Alright, I probably had a reasonable excuse for not having this chapter up in July, but it's November now and my excuses are about as flimsy as tissue paper soaked in hydrochloric acid.
So I shall leave the author's note here, apologize profusely, and just get on with the chapter.
~~~This is a Beginning~~~~
Uther organized the rescue party in record time. It had taken a number of his personal guards to convince him that he should stay behind and keep the city safe. They couldn't afford to lose both the heir to the throne and the king on the same day. Uther grumbled his way through half-hearted threats at the Doctor to bring his son back alive before he whirled around and headed towards the castle.
Merlin looked at his King's retreating back with sympathy. "Uther is very protective of Arthur, for all the freedoms the boy receives. His wife's death hit him hard and he wasn't quite prepared to raise a child. Igraine was the more grounded of the two. Arthur has always been a bit of an uncooperative child. I can only hope that he has kept a level head on his shoulders." Merlin looked at the Doctor, eyes drawn and concerned. "Do you know for sure why these beings took Arthur?"
The Doctor shook his head. "There are a few possibilities, none of which are very comforting. The Time Tree seed means that any number of beings could have come here from your future, and Earth has its share of enemies. Many know the history of the planet better than most who live on it. It wouldn't be hard to pinpoint Arthur as a turning point in Earth's history and a galvanizing force who united much of a disparate Europe under one banner and set a precedent for future rulers. By removing him from the equation, the future of Earth could look very different."
"You have high opinions of such a young, headstrong boy," Merlin commented.
Rose grinned. "You should see what role you play in the legends, Merlin," she said.
Merlin's eyes widened. "Please don't tell me, I shudder to know my fate."
"But, you're the most powerful magic user! How could you not want to know?" Harry asked.
"One day, you too shall know why I do not want to know the future of my life. There is a kind of power in that knowledge I do not wish upon anyone. How you can travel so freely through time, I do not know. It is is a strange thing, knowing the future of a place you are visiting, knowing that every person you meet is dead in a time you just left, or not yet born. There is a queer uncomfortable feeling, knowing you have knowledge of everyone's future here. I don't know how you deal with it.
There was silence filled with the rustle of tack and horses moving about.
Harry stood off to the side as the groomsmen and horse handlers got everything ready, pondering what Merlin had said. He had never known another kind of life. It was the lot of people to live and die, making their impact where they could, ruling, serving, fighting, helping. He lived travelling between events, hopping from one person's rule over a large kingdom to the largest war in the universe to the funeral of a prominent writer his dad loved. He saw these events so they could be witnessed and not forgotten, so they could be cherished or reviled. He didn't know how to live in one place. He didn't remember much of his life before his dad adopted him.
He tugged on Rose's shirt as she passed by him to pick up another pack. "Rose? What's it like, to live in one timeline? I can't really ask dad cause he's almost always lived in the Tardis, but you grew up in London in the late years of C.E. 1900, right? And then again in the alternate universe. You lived there for a really long time."
Rose stared down at Harry, the Doctor's son. His wide green eyes were imploring her for an answer to something she hadn't really thought to quantify. She had only traveled with the Doctor for maybe three years. A bit longer possibly. And nothing like what Harry did. Harry didn't know anything but the Tardis. He had grown up in the fantastical environment she had stumbled upon when she was 19. He took for granted what she had delighted in discovering.
She cast her mind back to the Tardis as it had been when she had first walked aboard it. Amazing in its impossibility. Fantastic in its depths. Wonderful in its design. Stepping out the door into something new each time. How she felt whenever she woke up knowing that there would be a new adventure outside that blue door.
Alright, maybe not the best comparison. She took a deep breath. "Well, I slept in the same bed every day, woke up and ate breakfast in the same kitchen, took a shower in the same bathroom, and hugged my mom every morning as a child. There was the same couch in the living room for years and even in Pete's world, I kept a lot of the same furniture my mom had after she died."
Harry nodded, frowning. "Well, I have the same room cause the Tardis likes knowing I'm comfortable, and there are only a couple different kitchens and the library is mostly the same."
"The Tardis is your home, Harry. I suppose the main difference is that your front door opens to much different places than mine. Mine opened onto the same walkway every day. I had the sun where as you have the Tardis to wake you. A home is a home, Harry, no matter where or when it is. You just have a much more fantastical home than most people do." She smiled as Harry nodded. "Alright. I'm going to help finish loading up the horses. Let me know if you have any questions. We'll have plenty of time on the ride."
Harry grinned. "Thanks Rose!"
"You're welcome Harry. Now, come help me with these. We should get on the road before noon hits so we can get some distance before night falls."
Harry trotted after Rose, helping her with the remaining packs before approaching the horses.
"Wow, they're so big up close," Harry whispered.
Rose giggled. "Have you never seen a horse?"
"Well, not a proper Earth hose, no. There are a few species that are horse-like, but they're the rulers of a large empire so not really the same thing. Pictures and vids don't do them justice."
"So this will be your first time riding one," Rose commented. "I'll tell you now, they are very very bumpy rides if you've never done it before."
Harry grinned. "Fun!" Rose shook her head. "Dad! I get to ride a horse!" Harry called over to the Doctor.
His dad looked at him. "Well, let's make sure you don't fall off too many times, yeah?" his dad yelled back. Harry nodded, before gripping what part of the saddle he could reach and hauling himself up.
Well, sort of. He got stuck partially up and hung awkwardly in place, his horse was, fortunately, a very patient animal who merely flicked an ear back and neighed. It helped that Harry was a rather light package.
Rose giggled at Harry's predicament. He was so tiny that his lopsided attempt at getting into the saddle barely budged the saddle and he hung there for a moment, an awkward insect clinging to the animal. Then she took pity on him and boosted him up into saddle, adjusting straps to make sure they fit and wouldn't come loose when they started moving. Harry looked around, eyes wide.
"Everything's so much smaller up here!" he said beaming. Rose smiled. "I mean, I know it's just perspective, but still. It's amazing!"
"Are you sure he should be riding by himself? If he's never been on a horse before we can't be sure he'll be able to keep up," one of the knights pointed out.
Harry turned to look at him. "Sir...whatever. I am perfectly capable of learning whatever I must to ride on my own. I am small enough that we can also use my horse to carry extra weight without burdening another horse. If it takes longer than we expect, we should need it. Also, I need to practice my magic. Doing so in another's saddle would be uncomfortable to both of us. I shall manage."
The knight looked him up and down, scrutinizing him. "Well, you've got the right attitude. Just don't expect anyone to patch you up when you fall off her. At least, none of the knights. My men are better served as guards than child-keepers."
"How old do you think I am, Sir Knight?" Harry asked, his voice tight, unsure whether he was being made fun of or not.
"Old enough to have a mouth my mother would be appalled at," he answered with a grin. "I like you boy. Keep an eye on us knights and you should pick up a thing or two about sitting a horse. It's more than sitting in a saddle."
"I've read about it," Harry admitted. "Never ridden a horse in real life but I know the theory. My name's Harry, by the way."
The knight laughed. "It'll be an experience. And your name's been bandied down the ranks."
"What's your name, sir knight?" Harry inquired.
"I am Paskal of Camelot. Grew up on a horse. Just remember, your aren't heavy enough to have as much control as is ideal. Use the reigns, though Marigold is a placid, well-trained horse used to children. Got her name from her first owner, a young girl in a noble family. Marigold will pay more attention to the surroundings than you will at first, so listen to her, and she'll follow the group's lead as well, so you shouldn't have too much trouble keeping up with us. Most of it is going to be balance. Keep your back straight." Paskal looked around. "We have a bit of time before we need to set off. Let's get you used to the saddle and Marigold here."
Harry blinked, then grinned, nodding. "Sure. What do you want me to do?"
Paskal pointed at a fence at the far side of the field they had been making ready in. "See that? Walk Marigold over there, stop, turn her around, and come back. It'll give me a good eye for what you have an instinct for."
Harry looked at the fence. "Okay." He gathered the reins and tapped Marigold's sides with his heels. His horse flicked an ear back at him, amused, but docily started in the direction Harry had started to direct her toward. It was harder than he thought, tugging gently at the reigns to let her know where they were heading.
"Harry, don't pull the reins too much. They hurt her mouth if you do. Gentle pull and light pressure from your foot on her side. There you go. Now, stop her. Pull the reins back together, gently. Not hard. Yes. Turn her all the way around. Sit up straight, we don't want you falling out of the saddle just yet. Alright, trot. Click you tongue, tap your heels a couple time on her side, yes, there you go...woops." Paskal started laughing.
Harry had followed his instructions well, but the moment he had eased Marigold into a trot that first upward movement of the saddle sent him slipping sideways out of the saddle and onto the ground. He glared up at the knight who was helping him. "Oh, be quiet. It's my first time."
"Sorry little one. It's hard not to chuckle. Everyone falls out of the saddle, it's more a matter of when than if. Glad we found out now, though, and not heading out the gate. Alright, go grab your horse and bring her to the fence. You can remount her there. From the left side Harry. Don't want to startle her, though I doubt Marigold here is startled by much. Alright, back in the saddle. Try that trot again. There you go. Find the rhythm. Ride with the horse."
Paskal led Harry through a few more exercises, watched the boy fall off a couple more times, then declared him at least not incompetent.
They rejoined the group just as the last of the knights was mounting. Harry felt far more secure in the saddle now that he had taken a couple practice runs and squirmed with excitement. They were off to rescue Arthur!
His dad pulled his horse, a gray-mottled beast with a black nose. "How'd the lessons go?" his dad asked.
Harry grinned at him. "Not bad. Paskal's pretty awesome. Though falling off hurts more than I thought it would. Horses are taller than I thought they would be." Harry looked at the ground, a good four or five feet away.
"Well, at least I don't have to worry about you falling off too often while we ride. It seems like our good knight put you through a good run." The Doctor looked at his son closely. "Don't worry, we'll get Arthur back in one piece."
Harry sighed. "And here I thought I was hiding my worry." He looked at his dad with a wry grin. "It's just, he wouldn't have been there at all if I hadn't persuaded him to come down with me. I just feel a bit at fault. I know they would have gotten to him in any case, but it would have been harder and Merlin or you could have stopped him first." Harry shrugged.
The Doctor reached out to clasp Harry's shoulder. "Just remember, he'll be fine. Merlin can trace him and we'll do everything we can to make sure he doesn't get hurt. And Arthur's a strong kid. He'll keep a solid head on his shoulder."
~~~~~This is a Scene Break~~~~~
The boy in question was currently enjoying the feeling of soft ground under his feet. After his strange and terrifying flight, he never wanted to experience it again.
The strange knights who had taken him never spoke again. When they landed, Arthur got a look at their surroundings. An abandoned castle. Not that old, but undoubtedly empty of inhabitants. Well, except for the knights who had locked him into a room on the fourth floor. A room whose only windows were narrow and impossible to climb out of. He couldn't even fit his head into it. He sighed. Well, so much for escaping that way, though he wondered what he would have done if he had been able to get out. It wasn't like there was anything in the room to help him scale the side of the castle.
He leaned his head against the stone wall next to the tiny window, hoping the Merlin would find him soon. He didn't know why he had been taken, where he was, who had taken him, but he didn't know if he wanted to find out. He didn't think they had taken him just for their amusement. And that scared him. He had been raised surrounded by plots, hearing about planned assassinations, treachery, all manner of different things that would be expected in a large kingdom. He now felt like he was at the center of one of these and might never see the light of day except through the slits in the wall.
The door swung open, slamming into the wall, and Arthur jumped, turning around. Then he blinked, rubbed his eyes, looked again.
The thing standing in the doorway was not human. Not remotely human. It looked more like a horse, some manner of horse, though not that either. It was black completely black, with long arms that bent strangely. It's eyes, four of them, stared at Arthur, and Arthur stepped backward quickly, trying to find someway to make himself smaller. Though the thing was huge, taller than most of his horses by half.
"Arthur Pendragon. I expected you to be twelve feet tall and glowing from the way the legends paint you." The being's voice was deep and with a strange accent. It didn't move into the room.
"How...how do you know who I am?" Arthur asked. There were probably more important questions but that was all Arthur could think about. How did this thing know who he was?
"All of history knows who you are. Your name heralds the coming of the Empire, it built the foundations upon which the human race created itself. It united a disparate race into the empire that formed the basis of a universal power. You are the beginning of it all, and without you, the human race may never reach its potential." The thing, being, whatever, spoke without inflection, though Arthur wasn't sure if that's just how they spoke.
"But...but I'm just a kid. I've never done anything that you said. Nothing! How can I? I don't know what that means anyway."
The being tilted its head. "That may be, but that doesn't mean you can be forgiven for the crimes your existence perpetuates."
"What do you mean? What are you?" Arthur yelled as the being started to close the door. It looked back at him, blinking its eyes slowly.
"I am part of a race that no longer exists. Your future progeny saw to that." Then the door shut firmly behind him, and he heard the sound of the lock being slid into place. He wasn't going anywhere in the near future.
He slid down the wall, looked up at the stone ceiling. Just what did that mean, he was a herald of an empire? He bet Harry would know. But Harry wasn't here, and he was as alone as one could get.
~~~~~This is a Scene Break~~~~~~
They had slowed down into a walk to rest the horses when Harry managed to get Merlin to start teaching him. Well, sort of.
"Alright. I would normally say start by finding your magic, but since you already found it, the next part would be consciously willing it to do something. Yes, I remember your little lights from before, but I'm sure that most of the magic you do is based on your moods rather than any kind of control. Magic is finicky child, you need control." Merlin looked around, then grabbed a leaf of a low hanging branch as they passed. "Start with this. It will give you a physical object to focus on. I want you to make this leaf hover just above your horse's mane."
Harry took the leaf, eyes narrowing. "Really, just...make it float?"
Merlin raised an eyebrow. "Is that too difficult? I can choose something less complicated."
Harry quickly shook his head. "No, no, just, it sounds so easy…"
Merlin covered a smile. "Well, try it first, then tell me."
Harry took the leaf and reached for his magic. It wasn't hard, and the energy came to him with nary a hesitation. The leaf was soon hovering in the air. Then Harry passed it and whirled his head around to look for it. He frowned, beckoned, and the leaf floated over to him. He pointed, firmly, where he wanted the leaf to go, and it seemed to slink back to its appointed spot.
After a few more tries to get it right, the leaf was floating just above Marigold's mane and Harry was grinning. "That was fun."
Merlin had watched the whole affair with an amused smile on his face. Harry was certainly not the most conventional of magic users. "Now that you've figured out how to direct your magic, we're going to try and use a light charm. It creates a small orb of light. One would normally use a wand or a staff to do this, but I imagine that you may never really need a wand. In any case, this spell uses latin as its base and is a spoke spell, though eventually you may be able to not say the word at all. The word is 'Lux', meaning…"
"Light, or shine, or a number of synonymous words. Are you really telling me that most spells are just direct words from Latin?"
"No, many use Celtic tongues or Greek, some take their root from French and I have heard tell that spells in the Eastern parts of the world use languages that are native there. Many times, the words are a focus. For longer rituals or complex spells, the words provide a grounding force for the magic. It is the meanings of the words that are important. I am sure you could say "Light" and have a light, but there is power in older tongues. English is still a newer tongue. It doesn't have as much impact on magic is Latin or Celtic."
Harry frowned, thinking this over. "So, the words are important in so much as their symbolic meaning to the person. With words like light, float, come, leave, stay and the like, they're pretty easy to just visualize since they have similar meanings to everyone. But with other words, like morph or transform, or rituals, they have to be word-specific because people have different ideas of what they mean and to direct the energies properly without words would require a great deal of focus most people don't have. I don't get the languages thing though. Why should it matter? There are millions of languages across the universe, why does it have to be older Earth languages? If you really wanted to go old languages, you have to go back before humans had multi-syllabics and used a mixture of primitive sounds and gestures to communicate. Or the whistling languages, which are rather melodic. I should try it with those when I learn how. But really, Latin? Celtic? Greek? They're all fairly new on this planet…." Harry sighed, waving a hand around. "Must be some strange tradition. I'll do some research on it later."
Merlin had listened to the boy's dissection with mild amazement which turned into confusion. He looked at Rose, who rode nearby.
Rose laughed. "He's the Doctor's son. It's only expected. Between the two of them, I'm sure they could have an intense, multi-day discussion as to why magic users use latin and still not come to an agreement on the source, then they would go travel to the source and argue with them. I've watched it happen once with the Doctor. I'm sure his son isn't that much different."
Merlin shook his head. "I don't think I'm going to teach Harry many things, if he can deduce so much from a small lesson."
"Don't sell yourself short, Merlin. Harry here still needs to know a lot. Just because he's smarter than most his age doesn't mean he doesn't need to learn things. Take it a few steps at a time. Harry loves learning. I've watched him devour books in a day just to find some small fact." Rose smiled at the man. "He's also still eight and likely to do whatever you tell him to."
"Thank you, Rose. I shall abide by your words." Merlin turned to look at Harry, wondering if the lad had heard the conversation.
He hadn't judging by the frown of concentration on his face. The leaf was still hovering where Harry had set it before and the boy himself appeared to not be aware of the world around him. Merlin cleared his throat. "Harry." The boy remained motionless. "Harry, are you paying attention? Harry? HARRY!"
Harry had drifted off into his own world for a few moments, and only the shout of his name roused him out of his thoughts. "Huh? Oh, Merlin. Where were we?"
Up ahead with the knights leading the party, the Doctor was engaged in a spirited discussion about the merit of finding one's way by using the stars and how humans came to look so avidly up at the night sky in the first place.
Most of the knights had decided to studiously ignore the Doctor by falling back or heading forward, leaving only a couple new knights to listen to his wandering thoughts on the bright lights in the night sky.
"You know, you humans have been looking up at the stars for millennia! Finding patterns, giving them meaning, drawing pictures and charts and mystical concepts about them since you could pick up a charcoal stick. Half your planet's religions come from the stars and their are others are derived from those. It's really quite fascinating. To be honest, a good number of the stars you see in the sky have already burnt out, hundred of years ago, but light can only travel a certain distance in accordance with the laws of generally accepted physics, though there are a number of ways around that. For instance…" the Doctor paused, looked around, then sighed. "I suppose this doesn't mean very much to you, does it?" he asked the two young knights still riding near him.
One shook his head. "I'm not too sure what you're talking about anymore, sir."
"We said we can use the stars to make our way home in case Lord Merlin were lost to us, and you started on about religions and laws and I was lost," the second young knight said.
The Doctor sighed again. "Well, it can't be helped. I'll just teach you about stars then."
The two knights exchanged wide eyed looks, but were saved from having to find out what that meant when Rose pulled her horse up next to theirs. "I hope he hasn't been too much of a problem."
The first knight, dark haired and eyed, blushed and shook his head. "No Lady, not at all. He was telling us about the stars."
Rose raised an eyebrow, looked at the Doctor. "Really now."
"They started it," the Doctor said.
"You sound younger than your son, Doctor. Now, ride with me a while. I was watching Harry and I think you might enjoy the lessons as well."
The Doctor perked up at that, then dropped back to listen in on Merlin's tutelage. The two young knights heaved a sigh of relief.
"Alright Harry. Light shouldn't be a hard thing to conjure. It is a physical manifestation of your magic, so rather than enacting a change on another thing, you are forcing it to act upon itself. The strength of the spell is inherent in your control over your magic." Merlin raised his hand. "Like so. Lux." A small orb or white light popped into existence, hovering over his hand. "You can place the light anywhere. It is your magic, in essence, so it listens directly to you. It's one of the simplest but most best spells for young mages to practice. Speaking the words is best at first, especially for one with as much power as you have. It acts as a focus for the raw magic."
Harry nodded, then lifted a hand. "Lux," he said firmly, pooling his magic in his palm and impressing the idea of light into it.
The resulting flash of white light blinded him, Merlin, and Rose. The Doctor had figured something like this would happen the moment he heard "physical manifestation of your magic" and had looked away when Harry started to concentrate.
"Well, I think the problem here is too much magic, Merlin, wouldn't you say?" the Doctor said, grinning as he turned back to look at his son, Rose, and Merlin. Then pulled his horse up short. "You alright Harry?"
Harry glared up from the ground, having fallen out of his saddle after the flash of light blinded him. "Shut up dad….whichever one you are…." Harry glared between a few different spots. "It was a mistake."
The knights had stopped as well, hiding snickers or not bothering. Harry groaned, climbed to his feet and dusted himself off.
"Well, I suppose we'll have to try another approach," Merlin mused. "Back in the saddle, Harry. We don't really have that much time to lose."
Harry found a log to stand on to remount, glaring at his father. "If you knew that would happen, why didn't you tell me?" he grumbled, pulling himself into the saddle.
The Doctor grinned. "Well, I figured you would have more fun this way."
"Yes, I love falling out of the saddle and blinding myself."
Merlin looked at the Doctor. "How did you know?"
"Well, you said that creating light was a physical representation of ones magical energy. In most people, their magical energy is either too controlled to produce any more light than they want, or too undeveloped to create much more than a flicker or a small glow. With training, one tempers it. Harry here, with his absolutely absurd pool of magical energy and absolutely no control, would undoubtedly have a scale of magnitude larger reaction."
Rose laughed, still trying to get the spots out of her vision. "You could have warned us anyway," she said, chuckling.
"Where's the fun in that?"
Merlin sighed. "Well, I supposed light spells are out of the question for now. I suppose we will concentrate on cultivating control. With that amount of energy and a lack of control, I can see you being a nightmare for any teacher you may have in the future."
Harry slumped in his saddle. He supposed all the fun spells were now off his 'to learn' list.
The group made good headway until the light started disappearing. Merlin offered to light the way for them but Rose made the call.
"Alright, while I'm sure Merlin could provide enough light to get us safely through the trees, I am not sleeping in the saddle. I would also like Harry to get some sleep as well. The knights, while I'm sure all of them would protest, could do with some rest. We'll stop in the next clearing and decide how we're going to go about this from there."
No more than ten minutes later they found a clearing, a well used one in the stacks of wood off to one side and an obvious fire pit were anything to go by. They dismounted and the knights started to unsaddle the horses and brush them down. Rose walked down the line and checked for bugs, ticks, and stones.
"Where'd you learn how to do that?" the Doctor asked, peering over her shoulder.
"Oh, here and there. I took a few years leave and ran away from cities. Lived in the mountains of Mongolia for a while. Some of the herdsmen taught me about animals. I managed the basics of it all well enough, but most of their kids could ride circles around me, so I stuck to taking care of them." Rose pinched and pulled a tick out of one of the horse's coats. "Animals don't much care who you are so long as you treat them right, so it was nice to get away from the curious looks of my coworkers."
"That's where you learned how to ride as well?"
"Mostly. I knew how already, but there is an art to it that I picked up." Rose glanced at the Doctor, looked over his shoulder, frowned. "Should Harry really be following the knights into the forest?"
The Doctor looked over to his son. "Harry, stay in the clearing for now, alright? We've got one missing child, let's not make it two."
Harry turned wide green eyes on his dad. "Come on dad!"
"It's already getting too dark to see. The knights can take care of themselves. It's wolves or bears I'm worried about, or any other number of creature." The Doctor raised his eyebrows and Harry slumped, sighed, and headed back towards the circle where Sir Paskal was lighting tinder and setting some wood to blaze.
"Alright, the knights and I will take shifts on watch while you all get some sleep after dinner. There's some rations in the packs. Any of you know how to cook? Cause if not, you're getting knights fare and all we're good for is burning water or burning bread."
Rose sighed. "I guess I'll be doing the cooking. Let me see what you have." She climbed to her feet and followed the knight to his packs. "Better then the Doctor giving it a go and blowing up the pot. Harry's probably not much better then him."
Harry stuck his tongue out at Rose's back before helping his dad set up the sleeping rolls. It wasn't too cold out and the sky was clear (Merlin said he sensed no rain coming in) so they weren't putting up any covering. Which was nice. Harry liked to stare up at the stars.
"Dad?" Harry looked over his shoulder.
The Doctor turned, looking at his son from over his glasses. "Yes Harry?"
"I was wondering, who did you take me from? When I was a baby? I don't really remember much. We've been going over magic all afternoon and I wondered if my birth parents had the same problems as I did, or what happened to make me that way."
The Doctor turned around completely, a soft smile on his face. "Well, I suppose now's a good time as any to tell you about them. Not much else to do until tomorrow. You're old enough to ask the question, you must be old enough to hear the answer." Rose walked over, a pot in hand. Inside were carrots, onions, potatoes, a couple apples, a round of cheese, a flagon of wine and a small box. "Ah, is that dinner?"
"Eventually. Apparently it's Friday and they don't eat meat on Fridays. Looked appalled that I even asked." Rose rolled her eyes. "So it'll be vegetable soup whenever I get done with it. Though they have a supply of spices so at least there's that." She looked between Harry and the Doctor, noted the curiosity in Harry's face. "Something interesting being discussed?"
"Oh, Harry was asking about the people I took him from, his parents. He's decided to ask, I can answer."
"I remember him telling me his parents were killed," Rose said, pulling a knife from within the pot.
Harry nodded. "Yeah, dad told me that much after I woke up from a nightmare once. I was little, so I don't quite remember, but I don't suppose it's something you completely forget either."
"Ah I see. Well, don't let me interrupt you. You mind if I listen? If not, I can go somewhere else to prep."
Harry waved a hand. "Nah, you're fine. It's more of an interest than something personally important." He looked at his father.
The Doctor smiled. "Well, I suppose I should tell you that their names were James and Lily, and they loved you very much. So much so that your mother's death helped fuel some magic that protected you from the man that killed her. His name is Voldemort…"
Harry snorted. "Wow, really? Mangled French?"
The Doctor shrugged. "It's less important that he had a predilection for ruining other languages and more important that he was a terrorist, of sorts. From what I learned, he was a student or a follower of another evil wizard who helped fuel the second world war on Earth in the mid 1900's. He was an orphan, raised in difficult circumstances, and hungry for power. When he got it, he used it to terrorize a good portion of the United Kingdom right before you were born. He was afraid of dying, and he did whatever he could to stay alive, seeking immortality. A prophecy…"
This time it was Rose interrupting. "A prophecy? Those are real too?"
The Doctor shrugged. "I feel like they're a possibility of the future as glimpsed by those sensitive to time energy. Not a set in solid future, and not very clear. But to those that hear them, especially from Harry's birth era, they were seen as absolute truth, so more often than not they became self-fulfilling. Rather than act as a warning for danger, they were acted upon as if fact. Which led to the situation Harry's parents found themselves in. James and Lily were part of an organization that fought against Voldemort. He attacked them, acting on what he knew of the prophecy, and killed James and Lily, marking Harry." He gestured to Harry's forehead.
Harry flipped his hair up, going cross-eyed as he tried to see the faint lightning bolt scar he knew was there. "Ah, so that's where this is from. Some magic he used."
"Indeed. Though I haven't managed to figure out what he did, I did scan you not long after you came onto the Tardis. There's something else there, concealed within that scar. I blocked it off so it didn't have access to your mind, but we'll have to deal with it soon."
Rose blinked. "So, Harry's parents were like freedom fighters?"
The Doctor grinned. "Yeah, something like that. After they were killed, the headmaster of their school and the leader of their organization took Harry to his office. They had some kind of contingency for Harry, but it fell apart. You were supposed to live with relatives, but they were killed in a motor accident in London. Everyone else was devastated by the fighting and the loss of loved ones and couldn't care for you. Dumbledore, that's his name, the headmaster, contacted me. I met him once before, before I met you Rose, and he struck me as a very fascinating individual. Since electronics don't work very well with magic, or conventional ones don't, ones native to your time, Rose, I gave him what amounted to a beacon. Press it, I can latch onto the signal."
Harry listened with rapt attention. "So, the headmaster just handed me over to someone he didn't know? I mean, I'm not complaining, you're my dad, but what if you weren't you? What if it was someone else?"
Rose nodded. "He's far more trusting than one would think. I mean, I watched you changes bodies and didn't trust you. He never even saw that and still gave you a child."
"Gave might not be the best word, but I never regretting taking Harry. But you'll come to find that those who practice magic tend to take a lot of things at face value. I think he believes I'm a very powerful wizard who doesn't care for destruction and can alter reality at a snap of my fingers."
Harry snorted. "The universe would be doomed if you had magic, dad. You do enough damage with just technology."
"I can just see it now. Entire planets turned into banana farms, any weapon now a banana. It would be…" Rose shook her head. "There aren't words for it."
Merlin, finished setting up his bedroll, came over to join them. "So what are we talking about?"
Harry grinned. "How my dad got me. Apparently magic people in Earth's future are entirely too trustworthy. The headmaster, I'm guessing of Hogwarts or another magic school of the era, gave me to my dad without even knowing who he was."
Merlin blinked, frowned. "Really now? That was most irresponsible of him. Where were your parents?"
Harry shrugged. "They were killed by an evil wizard terrorist person. I'm sure I'll learn more at some point, but I'm not even allowed to visit near my birth time stream. Too close to events or something. I've never been to the late 20th century or early 21st of Earth's history, except to Torchwood and then I'm not even allowed to leave the base. I wonder how Arthur could deal with being surrounded all the time. I'm just lucky the Tardis is huge and I can escape to wherever I want, so long as I haven't upset her recently."
The Doctor grinned. "I'm sure that you'll have plenty of time to spend wandering around the late 20th century soon enough."
Rose raised an eyebrow, dropping the rest of the vegetables she had cut up into the pot and sitting it over the fire, waiting for it to boil. "What do you mean?"
Harry waved a hand absently. "I'm supposed to go to Hogwarts or some such when I'm eleven, have to stick to the timestream and all that. Don't see why, seeing as how I've heard better things about Diagon57 in the late 50th century."
"You're going to be going to Hogwarts, Harry. I'm sure we can discuss this in depth later. And I'll take all complaints then too. Though I will say that we can stop off on Diagon57 sometime soon. Not a bad place to introduce you to magical culture and it'll be the first time I'll be able to actually get onto the planet," the Doctor grumbled the last part.
"You mean you can't even get onto the planet?" Rose exclaimed, stirring in some of the herbs.
"Well, not really. They've got some kind of force field that recognizes whether you or someone on your ship has magic in their blood. Family of a magical is welcomed, though they have to come with the magical or be given special permission prior to coming. Apparently I'm not magical enough. Never been able to set so much as a sneaker on the planet before. Or done much more than glimpse it from high orbit." He shot a look at Merlin that seemed to be at once amused and disgruntled. "You magicals and your strangely placed paranoia. It's not often that I can't get somewhere. With Harry on board it shouldn't be a problem though. He's so full of magic he can't perform a light spell without blinding everyone in the vicinity."
Harry glared at him. "Thanks dad. I love to be reminded of my failures." Harry shifted. "Will I be able to do anything besides simple movement spells? I mean, I know how to move things, I've been doing it longer than I can remember."
"Yes, I know. I saw your amazing display before. But while I'm sure you could do just about anything you put your mind to, can you do it when you don't really need to? Can you do something because you want to, or because someone asks you? Magic is a wondrous and amazing thing, but while it is a part of you, it isn't as easy as using your eyes, or ears. It is another kind of sense, but is more like walking or cooking. Some are better than others, but in the end, everyone has to learn the basics, learn to walk before they run. There are many branches of magic as well, such as potions, warding, enchantments, runes, rituals. These require something more than just an abundance of magic." Merlin smiled at Harry. "There is plenty for you to learn, you just have to make time for it."
Harry grinned. "Well, at least I know there's a ton more out there then just what I heard from Rowena and Sal and Helga and Godric. Never afraid of study, me."
"So, Merlin, I was under the impression that you have a tracking spell of sorts on Arthur. How does that work?"
Merlin straightened. "It is an enchantment, to be more precise. It is similar to a pointing spell, though it works at much farther ranges than a simple pointing or tracking charm and lasts for a good deal longer. Mine last about a week before they start to fade, which is twice as long as the conventional one lasts." He frowned and worried the hem of his robes. "Though it has a range on it, I was sure that Arthur would never be that far from is quite a long ways away, especially since I lost track of him mere hours after he was taken. He definitely was taken this direction, though I am hoping we find him in the next five days. The enchantment will wear off by then. If I get within range of Arthur before the enchantment wears off, I will be able to follow it to his location. Assuming no one has removed the charm."
"Ah, yes. Well, I am sure that whoever took Arthur has neither the means nor the capability to do such a thing. In fact, I'm fairly certain they don't believe in magic." The Doctor pulled out the sphere Harry had found. "This seed is evidence that they aren't from this timeline. Most probably the future, and maybe a goodly ways off. If so, it could be any number of races that wish the human race never reached space. Hampering their past would only help in that respect and Arthur is very important to the foundation of the future."
Merlin frowned, tapping his fingers under his chin. "So, you say these….androids, you called them, are from a future timeline in which humans reach space. Space being?"
Harry pointed upwards. "Among the stars, the planets. Humans achieve spaceflight in the mid 20th century, but it takes nearly two centuries for them to reach interstellar flight. That's when the trouble starts. Humans have never been overly considerate of other peoples. With the desire for resources and conquest leading the charge, many planets and cultures were devastated by human interference, especially those unable to fight back. While numerous positives also occurred side by side, it is hard to discount the destruction much of the early parts of human space travel were littered with."
Rose frowned. "Surely it can't be that bad."
"It was, is, will be, Rose," the Doctor verified. "Humans in many ways are extraordinarily unique amongst sentient species. Fragile creatures without obvious means of fighting, not particularly intelligent as a species, no inherent advantage. Yet still, they became an empire, one of the largest in the universe, in just a few millenia. Many species are curious, violent, driven, ambitious, creative, that is not unique. But humanity took it to its absolute limits, broke them, and began inventing new ways of expressing things. In the process, they touched thousands of cultures and species. Humans have a way of...not being forgotten, whether for good or ill."
"Then whatever took young Arthur wasn't human, nor is it from this timeline?" Merlin interjected.
Harry nodded. "Most probably. Also, they're someone who got ahold of androids who know who Rose, myself, and my dad are. Though I am willing to accept that they were dug up in a scrap pile orbiting around some forgotten moon, it is interesting that they didn't erase their memory. They might not know, or have the means of doing so." Harry turned to look at his father. "Know of anyone who has a grudge against humans but isn't technologically advanced enough to reprogram androids? And probably doesn't look human, if they didn't come for Arthur themselves."
The Doctor frowned. "Unfortunately, the list of beings who look human is very short. Many species have similar characteristics, one head, two arms, two legs, two eyes, a nose, a mouth, etc, but those tend to be evolutionary biases. And most of the time, those configurations are purely superficial when judging for similarity. Those that can appear human through technological means are usually also advanced enough to build androids, much less reprogram them. And since many of the species devastated by humanity were technologically incapable of fighting back, many wouldn't know much about androids, aside from stray knowledge gleaned from vids or books or holos or any other form of entertainment. They were probably discovered by accident and brought incase whomever it was found themselves in a situation they couldn't attend themselves."
Merlin nodded, frowning at the fire. There was silence as Rose finished dinner, everyone contemplating who or what could have taken Arthur, before Rose called out that dinner was ready.
She was surrounded almost instantly by hungry knights, a couple magicals, and a grinning Time Lord. Her eyebrows went up. "Alright, everyone form a queue, it'll be quicker. One behind the other. I have the bowls. Here you go, and you," she brusquely ordered everyone into a semblance of order and began passing out food. When the last bowl had been handed out and she scooped the remaining bits into her own bowl, everyone was savoring their meal.
"If you weren't so attached to the skinny bloke, I'd hire you to be the castle's cook," Paskal said, scooping up more soup. "Or at least ask the king to hire you. This is the best food I've had in a while. Knights don't eat so well on missions usually. Not a single one of us is any good at cooking."
Rose smiled. "I'll take that as a compliment then. I've had a while to practice."
Paskal looked at her. "You don't look old enough to be out from under your mother's feet for more than a couple seasons."
"Well, appearances are deceiving." She bustled, picking up the items used to cook. "Harry, or Merlin, can one of you get this pot clean? I don't think I can do it justice in the stream and we'll need it again before this trip's over."
Harry raised his hand, then looked at Merlin. "Can I?"
"On any other occasion, I would agree, but as we need this pot for a while more, I'm not sure that your overabundance of magic and lack of control would do it any good." Harry sighed, dropping his arm. "Don't be too discouraged. There are more than a few dirty belt buckles around here for you to clean. We'll practice tomorrow."
That perked him up, and they spent a bit longer discussing various useful spells that Harry might learn. Then, at the insistence of the Doctor, Harry went to bed. It didn't take him long to fall asleep, the excitement of the day having worn on him, and he was soon snoring away under a blanket near the fire.
Rose yawned, stretched her arms. "Bed for me too. Try not to annoy the knights, Doctor. I'll see you in the morning." Then she stretched out near Harry, curled up, pillowed her head on her arm, and slipped into sleep.
Merlin looked at the Doctor. "What does she mean?"
The Doctor waved a hand away. "Oh, I don't necessarily need as much sleep. 7 hours every, oh, 168 standard Earth hours and I'm good. When Harry was young, I used to sleep a couple hours a night with him, but that's faded as he got older. Didn't need me as much."
Merlin smiled. "I see that troubles you some." The Doctor peered at him over his knees. "You are very easy to read, for those who know what to look for."
"Well, I wasn't even sure what I was doing when I took Harry with me. It was a moment of anger, frustration, exhaustion, and curiosity. Then, I get back to the Tardis, and this tiny human needs all of these things. Food, shelter, hugs, toys, someone to hold him, sing to him, read him books, teach him. All sorts of things. It's been many many centuries since I was a parent, and Gallifreyan children are very different from human children."
Merlin paused to mull that over. "I take it you've had children before then? Children of your own species."
"Long long ago. My species is very long lived and I can only distantly recall their feet pattering on the floor. And even then it isn't really real. Much of my history is tangled up in causality and temporal misconceptions and irregularities. My children….they were mine before I was me, if that makes sense."
Merlin smiled. "In a way, Doctor, there is nothing about you that makes sense, yet everything is centered in your very being. It makes you a strange one."
They fell into an amiable silence. The knights who weren't on guard duty fell into a light slumber and those that were stood at the edges of the clearing, alert but relaxed.
"Doctor, about your son. His magic is almost incomprehensible. It isn't that hard to imagine there being no limit for him at all. Any limit that might exist within the magical world would be mere words to him.
His ability to internalize magical conceptions is beyond anything I might have dared imagine. We use words to create and visualize spells. Harry may one day be beyond the need for them. We have a focus for our magic, a staff or a wand. This may be redundant for the boy."
"You don't use one," the Doctor pointed out. Merlin nodded.
"I don't need one for many of the simpler spells that I am teaching Harry. I am powerful enough in my own right to forgo the necessity of a wand. But not everyone is capable of this. My teachers were, especially Godric, but they were also anomalous in their magic capabilities."
"Are you saying that Harry has nothing to learn?" the Doctor asked, tilting his head.
"No, indeed not. There is much he can be taught. But there will also be much that he will be able to do on instinct, with the same ease in which we breath or form words or speak. Some skills will be harder for him to master as well, but they will never be out of his reach. In short, Doctor, nothing will be impossible for him. Which in itself may be a problem that he will have to face."
The Doctor didn't say anything for a few moments. He stared at his son, taking in the black hair falling over his face and small hands relaxed in sleep. "I see. I will keep this in mind as he gets older."
Merlin nodded. He wanted to ask what importance Harry held that was so grand that it could alter the future, what a young boy could possibly have resting on his shoulders, but stayed quiet. The Doctor had laid down beside his child, hand resting on Harry's head, eyes closed. Merlin wasn't sure if he was sleeping, but decided that the conversation was over. He too turned in for the night.
The next morning started with an exuberant Harry munching on some bread and trying to get everyone on their feet. Really, it was still early and much earlier than anyone else thought the day would start (with the exception of the Doctor, who had probably been awake for the majority of the night as it was). Still, everyone climbed to their feet in the predawn light and packed up the rest of their supplies that had found nooks and crannies to hide in. The horses were fed and watered, everything was loaded up, and they headed off in the direction Merlin indicated.
Harry, remembering Merlin's promise to teach him how to clean things the night before, had collected a series of small, dirty object upon which to practice. As he showed them to the amused wizard, Merlin couldn't restrain a chuckle.
"What is it? Are they the wrong sort of thing to practice on? I thought you wanted to make sure I wouldn't break anything I wanted to use. Should I have gone for something bigger?"
"No, no, it's not that, young Harry. I was just amused at your eagerness. Many a teacher would go to battle for the honor of teaching on so eager to learn."
"Oh. Well, learning is really all you can do until you know enough to do something with it. So the best thing is to learn as much as you can so no matter what the situation you will always have something you know how to do."
Merlin raised an eyebrow. "I see. That is a practical way to put it."
"Also, knowing things is exciting."
"And there is the scholar I thought I saw in you."
And so the morning began. With cleaning spells. Or rather, with stones losing layers as Harry tried to perfect the cleaning spell. He got into another argument over language with Merlin, remarking that really, "Clean" was a perfectly good word to use to direct the magic and that using "pergo" or any other Latin word was silly. Then he went and used "clean", shaved off another layer of rock, then stared moodily at his stones. It didn't seem to matter what language he spoke the words in, he over charged it with his magic. He had to figure out how to stem the flood.
Harry pondered over the stones, slowly trying to stop the flood of magic. He pinched it, bent it, manipulated it, but it didn't seem to matter. A veritable wave of power flowed out every time he spoke any words of power.
"I can't figure it out. What am I doing wrong? I'm doing the spell, I'm cleaning the rocks, but I'm practically stripping them to do it. It's like my magic is digging into the stone to scoop out the filth. If I did this to anything with flesh I would be stripping off their skin." Harry sounded sully.
Merlin smiled. "Harry child, the amount of magic you have is immense. You will have to learn how to control the flow. I am afraid I can't help you learn that, it is something I have no experience with and have never met another with a similar problem. What have you tried?"
Harry frowned. "Well, I've tried to narrow the flow of magic when I say the spell, manipulate it until there isn't as much as there was before, but it never seems to work."
"Well, why don't you try modulating how loud you say a spell? I know that sometimes, when magic users are young, yelling a spell will help those who have been having difficulty. Maybe the opposite with work with you."
Harry considered this, pulled out another rock, and tried whispering the spell.
With little change. A millimeter of the small stone was stripped away and it flaked to the ground.
Harry sighed and Merlin tried to hide a grin.
Then the wizard turned, eyes alert.
"Up ahead to the left. I can feel the enchantment. It's faint, nearly on the edge of my awareness, but I can feel it. Which also means that Arthur is alive."
All the knights reigned it, pulling around until they circled Merlin. Harry tried to meld into the circle.
"Are you sure, Lord Merlin?"
"The young prince is alive?"
"Oh thank god!"
"Yes, Arthur is alive. The mere fact that I can sense it is proof. I had to tie the enchantment into Arthur's life force. It keeps the spell active for as long as my magic is present, so he must be alive."
"How far is he?" Paskal asked, eyes sharp. "How long do you think it will take us to get there?"
"No more than another day. My range for the spell is 40 leagues thereabout, so I expect we shall find where he is being held tomorrow. Let's hurry though. Now that we have proof of his survival, I would rather not dally any longer."
The knights nodded, pulled around, and started to canter. Merlin, Rose, the Doctor, and Harry followed the ones in the lead, and a couple more knights brought up the rear. It was a fast pace for much of the morning and into the afternoon.
As they rested the horses at a stream, Harry moved around to speak to his dad.
"Dad, do you know who exactly we're dealing with? Back at the castle, you seemed to know, but you didn't say anything about the Tractites last night."
The Doctor grimaced. "Well, if it is a Tractite, then they have quite a good reason for being angry. I do wonder where one of them would have found androids and I was trying to bounce ideas around to see if anything else shook loose. Not much did. Androids are plentiful in the 24th century, and the metal of any scrap heap would be ideal for a time tree to take root. I just, I hope that whomever it is, we can deal with them peacefully."
Harry nodded. "I take it that the last encounter with them didn't go so peacefully then?"
"That would be both an understatement and far from the truth. It depends on the encounter."
Harry tilted his head. "It's a long story Harry."
"Tell me while we ride."
The climbed back into their horses and formed up into pillars. Harry rode beside the Doctor, Merlin beside Rose, and the knights surrounding them.
"Essentially, the Tractites were a peaceful race. They didn't have space flight, but they welcomed visitors. They had no weapons, but a mineral rich planet. It was with absurd ease that the Human Empire took over their planet, despite the Tractites agreeing to let them mine the planet. But humans, invariably, want more than they can get, and destroyed Tractis, its people, and enslaved the survivors as miners. A small group escaped and made it Hirath and they travelled back into the history of Earth. The future started to change as they changed the foundations upon which humanity was built. Humans were wiped off the planet before they could evolve and new Tractis was born, full of peaceful, nature loving Tractites. But it couldn't stay that way. It was a complete form of revenge, erasing the species that did you wrong, but they went too far. They were stopped before they could begin the change and the future went back to what it was. And Tractis was destroyed by humanity."
Harry was silent, eyes wide. He didn't speak for a long while, staring at Marigold's mane. Then, "How could humans be so malevolent to drive a peaceful species to genocide?"
The Doctor sighed. "That is one of the curiosities of humanity. Their impact of every species they come into contact with is enormous. Even the Time Lords were very careful to not interfere or even interact with humans too much. I was clear evidence of humanity's failings. Exiled from my planet and still I consorted with humans, and in the end, when I no longer had a planet, I fled to Earth." The Doctor smiled. "Humans are capable of extremes at both end of the scales, Harry, remember that."
Rose was talking to Merlin. "So, what are you teaching the prince if he doesn't have magic?"
"I was trying to teach him prudence and logic. Though it seems that my lessons were outwitted by an eight year old." Merlin aimed a wry smile at Harry's back. "Much of what I was trying to do was impart upon the next king lessons that would shape him into a strong leader. Morality, impartiality, that all his subjects are worthy of recognition. Don't get me wrong, Uther is a good king, but he is never sure how to treat those of his people who are magic users, or the magical creatures. He is never openly hostile, but he turns a blind eye to hostility. I am trying to teach Arthur that everyone is equal and all should be treated as such. Much of my lessons are morality or philosophical, areas that those who rule will find necessary."
Rose nodded. "I see. Is his father unable to pass on those lessons?"
Merlin frowned. "In a sense. Uther is a king obsessed with the past. Even his son can't pull his thoughts from his long dead wife. He found it necessary to call for assistance, and I thought I could do my part by for my own people by teaching the next king in our ways, in so much as one without magic can learn about magic."
"Arthur is very dear to me. I spend much of my time with him, when I am not advising Uther."
"We'll make sure he comes back safe and alive."
"I can only hope."
The knights picked up the pace and conversation was no longer possible. The rest of the afternoon was spent at a canter as they tried to make the most of their horses. When they finally stopped, the sun was dipping below the horizon and the horses were exhausted.
So was Harry, if the way he slid off his horse just to crumple to the ground was any indication. He made no effort to get to his feet, instead crawling towards the center of the clearing. Finally, with an exasperated sigh, the Doctor picked him up and carried him.
"Harry, think you can sit?"
"No, no more sitting. I can't feel my butt anymore. I can't feel my thighs anymore. I feel like I'm bouncing and the world keeps moving and I'm not even on a horse anymore." Harry groaned. "I'm not, am I?"
The Doctor chuckled. "No, you're not. But that was a lot of hard riding for a young child."
Paskal, taking pity on Harry, tossed a small pot at the Doctor, who caught it. "That balm will help with the sore muscles. It's not gonna be completely gone by morning, but it'll make riding tomorrow more bearable."
"I have to get back on a horse tomorrow?" Harry exclaimed, eyes wide.
"If you want to be there when we get Arthur, you're going to have to. And it'll be more hard riding."
Everyone laughed as Harry moaned, curling up in a little ball. "Merlin, are there any magic spells that make it better?"
"Indeed young one, but I would not recommend it. They draw on your magical energy to work and I fear that you may overpower it and the energy backlash would do more harm than good."
"Why is this happening to me?" Harry said dramatically. Everyone laughed.
Despite his dramatic platitudes, Harry was out before Rose had made dinner. The Doctor smiled at his son. "I'll take him off to the side and rub this balm in. Hopefully it'lll help him out in the morning. Though I sympathize with him. I'll be sore as well by the end of the day. It's been quite a while since I rode so much so hard."
The Doctor scooped up his snoring son and brought him off to the side before undressing him and rubbing in the balm. Rose made a simple dinner of stew before passing it around. Everyone at in Silence. The Doctor tucked Harry under a blanket before rejoining them at the fire.
"Lord Merlin, how far are we from the prince?" one of the knights asked.
Merlin frowned in concentration. "Less than 15 leagues. We made excellent time today. Though if I remember my history right, we are nearing the castle of an old King who ruled these lands many years ago. It is probably Arthur is being kept within that castle. It is the only large building I have knowledge of in the area."
"Good, we have a goal. We'll start early tomorrow morning. Now, I don't know about you all, but I need sleep. I will see you gentlemen in the morning." Rose stood up, stretched, then walked over to where Harry was, pulling a blanket out of a pack as she went then curling up on the ground.
Soon, the rest of the company either went to sleep or went to stand watch. The Doctor stared into the flickering flames. The night was pleasant, they were on an adventure, and his son was gaining a new appreciation for various modes of transportation.
So long as he could figure out a peaceful way to get Arthur away from what he was sure was a rogue Tractite, this would be a fun adventure.
He sat there for most of the evening, ignoring the contemplative looks he received from the knights as they traded watch shifts, and only moved again when someone bumped his shoulder.
"Dad, the fire died out long ago. What are you staring at?" Harry had walked over, yawning and rubbing his eyes.
"Harry!" the Doctor exclaimed. "You're up. How do you feel? Your legs any better?"
Harry rubbed his backside. "Not bad. Could be worse. I'm sure it will be by the end of the day, but then we should have Arthur, so at least there's that."
~~~This is a Scene Break~~~~~
Arthur was bored. He had nothing but stone walls, a small window, and the occasional bowl of something that must be gruel pushed through the door by one of the strange knights that had taken him. He remembered Harry's dad calling them something else at the time, but he couldn't recall the term at the moment.
He wondered what he was doing here. It had been over a day since that...that black horse thing had spoken to him. Not a word had been said anywhere near his door since that day. The knights weren't speaking. There wasn't anyone else in the area. He was alone.
And that was worrying. What was even more worrying was that he hadn't seen any of his father's knights, Merlin, or Harry's strange dad. It was nearing the third day of his capture and he hadn't even heard from his father's people.
The door slid open. Arthur scrambled to his feet. The large black being who had spoken to him briefly had returned.
"Arthur Pendragon, son of Uther Pendragon and Ygraine Pendragon. Brother to Morgana, the Dark Witch of le Fey, your crimes have been judged and the only punishment for your transgressions is imprisonment for life."
"WHat have I done? I have done nothing to anyone, especially not to your people! I don't know who or what you are? How do you know who I am? Who is Morgana?"
the being stared at him, its eyes unblinking. "It is not what you have done, it is what you will do. Your future must not come to pass. Only then may my people live in peace. That is what I believe."
Arthur stared. "Who are you? What are you?"
"I am a Tractite, from Tractis. Your people invaded my world and destroyed my people, my way of life, everyone I ever held dear. My entire planet was overrun by humans. Only a meager few of us managed to escape. I was sent back second, to see if we could change the future. I arrived in this time, with no technology. I found the androids and they matched the time frame of humanities current progress. I knew of your life. You were the best possibility for my people's future. Eliminating you from the time stream would stop the progress of humanity for a while, maybe long enough for my people to escape unharmed from the guns of humans."
Arthur stared, eyes wide. While he wasn't sure of what everything the...tractite? was saying, he understood enough.
"Humans killed your people? Why? Were you a harm to them?"
"No. We were peaceful."
"Then why would my...descendents kill your people?"
"They wanted the resources of our lands and were unable to accept the small portions we let them have. They decided to take it by force."
Arthur frowned. "But that makes no sense. I don't understand what you mean by planet. I assume that is where the kingdom you hail fromis, with the name Tractis. So humans invaded your lands for no other reason than for resources? Did they not try to trade for them? It is customary."
"They wanted all of it. Our planet was rich with a kind of metal they needed. They desired more than my government was willing to allow them to extract at one time. Since they had more powerful weapons, they took it by force."
"Why is this my fault? It was terrible, but I had nothing to do with it. I can speak with my father, he might be able to help your people."
The Tractite laughed. "Your father cannot help us. You are 1400 years too early to help us. You can help us by never becoming king, by never uniting the lands and by never setting the path for a future with a united nation. Your example inspires countless leaders. Your name is spoken of by humans as the pinnacle of human heroism."
Arthur frowned, started to speak, but the door slammed shut.
He was left with his thoughts.
What did it mean? Could Tractites be from a different place, like Harry and his incomprehensible word babble? Could they be speaking of a thing that hasn't yet come to pass? But that was absurd. Such travel was impossible!
But not if it was from a time where it wasn't.
Arthur peered out the window. If what the Tractite had said was true, he might have longer than he wanted to ponder on what it could possibly mean.
The rest of his life, in fact.
~~~~This is a Scene Break~~~~
"We are nearing Arthur. I can feel the enchantment much stronger. Take the right bend up ahead, we should be seeing the castle. Or whatever is left of it."
Merlin wasn't wrong. As they turned a sharp corner, the trees thinned and a large castle came into view.
It was old, though not quite old enough to start to crumble. Everyone pulled their horses to a halt, then stared at it.
"Is this the right place, Lord Merlin?" Paskal asked. "I don't remember who it belonged to, but it's been here for a long time. I was brought here once as a squire for a training exercise. Though that practice fell out of popularity within a few years." He looked at one of the newer knights. "Probably before you were a squire, Galin, right?"
The young knight nodded. "Yes. I think I heard about it, but when I was a squire, it had been deemed too frivolous as a training exercise."
"Training exercise aside, Arthur is in there."
The Doctor moved his horse forward. "It would be wise if we left the horses out here. If it is who I think it is, they would only be a hinderance. If it isn't then it doesn't matter. They will be more useful rested." He dismounted.
Harry and Rose followed suit, and, after a nod from Merlin and Paskal, everyone else dismounted as well. They tied the horses to a nearby pond before forming up.
"How are we going to do this?" Harry asked. "I mean, it's a castle. It has fortifications. Just walking up would be a bit dangerous. Especially if the androids are here. And there isn't any reason to think they wouldn't be."
"Indeed young one, but this castle is also old. It has many secret passages into and out of its walls." Paskal tapped his chin. "We can use one of them to gain entry into the castle and find Arthur."
"What if we run into whoever took him? I mean, not the androids but whoever took them."
The Doctor grimaced. "I'll deal with them."
Paskal took one look at the Doctor's face, then nodded. "Alright, I remember an entrance in the south wall that's pretty well covered from observers. I think it used to be a servants entrance. We'll go in through there. It'll be easier to breach the wall from there than to try a frontal assault. We don't know what may be waiting for us. Form up, two behind Lord Merlin, the Doctor, Harry and Rose, the rest of you in front with me. I'll take lead. Be on your guard."
"Wait just a minute, Sir Paskal. I was asked by the King to make sure Lady Rose and young Harry have protection spells."
Rose sighed, rolled her eyes. "I had hoped you had forgotten about that. I don't really need them, but whatever."
Merlin just smiled, taking out his wand and tapping her on the head. She felt a warm shroud cover her, and she shivered.
"Rose?" the Doctor asked.
"It was...pleasant. Warm even. I wasn't expecting that." Rose grinned. "Very nice Merlin."
"They'll protect you from blade or blow, arrow or fist. I don't sense any other magical beings aside from Harry here, so magical protection isn't really required." Merlin turned to Harry. "Now for you, young one."
Harry frowned. "I can't do it myself, can I?"
"I'm sorry, but no. I don't know what your magic might do to the spell and we can't risk it blowing up on us right now. If I had had the time on the road, I would have taught it to you, but alas we did not. I shall have to teach you when we return to Camelot."
Harry pouted, but let Merlin tap his head and heard the whispered words. So, impervious shields and a bit of disillusionment. Sounds like a lot to experiment with later.
After the spells had been cast (and the Doctor had refused them adamantly), they snuck in through the side entrance. It was quiet. Eerily quiet.
"Galin, you take Kellory, Martin, and Franks and search the North and East sides of the castle. Check every room. Everyone else, with me."
The four knights split off, leaving Paskal, a knight called Greyson, another named Braily, and Merlin with the Doctor, Harry, and Rose.
The walked through the halls silently but with purpose. They checked every room, every closed door, and soon found the stairs upwards.
Paskal drew his sword and the Doctor pushed Harry between himself and Rose.
They didn't meet anyone or anything on their way up, and the floor was clear on their end.
"He is still upwards, Sir Paskal," Merlin murmured. "The closer I am to him, the more precise the enchantment is."
Paskal nodded. "We still don't know if anyone else is here. We must be careful."
Rose pulled on the Doctor's arm. "We can go up the stairs and find Arthur. Leave the searching for enemies to the knights."
Paskal looked mildly erked at Rose's words. "Lady..."
"I can take care of myself, as can the Doctor. We need to find Arthur. If he's a couple floors up then it would be better if we could get him out of here before you all go rushing it with swords and yells."
"I'm going too," Harry said, face set.
The Doctor looked at him, nodded. "Alright then. Come on. Leave the sword rushing to the knights. Merlin?"
"Yes, that sounds feasible. Getting the prince out is our first priority."
Paskal looked like he wanted to protest, but settled for glaring at the four retreating backs. "Be careful guys," he called back. The Doctor raised a hand in acknowledgment.
Harry tried for the stairs, but his father pulled him back. "Despite your determination to rescue your friend, it's still dangerous. I would prefer you not rush headlong first."
"Hello pot, I'm kettle," Harry retorted.
The Doctor raised an eyebrow. "You've been picking up Earth English colloquialisms."
"Well, they are interesting. And less circular than Gallifreyan ones."
"Still, you are not going up the stairs first. One child kidnapped is more than enough."
Harry pouted and, while the Doctor was distracted, Rose slipped past him and up the stairs. The Doctor stared, started to say something, caught Rose's determined eyes, and decided against it. He sighed. Merlin followed her, then Harry, and his dad brought up the rear.
"When was it that I was following you all?" he said, a slight whine to his voice.
All that answered was a slight chuckle.
"Next floor, I believe," Merlin whispered as they reached the third floor. Rose marched up the next flight. "Yes, this floor. Follow me."
Merlin took the lead, and Harry bounded after him. The Doctor and Rose followed.
"Sorry Doctor, but you can't keep trying to protect me," Rose whispered.
"I know. I know. It just, takes some getting used to, that's all."
"Get used to it fast Doctor."
Merlin stopped beside a closed door. "Here. He's in here." He slid the bolt on the door open and pushed. The door swung open with a slight squealing of hinges.
Arthur sat in a far corner. The room itself wasn't very decent smelling, an odor of sorts wafting up from a small hole in the floor in the far corner. A couple empty bowls were sitting beside the door.
The prince looked over at them, and for a moment, shock flitted across his face. "Merlin? Harry? You're here?"
Harry grinned. "Hey Arthur. I'd give you a hug but I'd rather you take a bath first."
Arthur grinned. "You're here! You're really here!"
"Don't be too loud, young prince. We still don't know where your captors are."
"I'm not checked on regularly. They know I can't escape so they only bother to open the door to push food and cloth in."
"Do you know what they look like?" the Doctor asked.
Arthur nodded. "There are the knights, but they don't talk to me. And then there's this Tractle thing. Tractin, Tractit, Tractis, something. I've only spoken to it a couple times. I...I don't know what it is. I've never seen the like of such a being before."
The Doctor sighed. "I was afraid of that. Well, let's get you out of here before I go deal with him. He's not going to be happy, but I would rather get you lot away from him. He doesn't know anything about Harry and he's already tried to get you once Arthur, so let's not give him another chance, huh?"
Arthur stared with wide eyes. "Wow, I can't believe it. I thought I was gonna be stuck here forever."
"Did you have that little faith in your father?" Harry asked, hands on hips.
Arthur shrugged. "I wasn't sure anyone would find me. I didn't even know where I was or how far they took me. It seemed they flew forever."
"You don't have enough trust in your mentor Arthur. He has a tracking enchantment on you. Within a certain distance, he can always find you." Harry pointed at Merlin.
Arthur stared at him with wide yes. "You do? Really? If I hadn't been kidnapped, that might be weird, but I'm rather thankful for it now."
Merlin smiled. "I was unaware that you didn't know. I asked your father, or rather, he asked me, to place it on you. It's been there since you were small."
Arthur groaned. "So he always knows where I am."
"No, I always know where you are. He only knows if he asks me. Which isn't very often. As long as you are safe, he is content that you are within sight of your guard."
Arthur grimaced. "Yeah, I will probably deserve the lecture I'll get when I get back."
"Maybe not. Young Harry here explained what happened and why you were there."
Arthur looked at Harry. "Really? You didn't have to."
Harry scuffed a foot. "It was sort of my fault you were there. And you're my friend. Why would I withhold important information from your father, who also happens to be a king?"
"Well, I mean, I...I don't know. When you put it that way." Arthur frowned, looked up at the assembled rescue group, then his eyes widened, fixed on a point a few feet above the Doctor's head. "Um...Harry's dad, the...thing Tractil thing is here."
Everyone spun around to look.
Harry's eyes widened. "Tractite. From Tractis. You were right dad."
"Who are you? What are you doing here? The Once and Future King is mine." The voice was deep, resonate. "Merlin Emrys, your charge is yours no longer. I claim him as is my right."
"Your right? Your right? What right do you have to kidnap a human from a planet who has not yet done you harm?" The Doctor exclaimed, voice high and sharp.
The Tractite stared down at him. "Who are you? You are not human, why do you defend these creatures? They pillage and destroy all they come across. I will prevent the destruction of my home. My people."
"How do you hope to accomplish that by taking a child? Arthur isn't much more that a future possibility. Why him?"
The Tractite stared down at the Doctor. "The stories told of King Arthur of Camelot are legends that hold together a nation. He creates the kings that unite the world. His name is carried into the stars by humans. Without him, there is a possibility that Earth may never be the same. I must take that chance."
The Doctor sighed. "I know what your people went through, and it was terrible. I know your people tried this before. Using the seeds of the Time Tree, they went back into Earth's history. They failed then as well. Your people murdered humans to fix the future."
The Tractite blinked, stepping backwards. "You lie. A Tractite would never murder. My people are nonviolent. Why do you think the humans took over our planet so easily?"
"What did you plan on doing with Arthur then?"
The Tractite hesitated, shifting on his feet.
Rose stepped forward. "You were going to keep him in this room forever? Maybe move him to a different part of Earth? Let him waste away until he died of natural causes?"
"It...said I was sentenced to imprisonment for life," Arthur said. "Though if what he said was true, how wrong is he?"
Harry laid a hand on Arthur's forearm. "Humanity's future isn't the pretty picture you would love to imagine. Humans are as greedy as they are kind, but sometimes one outweighs the other. When humans found other planets that had minerals they needed, if they couldn't get them to trade for it, they overpowered them. If they couldn't overpower, they often dealt with them in various devious and sneaky ways. But there are as many stories of humanities failings as there are of human triumphs. Moments when humanity was good and kind."
"But...they wiped out his entire planet! I don't really know what that is, but if it is anything like a country, then that is absolutely terrible! Who could condone such actions!" Arthur exclaimed.
Rose stepped forward, took Arthur's hands into hers. "Arthur, you cannot blame yourself for someone else's faults. Ever. They are the faults of others. You are not alive when they make them, you cannot possibly stop them from happening. You can only make things better for those people you meet. Those you rule over. Those you befriend. Do you understand?"
Arthur nodded, though his face was a mask of confusion. He looked at the Doctor, at Merlin. "What...what do we do about the Tractite? I mean, I was never hurt or in danger. I was fed and kept warm. While the actions were reprehensible, I can understand the motivations, sort of."
Merlin smiled. "Arthur, what do you want to do?"
The Tractite snarled. "Why should a human decide my fate? My entire species was destroyed by humans. Why should I listen to one? Ever? I have my androids."
The Doctor sighed. "Your androids are few in number and I can easily reprogram them. Would you harm another person, even if that person is human?" The Doctor stared at the Tractite. "What is your name?"
There was silence for a few moments. "I am called Kirigal."
"Well, Kirigal, there are several options. You are essentially non-violent. There are plenty of places I can bring you. There are hubs of species that live together in peace where you would be welcomed. Plenty of places for you to travel to."
"My home is gone. I have no desire to travel anywhere else but here. If I must die, I would like to die here."
"Now now, no one said anything about dying." The Doctor waved his hands in agitation.
"From what I understand, I kidnapped the prince of the royal family, a crime punishable by death on this world. I cannot return home, never. I cannot step foot on Tractis as it is now, it would be unbearable. So I choose to die here."
"Wait, wait, hold on..."
"Kirigal, was it?" Arthur interrupted the Doctor. "I understand why you did what you did. If I may, can I offer you some protection at Camelot? At the very least, until we can figure out where you would like to go?"
Kirigal starred at Arthur. His eyes were wide, unblinking. Though that might be due to his species.
"Arthur, are you sure?" Merlin asked. "We know only that he hates humans. Would it be wise?"
"Merlin, humans destroyed his people. The least we can do is offer some kind of recompence. Even if it is in the past."
The Doctor raised his eyebrows at Arthur. "Indeed. You may just live up to your legends."
Harry grinned. "Maybe it isn't so bad to meet your heroes."
Rose snickered. "Yeah, but I heard about that time you met Shakespeare. That was hysterical."
The Doctor looked at Rose. "He...he told you about that?" he asked.
Rose gave him a pointed look. "I made him tell me everything about what you did between the time I left you and then saw you again. And you were an idiot. But we'll discuss that after we get out of the old castle. This room stinks."
Merlin looked at Arthur, then at Kirigal. "I will stand behind the prince on this. Though it is ultimately your choice, I would ask you come with us. We can offer some hospitality at least."
Kirigal had been silent. "I...I am unsure. But I shall come with you as far as Camelot. Maybe...maybe I shall have my answers by then."
Arthur nodded. "Alright, let's head out. I would like to get home and have a bath as soon as possible."
Everyone nodded in agreement with him.
Then the sounds of fighting reached down the corridor.
"Sir Paskal! Where is Merlin? I cannot even scratch these things! They are not normal! Galin and Greyson are injured and I don't know how much longer we can hold out!"
The Doctor was out the door before the third sentence was finished. Harry and Merlin were on his heels.
Kirigal clasped his oddly bent arms together. "I had not intended for people to get hurt. I had not."
Rose laid a hand on his arm. "Then why did you take fighting androids? You were unable to reprogram them to not injure, were you not?"
Kirigal shook his head. "They were not anachronistic to this time. I thought they might blend in better so I could take Prince Arthur."
"Did you know they devestated the markets of Camelot. I do not know if anyone was injured but I am sure there were."
Kirigal made a strange noise, and Arthur soon realised he was crying. He really was ultimately peaceful.
"Do you think Harry's dad and Merlin can do anything about them?"
"If anyone can, they can." Rose looked around. "Bloody hell, Harry's gone with them. He slipped out before I could notice."
Harry was currently racing along behind his dad and Merlin. He wasn't sure what he could do, but he wasn't being left behind. He would deal with the consequences later.
As they skidded down the stairs and around a corner, they found the knights facing three of the giant androids. They were taller than they had first realized, since they had been ahorse in Camelot. They towered over Camelot's knight by almost a foot.
"Everyone, DOWN!" the Doctor roared. He pulled his sonic screwdriver out of his pocket and pointed it at the first knight. It buzzed, and the android's head twitched, then exploded. Shards of metal flew everywhere.
After that, the knights went down as the Doctor pointed his sonic screwdriver at the second one.
"Time Lord. Why are you here?"
"We're here for Arthur. Also, aren't you a little out of your time? Androids don't belong on Earth in this century. I think I need to rectify the problem." He gestured at the no longer functioning robot.
"We are only following orders."
"Yeah, well, I'm about to reprogram those orders. And your memories." He flipped something on the side of the screwdriver, then it buzzed. The androids stiffened, then slumped. As much as robots could slump.
"What did you do Doctor?"
"Well, their artificial matrices had already been fussed at, so I just unfussed them. Now they're inert. The way they were before Kirigal picked them up. Let's go find the rest of the knight, shall we?"
Paskal, one of the three knights who had been trying to fend the androids off, stood up, startled. "What is that device? What did it do? Nothing we did even dented their armor."
Harry smiled. "They aren't really human. My dad just...turned them off. By reinstating the original programing, the androids software was overwritten and they became inert. Whatever Kirigal did to them originally never happened."
"He killed them?"
"Well, I suppose it may appear to be like that."
Paskal nodded. "Alright then. Though I would love one of those little weapons."
"it's not a weapon. It's a screwdriver!"
"I do not know what that is."
"It's a tool that turns screws!"
"I still do not understand."
"Argh!" The Doctor threw his arms into the air. Harry snickered.
They found the rest of the knights the floor below them. Two of them were gravely injured and Merlin frowned.
"These are serious injuries. I have not seen their like before among non-magical weaponry."
"They're laser blasts. High intensity light and heat beams that destroy flesh."
"I see. Harry, I shall need your magic to help me. The power you possess will allow me to heal them well enough so that they will survive the trip to Camelot."
"Can't you just...fix them completely?"
"I could, but healing is not my specialty. It is precision work that can be detrimental if done improperly. I shall only stabilize and partially heal their wounds so the castle physician can heal them fully."
Harry nodded, holding out a hand to Merlin. "Like when I was younger, yes?"
"Indeed young one. I shall access your magic through touch, like I did when you were very young." Merlin took Harry's hand, always surprised at the energy flooding just under the surface.
He pressed their joined hands to an uninjured part of Sir Galin's body, and Merlin spoke softly.
Harry felt the magic well up in him and stream out through their clasped hands. Galin was momentarily surrounded by light, and Harry watched as the holes in Galin's shoulder, leg, and hip started to knit together. It was spectacular. He let more magic flow out, and was so caught up in the spell that he missed Merlin's shocked gasp and the struggle to remove his hand from the man's body.
It was only when Galin was no longer injured when Harry lifted his hands. He looked at Merlin. "That was amazing!"
Merlin shook his head, astounded. "No Harry, that was your magic. It acted on my wishes and healed him. Completely. Galin may rest for a while, but he is in perfect health."
Harry smiled. "Lets go save Sir Greyson then!"
"Harry…are you sure you're alright? That was immense magic."
"I feel a little tired, but Sir Greyson might die. I can't let that happen! You just lead the way. I'll help provide the energy."
Merlin looked at Harry with reluctance, but eventually took the boy's hand again. And again, Sir Greyson's wounds healed over.
But it was obvious that Harry wasn't ready for the sudden pull on his magic.
As soon as Sir Greyson was healed, Harry wobbled to his feet, smiled at his father, muttered. "I wonder what waffle plants taste like" then toppled over.
Merlin was at his side immediately, wand out. "It's alright. He's fine. His system just wasn't sure how to deal with the massive drain of magic. It was unfocused so it pulled a lot more than that spell should have. While it didn't actually dent his reserves, it did strain his body. He'll be out for a while."
Rose and Arthur chose this time to appear.
"Hey guys, Kirigal has agreed to accompany us to Camelot. Everyone alright here?" She looked around, spotted Harry. "Harry! Is he alright?"
"Just drained, Lady Rose. Nothing to worry about."
Arthur rushed over, laying a hand on Harry's arm. "What happened to him?"
"He overextended himself. He used too much magic at once and his body is still too young to handle overexertion. He fainted." Merlin looked up at the Doctor. "Do you want to carry him? It would be best. We still need to make it back to Camelot. That will take a couple days and I fear Harry might be unconscious for a number of them."
The Doctor stepped forward and lifted Harry into his arms, letting the boy's head rest on his shoulder. "I'll take him on my horse with me. Since we aren't in such a rush anymore, it shouldn't be a problem." The Doctor looked at Harry, eyes soft. "He always has a knack for doing things to the extreme. I guess magic would be one of them."
The knights climbed to their feet, only minor injuries between the lot of them. As Kirigal came down the corridor, they all turned, eyes wide and most hands reaching for swords.
"Calm my friends," Merlin said. "This is Kirigal. He has seen the error of his ways and will come with us to Camelot. Since no one is dead, Kirigal shall decide what he wants to do with his life. There are enough extenuating circumstances that his actions, while reprehensible, can also be understood. I would ask that your opinions remain silent until we can speak more freely about this."
Paskal relaxed, looked at the Tractite. "Well, at least we don't need another horse. He should be able to keep up just fine and with the young magical unconscious Arthur will be able to ride Marigold."
The Doctor grinned.
Merlin's thoughts on Harry's rest were correct. It wasn't until the last day they were on the road back to Camelot that he finally woke up. His dad was grinning down at him.
"Ugh, what happened?"
"Well, from what I've understood, you pushed too much magic through your system at one time."
"That doesn't make sense. I always have magic in my system."
Merlin cleared is throat. "Well, I would ask you to imagine your body as a cleaning rag. You, in essence, rung yourself dry despite being in the bucket of water. Your body was unused to handling so much power at once. You used more magic than the spell I cast required and sent your system into shock. You weren't suffering from magical exhaustion so much as magical overload. You will have to be very careful in how you regulate your power in the future. One of the things I intend to work with you on is your control and finesse. Those will be far more important to your future as a magical than any spell you may learn."
Harry nodded. "So, how long was I unconscious for?"
"Two whole days! You left me alone with knights and your dad and Rose and Merlin and Kirigal, who isn't much of a conversationalist. And I had no one to play with!" This came from a whiny Arthur directly behind Harry and his dad.
Harry grinned. He spun around until he could peer over his dad's shoulder. "Well, I would think you would be starved for company, seeing as you had none for three days."
Arthur pouted. "You assume I like the company of knights who spent the whole first day reminding me that as a prince, I will be responsible for the future of my people and gallivanting off without my guards is dangerous and ill advised and Merlin kept saying how he would be putting a better spell on me that lets him know whenever I leave the castle just so he can be sure that I don't leave without protection until I can prove myself capable. It didn't matte that it was super strong alien knights that took me." Arthur had, it seemed, wanted to get that rant out for quite a few days.
The knights all exchanged grins.
Kirigal was talking softly with Rose, who had been his companion for most of the trip. She said she was trying to convince him that he should come with the Doctor and he could be dropped off on a planetary hub with hundreds of species and make a new life for himself. Kirigal was being reticent about the concept.
Rose figured she would have a while to talk him into the idea. Either that or Arthur would bully him into staying with him. Explain him as a magical creature or something.
Harry and Arthur passed the last day taking quiet lessons from Merlin. Since they were both small, Marigold easily supported the both of them.
Much of their lessons were theoretical in nature as Arthur couldn't do magic and Merlin wanted to wait until they reached a warded place for Harry to practice.
Arthur was set to ponder what, if any, difference there was between kings and peasants, without resorting to "well, kings rule over peasants". Harry probably would have been set the same question, if he hadn't blinked at Merlin, eyes wide, before saying: "But they're both sentient beings…". Merlin decided that Harry either didn't understand the question because he didn't understand differences in rank or he was just raised that way.
Instead, he set Harry to theorize about the fundamentals of magic.
They entered Camelot late in the evening with instructions to both report to Merlin's rooms the next day before the noon bell for instruction.
Merlin had to explain to Harry was the noon bell was, then was noon was, and he might have gone on if the Doctor hadn't dragged his son off with a wave and a smile.
Arthur was hugged by a grateful and enthusiastic Uther who was glad his son was back. Uther decided that tomorrow was when they would hear everything that had happened, seeing both his son and Harry starting to nod off on their feet.
~~~This is an Ending~~~~
Hey! Uber Long chapter! it took me fricken long enough to write it, damn it. Really, the entire last half of it was written for NaNoWriMo. I just...found a rut. And wallowed in my own self pity for a while.
That's not healthy, let me tell you.
To the many many many people who reviewed and poked at me and hoped for another chapter, here it is and THANK YOU SO MUCH for the reviews. I will try to respond to each of the ones I haven't yet (I usually curl up into a ball of shame when I realize I got a new review and I haven't updated in months….)
This arc isn't done yet, but the next chapter will be more magic-focused and humorous adventure with young Arthur and Harry and Kirigal's story will be resolved.
It'll be interesting. I hope.
Now I have to go off and write it. ^_^
Kuroi (Oh, also, there will be multiple edits to the previous chapters to fix grammar and spelling points. ^_^)