South Bank of the Thames Warehouse District
Hermione Granger took in a deep breath to keep her emotions in check. It had been two days since the Death Eaters had attacked the restaurant. Two days since the Doctor had turned himself over to the enemy without warning. She had tried to apparate back to the restaurant after the Doctor had let go of the portkey, but Jack had stopped her by stunning her with his sonic pistol. When she had woken up (and after she had killed him twice) Jack explained to Hermione that the dinner, letting Malfoy escape, and the Doctor's capture was all part of the Doctor's plan. Jack refused to tell her anything else about the plan, no matter how strongly and violently she tried to get her point across. He only told her that the Doctor was counting on her to save him when the time was right.
Ace saw Hermione leaning against the dirty brick wall of the alley where the Death Eaters had apparated in at. She placed her hand on Hermione's shoulder to comfort her. "Are you alright, 'Mione?" she inquired softly.
Hermione dragged herself out of her memories and looked over at Ace, a single tear at the corner of her eye. "I keep running things over in my head, and I can't figure out why the Doctor did what he did. Why surrender himself to the Death Eaters and why make my parents and I watch him do it?" she spit out angrily.
Ace thought back to her time spent traveling in the TARDIS. "Just when you get comfortable with the Doctor and forget he's not human, he goes and pulls some stunt that no human would ever consider," she said, letting Hermione know she had felt the same thing on many occasions. "When I travelled with him, he was a master manipulator. He may look like a young man in his mid-twenties now, but he's really an alien with an extra two centuries of experience manipulating things from when I last saw him," she pointed out. "You either accept the fact that he will never be human and love him anyway, or you leave him and try to move on with your life," Ace said bluntly.
Hermione turned to look into Ace's eyes. She saw hurt and regret lingering there. "Is that what you did?" Hermione asked for clarification.
Ace couldn't take the look Hermione was giving her and looked down at the ground in shame. "I know he loved me as a daughter and I loved him like the father I never had. In the end I left because I believed he only saw me as another chess piece to be used in his battle against the darkness," she admitted. Ace looked up again and Hermione saw the older woman was crying. "It was only after I spoke with Jenny and learned about the Time War that I realize the Doctor, my wonderful Professor, had manipulated me to the very end. He must have seen where things were headed with his people and the Daleks. He wanted me to be safe and manipulated me into leaving him so I wouldn't feel like another father had abandoned me," she sobbed.
Ace took in a cleansing breath and it was her turn to stare forcefully into Hermione's eyes. "I've never seen him look at anyone or love someone like he does you. Don't let him trick you into leaving as well. He needs us… he needs you most of all," she said firmly. "I don't know what the Professor has cooking, but you can bet that whatever it is, he's doing his best to protect us," she reminded her friend. Hermione let go of her anger which opened the release valve on her other emotions letting her truly cry for the first time in two days. Her emotional release was just winding down when Tonks apparated into the alleyway.
"Hermione… Ace, you have to get back to the mansion. That strange metal dog of yours has been asking for you. He says it has to do with finding the Doctor," Tonks told them. Hermione grabbed Ace's hand and side-along apparated them both back to the Black mansion. Tonks nodded her head when she saw the other women leave. She closed her eyes, concentrated on the Black ancestral home, and apparated back herself.
******River of Magic******
12 Grimauld Place
Hermione ran from the designated apparation point just inside the front door to the main floor sitting room. She found the others standing in a circle around K-9. The robotic dog lifted its head when Hermione entered the room. "Mistress!" he said almost happily. "48 hours has passed since the Doctor entered a time delayed message into my memory banks. The time limit has expired and I may play the recording for you," he told Hermione. "Shall I play the message, Mistress?" K-9 inquired.
"Yes, K-9, please do," Hermione said quickly.
A blue light shot out of the beam emitter at the end of K-9's snout. A small, blue hologram of the Doctor appeared. The Doctor was bent over as if he had just pressed a button on K-9. The hologram Doctor stood up straight and pleaded, "Help me, Obi-wan Kenobi, you're my only hope!" The hologram blurred and stretched up until it was the same height as the real Doctor. The blue shading was gone and the old alien was now represented in full color. He was staring at a blank piece of wall in front of him. "Sorry, about that, but I just couldn't resist," the Doctor chuckled. Hermione silently cursed herself for suggesting they watch those movies in the TARDIS' giant rec room in the first place.
"Hermione, if you're seeing this, then I've gone and done something that on the surface looks terribly daft," the hologram said.
"You could say that again," George snorted.
The hologram paused for a moment and then spoke again. "Thank you for that vote of confidence, Fred. At least I hope it's Fred. You see, I've got a 50-50 chance on this one and I'm only guessing. Once you lot have rescued me, I'll be interested in finding out if I picked the right twin," he rambled. "Sorry, I'm getting sidetracked. Where was I?" he asked rhetorically. "Oh yes, why I did what I did. As you have probably already guessed Hermione, the fact that the Valeyard is a potential future me makes me a sort of Horcrux for him," he explained. Hermione winced as the concept she had tried hard not to think about was thrust into the light. "I have a plan that will enable us to use this to our advantage. I had to use you and your parents to make sure the Brickyard didn't suspect I had orchestrated this. I'm sure Mr. Malfoy came up with a very heroic story about how he escaped, so I'm not worried about the other side catching on from him," he said. "Jack and K-9 have the key to finding me, Hermione. That leaves only one thing for you," he said. The hologram turned to face directly at Hermione. "Be brilliant, my love, just like you always are!" he told her with a wink. The hologram faded from sight leaving the room in silence.
Hermione spun around and pointed her wand at Jack threateningly. "Start talking or I hex your bits off!" she demanded.
Jack stepped forward and put his hand on the end of her wand, pointing it towards the floor. "I love it when a sexy woman starts getting all dominant with me," he said getting a slight chuckle out of Hermione. With the tension eased, she holstered her wand and waited for Jack to explain. "The Doctor shared with me his plan from the beginning. I passed along a ring to him that my friend John Hart gave to me. This ring gives off a very unique pulse of tachyons making it easy to locate with the right equipment," he told her.
"That's just great, but where are we going to find a 4 dimensional tachyon tracer in this century?" Ace moaned.
Jack pointed down at K-9. "Beginning sweep for the presence of counter balanced tachyon pulse," the robot dog stated in response, it's ear like scanner arrays swiveling from side to side. After a moment, K-9's ears stopped moving. "Pulses identified with general locations," he announced.
"Locations? As in more than one?" Hermione asked.
"Affirmative, Mistress," K-9 replied.
Jack smacked his forehead with his palm. "Sorry, I completely forgot about that," he muttered. "K-9, ignore the pulse coming from Cardiff. Focus on the other signal and pinpoint its location," he ordered. He saw Hermione was looking at him and he shrugged sheepishly. "I forgot there was already a previous version of the ring at Torchwood 3," he admitted.
Ron scratched his head and uttered, "Huh?!"
"Same ring at different points in its personal timestream," Rory explained. "Just do what I did and try not to think about it too much," he suggested from experience.
"Location triangulated to within plus or minus 1 meter," K-9 suddenly announced.
"Where is he?" Amy and Hermione asked in unison.
"The Doctor is…" K-9 tried to reply. "The Doctor is…" he tried again. "Forgive me, Mistress, but something is interfering with my ability to tell you where the Doctor is," he told Hermione.
"Is this something else the Doctor setup? If it is, Voldemort won't have to worry about killing him, because I'm going to do it myself!" Amy snarled, angry at getting so close to finding out where her best friend was only to be stymied.
K-9 rolled in a small circle so he was facing Amy. "Negative. An outside force is interfering with my ability to report on the Doctor, or more precisely where the tachyon ring, is," K-9 stated.
Sirius sank down into the couch against the far wall and rested his forehead on his hand. He tried to massage away the headache he was getting. "Any bets on whether or not old snake face has the Doctor holed up somewhere behind a fidelius charm?" he asked no one in particular.
"I'm sorry, but what's a fidelius charm?" Rory asked.
Harry had spent many hours researching the spell that led to the false sense of security his parents had before they were murdered. "It's a spell that keeps a location a secret. Unless you're told the secret of where it is by the secret keeper the caster chooses, you will never know where it is, even if you've been there a million times. Even if you know the secret, the spell keeps you from telling anyone else where it is," he explained.
"OK, but how does K-9 know where this place is?" Rory pressed. Harry shrugged his shoulders to let him know he didn't have an answer for that.
Hermione thought about this and then looked down at K-9. Everything clicked when she thought about how literal the magical community as a whole could be. "The spell was designed to keep people from learning where a location was. K-9 can locate the ring because he's not a person, he's just a robot. No offense, K-9," she stated.
"None taken, Mistress," K-9 replied.
Hermione smiled as the answer to their problem solidified in her mind. "K-9, I just want to make sure I'm clear on things. You know where the Doctor is but an outside force is keeping you from telling us exactly where," she paraphrased.
"Affirmative, Mistress," K-9 stated.
"Are you able to tell us where the Doctor isn't? For instance, is the Doctor in this room?" Hermione asked.
K-9 replied immediately with, "The Doctor is not here, Mistress."
Hermione nodded in satisfaction at K-9's answer. "Good. I want you to project a map of the British Isles in white with the locations where the Doctor isn't represented by blue dots," she commanded.
K-9 used his beam emitter to project a floating map of the British Isles. A single blue dot appeared over where they were. Soon, blue dot after blue dot popped up on the map leaving the map almost completely blue. Sirius stood up from the couch and looked questioningly at the map. "I'm sorry, Hermione, I don't see how this will help us," he told her.
In reply, Hermione said, "K-9, invert colors and have the base map flash 4 times a second." The map switched colors and a tiny area in Southwest England near Wiltshire flashed blue.
"Well I'll be a mangy mutt," Sirius swore. "My cousin Narcissa and her pieces of dragon dung husband and son have a manor in that area. Considering I can no longer remember exactly where that snake pit is, even though I've been there several times, means it's under a fidelius charm. My guess is they have the Doctor in the dungeons of Malfoy Manor," he said with a mischievous smile, his Marauder blood stirring.
Hermione smiled back at Sirius and then turned to look at Harry. "Now all we need is someone who knows the ins and outs of Malfoy Manor," she suggested.
The smiles were contagious and Harry soon sported one of his own. "Dobby, we need you!" he called out in a loud, full voice to the empty air.
******River of Magic******
Malfoy Manor, Wiltshire
Cold water being splashed in his face drug the Doctor back to painful consciousness. Voldemort had given his followers permission to torture the Doctor, but had left them with specific instructions as to not leave any permanent physical damage. That pretty much left only the cruciatus curse for the unimaginative Death Eaters. Every muscle in the Doctor's body ached from the marathon cruciatus session the Death Eaters had subjected him to. His lower lip was swollen and split from where he bit into it during one of the spells.
The Doctor looked up to see who had thrown water on him. He wasn't surprised to see Voldemort's boot licker, Wormtail holding the pewter goblet. "The Dark Lord wants you to be awake for the entire ceremony tonight," Wormtail said, almost apologetically. He had been on the receiving end of more than one of his lord's cruciatus curses and was impressed by how the Doctor had retained his dignity throughout all of the curses.
The mention of a ceremony made the Doctor look around the room. The center of the dungeon / wine cellar had been cleared out and in the center stood a cauldron large enough to stand in bubbled with a sickly green concoction. The Doctor watched as Wormtail absentmindedly rubbed his silver hand every time he glanced at the cauldron. Motion from the other side of the room made Wormtail flinch as his master's "pet" snake slithered into room.
Nagini made her way across the floor and stopped in front of the Doctor. She raised her triangular head a few feet off the ground as she studied the prisoner. Her forked tongue shot out several times to taste the air around the strange enigma chained to the walls. He smelled similar enough to her master to confuse her. She continued to stare at the Doctor, trying to make sense of things.
"Glad she's finally staring at someone else other than me for once, even if she isn't looking at you like your on the menu," Wormtail admitted.
The Doctor managed a small smirk. "Oh that's right, your animagus form is a rat, isn't it?" he asked rhetorically. "Rather fitting considering how you betrayed Harry's parents. Eating you would be too quick of a punishment for turning on your friends like that," he chided. To show she knew they were talking about her, Nagini turned her head and hissed at Wormtail before going back to staring at the Doctor. For his part, Wormtail scampered back several feet in case the giant snake finally decided to eat him.
"That's interesting," the Doctor mused softly. He had felt a slight disturbance at the edge of his consciousness when Nagini had tormented Wormtail. Closing his eyes, the Doctor reached out with his mental senses and felt an echo of sorts coming from the snake. "Go ahead and eat him," the Doctor suggested. Nagini gave no indication she had even heard him.
"Nice try, Doctor, but unless you speak Parseltongue, I doubt that horrid creature would do as you as say," Wormtail informed him.
The Doctor cocked his head to the side in thought as he dug into his long memory. Parsel was the name of the scientific community just outside of the Silurian capitol before the reptile race had gone into hibernation. The scientists from that village had been the ones responsible for the tinkering with mammalian DNA that lead to the rise of the humans. Feeling he had nothing to lose, the Doctor decided to try and speaking in the dialect the scientist caste spoke in. "I'm sssure he tastessss even better than you've imagined," the Doctor suggested. Nagini cocked her as she listened to the man who smelled like her master. His speaking seemed very old fashioned, but she was able to understand him. One more thing to add to why this prisoner could be her master in disguise. She turned her head towards Wormtail and flicked out her tongue, wondering if this strange version of her master was right. She had longed to taste the corpulent rat ever since she had first laid eyes on him.
Wormtail heard the Doctor speak Parseltongue and his blood froze. When Nagini turned her head towards him, the rat man lost control of his bodily functions and soiled his robes. The warm wetness sliding down his leg brought some level of rationality back to Wormtail. "Gah! Now I have to go find new robes!" he moaned. Wormtail glared at the Doctor defiantly and spat, "Just to give you something to think about, the ceremony tonight will be quite painful for you." Nagini hissed once more at the rat man and he scampered off to go find some less filthy robes.
The huge snake slithered closer to the Doctor causing the echoing feeling to grow stronger in his mind. Realizing what it probably meant, the Doctor hissed, "Come here you gorgeussss thing. Let me get a better look at you." Nagini complied and slithered even closer to the Doctor. When she was close enough, she flicked out her forked tongue to taste the skin on the back of the prisoner's hand. The instant her tongue touched the Doctor, Time appeared to stop in the dungeon.
Nagini was gone to be replaced by a flickering and somewhat out of focus version of the Doctor's sixth life. The man was average height with bushy, blond hair. He wore a jacket made of panels of several different colors. Where the panels had been bright and bold in real life, this version had panels that were grayed and subdued. The sixth Doctor looked around the room and then at the eleventh Doctor who was still chained to the wall. "How pathetic! How in the name of the Vortex did you let us slip so low as to be held prisoner in a dump like this?!" the sixth Doctor demanded. His face contorted in pain as his image flickered out and then back into view.
"If you don't mind me asking, but what's wrong with you? The other soul fragment I spoke to seemed much more solid," the eleventh Doctor asked politely.
The sixth Doctor winced again as he fought to stabilize his form. "So you know what I am? Good, that means I haven't become too much of an imbecile in my old age. To answer your question, the idiotic human half of my being split our soul into too many pieces. He meant to have six vessels and the seventh piece reside in our body," he replied. "As you should remember from our 5th dimensional manipulation classes, seven is a very important number. Unfortunately, my conscious mind hadn't caught on to the fact that we made an unintentional one in the boy the night we royally screwed the Dalek and got ourselves blasted into non-corporealness again. When he put me into this… this… thing… I became the eighth fragment, completely ruining the balance. I shouldn't exist, but I do and it's quite painful," he informed the real Doctor.
The eleventh Doctor sighed as his fear about Harry was confirmed. To destroy the Valeyard / Voldemort for good not only would Jenny have to lose her father, but her lover as well. "Knowing you like I do, I'm pretty sure that mentioning we have fallen in love again and have a daughter wouldn't be enough to convince you to let go of your hold on existence," he surmised. The shade of the sixth Doctor only scoffed. "But I wonder how you will react to knowing that the real you gave his life willingly to stop the Valeyard," he mused.
"What?! Why in the name of the Vortex would I do do something as foolish as that?" the sixth Doctor shouted. His anger caused him to flicker even more.
Taking a huge gamble, the eleventh Doctor replied, "Come here. Relive my memories, the real ones - not the ones created by the High Council - and see why I always look back at you with a mixture of sadness and pride at how brave you were." The sixth Doctor took a step forward and slowly reached out his hand to touch his other self on the forehead. The eleventh Doctor closed his eyes as he brought up his last memories of his sixth life to the front of his mind.
The eleventh Doctor open his eyes when he no longer felt the other one's touch. The sixth Doctor standing in front of him still flickered in and out, but the colors of his coat had regained their once brilliant hues. The shade smiled slightly through its pain. "Knowing I once died valiantly to stop the evil that I could become gives me the strength to do it again," he said serenely. As he faded from sight for good, the sixth Doctor said, "Give them hell for me."
"I will, I promise," the Doctor replied to the snake that was shaking its head as if to clear it. "You sssshould go lie down and ressst," he suggested. Nagini nodded her triangular head and slithered off to a corner to sleep off her headache.
The Doctor wasn't given that chance as the door to the stairs boomed open and Voldemort strode in. His followers flowed into the room behind him and formed a circle around the cauldron. Voldemort looked at the chained Doctor and bowed to him. "I'm so glad you decided to stay and partake in tonight's festivities on tonight of all nights. Had you not destroyed our home, our cousins in the House of Lungbarrow would be celebrating Other's Day tonight," he stated. Voldemort tapped the Doctor's forehead with his wand causing confetti and multi colored streamers to fly around the room. "Happy birthday, Doctor and happy re-birthday to me," he whispered to his younger self.
Voldemort spun around and addressed his followers. "Tonight you will witness my ascension to my rightful place, a true god among men," he decreed. "Because of how truly momentous this occasion is, I have asked my most faithful and true follower to perform the ceremony," he said.
"Thank… thank… thank you, my lord," Wormtail snivelled as he wrung his dirty hands. He started to walk forwards, but a strong yet feminine hand restrained him. He spun around and saw Bellatrix was wearing a brand new black gown for the evening.
"Not you, you piss covered fool," Bellatrix hissed. She shoved Wormtail behind her and walked with her head held high to stop in front of her master. Bellatrix bowed until her forehead touched the ground. "I am and forever will be yours, my lord," the entire room heard her say.
Voldemort gently touched Bellatrix's shoulder and said, "Rise my servant. The one who has never forsaken me or given up on my return." Bellatrix stood up, her eyes gleaming with pride. "Begin the ceremony," Voldemort commanded.
Bellatrix nodded her head and walked over to the cauldron. She held out her hand and one of the lesser Death Eaters gave her a battered, old recorder. The Doctor recognized it as the one he used to play during his second life. "Relic of the past, unknowingly given, you will renew their bond," she incanted and then dropped the musical instrument into the cauldron. The green mixture began to bubble with large, slow bubbles.
The Doctor looked over at Voldemort, his eyes full of questions. Voldemort pointed at the the jacket laying at the Doctor's feet. "You really should go through those extra-dimensional pockets more often," he responded.
Bellatrix waited for her lord to stop speaking before continuing the ceremony. "Flesh of the servant, willingly given, you shall restore your lord," she said evenly before jabbing her long, talon like fingernails into her right eye socket. Bellatrix gripped with her fingers and yanked her own eye out, the optic nerve still dangling from it. She dropped the eye into the cauldron, causing the mixture to start swirling around on its own.
Holding a bloody cloth against her face, Bellatrix walked over to where the Doctor was chained to the wall. The Death Eater next to the Doctor handed a wicked looking serrated knife to Bellatrix's free hand. The Death Eater flunkie then rolled back the Doctor's left sleeve, leaving his forearm bare. "Don't… you don't really want to do that," the Doctor plead. Bellatrix sneered at him and drew the knife along his entire forearm, coating the blade with his blood.
Bellatrix held the knife triumphantly over her head as she and her Dark Lord strode to the cauldron. Chanting in almost religious ecstasy, Bellatrix finished the incantation with, "Blood of the enemy, forcefully taken, you will allow the Dark Lord to regain his true birthright!" When she was done speaking, Bellatrix tossed the knife into the cauldron. As soon as the Doctor's blood touched the swirling, green mixture, the potion took on a golden hue. Wispy tendrils of Vortex energy flitted out of the cauldron.
Voldemort pulled back the sleeve on his right arm and dunked his thin, pale arm into the potion. The vortex tendrils coalesced and snaked their way up his arm to his chest. As they crawled higher on his body, they glowed with a stronger light. When the tendrils reached his chest, the glow was so bright that the Death Eaters had to turn away. The bright glow pulsed with first a two beat rhythm and then shifted into a staggered, four beat rhythm. The glow contracted slightly and then exploded outwards, washing over everyone in the dungeon. The Doctor cried out in pain as his future lives became locked with the Valeyard once again.
Once the flash was gone, Voldemort turned to look at Bellatrix. He drew his wand, pulled the bloody cloth away from her face, and touched his wand to the gory cavity in her face. "Challata kovarian," he incanted in low Gallifreyan. The spell stopped the bleeding and caused a dark, metallic eye patch to form over her eye socket
A second flash of magic lit up the dungeon drawing everyone's attention. Instead of coming from the cauldron, this time it came from an empty cell next to the Doctor. Brilliant flashes of light accompanying high pitched cracks flew out of the doorway into the main room. Several of the Death Eaters were struck and crumpled to the ground, unconscious. Voldemort looked at the doorway and saw the Mudblood and a man who looked completely wrong to his restored Time Lord senses fire sonic pistols into his Death Eaters. A house elf escorted by the boy raced over to the Doctor and cut him free.
Bellatrix "saw" through her new eye patch the magical signatures of the team trying to rescue the Doctor. She instinctively knew this was but one of the many extra gifts she had gained through her sacrifice. Bellatrix focused on the strongest magical signature and threw one of her concealed throwing knives at it. Her blade would have sunk into the chest of the house elf if the man with the blue coat hadn't dived in front of the little creature, sacrificing his life for its.
Jack fell into a heap at the Doctor's feet, a knife sticking out of his chest. A house elf the Doctor had never met before placed one hand on the Doctor's leg and one on Jack's shoulder. Harry grabbed one of the elf's shoulder while Hermione grabbed the other. When they were all touching the elf in some fashion, they disappeared with a flash of light.
******River of Magic******
12 Grimauld Place
After appearing in the main floor sitting room, Hermione grabbed the Doctor who slumped into her arms. She eased him into a seated position on the floor. As she sat him down, Hermione heard the Doctor whisper to himself, "Got him right where I want him."
Dobby looked around the room to make sure everyone was going to be alright. He plucked out the knife from the fixed point's chest and tossed it aside, knowing the oddity would be alright soon. When Dobby finally managed to look at the Doctor, he stopped and stared, his jaw hanging open. Dobby crept slowly forward, never taking his eyes off of the "young" man slumped in Hermione's arms. When he was close enough, Dobby reached out a long, bony finger and poked the Doctor in the chest. Dobby poked the Doctor a second time to make sure what he was seeing was real.
Everyone expected a similar reaction like Kreacher out of Dobby. They weren't expecting the strange house elf to shriek in joy and throw his arms around the Doctor. "Dobby knew it, he just knew it. Even if all of the other halfs from the elves were made to be gone from this universe, somehow Dobby's Theta would find a way to survive," he sobbed in joy. Dobby cocked his head to the side. "Dobby doesn't understand how Theta is still whole, but Dobby doesn't care. He has his Theta back," he said happily.
"How… how do you know that name? Only my two closest friends called me that. Drax and …" the Doctor said, letting the second name be unspoken out of respect for his best friend who became his greatest adversary.
Dobby stepped back and smiled at the Doctor. "Dobby knows he looks different from when they last saw each other and that Dobby hasn't seen Theta since they were eight years old, but Theta and Dobby used to play together in Dobby's uncle's orchards when they were boys," he reminded the Doctor, letting him know who he had been before being ripped from his non-magical half when he had been forced to look into the Untempered Schism.
The Doctor's mind and body had both been assaulted too much over the last two days. The last thought he had before slipping into unconsciousness was imagining Dobby wearing a black suit and a rubbish, black beard.
THE END of River of Magic: Hermione's Song Book 2
Coming soon - Requiem of Sacrifice: Hermione's Song Book 3