The golden hall was designed to bring awe to the hearts of those who walked into it. It was huge, full of fireplaces and doors. At the centre - a water fountain. It had changed somewhat over the years. Several years ago, it depicted a wizard and a witch, standing at the centre, adored by magical creatures such as centaurs, goblins and house elves. Only a couple of months ago it showed something else entirely - a witch and a wizard, trampling those who were deemed inferior, and the words 'Magic is might' carved next to them.
Now, the fountain at the entrance to the Ministry of Magic was just a fountain. No statues decorated it, no lies were told and no dishonest depiction of reality was given. Whether it would stay that way or be replaced by something else in the future, no one knew. But the Minister for Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt, had ordered both the old and the new depiction removed. It is time, he said, we be honest with each other. Not everyone liked that insinuation. Not everyone approved of what some were whispering was a grovelling in front of Muggles, Muggle-borns, or inferior creatures. But so far no one dared say a word, and for now that was the best anyone could ask.
Alfred, the security wizard at the entrance, gave the fountain one last look, then turned back to his newspaper. No one else was in the hall. Usually it was busy at all hours, until the very last of the Ministry's employees left home. Today, of course, was different. Anyone who was anyone already arrived an hour ago, to catch the best seats. All the Ministry's employees were down in the Department of trials had got a lot of attention, and no one wanted to miss them. Everyone wanted to see justice served. Some said everyone wanted to see revenge - these were the exact words the Minister for Magic had said that morning to Arthur Weasley as the two came to work. But Alfred didn't agree. And if they were after revenge, so what? Alfred had lost his job for a whole year because of those Death Eater scum, and he could do with a little bit of revenge right now.
All of a sudden, a weird whizzing sound was heard throughout the hall. Alfred raised his head in surprise, but didn't see anything. He didn't notice that in the far corner, where before there was nothing, there stood a blue box. He didn't even hear footsteps, until the wizard was right in front of him.
"Visitor?" he grumbled, not bothering to raise his head from the Daily Prophet.
"Yes," said the visitor.
"I'll need to inspect your wand."
"Of course," the wizard said, and handed it over. Alfred put it in the scales, and took out the note. "Holly and phoenix, 11 inches?"
"Yeah, that's mine," the wizard said.
"Alright, then, I'll just need you to sign this - " he shoved the note towards the visitor - "this is yours, this is mine, very well, go on then."
The wizard went through into the Ministry. Alfred looked at the note for a second, and the signature on it. He raised his eyes in surprise just in time to see a man with untidy black hair going in the lift. "Hey - wait - !" he called, but Harry Potter was already gone.
His destination, as Alfred had guessed correctly, was the courtroom in the Department of Mysteries, where the most recent of trials was taking place. Even though every chair was occupied, the room was completely quiet. All eyes were fixed on the young man with blond hair who was sitting on a chair at the centre of the room, his arms and legs chained.
"Mr. Malfoy," said the wizard in front of him. "We have now finished reviewing the case against you. Unless you have any more witnesses to call, this court is ready to pass judgement." A small muttering went through the crowd. They were all staring intently at the accused. No one had heard the great doors being opened.
And then, everything stopped. "Wait!" they heard a voice, and Harry Potter walked into the courtroom. The murmurs continued, much stronger than before, and accompanied Harry all the way to the stand. But as he got there, everyone fell silent again, watching him intently.
"Ah, Mr. Potter," said the prosecuting wizard. "We have been expecting you, as per the summons."
"I am not here to testify for the prosecution," Harry said. The entire room seemed to hold their breath.
"I beg your pardon?" asked a Wizengamot member.
"I am here to testify for the defence," Harry said. The courtroom became a cacophony of voices, excited, angry, disappointed or relieved.
"I'm sorry, I must have misheard," said another member. "I thought you said you were going to testify for the defence?"
"Yes. Draco Malfoy was indeed a Death Eater - " murmurs spread again throughout the room, and Harry had to raise his voice, "but there are things you need to know."
"Such as?" someone asked coldly, and Harry turned to the source and recognised Lavender Brown, her face still bearing the scars of her encounter with Fenrir Greyback.
"Some things about choices," Harry said pleasantly. "If I may speak to the court?"
The Trial was over, the verdict given, but Draco Malfoy was still sitting in his chair. Security wizards surrounded him, as he was no longer chained, but made no effort to escort him out. Even they looked too scandalous to remove their prisoner back to his cell. Usually, the verdict of a Death Eater would be accompanied by hisses and boos, but this time, the audience said nothing. They were too shocked, shocked by the testimony they had just heard as well as by the person who carried it.
Draco himself didn't seem to see anyone, just stared at the space in front of him. Harry was not even sure he understood what had just happened. He approached the chair. "You're going to be alright?" he asked quietly.
"I can survive three months," Malfoy said quietly, without emotion.
Harry nodded, and turned to leave.
"Potter," Malfoy called. But as Harry turned back towards him, he did not seem able to say a thing.
"You're welcome," Harry said, and rushed towards the exit, where a tall figure in a long brown coat could just be seen leaving.
The Doctor, of course, was waiting for him across the hall, next to his blue box. He wore one of his big, mad grins, but one of his genuine ones, not those that were trying to hide the pain. At this moment, he was truly happy. Harry started to think he might understand this, after all.
"You did good, Harry," the Doctor said.
"He didn't deserve a life time in that place," Harry said simply.
"No," the Doctor agreed. "He didn't. Some people aren't going to be happy with you, mind."
"Who cares? I'm Harry Potter. Right now I can do whatever I want."
The Doctor burst in laughter.
"Well," Harry corrected himself, "almost everything."
Still smiling, the Doctor took a wand out of one of his various pockets, and handed it over to Harry. Harry looked at it with hesitation, but didn't reach for it. "This is yours," the Doctor said. "Found it on the Tardis floor."
"Keep it," Harry said immediately. The Elder Wand remained for a moment between them, and then the Doctor took it back and put it in his pocket. "Practice some more magic," Harry said absent-mindedly. "Who knows, maybe in fifty years you'd be able to conjure up a Patronus?"
The Doctor snorted. "With my luck, it would be a robot dog."
Harry had a feeling there was more to this comment than the Doctor's usual cryptic nature, but chose not to comment about it. There was something more important to ask. "You're leaving, then?"
"Things to see, the universe is waiting no one!"
"Except the man with the time machine."
"Well, maybe," the Doctor conceded.
"You'll be alright?" he asked, and could almost believe the Doctor's smile when he said "I'm always alright."
"And what about you?" the Doctor asked.
Harry thought this over for a moment. "Yeah," he said finally. "I think I'll be alright, too. In the end."
"Yeah," agreed the Doctor. "I think you would. Anyway! Time to go."
"Will I ever see you again?" the question escaped Harry before he had the chance to think it properly, but he was not surprised to discover he really did mean it.
"Of course you will! Life like yours, how could I resist?"
"Watching over me?" he raised an eyebrow.
"Well, someone needs to," the Doctor pointed out.
Harry was quiet for a moment. He thought of a redheaded woman who shone like the brightest star for a moment, and was now lost forever. He thought of nightmare creatures roaming around the universe, and fights that never end. He thought of a planet burning, and of yearning and sadness that could destroy anyone, even wise aliens. "And who watches over you?" Harry asked.
The Doctor didn't answer. Instead, he turned to the Tardis, and opened the door. "Goodbye, Harry Potter," he said.
He waited until the blue box disappeared, and the corridor was quiet again. Only then did he cross the hall to the lifts, and went back home.
There were many stories of aliens in the next several years, stories told by Muggles and wizards alike. Most people didn't take them seriously. After all, everyone knew that aliens were the stuff of books, of television and of people's imagination. It wasn't serious. It wasn't real.
Just like magic.
When spaceships started falling from the skies, and alien life visited Earth openly, the wizarding world was just as baffled as the Muggle one. The Daily Prophet had released a series of articles, trying to claim it was all a hoax some unwise wizards were playing on the Muggles. The Muggles, on the other hand, blamed everyone but the real culprit - the aliens. And Harry Potter followed all these news reports, to the exasperation of his family and friends. What are you looking for? they asked, but he didn't answer. He just scanned photographs, television reports and stories, and they shrugged it off as one of those weird habits of the famous Harry Potter. And at night, he would get out and look at the sky, wondering whether today was the day. He would scan the sky, then go back inside, and hug his kids and give a kiss to his wife, and when they would ask what he was doing out there, he would say in his maddening cryptic way that he was watching for a small, blue box.