells him, grinning and traipsing up toward the console. "You can say it."
"Spaceship," Harry finishes, fairly sure he forgot the verb.
"Well-spotted," Draco answers.
"This is a spaceship."
"The TARDIS!" the Doctor says. "Time and Relative Dimension in Space."
"I'm on a spaceship."
"Try to keep up, Potter," Draco snaps. "Doctor, you said you knew how to trace the source of the mutant."
"Yes!" He claps his hands, returns his attention to the console, begins pulling up large levers and hitting buttons. "It was mutated with a type of radiation not normally found on earth, so I should be able to do a quick scan for sources of it without much interference."
"Are you an alien?" Harry asks.
"Try to keep up, Potter," Draco snaps. "Honestly, always three steps behind!"
"You might want to hold onto something," says the Doctor.
"Why do I—" Harry begins, just as the engine roars to life and Harry falls onto his face.
"I'm putting a stop to it!" Moist says. "I should have put a stop to it ages ago – when you first started making these – these things."
He stands hunched over his desk. On the other side of the thick, tempered glass, a doe screams as it is ripped to shreds by the second generation of his newest creation.
"Putting a stop to it," he returns without looking around.
"This isn't who you are, man!" Moist continues. "This isn't what you got into the villain business for! You started this because you wanted to change the world, not to destroy it!"
He laughs, once, but it's devoid of any humor. He remembers those days. They feel distant and out of focus.
"It's killed twelve people," Moist says, "and that's just the one! You've got to stop this now!"
"Stop it?" He turns. Something about him sends Moist recoiling, flinching away from him. "I'm just getting started."
"This is why the Evil League of Evil exiled you, man," Moist says. "This is why we had to come to England in the first place! What happened to you?"
All at once, cool cynicism rises to a boil and spills out of him as blinding fury. He sweeps his hand across the table, knocking pages of notes and delicate instruments on the floor, clashing and clattering.
"You know what happened to me!"
Moist has recoiled even further. He's staring up at him with a resoluteness belied by his wide-eyed fear.
"You've got to let her go, man," Moist says softly.
He bares his teeth and pulls his goggles down over his eyes. "Release the brood," he says.
Moist tenses. "No."
"Release the brood," he repeats, more loudly.
"I won't have any part in this!"
There's a tremendous, bellowing whinny. He turns in time to see it rear up, kick its hooves, spread its mighty wings.
"Shit, man," Moist says weakly, "you gave them wings?"
"All 2,000 of them."
"My name," he says, reaching out for the large switch labelled "ESCAPE HATCH" on the wall, "is Dr. Horrible."
Before he can pull it, there arrives a low, continuous wailing sound.
"The intruder alarm?" Moist says, turning to look toward the wall full of security camera feeds.
He curls his hand into a fist. He does not have time for this. Whoever it was stupid enough to barge into his lab will soon and thoroughly regret it.
"Mad scientist's laboratory," Draco says, hands on his hips, as he takes slow stock of the room. "I like it."
Harry stumbles backwards out of the ship – the TARDIS – and does his best to wrap his head around the fact that he just rode in a spaceship.
"Not mad at all," the Doctor says, crossing the room to examine several hand-drawn diagrams pinned to the wall. "Nanotechnology, supercomputers, quantum mathematics – whoever owns this place has quite the mind."
Slightly more difficult to comprehend than the fact that Harry just rode in a spaceship is the fact that it was, quite possibly, the absolute most amazing thing to ever happen to him in his entire life.
"Still," Draco says, "not hard to see how a bloodthirsty mutant unicorn could come out of this place."
Slowly, Harry forces himself to look around. The walls are stacked high with strange devices that glow eerily under the fluorescent lights, the tables strewn with careful instruments and haphazard piles of notes. It is brilliant, fascinating, but also cold and sterile. Harry's never seen anything quite like it, and it's amazing.
"So what's the plan?" Draco asks. "Find the mutant unicorns, round them up, ship them off to an animal sanctuary planet?"
"There are animal sanctuary planets?" Harry asks before he can stop himself.
"Probably," the Doctor answers, and all at once Harry wants to go see one.
And then, putting a very abrupt end to the conversation—
The force that hits them is so sudden and so powerful that all three of them go flying backwards – or, more specifically, away from the giant crater now carved out of the wall.
"Damn," says a voice that Harry can only barely detect through the ringing in his ears, "missed."
"Jesus, man!" someone else says. "You can't go firing that thing indoors!"
As his eyes readjust from the flash of light, Harry feels a hand grab him by the back of his jacket and drag him around to the back of the TARDIS.
"Do us all a favor and keep your mouth shut, Moist."
"You just destroyed half your lab!"
"Come out, come out, intruders!"
"Rude!" Draco says, wiping soot off his sleeve.
"Apologies," the assailant answers. "I'm sort of a shoot-first-ask-questions-later type."
"Nice to meet you, I'm the Doctor!" shouts the Doctor.
"I am stupefyingly uninterested in your names!"
There's a deep click and a humming as their assailant presumably cocks the device the device that just nearly killed them. Harry cranes his neck and catches sight of the massive, steaming pile of rubble now dominating one wall of the room.
"We're big fans of your work!" Draco calls, reaching into his waistcoat and producing his wand. "Was that thing a unicorn at any point at all?"
"A few months ago," he admits.
Harry catches sight of his reflection in the polished steel of a filing cabinet. He's in a long red lab coat with tinted goggles pulled over his eyes. He leans over to the Doctor and mutters, "He's coming this way."
"You know," Draco says, slowly rising to his feet while keeping his back pressed flush against the wall of the TARDIS, "they say anyone who hurts a unicorn is cursed."
"I was cursed a long time ago," he says.
"And you just unleashed it on an unsuspecting suburban neighborhood?" the Doctor asks. "Why?"
"That was just a test run," he answers. "The main event will surely be a grander affair—"
Abruptly, and to some apparent protest from the Doctor, Draco spins around and shoots out a bright disarming spell. The spell hits with a clatter. Harry stands up and spins as well, producing his own wand.
"Blimey, Malfoy, when did you become the sort of person to leap into danger?"
Draco bristles. "Fuck you, that's when!"
Out of the corner of his eye, Harry catches the man in the red lab coat – scruffy blonde hair, he noticed, and refuses-to-leave-the-house pale – reaching into an inner pocket. Harry spins and throws up a shield just in time—
—to catch a burst of red light and send it ricocheting away.
"Was that a laser gun?" Harry can't help but ask. "I didn't know Muggles had invented laser guns."
The attacker doesn't answer. He aims his second shot up; it hits one of the dangling fluorescent lights, and with a tremendous sound and a brief flash of light, the room goes dark.
"Is that why you've come?" he asks, voice echoing through the darkness. "You've come to stop me?"
"If we have to," the Doctor's voice answers. "If you're really planning on unleashing more of those creatures."
They're answered by a short, humorless laugh. "And just how do you intend to do that?"
Harry's eyes struggle to adjust to the new darkness. He nearly casts a quick lumos before deciding against it – best not to give away his position.
"Oh!" says a second voice. "I know this one! There's a self-destruct protocol!"
"What?" Draco says.
"Moist, what the hell!"
"It's in the main control room! You can destroy all the mutants!"
"Moist, you are the worst henchman ever! You don't just go around saying that stuff to intruders!"
"Thank you, Moist!" Draco says. "That's very useful!"
"This is why I get for choosing seniority over experience in my henchmen!"
"Look, Billy," says the henchman – Moist, apparently, "I love you and everything, but you're in a downward, self-destructive spiral! If someone doesn't stop you, I don't think anything ever will!"
"Billy?" Draco repeats. "Billy the mad scientist?"
"My name is Dr. Horrible!"
"Also, you're trying to destroy the world!" Moist adds. "That's bad, I probably should have said that first."
Harry feels a hand on his arm. "Run!"
And so they run.
Crash! Another massive blast from Dr. Horrible's massive cannon. They stumble but keep running, vaulting over pieces of debris, following the light at the end of Draco's wand.
"Main control room is always in the center!" the Doctor says as the duck and weave away from another massive crash that thunders against a wall. "Left!"
They turn left, bursting into a door (appropriately labelled "MAIN CONTROL ROOM," with a sticky-note subtitle of "DO NOT USE THIS COMPUTER FOR PRINTING!") leading into a room with one enormous wall made up of nothing but monitors.
Draco casts a strong shielding spell just before there's another great crash! The metal door caves inward, but Draco's magic manages to hold it in place.
"Doctor!" he says, "do something sciencey!"
"Working on it!"
The Doctor is already standing at the computer, bent over the keyboard, tapping furiously. Crash!
Harry casts another layer of the shielding spell over top of Draco's, bracing both hands on the warped metal for good measure. "Is it always like this with him?" he asks despite himself.
"Pretty much," Draco answers. Crash!
"Password!" the Doctor says. "There's always a password!"
"Can you override it?" Draco asks. Crash!
"With enough time," the Doctor answers, "but most of the technology in this place is in a sonic cage, and plus—"
"The password is Weird Al Rocks!" comes a voice from the other side of the door.
"All one word!" Moist continues. "You have to use a 'Z', though!"
Before Harry has a chance to laugh, there's a high-pitched beeping. Then the entire room is flooded with pulsing red light.
"SELF-DESTRUCT SEQUENCE ACTIVATED," an automated voice informs them. "THREE MINUTES UNTIL DETONATION." And then, inexplicably, AC/DC starts playing, blasting over the same speakers that just announced an explosion.
"He programmed music into his own self-destruct sequence," Draco says. "Of course he did."
"Not a bad way to go out," Harry admits. He recognizes the song as Thunderstruck.
"Notice anything absent?" the Doctor asks.
Harry frowns. Draco looks around the room before he realizes—
"He's stopped trying to break the door down."
"Which is either a very good thing or a very bad thing," the Doctor says.
Draco approaches the door and slowly – very slowly – pulls it open. It takes some doing, as the door is by that point badly warped and unwilling to move on its bent hinges.
The first thing Harry notices is the man who can only be Moist, unconscious and slumped against the wall. Draco lunges for him at once and grabs his shoulder.
"Oy." He shakes him. "All right?"
Moist grunts and rolls his head to the side.
"No pressure or anything," Draco says, "but this entire building is going to explode."
There's a sharp whistle from behind. At once, they all spin.
Standing at the far end of the hallway is Dr. Horrible, awash in pulsing red light, goggles gleaming. He no longer has his cannon.
"This doesn't have to end with you dying!" the Doctor says, stepping forward. "Come with us, turn yourself in, you can make it out alive!"
"I crossed that bridge a long time ago. There's no going back for me," Dr. Horrible says. "And there's no going back for you, either."
He presses a button on a small device in his hand. There's a great groaning of metal and the sound of crumbling stone.
From behind him, a ten-foot tall robotic tyrannosaurus crashes through into the hallway.
"Holy fucking shit," Harry says, and it's terrifying and everything, and Harry knows he needs to run, but he can't help but also realize how completely awesome it is.
"Oh, man, he got out Sparky," Moist says, who is apparently coming to. "We're fucked, man."
Sparky the robotic tyrannosaurus lets loose a mighty, mechanical roar that rattles the walls and sends vibrations through the cement floor. Its teeth, Harry notices, though he wishes he hadn't, are made from sharpened pieces of serrated metal.
"Run!" the Doctor screams, not for the first time that day, and they run.
The sound of Sparky running after them sounds less like running and more like great claps of thunder. They scramble as fast as they can, but it's hard to keep away from something with a stride longer than you are tall, as Harry quickly discovers.
As they run, Harry feels a hand on his arm, gripping tightly.
"Potter," Draco says through his labored breathing.
He looks over at him. Draco is holding a tiny racing broom in his hand – it must be under a shrinking spell, because it expands rapidly in his hand.
"Remember the Room of Requirement?"
Memories of fiendfyre and Horcruxes surface in his mind. He knows what Draco's asking.
"You've got a plan?"
"Don't ask stupid questions, Potter!"
"Don't fuck it up, then, Malfoy!"
Harry grabs the broom from Draco's hand and leaps onto it mid-sprint. Draco grabs him by the shoulder and swings on behind him and all at once they take off into the air.
"Draco!" Harry can hear the Doctor calling, but his voice is fading as they make a broad arc away from him in the larger room they just reached.
"Get me as close to the head as you can!" Draco shouts into his ear, over the wailing of the siren, the roaring of the robot dinosaur, and the destruction of the laboratory as Sparky thrashes through it like a bear in a spiderweb.
It's been years since Harry's really ridden like this, but it all comes back to him without protest. He stays far to the right at first, out of reach, then makes a dramatic turn and dives right for it.
Draco leaps off the broom in midair and lands on top of Sparky's head – it immediately roars and starts to buck and thrash. Draco holds steady, but Harry regrets agreeing to this plan.
"Solvitas totalum!" he shouts, wand pointed straight down at its head, and with a flash of magic—
The sound Sparky makes is deafening. Draco's magic rends it right down the middle in a brilliant, tremendous shower of sparks.
Then Sparky falls, taking Draco down with it. Harry feels a sudden clutch of dread and dives straight down on the broom.
"Draco!" the Doctor calls. "That was stupid and terrible, and also brilliant, and don't ever do it again! Draco!"
Harry tumbles off the broom and races toward the massive pile of twisted metal and debris—
"I'm fine!" comes Draco's familiar voice. "That was deliberate!"
Dr. Horrible is standing at the mouth of the hallway. A broken robotic dinosaur lies in a heap at his feet, his laboratory is flooded with red light, and AC/DC blasts through the room.
"It was cute at first, but you are not getting out of this laboratory alive!" Dr. Horrible shouts, hefting up the canon from his side and pointing it decisively at Draco's face. "I will not allow you to come in here and destroy—!"
Dr. Horrible crumbles all at once, collapsing on top of the canon and the broken remnants of his dinosaur.
Moist is standing over him with a shovel.
"The greatest technology in the world," Draco says, "thwarted by a garden shovel."
"He's really very nice once you get to know him," Moist assures them.
"I'm sure," Draco says, not sounding convinced.
"He's just been in sort of a funk," Moist continues. "His girlfriend died and there was all this other stuff – but when a genius gets into a funk, robot dinosaurs happen, so…"
"You can tell us all about it when we leave!" the Doctor says. "You know, getting away from the explosion!"
It takes Moist a minute. "Oh. Oh! Right!"
Dr. Horrible is unconscious on the verge. The laboratory is a pile of rubble several hundred miles away. And Harry's adrenaline levels will not even off.
"That was amazing," Harry says.
"Your enthusiasm is embarrassing," Draco answers, pulling his mobile phone out of his pocket.
"I'll figure out what to do with him," Moist tells the Doctor. "I promise he's really not dangerous when he hasn't got any of his toys, just really angry and in a lot of pain."
"I'll have to check up on you to make sure," the Doctor says, patting his shoulder. "Make sure he gets over his girlfriend before you let him near any more robotic dinosaurs, eh?"
"So it's always like this?" Harry knows he asked before, but the question, he thinks, bears repeating. "You just fly around space and get into trouble?"
"Space and time," Draco says, flipping through his mobile phone.
"Space and time?"
"Thanks for your help," Moist says, smiling weakly at the Doctor. "You don't know it, but you've really helped him.
"Glad to hear it!"
"That's incredible! I can't – that's – I want—!"
Draco raises both eyebrows at him.
Harry realizes, quite abruptly, that he wants to go. His world is suddenly full of color after so many years in monochrome – dead-end job, wife he's fallen out of love with, a quiet life he was so sure he wanted when he was nineteen and stupid, but now—
"I have… I have a wife," he says. "I've got a life, I have…"
"I'm sure that made sense in your head," Draco says. "Well, Potter, it's been… something."
"Yeah," Harry says, the adrenaline fading, the rush deflating. He looks toward the TARDIS, toward the Doctor helping Moist load Dr. Horrible's unconscious body into a trolley (It had been in the TARDIS attic, for reasons the Doctor had not been able to adequately explain). "Yeah…"
"Give us a ring if you ever have a free weekend," Draco says. "We made a good team back there. Maybe you can tag along for a turn."
Harry looks back, startled. "Really?"
"No, go fuck yourself."
Harry glares at him. He knows that they've been arguing this whole time and that he should, objectively, not care at all – but he does, and he's upset, and he doesn't really want to admit it and he definitely doesn't want Draco to know, so he says, "Slytherin dickhole."
"Nice fellow!" the Doctor says, heading back over as Moist wheels Dr. Horrible down the street. "Hopefully he does right by his friend. Ready to go, Draco?"
"You have no idea how ready I am," Draco says. "Let's get as far away from earth as possible. Maybe this Potter-induced headache will fade with enough distance."
He pushes into the TARDIS.
The Doctor laughs nervously. "He's charming."
"Only when he wants to be," Harry says. "Which is never, in my experience."
"I think he just doesn't like confronting his past," the Doctor says. "Well! It's been a pleasure, Mr. Potter. Lovely to meet you. Thanks for agreeing to look the other way with Mr. Horrible."
"I'll keep an eye on him in case he has a robot dinosaur relapse, I suppose."
The Doctor shakes his hand vigorously and steps into the TARDIS before Harry can say wait or would it be okay if I went with you?
Because he can't. Because he has to be here. Because he has a wife and a job and a life to get back to.
Even though he does not want to.