AND...I'M BACK! And It didn't take me six months! *feels proud* I shall do my best to update more consistently, but that may soon be more difficult to do soon. I have gotten a job in Japan that starts in March/April and will be poofing off across half the world to go be an English teacher! I shall hopefully get at least one more chapter, two if I'm awesome and really type-y, up before I leave.
What follows is MANY MANY WORDS. The most words of any chapter I have written for this story. They make up the next chapter. I hope you enjoy them!
~~~~This is a Beginning~~~~~
As the Doctor half carried his son to the Tardis to go to bed, Rose pulled Kirigal aside. Uther had eyed the Tractite with wide eyes when the group had entered the hall, but a quick look from Merlin told Uther that he would explain later.
"Kirigal, we'll be here for probably a couple weeks. You have some time to figure out what you want to do. There are a number of options. But do you know where you would like to stay for the time being? And don't say outside. There are plenty of warm places for you for now. While Uther may not be too accepting, Merlin would find somewhere for you. The Doctor would also be more than willing to offer you a room. The Tardis probably has a room somewhere for you and you would be close enough if you should decide to leave Earth."
Kirigal stared at Rose, his four eyes peering at her with a strange intensity. "You are a strange one, Lady Rose."
"It's Rose, only the knights call me lady."
"You are deserving of the title. And I shall accept the room in this Tardis you speak of. I fear that any other choice may be met with more lectures." Rose swore she saw the Tractite smile. "I will follow you, Lady Rose."
Rose sighed but gestured for Kirigal to follow her.
They came to a halt outside the small blue box and Rose reached for the key under her shirt.
"Lady Rose, I am unsure I will...fit into this Tardis of yours," Kirigal said, apprehension in his voice.
Rose smiled. She knew why the Doctor loved this part. She opened the door and walked in, taking a number of steps into the interior. She knew Kirigal could hear her footsteps on the metal framework. She heard his gasp when he poked his head in. "This is the Tardis, Kirigal. Time and Relative Dimension in Space."
"Time Lord..." he breathed, moving his body inside. The door shut behind him. "A true Time Lord ship. I should have made the connection, but I wasn't aware that Time Lords existed any longer. This...this is breathtaking."
Rose heard the awe and reverence in his voice. "You know of the Time Lords?"
"Oh, the Tractites were a species with huge potential. It was once thought, when the Time Lords were still active in the universe, that they could eventually be an enemy. Though it wasn't more than a musing, it was interesting that they were considered. The Tractites were a very peaceful race. That they could become a threat was a testament to their ability for technological growth." The Doctor, sans Harry, walked into the console room. "Hello Kirigal. I take it you're staying with us for a while?"
Kirigal nodded. "Time Lord. It is an honor. I will impose upon your hospitality for a time." He inclined his head in what Rose took as a bow.
"No problemo! Plenty of room. I think we have a room you will find most comfortable. Here, follow me. Now, I know Rose is bugging you about what you should do now, seeing as she might not be letting you die. Here, turn right here. Yes, and left here. Another left. What do you think you'll be doing while we stay here? I mean, if you really get it in your head that you want to leave now, I think I could swing by and drop you off somewhere in the 26th century, not too far from your time, but long after humanity has stopped their interests in Tractis, and you can live your life. But maybe a few days spent thinking about it will give you a better idea. Ah, here we are."
The Doctor opened the door with a flourish and Kirigal peered in with wide eyes. "This...you are letting me stay in this lush garden?" He took a deep breath. "It smells spectacular."
"Nah, it's not a problem. There's a small resting area just beyond those Flowering Jarviys. Watch out though, Harry had some issues with growing plants so there are bound to be a few loose experiments that might be harmful, but this room's very pleasant for those who prefer the outdoors."
Kirigal turned to look at the Doctor. "Thank you, Time Lord. I am in your debt. And yours, Lady Rose."
The Doctor waved it away with a smile. "Nah, no problemo. I like that word. Problemo. Such a nice roll to it." He rolled his tongue. "Problemo..."
Rose rolled her eyes. "Good night, Kirigal. I am sure we will see more of each other tomorrow." Kirigal nodded, then shut the door. Rose rounded on the Doctor. "Alright, time to talk."
The Doctor blinked, startled. "Now? Really? But...I had...things to do..."
"I'm sure. However, I think we should talk now, and you can deal with whatever things you're about to make up to deal with later. I take it Harry's in bed?"
The Doctor nodded. "He's out. Probably be out for a while. He had a rough couple days." The Doctor opened his mouth to say something, saw the steely glint in Rose's eyes, then closed his mouth. "Ah, well, how about the library then?"
"Where you can wander off and read something? Or dive into the pool? Why is there a pool in the library again? It wasn't there before."
"Well, that...that happened when, well, it's a long story."
"Then I'll hear it. Later. But come on. There's bound to be a room that doesn't have too many distractions around here somewhere." Rose pulled the Doctor down the hall, opening doors as she went.
Not the game room.
Not the mess of a closet.
That might be the laundry, she would have to remember that.
No, not this one, too many toys. Where does he get all the toys?
She didn't even want to know what made the growling noises when she opened the next door.
"Ah, this one will work." She pushed the door open wider and pulled the Doctor through, shutting the door behind her. "Nice view, some sitting areas, though I don't trust that spiraling thing. I think it has a chair in the middle, but I'm afraid I might get dizzy just looking too hard at it."
"Oh, there's where the centrifugal lounger went. I wondered. It was all the rage once, everyone who was anyone had one. Though I don't know why. You could never talk to anyone who sat in it." The Doctor smiled. "Strange lot invented them. Amazed by spinning things, to an obsessive degree almost. They created a bed that spun in whatever direction you chose while sleeping in it. Though how anyone actually slept in it, I'm not sure."
Rose let the Doctor go on for a number of minutes, waiting till he had petered to an end, before she gestured to a chair opposite her. He sat.
Well, sat is a tame word. He slumped, falling into it like one falls into a particularly uncomfortable school chair in a class you aren't particularly sure you enjoy and one you know you really don't want to attend.
"Well, I suppose this has been coming," the Doctor sighed.
"What do you think this is?" Rose asked, voice soft.
The Doctor looked at her. "The reminder that you don't need me anymore. Not really."
Rose smiled. "Well, if that were true I wouldn't have driven an entire division of my staff to panic attacks ordering large prints of your face so I could rend them to pieces. They labeled a trash shoot "Doctor Pictures" and made sure that there was a stack by the door. I believe Simone, my assistant at the time, called it my "furious raging bitch phase"."
"I thought you only threw darts at my pictures..." the Doctor said, not sure what else to say.
Rose smiled, the edges sharp. "I threw darts too. And knives. And a few grenades. Taking shrapnel to the face is one of the less pleasant ways to die, I discovered."
The Doctor gaped at her.
"Well, there are lots of unpleasant ways to die. I'm sure Jack and I could have a field day of interesting deaths as a topic. We beat you hands down, something I never thought I would do." Rose sighed. "Doctor, this isn't a talk about me not needing you or not wanting you to protect me despite my ability to do that job fairly well myself. It's about us. What we are. What we might be. What I spent a lifetime convincing myself I would never have."
The Doctor smiled wryly. "Thank the small magic child asleep in the Tardis for that. He spent days decoding that Diary since the Tardis doesn't translate Gallifreyan of any sort. Found it in the depths of the Shadow Proclamation's library and we snuck it out. He took it on as a project." He leaned back, contemplating the event. "I wouldn't have given it more than a cursory glance but Harry wants to learn how to read Gallifreyan."
"You have an extraordinary child. I've only spent maybe a month or so with him and he's the epitome of everything good about you. Smart, friendly, quick on his feet, curious, outgoing, hard headed, stubborn, a trouble magnet. I imagine he's a lot like what you were when you were a child, except he has magic."
The Doctor laughed. "Oh, you never knew any of my younger incarnations. Right bastard I was, growing up. Ditched school constantly, was a hellion for my teachers and my House, the Time Lords thought I was a disgrace to the entire species enough to exile me. Naw, Harry's what I could have been, had I had as much experience as I've had."
Rose looked at the Doctor, then her eyes widened. "He doesn't know, does he?" The Doctor's head tilted. "He doesn't know what happened to your people. He doesn't know anything about the Daleks or the Time War or any of the battles you fought."
She knew she had hit the nail on the head and driven it through the board when the Doctor's eyes widened. His face paled and she saw a tiny hint of fear. "You can't tell him. All he knows is that I'm the last Time Lord. That's it. I've hidden everything on the Time Lords from him. The Time War, the Daleks, the legends and myths. Rassilon's Diary was safe for him to read because Rassilon only kept it through his younger years. He abandoned it once he reached his station as President. There was nothing too incriminating in it."
Rose shook her head. "One day he's going to find out Doctor. Find out his father wasn't always and sometimes still isn't this champion of justice and righteousness and peace that he knows. That he emulates and strives to be. I hope you're ready for that."
"I didn't think you came down here to lecture me on how I raise Harry," the Doctor said, words dry.
"No, not exactly. Though what you're doing to him, hiding all this truth about yourself, is part of the reason we're in this mess in the first place. You, me, the metacrisis John." Rose smiled, sadness lingering at the edges. "You knew something had to be different about me, when I looked into the Heart of the Tardis and didn't die. But you never told me. You barely told me what happened and I found out about Jack in the worst way possible. I committed genocide, turned most of an entire race into dust, and you barely told me the surface details of what happened." She shrugged. "Maybe you weren't sure, maybe you never got the chance. But then, when John went and did what I did, you condemned him for his actions. Oh, don't get started on how he was you, and you can't go about killing races without consequences. I was there. If I had had the power, I would have done the same." She quirked a smile. "Then you sent him to live with me, on a plane of existence where you couldn't reach me. Couldn't give into the temptation. That was vexing."
Rose held up a hand. "I know, I know Doctor. It's not about then. It's about now. It's about the fact that I am Time's vessel. I will never look any different than I do now, then I did at 19 when I saved you and Jack and destroyed the Dalek Emperor. I will never age, I cannot die. And you don't know what to do about it."
"Rose...I will one day die. Eventually I will regenerate into a new body, new face, and then again. I have three more regenerations left, then I'm done." He looked at his hands. "I don't know how long those lives will be. How much of them will you share with me?"
Rose took the Doctor's hands, forced his face upwards. "Doctor, I loved the you with the big nose and ears and bald head and Northern accent and leather jacket just as much as the you with the skinny tie and lanky body and spiky hair. You are the Doctor. You change your face, the surface personality traits, but you are always you. That is what is important. And that's who I left home for." She smiled.
The Doctor held onto the hand that rested on his chin. "Rose...I don't know...how, what...there's so much that should be said...there's so much about you that's changed and I don't know where I stand anymore. You used to need me for so much. Protection, adventure, rescuing, learning. Now, you can protect yourself and I fear for anyone who would kidnap you. And you've learned so much. What else is there for me to do?"
"There's still adventure, and hugs, and fun. Still teaching Harry and learning about each other. Just cause you aren't the invincible hero I saw you as when I was a child doesn't mean you can't do anything. You became a father, something I never saw you doing."
The Doctor smiled, a wide and honest smile. "Harry's the best thing that's happened to me in a long time."
Rose returned the smile. "See, there. You change as you need to. I couldn't imagine the Doctor who wore that leather coat ever being a father. I couldn't imagine you with your unnecessary glasses and red converses being a father. Yet, here you are with a brilliant child." She made sure he was looking at her. "So we can figure out where we stand, yeah? Learn as we go and find our footing. Doesn't have to be right now or tomorrow, but over time, we'll find it."
The Doctor stared at her for a long while, eyes wide. Then, without speaking, he pulled her into a hug, holding onto her tight. Rose could feel his heartbeats racing, his head buried in her hair. "Thank you," she thought she heard him whisper.
She held on a little tighter.
~~~~This is a Scene Break~~~~
Harry groaned, waking up to dim light filtering from innumerable stars (well, that was a lie. Harry knew there were precisely one thousand, four hundred and forty two stars on the ceiling). He was in his room, on the Tardis. Somehow he had made it back to the Tardis. His dad must have carried him back since he didn't remember coming back on his own.
Though he could have sworn that his dad would have gotten them a place to stay at the castle. He wasn't sure. He ran off before he could figure that out.
He checked the little device Merlin had given him yesterday that, somehow, told time. Why would someone want to tell time something? It didn't pay attention to what anyone said. It could care less.
But Merlin had told him that it was for showing him when it was a specific time.
Harry didn't get that either, but it didn't matter, really. Within the small orb floated a set of numbers and words.
Half past the tenth bell. Merlin said to meet him at the 12th bell, or noon. Harry wasn't sure what noon was, but he could count bell rings and knew that ten was two short of twelve. If it was halfway past the tenth bell then he had a bell and a half until he had to meet Merlin.
He was sure there was plenty of time for food before the twelfth bell.
So he wandered out towards a kitchen. Maybe his dad was in the kitchen already, or Rose. There might be food ready. Maybe some of that marvelous green drink from Yelghost that tasted like star shine and minty leaves. Tingly and refreshing.
By the time he did find the kitchen (he must have been not paying attention, having turned a few more times than he thought he ought) the little orb in his pocket read Quarter till Eleventh Bell and he had a good judge of how long he had until he needed to find Merlin's room.
Enough time for Yelghost's lovely drink.
Or pancakes, courtesy of Rose, who was flipping them on one of the stoves Harry judged to be from the Mid-23rd century.
"Hi Harry! You have a good night's sleep?"
"Restful. I have, it seems, one bell and a quarter of another bell until I need to meet Merlin. However long a bell is." Rose laughed. "What? Are you going to go on about how I can't do this 'Telling Time' nonsense too? I already got the lecture for Merlin. I think it's pointless, really. Keeping track of time." Harry shook his head, taking a couple of the pancakes that Rose had finished making, digging out some honey from the planet Vzzfora, a glass of Yelghost Shining, and a fork.
"I'm sure you have. I did hear him talking to you yesterday about it. Though I'm still not sure I get it."
Harry gestured extravagantly with his fork. "Telling time. What would you tell time? It doesn't listen anyway. And I know Night and Day. That's the same on any planet that orbits a star and rotates on it's axis. Sometimes it's light out, other times it's dark out. Not too difficult. But these various ways of measuring time. I don't get it. You humans measure it in these...hours and minutes and such and so on. Time Lords measure it in circular patterns and if-then, now-dones, could-be's and such. There's an entire race that don't have a concept of past or future. How they have ever propagated I'm not sure. Strange beings. And then there's a race that measures time by wing-beats. I don't have wings! I couldn't even try there if I wanted to!" Harry waved his juice glass to emphasize his point. "Each different species measures it differently so what point is there in figuring out how time is measured?"
"You learn the languages though," Rose pointed out.
Harry looked at her, eyebrow raised. "How'd you figure that? Why not just think that I let the Tardis translate for me like it does for you?"
"I'm brilliant," Rose deadpanned. Harry looked skeptical. "Really, I am. You have no faith in me."
"My dad told you, didn't he?"
"Can't keep anything from you, can I?"
"You said you talked to him. I assume that was while I was asleep. Told you all about me, I bet."
Rose nodded, her face beaming. "Brags all about you, he does. Light of his life and all sorts of other platitudes. It was adorable."
Harry groaned, banging his head against the table. "Why does he do that every time?"
"You've had other companions?" Rose asked.
"Not really. Other than Jack. But every time we meet someone new for longer than a few minutes, all my mistakes and misdeeds and whatever else I've done. Jack, the leader of the Shadow Proclamation, Elizabeth, Kryiosper. Ugh." A ringing sound came from Harry's pocket, faint but clearly a bell. Harry pulled out the orb. Eleventh Bell. "Well, I better go find Merlin's tower. Arthur and I are supposed to meet him at the tower." Harry hopped off his chair. "Bye! Thanks for the pancakes! You should try this, it's awesome. Tell dad I'll stay safe!" Harry scampered out of the room.
Rose watched him go with a grin. "Well Doctor, he is your child. I anticipate the chaos now." She heard a banging crash, a few yells, then Harry's small voice loudly complaining that his dad always left everything out in the hallways and why did he always have to trip on it! Then his voice faded from her hearing. "Have a good day, Harry. I'm sure I'll see you later."
~~~~~This is a Scene Break~~~~
Harry raced out of the Tardis, his shin smarting from his run in with the boxes and bins bursting with various doo dads and gizmos. His dad always left stuff out and he was forever tripping over it. It was frustrating.
"Hello young one!" a familiar voice called out as Harry ran across the courtyard.
Harry skidded to a halt, turning to find the source of the voice. "Ah, Paskal! How are you?"
"I am well, little one. I am hoping you have fully recovered from your ordeal. I was worried when you didn't wake up until the last day of our journey." Paskal, dressed in a leather tunic and wearing a sword around his waist, was heading away from the castle, towards some empty fields Harry could glimpse through the archways.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Just overexerted myself. Just needed a little while for my body to recover from the strain I put on it. Not used to channeling that much magic at once." Harry grinned.
"Well, I am glad you did, in any case. My men are in perfect health because of you when they should have been dead. I am indebted to you." Paskal bowed.
Harry fidgeted, uncomfortable. "I...I don't know what that means, really. And it was Merlin's spell that really did it. I just provided the power."
Paskal's eyes peered at Harry, then he nodded. "Well, we shall discuss the debt another time. You have lessons, I hear. And you have just under a bell to get to them. Do you know where Merlin's tower is?"
Harry shook his head. "Nah, but that's half the adventure, find it! I'll see you later Paskal!" Harry raced off again, leaving the knight to chuckle and head off towards the training fields and morning practice.
He bounded up the steps and through the main door. There was a set of stairs to his right and he took them two at a time until he reached the top, then he headed out into the hallway at a more sedate pace. It wouldn't do to knock over someone on his way to the tower and then have to apologize and knowing his luck he would break something valuable in the process.
He wandered down the hallway, turning as his fancy took him and peering into any open door. He figured that Merlin's door would be open, seeing as how he was expecting them.
He had taken a number of turns, a couple more staircases (some up, some down) and still, no Merlin. He looked at the orb in his pocket. Half past the Eleventh Bell. He had whatever half a bell was to find Merlin.
Though if it was anything like this past half bell, he wouldn't have any luck.
As he rounded a corner, going faster than was probably advisable, he rushed straight into a tall, sturdy human and he fell, whacking his head on the wall. He rubbed his head with his hand, frowning at the fancy shoes. "Sorry. Didn't mean to run into you. Rather hard aren't you?" Harry looked up, then his eyes widened. "Ah, hello! Arthur's dad! King Uther!" Harry smiled, climbing to his feet. "How are you!"
Uther blinked down at the child at his feet. Harry, Arthur's young friend who went off to save him with his father and the Lady Rose and Merlin and the knights. According to Arthur, Harry also saved two of his knights from dying. This young man was an enigma. He would have to talk to him in more depth. But not right now.
"Well, Harry, I take it you are going to join Arthur with Merlin today?" Uther queried. It was far from the question he wanted to ask the boy but he figured those could wait until this evening when they would be having a feast to celebrate his son's return.
"Yep. Though I wonder what we're learning today."
"I have been assured that it will be interesting." Uther looked at the boy in front of him.
Harry was short. Tiny would be a better description. Arthur had told him Harry was 8, "or thereabouts" his son informed him. How could one not know how old they were? Those green eyes, jewel bright and so full of knowledge, looked at him as an equal. Not as a king, or a lord or an adult, as an equal. Uther wasn't used to that. He hadn't been treated as an equal since his wife passed away. He was sure the boy's father did the same thing. It had to be something about father and son that made them disregard rank and nobility.
"Well, I better go find Merlin's tower. No idea where it is, but I have..." Uther watched as Harry pulled out an orb made from some crystalline stone. "about a quarter of a bell, according to this. I suppose that means the bell is gonna ring soon. Does that mean I'll be late? I've never been late before. That'll be a novel concept."
Uther tilted his head. "Do you not know how to tell time?"
Harry groaned. "Please, just, no, I don't. And it doesn't matter. I get by just fine not knowing what bells or hours or wing-beats or solar cycles or cloudlet halves are. You're just so dependent on knowing exactly when something is. It's so strange. Things happen when they happen."
Uther grinned. "I wish it could be as you say, then the meeting I need to attend would start whenever I decided to show up instead of whenever my ministers decide I need to show up."
Harry looked at him. "But aren't they supposed to listen to you? I mean, you're the king right? From what I understand, kings get to make the rules or some such and everyone else has to follow them. So shouldn't the meeting happen when you want it to anyway?"
Said king pondered on that, then he decided that he would be imperial king for the day and be late. Bugger the ministers. "Well then, I suppose I shall show you the way to Merlin's tower, which is on the opposite side of the castle from here. You'll be late in any case, so it'll be a fun experience for you."
Harry grinned. "Awesome! Come on then, let's get going!" He twirled on bare feet. "Arthur's already there, isn't he?"
"Arthur was there about a bell ago. I think Merlin wanted to go over some of his previous lessons and make sure Arthur was in good health." Which Uther was forever thankful for. He remembered the day Merlin had shown up in the castle. He hadn't been sure if he wanted the powerful wizard there in the first place, but Merlin had shown his usefulness by stopping a young Arthur from hitting the ground after the boy had decided that playing on the parapets had been a good idea.
Uther led the boy to Merlin's tower, or rather he continued to direct Harry, who had raced in front of him, to go left instead of right, and it was up the stairs, not down. Harry changed directions without missing a beat, grinning the whole time.
By the time they had reached the entrance to the tower, Uther had a new appreciation for Harry's father. The child was a menace with sparkling green eyes and a smile that you couldn't help but return. Harry had run into no less than three servants, one errand boy, two knights, three ministers searching for Uther, and three other children who had been playing in the halls. Despite Harry's profuse apologies, the ministers were still sour and Uther explained that he was escorting the boy to Merlin for lessons.
He was grateful that Harry had taken his hand and dragged him off before he had to start ordering his surly ministers back to the cabinet room to wait.
"Well Harry, here we are. Arthur will be able to help you find your way back if you need it." Uther pushed open the door with a smile.
Harry grinned. "Thanks!"
"Oh, and be sure to tell your father and Lady Rose that there is a banquet tonight at the eighth bell. It is a celebration, and your family will be with Arthur and I at the main table."
Harry's eyes went wide. "Really! That's awesome! I'll make sure dad and Rose know. Alright, See you later! Bye!" Harry raced into the room and Uther made his way back to the meeting he was half a bell late for.
He held that it was for a good cause, so he didn't hold himself too accountable to his ministers.
~~~This is a Scene Break~~~~
The first floor was empty aside from a couple chairs and tables, so Harry ran up the flight of stairs in the corner.
Merlin and Arthur were on the second floor. Arthur sat on a wooden chair while Merlin stood next to a large cauldron, stirring something very bright orange. Harry grinned.
"Hey Arthur, Merlin!" He waved.
Arthur turned. "Harry! I thought you got lost and would be wandering about the castle for hours!"
"You dad helped me find it. He said he was supposed to be at some meeting or something but he's the king so I suppose that means you can decide to go to a meeting when you're supposed to be there or not. That's what I thought anyway." Harry shrugged.
Arthur gaped at him. "You really told my dad that?" he asked, eyes wide.
"Well, sure. That's what kings are supposed to do, aren't they? Make the rules."
"Well, this debate is interesting, but I had something else planned for you two this afternoon instead of debating." Merlin tapped the table in front of the two boys.
"Is whatever you're stirring got something to do with it?" Harry asked, pointing to the cauldron. "Cause' it's really bright orange and I don't remember Salazar teaching me anything good about brightly colored potions." In fact, Harry recalled, brightly colored potions often meant bad things. At least, that's what he thought.
Merlin smiled. "I suppose for those just learning how to make potions, anything that is unnaturally bright is always a bad sign, but when you advance, you learn that it isn't always negative. Some are very strong potions, some do unusual things to those who take them, some will grant or take away a sense or ability." Harry nodded. "This falls into the second category."
"So...it's going to do something unusual to us? Are you sure we should be drinking it then?" Harry asked. "Arthur just got back from being kidnapped. Wouldn't Uther be upset if something happened to him again?"
"The king is already aware of what I am going to do. He approved it, in fact."
"So that's what he meant." Harry plopped down on the floor. Arthur looked at him, eyebrow raised. "Your dad. He said that the lesson would be interesting. I assume he meant this." Harry gestured towards the cauldron.
"Ah. Well, he didn't tell me," Arthur pouted.
"Where's the fun in it if he tells you what's going to happen?" Harry asked. "Then you already know."
Merlin hushed them, ladling the potion into two stone beakers. "Let's go outside before you take this. It'll be easier, just in case something happens that I don't expect."
"That doesn't sound reassuring," Arthur mumbled. Harry pat his shoulder, smiling. Arthur frowned at him.
They followed Merlin with his two cups down the stairs and out through the private door at the base of the tower. It opened into an expansive meadow that stretched until the outer walls, maybe a hundred meters.
"Here, this should be enough room. Now, this one is for you Arthur, and this one is yours, Harry. There's more in yours, young wizard, because I had to make sure it could work with your magic. Now, drink up."
Harry and Arthur exchanged glances.
"Cheers, Arthur," Harry said, raising his glass.
"Cheers, Harry," Arthur replied, then they both downed the potion.
Harry had been expecting it to taste terrible. Things colored bright colors either tasted amazing or terrible and potions tended to fall into the latter category.
So he was surprised when a bright, tangy flavor exploded over his tongue and tingled down his throat. He wasn't able to identify the flavor but it was brilliant.
Arthur didn't think so though, judging by the hacking cough he gave. Harry looked at Merlin, curious.
"The potion tastes different based on the personality of the drinker and sometimes based on the magic. You probably had a better taste because of your magic more than anything else. Also, Arthur has an ingrained dislike of my potions, so it influenced his expectations." Merlin smiled. "Ah, and here we go."
Harry's vision suddenly skewed sideways and he felt the earth drop out from under his feet. His body started to tip and he felt the ground rush up to meet him, but for some reason, the sensations were dulled. He couldn't feel the pain from hitting the ground, or the feel of the grass on his skin or his clothes or anything.
He closed his eyes and his magic started to race around his body in wild motions, and he could swear that his form was changing, but that was absurd.
Unless that was what the potion did.
He snapped his eyes open.
Except the world looked different now. There were more...colors. Deeper colors, strange wavelengths. He wasn't sure what that one was, but it was amazing. All the normal colors he was used to were there, and then there were more. Lots more.
He looked around for Arthur, his head feeling strange and light.
But, Arthur wasn't there. Only Merlin and...was that a lion cub sitting next to Merlin? It was, it was indeed a small lion cub right where Arthur had been. Arthur was a lion cub.
"Well, Harry, I hadn't expected this from you. That is a beautiful form." Harry looked at Merlin. The wizard shone with bright lights, a myriad of silvers and whites and golds and spun together.
"Merlin, what happened?" Harry tried to ask, but all that came out was a sort of snuffling sound. He couldn't talk!
Harry tried to climb to his feet but found more legs than he expected.
He had six legs! Six! That was two too many limbs! He tried to walk, but he couldn't move right. He kept stumbling over his hooves (there were certainly hooves, and two too many for a horse, if that's what he was supposed to be). He looked behind him, since he could move his head, and saw wings. Two sets of jewel green wings, tiny, and folded up on his back. His skin (fur? Coat?) was as black as his hair.
Harry, in the midst of trying to figure out how to walk, suddenly remembered where he had seen this kind of animal before. It was on the planet his dad had crashed into after his sixth birthday party. They never got the name, but the animals there were absolutely gorgeous and Harry had fallen in love with the winged, six legged beasts that would give him rides.
And from what he remembered, they didn't really look like horses. They had several whippy tails instead of a hairy one and their heads resembled a felines with swirly eyes and strange, multi-pronged ears. Their young were unable to fly though, and Harry was a bit disappointed. He was still a young one, just as Arthur was a cub.
"I would be most curious to learn what kind of animal you are, Harry. The potion only works if the drinker knows the animal so this must exist somewhere. It is quite amazing." Harry decided that the ground was the best place to remain for now and looked up at Merlin. "Ah, yes, I should now explain what is going on. The potion is used by drinkers to become an animal they favor. Among the magical, it is used by those who cannot become an animagus for one reason or another, though it is used sparingly. One use is perfectly fine, and a couple uses spread out over a number of weeks is also fine. But oftentimes this potion is abused."
Harry staggered to his feet, feeling very off balance. Six legs was way too many.
Still, he staggered over towards little cub-Arthur. The prince-turned-lion cub had started experimenting with his own feet, finding that having too many wasn't as much of a problem as he originally thought. It was similar to crawling, though not precisely.
Arthur looked around for Merlin and Harry, wondering what had happened to his magical friend. Merlin was still human, which was to be expected seeing as he hadn't drunk the potion.
Harry, on the other hand, was something he had never seen before. He had six legs that ended in something akin to horses hooves, but harder. The body was sleek and slim, his head looked very feline, something like one of those exotic animals he had been shown pictures of when he studied other countries. And, Arthur spotted, he had wings. Green wings, if his eyes could be trusted. He was suddenly seeing less colors than he was used to. Merlin was now in muted shades of colors, like someone had washed his clothes too many times.
He tried to speak, ask Merlin what was going on, as he hadn't quite adjusted to his strange hearing capabilities (did someone really just fall down the stairs with an armful of dishes?) and hadn't heard anything Merlin had said.
What came out, though, was more like a "Mreow?" Arthur snapped his jaws shut.
"You sound adorable, Arthur," Merlin grinned, stopping down the pat the small lion on the head. "Adorable."
Arthur tried to swat the hand away, but stumbled and ended up on his face. Having four legs was strange.
Which meant the Harry, with his six legs, was in an even worse position. Still, the tiny creature (Harry was now shorter than he had been before he took the potion, which was quite a feat) stumbled over on his legs until he was in front of Arthur.
Then Harry headbutted Arthur, making soft, swooshy noises. Arthur supposed that was how whatever animal Harry was communicated.
"Alright you two. Today's exercise is one in cooperation. As you are discovering, you aren't going to be able to do a lot of the things you normally could. Walking will be a challenge, communication in the normal forms will be impossible, and much of your advantages have been removed. Though you've also gained some advantages in your new forms, hearing and smell for you, young Arthur, if I am correct." Arthur nodded his head, figuring that was about the only way he could answer at the moment. "And I don't know what your form allows you to do Harry. I have never seen the like of it." Merlin pondered.
Harry paused, looked at the ground, then started pawing at the grass until he had a spot of dirt. Writing wasn't too difficult, Harry discovered, as long as he took it slowly.
"You can see better?" Harry nodded. "Anything else, young one?"
Harry paused, feeling his body out. His wings were still too weak to carry his form, so no flying. He could feel something at the edges of his mind, but he wasn't sure what it was. It might be an inherent trait of the animal that he just didn't know how to access. He wiggled his ears. His hearing was about the same as before, and his nose might actually be a bit better but it was negligible. His magic was still present, but he didn't know if he could use it.
"So you still have access to your magic. Can you use it?"
Harry shook his head and tried to shrug his shoulders/wings/forelimbs in the basic gesture of "No Idea".
Merlin nodded. "Alright. So, your eyesight is far superior to your human eyes, and Arthur can hear and smell better." He grinned. "This will be fun."
Harry aimed what he thought might be a glare at Merlin and sort of whooshed-hissed in his direction. Merlin grinned all the more.
"So, today you will be finding several things I hid around the field. Some of them are visible, some of them are not. Together you will have to figure out where they are, collect any that can be touched and acknowledge those that can't. If you find more than three quarters of them together, and almost all of the ones that can be touched, I shall give you the reversal potion before the feast. If you don't and there isn't an obvious reason for your failure, then you shall remain as you are for the rest of the evening until the potion wears off normally, which will be tomorrow at noon."
Harry looked at Arthur, who seemed to be panicking. Harry supposed it would be strange for the prince to attend the feast as a lion cub, especially since the feast was in his honor.
Harry nodded at Merlin, who smiled. "I will know when you have gathered or acknowledged an object. Each has a spell on them to alert me to your discovery. I will be out here either when you have found enough of the items or before the feast, whichever comes first."
Arthur stumbled to his feet, pawing at his mentor's robes. Tiny claws snagged on the cloth. "Mreow?"
"It's alright Arthur. Your father knows what's going on and what might happen. He approved, though I rather think he would enjoy it if you showed up as an animal this evening."
Arthur looked as indignant as a lion cub could look.
Harry let out soft swooshy hisses, laughing. Arthur glared at him as well.
"Now you two, off you go. I'll be back in a little while. I will tell you that everything this is outside, between my tower and the wall, and between the east wing and the south wing, so within this meadow area bordered by the trees." Merlin headed towards the tower, waving. "Do your best!"
Harry and Arthur were left, half standing, to their own devices. They looked at each other, and pondered. How could they talk to each other? Speaking was out, they couldn't understand each other. Harry wasn't sure Arthur could control his paws well enough to write in the dirt like Harry could with his thin, hardened hooves.
Arthur stood up, shaky, and walked forward. He managed to get a couple steps without falling flat on his face. He yeowled in excitement.
Harry decided to give it a shot. Really, six legs was too many. What did anything or anyone need with six legs?
He got his hind and mid legs under him and started to push up with his fore legs, until he stood, just a hair taller than Arthur-cub. He lifted his front right leg and left mid and back legs, and stepped forward. One step. Two steps. Three steps. He stopped, feeling mildly triumphant. Maybe he could do this. He stepped forward again, then leaped.
That was a mistake. His feet decided that getting underneath him wasn't important and he crashed. He heard the lion cub snickering and glared back at Arthur.
For the next half a bell, the two children-come-animals learned how to walk in their new forms, then how to jump, then a hesitant run. It wasn't terrible, just not entirely graceful.
Merlin watched from the window of his tower room and his two pupils started to find the ground again. He smiled as they began to run around, figuring out how their body worked. They hadn't really needed to relearn how to walk, just figure out how their new body walked. Everything was ingrained into the animal bodies they inhabited, they just had to access it.
It wouldn't be long, really, until they started searching. Then would come the fun part. Harry would have a clear advantage on seeing things, Merlin judged. But many of the items weren't tangible. Some of them were magical and had form only because the magic sustained them. Some were sounds that were stuck to an object. Some were smells. Merlin had spent a few hours the night before setting it up.
It would be an interesting lesson. How would two people who were both intelligent yet couldn't communicate with each other and each with different handicaps work together.
Knowing Arthur, it wouldn't be long before the cub would grow impatient.
Harry, Merlin wasn't sure. The magical items were there specifically for Harry, designed so he could find them. He had placed a bit of his own magic on the objects to see if Harry could figure it out and track each item with his own magic. Really, the finding was part of Harry's lesson. Arthur's lesson was in understanding differences and working together. Putting Arthur through a mental task was one way to teach the young prince the value of not ignoring those who couldn't speak the same or who looked different. A practical demonstration was another, one Merlin thought was the most important.
He wondered how far the two would get. They had just under six bells to find the items. Then he would see whether a lion cub and whatever strange creature Harry was would be attending the feast instead of two young boys.
Harry, the moment he managed to run effectively, hurried over to Arthur-cub, nosing the small lion. They had to find the items. Harry was sure Arthur wasn't interested in attending a feast in his present form, even if Harry wasn't too bothered by it.
The cub turned golden eyes towards him and tilted his head. Harry looked at a distant tree then back to Arthur.
Harry walked over towards a tree near the edge of the boundary. Nestled in a crook of branches was a small block, glowing bright silver in Harry's vision. He nudged Arthur towards it. It was too high for him to reach especially since he couldn't fly and this body wasn't made to climb trees.
Arthur looked at Harry in confusion.
Harry put his forelegs on the tree and tried to mime climbing. He pointed upwards with his nose.
Arthur nodded, wondering what Harry was pointing it. It was irritating that they couldn't talk. How was he supposed to figure out what was going on?
Arthur unsheathed his claws, looking at them. They were small but very sharp. He hoped they would hold him to the tree as he climbed up after Harry's mystery item.
A few feet up, he found the crook and, looking closely, he managed to make out a little block. It was brown, Arthur thought, and he picked it up in his mouth. Must be what Harry saw. It didn't belong in a tree.
Harry watched Arthur stood in the gap, the cube in his mouth. His butt wiggled, and then he jumped. Harry hadn't seen a less graceful landing since his own attempt not too long ago. He swooshed a laugh.
Arthur glared, dropping the cube in front of Harry before turning his back.
The cube was glowing bright silver and brown and close up, Harry could see the shifting patterns of the strange new colors. They flowed over the stone. He touched his nose to it and his magic roared to life.
Harry would have grinned if he could. He was seeing the magic Merlin had left, he was sure of it.
Harry turned to Arthur to poke at him, but the cub had already left.
Harry rolled his eyes as he caught the cub pouncing on something in the grass. He trotted over, the cube in his jaws. It was almost too big for his mouth.
"Mreow!" Arthur pounced on a bug. Harry shoved at him with his nose, dropped the cube, and pointed at it with a foreleg. Arthur turned resentful eyes on him.
This was going to be a long exercise, Harry could tell.
~~~~This is a Scene Break~~~~
By the time Merlin showed back up on the field, Harry and Arthur had managed to find fifteen different shaped items hidden around the field, five strange noises Arthur or Harry had poked their noses at before jerking back as they disappeared, seven odd smells, and three magical mists.
Arthur had wandered into one before Harry could plant himself in front of it to warn the cub off and had ended up dangling upside-down for a number of minutes until Harry could coax his magic to agree with him. Still, Arthur had bounded off in a huff, upset. Harry carefully skirted the strange upside-down mist and chased after his friend.
They hadn't known if they had gotten everything, Merlin hadn't told them how many items there were, but Harry thought they had gotten quite a bit. Especially since he kept having to cajole Arthur into the hunt more times than he would care to admit.
The two small animals sat in front of Merlin. One was sulky and upset, the other amused but exasperated.
Merlin looked at the two of them. "Well, I can say that you have managed to beat the challenge, though just barely." He set down a bowl full of shimmering liquid in front of Harry and Arthur. "Three sips each, little ones. Then we will discuss your performance."
Arthur pounced for the bowl, almost landing in it, before taking three careful sips and sitting back, hoping his time as a lion cub would be over. Harry took his time, and sipped at the potion.
Within a couple minutes, where two animals had been, two children now sat, covered in burrs, mud, dirt, and sap.
"Why'd you do that Merlin? You didn't even tell us!" Arthur complained, not even trying to clean himself off.
Merlin raised an eyebrow. "Arthur, I told you the lesson at the beginning. Do you remember?"
"Cooperation. I mean, we had to find these things, though I don't know why. Harry found most of them anyway. I just had to do the dirty work since Harry couldn't climb trees and his wings got caught in the bushes if he tried to squirm under them." Arthur looked at Harry.
"Well, that was also part of the lesson. Harry has magic, and I deliberately made it easier for him to find the items. The fact that only you could reach most of them was only a happy accident. I didn't have any idea what kind of animal either of you would turn into, though I suspected you would be a lion, Arthur. Your fascination with them made it easy to predict."
"Well, I think it was stupid."
Harry grinned. "I think it was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. That was a ton of fun, even if I spent most of the time chasing down Arthur cause he ran off in a huff."
Merlin looked at Harry. "I would love to know what kind of animal you were. I have never seen the like of it."
Harry scratched his head. "Well, dad and I ran into them on this planet. Dad never told me where we were, but the animals there were absolutely amazing. I think I was a Fygliera. The adults had huge, jewel colored wings and they soared through the sky. Their babies and younglings would ride on their parents backs until they were old enough to learn. I think I still had a little while to go until I could learn how to fly."
Arthur slumped. "I don't get why you did that," Arthur stated, his voice taking a hint of whine.
Merlin sighed. Arthur could be particularly dense when he wanted to be. "Arthur, what did you have to do to finish the challenge?"
Arthur looked sullen, but he thought about it for a few minutes. "Well, work together. Sort of. Harry couldn't get the items, but he could find them. So I had to get them, even if I didn't want to. And we couldn't talk, which was irritating. I didn't know what Harry was gesturing half the time."
"I would like you to think about it again, Arthur, and think about different ways you could use those skills when meeting different people and cultures. You did something very important today. I would recommend contemplating how a king can use the same skills you used." Arthur started to open his mouth. "Tomorrow, Arthur, tomorrow I will hear your answer. For now, I think you should go get cleaned up and get dressed. You have a feast to attend and looking like you went playing about in the bushes and trees for hours is not how a prince should present himself."
Arthur looked down at himself. "Probably not. Can't you just magic it clean?"
"Then you would never learn the value of doing things for yourself. Now, off you go. I'm sure your dad is wondering if you're your normal shape again, Harry. He did stop by to see me once, and thought you looked adorable, but then he wandered off again."
Harry laughed. "Sounds like him. I bet he's gone and poked into every possible room the castle has and probably upset a number of the occupants in the process. I'll go see if Rose has managed to corral him." Harry grinned and waved, heading back to the castle. Arthur sighed, following. He had a bath to take and decent clothes to find.
Harry rushed through the castle, bare feet slapping on the ground. He should probably go find the Tardis and get cleaned up. While he hadn't realized the extent of the amount of dirt and mess he had picked up while he was scampering around in the underbrush until after he had changed back, he could feel stickers and sap clinging to his clothes and his skin. According to the stone in his pocket, he hand under a bell to get cleaned before the feast.
He really would have liked to attend the feast as a Fygliera. That would have been fun and interesting. Seeing the reactions of the various dignitaries and knights would have been worth the hassle of being so small as to be unable to reach the table.
He retraced his steps until he was out in the front courtyard, the Tardis just behind a wall. He hurried over to it, slamming the door open and making for the washing facilities.
Rose popped her head out of a door as he passed, mouth open to say something, then stopped. And giggled. "You look like you've gone tromping through a forest. The only other thing you would have needed to do was to fall into a mud hole."
Harry looked down at himself. "I'm not that bad, am I?"
"I'm still wondering if you went rolling in a dirt pile after climbing through a whole row of bushes. You have stickers in your hair and all over your clothes and we have a feast to attend in…" Rose turned her watch towards her face. "Half an hour." She took in the look on Harry's face. "Don't worry about how long that is. I'll make sure I come get you before I head to the feast."
"Off somewhere in the castle. Possibly being a menace to decent folk or stealing food from the kitchen. I can picture him standing off to the side, snitching pieces of bread or cheese or a banana, do they have bananas in this time?, as the cooks go by."
Harry laughed, enjoying the image as he headed to the showers.
He wasn't sure how long he had, but he decided that taking an extended shower wasn't the best idea. So he stripped, shoved his clothes into a bin that needed to be tossed into the laundry facilities, and then stepped into the spray of hot water and soap.
The dirt, sap, and various other substances he had crawled through slid off his body and he enjoyed the sensation. Then the air turned on and his hair fluffed up like a kitten's. He would have to smooth it down again. When he was younger, his short hair would always manage to stick up in every direction. As it got longer, the weight of it would force it into submission and he decided that longer was better.
He slipped out of the shower and towards his room. His drawers were still open, evidence of his failed attempt at cleaning not too long before, and he yanked out a long pair of black pants. They wrapped at his waist and tied to keep them up, but they were his favorite style. A shirt of bright red joined it and he turned to the mirror on the far wall.
Now, his hair was, to put it plainly, frizzy. It looked like he had gotten on the wrong end of a lightning strike. He grabbed the brush the Tardis had left there for him when he had been younger and started to try and tame it.
It was futile though. The amount of frizz was so profound that he could barely get his hair to pull into a reasonable resemblance of order.
"Harry, I'm heading to the castle. Are you ready?" Rose's voice echoed down the hall. He stared at the mirror, then the brush, before sighing.
Really, it was just hair.
"Yeah, I'm ready. Meet you in the console room!" he called back, spinning on his heel.
He smiled ruefully at Rose's giggles when he walked in.
"What happened?" she asked, breathless.
"The setting on the dryspin was a bit high. This is the result."
"Well, if you're dad uses them too, at least I know why his hair was always sticking up. Come on, I bet he's in the castle already."
"You look lovely. Where did you get the dress? I don't think I've seen that dress before."
Rose spun, letting the colors of her gown flair out around her. "There's a closet on the Tardis full of these kinds of gowns. I'm sure plenty of them are from other planets, but I figured this matched the era the closest. I've seen a number of the ladies at court wear similar clothes. I love the colors."
"Well, you're better than me and my dad about fitting in." Harry dashed around the console room and executed what might be called a bow. "Can I escort you to the feast, Lady Rose?"
Rose laughed. "I would be delighted!"
Harry grinned, then raced out the door and up the steps of the castle. "See you there!"
"I thought you were escorting me Harry!" Rose called after him, laughing. All she got was a bright grin in return.
It was time for a feast.
~~~~This is a Scene Break~~~~
Uther groaned in relief. He had spent most of the day in meetings with his various advisors, lords, and knights. Most were relieved the prince was back and alive but some were suspicious.
Who were the newcomers? Where were they from? Why did they go out to rescue the prince, not just the knights? Did the king not trust his knights? Why had a child and a lady gone with them? Why was Merlin also teaching this child?
The questions went on and on, all along a similar vein. He had been about to throw all of them out of the room when Sir Paskal walked in, a bit late but that was fine. As the leader of the squires practices, he was occasionally not on time. Not that Uther could talk, seeing as how he deliberately ignored the appointed time for the meeting.
"Well, I see everyone is lively and cheerful this fine day. Your majesty," Paskal bowed towards the king.
Uther mentally cheered the presence of his knight. Paskal had spent plenty of time with the Doctor and the Lady and Harry.
He waved the questions towards the knight. Paskal listened to a number of them with varying degrees of patience before he cut them off.
"I understand your misgivings. Three strangers come here, and soon after the prince is kidnapped and they are off to his rescue. But I will say that not once did any of them falter. The Lady Rose was a joy to ride with, taking the place of the few squires we brought with us as cook, taking care of the horses and keeping our spirits up. The Doctor rescued the prince from the being who took him and talked him into surrendering peacefully, and the boy Harry healed two of my men from injuries that were fatal. They have no scars and have reported feeling better than they have since they were young." Paskal looked at each of the various lords and knights. "They are honorable and kind people who were able to solve a most severe problem. Please, don't accuse them of anything less than nobleness."
The others looked like they might have objected, but the knight's glare made it clear that the discussion was over. Most of the lords filtered out, muttering amongst themselves.
Uther sighed. "Thank you, sir Paskal. I was not in a position to answer their questions with any degree of accuracy and I wasn't quite prepared to just throw them out of the room. I appreciate your insight."
Paskal shrugged. "I merely did my duty. They are remarkable people and I look forward to the time they spend here."
"Ah, hello there! Lovely to see you!" a familiar voice called out from the door. Paskal turned, eyes wide, and saw the Doctor striding in, his odd clothes clean and freshly pressed. "Paskal, the brave knight! How are you?"
Paskal grinned. "Hello Doctor."
"Uther! I do believe I just saw your son outside in a field. Though he was a lion cub, so it might have been another child. Did you know your son could turn into a lion cub? No? Well, he is a lovely lion cub, if I do say so myself."
Uther raised an eyebrow, settling back in his chair. "A lion cub, you say? I wasn't aware that would be his animal. Nevertheless, that is interesting. I shall have to ask Merlin for more specific details later." Uther tilted his head. "What was your son, if I may ask?"
The Doctor grinned. "He was a Fygliare. Lovely creatures, lovely home. They live on a protected planet, relocated when their home was almost destroyed. The entire ecosystem has been untouched by any developed nation in it's entire history. To even set foot within the solar system it resides in requires special permissions, if you aren't me. If you want to get on the planet, it could take up to a full solar rotation before the committee approves your request." The Doctor's grin grew wider. "Such a beautiful place though. Jewel colored leaves and every animal shines as brightly as their plants."
Uther and Paskal exchanged looks, wondering what the Doctor was talking about. They hadn't heard of such a place before and they didn't understand half of the words.
When they mentioned this fact to the Doctor, he just shrugged, grinning. Then he waved and jaunted out of the room.
The 5th bell rang.
Uther sighed. He had just under two hours to get ready for the feast. He should check on his son, make sure Arthur would be presentable. He wasn't sure what being a lion would do to his son's appearance, but he was sure a bath at the very least would be necessary. So long as Arthur did get the cure and wasn't spending the feast as a lion cub.
He could just see the irate anger on the various dignitaries faces if Arthur padded in as a lion cub. It might even be worth facing Arthur's irritation for that.
~~~~This is a Scene Break~~~~
Arthur slammed the door into his room, pulled his shirt over his head and tossed it to the floor. He was filthy, covered in dirt and bark and sap and burrs. His trousers followed and he was ecstatic to see a tub of hot water sitting in a corner of the room. He sunk in, grateful.
Why had Merlin turned him into an animal? Harry had seemed to get along just fine, but Harry wasn't normal. Harry was a strange person even among those with magic. Merlin's expression had told him that.
Sure, at first it was all fun and games. But it eventually got tiring and irritating. Harry would drag him all across the field, pushing him and coaxing him across the grass, to the wall, up a tree, under a bush. He couldn't understand Harry and most of the time he would have rather been doing something else. He was sure that he would still be a cub if Harry hadn't been motivating him.
Well, motivating was a strong word. Harry forced him into it. And Merlin said it was for his benefit. What was he supposed to get out of it?
Arthur sank below the water, feeling the grime starting to soak away. Merlin was strange, Arthur decided, and he did weird things. Harry was strange and weird and liked doing those things. Arthur wasn't sure he wanted to be included in those strange things.
His door opened and his father stood there, smiling at him.
"Hello Arthur. I heard you had an exciting day."
Arthur glared at him. "Merlin said you let him turn me into an animal. Why?"
Uther smiled. "Well, I'm sure you learned something today."
"Yeah, that trees are covered in sap and getting out from under a thorny bush is far more painful than any scavenger hunt is worth."
The king shook his head. "No, no, I'm sure there was more than just that. What did you do?"
Arthur shifted a bit so his neck was above the waterline. "Well, we had to find these objects. Merlin didn't tell us how many we had to find, but that if we didn't find enough before the sixth bell we would be stuck as animals until tomorrow at noon. And then Harry could sense almost all of them but he couldn't get to them. He wasn't really suited to climbing trees and he couldn't fly yet anyway."
Uther nodded. "So how did you know where everything was?"
"Harry showed me. Shoved my face into a lot of them or poked me towards them and one time he even pushed me towards a tree."
"So he did all the communicating then?"
"Well...I suppose." Arthur felt like he was missing something and starting to grasp onto the edges of it.
"I see. Ponder this son. A delegate from a far away nation arrives to bring you a missive from their king. He speaks a tongue foreign to us and doesn't understand our tongue well. Yet it is important that you don't offend this delegate for his king is powerful and strong. How do you talk to him?"
Arthur sat back. "Well, I suppose being able to draw would be helpful. Maybe find common words or trade words."
"Now, you must fight with this man, side by side. You have been ambushed. How would you work together? You cannot understand each other."
Arthur's eyes widened. "Oh. I see. Harry got it all along, didn't he?"
Uther chuckled. "I don't think it ever didn't occur to your young friend. Just because you can't understand someone doesn't mean they don't have something valuable to say. Just because you don't want to do something doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. It is important to face these situations now before you become king. Otherwise they will confound you."
Arthur looked at his father. "Did they you, father?"
"A couple times, Arthur. Most notably when I met Merlin Emrys. He was called Emrys at the time, but he requested we call him Merlin as well. I couldn't understand what he wished to do, not truly. That a magic user would want to teach a non-magic prince was confounding. I refused to listen. I might have spent the better part of a week regretting that decision. Though the fact that he saved you his first week here did go a long way to allowing him to stay within my castle."
Arthur nodded. "Alright father. I'll think about it. And I'll apologize to Harry for making him do all the work. I think I was upset and resentful that Merlin hadn't told me what would happen and then I couldn't even talk to him."
Uther smiled. "I understand. Now, you have less than half a candlemark to get ready. Hurry, the prince cannot be late to his own feast."
Arthur scrambled out of the tub, reaching for a cloth to dry himself before hurrying to his wardrobe.
Uther left his son to get dressed, watching as various clothes were thrown to the ground or tossed to the bed and chuckling. Hopefully his son would manage to find something decent in the fifteen minutes or so until the feast began.
Harry and Rose trotted into the main entrance way just as the main banquet hall was filling up. The Doctor lounged near the double doors, examining his screwdriver and humming softly under his breath. Harry raced over to him.
"Dad! I got to be a Fygliare today! It was amazing!" Harry bounced as he approached, grabbing the Doctor around the waist in a hug.
The Doctor laughed, ruffling his son's already messy hair. "I saw. You and Arthur made quite the pair, running about in the fields. Did you manage to find everything?"
"Yeah, most of it. Though Arthur wasn't too keen on the game." Harry shrugged. "I guess he doesn't like surprises. Still, it was fun."
"What happened to your hair? Were you playing with the electromagnetic field generator again?"
Harry huffed. "I blame that dryspin you decided was a good idea. The settings are all wonky and it puffed my hair up till it stood on end!" Harry threw his hands up in the air. "Why is it so hard to get something that works properly in the Tardis?"
"Oi, don't go knocking the facilities. If you want something different, you install it next time."
Harry stuck his tongue out.
Rose watched with a grin, mentally saving all the smiles and laughs from the Doctor to memory. They were genuine, happy smiles that she didn't remember seeing as often before. It warmed her to know the Doctor managed to find someone to share his life with and to smile with.
She swooped over and lifted Harry in a hug, then gave the Doctor a quick kiss. "Well, let's go inside. I'm sure they've set out places for us to sit." She grinned, set Harry down, and swished her skirts into the banquet hall.
Harry looked at his dad, eyes wide. "What did you say to her?" he asked.
"I...well," the Doctor stuttered. Harry eyed him. "Oi, don't look at me like that."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Whatever. At least she can dress for the period. You are a walking anachronistic time bomb. Half of the materials you're wearing haven't been invented yet."
The Doctor looked him up and down. "You're barefoot and wearing synthesized fabric from Tourus V and you're calling me anachronistic?"
Harry grinned and reached into his pocket, pulling out a black cloak. "I have a cloak. Automatically fit in." He draped it around his shoulders and fastened the clasp. "See, I fit in." Then he swept into the hall ahead of his perplexed father.
"Should never have expanded those pockets of his. I never know what's in them anymore." The Doctor sighed, then straightened his tie and headed after his son.
The feast was as grand as Uther had promised it to be. Plenty of strange foods Harry had never tasted before (and a few he was certain he never wanted to taste again). There were many spicy foods, mostly meats with sauces liberally applied. Stews and bread were plentiful and there were even a handful of different kinds of fruits and sweets near the end. Harry sat next to Arthur, who sat next to his father. The Doctor was on the other side of the king and Rose sat next to him. Beside her was Merlin. Ranged around at the tables were the familiar faces of the knights Harry rode with interspaced with unfamiliar faces.
The king stood up, gave speeches about how his son had been returned and heroic efforts and such. Harry whispered to Arthur that it all sounded very over the top and unnecessary. Arthur whispered back that they had saved the only heir to the throne so of course it was necessary and to stop being so weird. Harry rolled his eyes and said Arthur was his friend and at was his fault Arthur had been away from his protectors anyway, so why was he being thanked and Arthur glared at him. Harry went to speak more on the subject but Arthur's elbow to his ribs shut him up and he sat in petulant silence to listen to the applause and cheers from the dignitaries and knights.
Not being able to get up at will and run around for the long feast grated on Harry eventually. He heard at least three bells go off by the time Uther called an end to the festivities. The various musicians and jugglers were the first to file out through a side door, followed by the knights and dignitaries. Harry was about to make a break for the Tardis as well until his dad caught him by the back of his cape.
"Nope, you're here with me until we finish up."
Harry looked up at his father, puppy dog eyes ready to go. "But, really? I mean, do I have to? I ate so much food that my stomach feels like it's going to explode. Who serves that much food? I mean, they just kept handing me things, what was I supposed to do with it?" Harry mimed an explosion.
Uther raised an eyebrow at the child. "You did not have to take everything they offered. The servants attend to the high table first and you may refuse something. I myself turned down a number of the vegetable plates."
Harry cocked his head to the side. "So it's not rude? I mean, they made all that food. I felt that turning it down would be impolite or some such."
Arthur giggled. "They're servants. The chefs made the food. The two round men who came out at the end of the feast, they made everything."
Harry crossed his arms. "Well, how was I supposed to know? I don't know what a servant is or does. It's really someone's job to hand out food and stuff? Do people not get their own food?"
Arthur looked scandalized by the very idea. "Of course not, not the nobility. The servants do almost everything for us. That's why they're here."
"That sounds rather counterproductive to growing up."
"Alright, alright, you can have this discussion later. Right now, I'm sure quite a few of us would like to see our beds before midnight." Rase stepped between Arthur and Harry, laying a hand on their shoulders.
"Indeed. Thank you, Lady Rose. Now Arthur, you have sword lessons tomorrow at half past the sixth bell. I would suggest getting to bed soon." Uther looked at his son before dismissing him. Arthur waved at Harry as he left the room.
"I shall see you tomorrow morning as well, young Harry. I shall enchant your crystal to wake you an hour before our meeting." Merlin held his hand out for the stone he had given Harry the day before.
Harry reached into his pocket, pulling the crystal orb out and handing it to Merlin. "Here. The most I've figured out is that you all have somewhere around twenty-four bells in a day, each one separated by a specified amount of time. I think you start the bells over again after the twelfth bell and that delineates the morning and the afternoon. I assume the same is done in the evening when the twelfth bell rings again. Unless there are more bells in the evening, or less." Harry grinned. "Still seems kinda pointless though, measuring time like that. What happens when someone else measures it differently? So much confusion."
The Doctor chuckled. "It's not too much of a problem in this age, Harry. Actually, this is the standard that everyone on this planet in the future follows for measuring time"
Harry looked mildly perplexed but shrugged.
Merlin tapped the crystal orb seven times, setting the specified time, then handed it back to Harry. "This will ring on the seventh bell tomorrow morning. I hope you will make it to my tower by the eighth and we can start our lessons." Merlin looked at him with critical eyes. "I feel that trying to drill time telling into you will be futile, so you should keep that orb with you at all times. Otherwise I feel you will lose track of it completely." Merlin smiled at the boy. "I will see you tomorrow Harry."
Merlin then took his leave.
"Doctor, Lady Rose, if I might entertain your company tomorrow? I would like to get to know the people who helped rescue my son and the parents of my son's friend."
Rose looked alarmed. "Oh, I'm not Harry's mother," she said.
Uther frowned. "I apologize for the mistake. I thought you and the Doctor married. Are you not?"
"No, no we aren't. Though it is something to discuss in the future." Rose looked at the Doctor, who was looked everywhere but the king and Rose.
Uther looked between the two of them and his eyes widened, then he smiled. "I see. Well, in any case, I would still like to talk to you tomorrow."
"We'll be there, sir," Rose promised, nudging the Doctor.
He looked at her, eyes wide. "Me? Oh, right, yes. Of course, tomorrow. Right." The Doctor grinned, smiled wide and slightly disconcerting. Uther wasn't sure if it was genuine or not. Harry rolled his eyes and Rose sighed at the smile. "What? I'll be there. I mean, not much else to do. Harry's off getting magic lessons and you've got Kirigal to deal with," the Doctor gestured at Rose.
"Yes, Kirigal. Something else we need to talk to you about. Tomorrow will be perfect." Rose grabbed the Doctor's arm. "Alright, let's go Doctor, Harry." Rose smiled at the king. "Tomorrow, then."
Uther watched them leave, still perplexed. "I sometimes wonder if they even realize that I'm king here," he muttered under his breath.
His personal guards, who had stayed in the room the entire time, were wondering something quite similar, but they didn't voice it. They just followed their king out of the room and took up stations outside his quarters.
~~~~~This is a Scene Break~~~~
Harry managed to get up and make it to Merlin's tower by the eighth bell, skidding through the doorway with his hair sticking up and eyes wild.
"What was that noise you programmed my orb to make?" he said breathless.
"Programmed?" Merlin queried.
"You set the orb to make a noise. What was it?"
"Ah, yes. I see my memory of a nundu screech is still accurate. Blood curdling isn't it?" Merlin said with a smile, attending to a book he had open.
Harry's eyes were wide. "Don't….don't do that again...I nearly beamed it into space."
Merlin laughed. "It was effective though. You are awake and here at the proper time. It solves your inability to tell time." He looked at the frazzled young magic user. "Now, I have a few exercises for control I want you to try for the day. I am hesitant to have you try any kind of complicated spells until you can control the amount of magic you put into something." Merlin held out a length of wood. "I would like you to use this as a focus. It's got a weak magical focus, as weak as I could manage. I can barely manage a levitation spell and a light spell is difficult. But I think that having you feel your magic by forcing you to use a focus will help you understand how much magic you need to use for a spell."
Harry took the want, rolling it between his fingers. "So, this will help me regulate the flow of my magic? Will I be able to do spells effectively without a wand?"
"I believe so, but it will take you longer than you think. I have felt how much magic you have and learning to control it is going to be an exercise in patience and calmness. I don't expect even you with your brilliance to get it right away."
Harry nodded, feeling the length of wood in his hand. "What is this made of?" he ask, curious.
"Birch wood and the hair from a water monster called a kelpie. Not terribly magical, but magical all the same so it will channel magic, as any wand will. Just not very well."
Harry nodded. "I see. Does the wood or the core of a particular wand matter much?"
Merlin smiled. "Yes, they do. But only when a person bonds to a wand. Some wandmakers are notorious in their desire to craft bonded wands so much, they have the customer choose everything from the wood, to the core, to the tools used to make the wand, then stay in the room as the wand is being made, touching it constantly. It is an interesting process."
"So eventually I will get a proper wand?"
Merlin nodded. "Yes, eventually. But that is a long ways off. I fear that any proper wand you channel your magic through right now would probably explode. Or cause so much damage as to negate the magic of the wand."
"Later then. So, what's first?"
"First, I want you to find your magic in relation to the wand. Feel the connection." Merlin chuckled. "This is a strange way to teach magic, young Harry."
Harry cocked his eyebrow. "How so?"
"For many your age, feeling their magic would be impossible. In fact, for any magical to feel their magic is considered great talent. I myself didn't learn how to until I was well past my twentieth year."
"But I've always been able to. Well, for as long as I've worn this." Harry tugged on the chain around his neck.
Merlin nodded. "I expect that the trauma of having your magic sealed away inside you so suddenly allowed the sense to reach a level of awareness. When you had access to your magic again, you knew what sensation the magic was and could separate it from your other senses."
Harry nodded. "I think I always knew it was there, I've been using it since I was little. I used to change the ceiling color in Elizabeth's throne room when I was a kid, and I've been making my solar systems since I learned what stars and planets were." Harry frowned. "I don't know how I managed to do any of those things though. I can still create my solar system, but that was a conscious construction that took a while to make."
"I expect that your magic is far more intuitive than I first believed. As you grow older, closer to coming of age, your magic is also growing and for you, that is not necessarily good news. You have so much magic already that adding to your source is the exact opposite of what your body needs to do, especially since it is trapped within you. Many people's magic shifts around their body, emanating from a core but allowing the excess that comes from not using magic to siphon off into the environment. But you can't do that. Your body contains all the magic you possess and you have to siphon off the extra energy, bleeding it."
Harry digested this. "So, I need to use magic more often as I get older?"
"Yes. Until your core stabilizes around your seventeenth year, you will need to bleed the extra magic. Right now you're fine. You'll be perfectly fine for a number of years in fact. But when you come of age in your twelfth or thirteenth year, you will have to take steps to ensure your magic doesn't have any negative effects on your body."
"Alright. So, now that you've given me something to plan for in the future, let's start figuring out how I can control my magic." Harry grinned at Merlin's raised eyebrow. "What? It's in my future. I don't need to worry about it now, not necessarily. Besides, by that time I'll probably be at Hogwarts or some other magical school and their will be plenty of professionals to help me out."
Merlin shook his head. "I knew teaching you would be an adventure from the moment I met you." He waved his hand. "Alright, let's get started. Now, reach for your magic…"
Not five minutes later, an explosion rocked the tower and the entire castle felt the shockwave. Arthur, resting with a cup of water in the shade, felt a wave of wind ripple through the field. The grass flattened in the direction the wind headed. Uther, taking stock of the day's activities beside a bowl of fruits, felt his chair rumble underneath him. The Doctor, perusing the library, absently stopped a number of books from falling off the shelves.
"At least he isn't ruining delicate electronics this time," he commented absently.
Rose, having made for the door the moment the floor started to shake, turned to stare at the Doctor. "What?"
"Hm?" the Doctor looked over. "Oh, yeah, that's Harry. Had a blow-up with his magic. Last time he managed to unbalance several delicate experiments so severely that it took months to put them to rights."
"That was Harry?" Rose asked, voice several octaves higher than normal.
"Didn't I just say that?"
"But...but...he's on the other side of the castle," she said, slumping into a chair.
The Doctor laughed. "That's magic for you. Unpredictable and against the natural laws of the universe. Though I shouldn't really be saying much on that. Time Lords practically invented half of them."
Rose opened her mouth to ask, then decided it was better not knowing.
Harry, meanwhile, stared at the now burnt out piece of wood in his hand. He had been trying to get his magic to flow down the wand. It was being particularly unhelpful and he was having a hard time forcing his magic to even make a few sparks. Sometimes it surged for the wand only to peter out halfway up and other times the small strand he managed to get all the way through merely flopped a few unimpressive dim sparks onto the ground, where they fizzled and died.
He had gotten frustrated. That was the first step to what would end up being a monstrously bad step in judgement.
Both his hands wrapped tightly around the base of the wand and he concentrated on pouring his magic into his palms. He started to see a shimmer around the wand.
"Harry, I don't think that's a good idea," Merlin's voice called out, but Harry was determined. Spaks. That was all he needed, some decent sparks.
He gripped his magic and shoved it up the wand hard.
Then the wood vibrated and his magic burst from the tip and rocketed outward in a circle.
Harry was blasted backwards into a table. Merlin with his hastily constructed shield managed to stay on his feet, but the floor shook and the windows rattled.
"Ow…" Harry intoned from his spot on the floor. "That...hurt." He looked at the wand in his hand.
The wood was now blackened, charred. His magic told him there wasn't a core any longer and what had been a wand was now a length of magicless wood.
Maybe he could use it instead?
He didn't get the option, however, when Merlin snatched it out of his hands. "Well, I see that didn't go as planned." Merlin looked at Harry. "What happened?"
Harry straightened, deciding to stay seated until he felt that his legs would hold him and his head wouldn't spin. "I couldn't get my magic to flow down the wand. Every time I tried, it just fizzled out halfway up or produced a few sad sparks. Nothing was working so I just, grasped it and forced as much magic as I could into my hands and up the wand. Then…" Harry's hands waved around.
Merlin sighed, rubbing his forehead. "Alright. Well, I see we shall have to figure out a better way for you to channel your magic. Without a wand, you have no control, with a weak wand you can't produce sparks and you manage to shake the foundations of a castle in your attempt, blowing up the wand in the process."
"The wand's still in one piece," Harry protested.
Merlin held it up so Harry could see the small, perfectly circular hole right through the middle. "It has no core. You destroyed its value as a wand."
Harry slumped. "So what now?"
Merlin pondered this, staring at the broken wand and wondering what he could possibly use. Then he smiled.
"Well, I believe I have an idea. One that may make it easier for you to connect to a wand."
"So I'll still be using a wand?"
"Of course, just not the traditional style. There are some groups who use these kinds of foci for small children just learning their power. It is more common in groups in the far East, but I have access to a number of them." Merlin pulled Harry to his feet, steadying him until he could get his feet under him. "Come with me."
Merlin headed up the stairs, higher into his tower. Harry had wondered if the entire tower was Merlin's but that was swiftly answered as each floor contained a myriad of different magical items that Merlin had collected through the years.
Three floors up, Merlin headed towards a large cabinet on the far side of the room. Harry followed.
"Here they are. Take a look."
Harry peered around Merlin. "They look like wands," he said.
"Ah, yes, I'm sure they do. They are wands, in a fashion. But place your hand on one."
Harry did so, and his magic swarmed to the wood under his fingers. "They...they feel magical," Harry said, eyes wide. "The wood itself is magical. And there isn't a core…"
"Yes. They are from magical trees. There are precious few kinds of magical trees and most are in protected areas. But many have discovered that magical wood without a core reacts especially well to children just learning magic. Young children discovering how to use magic, as young as four or five years, use magical wood foci as first. I forgot about these, they are mostly treasures of time spent abroad, but I feel that they will be most helpful in teaching you control."
"I thought children didn't really begin learning magic until they were eleven or so," Harry said.
"In Europe that is so. It is a practice taken from the Romans, I believe. But in the East, children are taught basic magics by their elders. They are not yet old enough to have a bonded wand, their magic is too unstable, but they can use these. They are prized by the children who use them and seen as curiosities by visitors from the European magical community."
Harry looked over the slender lengths of wood. "Are you sure? I might break them too," he said.
"It's alright. I have a feeling that these will serve you well, and you can't burn out the core, so it will be much harder for you to really damage these wands."
"So why aren't they more popular? Is it really the shortage of magical trees?" Harry sounded skeptical.
"No, not because of the trees. It has to do with how many magicals magic works. The core of a wand has a much stronger connection magic, an innate connection, and allows the magic to flow more freely. With magical wood, it isn't a connection with magic that the wood allows. Rather it opens the senses, which is important in younger magic users. For you, it may allow you to feel how to channel your magic."
Harry nodded. "And by being able to feel the wand, I should be able to direct my magic easier rather than forcing it through a core."
"We can hope. Now, hold your hand above each wand. One will feel a little stronger to you than the others. Use that one."
Harry did as instructed, sticking his hand out over the wands and letting it hover over each.
The first one he touched hummed pleasantly but he didn't linger. The next two were dull thuds and the fourth was a short burst of sound. The last one sang in his magic, and he plucked it out of the case. "This one."
"Ah, yes. Given to me by a young boy who had outgrown it in the foothills of China, made from the branch of a Weeping Willow that actually wept. The tree's dryad gave him the branch this was carved from."
Harry's eyes were bright. "It sounds amazing."
Merlin smiled. "Well then, let's get started. I have a feeling this wand will agree with you. Let's try that first exercise again."
This time Harry's magic flowed right up along the wand and sparked into life at the tip, sending a rain of multi-colored fireworks into the air.
Unfortunately not everything could go perfect and Merlin's robes caught on fire.
~~~~~This is a Scene Break~~~~~
Later that day, everyone out about in town were witness to a young, barefoot, black haired boy in strange clothes holding a stick and carefully manipulating a glass jar through the air. He was trying very hard not to drop it or run it into anything and break it. People close enough to him could see small cracks and chips all along the jar.
He wandered about for about two bells before crowing in victory and promptly dropping the vase. At the sound of it shattering, a look of despair overtook his face and he groaned.
"This sucks. I was almost finished! He said I had to bring it back in one piece. This is going to be a pain."
Some of the passer-bys stopped to watch at the boy stare at the jar, hands on his hips, before he smiled and waved the stick in his hands. They were certain he had murmured something but they were too far away to hear it. The pieces of the glass jar floated upwards, arranging themselves into a semblance of their previous shape.
It didn't look like it would hold anything for any length of time, but it did look like a jar.
The boy then walked back to the castle entrance, the jar floating along beside him.
That was not the last mysterious event of the week, and each and every time the black haired boy was at the center of them.
~~~~This is a Scene Break~~~~
Harry spent a considerable amount of time with his Weeping Willow wand. Merlin had him levitating objects, fixing items (mostly caused by mishaps with levitating said items), summoning objects, changing their color and size. To practice his control, he would levitate items through the market area for a number of bells. His first couple attempts all ended with broken jars or vases or whatever.
Merlin felt that working with breakable objects was a greater motivator to not drop them since it would be immediately obvious. Harry just sighed and floated whatever his daily object was out the door and down the stairs. He felt that he got more out of the exercise in physical exertion rather than magical.
Still, as Merlin either extended the number of bells he would levitate the object or require him to run a course in a certain amount of time, Harry felt it become easier to feel how is magic flowed through the Willow Wand. He returned for lunch after the initial first days with fewer chips or cracks in the vase he was using.
After lunch was when Harry got to try out new spells. None of them were particularly difficult (according to Merlin, they were the same spells every young magical learned their first few weeks at Hogwarts) but each time Harry managed to get one right without exploding, imploding, blinding, or thereby effecting everything around him, he felt elated.
Merlin's quarters, on the other hand, were constantly devastated by the newest magical's efforts to control his power. Walls were missing stones, multiple colours, too wide, too small, cracked, dented. Merlin moved Harry's lessons to a small building right outside of the tower after he nearly took out the support structures while practicing a shrinking spell. Every spell Harry tried out initially had unintended side effects. While many of them were amusing, Merlin wasn't sure how he felt about the green and pink striped interior of his tower.
Harry would return, exhausted, to the Tardis every evening, dragging his feet. He would slide by a kitchen, grab whatever was on the counters, and flop into bed.
Rose became worried after the fifth consecutive day of this and brought it up with the Doctor.
"What is he doing every day that is so exhausting? Isn't he too young to be pushing himself so hard?"
The Doctor looked up from the device he was tinkering with. "Huh? Oh, Harry! That's just how he learns. Try and tell him to slow down and he'll just stare at you like you were speaking a foreign language. Well, a language he doesn't understand. Probably would have to be speaking archaic Gallifreyan. He could never be bothered to learn it since it's only a spoken language and nothing I let him read is written in that language." The Doctor paused, considering.
"Isn't he going to hurt himself doing this day after day? It's only been a week but I haven't seen him take it easy the entire time. He leaves early in the morning and comes back dragging his feet. I've taken to putting something hot on the counter so he eats well." Rose was concerned. She had seen her niece do the same thing during her college years and she had called her Aunt Rose wired on Monster and complaining that the sky was falling and what kind of alien was shaped like blue mushrooms with wings. Then Rose had heard a thump. Her niece's friend answered Rose's frantic shouts, informing her that Kelly had fainted from lack of sleep and she was being carried to the medical wing of the University.
Rose had rushed over there the same day, finding Kelly sitting in her dorm with water in one hand and a sandwich in the other. She had been restricted to water, 100% juice, and health foods for the next couple days and told to get a normal amount of sleep for the rest of the semester.
The Doctor waved her worries aside. "He gets the amount of sleep he needs each night and eats three meals a day. Exhaustion from magic related activities is normal considering how much effort he's putting into learning the spells. Most of the exhaustion you're seeing is him extending his magical stamina. From what Merlin's told me, he can have as much magic as he can hold and not expend a quarter of it but he'll still be exhausted because he's never had much formalized training in using spells and a wand."
Rose took this in, uncertain if this made her feel better or not. Harry was still a child, should he be working so hard?
She voiced her thoughts. The Doctor looked up at her from the circuitry that he had been fiddling with, a smile on his face. "I can understand your concern, but Harry would find some way to get back at me if I tried to stop him. He can be very devious." The Doctor clipped another wire. "Merlin asked me the same thing a few days ago. He was concerned that Harry was pushing himself too hard and he might injure himself."
"What did you tell him?" she asked, leaning forward.
"I run a diagnostic scan on him every night after he falls asleep," the Doctor said, partially distracted by a complicated tangle of wires.
Rose slumped forward, eyes wide. Really, she should have known that the Doctor wouldn't just let his son exhaust himself day after day without making sure he was alright.
She laughed, and the Doctor looked up at her, eyebrows furrowed. "Something funny?" he asked, pulling out his sonic screwdriver and pointing it at the circuit.
"Not really," she managed, giggling. "Just, I seem to think that you're far more like the you I left than the you you've become with a child. I expect you to leave him to forage for himself and wander off somewhere into the Tardis and vanish for days."
The Doctor looked up at her, indignant. "Oi, I never did that!"
Rose gave him a pointed look. "You used to wander off into the depths of the Tardis while I slept. I wouldn't be able to find you for two days. Or whatever passed as days here. This happened several times."
The Doctor seemed ready to protest, his mouth opening, before his eyes widened and the incidents surfaced. "Oooh, oh, yes. Um, well...I was a bit absentminded," he confessed, scratching the back of his head. Rose crossed her arms. "Maybe more than a bit," he conceded. "But you can't really vanish for days on end with a small child. There's a lot of responsibility tied up with a toddler"
They spent the rest of the evening in comfortable silence until Rose bid goodnight and headed deeper into the Tardis.
Kirigal wandered out to the console, intent on speaking with the Time Lord about his future. The Doctor would be far easier to talk to, Kirigal speculated, than the Lady Rose.
"Ah, Kirigal! I was wondering if you were going to spend all your time brooding in the garden!" The Doctor waved at him enthusiastically.
"Lord Doctor," Kirigal said, inclining his head.
The Doctor waved the formality away, stowing the spare circuits and his screwdriver in a pocket. "You make your mind up yet? We have a couple more weeks till we leave," the Doctor said, grinning.
Kirigal did that half dance done when someone isn't sure they want to speak but has something important to say. On four legs, it was more of a scootch around the console than a shuffle. "I...I have decided to take my leave of this century and of Earth. I cannot forgive the human race for what they have done, but neither will I harm innocents. I would rather live in a century far from my own time, if that is acceptable." His large, dark eyes bored into the Doctor's.
The Time Lord nodded, serious and solemn. "I understand. Do you have a preference in location?"
Kirigal shook his head. "So long as it is not populated by humans, I shall have no qualms with wherever you decide to place me. I wish to live my life peacefully and without fighting, and I fear that humans, while full of joy and happiness, are also prone to fighting and destruction too often for my taste."
The Doctor grimaced. "You aren't wrong. Well, I'll see if I can remember such a place and we'll drop you off when you leave Camelot. Think you can hold out for a week or so?"
Kirigal nodded. "It shall be fine. Your garden provides a most delightful atmosphere to rest and think. The smells are delightful." Kirigal smiled. "I also found the plants you warned me of, the ones that bite. Your child is very creative, Doctor."
The Doctor laughed. "I think impatient is a better term. He created most of those by trying to artificially speed up the process of his experiment."
"As I said, a creative child." Kirigal bowed once more. "I will take my leave, Lord Doctor. Thank you, again, for allowing me to stay on your Tardis. It is a pleasure one does not receive often."
"Not a problem! Least I could do for one of the last members of a beautiful species." The Doctor watched Kirigal leave, heading back to his refuge in the garden. The Tractite was unlikely to emerge from the gardens until they left Earth. The Doctor couldn't blame him, really. He hated humans for what they had done to his planet and his people but he was so peaceful that he couldn't bring himself to hurt anyone. Going so far as to kidnap Arthur Pendragon was probably the most violent Kirigal could be.
It would do him some amount of good to live somewhere humans had never been. He would make sure Kirigal ended up on a planet humans never set foot on.
~~~~This is a Scene Break~~~~
Harry and Merlin were standing in the middle of an empty field, the closest building a hundred meters away.
They were in the middle of a field, Harry had been informed, because he was going to practice his control. Or, rather, the minute amount of control he'd mastered in the two weeks he'd been practicing.
He held the Weeping Willow wand lightly, having become intimately familiar with it over the past two weeks.
Oh, that was another thing. Merlin, exasperated at Harry's apparent obliviousness to time-telling, spent the better part of an afternoon lesson making sure Harry understood at least the basics. While Harry did listen, it ended up being only mildly helpful. He understood that there were 24 bells in a day, or hours, as Merlin called them. That these sets of 24 bells in sevens made up a week, and four sets of weeks made up a month. But he couldn't internalize them like Merlin seemed to do. He had spent so much of his life not being subject to time as a set concept that tying it down to one species, on one planet, seemed pointless.
But it did give him a vague sense of when things occurred. He met Merlin at the 8th bell every morning, had food half past the 12th bell, and had more food when he stumbled into the Tardis at about the 19th bell (or the seventh, as Merlin pointed out. Harry had argued that if you had two sevens in one day, doesn't that confuse people and Merlin replied that there was a time change at the half marker of the day as the candles were refitted and markers switched over. Harry pointed out that this was why telling time was pointless. Merlin sighed).
According to the meager senses he had gained from his constant exposure to people relying to time telling, Harry guessed it was about 12 noon. He had also snuck a look at the crystal when he followed Merlin onto the field, so maybe it wasn't such a guess after all.
"Alright Harry. We are far enough away from the castle and its inhabitants that I believe it would be safe for you to cast a light spell," Merlin said, breaking through the haze of time related thoughts.
"You brought me all the way out here to practice light spells?" Harry asked, puzzled.
Merlin nodded. "Last time you tried one it was wandless yet you still managed to daze three people for a short period. I believe this is the safest, seeing as you now have a focus you respond well to and have had more practice in deliberately harnessing your magic." Merlin paused. "I will cast an enchantment over our eyes, so you won't burn them out when you inevitably get it wrong."
"Hey, I'm not that bad!" Harry exclaimed, insulted. Merlin looked at him pointedly. "Alright, so I got a bit carried away with color changing spells. I mean, I didn't intend to alter the entire tower. And that expanding spell got away from me a time or two as well. It wasn't like I damaged anything permanently. You gave me those glasses to use, if they broke it was your fault," Harry pointed out, crossing his arms.
"Just so. I would rather not have a light spell...get away from you...this time. It could have a more permanent effect."
Harry sighed. "Fine, whatever. Cast your enchantment."
Merlin grinned, but he did waved his wand over Harry's head and Harry felt a peculiar shiver race down his spine. His eyes tingled, and then the world looked much dimmer. He watched Merlin do it to himself as well.
"Now, raise your wand and concentrate. You have spent two weeks feeling how your magic pools when you cast a spell. How much rushes through you when you incant. Focus, then when you feel ready, cast the spell. The words are Lux."
Harry closed his eyes. While it wasn't really necessary, it did block off his external sensory perceptions enough for him to really feel the pull of his magic. How it slid through his body and rested, waiting to be called.
Before he started learning control, he couldn't have said how much magic he had, how it flowed, what it did. He could tell you where it was, his whole body buzzed with it, but anything more specific and he was left floundering. Now, after being forced to repeat the same spells over and over, using a wand designed to teach children about their magic, Harry felt like he had a better grasp on how it worked.
Well, as much as one could grasp something as ethereal as magic. There was always an element of unpredictability when one used magic. By its very nature, magic warped the fabric of space/time to allow something to happen out of place. Using it, even in its most gentle forms, with an abundance of power and little control was always dangerous.
Harry pulled the concept of light to mind. The feeling of light, the colors, sensations of seeing it, feeling it on his skin, how it allowed him to operate in the world. While Merlin was of the opinion that saying the words with the proper amount of focus allowed one to cast the spell, Harry felt it was more important to understand what he was casting. If he knew what he was trying to do, whether it was repairing something, levitating a glass around the castle, or changing the color of a vase, knowing the concept of what he was casting always helped him focus on the spell itself.
He also thought that the language restrictions on spells were silly.
Which was probably why today's lesson was going to end poorly and rather disastrously.
The young magic user raised his wand, focusing on light, brightness, seeing, everything that made up light, and opened his mouth.
The word that came out of his mouth, however, was not Lux. It was sibilant and elegant and sounded very very old. It was light in such that it encompassed the entire concept of light, it's beginning and end and everything it touched.
Merlin's eyes widened, wondering what Harry had said. He had engaged the boy in discussion as to the viability of languages when it came to spells and why certain languages were used. Harry had promptly shown Merlin that he could do most of the spells he knew in whatever language he chose to speak and so it didn't matter. Merlin countered that the spells he used were simple and easy to convey in different languages because the concepts were similar and more difficult spells required more linguistic precision. Harry had been unable to convince Merlin to teach him any difficult spells so he could prove him wrong.
But this tongue was different from any Merlin had heard Harry use. He learned that different tongues often had slight, sometimes nearly unnoticeable, effects on the spell. He wondered what this strange language would do.
He didn't have to wait long to find out.
~~~This is a Scene Break~~~~
The Doctor was enjoying the quiescence of the scrolls and books the King had in his library when his ears (his ears? his mind? he wasn't sure) picked up the sibilant whispers of Old High Gallifreyan. It was the concept for light, he was sure of it, and he was on his feet and heading towards his son before he completely registered the reaction.
Why did Harry think he was doing, using Old High Gallifreyan for spellwork? He had been warned of the language's power before the Doctor even began to teach him the basics of the language. He had been told, countless times, not to use the language unless he was in extreme peril or someone else was. And mixing it with magic?
The explosion of pure, unfiltered light streaming from all windows, cracks, and doorways momentarily stunned him in his tracks.
Harry would have a lot to answer for.
~~~~This is a Scene Break~~~~
Merlin was thankful he had decided to use the enchantment to protect his eyes. Very very thankful.
In fact, he was sure that without it, he might have become temporarily blind. He wasn't sure though, because this was a very strange kind of light.
The light emanating from Harry (he was sure it was from the wand, but because the boy had been engulfed in light he couldn't tell where the wand was) was immense. White light shone out from his body in every direction and Merlin was sure it could be seen in the castle behind them.
Harry had his eyes closed, feeling the energy from his spell flow around him. He wasn't sure exactly what had happened but it felt amazing. His use of Old High Gallifreyan was more of an accident than a conscious decision. He supposed it had to do with his focus on the word. He had always found it easier to convey entire concepts in one word with Old High Gallifreyan. The language was built for it.
But mixing it with magic was probably not one of his better ideas.
He opened his eyes, and immediately light streamed into them. It wasn't painful, not like that time he had pointed a bright laser pointer at his eyes off a mirror once. It didn't make him dizzy or black out his vision. In fact, he couldn't see anything but light.
Which might have been a problem if Harry bothered to think about it at all. Instead, he was fascinated with the intricate details he could see. The gorgeous swirls of light dipping in and out of itself, the magic of it laid bare in front of him.
He turned in place, eyes wide in delight and fascination.
"HARRY! STOP THAT SPELL RIGHT NOW!"
Harry paused in place, drawing his attention to the noise he could hear. He was sure that was his father yelling at him. But why was he yelling? It wasn't as if he had made noise appear, just light.
"Doctor, what is happening?" That was Merlin, talking to his dad.
"Harry spoke the name of light in Old High Gallifreyan, no doubt concentrating on the spell. That language fell out of use for a very good reason and he's just so splendidly shown us why." His dad. Harry heard the exasperation in his father's tone.
"What do you mean? I have observed small variances in spells when he uses different languages to cast them, but this is something very different." Merlin again. Harry grinned. This was indeed something very different. It was creation on small scale. It was the origins of light and it's essence.
"Old High Gallifreyan is a language that has power in and of itself. The words can create worlds or undo them. And that is when spoken by an adept in the language. While Harry isn't adept, he has magic to make up for the lack of experience. And by using that language, he created light's essence, here, on this plane of existence. Which will consume him if he doesn't let it go."
Harry frowned at that. Why would such a little spell do something like that? He looked around him, reveling in the beauty of light, in its complexity and layers. What could happen?
He must have gotten lost in the mesmerizing swirls of his spells because all of a sudden he heard a high pitched whirring sound. The Sonic Screwdriver. It pierced into his consciousness and dragged his attention outside of his immediate perceptions.
"HARRY! I NEED YOU TO RELEASE THE MAGIC IN YOUR SPELL NOW!" His dad, yelling at him.
Harry frowned down at his hands. The wand, his Weeping Willow wand, glowed in his palm. "But why?" he whispered. "It's so beautiful."
"Exactly! You've been inside the spell for two entire bells! What do you think would happen if you were to let it go on?"
Harry tilted his head. "I would eventually run out of magic and faint," he reasoned.
"No, you would start to use your life force to sustain the spell until you've expended it all and then you would die. I need you to let this spell GO!" his dad said, a hint of panic in his voice.
Harry blinked. "I would...wouldn't I? It's just so...it's beautiful. I've never seen anything like it."
"That is why Old High Gallifreyan fell into disuse. People would get lost in the power of its words, and eventually almost all the adepts were lost to their minds and their creations. Those left refused to teach the language anymore. It's a dangerous language, Harry, and you need to end the spell!"
"But...I don't know how," he said, a hint of plaintive whining in his tone.
"I can help with that, young Harry," Merlin said. "You need to feel the connection between you and the wand. You should feel your magic surging through it. Find that link and break it."
Harry did what he was asked. He felt the pull of his magic through his wand, the connection to the spell. It was using vast amounts of his magic, so much that he wondered how he had any left. He closed his eyes. He couldn't look at his creation and stop the spell, he knew that much.
His magic protested as he slowly stopped his magic flowing into the Weeping Willow wand. His spell faltered, shuddered, then broke, and his body fell like a puppet whose strings had been cut.
"Hey dad," he said weakly as the Doctor rushed over, holding him. "Guess I shouldn't experiment with languages and magic right now, huh?"
His dad grinned at him, the panic fading as Harry appeared to be safe. "No, probably not. Can you stand or do I have to carry you back to the Tardis?"
Harry felt his body out. "I should be fine soon. I just need to...sit here for a bit. Let me feel the ground. Need to settle my magic."
"Young Harry, what did you do?" Merlin knelt down next to Harry, eyes full of worry.
"I used a language of power with magic. Powerful, but also very dangerous. It was beautiful, but deadly if I had held onto it. I was getting lost inside my magic. Dad here had to yank me back out."
The Doctor chimed in, "As I was explaining while Harry was playing with power beyond his control, Old HIgh Gallifreyan was a language used to create and to destroy. It was a kind of key to the code of the universe and not for young children with magic to play with." He looked at Harry, eyebrows raised. "I told you when I agreed to teach it to you, you aren't supposed to speak it unless you must, and using it in conjunction with magic no less. You're lucky it was only something as simple as a light spell rather than something more complicated. I shudder to see what would happen should you try it with any kind of enchantment or ritual."
Harry grimaced. "I didn't intend to use Old High Gallifreyan. I mean, I was going to try the spell in Gallifreyan, but Modern Gallifreyan, the kind that we speak more often, but for some reason that word seemed more...significant in Old High Gallifreyan."
"Oh Harry, what am I going to do with you?" the Doctor lamented.
Harry gave him a cheeky grin. "Probably drill me on all the rules you had me memorize when you agreed to teach me that language in the first place," he said. Harry turned to Merlin. "Oh, and that is a good example of how language affects spells, isn't it? Not every language is created equal."
Merlin smiled. "No, I suppose they are not. But using such a dangerous language, I think, does less to prove your point and more to show why we use the proper language we are taught in. Languages of power always have different effects on spells. Salazar Slytherin spoke Parseltongue and his spells were different when spoken in that language. But Parseltongue is a language of power used only in specific branches of magic, mostly casting enchantments and protection magics."
Harry nodded, thinking it over. Magic, he decided, had more rules than he originally thought. Not because you couldn't do certain things with magic, but because you could do anything with magic and that was dangerous.
As soon as he could stand up, he got to his feet. He wasn't feeling physically exhausted but he had learned that draining your magic could do just as much damage to your body as sprinting long distances could.
"Alright, let's leave off any more magic use for a day or so. I want to make sure you recover before you try anything else," the Doctor said, looking at Merlin.
The wizard nodded. "That would be wise. You expended a lot of energy on that spell, young one. You may feel fine right now, but you will feel the drain later."
Harry sighed. "Alright then. No more magic for the day."
The Doctor smiled. "We'll be here until Merlin decides that you have enough control, then we'll be off," he said.
"Actually Doctor, as soon as Harry is refreshed, all I shall need is one further demonstration. Today was supposed to be that day, if he had not decided to experiment. But his ability to cut the spell off is also a tremendous display of the amount of control he has gained. I would like to see him perform a light spell without experimentation to judge how far he has come. At his age though, as long as he can perform it without blinding either of us, then he will have achieved as much control as one can expect from one who hasn't yet reached schooling age."
Harry grinned. "Awesome!"
The Doctor shot him a look. "That doesn't mean you'll be given leave to perform magic all the time. Magic and electronics don't get along and if you manage to do something that upsets the Tardis you have to deal with the consequences."
Harry's smiled didn't dim.
~~~This is a Scene Break~~~
As Merlin said, Harry felt the wave of exhaustion hit him three bells after they had left the field. He had been bombarded with questions from a curious Arthur, who had been kept off the field by a concerned father and his dad, as well as stares from the knights who had rushed onto the field thinking they were being attacked. Merlin and the Doctor had assured them it was merely a spell gone wrong but the intensity of the light had still made them wary.
He stumbled from the table as his eyes drooped and to bed. He was asleep the moment he hit the pillow.
Back in the kitchen, Rose watched with a smile as the young boy stumbled out without a word. The Doctor had told her it would happen earlier, after she had rushed out towards the field, following him.
She had been wandering through various rooms in the Tardis, wondering if she could find that wonderful gym that had existed back when she had been young. It had been so long ago that she didn't remember where it was exactly and had been opening door after door, wandering through archway after archway, wondering how deep into the Tardis she had gone. Then a loud hum filled the air and she found herself walking through the main doors into the console room. Something was wrong.
She sighed as the doors burst open and the Doctor rushed in, eyes wild. "What happened?" she asked, contemplating anything from alien attack to magical mishap.
It was the latter, she discovered, and Harry was right at the heart of it. She could see the glow from the Tardis doors. She had rushed towards the light source after the Doctor, astonished that, despite its brightness, she could see everything perfectly. The king, Arthur, and a number of knights were at the edges of the field and Paskal held her back.
"The Doctor said to keep everyone here. He doesn't know what young Harry's magic might do if someone was too close," the knight said.
"This won't be the first time I haven't listened to the Doctor and it won't be the last," Rose told him, pushing his hand off her shoulder.
"Lady Rose, this isn't just about what effects it might have on you or anyone else, but what it might do to Harry. He is using an immense amount of power. We don't know what might happen if someone distracts him or gets too close to him and he loses control," the king told her.
Rose hesitated. That was actually a really good point, she conceded. So she stayed back where the Doctor had left them, fretting.
Arthur too was worried about his friend and found solace in Rose, who sat next to him on the grass and comforted the prince.
"What happens if Harry's dad and Merlin can't stop it?" Arthur wondered, blue eyes wide.
Rose hugged the boy to her. "They will. Harry's done a lot of stupid things and he's always managed to come out of it okay."
"But what if? I don't want to lose my friend," Arthur said.
"Harry might lose his magic," Rose said softly. "He might expend all his energy and go into a coma. He might vanish from this plane of existence." Arthur's eyes were wide and fearful. "But if you keep thinking like that, you'll worry yourself into knots. We have to hope that the Doctor and Merlin can help Harry stop before it gets too bad."
Arthur nodded. He desperately hoped his friend would be alright.
Harry's spell faded eventually and the light vanished. Rose watched as Harry fell to the ground, boneless, and the Doctor swoop down to check him over. The boy was sitting up, talking, so Rose figured he was going to be alright.
Arthur was grinning. His friend had made it. He was alright. As Harry made his way back towards them, Arthur waved. Harry raised a hand in return and Rose knew he was fine.
The Doctor looked at Rose, mouthing at her to take Harry to the Tardis. He would stay behind to explain what had happened to a concerned king and his knights. Rose nodded. She took Harry up in a hug and walked him back to the Tardis, deflecting all questions towards the Doctor.
She cooked, talking about inane things as Harry drooped in his seat. She could see the exhaustion setting in and coerced him into eating before he fell asleep. He had managed to finish half a plate before he staggered to his bed.
~~~~This is a Scene Break~~~~
Two days after Harry's decidedly unwise decision to experiment with languages and magic, Merlin, Harry, and the Doctor stood in the same field.
"Alright Harry, no more linguistic experimentations. Just use the latin," the Doctor said.
Harry nodded. "I've figured that much out, yeah. I'll try out languages and magic when I have a better controlled study area to do it in."
"If at all," the Doctor tacked on. He only raised an eyebrow Harry's outraged pout.
"Young Harry, raise your wand. Light spell, as we have discussed," Merlin instructed, holding his wand at the ready in case something unexpected happened.
Harry nodded. He gathered his thoughts and raised his wand. He focused on the word he needed to use and intoned "Lux."
Merlin's fears were unfounded as a soft light beamed out from the end of Harry's wand. It glowed with a steady light and was just bright enough to be useful.
The Doctor and Merlin let out relieved sighs.
"Well, young Harry, it seems that your time here has been gainful. Your control has improved immensely!"
"As happy as I am that you can now control your magic Harry, I think it's about time to be moving on, don't you think?" the Doctor said, laying a hand on Harry's shoulder.
The little ball of light flickered out. Harry looked up at his dad, then over to Merlin. "Really? I mean, Merlin could teach me so much more, and Arthur is still a prat but he's awesome, and his dad thinks I'm interesting and I haven't beat him enough times at chess yet."
Merlin smiled at the young boy. "You, young magic user, are still too young for much of the magic you can learn. You have mastered a modicum amount of control, something I hope you continue to practice as you get older, but your body is not yet old enough or strong enough to handle the level of spellwork you want to practice. It is why children aren't taught much before they are ten or eleven. I taught you basic spells, easy spells, spells that are suited to underdeveloped magic and won't harm you. You are more than capable of learning more spells, more magic, but you are not ready magically. You must mature just a bit more."
Harry sighed. "Then I suppose it is time to go. But I was having so much fun!"
The Doctor pulled Harry into a hug. "We'll go other exciting places, alright? And you'll be taking more classes in magic than you know what to do with soon enough."
"I want to say goodbye to Arthur and his dad first." Harry frowned. "So long as it doesn't involve any feasts or whatever."
The Doctor laughed. "Oh, you'll have to do a runner to avoid that!" he said.
"Dad, do we still have that pad that can send messages to a linked pad that looks like an old journal? Cause I wanna give it to Arthur so I can talk to him." Harry pulled back from his dad, Green eyes hopeful.
The Doctor pondered this thought. "I suppose…if you go find them, I'll make sure I program them properly so the messages will reach each other. But JUST those two linked pads. We're not leaving out all sorts of future tech here."
Harry grinned. "Thanks dad!" Then he scarpered off.
Merlin turned to give the Doctor a curious look. "What, exactly, is Harry giving Arthur?" he asked.
The Doctor grinned. "It's like a notebook that, when written in, will display the exact same message on another notebook. I let Harry play with them a while back and he disguised them as old fashioned books with blank pages. They're innocuous enough that they won't stand out and Harry gets to keep in touch with a friend about the same age as him."
Merlin nodded. "I wonder, Doctor, if there is a kind of magic in the things you are able to do. I know you have no magic, not the kind of magic that Harry and I posses, but something like these notebooks certainly sounds like magic to me, though you say they are not."
The Doctor hummed. "A famous writer in your planet's future once said "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" and I suppose it is, in a way, magic to you. I can't explain it to you so you will understand how it works. You don't have the technology to conceptualize it. But it isn't magic in your sense either. It took years for someone to figure out how to send text messages from one device to another, longer still to make it convenient. Your planet still has hundreds of years to go until they reach that point."
Merlin smiled. "I think I understand how your writer feels. Much of what you say sounds like magic to me."
The Doctor grinned.
~~~~This is a Scene Break~~~~
They didn't have to do a runner to avoid a feast, much to Harry's relief. Instead, goodbyes were said in the relative quietness of the throne room, where Arthur was taking strategy lessons from his father.
"Harry! Come help me, I can't seem to figure out how to beat my dad and you seem to manage it." Arthur waved Harry over. "And what do you have in your hands?"
"Try moving your knight to F5. You might be able to salvage something from there." Arthur scrutinized the board, looking at Harry's move, then sighed and moved the knight. "Also, I'm leaving, so I wanted to give you something so we can keep in contact."
Arthur looked at Harry. "Already? I mean, you've only been here for a couple weeks, I thought you would be here longer!"
Harry shook his head. "Merlin says I've got as much control as I can for now, and I can't learn anything else at the moment, so it's time to move on. We're going to drop Kirigal off on a nice planet, then figure out where to go from there."
"Well, I suppose this is goodbye then," Arthur said, hanging his head. "You're pretty awesome, even if you're sort of strange."
Harry grinned. "Not quite goodbye. Dad said I could give you this. We can talk to each other back and forth this way." He held out the thin, leather bound notebook.
Arthur took it, furrowing his brows. "A notebook? Is this some sort of magic? How can I talk to you through this?"
"It has a twin notebook, mine. When you write in that, the messages appear in my notebook, and when I write in mine, the messages appear in yours. So we can talk to each other that way." Arthur tilted his head. "It's not magic, it's technology. Well, I suppose it might seem like magic to you, so that might be the best way to explain it, as a kind of magic."
This seemed to satisfy Arthur's desire for answers and grinned. "Thanks! I've never really had a friend like you, I'm glad I'll still get to talk to you!"
The king, who had been watching the exchange with a smile, stood up. "Yes, thank you young Harry. You have been a wonderful addition to the castle during your stay here. Tell your father and Lady Rose that they will also be missed."
Harry grinned up at the king. "You're not going to miss getting beat at chess though, are you?"
"I believe the score is 4 games to 6, with only two games in your favor," the king reminded him. Harry rolled his eyes. "Have a safe journey."
"Wait, no feast?" Harry asked. "Not that I want one, I was just expecting to have to avoid it with more diligence."
The King laughed. "No, no feast. It takes far too long to organize one and you cannot be swayed to stay much longer. I shall enjoy hearing about your adventures from Arthur."
"Yeah, make sure you write to me! I want to hear about all the places you go! I never really get to leave the castle, so I'll have to hear about it from you," Arthur piped up, holding the notebook to his chest.
Harry nodded. "Of course! Bye!"
The two members of the royal family watched as the boy raced out of the room, leaving the castle for the last time.
"He's going to be great, isn't he father?" Arthur asked.
"I would expect nothing less from him. You have made a very important friend, Arthur. Make sure you keep that notebook close."
Arthur hugged the notebook close to him as he sat down to finish the game.
~~~~This is a Scene Break~~~~
Harry found Merlin standing in front of the Tardis, talking with his dad. As he raced to join them, the wizard turned to smile at him.
"Harry, make sure you practice on your control, especially when you start schooling."
"Of course I will. I don't want to blow up my teachers. That would be a great first impression."
"You set my robes on fire," Merlin reminded him, a twinkle in his eyes. "Twice."
"Your fault," Harry said, grinning. "You're the one who decided to teach me how to make sparks."
Merlin shook his head, chuckling. "Goodbye young wizard. I wish you all the best for your future."
Harry, impulsively, wrapped his arms around Merlin, hugging him tightly, before dashing into the Tardis. "Thank you Merlin, for everything," he said, sticking his head out of the door before ducking back inside.
Merlin heard his footsteps echoing out of the small blue box. The Doctor chuckled. "Bye Merlin Emrys," the Time Lord said, grinned. "And thank you, for teaching my son."
"The pleasure was mine, Doctor. Goodbye. Give my best to Lady Rose as well."
The door shut and Merlin stepped back as the blue box phased out of existence, carrying the three most interesting people Merlin had ever met away.
~~~~~This is an Ending~~~~
Wow. Waaaaaayyyyy too many words, but I just couldn't find a place to cut it off at. Even that ending I could have gone on for another three pages. I just needed to finish it. I needed to finish the arc. It's over. Done. Finished. Merlin Arc is over. Whew.
Now, onto reviews I can't reply to, due either to them being Anonymous or having the reply function disabled:
Yargamafrag: Thank you so much! I will, at some point, go back and fix all the little errors. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it!
Guest1 - Thank you! I love writing it so I'm glad you love reading it!
Guest2: Here's an update! Thank you for reading it!
newboy: While I'm not sure yet how I'm going to deal with the Horcrux thing just yet, it'll be interesting and different. It's one of the fun things about fanfic, rewriting bits. I haven't yet gotten to the 7th book's plot to see what I wanna do with it (I've gotten about as far as book four on my Wall of Planning) so I'll have to wait and see what I do there! I hope you're enjoying!
Guest3: I have no idea what I'm doing with River yet. Haven't figured out how I'm introducing the 11th Doctor, what's gonna happen with River and Amy and Rory, or anything of the like. And pairings with Harry aren't all too important at the moment. He's too young right now and he'll probably be super busy later for it. When it happens, it'll feel like that's how it is supposed to happen, however I write it.
I hope I got everyone! If I failed to respond, I am so sorry. Thank you so much for reading and reviewing and keeping up with this! I love writing it and I love that you all love reading it!
I hope to maybe do a short side story that is sporadically updated with conversations between Arthur and Harry, cause I think that would be adorable and easy to put up. If you have any ideas you want to see happen or whatever, let me know!