An electrical tension filled the Eternal's space as it turned from where it had been observing the rangerscopes and sensors monitoring the area of space around the Parliament of the Daleks.
With a whisper of the parting dimensions and the abating of electrical tension the Timeship materialised fully, and Sorcerer Harry Potter strode out of the Timeship followed by Dalek Mage Oswin Oswald.
Harry Potter proceeded across the room and kicked the Eternal in the bottom of its shell. "I should throw you into an inconvenient black hole for not telling me about the 13 Ginny Weasleys that I would have to dispose of," Harry paused in his vaguely threatening tone. "Were you aware?" Harry questioned into the Eternal's eye. "Actually, get the Strategist in here as well," Harry paused. "I want a witness."
"For my execution Sorcerer Harry Potter?" The Eternal asked not moving from Harry's gaze.
Less than a 3 rels later the Strategist glided into the room.
"Hi there," Oswin greeted.
Harry watched as the Strategist looked to Oswin before coming to a stop near him and the Eternal. "Did you know?"
"Clarify your statement Harry Potter," the Strategist asked looking to him.
"About the 13 Ginny Weasleys. 13," Harry repeated to the Eternal, wrinkling his nose he kicked it again. "Come on, show me your paintings, the ones you didn't want to show me."
"No," the Eternal said as it backed away from him slowly. "Data did not indicate that there were multiple versions of your target."
"Is he telling the truth?" Harry asked looking between Oswin and the Strategist.
The Strategist's lights lit up before it spoke. "The Eternal's motivations are complex Harry Potter."
"He's definitely worried you might throw him into a black hole though," Oswin commented.
"Black hole?" The Strategist repeated archly.
"We've still got a Dalekanium-Cobalt bomb somewhere I think," Harry challenged idly. "Maybe strap one of those to you and kick you out an airlock," he continued in an annoyed tone.
"You have learnt much from your period spent within the Time War?" Enquired the Strategist.
Harry turned to the blue Dalek and smiled dangerously. "Thank you Strategist for asking a question," Harry glared at the Eternal. "Yes, I've learnt quite a lot, especially that those Daleks involved in time and involved in ever-lasting things are not very trustworthy. The intelligent ones, they're the ones to have your back, known a lot of Saucer Commanders, they know their stuff."
"I will display the creative works for you Sorcerer Harry Potter," the Eternal said in a subdued tone as panels of art dropped down from hidden areas above them.
Harry swore when he saw the ones he'd previously seen. "Now they make so much more sense," he pointed up at one where Ginny was wearing battle armour. "That never happened like that."
"Artistic licence," Oswin dismissed and looked over at the Eternal. "What about the ones old mate here says you hid?"
The four that had been obscured the last time he'd seen them revealed themselves.
Harry swore, invoking some of the most ancient gods enough to draw the attention of both the Eternal and the Strategist.
"You are concerned Harry Potter?" Asked the Strategist watching him.
Harry stepped forward to point at one which was all vegetation, there was a melted Seal of Rassilon falling off a decaying building and he was in the painting, dozing in a hammock. Oswin's Dalek eye piece spyglass and a stylised version of double barrelled Dalek gun was lying next to a bag splashed with various substances. A camp fire was off to one side with some sort of dessert making equipment around it. There were what looked like daffodils dotted around the image. The sky was a purple-orange with a few shooting stars, which didn't match how the artist had drawn the rest of the scene. "I painted that one," he paused and took a step to point at another. "And that one."
"You constructed these art works?" The Eternal asked in an arched tone.
The second one Harry was pointing at was deep in muddy browns of destruction and death, it was called 'Ribos Operation', he'd written it on the bottom left of the painting instead of signing it. There were tall arches with rough Time Lord symbols up both sides of the art work. He'd painted himself and Oswin in dark almost silhouette just as they'd split off to go and do each of their own thing. Mostly it was just him in his coat and Oswin in her red dress, but for style he'd given her a flowing cloak and the Daleks bright white eye pieces. He'd actually not liked it very much. "There was too much muddy brown in this one, flip it over," he said gesturing at the painting. He'd not liked it so much he'd done some abstract and stylised versions of the crashed saucers on the Degradations planet. He'd glued a canvas to the back.
"I obey," the Eternal said as it operated a control, the painting rotating the reveal the back of the canvas, with not much on it except some globules of glue.
"What does this mean then, if you've got them in the Timeship?" Oswin wondered.
Harry groaned. "You know what this means? This is a classic bootstrap paradox, with art!" He exclaimed. "I vowed not to get involved in that. The timeloop in the TARDIS was enough for me," he sighed.
"Cheer up it's an art-influenced paradox, we can make this work, when you're ready we can have a disaster art exhibition. Dark Space 8 loves that sort of thing, we'll invite Gholos and everything thing," Oswin reassured, patting him on the back.
"What of the other art work?" The Strategist enquired. "Did you construct those Harry Potter?"
"You obviously didn't know?" Harry addressed the Eternal.
"No," it said in a long, low tone, its lights staying lit for a long time.
"That's not my hand," he said pointing to the one that looked like it had depth. "That looks like one of those other bigger on the inside paintings you showed me when I was first here," he paused. "Feels like an age ago," he said walking up to the painting.
"The artist has captured your power stance well," Oswin commented.
This art work showed him surrounded by Daleks, the artist having taken some liberties with the two Daleks he'd had either side of him.
The art work was from a sort of diagonal point of view from the Time Lord's Time Station. It showed him gesturing and pointing at a man in a black and white tunic / cloak. This man's facial features were hidden in darkness and shadow, at the back of the art work was a Police Box, and a man in a beaten up leather jacket sitting at the back. Now looking at the art work Harry noticed there were other cylinders like the TARDIS he and Oswin had got into with Andro to get away from Gallifrey in.
"That bloke there is Voran," Harry pointed. "Was tortured by him and another Time Lord, after we met in this incident I threw a few saucers at his space station," Harry explained idly.
"You survived torture by the Time Lords?" The Strategist enquired with an impressed air. Looking to Oswin as it spoke.
"Not me, Harry protected me in the Timeship," Oswin explained.
"You protected Dalek Mage Oswin Oswald?" The Strategist enquired again in what passed for a surprised tone from a Dalek.
Harry nodded. "We've been through a lot."
"This one's nicely painted, if a bit grim," Oswin pointed out the fourth painting.
Harry nodded. "And weird, the only people left to paint this one are the Spider Daleks and the satellite claw ones, they're the only ones who saw it, after we blew it up," Harry said looking at artwork. It was almost comic book-like in its artwork. Coloured but with shades of black and white, but not drawn, not really. It showed the slabs that had been in Ginny's recreation of the Great Hall, with him and Oswin at the front in front of the remains of the console. Bodies of Daleks, Time Lords and more other aliens around them and in the background two Spider Daleks, there was a mist of grey around them, he assumed that was meant to be mercury vapour.
"That wasn't how that happened, we'd never have been able to climb over that many bodies," Oswin commented.
"Still, I want to know which one constructed this," Harry pointed at it. "Weird that we met the artist, whichever one it was."
"Explain your query," the Eternal asked, it wasn't quite a demand, but definitely more than curious.
Harry looked to it. "That was a mission with some Skaro Degradations, they were the only ones who witnessed this," Harry paused. "We didn't write any reports so…they were the only ones to see this."
The Eternal's lights lit up but it didn't say anything. "Will you detail your experiences in the Time War?" It eventually asked.
Harry thought for a moment. "Probably not, maybe," he paused. "I'm not sure, who would be interested in reading it."
"Much data was not maintained from the Time War-" the Eternal began.
"Then that places us in a unique position," Oswin commented in a bright tone.
"For now," Harry sighed before finishing "no,"
The Eternal looked like it was going to say something.
"That is understood," the Strategist interjected into the silence.
Harry looked up at the rest of the art works. Before he'd gone into the Time War he'd thought he'd want to take these works home with him.
Now though he wasn't sure. "You'll hang onto these art works, in case I ever want them?"
"Yes Sorcerer Harry Potter," the Eternal said as they were packed away to wherever they'd been.
"Got any temporal communicators?" Harry wondered.
"Why?" Oswin asked this question.
"So you can hang onto the Timeship, or I can," Harry said. "You're the one who's said we're from different times."
Oswin mock shuddered. "And I am not going to live in early 21st century Earth."
There was a flash behind them as something was transmatted in on a plinth. "Your communicators Sorcerer," the Eternal reported.
Harry nodded, and paced across the small distance between himself and the Eternal into what he knew the Daleks considered 'too close' space and looked into the Eternal's eye piece. "I learnt a lot from that Eternal," he said stepping back.
"More than both of us are going to say," Oswin continued behind him.
"And plenty that is possibly beyond what you know," Harry narrowed his eyes and looked between the Eternal and the Strategist. "Our agreement continues?"
"The agreement continues," the Strategist agreed.
"I still want information for the future, I know how messy involving myself in time travel is," Harry paused. "And I'll go and have a chat with the Prime Minister if you two mess around again," he said as he walked away from them "I haven't been dissuaded, I still don't mind a bit of excitement," he paused. "Screw me around again and I'll make sure you get a front seat into a black hole while I make sure your shell ends up in a Xeros museum, understood?"
"Understood," the Eternal drawled "Sorcerer."
"Next stop, Earth," Harry said as he dematerialised the Timeship and turned to Oswin. "Or Dark Space 8, if you want to go first?"
Oswin looked at him brightly. "Oh no, I want to see your homey house Harry, you've seen my accommodation."
Harry nodded. "Feels weird, to be heading home," he said.
Oswin joined him at the controls. "Do you think you should be going back immediately after you departed?"
Harry frowned. "Why?"
Oswin shook her head. "Because silly boy, we've been travelling for the equivalent of the few months, should some time not have passed for your friends, and Daphne on Earth as well?"
Harry gave her a look. "Have I changed so much?"
Oswin gave him a look. "You're a lot less nervous around being shot at, and much better with the controls."
"If we return really late, won't that involve jumping back or forward to let Daphne and my friends know where and when we are?" Harry wondered. "This feels like it's going to be complicated."
Oswin sighed. "We've been living complicated Harry, don't you want a little bit of time passed?"
Harry sighed dramatically. "Fine, what's one more small hop?"
Harry stepped back into the Timeship, they'd parked just around the corner from his local shops in a bus shelter so he could run out, buy a stamp and post a letter.
"This seems needlessly complicated," he said again as he set the coordinates back to three weeks after he departed, making it for the first week of May, 2012.
"You could have just put it though your communications zone at your home instead of this messing around with physical mediums," she tutted.
The spinning screens began to slow as they approached their temporal and physical coordinates.
"I think you should go out first Harry," Oswin said looking to him seriously. "Seek out Daphne, and talk."
Harry looked to her. "Why?" He frowned. "Shouldn't I introduce you?"
Oswin took both his hands in her hands. "Harry, I'm far older than you and, I've been through a lot, trust me," she sighed. "Working out all this," she looked up and down herself. "It took time and there was a lot of shock and 'decompressing'," she smiled as she let go of his hands. "You feel fine now after the Eight Legs of Metebelis III, the Amaryll of Alvega,"
"And dropping a saucer on Voran," he mused with a dark smile.
She nodded. "That too, but, you're still full of tension, trust me, I had to deal with a lot of rage, anger, depression, sadness and pain," she finished as the Timeship materialised; the screens stopping spinning. "It takes a lot."
Harry operated the controls to display the exterior. A woman was walking out of the house, it felt like he'd not seen her in years, seeing her made him smile; exhaling a breath he didn't know he'd been holding.
"I'm going to go power down, have a bit of nap," Oswin said gliding over to him prodding him with her manipulator arm. "Been a while since we were properly safe and there was nothing to worry about," she turned, rotating her dome to look at him, narrowing her eye piece. "There is nothing to worry about."
"As far as I knew, I do have a future history notes inside the shed in a data core that I got before we disappeared into the Time War. There's not many invasions, they were listed as 'low disruption'," Harry answered vaguely. "I skimmed through it, but nothing me and LPI can't handle," he said with a smile. "Weird that it'll be back to that, not you and I, battling the Time Lords," the sentence got stuck in his throat a little bit, as he felt more weight suddenly come onto him.
"Go Harry, I will rest," she said gliding away from him her lights illuminating the last of her sentence as she glided towards her rooms within the Timeship.
Daphne Greengrass looked at the new piece of architecture that was now within the courtyard at Harry's property. The second time in as many years that Harry had disappeared off into the ætherworld, and then a letter had turned up with a time and place. The first in River Song's hand had been unexpected, this time while not expected, it was not a surprise, while still venturing from the somewhat unknown realms.
The letter had been in Harry's hand explaining seemingly quickly written; 'Oswin said I should show some time has passed, it's all a bit of a blur really, but I will be back on the 7th May 2012, 9:00 am. Hopefully."
And now outside at that exact time, there was a cuboid object, with inset pieces to its structure but no apparent doors or windows. Not like the Doctor's TARDIS, its Police Public Call Box indicated something to its structure, that it apparently mimicked.
This object, as she approached it just seemed to be, just seemed to exist without compromising to the world around it. It was just was. There was a simplistic beauty, that was simple in its colours and tones, yet complicated in its angles and its brutal status within the environment.
Then one of the panels opened inwards and someone stepped out. He had longer hair than when he'd left, and was wearing an oddly cut coat. His boots were far more scuffed and he looked at her as though he'd missed her for months, perhaps even longer?
"Oh Daphne," he rushed forward, drawing her into a deep hug and passionate embrace.
It felt like his kiss elevated her up, and was given with such passion and intensity that she felt quite light in the head, or perhaps that was just from how long he held his embrace with her.
"Merlin, I've missed you," his voice thick with emotion and eyes of longing.
They'd moved to inside, and, after a moment's pause in his own kitchen, seemingly having briefly forgotten the location of items he then had sat down with her in the occasional chairs by the window.
"It has been longer for you than me?" She asked after an appropriate pause.
Harry nodded. "I haven't aged," he dragged a hand through his hair. "Well not much, in real world terms it's about two or so months growth, but age wise it's not even that...time and all that works differently when travelling through it," he answered dismissively.
"But your experiences are longer, more elongated?" She pressed searching his face for affirmation to her questioning.
Harry nodded, putting down his mug of tea leaning forward. "I thought I'd experienced a lot, but that, this, that…it was…" he shook his head seemingly trying to collect his thoughts into some sort of sense. "We discovered it almost immediately, what had happened, what Ginny had done, what it meant for our quest, there wasn't just one…"
Daphne sat back in her chair, floored, amazed, in awe, confused and full of sorrow.
"Thirteen times?" She wondered.
Harry smiled, somewhat amused seemingly. "It was disappointing, weirdly, meeting the original, after battling twelve versions of her throughout time and space, the original was…weirdly disappointing," he laughed picking up his tea. "There were some dark moments," he sipped it putting the tea down again.
Daphne rose from her chair and took Harry over to the sofa, bringing him in to lean against her. "Just relax Harry."
She felt him lie against her, but could still feel the tension in his body, he smelt clean, freshly bathed but…there was still something otherness to him.
"We were escaping after dealing with a Ginny, we got stuck on a planet of ghosts, Oswin will explain later, she wanted to give me time…" he said slowly, she could feel him slowly unbind. "She's having a rest in the Timeship, properly relax," he added. "We had to crash land on a planet of ghosts, I met Dumbledore and Voldemort who were not very helpful, and Remus, Tonks and Sirius," he paused to chuckle. "They were slightly more useful. "Dumbledore and Voldemort wanted to talk philosophy, saw the Brigadier as well," he sighed. "That wasn't so bad, being stuck on a planet of ghosts, I learnt a lot in the Time War Daphne, a lot."
Daphne nodded, stroking Harry's arm gently as he relaxed. "Then we escaped from there, cannibalised everything I helped to rebuild a saucer; a spacecraft to escape," he paused.
She felt the tension build in him again.
"The Time Lords had tracked us," he paused. "And attacked the Dalek craft we were on and pursued us, almost destroying the Timeship," he started in fits and bursts "I let myself be captured so they didn't destroy us, or hurt Oswin, we'd become good friends," he seemed need to explain.
"I don't doubt that Harry," she said gently. "The sharing of your memories to establish that connection," she mused.
He sat up. "Nothing romantic," he said looking at her wrinkling his nose. "She's a great, intense friend, she's also like 100 years older than me," he paused putting his hands on either side of her face and kissed her. "I only have eyes for you Daphne."
Daphne smiled and drew him in to an embrace.
"I was tortured for information by the Time Lords," Harry explained without much pre-amble. "The Master, and the Doctor less so had told me in the past his people were ruthless, just how so I discovered quickly, I held out for a long time, it's weird what Voldemort and his machinations taught me about pain," he commented with the same tone of detached grim humour he'd used earlier.
Daphne remained calm as Harry skimmed over the specific details.
"And then Voran did something, trying to brute force his way into my mind using the Time Lord's technology and TARDIS, I met that other me, the one I saw in the Veil and that darkened one…along with multiple others, other versions of me, split and spread out across the striations of the multi-verse," Harry began a sense of awe in his voice.
It sounded amazing and fantastical, to witness, to meet and see hundreds, thousands of different versions of one self, wrought as physical manifestations in a netherspace. It was beyond any magic she could conceive of, and Harry seemed to take it in his stride.
"The Doctor, one I'd never met, he rescued me, I was…not exactly myself, scared, scarred and shaken," he paused. "He didn't know it was me being held, he was just there to have a look around, he didn't come to rescue me," he paused. "I broke down, a lot, in the Timeship, Oswin picked me up, bathed me, got me into bed, I think," Harry explained vaguely, "it was a bit a blur, escaping, it's like when I faced Voldemort, that last time, meeting Dumbledore then, having fought Voldemort…" he trailed off. "The exact parts of what happened are bit of a blur, trauma..." he mused trailing off, still with a tone of grim humour.
"Did you rest after that Harry?" She asked, worried. "That trauma is…significant."
Harry sighed. "For a time, I was on edge for a lot. Then we went to Metebelis III that was some of the most enlightening I felt."
Daphne listened in surprised awe, Harry had befriended giant spiders, and merged with them, it was like the ancient wizards of old, communing with their familiars. And that Harry took it seemingly in his stride. "They were just people, on their planet. Ginny was the invader, it was very nice there, so much better before, but we helped."
"Then on another planet I finally discovered where she was growing all her potions ingredients, it was one of the things that didn't make sense, as some of those Ginnys had been around in the Time War for several hundred years," he said. The way he casually spoke of multiple Ginny Weasleys revealed how long he had needed to deal with this concept.
Daffodils, alien daffodils that could project like legilimency into one's mind.
"I had faced proper fear and danger. On Alvega and Metebelis III I didn't feel that," Harry explained. "It didn't last, the last of the 12, she was the worst, a vampire."
"You faced death at her hand, multiple times?" she asked, her voice wavering.
"Inside a TARDIS it was like we failed and were reset back to have another go, it was the worst experience, feeling yourself being killed, it happened at least half a dozen times before we worked out what was going on," he explained, she felt him tense and shudder. "I had to have a sit down, drew a chalk circle for a breather."
Daphne acknowledged his. "They hold a lot of power, when they're anchored properly."
She felt Harry nod. "I know, used chalk barriers on that ghost planet as well, didn't stop the ghosts in my dreams, but it gave me and Oswin a breather," Harry paused. "Had to do something unexpected to deal with the vampire, bolt of steel through the heart and lopped off her head."
Harry spoke so very causally about it. "Not at first," he said when she mentioned this. "But there was a strange amusement to it," he chuckled. "Couldn't get too serious I might've fallen into hysterics, I think I did a few times, Oswin helped me through it, I owe her a lot."
"Is she here within the craft?" Daphne asked. "Did you leave her in there?"
Harry sat up to look at her. "She said I should come in first, to see you, she knows how much…" he trailed off, smiling at her, there was so much emotion and longing on his face.
"Was it her that said you should said the missive to me? To alert me of your arrival?" She asked curiously.
Harry nodded with a smile. "She said, so much had happened, that some indication for you, that time had passed, it both feels like a lot of time has, and in some ways it doesn't feel like much time has elapsed either," he paused. "It's weird, I know Tegan, Sarah and Amy and Rory said something like this, this sensation, but experiencing it properly. After Draco and I returned it was different, maybe not so much had gone on for us," Harry mused. "Oswin's having a rest in the Timeship, properly to relax," he said again.
Daphne nodded. "Do you wish to talk of the final confrontation or would you like to go and rest?"
"Enough resting," Harry sank back down into the sofa. "The final confrontation, I always knew where it would happen, well after we worked out there were 13 of her knocking around."
"The Doctor's people's home planet, as they created the iterations?" Daphne wondered.
She felt Harry nod. "Everything the Doctor told me about Gallifrey, and then we were standing on it; desolate and sort of bleak in a magical bracing sort of way, in the end, she was hidden under a nondescript building within the Capitol, it was somewhat disappointing," he commented wistfully.
"How so?" Daphne found herself asking, the strangeness and somewhat distasteful topic of Harry killing 13 versions of a witch whom he'd gone to great lengths to deal with once in his own past, a past they had seen was…it was certainly one of the more abstract concepts she had ever encountered.
"The other Ginnys, some had been a bit mad, some had just been a means to an end, one or two killed at a distance because other things were going on, a few were really engaging, they were older, more mature, they still tried to kill me but…" he sat up to look at her. "I liked bantering with them, as they tried to kill me," he leaned back down, "That makes me a bit messed up I think."
Daphne laughed. "Perhaps Harry, perhaps. The antagonism that witches and wizards feel, that power and shift, it is tantalising."
"Maybe. It was interesting to have engaging banter with her, in the past, my past I mean when we were dating it was a lot more…" he paused. "Not hero worship, but, she turned, when I deviated from the norm, and here they were these other Ginnys literally working with aliens, albeit ones she saw as superior…it was all a bit double standards."
"How did she justify this?" she found herself asking. Ginny Weasley and many wizards' opinion of the lack of aliens in the universe, or rather within the scope of the wizarding world was well known, that was how they were all brought up, knowing that they, that wizararding culture was the pinnacle of advancement, anything beyond that was just magic, wrought by advanced or simple users.
"One of them said that the Time Lords were gods, and anything else was just perversion that had to be dealt with, and I was the ultimate of that working with the enemy, and that I needed to be eradicated because I'd deviated further from the standard, perverted and all that," Harry sat up again. "I never really got a firm answer, I think Ginny never seemed to have met many actual aliens, on Metebelis III she treated the Eight Legs like something below her, not remotely intelligent," Harry began, his voice filled with emotion. "But they were, this was a culture full of energy and development, the closest to magic in another culture I'd seen Daphne, they could literally project energy, like wordless spells, they…" he trailed off. "Being there, they helped me, after what the Time Lords did."
Daphne nodded, she wondered if Harry would ever take her to see them, she wasn't sure if she was ready for that sort of exploration.
"Dealing with Ginny, the original one on Gallifrey was a disappointment. She'd been there for at least a couple of hundred years, maybe closer to a thousand, kept alive through I don't know how, she had very powerful telepathic skills, like legilimency but highly powerful, I didn't expect that when she attacked me," he explained in a low voice. "Oswin was dealing with the files that the Time Lords had, she came in breaking whatever hold Ginny had on me, I shot her twice with a Time Lord weapon, vaporised her body," he finished. "Then Oswin and I hung around Gallifrey for a bit."
"Sight seeing?" Daphne teased.
Harry laughed. "A little bit, we were probably in the most danger ever on that planet, literally the enemy hanging out on the Time Lords' home planet. Had some tea," he paused. "It wasn't very nice, then got a lift away, and that's it."
"That's it?" Daphne wondered. "The highlights?" she queried.
Harry sat up to look at her, nodding. "There was lots of hanging out in the Timeship, being stuck on saucers, waiting around for stuff, searching places, being intimidated, feeling a multitude of dangers and a lot of other things," he paused. "But I've returned, not too much worse for wear," he said standing up. "Would you like to meet Oswin? She's become one of my trusted friends," he explained.
"Of course," Daphne rose from the sofa. "You speak so warmly of her I feel like I know the manner of her already."
Oswin Oswald stepped out of the Timeship into the afternoon sunshine, Harry was off to the side and introduced her to Daphne Greengrass.
"Harry's just been explaining what happened with you," she said as Harry gestured towards the dwelling to the side.
"So this is Earth," Oswin said looking around was they walked over.
"Tea?" Harry asked as he walked back to the house, an awkward air about him.
"He's worried," Oswin commented watching Harry's back as he hurried into the house.
Daphne Greengrass appraised her. "You've spent a long time with Harry," it was a question but framed within a statement.
"I don't have eyes for him, I mean, I've been watching his back, trying to keep him safe," Oswin began. "He does like throwing himself into danger a lot."
"He does like throwing him into danger a lot," the woman in the red dress, Oswin Oswald commented looking over where Harry had rushed off to make tea, he'd had an air of such awkwardness about him. It was something she'd not witnessed much. Only when Draco and Hermione had both attended his party, when Harry was playing host to both of them. The old and new friendships coming together and meeting anew.
Daphne gestured towards the house as the woman in the red dress followed her inside, she wanted to ask her a question, but felt it would be improper outside in the open. Then once inside she began "Harry said…" and then trailed off, unsure about the thing she was most intrigued by. "You have two aspects, one more…different than the other."
The woman nodded. "If you wish," she paused. "Just…" she trailed off as Harry came over holding a cup and mug.
Daphne turned. "Should I break out the fine china or are mugs still okay?"
"Mugs are fine," Daphne whipped around and stared, in front of her was a 'Dalek', she had seen enough iterations both in person and Harry's files to recognise this.
"Only biscuits, no cake," Harry continued in the same tone, only his eye line had changed, with him talking making eye contact with the blue lens.
"I can try a chocolate hobnob that you lamented you didn't pack," the voice was identifiable as the woman Oswin Oswald's, not really in pitch but, there was something. The lights lit up as she talked.
"I'll have a dig around in the cupboard then," Harry continued brightly.
Daphne turned as the kettle boiled.
"Little bit less intimidating, in the dress," the woman, in the red dress was now stood before her.
Daphne smiled with intelligence. "I understand why Harry found you intriguing, you protected him well."
Oswin sat down and leaned over to her. "Harry's been a genuine friend, and I always understood what he thinks of you, what you mean to him," the woman paused with a smile. "He never looked at me differently, with the bumps or the dress, he saw the same, that was hard to understand, for me to believe at first."
Daphne nodded and admitted. "I don't know how I can reconcile those forms, are you magical?"
The woman smiled. "Perhaps."
Daphne smiled. "Harry said he let himself be captured-"
"To protect me," she said in a small voice. "No one has ever done that for me Daphne, I…I don't know what to say, didn't know when he returned, when he was crying on the floor of the Timeship, it was…" she sighed. "He's a friend, a real, proper friend, sees the real me, from the start," she looked over to where Harry was fixing the tea things. "I met the Doctor once, before Harry and everything, and, not even he looked at me like Harry looks at me," she said in a small voice.
"How?" Daphne asked.
"As a person," she paused. "Admittedly when I met the Doctor I wasn't who I am now," she mused.
"Harry said you're…" Daphne paused, age wasn't really something mentioned in the wizarding world, not really unless you were amongst friends and family.
"Old?" Oswin laughed. "I've been around the block a few times, time is a bit of a joker, I've seen and experienced even more of it now thanks to him, it's been enlightening, eye opening and…just a wonder."
Daphne considered what she had said.
"Guess what I found in the cupboard; Jaffa Cakes!" Harry said as he came to sit down with them a tray following him resplendent with biscuits.
Daphne saw Oswin's face become animated.
"There's a bakery planet we visited after…" Harry trailed off. "The capture by the Time Lords, all it does is baked goods. Very neutral, war wise," his eyes lit up. "We'll have to go some time."
"Are you keeping the craft?" Daphne asked curiously between Harry and Oswin.
Harry shook his head. "Oswin's taking it."
"I am?" She looked at him surprised. "It's much more yours than mine."
Harry shook his head. "Too much of temptation Oswin, I didn't go travelling with the Doctor…" he paused and frowned. "Except when Draco and I got stuck with him, but if I have that access all of the time…" he shook his head. "There's still things I need to investigate here, I'm not sure I'd know how to just go exploring, I'm not the Doctor."
Oswin snorted a laugh. "No Harry, you're very much not."
Later when they'd finished their tea Daphne accompanied them outside.
"Did you want to gather everything from your rooms and lab?" Oswin asked.
Harry frowned and shook his head. "Can I leave it for a bit?"
Oswin nodded. "I can flip forward a few weeks."
"That's cheating and will mess up out relationship, time travel's already complicated, I'll just pop in and grab a few things, and you can head back to Dark Space 8," Harry said and looked to Daphne. "Do you want to come and have a look inside?"
Daphne looked to Harry, holding out his hand inviting her and shook her head. "Not yet Harry, I think, there should be some magic and mystery for us."
Harry looked to Daphne and nodded. "I'll just grab my coat, bag and the important things, the rest can wait."
Harry immediately felt a longing as the Timeship dematerisalised. He didn't like being able to see it dematerialise, they were always inside it when it did that.
But he knew he didn't want to just go for aimless wanderings, he was pretty sure the Timeship didn't have a random button in it.
It needed accurate coordinates, or hooked up to advanced scanning equipment to narrow their destination coordinates.
He still had plenty of plates in the air here which he'd left spinning before he'd departed, having the Timeship here would just add to the distraction.
Oswin too, they both had lives, and had been adamant that they wouldn't be breaking those off to go and live with one another. Perish that thought, as they'd both said to one another on the way back.
They'd had plenty of time to talk about all of this as they'd made their way cautiously back out fo the Time War, after encountering those revolutionary Daleks it had been pretty uneventful, the Timeship finding the correct routes to get them back to where they first entered the Time War.
It had been a relief to be back in the universe, outside of the war.
But all he'd really wanted was to be back on this single planet, in this single timeline.
No worrying about paradoxes, not concerning himself about the web of time, nor how he was going to despatch someone this time.
Thirteen times, that was enough for anyone.
He felt a presence behind him and tensed, before remembering when and where he was.
"I thought I'd leave you to see it depart," Daphne said, she'd not been there when he'd left Oswin to depart in the Timeship.
Harry turned wrapping his hands around her and bringing them down to her waist and lifting her up.
"Ooft," she smiled in amusement, as he brought her back down to solid ground and kissed her.
"I am glad to be back Daphne, have I said that already?" His smile dazzling on his face.
Daphne laughed. "Yes Harry, and it is good, you are back."
"As you told me, when, not if," he said smiling broadly.
A few days after he'd returned he called Ioan and Judith, to explain things.
Ioan hadn't wanted too many details, the gritty and grim elements of the Time War not something he wanted 'or need to know in my life, you're safe and well Harry', and that was enough.
He and Judith went for a walk around the paddocks around the house.
"You saw some shit didn't you?" she asked.
Harry nodded. "Tortured by the Time Lords, danced with Daleks-"
"Metaphorically?" She interjected.
"The latter, unfortunately not the former," Harry continued.
She put a hand to his and looked at him calmly, seriously. "There's not a lot who'd understand, but I do, if you want to talk about it…"
"I cried, I woke up shaking, but I got revenge," Harry paused.
"Vaguely satisfying but ultimately a bit underwhelming?" Judith asked.
Harry laughed. "I'm glad to have you as a friend Judith."
"One day you'll have to introduce your friend to me," Judith said.
"You'll either get on like a house on fire-" Harry began.
"Or we'll hate each other," Judith finished.
They walked on in silence for a while.
"What about your wizarding friends?" Judith wondered. "Deaths of their friends and family is not something most normal people accept, even in this way. It takes a certain personality like we have Harry to deal with this sort of thing."
"I'm seeing Draco tomorrow, I trust his judgement," Harry answered seriously. "He's the most mature of my wizarding relationships, he'll judge less than Hermione, I'm not sure what she'd say to me killing Ginny 13 times," he laughed a short laugh.
"Not if you say it like that!" She teased. "But seriously Harry, you take your time to get back to things, there's been nothing dangerous much in the few weeks you were gone," she said, her hand on his shoulder. "You need to decompress after a mission like this."
"More advice from your secret life?" Harry wondered.
"If I told you I'd have to kill you," she commented in a teasing tone.
"I've faced death and time Judith, and stared into the face of my torturer," Harry calmly explained.
"And what did you do?" Judith asked.
"Called him an idiot and dropped several saucers on him."
Harry walked up to the gates of Malfoy Manor, the last time he'd been here had been to rescue Draco through one of his cabinets.
They always met elsewhere, not here.
But he wanted to chat, somewhere easy, secure.
There was a pop of a house elf, who beckoned him in, and informed him "Master Malfoy was in the folly".
"I know where that is," Harry all but said as the house elf disappeared.
Draco Malfoy was hosing a piece of wood off with a spell and potion as he approached.
"Potter," he greeted as he approached "You look different Harry," his voice full of some concern. "What's happened."
Harry went to drag a hand through his hair. "Had a hair cut," he said, pausing. "Also I've killed Ginny 13 times, wanted to talk to you about it if that's okay?"
Draco Malfoy looked at Harry Potter for a few moments as he took in and digested what the man before him had said, then gestured through to the folly. There was a small drawing / sun room that he kept for times when he wanted to relax away from the work here.
"Shall I start at the beginning and you can ask questions?" Potter asked as he sank into a chair. "I've been explaining things to Daphne and Judith, Ioan didn't want to know a lot, but…" he sighed looking over at him as he pulled off his work jacket and gloves. Gesturing with his wand to pour some water from the waiting kettle into the pot.
"I wanted to tell you the gory details, because Draco, you're the one person I trust to understand this, and not pass too much judgement," Potter said as though a great weight was on him.
Draco knew the tea had gone cold as he listed to Harry Potter's tale.
The two of them had time travelled, they had had adventures with the Doctor, they had even attended a Convention, a peace conference concerning fantastical weapons and the fate of the universe. Not that he remembered much of it, but had thoughtfully recorded it all. 'Non-co-temporous activity' and 'temporal ley lines' were two phrases that came up in his diary from that time to explain it.
But this, this was another chapter and volume beyond anything. As he digested what he had been told he prepared another pot of tea for them.
In the ensuing silence his friend opposite continued.
"I didn't tell you I was going away," Potter sighed. "Because…" he shrugged. "Weirdly I felt like I needed to act on this, perhaps before I talked myself out of it."
Draco shook his head. "I do not need to be privy to all your machinations and considerations Harry." Leaning back in his chair he chuckled. "No one would believe you, and it is only because we have seen the fantastic and unbelievable, and that I know you Potter," he paused. "That Harry Potter, had killed Ginny Weasley, not once but 13 times, in 13 difference ways!" he leaned back laughing.
"A couple of times not even in very interesting ways," Potter commented idly.
It just made him laugh harder, gasping for breath as he did so, then, eventually he settled down and looked at Potter seriously. "And the torture Harry, did the revenge help?"
Potter nodded his expression shifting to grim amusement. "I enjoyed it Draco," he looked at him "I don't know what that makes me."
Draco exhaled a through his nose. "We're sometimes irrational people, making real decisions, real choices."
Potter looked at him curiously. "When did you get so philosophical?"
"I am a learned wizard of distinction Harry," he said sitting up a little straighter. "While I may seem to have a trade, I do spend my time also improving my mental capacities, some of our peers from Hogwarts you will find have stagnated."
"Outside of those I invited to my last party you mean?" Potter asked curiously.
Draco half nodded. "You're fortunate that those you have befriended are intelligent mindful people, a testament to the inspiring nature of wizarding education."
"I would point out that Hermione improved her education beyond that of wizarding realms," Harry added.
Draco held up a finger. "But she is employed and improving the magical world."
"I'll tell her next time I see her that you have such high praise for her," Potter commented with a smile.
Draco wrinkled his nose. "Tell Granger what you wish," he looked to his friend curiously. "Will you tell her of where you've been, what you've done?"
Potter leaned into the chair, and picked up his cup and saucer, breathing in the tea's steam. "What do you think I should do Draco? I've told you everything, I edited a few things for Daphne for brevity, after I came back, might explain some of the more mundane things later. Judith got the gritty highlights, and Ioan didn't want to know."
Draco mused and smiled at him. "It takes a certain person to take on the responsibility Harry, knowing that one person, or one weapon, can alter events. Knowing you, and knowing what you have done to protect us, not just against Voldemort, but Weasley in the past, you risked a lot. For this, you have gone beyond what anyone would consider required," Potter began to try and say something, Draco continued "Whether she was your responsibility is not my argument," he paused and smiled. "Few would find it as amusing as I," he paused. "Granger and I are different people, she has a muggle's sensibilities and sense of morality, not knowing what needs to be done."
"Are you saying I'm superior to Hermione?" Potter wondered in an awkward tone.
Draco gave a half shrug. "You've experienced more than even an exceptional wizard, I have seen that, even though we've travelled through time and space together, something I still consider a wonder that" he glared at Potter. "I cannot share with anyone, but is a wonder nonetheless. We are exceptional Potter."
"I'm glad to have intensified your superiority complex Malfoy," he commented back.
"I would advise caution telling Granger," Draco began, giving him a look "find an edited version of the truth that you can explain to her; an acceptable truth."
Potter sipped his tea, "Interesting that you would wish to spare her."
Draco shook his head, and then paused in thought. "Perhaps. It would be a fascinating experience to see your encounters with the various 'mad cows' Harry."
Potter looked at him surprised. "You're the first person to ask that, not that I've told many witches and wizards," he paused and gave a half shrug and looked to him "if you'd like."
Draco looked to him. "You're serious?"
Potter shrugged again. "Oswin had to sit within my mind to pull off the strategic trick, and I've had hyper intelligent Eight Legs and alien plants in my head, and as I keep saying Draco, I trust you, as odd as we both sometimes still find it," he let out a sharp laugh. "It's not as though I can go out for a drink and watch a Quidditch match with Ron and bring up 'oh, guess what Ron, sorry I haven't seen you for a few months, I've just been bumping off your sister, and 12 copies of her."
Draco looked at Harry, his tone was very darkly humorous, filled with sarcasm.
"I'm not sure what, if anything I will say to anyone in that family about this Draco," Draco didn't say anything, he just let the other man continue. "I'll tell the Minister it was dealt with, then feign ignorance if asked, for all they know Ginny went to work for the Unspeakables, atoning for her crimes."
"She went in willingly Harry, you were merciful more than once, in the past you could have let her die, and again in the present, she betrayed the wizarding world in the past, and you rescued our world, and it is unknowing of this," he paused. "I feel privileged to know you have dealt with a threat to all of us-"
Potter smiled at him. "That's sweet Draco."
"And that you've ridded the universe of several Weasleys," he laughed.
Potter glared at him. "That's less sweet Draco."
"Very few Potter, would describe me as sweet," he glared at the other man who laughed.
It smelt of mud and clay, there was a distortion in the air of energy weapons, a knowledge Draco had forgotten he had, those several days (or was it few weeks?) as the Doctor tried to return Harry and himself home to Earth had been a revelation of information and knowledge, the experiences however were such that he'd not really been faced with similar experiences.
A battle was raging and Harry Potter had already been shot several times.
And then there she was; Ginny Weasley.
"Who's the bitch in the red dress?" The question was directed at Potter's companion in said attire.
"Hi, Oswin Oswald, she's fruitier than I expected."
Draco had to smile at that assessment.
Then after watching Potter be beaten around by several blasts of unknown weapons the memory changed.
"I thought she was killed on the battlefield?" He asked Potter who had been standing back, allowing him to observe.
"I learnt after this that I couldn't rely on the Daleks to kill her, I needed to make sure. It couldn't just be a Dalek, they needed to obliterate her," he looked sideways at him with a dark smile. "One of the less interesting deaths we just blasted her location from orbit, got a sample to make sure she was dead."
"It's a pity no one will see this darkly humorous side to you Potter," he commented as he looked around the Daleks' craft.
As they exited the pensieve Draco stood back as Potter extracted his memory.
"I see, that was a engaging spat," he finally said.
Potter laughed. "How about you meet an older one, I quite liked her, probably says something about me."
The woman had platted hair down her back and stood in an almost regal way. The speed with which she moved was impressive, as was the spell that she fired at Potter.
Potter moved equally with speed to divert the spell upwards. However Draco couldn't help but wince as a lot of the physical spell impacted with a ferocity he'd rarely seen, the memory version of Potter winced at the impact.
Then Potter casually tried to break Weasley's legs, the casual way he cast such a violent spell still surprised him, that someone so unassuming could act in such a casually violent manner. If he hadn't known Potter for these last few years he would have been shocked.
As the two wizards flung spells at one another mostly wordlessly he turned to man himself, not the memory.
"You're very proficient, as was she," he praised.
Potter nodded. "I've not been as introspective with these memories," he said looking around. "I became more careful to keep a few Daleks around me, an attack squad makes one feel a lot better.'
"400 years, I found this project, abandoned by the Arcalian Chapter."
Draco stared at the woman, the memory of her.
"She was doing remarkably well for that age, wasn't she?" Potter said behind him.
"You enjoyed bantering with her didn't you?" Draco asked, in an almost teasing tone.
Potter laughed. "Yes," he answered honestly.
"She is mad," Draco couldn't help saying.
"That's what I thought, seen enough or do you want to get to the end?" Potter asked.
"And then after this, that led onto being captured by the Time Lords," Potter said as they exited again, he looked at him seriously. "I won't let you see that Draco, it's not something I particularly enjoyed."
Potter wasn't looking particularly tired, but he felt it, these strange locations Potter had shown him, it barely scratched the surface for what he had experienced.
"If I had not taken a step through that cabinet, seen Hyspero, travelled with the Doctor, albeit for that short time Harry," he shook his. "I'd think you were madder than her."
Potter smiled at him. "Do you think I'm mad, or dangerous?"
Draco shook his head. "You're more capable than most people expect of you, maybe Harry than you think yourself."
He nodded, but didn't say anything more except to offer to go back in. "Would you like to meet the Eight Legs of Metebelis III? I quite enjoyed their planet, what the Time Lords had done, not so much, I won't show you that…I…that distressed me."
The tone Harry's voice took on when he said that, that left him with concern.
"Do you wish to stay Harry, in the folly, not the house, rather than driving one of your conveyances home?" He offered to his friend, Draco knew venturing through one's memories was a tiring endeavour, especially such ones of intensity.
Harry Potter beamed a smile at him. "Do you know Draco, I apparated here, no conveyance anywhere."
Draco laughed. "You're behaving like a proper wizard!"
Potter shook his head. "I thought I'd respect your home, not barging in, especially as I wanted to talk, friend to friend."
Draco laughed. "That we are friends still amuses me, not as much as your 13 deaths of Ginny Weasley, but" he looked to him. "I think that is a comedy few people will find amusing and something only you and I would Harry."
"Perhaps Draco, perhaps," he said. "I think I'll head on home to a bath, it's something I've strangely missed, the Timeship only had a shower."
"Yet the Doctor's TARDIS held large bathing facilities," he observed. "Your Timeship is more specialised?"
Potter nodded. "Oswin's got it for now, I'm not sure I wanted it, within easy reach all of the time, I still have things to worry about here Draco, friends and foes and other things to concern myself with."
"So you're not going to take up as some sort of inter-temporal wizard?" Draco challenged playfully.
"Not unless you're going to come along for the ride," he teased.
"Never Harry, I don't wish to be involved in any of it," he shook his head. "Come, I'll walk you to the edge of the grounds.
Potter tilted his head. "I could probably leave from here, I've become quite adept," he said.
Draco looked to him and gestured. "Outside the folly Harry, I have complex wards and charms within."
Outside Potter closed his eyes for a moment the smiled to him.
"We'll have to catch up again Draco, less weighty topics next time," then he disappeared without any sound.
Draco chuckled to himself, strangely that man, who had just casually chatted about murder, destruction on a scale he couldn't fathom had become more of an adept wizard than he'd started out, and a friend, strange as it was.
Apologies for the long delay of this chapter, it's been in my 'to edit' folder for a long time, waiting for future chapters to be written so I've got a steady amount of chapters to post.
But 2020 wasn't great for my creativity if I'm honest (or even my attention span for editing).
This chapter ends the Time War arc, although its effects on Harry will continue into the coming chapters as he decompresses from the Time War. He's a different man to the one who went in, even after the Eight Legs and Amarylls helped him out. He's still carrying a lot.
I've also posted a new story, which is a spin-off from Visited by a Doctor.
Visited by a Doctor - The Missing Shalka Adventures is an 8 chapter story which covers the couple of weeks Harry and Draco spent travelling with the Shalka Doctor between chapters 52 and 53 of Visited by a Doctor. It was my 2020 goal to get it written as it'd been on my to-write list for a long time.