AN: So, this is the last of the chapters I already I have written. Any future chapters will probably be posted to AO3 before they're posted here, FYI.
Eye of the Storm
Harry ended up getting detention for the next month, lost fifty points for Gryffindor, and had a rather uncomfortable meeting with a coldly furious Dumbledore.
The headmaster was not at all happy that Harry had endangered another first year student by taking them along to fight a troll, and as soon as Hermione and the teachers were gone he made his opinion of Harry's actions known. Harry's protests that he hadn't asked Hermione to follow him fell on deaf ears, as did his argument that they weren't in all that much danger, really, because Harry had it all under control. Finally, Harry told Dumbledore solemnly that he always did his utmost not to risk any lives other than his own.
Instead of looking reassured by this, or even more angry – it could have gone either way, really – Dumbledore sighed and closed his eyes, suddenly looking terribly old.
"That does not make me feel any better about the situation, Doctor." When Harry looked blank, Dumbledore gave him a sad look. "My dear boy, the fact that you, a child, risk your life on a regular basis concerns me," Dumbledore clarified.
Harry blinked. That honestly hadn't occurred to him.
Dumbledore seemed to read as much in Harry's face, because he looked even more sorrowful than before.
Harry decided that it was time to nip that in the bud before the headmaster got any ideas about having responsibility over him.
"Right, that's enough of that, Albus Dumbledore," he said bracingly. "I might be a child, but I'm not a human one, and that makes a lot more difference than you'd think. You'd be surprised at what Time Lords were entrusted with, at my age. Besides, needs must." He held his hands up in surrender. "But look, I'll be more careful not to involve any other students, the next time I find myself unexpectedly confronted by a mountain troll in a school corridor, will that do?"
Apparently it would, because Dumbledore seemed more resigned than anything, after that – possibly even reluctantly amused – which only left Hermione to deal with.
Harry arrived back at the common room to find Hermione sitting near the fire waiting for him, her arms crossed, still livid about their close encounter with the troll.
"Explain," she ordered, which didn't seem unfair, under the circumstances.
"Ah," said Harry, and then, "not here. Come on, let's sneak out."
Hermione's posture became even stiffer than it already was.
"It's after curfew! Haven't you already gotten us in enough trouble for one–"
"Hermione." Harry's commanding tone cut through her angry one like a knife. "Look, I promised you an explanation, but we can't have one here, not where anyone could overhear. I swear, I'm not going to get us into any more trouble for tonight, I know it was frightening and I'm sorry and you've already trusted me more than enough, but please, just trust me that little bit more and come with me so that I can explain what's going on."
There was a long moment, as Hermione thought it over.
"Fine," she agreed grudgingly. "But Harry, if we get caught…"
Harry gave her a crooked, enigmatic smile.
The two of them slipped through the portrait hole when no one was looking, and as soon as the door closed, Harry pulled the invisibility cloak that Dumbledore had given him out of his pocket, and threw it over the both of them.
"It's an invisibility cloak," Harry whispered, forestalling Hermione's demand for explanation. He took her hand, and together they set off through the school.
Hermione looked both worried and suspicious when they left the castle, but Harry continued walking without hesitation, down close to the edge of the Forbidden Forest, where he'd parked the TARDIS.
"Where are we going?" Hermione asked.
"Almost there," Harry said, instead of answering her question. Together they approached the big blue box, and Harry let go of Hermione's hand to fish around in his pocket for the TARDIS key. Pulling the cloak off them both, Harry stuck it back in his pocket before unlocking the TARDIS doors and stepping inside.
The current console room theme always reminded Harry a little of the previous Doctor's ninth regeneration: the architectural struts were reminiscent of coral, and the lighting in the room was diffused, but otherwise the room looked quite different. It was multi-level, with stairs leading away to upper and lower floors, and everything was done in cool dark tones except for the console itself, which was sleekly black and for once looked like the piece of advanced technology it was. The ceiling was high and vaulted, and the Seal of Rassilon – the traditional symbol of the Time Lords – was embossed above the doorway that led into the rest of the TARDIS. It was a somewhat forbidding and intimidating room, Harry had to admit, but also an impressive one.
Hermione followed Harry inside, and looked around with wide eyes.
"Is – does this use one of those expansion charms I read about?" she asked, with a look of consternation. "But all this muggle equipment – it shouldn't work, inside a magically-created sub-space!"
Harry smiled wryly, and stuck his hands in his pockets as he watched Hermione explore the room.
"That's because it's not muggle, Hermione. And it's not magical, either. It's alien."
"Don't be ridiculous," Hermione snorted, rejecting Harry's words automatically. Harry smiled to himself, and stepped closer to her.
"Hermione, do you know any medical diagnostic spells?"
Hermione looked up from her inspection of the TARDIS console, frowning.
"Well, yes. It seemed like a good idea. It's not an overly complex one, obviously, it only gives the most basic information, but I thought it would do until I could learn the more difficult ones."
Harry stepped closer.
"And I suppose you know what the baseline medical data is for your average human being?"
"Of course. Harry, why are you asking me this?"
Harry stopped a couple of feet away, and smiled tiredly.
"Cast your diagnostic spell on me, Hermione, and tell me what the results are."
Hermione was looking deeply suspicious, but cast the spell. A moment later she blinked, and cast the spell again. She looked at the results, paled, and slowly turned to stare at Harry with something that wasn't quite fear, not yet.
Harry didn't move, but just stood there with his hands still in his pockets, watching her calmly.
"This can't be right," said Hermione, half to herself.
"It is," Harry disagreed. "Take another look around you, Hermione. I know that you've spent the last couple of months in a school for magic, which sort of skews your perspective, but does anything stand out as odd to you?"
Hermione stared at him, and then took another look at the TARDIS console, with it's complicated controls, and the screens that showed scrolling data in nothing but Gallifreyan.
She looked back at Harry.
"I'm an alien, Hermione. A Time Lord, to be exact. The last Time Lord in all existence. And I'm telling you this because you're my friend, and I trust you."
There were a lot of humans who would have been running by now, but Hermione just swallowed, and stood her ground.
"How?" she asked in a quiet voice. "How can you possibly be an alien? You're Harry Potter, for goodness' sake."
"It's a long story," Harry told her gently. "Would you like to hear it?"
"That's an incredible tale, Harry," Hermione said later, when he'd finally finished telling her about how he had become a Time Lord, and explained why he was currently at Hogwarts. "It's a little difficult to believe."
The two of them were ensconced in one of the TARDIS kitchens, the cheerful yellow one that Rose had always seemed to prefer. Harry had chosen it deliberately, as the closest thing to a 20th century Earth kitchen, in the hope that it would prove reassuring in its normalcy.
Harry sent Hermione a sideways glance, where she sat with a cup of hot cocoa in her hands, looking pensive.
"Do you believe it?" he asked, homing in on the pertinent question.
Hermione hesitated, but slowly nodded.
"It seems too fantastic for words, but… yes, I do. I believe you."
Harry smiled, and sipped at his own cocoa.
"But you must know so much!" Hermione said, sounding enthused at the idea. "If your people were advanced as you say they were, and you have the memories of a man who travelled the universe for centuries, there must be so much you can teach me."
"Um." Harry winced. "Er, not so much. Ah, first of all, I'm not really the teachery type, second, there's nowhere near enough time to teach you everything I know, and third… well, I'm a Time Lord, with a Time Lord brain, and bluntly, you're not. You do have a brilliant human brain, believe me I know, but it's not the same. You're simply not equipped to handle most of my knowledge."
Hermione's eyes narrowed.
Harry was trying to formulate some kind of convincing reply to this challenge when all of a sudden he felt his robes vibrating. It took him a moment to realise that it had to be his mobile phone. Relieved at the reprieve, he felt around in his pockets until he found the phone, pulled it out and flipped it open, putting it to his ear.
"This is the Doctor."
There was a pause on the other end.
"Doctor?" a familiar voice asked unsurely.
Harry felt a wide smile take over his face.
"Dr Martha Jones!" he exclaimed happily. "Or wait, it's Mrs Smith now, isn't it? Oh, it's good to hear from you!"
"What is that?" Hermione asked suspiciously.
"A mobile phone from the future," Harry told her. "Give me a minute."
"Doctor? Is that really you?" Martha asked. "You sound like a kid."
"Oh, you know," Harry said vaguely. "Regenerations. Never know how I'm going to end up. But tell me Martha, nice though it is to get a call from you, I have the feeling it isn't for social reasons."
"Yeah." There was a moment of silence from Martha. "Look, it's – Mickey and I work freelance now, yeah? Well, someone hired us to look into something, and well, it's possible that we might be out of our depth. We thought we'd better call you, just in case."
"Right," Harry sighed. Here he was, having dealt with a crying best friend and defeated a troll in one day, and it looked like he might be about to head off on another adventure – it was a very good thing he didn't need as much sleep as a human would, because it didn't look he was getting some any time soon. "I'll be there soon."
"Thank you, Doctor," Martha said, heartfelt, and Harry hung up.
"Right," he said to Hermione, "as I was saying, this is a phone from the future, and that was a call from someone who needs some help with something that looks like it might be within my particular area of expertise. So, I'm going to drop you off back up at the school, and we can talk about this some more when I get back. In the meantime, you should get some sleep."
Hermione stared indignantly.
"You're just going to leave me behind?"
"Yes, yes I am," Harry said gravely, and leaned forward to meet her gaze, trying to impress the seriousness of the situation on her. "Hermione, I regularly deal with… well, situations someone your age shouldn't be dealing with, and I'm not going to risk exposing you to something beyond your ability to handle. Besides, I promised Professor Dumbledore I wouldn't endanger you again."
"But–" Hermione began to argue.
"No," Harry said, definitively. "Think about the troll today, remember how scary that was? That's barely a blip on my radar, Hermione, a troll is nothing, a troll is a nice little diversion from the monotony of my day. Do you understand? The things that I deal with on a regular basis are far, far more frightening than that, and so much more dangerous, which is why you are staying here." He stood. "Now come on, I'll leave you just outside the portrait hole."
Hermione followed him back to the console room reluctantly.
"You're not an adult, either," she said righteously, sounding very put-out with him.
"No," Harry agreed easily. "But I'm a non-adult Time Lord, which is a very different thing from a non-adult human, I'm more than three times your age, and I have a lot of experience in this sort of thing."
He flipped a few switches, and the TARDIS made the short jump from the grounds to the inside of the castle. As soon as she'd stopped, Harry walked over and opened one of the TARDIS doors.
"Go on," he told Hermione, tilting his head towards the open doorway. "I'll see you tomorrow. Promise."
Hermione looked like she was going to argue some more, but instead she just sighed.
"Very well, tomorrow then. Good night, Harry. Don't do anything stupid."
Harry grinned at her as she left the TARDIS.
"Wouldn't dream of it," he called after her quietly, and shut the TARDIS door. Glancing down at his wizardly school robes, he decided that a quick stop by his bedroom was in order, to change back into his usual attire, and then he'd go find out what had Martha and Mickey concerned.
He couldn't wait.